In a Vase on Monday: August Jewels

While I was cutting my flowers this morning for my regular contribution to Cathy‘s lovely meme (see Rambling in the Garden) this poem sprang to mind:

When I am an old woman, I shall wear purple with a red hat…  

I shall go out in my slippers in the rain

And pick the flowers in other people’s gardens.

(by Jenny Joseph)

Well, rest assured these flowers are from MY garden! 😉

(I think it was the pinky red Zinnia that made me think of that poem – it looks a bit like an eccentric hat…)

The base holding everything upright is Cosmos foliage. The other contents are the red Zinnia, a double pink Echinacea, Antirrhinum ‘Orange Wonder’, Echinacea ‘Flamethrower’, Verbena bonariensis, Cosmos Double Click Cranberry and Cosmos Daydream, Geranium Rozanne, one Everlasting Flower, a bit of Hypericum, a sprig of Dill, Geum chiloense ‘Blazing Sunset’ and some Scabiosa Butterfly Blue.

It is hot again today. I‘ll be heading for the hammock later. 😃

Have a good week!

Lovely Lemon Verbena

Herbal tea is really popular in Germany, but there is one sort I will not buy from a store or market. Lemon Verbena. Or Vervain. It simply does not have that gentle rounded flavour you get when you grow your own. So some years ago I started growing my own.

Lemon Verbena, also know as Lippia citriodora or Aloysia triphylla, is sadly not hardy enough for our climate, so I grow it in pots. In a sunny and sheltered spot, with some shade from the strong afternoon sun, it thrives. I have managed to harvest enough to last me through the winter already this year. (I drink one cup a day). So my next harvest will be for gifts, especially for my niece who also appreciates this lovely tea.

Harvesting is simple. Just snip fresh growth, shaping the shrub as you go, and taking care not to shorten it by too much as to weaken the plant. I cut mine by about a third (in autumn by about half). In spring and summer it will start producing new stems and leaves immediately.

Drying the leaves thoroughly is very important if you want to store them. I strip them from the stems, spread them out on a baking sheet and leave them in an airy place, out of direct sunlight, turning them every day. Within a few days they have withered completely and can be stored in an airtight container for up to a year. (I always add a piece of pasta to absorb any possible remaining bit of moisture).

If I have some strong healthy plants in autumn I will overwinter them in my stairwell, which is very light but not heated. I will water very very sparsely and most of the leaves will turn yellow and drop. But as soon as the plants are given some warmth and water in spring, they start regenerating. By the middle of May they can go back outside and be gently acclimatised to sunny conditions. From my experience night-time temperatures shouldn’t be below about 10°C. However, I always order new organic plants for the Spring in case mine don‘t revive. I can never have too many! 😉

Do you grow Lemon Verbena? Perhaps you have some tips I haven‘t mentioned?

Here are a couple of links to some recipes using this herb that I have posted in the past.

Lemon Verbena/Lemon Verbena Sorbet (vegan)

Lemon Cake (not vegan)

Or simply add a couple of leaves to an iced drink.

They smell wonderful. 😃

Now, talking of iced drinks…

Stay cool! 😉😎☀️

In Vase on Monday: Dazzlers

The sunlight has been quite dazzling recently, as have the white flowers in and around my garden. I decided to combine them in a vase, joining Cathy at Rambling in the Garden for her Monday meme.

I had forgotten how prickly Cleome can be, and the strong smell of the Feverfew Fleabane surprised me too… maybe because it was cut early in the day?

The Gaura were smothered in bees and other small pollinators when I cut them, which was pleasing to see.

Cosmos Purity needs a bit longer to get going as usual, producing loads of (pretty) foliage but few flowers. Still, I cut a couple.

The Echinacea is Baby Swan White, which is possibly actually E. White Swan as it has turned out to be much taller and larger than it should be!

A Scabiosa ochroleuca was permitted to join the rest, despite not being really white but more cream. A sprig of Queen Ann’s Lace was added and finally a couple of sprigs of Artemisia Silver Queen, which I should use more often as a filler as it is such a thug it needs cutting back constantly!

We had another fantastic blue sky to the north this morning, but it is getting very warm again. This vase is nice and refreshing to look at indoors. 😃

Wishing you all blue skies and sunshine (and some kind of refreshment too 😉) this last week of July!