A White Flowerbed

I have always wanted a white flowerbed to be viewed in the evening. I think the name "moon flowers" gave me the idea when I was very young. When we moved here I finally had the space for it. That first year I covered what I thought would be a large enough area for it across from the porch. I had visions of us sitting out there and seeing the beautiful white flowers after dinner in the dark.

This is the original white flowerbed which I have since enlarged. It is also no longer all white, as you can see.

The original plan was to keep it all white with touches of true red. There are red 'Blaze'
climbing roses planted at either end of the little white picket fence.

The following summer I doubled the size of the bed to add a collection of white shrubs. I soon gathered so many plants of all colours, this is my nature as an OBSESSED collector, that I had to put them wherever I could find the space. That often happened to be in the so called "white" flowerbed, and so it is no longer all white. That is okay with me, though, as I like it better with the other colours added in. It is still mostly white.

When I started the white flowerbed, I researched white flowers and was amazed at the variety available! 
I love Easter lilies and have collected the finished ones from local churches after Easter. The churches are more than happy to find them a good home when they have finished blooming. If you plant them immediately in the garden and let them yellow naturally before cutting them off, they will often re-flower that same year. They are also often perennial here and will sometimes come back in the spring. This is a picture of one collected last spring after Easter, that regrew and re-bloomed. The scent is amazing!!  You can also dig the bulbs in the fall and keep them in a cool, day place for the winter. Then replant in early spring, as soon as the ground thaws.

In my white flower bed a have several feverfew. If you have one, you have many. It can become invasive but I love it. It makes a full small shrub that blooms all summer long, even past the frost. It makes an excellent cut flower which lasts a considerably long time in the vase, much longer than the other flowers I put with it. Its a great white filler with its tiny flowers! While they do reseed everywhere, they are fairly shallow rooted and easy to pull out. I have them all around the back edge of the white flowerbed now, but some of the shrubs I added last year have gotten so large that it is a bit too crowded now. I will be digging a few of the feverfew up and giving them away shortly to a friend who just moved into a new house and needs them for her new gardens.

I do have a lilac in that bed but it is purple :-(  
I couldn't find a white one at that time.

This is white malva moschata. Its usually pink, but does come in white too.
I had three large shasta daisies from my mother in law. While they are beautiful in bloom, I only have room for one. I don't like them enough to have ore than one. I dug out the other two last fall and gave them away. They were huge!

Last year I added large white Aztec nicotiana, white iris, a snowball bush, pegee hydrangea, two bridalwreath spirea, a goat's beard aruncus, phlox Davidii, white ninebark, three white potentillas, white rock cress, and two dwarf white cannas grown from seed.

At the end of the year last year I bought 30 small perennials for .25 ea at a clear out! Some of these were white. Of the white ones I bought there were malva moschata, prunella, great masterwort, diamond flax, candytuft, meadowsweet filipendula and osprey spiderwort - all white - and I grew white campion from seeds I got in an exchange which are blooming now.

The 30 end-of-the-year plants were alive but very tiny. I have not seen all of them up again in the beds yet this year. The rest of the thirty were scattered here and there in the 

other beds.

Flower & Herb Jellies

We use a lot of jams an jellies at my house. My guys eat it on toast and pb&j sandwiches. Its good as a topping for ice cream or a glaze for cooking meats, too. The flower jellies make great gifts. A basket of homemade and unusual things from the kitchen goes over very well at Christmas!

This is bee balm (Monarda Didma) jelly, red, of course. You can make jelly from the native purple too (Monarda Fistulosa) but the colour will not be red. The colour in the jars is natural. There is no food colour added. I am hoping to make a lovely pink wine from the gallon bucket of bee balm petals I have saved in the freezer.

I have a lot of the red in the garden and I like the colour, so I am using that for the jelly. I do have some of the native purple, as well, but probably won't make jam from it this year.

I have collected a gallon of bee balm petals for wine making. I will use a little of that in addition to what I picked fresh this morning. I think the ones I picked today will be the last of the bee balm petals that grow this year. Some areas don't have any stalks or leaves anymore, either. Thanks to our dog, Buck who is a great help in the flowerbed!

You can make jelly from almost any edible flowers. Some edible flowers will make good jelly and some will not. Please taste it in a tea first to see if you like it. We like bee balm. Hibiscus is another one that makes good tea, jelly and wine. Mine are in bud now! Rose petals also make good jelly if you use scissors to cut the petals off, leaving the white bottom part behind. Its slightly bitter.

 I have a gallon of wild daylily petals in the freezer for wine. I could use a few of those to make jelly too. I don't know if we like it or not. I think I'll have some wild daylily tea today and see. I have some dark red daylilies blooming now in the garden I could use for jelly. That would have a beautiful colour! So many possibilities! Experimenting is fun!

Mint and other herb jellies are made the same way as the flower jelly. These jellies are used mostly as glazes for meat at my house. No one eats sage jelly on toast! I like the mint, myself, on ice cream and so forth but I am the only one that eats it like that. Hubby is not too fond of mint. Apple mint jelly might be good. I wonder if hubby would know it has mint in it. I would tell him, after he ate it and said it was delicious!

Recipe for flower and herb jellies:

2 cups flower petals (or fresh young herb leaves)
2 1/4 cups water
1/4 cup lemon juice
600 grams liquid pectin (2 pckges) or equivalent powder
(You may find that the liquid works better for this purpose than the powder)
4 cups sugar

So this is the basic recipe: same amount of water and flower/leaf material. Some lemon juice. Twice that total in sugar. One package of liquid pectin per approx 1 cup of water used, before adding the flower petals and sugar. You can make jelly from whatever amount you have.
In a small saucepan, glass or stainless, bring the flower petals or herb leaves in the water to a boil. Cover and set aside. Let this sit overnight or for a several hours. Strain, squeezing out the all the water into the saucepan. Put the pulp into the compost. This water is called an "infusion". Bring the water to a boil and stir in the sugar until well dissolved.

Stir in the pectin and boil hard for two minutes. Pour into hot, sterilized jelly jars. You can sterilize the jars, seals and lids by boiling them or running through the dishwasher with detergent by themselves on HOT. Put on seals and rings. Set the lidded jars into a large, tall pot. Put enough water in the pot to cover the jars with an inch of water above the top. Boil for 10 minutes (start counting when the water is boiling). Remove jars from boiling water, let cool and remove rings. Store at room temperature. Refrigerate after opening.

I use a water bath canner for this but its not necessary if you have a pot tall enough. If you use the short, little jam jars you might have a pot that tall. I use a smaller pot if processing just a few little jars.

Yum! Bee balm jelly is delicious! The scent is quite strong when I open the jar! I love the smell of bee balm! I often pick a leaf in the garden just to smell it.

Using all the richness God has surrounded us with gives me such a feeling of accomplishment! I love to line up all the jellies I have just made, while they are cooling, and just look at them. A full larder is such a beautiful site! We are so blessed to live here and have all of this God given splendour!

Our First Farm Dog

This is Barnard Edward Gallant (BEG). Also known as Begedy, Barns or Barney, for short. He is our 14 year old shi tzu/ bichon farm dog. I know what you’re thinking. “This is a farm dog?” I, too, have visions of a Great Pyrenees when the phrase “Farm Dog” is mentioned. I would love to have a Great Pyrenees! Alas, it’s not to be, not this year, anyway. What we have is an “indoor” farm dog.

He loves to follow me around the garden, sniffing and digging in the dirt and tracking it all in the house. He has learned to follow the basket around the garden and steal things out of it. He learned that from the new little shi tzu puppy we had for a short time. Who says you can’t teach an old dog new tricks? He loves all things from that basket: peas, corn, beans, anything. (I have to be careful not to leave it on the floor when I bring it in.) If it comes out of that basket, it’s got to be better than anything he’s ever eaten before!

Our very own Easter bunny! We have considered raising rabbits for food. This is a test...do we like rabbits? Hmmmmm, I think so.

Not a winter dog!

When he was a young dog, he was a force to be reckoned with. Well, I guess we all grow old and mellow with time. He did show some interest in the chickens when they first arrived, for about an hour. After that he acted like he had lived with them all of his life and couldn’t we please get something a little more interesting? We let the chickens out of their pen from time to time and watched him closely with them. He looks at them in the yard but then goes on his merry way. It would be way too much trouble to catch one of those and who wants one anyway?

He did have a close encounter with one of our lead, assertive hens for the first time last week. This is where the fierce farm protector instinct came in. She pecked him when he got too close, so he backed off. She was blocking the door to the front porch, so he stood and whined until one of us moved the hen out of his way.
So much for our “Livestock Guardian Dog”. Has anyone ever had a “Livestock Guardian Chicken”?