Larix decidua – The Larch Tree

Hello Garden Friends!

Hope your summer season was fantastic and full of wonderful memories, we have only about seven more days and the fall solstice will be officially upon us (September 22, 2021). When those cooler and much awaited less humid days come you may be interested in planting a Larch Tree!

If you love the effect of an evergreen tree and also the brilliant color of a deciduous tree the larch tree has both of these characteristics. They are conifers that are needled and look like an evergreen in the spring and summer but when fall comes its needles turn golden yellow and drop to the ground.

The needles of a Larch are about an inch long and are arranged in little clusters along the stem, each cluster having about 30 to 40  needles. Within the needles you will find pink flowers that eventually become cones. The cones start out red or yellow and turn brown when they mature.

34,003 Larch Tree Stock Photos, Pictures & Royalty-Free Images - iStock

In North America they are native to the northern parts of this continent and happiest in cold climates. They are best grown in mountainous areas but can tolerate just a cool climate with plenty of moisture. Zones 6 and below they like best but in some of our 7 zones they may do ok. Most larch trees are quite large growing between 50 and 80 feet. But for us gardeners with less space there are some varieties to investigate. Larix decidua ‘Varied Directions’ grows 15 feet. ‘Puli’ is a dwarf European version that has amazing weeping branches  held close to its trunk groups up to 8ft tall and 2 feet wide.

Weeping Larch Full Tree

‘Tamarack’ Larix laricina a native to America grows 75 feet tall

American Tamarack

and ‘Pendula’ Larix decidua a shrubby type of larch becomes a ground cover and spreading 30 feet if you do not stake it.

Image

It is easy to grow a larch tree just plant where it can get six hours of sunlight each day and it can take a frozen winter with ease, they don’t like dry soil so water them often or place in moist/damp soil.

Think about the larch tree and maybe give it a try!

Till next time do one more cool summer thing and then bring out the sweaters, jeans, boots and cozy blankets and prepare to nestle next to an open bonfire or homemade fire pit, take a hayride or visit a farm for all that lovely fall produce and then enjoy putting your garden to bed for a nice winter’s nap. So long for now!

In Memory of Joan Q. Yulduzian

This month’s blog will be dedicated to our dear sweet friend and garden club member Joan Yulduzian. She will no longer bloom on earth but will forever bloom and grow eternally in heaven.

I will miss you dear friend in and out of garden club. Your sweet and sophisticated demeanor was a blessing to be around, if all of us could be just a tenth of what you were in this lifetime, we will be doing just great.

You will forever be in our hearts, and we thank you for your dedication and loyalty to our garden club and a precious friendship to cherish, we are walking away with beautiful memories of you in many ways.

Till we meet again sweet Joanie, much love and peace always! Thank you for being in our lives.

Dear Garden Friends known and unknown if you have not reached out to a love-one or friend you adore for many reasons, please do so today and going forward more regularly, take time to give them their flowers now as they say, while they can take them from your hands and your words. Life is short and unpredictable. Take a lesson from Joanie; give love, gratitude, attentive prayers, share God’s love when every you can and those that are connected to you will be forever grateful!

In Heartfelt Peace till next time take care.

Plantago the plant of plenty!

Hello Garden Friends,

To most of us dandelions, crab grass and plantains are considered a lawn’s menace. But if you take them for what they are worth they just might surprise you and be more of a blessing than a burden.

Plantains are one of the most beneficial plants, they have many medicinal properties and truly are a gardener’s best friend.  There are three species of plantains they are Plantago major (broad leaf), Plantago lanceolata (thin leaf) and Plantago psyllium.  The broad leaf is the most common and the psyllium is what is used when you consume psyllium as a fiber supplement.  You will find plantain living within compacted soil and under heavy foot traffic it likes to colonize in a lawn that gets a great deal of extensive family use, thus our lawn having a great deal of it!  Native Americans called it the White People’s Foot Plant since it would pop up where-ever a person had traveled thru, it tends be where people are. On a recent hike the area leading to the main trail was heavily colonized with plantain, something I had not noticed before I decided to study this fascinating plant.

So, what can it do for you; well it is antibacterial, antiviral, it contains lots of amino acids thus it makes proteins, it’s a natural gelatin and it draws poison out of your bodily system topically. It will help draw out a splinter, dirt, debris and pus. Therefore, if you are bitten by a spider, ant or a bee when applied as a poultice it will remove pain and venom within 10 mins or less.  What is a poultice? It is when you chew the leaf and macerate it and then apply to the infected area or crush between your fingers to breakdown the fibers in the leaves.  You can also dry it and then grind it and apply as a paste or use as a tea. When ingested as a tea it helps to heal the mucosal linings in your body since it has mucilage characteristics. It is extremely beneficial to the lungs, intestine and bladder these being mucosal lined organs. And with COVID 19 attacking the lungs it has been beneficial in protecting the lungs against this virus just from consuming it as a tea!  God truly has made everything we need to heal ourselves in the plant world without medicine and to protect us from diseases when they try to attack our bodies how amazing is THAT! It also helps acne and eczema. 

How do you know if you have plantain or how to find it while foraging some of the common characteristics are it is fibrous, the leaves have long veins and when you pull it apart at the base very fibrous threads will become visible.  If the plant is allowed to go to seed you will see long seed pods that look like baby corn, these can be harvested and sauteed with a little bit of olive oil, garlic and salt and pepper to make a healthy side dish or a small meal. Or dried and grinded to create a psyllium fiber supplement.

broadleaf plantain image

Hopefully plantain can now be seen as a medicinal harvestable crop versus a pernicious weed. Take the time to look for it in your own garden if you do not treat your lawns or forage for it sustainably and be blessed by the wonderful benefits of Plantago!

Till next time, try to utilize your plants as a benefit to your overall health, continue to get your hands dirty, walk barefoot in the grass and be still in your gardens.

Take care and be well.

Erythronium americanum

Hello Garden Friends and Happy Spring!

We have been christened with LOTS of liquid sunshine in April, violent storms and rollercoaster weather temperatures. And yes all of these April showers will no doubt bring May flowers. As a result of all this rain and snow we had (real winter this year YAY) I noticed the spring ephemerals are quite abundant.  And on a woodland walk with my Momma I noticed this beauty below: 

This is, Erythronium Americanum “Yellow Trout Lily” it was showing itself in mass with such wonder, it made me venture deeper into the woods to get closer and seriously think about going back for a few to put in my own woodland garden; at the time I did not have the essentials to dig them up properly, LOL!

The beautiful yellow flowers are like little decorative showy hats on a spring maiden as if she were nodding her head to bring attention to herself while wearing a dark brown dress with spots upon. It is as if she danced in a florescent spring puddle that splashed upon her woodland garment, just SPECTACULAR. They make me smile down into my soul.  You will find them amongst the dead leaves that are now brown and crunchy and slowly being taken over by Spring’s new life emerging. They are wonderful to see on the forest floor snuggled in deep and awaiting someone to just notice them, well we sure did, and it was a treat!

This beauty is in the Lily Family (Liliaceae) and as mentioned it is a spring ephemeral (early plant emerging at the onset of Spring or Vernal Equinox) so it will only be present for about 2-3 weeks in the season after it blooms. It’s common name Trout Lily is given because its leaf markings resemble that of the skin of a brown or brook trout.  It prefers dapplied sunlight to medium shade and loamy soil with leaf litter or decaying organic matter. Most of its growth and development occurs before the trees fully develop their vernal leaves. It is a native wildflower and adapts to the shade of deciduous trees. But be patient with this beauty it takes about 8 years before individual plants will flower in a typical woodland setting.  They enjoy being in the company of Sugar Maple (Acer saccharum) and American Beech (Fagus grandifolia) trees.  Their flowers mainly attract bees but like other woodland flowers its seeds are distributed by ants who are attracted to their food appendages. And because the leaves are small and inconspicuous the white tailed deer seem to only browse over them plus their mottled leaf pattern helps disguise them from this animal and other mammalian herbivores who lack color vision.  So the next time you take a woodland stroll or forest hike this season keep an eye out for these little gems and just stop, be still and enjoy the beauty they exude.

Till next time, get your hands dirty, walk barefoot in the grass and exhale deep in the solace of your garden.  Take care!

October

Hello Garden Friends,

Hope this finds you happy and at peace during such a challenging time of pushing thru a pandemic; BUT just push thru in Faith not Fear and remember it can not last forever, for this too shall pass!

Yes, it has been a while garden friends and to be honest being in front of a computer more than we all have ever been, is the reason for the delay in sharing with you. When I get moments of not being in front of the screen I prefer to spend time with my family and in nature.  Plus my derriere is quite numb these days, LOL! But today I have mustered up some time to spend with you and I have missed you dearly 😊 please note going forward our time together will be short, sweet and informative hope you will accept this format for now.

So, I had some other things I wanted to share for the blog but changed my mind and figured I would share some interesting things about the month of October.

So here it is….

October comes from the Latin octo “eight” because before our 12 month calendar existed the early Roman calendar designated it as the eighth month but in our current calendar the name stayed the same but it is now the 10th month!

October 2020 brings two full moons the first full moon of Fall is the Harvest Moon and will appear today Thursday, Oct. 1. Later this month we will see another full moon called the Hunter Moon on Saturday, Oct. 31 it will be rare in that it will be the Halloween Moon and a Blue Moon.

Harvest Moon
Blue Moon

October brings the leaves into full color; the leaf color change is not because of the autumn chilly weather but the lack of light.  The green color of the leaf disappears when photosynthesis (from sunlight) slows down. Trees within direct sunlight will produce red leaves while other ones will turn yellow, orange and brown.

October is all about collecting the harvest and storing your crops, but you still can do some planting of garlic and bulbs. Do this soon if you have not already.  I will still try to plant some arugula now, which I can harvest fully in 30-45 days; so lets see what will happens.

October birth flowers are cosmos and calendula or marigold. Cosmos are a symbol of joy and peace. Calendulas represent thankfulness, excellence and serenity.

Folklores of October

-When deer are in a gray coat in October expect a hard winter.

gray coat
tan coat

-Much rain in October, much wind in December.

-A warm October means a cold February.

Let’s pay attention this month and see if any of these will come true.

October joke:

What is a pumpkin’s favorite sport?

Wait for it, wait for it (drumroll)

Answer: Squash!

Too funny and too cute which really is too corny, LOL!!!

Here is a recipe to try after you collect your Fall harvest (or shop at a local farmer’s market 😊)

Roasted Autumn Vegetables

1 1b. small red potatoes quartered or Yukon gold

2 cups peeled butternut squash cut and diced into ½ inch cubes

2 large carrots peeled and cut into ½ inch diagonal slices

2 parsnips peeled and cut into ½ inch diagonal slices

3 Tablespoons of olive oil

1 Tablespoon of fresh rosemary or 1 teaspoon of dried rosemary

2 gloves of garlic minced

Salt and Pepper to taste

2-3 cups of kale rinsed and chopped

Preheat oven to 450 oF

Lightly oil two large baking sheets or one large sheet by cutting ingredients in half

Combine all vegetables, olive oil, rosemary, garlic and salt and pepper in a bowl and toss to coat.

Spread evenly on the baking sheets bake 15 mins then add kale stir bake another 15 mins until vegetables are tender and browned.

Lastly if you need something else to do and want to challenge your brain cells, try this brain puzzle teaser.

The Puzzle

The first part of my word is a verb, add to me one letter and I become a insect, add another and I become a kind of vegetable, add two more letters and I become another name of an insect.

Good luck and the answer will be given next month.

Till then maybe try:

Going for a long cool autumnal hike

 Sitting in the autumn sun

Getting your hands dirty in your garden for as long as you can before everything is put to rest

Relax while sipping on warm spiced drink and reading a great book

Build a bonfire and share it with family and friends

Whatever you choose to do have a Happy October. Enjoy and Take Care!

Our first monthly meeting in 2020

Our 2020 annual picnic and plant exchange meeting was held on Pat’s driveway on June 18 as scheduled and it was attended by 15 members and a guest. 

“How wonderful it was to gather our members together for an outdoor “socially distanced” meeting on June 18th at my home and garden. Our last meeting was the December Christmas Party!
Our May Zoom meeting was attended by just a few members. So it was especially delightful to actually see, meet and talk with garden club friends again. My garden always benefits from visitors! Since that gives me incentive to be sure all plants are looking their best and worthy of discussion!” (The message from Pat)
 
Thank you Pat for hosting this long-awaited face to face meeting.

They are coming….

In the year 2021 there will be an entomological (fancy word that means pertaining to insects) event that only occurs every 17 years; the year of the Cicada.

There are different kinds of cicadas and Brood X is the species that emerges every 17 years. Cicadas are a group of insects that live their growth development years underground sucking tree roots for what seems like a long period of time trying to complete their four life cycles.

It all begins with a song. The male cicada has a structure near its abdomen called a tymbal organ which vibrates and produces sound to attract the female cicada. She responds with a clicking sound of her wings. The amazing thing is out of all the cicadas present (hundreds to thousands) these two only hear each other, pretty cool huh? They meet on a tree limb, mate and create a nymph. The nymph which is the size of a piece of rice granule, chews the leaf it is placed on then falls to the ground and buries deep into the ground and feeds on this same tree’s roots for 17 years until it reaches it’s fourth and final stage, before emerging above ground to start the process all over again. They only emerge when the earth reaches close to 64 degrees in the 17th year and by the billions! They will climb out the ground place themselves on the tree and crawl out their exoskeletons leaving them behind.

In the United States the Brood X generation will take over forests from Tennessee to New York. They will not harm the forest or the trees in your areas so do not be alarmed. But why do they emerge and why in periods of 17 years?  Scientists believe it is the ultimate survival of the fittest. With so many emerging at one time their predators will become overwhelmed with feeding on them and create such fullness in the belly’s of animals and birds that they leave them alone, allowing them to mate again and repeat their unique life cycle. This emergence only last for 2-4 weeks before they die off. Their presence in these weeks helps to strengthen the growth of plants and trees, and alter the population of many birds. They can even be eaten by humans in some fun ways, dipped in chocolate, stir fried, cooked into pizza, baked within banana bread and rhubarb pie. (Newsweek April 2021) You might say no thanks but they are full of protein and compared to the same amount of beef sources raised in one acre of land they have more!

Not all of us will experience the cicada this year since they may not emerge in your locale so if you desire to hear them you may need to travel to another area to experience their symphony of mating calls. For a species of animal to be created, only to be present every 17 years is truly a mystery and evidence of God’s amazing power to create all things big and small. Hopefully, you will be able to delight in this wonder and marvel at the unique way in which the cicada preserves its generations to come.

Till next time, listen for a cicada, get your hands dirty and be still in your gardens to observe the beauties of nature.

botanicals and latin

Did you ever learn in biology the mnemonic phrase “Dear King Philip Came Over For Good Soup”?

It refers to the taxonomy (naming of species) order of Domain, Kingdom, Phylum, Class, Order, Family, Genius and Species.  The last three of this order helps us horticultural geeks identify our plants!

Let’s take a quick lesson in using botanical Latin terms which is just the scientific name of a plant.  Yeah, I know you might prefer to just use the common names but that could potentially be a problem in the long run.   For example, poison oak, she oak, sumac oak are NOT oaks at all they are in a totally different family of plants so using the common names vary from region to region, can be overly general and can change over time.  When we use botanical Latin names, we are more precise, and the names are universal.

If we look at one of my favorite plants, we can break down the various orders frequently used in botanical Latin naming.

Begoniaceae is the Family for begonias.  Any time you see the suffix  “aceae” at the end of a word it is most likely referring to the order of Family for the plant in question.

For example, Iridaceae is the family for the crocus plant and Amaryllidaceae is the family for daffodils.

The genus and species are the next two main taxonomic orders used on a consistent basis. We call this the binomial naming of plants we only use two of the orders bi=two; genus and species. Let us get back to begonias.

Begoniaceae Begonia bowerae

So the first part is the Family because of the ending of -aceae and the second part is the Genus it is always italicized and the first letter capitalized.  The genus is a group of plants that have similar characteristics they have a common ancestor, similar habits such as growing patterns. The third part is the Species, it too is italicized but begins with a lowercase letter. The species can all reproduce with one another.

You may see a tag that says this : Begonia ‘Tiger Paws’  here the first part is the Genus and the second part is letting you know it is a cultivar because the term Tiger Paws is in quotes.

Monstera sp. Peru which denotes a subspecies and has evolved in a specific geographic area. This Monstera was found in Peru.

Two plants that have crossed naturally in the wild are denoted as a variety; written as such Ilex verticillate var. fastigiate.

When two plants have crossed because of man it is a cultivar and is written as Ilex aquifolium ‘Lily Gold’ or Ilex aquifolium cv. Lily Gold. The quotes tell you the plant is a cultivar as mentioned above.

Sometimes the label will have an f. in the description and is written as such Echeveria agavoides f. Cristata. Cristata is latin for crested or tufted helmet so the plant has mounds of crests or tufts within its shape of the leaves. Whereas a regular Echeveria has a rosette form.

This f. refers to the Form of a plant and tells there is a minor difference shown within the species which could be the shape of plant as discussed above.

The letter X found in a label of a plant refers to it being a hybrid which is a cross between two species of plants. Such as Ilex x koehneana  which is a cross between Ilex aquifolium and Ilex latifolia if it had not been given a name it would have been written Ilex aquifolium x latifolia.

Latin names tell you something about the plant specifically thus the another reason to use latin terms.

Last lesson let’s look at some common Latin terms you may see that will help you identify certain characteristics of plants:

Alba- white

Argenta – silver

Ater, nigra-black

Azur-blue

Chrysus, luteus, aurea -yellow

Erythron, rubra – red

Ferrugineus – rusty

Purpureus – purple

Virens- green

Contorta – twisted

Globose- rounded

Maculata- spotted

Magnus-large

Nana- dwarf

Pendula-weepng

Reptans, prostrata -creeping

Scadens – climbing

Africanus -Africa

Canadensis – Canada

Indicus- India

Japonicus, japonica, nipponicus – Japan

Chinensis, sinensis – China

Maritima- seaside

Montana- mountains

Occidentalis – western hemisphere

Orientalis – eastern hemisphere

Sylvestris- woodland

Dentata- toothed

Odorata- perfumed

There are many more but hopefully these are some to get you started, now go look at some of your labels and you may see some of the identifications listed above.

Hopefully this has been helpful for you and maybe gave you the courage to start using botanical Latin names instead of the common names for plants.  Plus you will sound even more amazingly intelligent, giggling.  Have fun and please give it a try!

See this lovely beauty, now you know why it is given the name Begonia maculata, pretty cool huh?

Mazus reptans ‘Alba’ : Based on what we learned, what can we say about this plant’s label? It is a creeping white mazus plant!

Till next time, get hands dirty, walk barefoot on grass and sit still in your gardens in joy!

Global Food & an herb

Hello Garden Friends!

Hope November is treating you well thus far. I have two things to share with you this month a wonderful Armenian dish called Ghapama and the wonderful herb pineapple sage.

Let’s do food first 😊 So I made this dish for a Family Fall Dinner and it was a hit so flavorful and quite a beauty when it was presented for all to dig in. I also did it in honor of our Armenian friends. It’s pretty easy and very forgiving considering I purchased dried fruits for the recipe and to this day we do not know where they are we believe lost at the store we think LOL funny thing is I got out of the grocery line to run and get them last minute and still ended up with no dried fruit so I used my favorite dried mango strips on hand, golden raisins and some dried diced dates and it was delish!  It also travels very well.

So what is Ghapama, it is a very beautiful Armenian stuffed pumpkin rice dish usually served for special occasions in their culture like a wedding or such.  I doubled the recipe because I fed a little crowd but that’s my family on a regular basis with some extra people we love to have around and love breaking bread with us, LOL.

This time of year; is still good to find a small pumpkin I really wanted a medium size one but ended up with two sugar pumpkins which was even better. Our youngest son the ultimate sous chef carved and hollowed out the pumpkins. So you can prepare to do that or get your personal sous chef to help you 😊 And my favorite rice is basmati or jasmine but I used basmati in this dish. The smell is just over the top and the rice is fluffy, sweet and buttery. The pumpkin flesh I did not think would be enough, but it was more than enough and really tender; soooo good people. Please try and then tell me what you think.  Bon Appetite or in Armenian they would say լավ ուտել or lav utel.
 
Ghapama Recipe
Ingredients: 7 lbs (3.1 kg) Pumpkin 
1 Cup Rice 2.5 oz (70g)
 Almonds 1.5 oz (34g) 
Dried Apricots 3 oz (85g) 
Prunes 1.5 oz (34g) 
Raisins
 4 Tbsp Unsalted Butter 
1/2 Tsp Salt
 1/2 Tsp Cinnamon Powder 
2 Tbsp Honey
Preparations: 
1- Cut off the top of the pumpkin and Scoop out the guts. 
2- Dice the almonds. 
3- Slice the prunes and dried apricots. 
Directions: 
1- Transfer the rice onto a small pot. 
2- Add salt and 1.5 cup water. 
3- Simmer the rice for 5 to 7 minutes or until tender. 
4- Combine the cooked rice with almonds, dried apricots, prunes, and raisins. 
5- Stir in cinnamon powder and honey.
 6- Melt the unsalted butter and add to the mixture. Stir thoroughly. 
7- Grease the inside of the pumpkin with butter and coat with honey.
 8- Transfer the mixture into the pumpkin. 
9- Cover the pumpkin with the top. 
10- Preheat oven to 350º F (177º C), cook the pumpkin for about 75 minutes.
Slice in wedges, Enjoy!
 

Ok on now to a new garden favorite.  Last year I noticed a frequent visitor to my deck a fast and beautiful small visitor; a gorgeous hummingbird just fluttering from colorful flower to colorful flower. Of course in my excitement and delight since they are just amazing birds; I decided this year I would plant especially for them a hummingbird garden in a HUGE container filled with all things a hummingbird would love and one of the main plants was a pineapple sage the flowers are bright red and the nectar I later found out is quite pleasing to humans too. 😊

Pineapple Sage is in the salvia family and a cousin to mint so when it grows it gets happy but not out of control like mint plus I had it contained. But it did reach almost 6 feet in this massive container. Salvia elegans is also a medicinal plant for humans it helps with depression, anxiety, digestion and memory loss. It makes a great tea and is nice to put in salads.  It is a native of Mexico and thrives as a perennial in zones 5-8 reaching up to 6 feet tall and attracts pollinators such as butterflies and hummingbirds. Showy deep vibrant red flowers with a deeply veined citrine foliage. The flowers can be plucked, and nectar sucked out of the end and it does taste like pineapples! The flowers and leaves are both edible. It is a lovely herb which I hope will overwinter and return in the Spring, I will let you know how that goes. Currently it is still growing strong and the flower color quite intense. Oh and did I tell you I NEVER did see a hummingbird this year after all that special attention to welcome them and if they did come they flew in when I was not around which is just classic since it is 2020 and bizarre and strange things are happening all the time. Praying next year there will be so many hummingbirds that every time I look out to that space in the garden I will be constantly filled with joy. Tis the joys of gardening- patience and more patience.

Remember the October puzzle. Here is the solution.

The Puzzle

The first part of my word is a verb (BE), add to me one letter and I become a insect (BEE), add another and I become a kind of vegetable,(BEET) add two more letters and I become another name of an insect.(BEETLE) Clever huh?

Enjoy the rest of your November and Happy Thanksgiving.  Go and be blessed and be thankful for all that we have and for more to come.

Take care.

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