Sunday, 30 June 2013

Berries Ripening

That is what my red currant looked like a week ago and today, the berries are ripe to be picked up. So I did it but only from one of the six red currant bushes I got.  There are so many berries on them! 

I picked up three great bowls of berries and decided to make a jelly of them. I love this sweet-sour taste of jelly in pancakes or in fruit cakes. Sometimes I add a little bit water and pour it over the ice cream cup.

I love to eat fresh berries too. Don't you just love this bright red color? To extract the juice I used my tomato juicer.

With this machine everything is very easy and quickly done. The juice goes on one side, the rest on the other, no need to remove the stems either! Then, the juice, sugar and special jelly sugar should be cooked together for a short time and poured hot into warmed up glass jars.

I always use small jars to spend the jelly before it grows mold.

Saturday, 29 June 2013

It is Time for Day Lilies

My day lilies are finally flowering. They are late this year because of rainy and rather cold weather in May. I have about thirty cultivars which doesn't flower all at once. This way the flowering season prolongs over a month.

In this rotunda bed they are accompanied with Hostas and Hoytunia and a bird bath in the middle.

The beautiful 'Ed Murray'

The clumps are every year bigger and need to be divided when there is no more place for them. Dividing plants is also a good way to rejuvenate them.

The common H. fulva in a over a meter long clump.

'Olive Baily Langdon'

'Elegant Candy'

'Minstrel Boy'

And, that is enough of them for today!

Tuesday, 25 June 2013


I simply adore lavender. I love its silver foliage, beautiful purple spikes of flowers and the fragrance of essential oil that fulfills the air whenever you touch the plant. I have just picked up all the flower spikes, made the bunches and hanged them on all around my house to dry. I should have done it earlier when the flowers were still buds but I love to see lavender flowering in the garden and I left it flower for awhile.

It attracts lots of bees and butterflies and the neighbor's cat love to make itself comfortable right in the middle of the bush! No need to tell you how disapproving it is because it ruins its shape. But, what can I do?

Lavender has so many uses. It is a well known moth repellent so, I put some lavender sachets in my wardrobe. I always make a small jar of lavender sugar - just fill the jar alternating sugar and lavender flowers and seal it. I use it to make sweets and cakes.
I enjoy lavender in bath, soaps and shampoos, and in winter, I use to put a few drops of lavender oil on the radiator to fill the room with this beautiful fragrance.

Sunday, 23 June 2013

Lime Tree

I live in a small town called Lipik, which actually means 'lime grow'. Almost every street was actually a lime alley. Many trees are gone but still lots of them remained and the whole street smells of lime tree flowers. Namely, June is the month when lime flowers. In Croatian, lime is called 'lipa', hence the name of the town - Lipik, and also the name for the month of June - 'lipanj'.

There is a buzzing sound all around because lime attracts lots of bees. The lime honey is always in demand for its quality. I picked up some flowers and put it on the table to dry. This amount is usually enough to make the tee throughout the winter.

The tee has a mild taste and in herbal medicine is used to treat cold, fever, caught, infections and headache. It is also used as a diuretic and sedative. So, drink a cup of lime flowers tee in the evening, before you go to sleep.
Lime is a beautiful tall tree. It grows very slow and lives very long. The oldest lime tree in Croatia dates as back as to 1573.  Today, it is a protected as a specimen. In 2007, about fifty cuttings was taken to produce new trees and save the gene base of this particular tree. 

image credit: Matija

Wednesday, 19 June 2013

Japanese Persimmon

image credit:

In my previous post I mentioned the Japanese Persimmon. I have always wanted to have this tree in my garden because I love to eat its fruit. I was worried about how it would survive the growing conditions in the climate I live which is true continental one, with hot summers and cold winters. But, after having seen the beautiful Japanese Persimmon in one garden in the neighboring town, I decided to buy it.
As I keep my gardening diary for years, I find out the exact date when I planted my tree. It was on 28th March. For two months I sow no change in growth whatsoever. I have already thought it died, but on June 10th I have noticed the first green leaf buds. I was relieved!

I was wondering why it took it so long to show up some life and have come to the following conclusion. The reason why were probably the unfavorable weather conditions during April and May. It was unusually cold and rainy, very little sun and thus no warmth that this tree needs. As soon as the weather improved, the tree awoke! I cannot tell you how happy I am. The one I have planted in 2011 has died. Hopefully, this one will survive.

What I already know about cultivating this tree is the following:
1. It prefers loamy, well drained soil;
2. After planting, continuous watering is necessary to keep the soil moist. Needs watering when there is a long period without rain.
3. It is good to mulch the ground around the tree to keep the soil moist.
4. Naturally, a handful of organic fertilizer added around the trunk helps growth.
5. Pruning is needed to form an open shaped crown in the first years of growth.

Now the foliage grows rapidly. The first photo is taken on June 13th, and the second one only six days later, that is today!

Monday, 17 June 2013

How Does Your Garden Grow?

After the long period of rainy weather, the sun shines, and how it shines! It seems to me that we will never be content with the weather. Now it is very warm, and tends to be hot in the next few days. Certainly, it is not so easy to endure all these changes. It is hard for us and the plants as well. Some water loving plants like Hydrangeas, drop their leaves in the hottest period of the day. 

On the other hand, herbs like sage love sun and tolerate the drought. Just take a look at the photo above! My Salvia officinalis occupied good two square meters of the flower bed and  produced the flowers. As you can see, warmer weather does good to lemon balm and mint as well. Lemon balm is not yet flowering and now is the time cut it off and hang on some airy place to dry. My favorite summer drink is lemon balm and mint tea mixed with elder syrup I made a few weeks ago. I just pick up some fresh herb leaves, make a tea and then add the syrup, water and plenty of ice. Very refreshing.

These strange looking tree is the Japanese Persimon I have planted some time in Spring this year. I have already thought it died but with the sun, this 'sleeping beauty' woke up. Well, at present it looks more like an ugly duckling, but you know the story... Japanese Persimon or, as we call it kaki,  is a very pretty small tree. And, I just cannot have enough of it's fruits. I am curious when I will pick up the first one from this tree.

This cone like planter with iron tripod is really a vintage piece. It is certainly more than forty years old! It is a gift from my mother's friend who moved into a flat. I planted it with Plectranthus (variegated leaves), Ipomena (green foliage) and Gaura in the middle. The plants still need to grow to fill the planter but even now, it does'n look so bad, does it?

Thursday, 13 June 2013

Barrels and Rain

Every serious organic gardener who is environmentally friendly should collect the rain water. I had a few 'excuses' to delay this action: couldn't find the barrel, didn't have the opening on the gutter...
And, all of the sudden everything solved. A friend of mine got me a barrel and it fits perfectly under the spout. How so? On the other side of the house the rain gutter is already made shorter in order to put the barrel underneath! Am I being silly all these years? I realized that only yesterday when I got the barrel!
No need to tell you that the barrel is full considering all this rain lately.

The other barrel I got is much bigger and I put it into vegetable garden. The old one was all rusty and leaky. The man who brought it painted it blue and it looks nice as a garden detail. I need to fill it in from water supply but having water so close to the vegetable garden is very useful during the dry periods in summer. No need to spread 30 meter of garden hose...

Now I need to make some planting scheme around the gutter and a barrel on the other side of the house. I think I will make an old brick paving around it to have an easy access and plant, of course, moisture loving plants. Good! Now I have something to think about and create a new piece of my garden...

Tuesday, 11 June 2013

Here Comes the Sun

The weather is still very changeable with lots of rain but it helps growth of the plants and the garden looks really lovely. Finally, the sun came out of the clouds today and everything looks better. Today should be the last rainy day here. The rose 'Felicite Perpetue' look great this year. It conquered the fence and the rose arch in a lenght of 2.5 meters!

The other rose, vigorous rambler 'Bobby James' is also in full bloom making the green roof over the terrace. It has nice smell of fruit and attracts lots of bees.

The Red hot poker and Macleaya are the most prominent plants in this border. Both of them are bold plants that require a lot of space.

The same can be said for the Hosta 'Sum an Substance' and Polygonum behind it. The leaves of this Hosta are really large.

Phyladelphus brightens up a hedge in on a shady side of the garden.

Finally, the Chinese peony opened its buds. Hopefully, these flowers won't be ruined by rain.

Tuesday, 4 June 2013

Roses in June

Rosa mundi

June is the month of roses. Most of them are at their best at this time of year. What a pity is has been raining for days and some of the buds barely open and rot as they are. I don't remember when was the last time I sow the sun! And these terrible floods in Germany and Austria... hope the rain will stop soon.

I agree, roses are beautiful and man created many wonderful cultivars. But somehow, the wild looking ones are closer to my heart. Their flowers might not be as gorgeous and attractive as the modern cultivars but on the other hand, they have some good advantages.

'Sally Holmes'

They are usually more resistant to pests and diseases, smell wonderfully and are more vigorous. Rosa mundi, the one of the first picture above is probably the oldest cultivated rose with striped petals in the world. It  known before 1200 A.D. and is cultivated up today. It is also known under the name Rosa gallica versicolor. The flowers are simple, striped and fragrant. 
The second one, named 'Sally Holmes' is the vigorous climber/rambler I planted last year and this is its first flowering season. It produced only three shoots this year so, I have plenty of time to build the arch for it.

'Jacques Cartier'

'Jacques Cartier' is a rose from the Portland group of roses. It smells wonderfully and flowers several time in a year. I managed to cut off the fading flowers yesterday on this rose bush. There was so many flowers ruined by rain.

Saturday, 1 June 2013

Clary Sage

If you check the weather widget on the left side bar of my blog, you'
ll see that is has been raining for days. The air temperature is also pretty low for this period of year. It is amazing how it effects the growth of the plants, especially the vegetables. My broad bean seems to do nothing. It has only a few flowers and it is supposed to have the first pods by now. Cobaea, Cup and saucers, is as small as it was two weeks ago when I planted the seedling along the garden fence. Obviously, plants lack sunshine and warmth. I only fear they would wilt if the weather doesn't improve.

Luckily, this bold, attractive plant reached the full size before this odd weather started, and flowers in the front of my house. It is Salvia sclarea var. turkestanica, the clary sage. Being a good self seeding plant, by Autumn it will produce a lot of seedlings. I never have to worry about loosing it. There is always enough new plants to thin, replant and even give away. As a biennial, it flowers the next season.

The flowers are tiny but the bracts are very beautiful and attractive to bees and also to people! They catch every passenger's eye and I always have many requests for seed or seedlings. The plant is, as all sages, aromatic and contains the essential oil. 
The genus Salvia in Croatian flora is represented by 15 species, clary sage being one of them.