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Archive for the 'My garden' Category

01
Feb
12

Plants in the mail

Decidedly average day for gardening but a wonderful day to have a box of plants arrive on your doorstep.

I got all excitey the other day as I discovered that the spectacular Leonotis leonorus also comes in white. So I immediately took to the internet  to track one down. Gourd, I love the internet! Low and behold, Cara Cottage Nursery had one and now it is all mine. Squee!

I couldn’t have my new little darling travelling alone so I added an Anemone ‘Luise Uhink’, a Geranium phaeum ‘Mourning widow’ and an Omphalodes ‘Cappadocia star’ to keep the little fella company. I’m so excited to welcome them all to LPL HQ.

Margaret from CCN was lovely, the plants arrived really well packed and in excellent condition and I’m sure this won’t be the last time she’ll be sending little boxes of plants to me. Totally recommended for your perennial requirements – Cara Cottage Nursery!

Images from Cara Cottage Nursery catalogue.
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22
Jan
12

Planting now

Burnt orange zinnias, brilliantly fluffy celosia and showy zinnia swizzle cherry and ivory heading now for the LPLL garden beds. Thanks Mitre 10.

04
Jan
12

12 Medicinal Herbs I Grow and Use Often

Images left to right from top: comfrey leaf; thyme; dill flowers; dried hops flowers; St John’s wort flowers; potted kawakawa; broad-leaved plantain; yarrow flowers; yarrow leaves; lemon balm; feverfew; aloe vera; peppermint. 

There are masses of websites with info on medicinal herbs and quite frankly most of them are rubbish. Written by writers, not by doers they run of a list of ‘facts’, historical details, and an dizzying list of healing properties. What they don’t do is offer actual, real walk-out-into-the-garden-and-use details.

Here are a list of herbs I grow and use the most that don’t need a medical, herbal or botany degree to use or recognise. All have scientific backing. All are super easy. I’m not a herbalist, just a very keen gardener. I believe you should see a herbalist for the proper internal use of herbs (lots of active ingredients in plants can cause all sorts of issues).

Comfrey

I had monumental back and hip problems having a baby. My doctor suggested using comfrey poultices because my tailbone ached for months after. For me, it was a miracle cure. I scrunched up a couple of leaves, put them in a cloth and poured hot water of it and sat with it on the sore bit for 15 minutes a night. I was cured–could walk properly, carry my child and wasn’t constantly in pain. Sore knees, sprains, strains? Go find yourself some comfrey.

Thyme

For sore throats and mouth ulcers I boil the jug and pick a handful of thyme, or use the dried thyme I’ve collected. I let the thyme steep for 30 minutes and add a spoonful of salt. Tastes much better than store bought alternatives and works just as well.

Dill

I collect the seeds of my dill each year and they’ve been a godsend with a windy baby. After the first couple of months I stopped using gripe water (active ingredient is dill), and made herbal teas with crushed dill seeds and gave her tiny sips.

Hops

I have a tin next to my bed of hops, rose petals and lavender. When I’m having trouble getting to sleep I open it up and waft away with the delicious scents.

St John’s wort

St John’s wort is mostly associated with depression, but that’s a whole medical aspect I’m not prepared to get into here. But looking at those brilliant sunshiney flowers will definitely lift your mood. I use St John’s wort for burns and bruises by making a tincture which you can read about here. Warning! Weed alert: grow St John’s wort in a container.

Kawakawa

I battle winter colds with a kawakawa, lemongrass and ginger tea. Kawakawa is a native of New Zealand with a peppery bite. I collect and dry the ingredients and store them in an airtight container. I also chew on the leaves if I’ve got a toothache. Use the kawakawa leaves with lots of holes, the insects are showing you which leaves contain the most medicinal compounds.

Plantain

Insects love to bite me. Luckily I have lots of plantain growing everywhere. I grab a leaf and rub the underside on bites and it takes the itch right out of it.

Yarrow

There tends to be lots of cut fingers in my household–bloody DIYers. Beautiful white yarrow grows as a weed in my garden and wrapping a furry green leaf around the afflicted digit stops the bleeding.

Lemon balm

Brewed into a tea, lemon balm is marvellous for headaches, anxiety or when friends arrive feeling a bit down. It’s also said to be helpful to drink if you have a coldsore. I haven’t had a chance to test that yet.

Feverfew

I used to eat a leaf a day to ward off migraines. They taste pretty awful so I’d roll them into a ball and cover them with honey or mashed potato or peanut butter or just about anything to cover the bitterness. This is a longterm strategy, it will take about a month of continual use before the active compounds start kicking in. I haven’t taken it while pregnant or breastfeeding and suggest you don’t either.

Aloe vera

Sunburn, skin irritations, after-waxing redness? Aloe vera is my summer go-to plant. Grab an aloe vera spear, slice off the spikes, slit in half and rub juicy, refreshing aloe vera innards all over the skin. Instantly cooling, really soothing.

Peppermint

Nausea is the mindkiller-when you’ve got it, it’s very hard to think of anything else. Use peppermint for a zesty herbal tea to ease the quease.

17
Nov
11

Take that and smoke it…

There’s been a royal rumble developing over on Twitter. It all started when Mr @higgeldygarden proclaimed on his rather lovely UK blog,

As many of you will know I am the self styled King of Borage, but not as well known is my new self appointment as the Earl of Cornflowers. I should have been king were it not for an oversight in successional planting.

Yeah….. you can have your cornflowers, but I anoint myself South Pacific Sovereign of borage. I have a mini Heathrow happening in my strawberry patch, with bees and bumbles all a’quiver over the self-seeded borage of delight.

(And yes, there is a rumour you can smoke borage. Never tried, a bit too hairy for me. Although I really should try drinking more of it.)

15
Nov
11

Poppies are here!

Came out on the same day. So nice to see them :)

01
Nov
11

Sweet Iris

Sweet iris Iris pallida, the source of orris root used in perfumery. Flowering for the first time in the gardens at LPL HQ. The rhizomes are harvested after three years and then dried for up to five years and give off the aroma of violets. Perfumes that smell powdery contain orris root. The preparation of the root for perfumery is all done by hand and makes orris root one of the most expensive ingredients in fragrance-making.

22
Oct
11

Hard Labour Weekend Approaches

Prepare yourselves people! Hard Labour weekend is here. So named because traditionally it’s the time to work your butt off in the garden getting those vegetable beds full of deliciousness so you can kick back and relax with fresh homegrown produce this summer.

This year’s attempts at horticultural excellence at LPL homebase may be stiffled by the sniffles of the two adult household members. Babybel is so far immune. (Yes, I think referring to my child after a block of cheese is appropriate-she’s delicious, round and can be quite smelly.) So this is our to do list. What do you have planned?

Chickweed – It’s been keeping a nice groundcover between the veges, but it’s starting to get a bit tall and potentially trap water around vulnerable stems causing rot. It’s going to have to go. Likely to end up as pesto.

Tomatoes – The traditional time to get your tomatoes in. There is a huge range of tomatoes now available in NZ. Make the most of them. But due to the horrible effects of the psyllids due try to plant some phacelia to attract predatory insects.

Seeds – I’ll be making seed-raising mix and sowing capsicum, chillis, beans, beetroot, corn, amaranth, marigolds, zinnias, sunflowers, basil, parsley, more lettuce, and tending my yams.

Digging over the bed the corn will go into – I like to plant seeds at the same time I prepare the beds. Double digging and adding compost now means the gardens will be in prime condition-the compost spread through and not creating hotspots, the worms having a party-in time for my seedlings to go in in 4-6 weeks. Corn does best direct sown but I’m a bit late in prepping that bed.

Feeding – The strawberries are looking bountiful and just about to set fruit so now is a good time to give them a bit of a feed. And I’ll be using seaweed throughout the garden.

Comfrey – Time to make another batch of comfrey tea and dig up and distribute some of the roots. I’d like to put some more around our fruit trees.

Flax – I’ll be pulling out the flax stalks and turning them into something useful… You’ll have to check back next week to see just what.

General tidying up and preparing for a fantastic summer.

And of course the all important…

Even I will punctuate the weekend and lift the Rugby Exclusion Zone in my house to watch Sunday night’s All Blacks vs France. My snubbing of the Rugby World Cup thus far has little to do with the sport and more a reflection on the socio-economic consequences of the alcohol-fuelled, machissimic, and overly expensive requirements of throwing a ‘bash’ for the totalitarian IRB.  But I’m down with popular culture and feel that I should watch, helped greatly that we have some damned fine looking All Blacks. Something to do on a Sunday night anyway.

Enjoy your weekend everybody.




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