cosmos and purple mum
We’ve had an extremely long growing season this year. I had plants trying to come up in February? In Chicago? Yes! I recently stopped in at one of my favorite garden centers, Gethsemane, in Andersonville, and while chatting with a worker there, realized that yes, it is reload season. Annuals may be a little leggy or gone! The perennials are way past their prime, and most of us are harvesting our vegetables rather than looking at the beautiful flowers.
Luckily I planted cosmos and cleome to fill in some areas, but have been thankful for the fall flowers coming in. Mums! The symbol of fall in the garden. Perfect to stick in bare spots. Pots at most places range from small to large, so they’ll fit most anywhere. If you’re lucky, they’ll come back next year. I’ve got three this year from last year’s garden. Here’s a little look at the rest of the garden this Aug!
secondary blooms on sunflowers
ferns and nasturtium
zinnias and petunias
keeping up with the red and white theme: white zinnias, white alyssum, and red verbena
thyme in bloom
My herbs are gigantic, so any idea I read or see concerning herbs sticks in my head. Latest and greatest is from 1,001 Ingenious Gardening Ideas, (page 204 if you’ve got the book).
- Harvest herbs of rosemary, thyme, oregano, parsley, and chive.
- Make sure all the herbs you harvest are between 5-8 inches in length. You’ll want about 8-10 pieces.
- Starting with chives, lay them out somewhat unevenly, and then twist them to make a rope that can be held together to form a 5 inch circle.
- While holding the chives, weave other herbs throughout the circle.
- If it goes a little rough, you can tie in some twine for reinforcement.
- Hang up to dry; and when you’re making soup this fall, toss it in (minus any other decoration you happen to have added).
Making simple syrups with your herbs is very easy.
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup water
A handful of your favorite herb
Lemon, or Peach (as I did above with the rosemary)
Heat sugar and water in a small saucepan til sugar dissolves. Add a few squeezes of fresh lemon and herbs. Let cool, strain, and then add to your favorite sparkling water for an herbal soda! Also tasty is a white wine spritzer made with your herbal syrup. Half wine, half sparkling water, and about 2-3 Tbsp of simple syrup. Enjoy over ice!
kitchen helper, Che
The Lakefront Bike Trail in Chicago runs from the Southside to the Northside of Chicago, about 18.5 miles. One of the most noteworthy projects going on is the wildlife sanctuaries. These spots along the trail are wild with native prairie plant life for birds, insects, and butterflies to feed from and find shelter in.
queen anne’s lace, related to the carrot
trumpet vine, attractive to bees and hummingbirds
a nice view along the trail
About a month ago, I rescued a day or two day old kitten left in our compost pile. It’s been my life hand raising little Eartha Kitty. Up to now, life has been in two to three hour segments for me, including sleep. Week three was a bit scary with a sickness and fever, but week four has kitten back in the swing of life and thriving. Here’s Eartha!
Today’s temperature is to break 100 degrees, I can think of nothing better than using the sun’s heat and some herbs from the garden and make sun tea. Growing up in Texas, we did this often; so to try it here in Chicago is a nice throwback to my youth. I’m using Chocolate mint, but any number of other herbs can be used. Feel free to get creative and mix up any of the following:
- chamomile and lemon balm
- lavender and mint
- lemon balm and mint
- hibiscus flower and mint
You may want to remove the leaves from the stems. Stems tend to make the tea a little bitter. If you’re into black teas or just have a tea you love, add 4 bags to the glass jar and wait for it to turn tea color. Pour over ice and enjoy!
Right here in Chicago at Kedzie and Addison, the Brew and Grow turned their curb into two small gardens with tomato, dill, pepper, and basil!
Nothing says summer quite like a sunflower. Lovely composites, made of many florets. I let these grow from the bird feeder this year, along with a florist bouquet that I planted with flowers ranging from reds and oranges. I look forward to seeing their smiling faces. There’s nothing more cheerful. In fact, this weekend while driving along the Illinois Tollway, I spotted a few growing in the cracks of the toll station! That being said, these guys are great for guerrilla gardening. This is the first in my garden, surely more to come!