26 August 2015

Seed Harvest 2015

Mary Lou's Lunaria annua grown on Shaw Island;
willow basket, handwoven in England.
Anno 26 August 2015
Shaw Island, WA.
Seeds for sale at Gatehouse Seeds, 

Squaw Bay Road, Shaw Island.

There are still a few gardeners with an "attitude", who won't let this "commoner" into their flower borders; how nice to see some sophisticated gardeners who are enjoying the beauty of the old fashioned Lunaria. Particularly the seed pods of August. Here's a photograph caught from a sneak preview of an open garden––sponsored by the Hardy Plant Society and the Garden Conservancy for the Open Gardens Tour in the Beaverton, OR., area happening this weekend August 2015.
Photo courtesy of Scott Weber
Rhone Street Garden Blog
August 2015.

23 August 2015

🌿 BLUE SAILORS 🌿 Local Roadside Wildflower Seeds

"Blue Sailors"
(Cichorium intybus) 

A resident of Shaw Island roadsides.

Common Name: Blue Sailors

Life Style: Hardy, perennial herb.

Native Growing Region: Europe and the Near East. Common on roadsides in the San Juan Islands.

Flower: fine sky blue, July to October. "This may be the only plant of our area that can be instantly recognized by color alone." (Wildflowers of the Pacific Northwest from Alaska to Northern California by Lewis J. Clark.)

Tolerates: Drought. Deer.

Description: Can reach 3' to 5' if growing in an area not mowed by roadside work crews.

Soil: Light, preferably alkaline. Sunny and open.

Uses: Can be grown for culinary purposes and for a nutritious pasture and fodder for animals. Dried petals are used for potpourri. Buds can be pickled. This European immigrant has been cultivated for many years, both for its leaves and roots. The roots are sliced, roasted, and ground as an additive to coffee. Europeans familiar from an early age with chicory-flavored coffee consider as improvements the added color, bitterness and body. 

Chicory is often grown in floral clocks for the regular opening of its flowers and their closing five hours later. These opening times relate to latitude, but the leaves always align with the north. Gardeners interested in metaphysics credit this plant with life-giving forces.

This plant is mentioned by Scott Atkinson and drawn by Fred Sharpe in their wonderful Wild Plants of the San Juan Islands. 

Notes: great data listed here

22 August 2015

🌿 Herb BORAGE 🌿

Herb Borage
Scientific name of Borage officinalis

Common Name: Borage

Life Cycle: Hardy Annual

Native Growing Region: Mediterranean region.

Degree of Difficulty: EASY

Tolerates: DEER and DROUGHT.

Flowers: Small, wispy five-pointed stars of clear, silky azure blue with a sharp black point sticking out the middle."The flowers are a beautiful pure blue often chosen for embroidery on fine medieval tapestries and on scarves for tournament jousters. They were included in the page borders of herbals and Book of Hours. For courage, they were floated in the stirrup-cups given to Crusaders at their departure. The noble qualities of borage may derive from its high content of calcium, potassium and mineral salts; research suggests borage works on the adrenal gland, where courage begins." (The Complete Book of Herbs. Bremness, Lesley. Viking Studio Books. 1988.)

The common thread running through historical descriptions of borage is its ability to make men and women glad and merry, to comfort the heart, dispel melancholy and give courage. 
Dies back very soon after flowering but loves to self sow, so we can enjoy several crops in one season, according to Jerry Traunfeld, The Herb Farm Cookbook. Scribner. 2000. 

Light, dry, well-drained soil. Will self-sow freely on light soils. Prune to keep tidy. Maintenance is LOW. No serious disease or insect problems.

Uses: The splendid color and form of the flowers make them an invaluable garnish. Can be sprinkled in salads and crystallized for cake decoration.Many cosmetic and medicinal uses.
Plant near strawberries as they stimulate each other's growth. 
Traditionally used as a garnish in a Pimm's Cup cocktail. 

Attracts honey bees to the garden.
When burned, the nitrate of potash content will emit sparks and slight explosive sounds, like fireworks.

Borage as a cure for a swoon click here

These seeds are available at
Gatehouse Seeds on Squaw Bay Road, Shaw Island.

21 August 2015

🌿 Chilean Glory Flower 🌿 (Eccremocarpus scaber "Tresco Gold")

Chilean Glory Flower
Eccremocarpus scaber "Tresco Gold"
(on right.)
Loving the heat in a "wall pot" on Shaw Island, WA.
August 2015.

Common Names: Chilean Glory Flower; Chupa-Chupa; Lorita & Voqui.

Life Cycle: Perennial vine.

Native: Chile and Peru.

Flowers: July to October. Will flower the first year if sown early.

Vines: If supported, vines can reach 12'. They are NOT an aggressive thug.

Award: The prestigious RHS Award of Garden Merit (AGM).

Sowing: Indoors in late winter to early spring or sow directly outdoors from May onward.

Soil: loves neutral to slightly acidic, rich soil in full sun.

Propagation: usually by seed.

Degree of difficulty: EASY.

Notes: An excellent greenhouse specimen; will grow happily in a container where they will last a long time. Wonderful weaving through roses, clematis, on fences, etc. Often grown as an annual.

15 August 2015

🌿 Herb Lovage (Levisticum officinale) 🌿

Plated Umbels of Lovage seed
(Levisticum officinale)
Shaw Island, 

Photo this day 15 August '15.

Common Name: Lovage; "Love Parsley"; "Mountain Celery", in Italy.

Life Cycle: Hardy, Herbaceous Perennial.

Native: Most say the Mediterranean, but others dispute that.

Height: 8'-10' at maturity in 3 years.

Bloom: Tall umbels of white/yellow flowers, in the 2nd year.

Tolerates: Deer.

Site: Full sun or partial shade.

Sowing: September to October or February to June.


Cultivation since the time of Pliny (23-79AD), long grown in Europe. 
Lovage art
by Louise M. Smith©
One of 16 watercolors in
The Herb Farm Cookbook.

Reference for this post:
The HerbFarm Cook Book
Traunfeld, Jerry.
Scribner, N.Y. 2000.

      This will tower over your herb garden with its architectural beauty. One plant is enough but try to replant with a new plant every few years. Give it good soil, some water and deadhead the flower stalks if you don't wish new seedlings around the base of the plant. Traunfeld writes that this plant will tolerate more shade than most herbs; in hot climates, it dislikes baking in the sun.
Good for use in S. European cuisine, where leaves are used as an herb, roots as a vegetable and the seeds as a spice. For the essence of celery without the trial of growing that vegetable, this is for you. Lovage has a distinct flavor and is greatly appreciated by food aficionados.
       It is considered a prize on the list of good companion plants that improve the health of all garden vegetables. Tender growth has the best flavor, so in summer, around June, consider pruning back to encourage new leaves. Will die down in winter but will re-emerge in spring. 
      Lovage has been used in alcoholic cordials for centuries––mixed with tansy and yarrow then mixed with brandy. The original cordials were used on long voyages. First cordial containing lovage was recorded in 14 C; it is used in some liqueurs with Borage, as one of the Pimms mixes in production today.
      Medieval travelers tucked the leaves into their shoes because of the antiseptic and deodorizing properties. 
      Lovage flowers are adored by honey bees and Swallowtail butterflies. That is enough reason to grow this herb.
Fresh seeds of this herb available
at the Shaw Island Gatehouse,
under the Dragon on Squaw Bay Road.

14 August 2015

🌿 Artichoke Bouquet 🌿

For Charlie and Amy
Enjoy the Kale in your community garden.
And for Lauren and Rueben,
Here are a few leaves picked for you today.
Appreciate your purchase and notes at the Gatehouse.

11 August 2015

🌿 AQUILEGIA vulgaris 🌿

AQUILEGIA vulgaris
Spring, Shaw Island, WA.

Common name: Columbine
Type: Herbaceous Perennial
Growing region:  Zones 3 to 8
Days to sprout: 14-28.
Height: 1.5 to 3-ft.
Bloom time: April to May
Bloom Description: Blue or violet-blue.
Sun: full sun to part shade.
Water: medium
Maintenance: medium
Flower: showy
Attracts: Hummingbirds
Tolerates: Rabbits

Easily grown in average, medium moisture, well-drained soil. Surface sow.
Remove flowering stems after bloom to encourage additional flowers. When foliage depreciates, plants may be cut to the ground. Aquilegia may be easily grown from seed, will naturalize in the garden over time; self-sowing easily. Seed collected from garden plants, may not come true because different varieties of columbine may cross-pollinate in the garden producing seed that is at variance with either or both parents. This seed is harvested from a plot of blues. They can also be easily grown in large pots.

Genus name comes from the Latin word for eagle (aquila) in reference to the talon-like spurs on most flowers.
Columbine comes from the Latin word columba meaning dove-like. The number and varieties of Columbines are staggering.
These seeds should be 90% blue tones as I still rogue out a few pink and magenta in the same garden.

Borders, rock gardens, cottage gardens, woodland gardens or naturalized areas. A good choice for a hummingbird garden. Continue to water plants after bloom to enjoy the ground cover effect of the foliage.
Long lasting for flower bouquets.
Research notes: Missouri Botanical Garden.

Aquilegia vulgaris
Common name is Columbine.
A dependable, easy perennial, great for bouquets.
Seeds for sale at the Gatehouse,
Squaw Bay Road, Shaw Island.
Sold out for 2017

05 August 2015

Thank You Figs

Thanks to the Newberrys, for the note at the seed shed. A bouquet for you.

Sweet seeds of the fig from the Bryant garden.
Blue Elderberry seeds

SEDUM nussbaumerianum
Eccremocarpus scaber "Tresco Gold"
Shaw Island, 4 August 2015.