Monthly Archives: December 2011

Rosemary Rosmarinus officinalis

There’s rosemary, that’s for remembrance.” — Shakespeare’s Hamlet to Ophelia

RosemaryRosemary (Rosmarinus Officinalis) – Christians referred to rosemary the “Holy Herb,” associated with Mary, who, according to Spanish legend, draped her cloak over a rosemary bush on the Holy Family’s flight to Egypt, turning the color of the blossoms from white to blue.

Rosemary was once used by the poor or lower classes as a substitute for expensive frankincense or myrrh-based incense in ancient Greece and Rome. Before the advent of modern medicine rosemary was burned, along with juniper berries, as a disinfectant in French hospitals.

Romantically, rosemary’s legend grew in the 14th century, when 72-year-old Queen Elizabeth of Hungary used rosemary as a medicine for her rheumatism and gout. Her potion of rosemary and lavender supposedly so enhanced her health and beauty that it fanned the passions of the 26-year-old King of Poland, who requested her hand in marriage. The potion became known as Budapest or Hungary water and was the beauty aide of choice for women for hundreds of years.

Rosemary for cooking, a favorite winter herb, I use it fresh and dried. One of my favorite ways to cook with rosemary is to put a sprig in the body cavity of a game hen before roasting. Or, drizzle a little olive oil over new potatoes or whole fingering potatoes, then sprinkle a little salt, and a few crushed rosemary leaves before baking.

Rosemary tea is made by steeping a short sprig in hot water for about 5 minutes. Or, put a teaspoon of dried rosemary in a warmed teapot and add a cup of boiling water. Steep for 5 minutes.

Medicinally, rosemary tea is said to be good for colds, flu, indigestion, headache and fatigue. It is an antioxidant, antiseptic, antidepressant, a circulatory stimulant. Rosemary is a rich source of vitamin A and vitamin C, phosphorus, iron, magnesium, and zinc. 

GBBD December, 2011

Garden Bloggers Bloom Day December 15, 2011.

The only thing blooming in my house is the yeast. (I’m making bread today)

I killed all my Amaryllis this past summer. But more bulbs arrived today. However, I may not even have amaryllis blooms next month, January, because it will take at least 6 weeks for blooms to appear.

But enough of the pity party. A ring of the door bell, and This sweet poinsettia was standing there in the hands of my sweet neighbor. “You always give me flowers all summer long. So I thought I would give you one today.

This sweet red poinsettia flower, in a 4" pot, is now sitting on my mantel.

So, my blooms are store bought.

The result of the blooming yeast is here:

Multigrain bread baked in my oven on a pizza stone.


Garden Blogger Bloom Day is a project of Carol at May Dreams Gardens. You are welcome to join.  She invites all gardeners to share what is blooming in their garden every month on the 15th.

Superbena® Verbena hybrid

Look For This Plant

Superbena® Royale Iced Cherry Verbena hybrid

Last spring three superbena® Royale Peachy Keen Verbena hybrid plants arrived for trial from Proven Winners. Three superbena® Royale Iced Cherry Verbena hybrid plants arrived at the same time. The beautiful, healthy plants that were delivered to my address do not get special treatment.

The joy in growing trial plants is that I get to see new introductions a year before they are available in our local garden centers. When you see the plant locally, I can tell you about how well it will do in your garden.

These superbena® plants went right into 14” hanging baskets filled with a good quality light potting soil. Each basket had a dose of slow release fertilizer mixed into to potting soil. They were watered regularly, but there was no additional fertilizer put into the baskets.

These plants are self-cleaning, which means no deadheading needed. They don’t need pruning, but I trimmed the Iced Cherry, or cut it back. It did become a little fuller with more branching, which meant more flowers.

I did not give the Peachy Keen verbena a “hair cut”. This plant does well without pruning. So, I won’t bother when I grow these Superbena again. Peachy Keen has a wide color variation which I think would be a great advantage in mixed containers or in a flower border.

There were no diseases or insect problems with either plant. Planting in hanging baskets usually eliminates any concerns of powdery mildew. If you are starting with clean potting soil and not over crowding the plants, there is no reason to expect any disease or insect concerns.

If ever there was a trial for heat tolerance 2010, (zone 6) was that test. Day after day of

photo PBH

oppressive heat and in full sun, the superbena® Royale series Verbena continued to bloom and thrive.

Superbena comes in a variety of reds and purples. They will faithfully flower all summer. Plant them anywhere you would grow summer annuals like geraniums and zinnias. Choose a location where you can appreciate their color variationsPWlogo

I would buy these plants again. I do recommend them. Be sure to stop by the online PW site to see all the colors of superbena® Verbena.

Here is a PW I’ll be looking for: Superbena® BurgundyVerbena


Growing Herbs in Winter

fresh cut herbs

fresh cut herbs brought indoors, will stretch your fresh herbs by about two weeks.

I’m starting seed in the Aerogarden this week.

Aeroponics is a soil-free growing method where plant roots are suspended in air within a 100% humidity, highly-oxygenated growing chamber. Because the roots are bathed with ideal levels of nutrients, water and oxygen, plants grow significantly faster, are healthier and have a higher nutrient content than plants grown in soil. It’s like having a little green house on the kitchen counter.

I’ll grow bright green lettuces and herbs all winter. The 70 million Americans buy organic products weekly will appreciate the simplicity and convenience of Aerogrow.

This little table top garden is a defiant cabin fever cure for us die hard gardeners. AeroGarden is not promoted to help with Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) or “cabin fever.” Still anything that tricks my plants into believing the sun is shining, has a positive affect on my attitude.

Gardening is America’s #1 hobby with more than 70 million active gardeners. There are 18 million fresh herb gardeners which is up 41% since 2000.

Small, sweet as candy, little strawberries that you can grow from seed. photo PBH

This little table top garden provides fresh herbs for my cooking all winter. A sprig of fresh basil or parsley will add sparkle to any dish.

In the spring, I start seeds in the AeroGarden. Last spring I had great success getting tiny sweet strawberries to grow from seed. Picking these tiny French Alpine strawberries (fragaria vesca) are like finding candy in the garden. Buy strawberry seed at Renee’s Garden.

Wordless Wednesday

Buck Trent

Bread and Soup: Using Herbs in Winter

My favorite fast food during the hectic holidays? Bread and soup.

BBQ Rosemary

BBQ Rosemary Rosmarinus officinalis 'Barbeque' has especially good flavor and aroma, great choice for cooking. photo PBH

Throw the soup or stew ingredients in the crockpot. When you come home from work or Christmas shopping, a hot, healthy meal can be mere minutes away. Now add biscuits, because hot fresh biscuits are fast and easy to make. In the time it would take to get drive-thru on the way home, you’ll be sitting down to a bowl of bliss that will warm your heart and soul.

Before the holidays, replace your old herbs. Saving dried herbs for special occasions is a bad idea. Begin using dried herbs as soon as you buy them so you will get a taste of the herb at its best. Then, you will be able to judge when herbs should be replaced because of age, light or heat exposure. Rub a little dried herb on to the palm of your hand and if can not smell or taste the flavor, empty the jar and replace it with new. If your jar of dried herbs tastes like paper dust or a dried front lawn, it’s time to replace the herbs.

Refresh spices. If your spices are not fragrant, don’t waste the time and ingredients of a recipe by using flavorless herbs and spices. Before baking season, buy a new box of baking powder and baking soda. Hot from the oven herb biscuits are the perfect accompaniment to winter stews and soups.

tomato soup and grilled cheese

Creamy tomato soup with mini grilled cheese toast. photo: PBH

My favorite cheese biscuit recipe comes from Simply Recipes: Cheese Biscuits recipe. I use 2 tablespoons of fresh chopped chives instead of scallions and sharp cheddar cheese. Best thing is, you can double the recipe and freeze the cut biscuits before baking. Later, retrieve the frozen dough and bake while the stew is simmering. They are so good and so easy, you will always want to keep a few in the freezer.

Though buying herbs in bulk is economical, it may not be the cook’s choice. Herbs tend to lose their flavor when exposed to air and light. Buy small amounts of herbs and refresh your supply regularly for the best flavor. The economy comes from using less of the dried herb when it is fresher and more flavorful.

Do not store your herbs above the stove. Heat will quickly deteriorate their flavor. Store dried herbs in a cool, dark, dry, air-tight container. If you keep them out on the counter, use a dark tinted glass container or a tin.

Guaranteed Herbal Magic

1/2 teaspoon of rosemary. I’m not kidding. Add rosemary to your favorite biscuit recipe. Or add a bit of rosemary to beef stew, vegetable soup, chicken and dumplings. It’s magic.

Everyone will love your cooking and you will become an herbal goddess of the kitchen. (Tiara not included.)

cheese soup

Make a double batch of soup, freeze half. A good quick meal will always be on hand.

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