Tuesday, August 24, 2010

MOPARRC Green Tea Party

Thanks to everyone who came out in their green togs to our green tea party. It turned out to be a lovely day in the Emerald City.

This could be you! The Legion of Flying Monkeys Horn Orchestra is good at hypnotizing and gaining new recruits at every event.

Sandy gave a talk about the paper garden she has planted in the annual bed including flax, wheat, corn, and what used to be a patch of hemp.

These are the vegan zucchini cupcakes with a lime glaze. We also had several types of shortbread made with teas, cucumber sandwiches and green salsa. I'll post the recipes soon.

Here's Sharon, one of the green tea ladies. We actually have a tea bush in the MOP garden and Tanya at Shaktea just informed me that you have to let a tea bush mature for ten years before you pick the buds and/or leaves.

Hey, there's my gang of smiling friends. They've been drinking the happy tea.

The tea ladies make sure proper protocol is observed.

We had tea made from plants from the MOP garden and my garden: Mint and fennel, mint with lemon verbena, and wild bergamot with anise hyssop.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Happy New Beekeeping Year!

It's the middle of August and the new beekeeping year has begun. Honey should be harvested so that the beekeeper can begin treating for mites and consolidating the hive for the winter. We've been having some hot weather and some nights the bees have been hanging out at the front of the hive to cool off.

We had a block party where the kids had fun trying to make teach the local chickens some tricks and we discovered we have a mead maker in our midst.

This is a lovely mead infused with rose petals from the maker's garden and made with champagne yeast. It was like an aromatic sherry. What a treat!

We also got to taste an apple mead or cyser, which was full-bodied and off sweet. It's the best cyser I've ever tasted.

This is my favorite rose in our back yard. Maybe I'll collect some petals for mead making this fall.

The leaf cutters are staking out the wild bergamot as their territory, knocking bumble bees right off their perch. I have dried some of the petals and leaves of the bergamot and put them in shortbread cookie batter along with some fennel seeds for our MOP tea party this Sunday from 3-6 pm. Please come and sample the cookies!

I'm also in love with the sweet peas I grew in a container and I plan on saving the seeds. Next year I've got to plant more sweet peas for bouquets. They're my favorite!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Linden Gardens

Eight kilometers south of Penticton we discovered the beautiful Linden Gardens. I was inspired by the seamless landscaping, with a real vision towards integrating native plants with perennial cultivars.

I love the way these agastache plants compliment the currant bush behind them.

It is a dense, compact garden with contrasting and complimenting textures and hues. There is only one tiny part of the garden that is devoted to a lawn for wedding parties and other events. The site has a new tea room and dining hall which caters for these occasions. They make a very refreshing cup of homemade iced tea! Check their web site for the hours of the café, which is where you pay for the garden entrance fee.

I like a garden that is roomy enough to have mass plantings like this fireworks display of echinops. I pursued the largest bumblebee queen I've ever seen, over two inches long, but alas I didn't get a good photo of her majesty.

The garden in on a bench overlooking the lake shore and although we are nearly dipping into the dessert zone here, an intense irrigation system keeps the plants lush. We had to run through a few sprinklers on our walk through the garden paths.

The Oregon grapes were chalk full of berries.

The palette of the garden changes as you move through the space. This section was very painterly.

The edible berries attract a healthy bird population including these cute California quails.

The sumac berries are beginning to ripen.

There are a few ponds in the gardens as well, which are quite charming. I just read about a gardener named Roy Diblik who believes in getting to know which plants belong in communities, so that you can plant them in relationship to one another. It's an enlightened approach to companion planting. Linden Gardens is a living example of plants that have been chosen in this way and are flourishing because of it. I was inspired and uplifted by this Okanagan oasis. Hats off to its creators!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Fennel Delights

The bumble bees and leaf cutters are frantically excited about the bee balm and they keep circling the blossoms over and over again for the nectar.

A friend gave me this lovely gentian plant from her garden. I feel honored to have something so beautiful in our back yard.

The honey bees love the fennel and at mid day it is covered in all sorts of insects.

The fennel plant is just next to the hive so they don't have very far to go for it.

Look at that behemoth of a sunflower. It's a volunteer from last year.

I fill these shells at the edge of my garden so the insects can drink from them. Here is a yellow jacket taking a sip.

J and I did a hive check today, but first we did the grisly job of uncapping dead drone larva that we had put in the freezer to kill mites. The wasps have been carrying off the few corpses that I left behind. The bees are cleaning out the dead and chucking them out of the front of the hive now and the wasps are fighting over them. They take the corpses back to their nests for their brood. Wasps are carnivorous when young, and adult wasps live off sugary liquids, including nectar, baby wasp puke and lemonade.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

A Premature Harvest

Apparently it is not kosher to plant hemp for the purpose of making paper. We were to harvest this in the afternoon, but the very same morning the authorities chopped the crop down and hauled it away. Sandy has been planting the top bed at the MOP with annuals for a paper making project, including flax, wheat, and hemp, but we were too late to save the hemp.

Sharon Kallis worked with the EYA interns to make these fabulous woven nests out of grasses, morning glory and blackberry vines.

There are now two busy hives in the garden and the bees are loving the mint! Be sure to save the afternoon of Sunday, August 22 for our GREEN tea party where there will be all sorts of green food and mint tea.