Posts Tagged ‘sage’

Herbal Cuppas

October 31st, 2010

The daily brew

Going out into your garden early on a sunny morning and picking some fresh leaves for your morning brew is a heavenly experience, and if you are short of space or time for gardening, well, I think you can’t go very far wrong than to grow some herbs that you can harvest and use for a good cup of tea.

fresh lemon balm leaves

It is very simple to make a herbal tea from fresh leaves.  You just take a handful of fresh leaves and pour boiling water over them.  Cover, and allow to infuse for 5-10 minutes.  Strain and pour into your favourite  mug.   If you like sweet tea, then sweeten with honey rather than sugar as that somehow tastes wrong with the subtle flavour of herbs.

Lemon Balm

Lemon balm soothes sore stomachs and tea made from the leaves has a pleasant lemony taste.  You can drink it in great quantities. There is no caffeine.

Some garden teas are more than pleasing, they are home-grown medicine.  Sage, for example, is really good for sore throats.  The minute you feel your throat getting sore, nip on out into the garden, pick some fresh sage and steep the leaves for 5 minutes.  Then add some lemon juice and a teaspoon of honey.  This tea works really well.

Well, the lemon balm tea I have just finished making is just about ready for me to enjoy on this rainy afternoon.

Happy gardening!

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Pineapple Sage & Honey-eaters

April 30th, 2010

Pineapple Sage

Out in the back garden my Pineapple Sage {salvia elegans} has burst into full flower and this has brought all the little honey-eaters to visit my garden every day!  I have a special view from my kitchen sink, so entertaining while washing dishes!  Lucky me!  Pineapple sage is a wonderful plant with bright red tubular flowers that honey-eaters love to draw nectar from.  You can use the flowers in salads or if you are out in the garden you can pluck one and sip the nectar yourself, but you do feel a little guilty doing this as the poor little honey-eaters flutter about and look at you in a reproachful sort of way.

The bright red flower of the Pineapple Sage

I love my Pineapple Sage, it is really easy to grow and produces a distinctive pineapple smell when the leaves are brushed as you walk past or when you are in amongst it weeding.  You can’t use the leaves in cooking at all but you can use the flowers.  A friend of mine makes a delicious salad with red, yellow and green peppers, salad mix, then tosses the flowers through, it looks very pretty but I don’t use the flowers at all myself.  I grow the plant only to attract the birds. 

Happy gardening!

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The April Garden

April 4th, 2010

Dahlias still delight

Dahlias still delight

April is the perfect month for gardening, the days are long and mellow and the soil is still warm from the summer sun.  The days lately seem to be calling you outside to play.  But just lately I seem to be very busy and not have the long days to spend.  How frustrating!  But, you cannot deny that in the past week or two it has been beautiful gardening weather!

my red sasanqua camellia

my red sasanqua camellia

It is still bulb time, time to plant heaps of things!  I mean, when you think of it, doesn’t it make more sense to plant in the autumn?  If you plant in the spring, the little plant has only a couple of months growth and then its tiny root system has to cope with the heat of the summer.  But if you plant now they will have two good months of growing time before the winter cold sets in, then they may grow more slowly, of course, throughout winter and then put on a burst of growth when the spring comes.  All the more reason for getting out in that garden!!

Pineapple Sage, the honey eaters love it!

Pineapple Sage, the honey eaters love it!

One thing that is growing with abundance out there in my garden is weeds!!  So, have to get on to them pretty soon.  I plan to make myself real comfortable out there with a little pad for my knees or my bottom and just enjoy being out in the still warm weather!  In fact if you plant yourself in the centre of the garden and quietly work away the little finches dart about above sometimes and it can be a quite pleasant job.  Time seems to slow to a moderate pace and you can enjoy the garden from a different perspective. 

GardenApril10 020My red sasanqua camellia is covered with blooms and out the back the pineapple sage is beginning to send out its red flowers that the honey eaters love so much.  My pineapple sage is just where I can view the little honey eaters from my kitchen window, so this time of year, I enjoy watching them flit about while I wash up.  My new fig tree has figs!! They are slowly ripening.  Hopefully my possum wont know what they are.  But a friend of mine says I should cover them just in case!  Molly, my possum, is a funny creature, a lady of very particular taste.  Last year I planted out a pot of pansies, yellow, orange and blue.  I had bought ones already flowering from the nursery for a quick colour lift!  They looked a picture!  Very pleased with myself I went to bed only to find that Molly the possum had eaten all the yellow & orange ones.  Apparently blue ones do not appeal. Or, perhaps Molly couldn’t see them in the night being a dark colour.  Who can tell, not me.  But  now I only plant blue ones and never do they get eaten!  Molly also likes yellow roses but lucky for me not red ones!  My neighbours possum does like red ones and thinks I am very lucky with Molly.

Now I must away to plant myself amongst the weeds and start to make a difference!

Happy gardening!

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Flavour in the Garden

March 5th, 2010

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Every garden should have the addition of herbs.  You can make this a small section dedicated to the growing of different types or you can just mix them in amongst other plants.  Even people with no garden at all can pop some into a pot and make a mini herb garden.  I love my herbs.  They are so useful for adding flavour to food and there is nothing quite a satisfying as taking a little stroll into the garden while preparing a meal and coming back with some fresh sage or basil.  Oh, how simple pleasures can lift the spirit.  It also gives you a great excuse to get out of the kitchen and into the garden.

GardenMarch10 001Herbs are different from most other plants because of the strong volatile oils and other substances contained within them.  Many herbs, such as rosemary, use these pungent flavours to survive because grazing animals are able to eat relatively small amounts of the stems and leaves, just ask my ducks!  They try rosemary every now and then, but don’t seem to like the taste, although parsley is another matter!  Still, herbs can be tough and that makes them my little buddies in the garden.  Useful, tough and pretty!  Who could ask for more?

Most herbs need a lot of sunshine to fully develop their characteristic flavours.  They also need a very well drained place in the garden.  So, if you keep that in mind you are sure to find a spot where they will be happy and make you happy too!  You don’t need to fuss about them – they  actually thrive in impoverished soil so you can just plant and forget most of the time.  So easy care!

Some additions to my garden which I have found very useful and pretty are:

Lemon Balm

Lemon Balm

Lemon Balm (Melissa officinalis)  This is a very pretty perennial plant with a sharp, lemony scent and flavour.  It grows in sun or in part shade.  You can use the leaves as a flavouring and pop them into stir fries or cook them up with vegetables.  It also makes a lovely tea.  Or, just float some into a cool summer drink, just like you would do with mint.

Sage

Sage

Sage (Salvia officinalis) Who can live without this in their garden?  A superbly pungent herb, this little fellow loves the sun!  He also needs a very well-drained spot.  In the kitchen a touch of sage can add magnificent flavour so, if you don’t have any – get some!

 

 

 

 

 

Parsley

Parsley

Parsley (Petroselinum crisptum)  Here is one of the great herbs, being very rich in minerals and vitamins.  Parsely can be used in large amounts in most dishes.  Although, sometimes I can overdo it a bit when it is growing like mad and I am trying to get ahead of it and stop it all from going to seed!  My children have been known to wail ‘Can’t you leave out that green stuff?’  It really costs just as much to buy a bunch from the supermarket as to buy a punnet of seedlings and have parsley for months so it is very worthwile to try to keep some in the garden.

Of course there are many others: Thyme; Marjoram; Chives and all the mints.  Once you start you won’t want to stop!

Happy gardening.

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Summer Skies

February 13th, 2010

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I decided last year that I have neither the time or the inclination to trot around holding the hands of those plants that look up at me and gasp, ‘Water, please!!!’ So, I have begun experimenting with more waterwise plants. As Australia continues to struggle with climate change, and I and other gardeners struggle with our water restrictions,  I am moving more to the Mediterranean plants along with our natives.  Mulching is now essential.  My exciting find this year has been the Cistus – the hardy rock roses, these come from the Mediterranean  and the Canary Islands.  They require very little water and their delicate crepey blooms flower for months.  They seem to manage over the winter with the frosts that my garden has, so have been a good choice. 

Rosemary loves summer skies

Rosemary loves summer skies

Clivias, of course, are a great  favourite and one of the most useful, easy-to-please plants, they don’t even mind dry shady spots.  So, good for them, must buy some more!!

Our old friend the Lavender – well, what can I say?  They just seem to thrive in the heat. But they do tend to get leggy and I find can sometimes mysteriously drop dead.  Always a sad thing,  maybe it is the frost.  But I will keep trying with them, just because I love them.  I think the Lavandula angustifolia, or English lavender is the toughest.  Maybe I should just stick to that one and give up on the other varieties.  I don’t know.  Maybe where I live it just gets too wet and frosty in the winter.

Pineapple sage

Pineapple sage

The spring flowering bulbs such as grape hyacinths, sparaxis, freesias etc. don’t even want any water over the summer because that is their dormant period – well, they make a perfect choice for the waterwise garden.   

The lawn will green again when the rain comes

The lawn will green again when the rain comes

Herbs too can be terrific as ground cover – rosemary, sage these do very well.  The hebe seems to stand absolutely anything too.  Experimenting can be fun.

Well, happy gardening!

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December Recipe

December 24th, 2009

Sage - the Christmas herb

Sage - the Christmas herb

Sage is truly the ‘Christmas herb’ and today being Christmas Eve I would like to share my recipe for Sage and Lemon Stuffing. This is a moist, well-flavoured stuffing just right to stuff chicken or turkey.

Sage, lemon & onion

Sage, lemon & onion

You will need:
1 onion, finely chopped
1 stalk celery, very finely chopped
1-2 tablespoons butter
2 teaspoons grated lemon rind
1/2 cup chopped fresh sage leaves
1 egg yolk
salt and pepper
4 slices stale bread, crumbled

Cook your onion and celery in the butter in a covered pot for 3 – 5 minutes without browning. You just want to bring out the flavour. Now, remove from the heat and add the remaining ingredients – mix well. Your stuffing is ready to be used. – Enjoy!

Happy Christmas!

Happy Christmas!

I hope your Christmas is a very happy one!

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Lifting the Spirits with herbs

December 17th, 2009

Since the very earliest times, we have used herbs not just for food but for healing. Every great civilization of the past – Egyptian, Greek, Roman, Mayan, they all used plants to heal wounds, deaden pain, lift the spirits and balance the mind. Plants have been used for healing for thousands of years. Our grandmothers used them every day.

We can grow many herbs in our gardens or pots, not only for their usefulness but also for their beauty. Sage for example is perfect underplanting for roses. Don’t feel you need a special ‘herb garden’ to enjoy them; put them in the beds you already have for they are beautiful in their own right, and can add to any garden bed. But if you have the space and the sunshine then indulge yourself by creating a special herb garden.

Herbs can be grown in amongst other plants

Herbs can be grown in amongst other plants

I myself have only a small garden with space very limited so I decided to grow my healing plants in mixed beds. As my garden is also very shady this means I can use any spots that get enough sunshine to grow the herbs I really can’t get by without having. But whether you have a large garden, a small garden, a balcony or even only a window-sill, you have room to grow some herbs.
I use any space I can find. While many herbs like full sun, many others, such as chives, fennel, lemon balm, and parsley, are happy in part or dappled shade, while mint, comfrey and lungwort (Pulmonaria) will grow well in full shade.

Since I am trying to grow all my plants organically I can use them in my cooking without having any reservations about what sprays have been used on them. This means that I don’t use any weed killers and no insecticides. But with most herbs this is easy because most herbs are tough cookies. For most people who are concerned about the environment, as well as what they eat, it is the only way to garden anyway.

The essence of organic gardening is that you feed the soil with compost or well-rotted manure and allow the plants to draw their nutrients from these, instead of taking them directly from artificial fertilizers.

One of the best ways to keep herbs vigorous and growing well is by regular picking. So use your herbs in your cooking regularly, it is good for your plant keeping it bushy and producing lots of new growth and it is good for you as herbs not only add taste to your food but essential oils and minerals to your diet. Parsley for example is a tonic for the nervous system and good for digestion, stimulating the appetite and combating wind. It is also a diuretic, very useful for urinary infections as well as helping with such conditions as arthritis. So think of that as you sprinkle some over your next meal.

Sage makes a soothing tea

Sage makes a soothing tea

Rosemary has been a popular rememdy for centuries for improving concentration and memory – rosemary for remembrance – and since it works by stimulating the flow of blood to the head, that may well be true. It is certainly good for headaches. It can even be used as a mouthwash!
I just love the plants themselves. The fragrance in the early evenings, or while I work in amongst them. I often make myself a cup of lemon balm tea or sage tea just by snipping off a good handful and pouring the hot water over in my little tea pot. I let it infuse for about 5 minutes and then enjoy.
Happy gardening.

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