Friday, July 22, 2011

From T to V - and I don't mean TV

I wanted to share with  you information on some herbs you may not be familiar with. Rather than watching TV, I did a bit of research utilizing my wonderful herb books I've accumulated over the years. Most of my books I've bought from Lucia and Michael Bettler of Lucia's Garden out of Houston, Texas. I highly recommend checking them out on line or in person if you are ever in Houston.

Tansy blooms dried are
popularly used in arrangments and wreaths.
 T for TANSY
Tansy Tanacetum vulgare – known as Ponso in Spanish. Hill and Barclay, authors of Southern Herb Growing explain it grows 3-4 feet, “is best grown in full sun, ordinary soil and likes to keep its feet dry.” It “spreads by means of rhizomes like the mints although it’s not as invasive.” The camphor fragrant evergreen fern like foliage has bright yellow flowers all summer. The button like flowers can be used as a dye and are used dried in arrangements.
Author Lesley Bremmess of the The Complete Book of Herbs recommends growing it near fruit trees to repel insects. It has been said it was used in medieval times as one of the strewing herbs, strewn on the floor and walked on to repel flies and ants.

Interesting to Note
• Tansy is a larval plant for the Painted Lady Butterfly.
• In The Language of Flowers, TANSY symbolizes everlasting life.

Vetiver shown in pots in the greenhouse. Vetiver does well in our
southern landscape. Cut back in the spring.
Vetiver makes a great clumping grass and is grown for its root. It is said to repel ants and termites and good to plant around buildings.

The fragrant root is used in:
  • perfume
  • sachets and
  • potpourris.
Hill and Barclay of Southern Herb Growing note “in tropical India, Vetiver roots are woven into mats, and other useful objects. The exotic aroma is similar to that of sandalwood.”

 I have instructions on making a rosemary angel that utilizes the Vetiver leaves for the arms, head and body. I bet these would be fun to make and smell delightful.

My mother has it growing in full sun at South Padre Island. It looks similar to pampas grass and does well here in South Texas. I'll have to get a picture of hers and share it with you.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Texas Ebony

A flowering Texas Ebony against a clear blue sky.

With the recent rains you may have noticed a profusion of blooming trees - our native tree, the Texas Ebony, its evergreen leaves unrecognizable when in full bloom.

Brad Doherty took some wonderful photos that were published in The Brownsville Herald June 29, 2011 with an article entitled Texas ebony trees in full bloom. Unfortunately the link doesn't show all the photos. One in particular I wish you could see included a blooming ebony branch in a tall oriental vase. Now that's what I call a unique arrangement that really makes a statement.

I can't wait to try this after our next rain, which I hope comes again soon.

Ala Casa Calabasa

 Something my hubby says to me when he's ready for me to get going.
(it rhymes but literally translated means "to the house, squash!")

Just picked garden fresh zucchini & okra.
We have lots of fresh zucchini in the garden and were blessed with a gift of goat cheese recently so was excited to run across this “Lemony Zucchini Goat Cheese Pizza” recipe from the blog Smitten Kitten and thought you’d also enjoy trying it. Experiment with different herbs besides basil. Remember don’t overdo the herbs to begin with. You can always add too but harder to take away.

One comment suggestion: substitute the pizza dough with pitta bread.