Herbs in a Nosegay

This summer I have had more time in the garden. The flowers and herbs are flourishing. I picked a nosegay including these herbs with their flowers: calendula, echinacea, feverfew, lavender, mint, lemon balm and marjoram.

Some years ago, when I was working as maternity nurse and Lamaze instructor, I came across a book that fueled my interest in herbs. Susun Weed wrote, Herbal for the Childbearing Year. Her introduction alludes to the history of herbal knowledge collected by women and midwives.

Wise women have used herbs—gathered, eaten, tended, loved herbs—and taught their daughters the wisdom of herbs in the childbearing years.

I became familiar with the benefit of nettle as a nourishing herb and found nettle tea in the health found store. I now have a stinging nettle plant in my garden–grown from seed– and add the leaves to soup stock.

Stinging Nettle

The libraries have books about herbs. I discovered calendula flowers, also known as poor man’s saffron. When the flowers are dried the petals become yellow and orange threads. they can be added to rice or muffins. I make a calendula tea with the dried flowers. I am fascinated by the variations in color in this lovely flower.

Calendula flower
Orange calendula flower
Calendula lemon color

Sometimes I add mint leaves to fresh ground coffee to brew a mint flavored coffee. The leaves of lemon balm can be used for tea. 

When I worked as a home birth nurse, I carried lavender oil to use for a soothing massage. You can read about it here. The scent of lavender has a calming effect. 

lavender

Herbs are nourishing and flavorful. Some are medicinal. Rosemary and thyme are favorites in my kitchen. I am still learning ways to include more herbs in recipes. 

There are many stressful things in our world. It is good to pause in the garden, give thanks for the abundance of God’s creation and pick a little bouquet.

This post is linked with Tuesdays with a Twist and almost Wordless Wednesday at image-in-ing.

Spring flowers and the Elderberry Bush

The warm weather and spring flowers are so welcome. I am enjoying daffodils, tulips, violets and cherry blossoms as I begin gardening.

Daffodils
Tulips

The elderberry bushes in my backyard have produced well, providing berries for elderberry juice. I can the juice, and throughout the past months I have enjoyed adding a couple tablespoons of elderberry juice to my tea in the evenings.

elderberries
Elderberries from a previous summer

Unfortunately I planted one elderberry bush in the corner of my garden. Last summer new shoots of elderberry plants were popping up all over the garden. The roots have extended throughout the garden space. We cut down that sprawling bush, and I planted new starts in defined areas of our yard.

My current task is digging up the shoots and roots that remain in the garden. If you plant an elderberry bush in your yard be careful where you plant it. Elderberry can be invasive.

Sharing this post with Sue’s Wordless Wednesday and Hearth and Soul link-up and Tuesday with a Twist.

Celebrating Springtime

Green is the color of spring time.

The snow is melting and snowdrops are raising their white petals to the sun. I am looking forward to tulips and daffodils. I give thanks for the seasons and all that God has created in nature.

In the soil, below the surface, plants are awakening. Some things happen outside of our view. It is the same in the spiritual world. God is at work in the world even when we don’t see it. The disciples were confused when Jesus was crucified and then amazed, filled with joy when Jesus appeared to them, having risen from the dead.

On this side of the cross, we celebrate Easter. What if we had been there with the disciples? What are the unseen workings of God now? 

This morning I read the account of Peter’s arrest during the week of Passover. James had been killed and the persecution of Jesus’ followers was increasing.

So Peter was kept in prison, but earnest prayer for him was made to God by the church.

Now when Herod was about to bring him out [releasing him to those who would kill him], on that very night, Peter was sleeping between two soldiers, bound with two chains, and sentries before the door were guarding the prison. And behold an angel of the Lord stood next to him . . . Acts 12: 5-7

The angel leads Peter out of the prison, but Peter is thinking that he is seeing a vision. He doesn’t realize what has happened until the angel leaves him along a street. Peter did not expect this miraculous work of God.

Neither did Rhoda or the believers that were praying for Peter. Rhoda was so surprised that she forgot to open the door for Peter when he knocked. She recognized his voice and ran to tell the others. No one believed her. When finally someone opened the door, all were amazed.

God is at work in the world. We don’t know specifically how God will answer our prayers. We do know that he has a plan that is constantly moving forward. 

We can celebrate with joy: springtime, Easter and the continuation of God’s plans for his people.

This post is linked with the Five Minute Friday writing community and Heart Encouragement.

Saving Seeds with Hope

The leaves are falling. Red gold and bronze. I have been raking the leaves, thankful for the outdoor activity.

My miniature rose bush has surprised me, continuing to bloom even though we have had some nights of frost. The bright red blooms bring joy.

The garden has been put to bed, but I am looking forward to next year. I have saved seeds from some squash plants and calendula flowers.

My neighbor gave me an Italian basil plant. It grew slowly and I decided to bring it inside, placing it in a southern facing window. I am hoping to gather some seeds from it for next year—and perhaps the plant will survive through the winter.

A couple  of English lavender plants did well (planted from seed). I left one outside for the winter and brought one inside. It has charmed me with flowers.

I am so thankful for the order, beauty and diversity of God’s creation. Despite human chaos, the seasons continue. We can trust God’s word. He is faithful and knows the future. We continue day by day with faith. 

Blessed is the man
who walks not in the counsel of the wicked,
nor stands in the way of sinners,
nor sits in the seat of scoffers;

but his delight is in the law of the LORD,
and on his law he meditates day and night.

He is like a tree
planted by streams of water
that yields its fruit in its season,
and its leaf does not wither.
In all that he does, he prospers.

Psalm 1: 1-3

On Friday Kate gives a prompt and we write for five minutes (and sometimes more). Today’s prompt is: AHEAD

Visit the Five Minute Friday writers to read more insights on this prompt.

Sharing this post with Tuesday’s with a Twist, Sue’s Image-in-ing, Crystal’s Heart Encouragement and Inspire Me Monday.

Joy in the Garden

It is a challenge to grow plants from seed, but there is a reward. I am delighted by Heirloom Bells of Ireland. This is the first year I have successfully grown them.

As I walked around watering plants I noticed the first calendula bloom.

This heirloom tomato plant is growing tomatoes in a bunch.

What is growing in your garden?

Linking this post with Sue’s Wordless Wednesday and Marci’s Star Blog Hop

The Joy and Puzzle of Gardening

One of the benefits of the pandemic has been more time for gardening. More time to enjoy beautiful blooms, more time to think about soil, fertilizer and watering.

This year the peonies were especially lovely.

Japanese Peony

I did try to transplant one peony plant that wasn’t getting much sunlight. The plant wilted in protest and I have tried to save it. My hope is that it will come back next year. (Peonies don’t like to be moved—and maybe the springtime was the wrong time to try.)

In the past few years my squash and pumpkin plants have failed to produce because of the squash vine borer. This year I chose a new location in the yard to plant squash and I may get some.

Zucchini Squash

I’m looking forward to nasturtiums blooming around the yard and in this basket.

Nasturtiums

I don’t have great success with tomatoes. I am trying to grow them in containers. Not sure if I am fertilizing them too much or too little. But they do have little tomatoes.

Tomatoes

I have concluded that I need to water them more frequently than if they were planted in the ground.

These garden issues are a pleasant puzzle and simpler than the problems that face our country.

Do you have a garden? What have you learned?

Sharing this post with Sue’s image-in-ing .

New Ideas for the Garden

With lots of time at home I have been able to focus attention on gardening. My neighbor and I have shared tips and little plants across the back fence. I am looking forward to garden produce.

This year I have added mushroom compost to the garden to help break up the heavy clay soil. In some places I have added earthworm castings as a fertilizer. 

In the past I have lost squash and pumpkin plants to vine borers—the caterpillars that eats the inside of the plant’s vine. So I did an internet search for ways to prevent this problem. One suggestion was to place aluminum foil around the base of the stem—I tried that before without success. Or wrap the stem with cheese cloth. My squash and pumpkin plants now have cheese cloth around their stems.

Update 8/12/2020: I have picked (and made into dinner veggie) two zucchini squash with more coming. I have butternut squash coming.

Another suggestion was to companion plant nasturtium, chives, calendula or tansy around the squash/pumpkin plants. I have tansy and calendula growing next to the pumpkin plants and nasturtium and chives next to the squash. I also planted the squash in a new area, because rotating location of plants is a good idea. We’ll see how this experiment works.

For the tomato plants I put a mix of banana peel, crushed egg shell and coffee grounds deep in a hole, covered with some soil, before placing the tomato plant in.

I am thrilled that some of my herbs wintered over. The sage and thyme were in sheltered areas outside. My rosemary plant did well in a sunny bay window during the winter and is now outside.

I am looking forward to the time our state opens up—our district of Illinois is still shut down. I am anxious to have time together with friends and family. In the meantime gardening gets me outside, into the sunshine. I look in wonder at endless variety of plants and flowers that God has created for our enjoyment.

Do you have gardening tips for growing healthy plants?

Sharing this post with Tuesdays with a Twist and the Five Minute Friday writing community. Today’s prompt is: FORWARD

Rhythm of Life

The mint in my backyard has flowered; tiny white flowers make a wreath around the stem. I pause to wonder at the delicate loveliness.

The phlox are a bright spot of color. I can see them from my kitchen window.

The elderberries are getting ripe. I will make elderberry juice/syrup from them. 

The flowers are blooming. The vegetables and fruit are ripening. It is the bounty of summer. And then autumn will come. Again.

The rhythm of the seasons provides order to our lives and points to God’s faithfulness. After the great flood God made a promise to Noah.

While the earth remains, seed time and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night, shall not cease. Genesis 8:22

God is sovereign over the earth and we can trust his promise.

The prompt for the Five Minute Friday writing community is: AGAIN

Sharing this post with Sue’s image-in-ing and Tuesdays with a Twist

The Colors of Calendula

Calendula is a bright sunny flower and a herb. It has been called poor man’s saffron. The petals of the flower can be added to rice. The flowers can be dried for tea. I have enjoyed seeing the range of colors of that the flower displays from bright orange to yellow to mixed colors. Just a few of the many varieties are: Pacific Beauty, Pink Sunrise, Lemon Cream

Calendula
Lemon Yellow Calendula
Calendula

You can read more about growing and using calendula flowers in another post that I wrote. Click here.

The photo of the orange calendula was taken by my son a couple years ago. The other flowers are in bloom now.

Sharing this post with Sue’s photo link-up.

Do These Flowers Like Sun or Shade?

Today I made my first trip to the farmer’s market this year. Early produce was set out in abundance: lettuce, swiss chard, kale, asparagus and strawberries. But the first booth I came to had flowers and plants, both annuals and perennials. 

When I saw the sweet williams, I wanted two plants. I asked the man who was selling them, do sweet williams prefer sun or shade? He said, “Definitely the sun”.

I thought about my question. Every plant has its preferences—the soil pH, tolerance for dry periods, sun or shade. And every type of flower is unique. And then there is the color range within one type of flower. All that information is contained within the seed.

And God said, “Let the earth sprout vegetation, plants yielding seed, and fruit trees bearing fruit in which is their seed, each according to its kind, on the earth.” And it was so. The earth brought forth vegetation, plants yielding seed according to their own kinds, and trees bearing fruit in which is their seed, each according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. Genesis 1: 11-12

When we pay attention to the amazing intricacy of the world God created, it is awesome. I give praise and thanks to God.

Why was I drawn to purchase the sweet williams? My Grandmother grew sweet williams (and lilacs). A few of them still grow on the hillside by the old farmhouse. Since trees and bushes have grown up they are in the shade and have become sparse. Now I know that they like the sun. I came home and planted them where they will have lots of sunlight.

Today the Five Minute Friday community has the prompt: QUESTION To see the different thoughts generated by writers or to join in, visit Kate’s site. .