"Don't judge each day by the harvest you reap but by the seeds that you plant."
Robert Louis Stevenson

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Borage for Fortitude, Calm, and Floral Ice Cubes, too!

Borage grows best for me in the winter months here in Southern California. I have had success with growing it in the summer, but it seems to look the best in winter, pest free with beautiful leaves.
This morning while walking around the herb garden I thought about a time that a friend of mine made Borage flower ice cubes for my birthday party.  They were so pretty and such a special surprise in lemonade she served.  Today I picked some of the blossoms and made these ice cubes. 
I picked the flowers and removed the stems from the flowers.  You need to pull this out very gently so as not to damage the flowers.  Let them sit in cool water just to make sure there are no little bugs.
Stems removed
Clean flowers placed in the ice cube tray.  Add bottled water only half -way up and freeze just until set, then fill the remainder of the way up to the top of the cubes but not over the edge of the container.  Make sure to use bottled water so you cubes will turn out clear.
Frozen cubes; some of the flowers are not visible here, but as they melt in your drink the cubes will be clear.
I used them in a Hibiscus Flower ice tea, today.

 The ice cubes look so pretty in my cut glass bowl with the sun shining through them.
Borage is native to the Mediterranean, where it is planted in gardens to attract honeybees.  I use organic seeds from Botanical Interests and direct seed in the herb garden.  It generally self-seeds each year, coming up in different areas of the garden.  The plants can grow up to two feet high and spread to three feet across, so give it plenty of room to spread.  The flowers can be pink and blue to purple on the same plant.  In colder areas, plant in the spring after all danger of frost.  Give it at least six hours of sun a day, and plant in general garden soil.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Summer in Southern California, Could it be?

I will be needing this hat today. It is 85 degrees here today! I had my coffee on the patio in my flipflops in a light robe this morning.  The kitties at my feet basking in the morning sunlight. It's a good day to be alive!
Grapefruits are heavy with blossoms and fruit.  We had navel oranges for breakfast picked fresh from the tree.

Hardworking Christmas cactus still blooming.

Quail nesting with her first blue egg!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

"Earth fills her lap with pleasures of her own." William Wordsworth

This line came to mind when I walked around the garden yesterday.  It was cold and wet to me, but so many of my plants looked happy.  The raised bed winter veggie gardens are thriving. I did need to cover them with plastic one night last week as the forecast was for 32 degrees; so very cold for us.  I am happy to report that it only went down to 34! Our area rarely has a temperature below 40 in the winter months and most nights range 42 and higher.

Mother nature on a rainy day....

Portulacaria afra (small leaf jade) bent by the wind and heavy rainfall.
Euryops chrysanthemoides
Our rose arbor blew down one day last week.  This is the second rose arbor I have lost to wind in this location. I think it is time for a new location.
Huddling together to keep warm on the Mexican patio.
Hiding out under the eaves. An Aloe plicatilis (Fan Aloe) and Aloe Vera, the medicinal plant we all use when injured in the garden.   Also a  Cleistocactus winteri forma cristata (the funny looking cacti in the back, left) and a Senecio rowleyanus (String of Pearls).
More huddling for warmth. Some of my geraniums and a few more succulents; a Plumeria, too.  I have two Christmas cacti that have been blooming since early November, that's one on the table with the pink buds.
Borage plant looking very happy. But..
the succulents are having a tough time.

Leaves have all fallen from the Liquid Amber Trees.

Mushrooms growing on an old Silver Dollar Eucalyptus stump.
One of four raised veggie beds.  This one includes green onions, red onions, yellow onions, sorrel, mesclun mix.
This bed has onions again, watercress, spinach, leaf lettuce, radicchio, oak leaf lettuce and endive.
Beets, Swiss Chard red and green and also Bright Lights chard

This bed of onions really got pounded with the rain.
That's it for me, my feet are getting wet, I am going inside!  Note to self...do not wear your leather Nike shoes on a rainy day in the garden.