Friday, April 29, 2011


Have you ever planted Borage?

Last spring I planted a bunch of it! I mean a bunch! The little blue flowers attracted me to it. Apparently is attracts something else as well ...bees! I don't mind actually I love them and want to encourage them to my garden. I actually had heard that bees love Borage but I had no idea just how much they love them!

 You could stand nearby and hear the humming from the bees, it was pretty loud!

I am actually seriously looking into  keeping my own bees and may be getting them very soon (I hope)!! I am so excited! So right now I am looking into planting more flowers that are bee favorites that provide pollen and nectar. This is one plant they love!

Now there are some pro's and con's to Borage.

  • It's beautiful!! It is loaded with the loveliest wedgewood-blue starshaped flowers with black anthers. Which is where it gets another nickname, Starflower.
  • Borage is rich in nectar which is what attracts it to bees making it benefical to them as a food source. Borage is also nicknamed Bee Bread for that reason.
  • Borage is a wonderful companion for tomatoes, strawberries, squash and most other plants. It is said to deter tomato hornworms and cabbageworms. It adds trace minerals to the soil and is great to add to the compost pile. The leaves contain vitamin C and are rich in calcium, potassium and mineral salts. It is said to increase the flavor to strawberries when planted with it.  Planted with tomatoes it is said to increase disease resistance and improve growth.
  • You can actually eat it! Most people including myself don't care for it and I'll tell you the reason on the con's but it does actually have a mild cucumber taste (however I would rather just eat the cucumber!). The leaves and flowers are edible as well as making oil from the seeds. The leaves are best picked when young and be used in many different ways. The flowers can be eaten at anytime and can also be used in many ways for cullinary purposes.  They make a pretty addition to a salad  (just pluck the back off the flower first) and when candied for decorating cakes.  I will list a couple recipes using it at the bottom.
  • Borage has been used for centuries for its medicinal uses. For example releiving symptoms of bronchitis and an anti- diarrhoeal remedy. There are many many uses for it but I do advise you to be very careful when using it for medicinal purposes. Consuming large amounts of it can be toxic to your health but in moderation it it is said to be quite beneficial. Do your research first!

  • Borage is a large (3 ft high) gangly plant with thick soft hollow stems. Because of this it will eventually flop over all over the place and bends very easily. After a good heavy rain, or wind and the weight of all those lovely blue flowers is will go right over! Not very pretty at that point! I started ripping them out one by one that summer because it started looking so dreadfully messy.
  • Another thing is it's leaves. They are about about 6 inches long and are about 1 1/2 inches wide. They are large oval shaped leaves that are covered in tiny white prickly hairs...actually the entire plant is covered in them. This is why many people do not care to eat the leaves unless maybe you boil them first. The younger leaves are a lot less hairy though.
  • Because of it's size it can really swamp out a vegetable, herb or flower bed so don't do like I did  and plant a bunch close together. In fact I would only plant yourself 2 maybe 3 plants depending on the size bed and room you have. A little goes a long way with this plant!

So there you have the pro's and con's on Borage. To be honest as you can see it has more pro's than con's I think and its benefical aspects of it seem to outway the con's it has. I would try it and see how you like it. It self seeds readily too, and best if direct seeded in the spring. It is also easy to rip out if you don't like it or when you grow tired of it. I definetely plan to plant more next year, mainly for the bees I hope to get. If it really does deter tomato hornworms that is reason enough to try it! I had loads of those last year and kept finding half my plants eaten by the time I would find them...I got even though as they made very large tasty treats for my "girls"! Ha!
    Borage Jelly
    This is wonderful on cucumber tea sandwiches.
    7 half pint jar Ingredients 6 cups borage leaves (and flowers), 1 tablespoon mint leaf (optional), 2 tablespoons lemons, 1 (1 3/4 ounce) package dry pectin, 5 cups sugar
    Soak 6 cups of borage leaves and mint leave if using and flowers parts in a 4 cups of cold water overnight, drain and strain, pressing the liquid out of the leaves and flowers gently.
    Measure 4 cups of the liquid, add the lemon juice, and pectin.
    Put into a deep jelly kettle and bring to a rolling boil, then add sugar and stir to mix well.
    Stir and boil hard for 1 1/2 minutes, or until mixture sheets from a wooden spoon, skim, pour into hot clean 1/2 pint jelly jars. Seal the a water bath accordingly.
    Borage Fritters
    Yield: 4 servings
    2 eggs, 1/2 cup flour, 2 teaspoons baking powder, 1 cup cold water, 1/4 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, Salt and pepper to taste, 1 bunch borage, cut into strips, 1 liter extra-virgin olive oil, for frying In a medium-sized bowl, combine the eggs, flour, baking powder, water, cheese and a pinch each of salt and pepper and whisk well to combine. Cover and rest for at least 2 hours.
    In a tall-sided, heavy-bottomed pot, heat the olive oil to 350 degrees F. Stir the borage into the batter. Drop by tablespoonfuls into the hot oil and fry until golden brown. Remove from the oil with a slotted spoon and set on a plate lined with paper towels, to drain. Sprinkle with salt and serve immediately.

I have never tried these recipes so please if you are up to making something a little different and want to give one of these a try, email your results or better yet leave a comment so anyone else thinking about trying it can know how it was.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Lesson learned

When buying fruit trees do some research first! I now have another addition to my fruit trees...another plum! *sigh* I read a lot on plants and gardening and have actually read some on growing fruit trees because I knew I wanted some one day if I could. However, that was some time ago and I had forgotten one very important thing regarding fruit tree! Some are self pollinating (self fertile) and some require another vareity of its kind in order to produce fruit. Well unfortunately I bought the kind that needs another variety to produce fruit (two of the same variety will not work)! When I bought the Bruce Plums I went by the info on the tag which said nothing about it needing another variety to produce fruit. It had fruit on it already so I didn't even think about it. I guess it was pollinated at the nursery. I also bought them for there size which was very important to me.

 So I started digging the holes for them and this morning I decided to look them up and find more info on the Bruce Plums. So I'm reading and everything I am reading about them sounds wonderful. One of the best plum trees for the south. It is one of the toughest and hardy plum trees there are that comes from hardy stock. They are very tolerant of direct sun, excessive heat and humidity.  Flavor is tops! One of the most popularly consumed plums. Ripens May -June ....then I saw it...needs a pollinator! Ugh! Now what am I going to do?! So it lists a few trees and mentions the Methley Plum as one of the best cross pollinators. So I call the nursery where I got the Bruce Plums from and they have 3 Methley's still available! Good I will be right over...after I text my husband telling him the situation.

So here we have it the Methley Plum...

Here is some information on Methley Plums in case you were interested, click on the link or if you want the basics here...
For one thing they are self fertile and do not require another tree to pollinate. It says they are great for beginners. A vigerous tree that is said to be more productive and attractive than any other plum tree. It is said to produce so much infact in one harvest that it requires multiple pickings. Though it does get a little larger than the Bruce it is said to be ideal for limited space getting 10-20 ft tall, requires little maintenance, no pruning and the ideal fruit tree for gowing in zones 5-9. Sounds like a winner to me!

 By the way the Bruce Plum tree is said to make an excellent tree to espalier. If anyone has tried this please email me about it I would love to hear about your experience with doing this!

So there you have it..lesson learned...always read up first before you buy! This tree will be going along my back fence but should be close enough to pollinate the other two trees. I hope one is enough! Otherwise I will have to open up a fruit stand!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Flower arrangments

I made a few arrangements from my roses I thought I would share.

We have nepta, Lamarque, Belinda's Dream, and shhhh some pink knockouts

Belinda's Dream, nepta and ah pink knockouts again
Sombreuil & Belinda's Dream
Another angle of the same vase but there is a Mrs B R Cant peeking out in the back..oh and chickens!
Lamarque in my very favorite color ...cobalt blue

These were not from my garden but were just some sunflowers I bought from the store and stuck in my pitcher. They only had 2 bunches lef,t the vase could have used more I think.
Ok so outside is cottage country and the inside is more country colonial...I love both.
Thanks for stopping by!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Don't knock Knockout Roses!

You know I have to admit that I never wanted to own a single knockout rose...ever! Maybe I felt that no lover of antique roses should ever stoop to the level of this modern rose now becoming so widely popular in commerce. Maybe it because they were EVERYWHERE you looked! I mean they really were everywhere and I refused to buy something that everyone and their mother and their mothers mother and their mothers mothers mother had. Ok maybe that's going a bit far but seriously they were all over the place and I had just made up my mind that I was not going to own one never ever never......

 Then low and behold I up and purchase not one, not two, but 5 of them! Yup I gave in I just gave in. Well see I ripped out some pathetic teeny tiny little azaleas that the builder just stuck on some clay soil and threw some pine straw down. So 2 years ago I ripped  everything out and tilled in some manure and planned to plant roses in its place. Well I had a very tough time choosing a row of roses that I knew for certain would look and perform good year round. So I happened along another local nursery that had all there shrubs 40% off. I had heard so much about knockouts and their outstanding disease resistance and long bloom time not to mention how little attention they needed. So I bought 5 large 3 gal. pink knockouts for $60 and you can't beat that!

So I did it I was still in a little shock that I actually bought them. That quickly wore off in no time though! I love my knockouts I actually love them...not like I do my antique roses no I wouldn't say that but still I do admit I love them. They seriously have like a suit of armor against any disease. They are super fast growers and non stop bloomers from spring through the first  hard frost. They keep most of their leaves through winter here in the SE. Require very little care. Pruning if you require or desire a certain size. Excellent landscape rose for just about any area or trouble spot. Their color almost glows at night! The flowers are bright and slowly fade to a lighter shade of pink as you see in the first picture at the top of the post. I also give them very little fertilizer if any and that doesn't seem to stop them. They are perfect for the foundation.
I have Shata Daisy 'Becky' planted in between them and they are so pretty in combination with the pinks in summer. I also have purple nepta planted in front of the middle three and together the soft purple, the pink and the white just looks so lovely together. The shasta dasies are nice too as they winter very well and keep their green color with just a little die back and then burst forth as soon as it begins to warm. They spread on there own to fill in without becoming invasive.

So if you haven't already given the Knockout roses a try I encourage you to do so. They have the single and the double in the Red (which really isn't a true red) and Pink. They have Sunny (a pretty yellow), Blushing (a lighter pink), and the Rainbow (pink petals with a yellow center). They are winter harder to USDA zone 5 and very heat tolerant.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

My 14th Wedding Anniversary present....

So my 14th Wedding Anniversary is today and what do I ask for of all things? 2 plum trees! I have always wanted to add fruit trees to my garden. I always thought it would be nice to grow some of my own fruit, after all the early cottage gardens would have had them as well. Problem is I just don't have a whole lot of room and I didn't want large trees shading my roses.

 So on a trip to Wards (a local nursery) I found a selection of fruit trees but problem was they were all 20-25ft high and wide. Then I found the only two trees they had at the perfect height...Bruce Plum..sold! They grow to a height and width of 10ft and it says they produce abundantly...perfect! Plus I love plums...that would need to be kinda important as what good would plums be if I didn't even like them. I had thought about getting some dwarf fruit trees but I was really looking for a little more height and these seemed just right. How about you? Do you have any fruit trees? If so I love to hear about them or if you have plans to add some to your garden.

Now I have the spots picked out which means I have a another  large bed to prepare around the trees. I plan doing that with another lasagna bed and plant the trees a little above ground level to accommodate the raised ground then add other plants around that. Now this does take some time but it much easier on my back then trying to dig and amend the compacted clay soil (along with small rocks left over from construction). I will show you (at least I will try) how to build a lasagna bed if you have never tried one before. I did one 2 winters ago and the roses and plants I planted in that one bed just really took off compared to the bed along the driveway or back fence that I tilled and broke my back over amending and amending and amending. The plants do fine but the results were never what they were in the lasagna bed! Not too mention the incredible aching back I received as a result! lol 
These are already producing plums too so I don't have to wait 3 years!

Here is where they are going...right on the inside of the fence.
Yes, there is a shrub missing. It's been like that for a year. Meant to get around to digging the hole for it this year but so far that hasn't happened and I am not sure if I will get to it before summer. Anyway, it's along that fence line that the tress will be going as well as a new bed going the entire length of the fence. Another reason for this spot is because the sun rises from back there so once the sun goes over the trees the shade will be behind the trees and not in front. Eventually Lord willing I would like to turn that entire side yard into a garden with curved paths between the beds and lots of roses and roses don't like shade. Those are my plans anyway but who knows, my Savior might return by the time I ever get around to filling in the entire yard!

So I want to publicly say I am so very blessed to have been married these 14 years to my husband. With Jesus Christ as the center of our marriage and us striving to put Him first every year only gets better! Amen!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Charleston gardens, roses, and flower boxes part 1

Spent the afternoon downtown with some friends and my sister for lunch and after we took another walk around Charleston snapping pictures...I hope you enjoy them and perhaps can get some ideas for some planters as they have some amazing flower box displays all over Charleston. Sorry that I do not know the names of the roses in these pictures. I did see several that I believe were Blush Noisette or Champney's Pink Cluster (though didn't take any pictures of those) which isn't surprising seeing as they are from Charleston. I wish I knew more then that but I don't. So if anyone knows for sure the names of any of them please leave a comment I would love to know what they are.

I think this may be Jeanne d'Arc  but I'm not 100%

Pink Geraniums, varigated ivy, fern



Foxgloves and Delphiniums


Neat Live Oak where the wall was built around it.

Well that's it for now. Hope you enjoyed the pictures!