Source of Photograph.....
Camellia sinensis is the source of all green teas, and the differences in taste of the different types of teas are the results of different processing techniques, and differences in individual plants. Green teas are made by allowing the leaves to wither in hot air, then pan frying or placing in an oven to halt the fermentation process. Oolong teas are wilted in the sun, then bruised and allowed to partially ferment, until the leaf edges turn slightly red. Black teas are fermented in humid, cool rooms until the entire leaf is darkened. Studies suggest that the Green Teas are the most beneficial for health because the leaves are not allowed to ferment at all, preserving the antioxidant properties of the fresh leaf.
Please stay tuned for the next installment.....
Health benefits of taking Green Teas internally include relief from digestive disorders and gastritis, treatment of infectious dysentery, relief from symptoms of inflammatory bowel disease, guarding against tooth decay, boosting the immune system, preventing and combating cancers, including breast, prostate, stomach, esophageal, pancreatic, liver, and skin cancers, combating leukemia cells, decreasing risk of heart disease, cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, and stroke, and possibly being of benefit in blood sugar regulation in diabetics. Preliminary studies also show that the powerful antioxidant effects may have a role in preventing the ravages to the body associated with aging, therefore making it a possible anti-aging substance. It also appears that using green tea as a gargle may help prevent the onset of flu, as it appears to have some fairly powerful anti-viral properties. Other anti-viral uses very probably include fighting HIV and AIDS, and certain strains of hepatitis C and herpes simplex, though more studies need to be done relating to these problems. As an anti-bacterial, Green Tea is believed to help prevent the growth of e-coli in the intestines.
Externally, green teas can be used for cuts, scrapes, wounds, cold sores, acne, and herpes sores. The easiest way to gain these benefits is to place a used teabag on these areas for treatment (while simultaneously drinking the tea, of course!).
Green tea is in general not harmful and has few side-effects, so to reap the benefits from it, you can drink 3-10 cups per day. However, it does contain caffeine, so you may want to avoid it right before bedtime if caffeine interferes with your sleep. Also, if you are prone to being anemic, use Green teas in moderation, as they appear to reduce the body's ability to utilize iron.
Source of Photograph.....
Depending on who is doing the talking, ground ivy can be classified as either an aggressive, uncontrollable lawn weed or a fast-growing, attractive ground cover. Also commonly called Creeping Charlie, ground ivy is a member of the mint family, a family that includes some seriously invasive individuals. As far as growth habit and rapid spread are concerned, ground ivy is a contender, so beware.
Ground Ivy is a sprawling, warm season perennial with the characteristic square stems (which are often purple) of mint family members. When brushed or crushed, the rounded, scalloped leaves emit a pleasant minty scent and the dainty, rather inconspicuous flowers are violet in color. Left to its own devices, ground ivy will spread quickly and aggressively, choking out lawn grasses and other shorter and weaker plants. However, it really doesn't seem to affect taller plants and bulbs much at all, and its thick spread does effectively crowd out and eventually eliminate less attractive garden invaders such as crabgrass.
In the wild, ground ivy tends to proliferate in somewhat shady, moist areas, but it will also tolerate hot, dry, full sun positions. It has few pest problems and spreads by creeping stems that root at the nodes. You won't find ground ivy at the garden center in the spring, so the only way to get it may be from someone who is plagued by it, and they will willingly let you have all you can use.
If you are a brave soul who wants to try ground ivy as a ground cover, make sure you have a good-sized barrier to hold it in check, or it will jump over and quickly choke out grass and other low-growing ornamentals. For those who consider it a weed, there is unfortunately no good way to eliminate it unless only a very small area is involved. Good garden practices and regular mowing are helpful, along with hand pulling whenever you see new individuals. For more severe infestations, pre-emergent herbicides don't seem to work too well, but post-emergents can help when done carefully in the fall after the weather cools. Alternately, multiple tillings (this will take commitment) and reseeding of grass may be the only way out in severe cases. Beware, though, that tilling ground ivy may make your problems even worse, as each node is capable of producing a new plant.
It is really a shame that ground ivy is such an aggressive little plant, as it can be quite attractive as a ground cover with other flowering ornamentals spaced throughout. It also has well-known medicinal properties, and a pleasant smell - two good qualities that somewhat redeem it from abject categorization as a noxious weed.
Horehound is an old medicinal herb, best known as an agent used in cough and cold preparations. It is a perennial member of the Mint family, and has the characteristic square stems common to mints. It is an attractive plant to bees, and has sort of a musky odor when brushed. The leaves are covered with white hairs, giving the plant an overall wooly appearance.
Horehound is not the prettiest plant in the herb garden, but is still a worthwhile addition. Because of its menthol-like taste, it was long used in the past as a flavoring for sweets and teas. and as a substitute for hops in beer. Medicinally, it is still used today (as it has been for centuries) in some herbal cough lozenges, syrups, and chest congestion remedies.
Horehound is an easy to grow herb that self seeds readily, and may become a weed if left to grow unrestricted - as is true for most members of the mint family. It prefers full sun and dry, well-drained soil, and survives fairly severe drought conditions. In fact, though Horehound will usually survive the worst summers and is hardy in winter to zone 5 or 6, the one thing that will kill it is the wetness of winter and soggy soil. It can be started from seed in early spring, but is also easily propagated by root division or stem cuttings. Flowers are tiny, white, and inconspicuous, ringing the stems in mid to late summer.
Horehound can be cut for drying or fresh use in the first year, and should be cut again just as it flowers in the second year for the most potency. The leaves lose potency quickly, so after harvesting, chop them so they will dry quickly, and then promptly store in airtight jars.
Wisdom is oftentimes nearer when we stoop than when we soar.
William Wordsworth, 1798
Because of its strong, camphor-like smell, Hyssop is known mainly as a cleansing herb. Interestingly, the name is mentioned in the Bible, but it is not clear whether or not this is the same plant we see today. However, the volatile oil of Hyssop is used today as a key ingredient in some liquors, including Benedictine and Chartreuse.
Hyssop germinates rapidly and adapts readily to being grown in containers. It prefers warm and rather dry soil. After flowering, it should be cut back to ground level in the fall. It can be started from seed, cuttings, or division. Prune occasionally to remove flower heads. Harvest only green plant matter, because woody parts have little characteristic oil. Bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds love this plant, and this alone makes it a valuable addition to the herb garden. It also has merit as a companion plant for other herbs and vegetables. Please see Companion Planting for more information. Hang bunches upside down in a warm, dry place and store the dried plant in tightly covered containers.
Lantana (or White Sage) is a woody, shrubby perennial plant that does well in containers, as a bedding plant, or on a slope for erosion control. Many are hairy, prickly plants that have a kind of spicy-pungent odor when bruised (some liken this smell to cat pee, unfortunately).
Lantana offers bright color that is attractive to bees and butterflies, making it a good addition to a Habitat-type of situation. The flowers are borne in clusters and are bi-colored, somewhat resembling the common Verbena (they are in the same family and are close relatives). Lantana is not related to the Sage family, despite it's nickname. Flower colors include white, blue, purple, orange, lilac, and yellow. Yellow and orange are by far the most commonly available colors and can be found in just about every garden store all season. You might have to hunt for some of the other colors, but they too are readily available in most areas.
Lantana does well in sun or part shade, and prefers a rich, loose, well drained soil, although it will still perform well in less than perfect conditions. It does appreciate some shelter from the elements, and does well alongside a fence or against the house. It has naturalized in certain warmer areas, such as Florida and Texas, and is drought resistant once established. It will not tolerate severe winters, so grow it as an annual if you are below Zone 7 or so. It is a low-maintenance plant that can grow up to 8 feet if it is happy in it's position, but pruning works well if you prefer a smaller shrub. It mingles well in mixed borders and also makes an attractive specimen plant (but you will have to pinch it to make it more full). Deadheading spent flowers is also a good idea with this plant to encourage more bloom.
Lantana can be propagated by cuttings, root suckers, or seed. Cuttings take a long time to bloom again, but once they start blooming they will keep it up, and they are a very good way to make new plants. The seeds are borne at the tips of the stems and are berry-like, starting out as green, and later turning purplish-black. Once the seed has ripened (turned black), it can be planted immediately with no further preparation, but if you are sending seed to a friend or want to store it, let it dry in an airy place on paper towels for a few days before storing. Be careful about kids and pets eating Lantana seed, as it can be pretty toxic when overdosed (there has been one known child fatality). Toxicity is in the green seed only - once the seeds turn black, they are no longer a threat. See the picture above for a fairly clear illustration of the seeds in their various stages. The rest of the plant is used almost world-wide for it's medicinal properties, and crushed leaves make a good furniture polish.
Lantana is one of those plants with only scattered and often conflicting reports on it's use in herbal medicine, so approach this one with caution. As stated above, the green berries are toxic, and there has been one human fatality attributed to them. Animals will also be affected by eating these plants, though in the documentation I have studied, it doesn't say whether it was the leaves or the berries that caused the toxicity (though I suspect it was the berries). Most domestic animals will not eat this plant, probably due to a combination of the taste and smell, so they are not a huge problem in the home landscape, but Lantana has been known to cause fatalities in farm animals, such as cows and goats.
Although working around Lantana plants can cause a dermatitis type of rash (probably due to their spiny nature), the leaf actually seems to work as a soothing agent in cases of insect stings, skin eruptions, cuts, scrapes, ulcerations, the itch of measles and chicken pox, and finally, parasites, such as scabies. See How to Make Herbal Oils & Ointments for specifics on how to use this plant for these problems. Another method of itch relief is to place a handful of fresh leaves in a mesh bag or something similar, and place it under the bath tap water.
Lantana is mentioned in folklore as being of help in snakebite cases, and it definitely wouldn't hurt to use it when available in cases of snakebite while camping, etc. In such an emergency, crush the leaves and apply directly to the affected area. Also, if you find yourself without a toothbrush, Lantana stems make a decent substitute because of their spiny nature.
Lantana leaves can be used in a Tea for relief of symptoms of rheumatism (a bath might help too - see above), indigestion, joint pain, flu, coughs, colds, sore throat, fever, and possibly tapeworms - and can be boiled and eaten for relief from headaches, body pain, and toothaches. The leaves also seem to work as an inhalant for respiratory problems. To use as an inhalant, pound the leaves, and boil in water with a tight fitting lid for about 5 minutes. Using a funnel, pour the hot liquid into a glass container with a narrow mouth, and inhale continuously until the symptoms retreat. This strategy can also be tried for headaches and colds.
It appears that Lantana has properties that are promising in some of the more serious diseases, such as diabetes and cancer, and that it works almost as well as some of it's chemically-based peers in suppressing the immune system for organ transplantations. These studies are in their infancy, but definitely warrant further research.
Lastly, Lantana leaves, dried and burned in a glass jar or other fireproof container, have been used for centuries as a natural mosquito repellent. Consider mixing them with beeswax that you can find at any crafts store for a homemade herbal mosquito repellant at your next outdoor party.
We never forgive those we've wronged.
Source of Photograph.....
Lavender is the quintessential English or cottage garden plant, and is a must for the perennial or herb garden. It has grayish looking lance-shaped leaves that make a good backdrop for other plants and flowers, and the wonderful fragrant purple, pink, or white flowers make it an excellent choice for walkways or in containers near doorways or on porches or decks.
Lavender is a perennial member of the large mint family and does well in situations with full sun and dry, well-drained, average soil. Though there are around 30 varieties, the most popular for the home garden are the hardy English and more tender French and Spanish types. English lavender is considered the top choice for fragrance purposes, but all the lavenders make lovely, fragrant additions to almost any type of home situation, as long as they are given very well-drained soil and lots of sunlight. Though English lavender can make it through the winter if given some shelter from the elements and a good protective mulch, the French and Spanish types should be moved inside or replaced yearly.
Lavender is difficult to raise from seed because of the long germination time, and most plants are started from cuttings or from root division. Cuttings 2-3 inches long can be taken from side shoots in the summer and placed in moist but very well-drained sand or soil. Keep in a shady area or under some sort of sun shield, and plant in the garden after about one year. During the first year in the garden, keep flower shoots cut off to help the plant bush out, but in subsequent years, it can be allowed to bloom freely. Lavender appreciates deadheading of the spent flowers to keep it productive. Harvesting should be done on a hot, dry day at the end of summer for the best oils and fragrance.
Though we are all aware of the fragrant properties of the lavenders, these plants also make useful additions to the medicine cabinet and are often used in various craft projects. The flowers can be candied for use in decorating cakes and confections (see Violet for instructions), and the leaves can be substituted for Rosemary in chicken dishes, but otherwise Lavender is not used widely in cooking. The flower spikes make wonderful additions to dried and fresh flower arrangements, the oils make for the best in aromatherapy and are used medicinally and for homemade bed and bath items, and the attractive, bushy habit makes Lavender a natural for many different types of garden situations. The stems, once stripped of leaves and flowers can be burned like an incense stick for a wonderful room freshener. Additionally, this is a plant that attracts bees and beneficial insects. For specifics on other uses for this wonderful herb, please see the links above.
We are not human beings trying to be spiritual. We are spiritual beings trying to be human.
Lemon Balm is a perennial herb that is grown mostly for culinary purposes. It is a member of the mint family, and as with all the mints, it grows quickly and spreads easily with minimal care. It reseeds freely, and under reasonable conditions forms a nice clump of dark green, toothed leaves. Now, as far as spreading, in my garden in the deep south, Lemon Balm is not a rampantly spreading pest, only spreading a little bit here and there from year to year. However, my sister who lives in the Midwest says that her plant is just awful about spreading everywhere and apparently in her area it is a rampaging nightmare. So proceed with caution.
Lemon Balm prefers rich, moist soil in either full sun or partial shade, but will still perform in less than perfect conditions. It forms a nice mound of bright green leaves in the spring, and then flowers around mid summer. Flowers are fairly inconspicuous and are white or off-white, with the same taste and properties as the leaves. After flowering, the plant may become kind of raggedy-looking, not adding much in the way of beauty to the garden. At this point, feel free to cut the whole plant way back to maybe 6-8 inches off the ground. It will then rather quickly re-grow into a nice mound of fresh foliage similar to what you had in the spring. Lemon Balm is an excellent first plant for the beginning herb grower, and will forgive lapses in watering and fertilizing. Lemon Balm is hardy to at least zone 5, but will appreciate a nice blanket of mulch in fall in all but the warmest areas.
Lemon Balm is native to the Mediterranean region, but is grown widely in herb gardens across America. Lemon Balm is perfectly safe for ingestion, and is used to enhance tea and other iced drinks, soups, stews, salads, sauces, and vegetables. It has a light, lemony scent with maybe a hint of mint. Add fresh Lemon Balm leaves to green salads, fruit salads, chicken salads, poultry stuffing, and fish marinades. The leaves also make a tasty addition to asparagus, broccoli, corn, beans, olives, and shellfish. Lemon Balm can be used fresh, dried, or ground. Harvest before it flowers for optimum taste. Dry it quickly because it loses much of its taste in long drying processes. Be sure when you harvest that it is on a dry, non-humid day for optimal drying conditions. Use both dried leaves and stems for Teas.
One real world is enough.
Lemongrass is native to Malaysia, and is an important ingredient in Southeast Asian cooking. It is a tender perennial with a mild lemony fragrance and a lemon-citrus type taste. The stalks are too tough to eat, but they can be chopped and pounded to add flavor to fish or poultry sauces, and stir fry. Lemongrass has long, thin, sharp grass-like gray-green leaves, and a scallion-like base. It grows to up to 6 feet under ideal conditions in the tropics, and to about 3 feet in more northerly climates, so use it as a mid to back of the border plant. It makes a nice contrasting backdrop for most any shorter annual or perennial flower or herb.
Lemongrass is easy to grow from seed, but if you find some at the grocery or specialty store, choose a stalk with a few roots still attached and you can put that in water and root it there to be transplanted into the garden later. I actually saw some Lemongrass starts at the garden center this spring, so hopefully in the near future, Lemongrass starts will be more widely available everywhere. Lemongrass prefers a sandy-type soil, but likes the soil evenly moist, so a good layer of mulch is a must for this plant. A bog type situation also works well for Lemongrass.
Lemongrass is not frost-hardy, so in the colder climates it should be dug and potted to be grown indoors in a sunny window for the winter. Use it in chicken and seafood dishes, curries, casseroles, soups, and stews. Ground stalks can be added directly to dishes. It can be frozen, dried, or used fresh.
Lemongrass has insect repellant properties and is an ingredient in citronella. See medicinal uses for more information.
Let my words, like vegetables, be tender and sweet, for tomorrow I may have to eat them......Author Unknown
Lovage is mostly a medicinal herb, but it does have uses in the kitchen, as it tastes like celery. It is a large plant at 3-7 feet tall that looks dramatic in the garden and smells like strong celery. The leaves, stems, and seeds all taste like celery, and it can be used in place of celery in just about any dish. It has a well-rounded flavor and adds life to no-salt and low-salt dishes.
It is only possible to live happily ever after on a day to day basis.
Marjoram is a tender perennial that is usually grown as an annual. It grows to 2 feet high at most, and is a welcome addition to front or mid border positions in the herb garden. Its has stems with many branches filled with oval gray-green leaves that cascade down to make a nice mound. As the stems touch the ground, they root, making the mound gradually bigger. This growth habit makes Marjoram an excellent choice for containers, as it cascades gracefully down the side of the pot.
Marjoram is an excellent culinary herb that blends well with other seasonings. It is often used in turkey stuffings, and is a subtly perfumed, calming herb. The leaves can be used dried or fresh. Its taste is reminiscent of mild oregano, and it can be used as an oregano substitute. It retains much of its flavor when dried, but should be kept away from bright sunlight to preserve the color and taste.
Marjoram seeds are very small and are usually started indoors and transplanted outside after all danger of frost has passed. The seedlings are small, so be sure that weeds do not overtake them before they are established. Stem cuttings are an easier way to propagate this plant, as they root readily and are true to the parent plant. Marjoram prefers rather rich, well-drained soil in full sun or dappled shade. As always, mulch is a good idea to minimize weeds. Marjoram makes a good companion plant for other herbs and vegetables. See Companion Planting for more details.
Use Marjoram in a variety of dishes, including beef, veal, lamb, poultry, vegetables and potatoes. It can also be used in herbed butters and flavored oils and vinegars.
I consider every plant hardy until I have killed it myself....Sir Peter Smithers
Mint is an invasive perennial herb that sends up new plants from the spreading roots. It has the distinctive square stems common to most of the mints, but interbreeds readily, making it difficult at times to determine the exact species. Most mints are native to Europe and Asia, but mint has naturalized throughout North America.
Mint is important commercially as a source of flavor and menthol. Peppermint is used widely in chewing gum, candy, and other sweets, but is too strong for most other home culinary uses. However, it can be used to make tea and garnish fruit drinks, etc. True Peppermint is a sterile hybrid, and does not produce seeds. The plant must be propagated by cuttings, divisions, or layering.
Spearmints are milder and more versatile culinary mints. They compliment all kinds of meat, fish and vegetable dishes. They are excellent combined with just about any vegetable, and in soups, peas, sauces, candy and chocolate.
Apple Mint has a slightly fruity flavor and is good for garnishing drinks and adding flavor to fruit salads, cream cheeses and cottage cheese.
Mints spread rapidly, and can be used as a fragrant Ground Cover, but their growth is rampant and they will take over other plants unless contained behind barriers. Plant them in rich, moist soil in full sun to partial shade. They do have some merit in companion planting despite their invasive nature, but care should be taken to contain their growth using barriers.
Please see Companion Planting for further information.
Our vegetable garden is coming along well, with radishes and beans up, and we are less worried about revolution that we used to be....E. B. White
Source of Photograph.....
Mentioning Oregano immediately brings to mind tomato sauces and Italian cooking. Oregano is part of a fairly large genus of herbs, and there are many similar plants in this genus that are mistakenly identified as Oregano. A notable one is Marjoram. Oreganos are aromatic perennial plants with hairy square stems, and have a hot, peppery taste. Although we think of it mostly as being an addition to pizza and spaghetti, Oregano actually mingles well with a large number of foods, including roasted and stewed beef, poultry, game, marinated vegetables, potatoes, cheese and egg combinations, onions, shellfish, and roasted bell peppers.
Oregano can be used fresh or dried. It prefers well drained, average soil and full sun. It is native to the Mediterranean all the way to central Asia, but has naturalized widely in North America. It has tubular rose-purple to white flowers and blooms June to September. Plants themselves can be upright or mounding with underground rhizomes, with a maximum height for the uprights of 2-3 feet. Regular cuttings promote bushy growth on all oreganos.
Cuban Oregano is a member of the same family as Coleus, and as such is not a true oregano. It does share the same general taste as the oreganos, and can be used as a substitute, though this is more common in Cuba and surrounding areas than it is in the US. Cuban Oregano makes a nice houseplant - especially the variegated type shown above, and is propagated easily by cuttings.
Oxalis (Wood Sorrel)
The secret of happiness lies in taking a genuine interest in all the details of daily life, and in elevating them to art.....William Morris
Source of Photograph.....
Nice, neat mounds. Pretty pink/purple, white, or yellow flowers. Medicinal properties, and the flowers, bulbs, and leaves are edible and taste good too! Who wouldn't go for Oxalis, otherwise named Wood Sorrell......
ME ME ME ME ME!!!
I don't give derogatory personal opinions on specific plant materials too much on this site, but I have definite opinions on this cute little beast from hades. I don't care if it cures cancer - it is an invasive, nasty little creature that I will have to live with and that future owners of my house will have to live with until a nuclear explosion wipes humanity out. Never fear though, the Oxalis will survive.
But I digress - my job is to profile this miserable little entity in the gardening and herb world, and I will diligently do that. Note that on the links to the left, I have added an unusual extra link specifically dealing with eradication of this wretched little nightmare, including what I have personally learned in my own remarkably unsuccessful quest to rid my garden of it.
Alrighty then, to be fair, there are Oxalis specimens that are not totally invasive, but be afraid......be very afraid....and thoroughly do your homework when contemplating adding this plant to your home landscaping scheme.
As noted above, Oxalis is a pretty little plant, often called Sourgrass or Wood Sorrel. The leaves are clover-shaped and the flowers are borne above the neat mounds of foliage.
Flowers are pinkish-purple, yellow, or white. When it is cloudy or rainy or nighttime, the flowers all close and the leaves fold over to conserve moisture. Some non-invasive varieties have beautiful purple or purple-pink foliage in interesting shapes.
Oxalis leaves are edible and have a pleasant kind of tart-sour lemon taste. Oxalis contains Oxalic Acid, so should be eaten in moderation - more on that in the medicinal section of Oxalis linked at top left.
Non-invasive Oxalis types include:
Iron Cross - Oxalis Triangularis Purple Shamrock - Oxalis Regnellii Silver & Gold - Oxalis Braziliensis.
Invasive Oxalis types include:
Redwood Sorrel - Oxalis Oregona Violet Wood Sorrel - Oxalis Violacea White, Pink, or Yellow Wood Sorrel - Oxalis Crassipes
Oxalis is a bulb, and an energetic bulb at that. Invasive types quickly create offset bulbs for more plants, and also send out lateral runners, thus spreading rapidly in all directions. Though the plants produce seed, the seed has never been proven to be viable, and thus nobody really knows how the plant overtakes so much terrain so quickly, jumping across roads, over rivers, and into containers and window boxes on tall structures with apparent ease.
Bulbs form a dense mat underground, choking out the roots of other plants. Foliage and flowers form dense clumps above ground, robbing lower growing plants of space and light, in addition to the the root competition. Lateral runners travel fast and look similar to white icicles. The picture to the right is a clump I pulled up showing brown bulbs on the bottom, then white runners, and then stems and leaves. Oxalis will give even other aggressive plants a real run for their money, and will quickly and successfully muscle out many landscape plants, some much bigger than the Oxalis itself.
Non-aggressive types of Oxalis make wonderful houseplants, container plants, and bedding plants, with interesting foliage, pretty flowers, and long bloom times.
The more aggressive types would also make great container plants, but since we don't know for sure how they jump from one place to another, growing them in containers in the home garden would be a needlessly risky endeavor, in my opinion. Propagation for all types of Oxalis is done by digging the bulbs and separating the offshoots, best done in early spring.
Lastly, Oxalis is a common greenhouse pest, so check any potted plants you buy and if you see little green clover-shaped leaves in the pot, make sure you get rid of them roots and all before planting in the garden, or you will have created a problem that could take years to fix.
Other links related to Oxalis are provided at the top left, so if something you need has not been covered on this page, please choose a link and read on for further information.
The secret of happiness lies in taking a genuine interest in all the details of daily life, and in elevating them to art.....William Morris
While most of us think of Parsley as a throw-away garnish we find on our restaurant entrees, in reality this is an extremely useful herb that's packed with nutrients, including vitamin A, more vitamin C then an orange, several B vitamins, iron, calcium, and more.
Parsley has an easy, gentle flavor and works well in blending other flavors together in a given dish. There are three main types, curly leaf, flat leaf, and parsnip-rooted. Parsley is a biennial herb, and can be used in most foods except sweets. It is used widely in different cuisines around the world, including French and Middle Eastern dishes. The flat leaf variety has the most flavor, the curly leaf variety is the prettiest, and the parsnip variety is used like a parsnip, though we don't see it used very often in America.
Parsley can be started from seed or bought already started at any garden store in the spring. Seed starting is a slow process - it can take up to six weeks to get the seed to germinate, so buying starts is usually the best method.
Six plants should supply a family with enough for fresh use, freezing, and drying. Parsley prefers a rich soil, but will survive in almost any soil type. It likes full sun, but will also tolerate part shade. It does well in containers, but be sure to plant it where it is going to grow permanently, as it resents transplanting.
Harvest the outer stalks regularly, and cut off any flower stalks to keep it productive. Also keep weeds in check, as they compete with the Parsley and weaken the plant. In warmer climates, Parsley sets seed in its second year, and this seed can be harvested for a new crop the next spring. If you do decide to start this plant from seed, plant in the spring when all danger of frost has passed, or start inside 6 weeks before the last frost.
Parsley has merit in the ornamental garden and the curly leaf type especially makes a nice addition to cool weather plantings. Try combining with colorful pansies or snapdragons, or use by itself as an attractive walkway border. Parsley also makes a good companion plant in the garden (please see Companion Plantingfor more information).
Nature holds the key to our aesthetic, intellectual, cognitive and even spiritual satisfaction....Edward O. Wilson
If you have a problem area in the landscape and are looking for a good-looking, long-lasting, fast-growing, and virtually trouble-free ground cover, Periwinkles (Vinca Major & Vinca Minor) may just be the perfect choice for you. A member of the Dogbane family, and vining in habit, Periwinkle is not a climber but is rather an evergreen perennial vine that sprawls along the ground, quickly making a thick, attractive purple, blue, or white-flowering mat with dark green shiny leaves.
Caution should be used, however, as it is a vigorous grower and can be invasive due to its ability to take root wherever the shoots touch the ground (Vinca Major is larger and more aggressive than Vinca Minor). Nonetheless, with proper care Periwinkle can be a lovely carefree addition, especially in problem areas in the landscape, such as under trees, on slopes where grass is difficult to grow, or on the north side of a building where little else will grow.
Both vining types of Periwinkle will grow in full sun, but prefer a somewhat shady location, and will tolerate less than perfect soil if given adequate water. Full-sun will produce more flowers, but part-shade will produce better looking foliage. Stem cuttings are easy to root for those on a budget, and rooted cuttings spaced about 6 inches apart will cover the entire area by the end of the season.
Blooms appear in April and sometimes again in fall with both types, and Vinca Major may also sporadically bloom throughout the summer. Interplanting with other reliable spring-flowering bulbs such as Daffodils will virtually guarantee a memorable and maintenance-free spring landscape.
Plant Vinca Major and Minor at any point in time except the dead of winter. Break the soil up and maybe throw some compost or dried manure in to help the plants get established.
From then on, water as needed, and weed until the plants become established, at which point they should choke out most of the weeds in the area. Fungus is occasionally a problem, so try not to water from overhead if at all possible. Once established, pull any renegades that overstep their bounds, and enjoy the show!
Madagascar or Rosy Periwinkle is a close relative of the ground cover Vinca but is sold as an upright bedding plant (up to 18" in height).
It is a tender perennial that is treated as an annual in all but the warmest areas. It is the exact opposite of its cousins in that it prefers full sun, rather dry soil, hot conditions, and blooms all summer.
Flower colors pretty much range the spectrum, often with a contrasting "eye" as in the picture above. Rosy Periwinkle is propagated by seed rather than cuttings, and planted in masses makes a long-lasting, good-looking statement in the landscape.
Rosy Periwinkle is a noteworthy medicinal herb, much more so than the other Vincas, though they also have a few medicinal qualities. Please see the link at the top left for more information.
Please stay tuned for Part Four.....