10 April 2011

getting to know one another

Spring is one of my favorite times, even when I have to spend a month or more sneezing as everything begins to bud and bloom. There's the renewing warmth, the possibilities of growing so many wonderful things to eat, smell and see. 
I have lived in our current home since 2007 but I feel like this is one of the first years I am truly putting some roots down and making this our home. It may not be everything we are looking for but this property called out to us with its space and possibilities. We have gardened a bit but not very successfully. Herbs and healing flowers are becoming more important to me as I learn more about healthier living. We would love to turn much of our property to meadows but that will take time as will most of our plans. Our little plot has much to offer and I would like to take you on a little tour. Mind you, I am still learning. If you notice I have incorrectly named a plant, please let me know. I will gratefully learn from you. 

Without further ado...

One of our apple trees, a type of redish apple. 
She tends to drop most of her apples but the deer love her for it. 

Apricot blooms :: Last year was the first year frost did not prevent this little lady from producing.
She is a sight to behold when she is in full bloom.

Marshall's Delight Bee Balm :: Monarda didyma
Last year, I planted this bee balm, although I did not harvest any. 
It has started coming back and I am thrilled! 

My Mother-in-law bought this for me two years ago and it has come back twice. 

This is supposed to be a bing cherry tree, rumors for all I know.
It has been a wonderful shade tree by our garden.
*edited to add : (June) yeah! we have cherries for the first time!*

chives from one of my neighbors last year.
 It survived being transplanted and might get moved again when I make an official herb garden. 

Yellow columbine 
I moved a small plant from our property and have enjoyed seeing it mature. 

I could not resist sharing the dried seed head from last year's Echinacea plant. 
I left the dried stalks and heads for winter interest and to remind me and others who work in the yard where my precious plants are when Spring came around. 

Here is the same Echinacea plant and if you look closely you might be able to pick out the small redish leaves starting to poke up around the base. (at least I believe so, it is my first time seeing it come back) 

Sonoran Sunset Hyssop Agastache cana 
Here is another returning newbie to the yard. It has the most splendid fragrance and the deer didn't touch it! That is always a winner in my book. 

Beautiful lilac still greening up. I am enchanted by the curved archway leading over to this bush. I wish it was somewhere farther from the fence, so we could actually climb through it and be transported to our own magical places. 

Mocha enjoys this plant very much as you can see.

Mulberry tree
My neighbor has enjoyed harvesting our mulberry tree the past couple years. I do hope to collect some myself this year, but there is plenty to go around.

One of a small grouping of red poppies that live and thrive under our black walnut tree. I finally convinced my husband to mow around these flowers and soon enough they will be right at home in their meadow setting. 

One of several rhubarb plants that lived here before we moved in. Share your knowledge of rhubarb with me please. When to harvest, how to prepare/eat it, that sort of thing. I know not to eat the leaves, that is about it. 

This is what we affectionately call our snowball bush. Beautiful balls of small white flowers that fill most of the tree. Here is another opportunity to share what you know. Any ideas what kind of bush this is?

Strawberries returning for the second year. 
I have a confession, over the past 5-6 years I killed over 54 strawberry plants. For several different reasons but let's just say I think the tables have turned and we have come to an agreement. 
Now if I can just keep the deer out of them.
 (noticing a theme here? :: our house is just about a block away from the river.. deer are an everyday occurrence in our yard. 

These little leaves are already very fragrant. They remind me of lavender but I'm thinking they might be anise. It has tall spikes of small trumpet flowers. Any guesses? 

*catnip: that has been transplanted to another spot*
Here's another mystery plant. It is growing in my strawberry bed and it is rather minty.
Which means I probably need to find it a new home before it takes it over.

I believe these are violets and they are quite hardy plants that spring up all over.
 I love how they greet us after the cold of Winter. 

I also wanted to share with you a wonderful 'weed' that has wiggled its way into my heart.
Right now, all I have are the long seed heads that mark where this medicinal plant roams in my yard. 
Right after I learned about plantian last year, my son was stung twice in two weeks. 
The first time my son and husband came inside to tell me he was stung. I knew exactly what to do. I chewed up a leaf (not that enjoyable) and placed it on his swollen thumb. He quieted down quickly after that. Perhaps it was because he had chewed up green stuff on his hand but it was amazing. The next week, I was visiting a friend and still excited about my new discovery. I searched her yard so she would be ready too if one of her little ones got stung and my son decided to be a visual and was stung again.
I believe finding plantian in my yard and using it helped me to really connect and begin my journey into learning about herbs and how to use them. I have a long journey ahead but I am finding many inspirational people to guide me.