The end of June signals the wind down of plant sales at the farm nursery. Memories of the crazy-busy days of madly labeling plants and wheeling them to the sales area fade away into the summer heat. Customers still drop by for the occasional perennial plant like a Rosemary or a Lavender to fill an empty garden spot, or to browse through the Scented Geraniums or check out the summer blooming Bee Balms and Sages but for annuals like this Anise plant “the gig is up ” . Anise is a wonderful flavoring, especially for cookies, so I have decided to save a few plants in the back of the greenhouse and wait for these blooms to transform into the tasty seeds. Then it’s time get baking !
Here is wonderful on-line resource for BC herb growers. I find this herb growing calendar by a local BC seed supplier very useful. Herb Planting Chart
This is a picture of the calendula bed 1 month later, ready for the first of many flower harvests. Note the small Arbutus ( Arbutus menziesii ) tree hanging over the fence in the top right of the photo stretching for the sun.
While on my weekly IPM scouting mission I found dozens of these little metallic black beetles relaxing after a large meal of St. John’s Wort . I am pretty sure these are Chrysolina hyperici beetles. Chrysolina beetles come in wide variety of wonderful colours. Check out the photographs of Chrysolina americana and Chrysolina fastuosa at this web site : http://www.eakringbirds.com/eakringbirds6/insectschrysolinabeetles.htm, to see some spectacular examples of this beetle.
St. John’s Wort is a very popular medicinal herb, but also a serious noxious weed on grazing lands. Three types of Chrysolina beetles were released in Ontario in the 1950’s as a bio-control against St. John’s Wort and Chrysolina hyperici was one of the types. For more information by Ontario Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs click on the photo.
Well, those people in the UK are at it again ! First it was “Be Nice to Nettle Week ” and now it is officially ” National Insect Week” with the tag line ” little things that run the world” . Hey ! if you don’t believe me just check out http://nationalinsectweek.co.uk/. This may not be the best picture of this critter I have taken, but it is the most complete one I have in terms of identification. I originally thought all you had to do to ID a Lady Beetle was to count the spots …. but there is a bit more to it than that ! A click on the picture will take you to a really interesting visual based ID guide.
So what type of Lady Beetle is this anyway ?
I caught this plant blooming by the entrance to one of our lath house plant nurseries. A relative to Mullen, this Verbascum x hybrida ‘Southern Charm’ F1 Hybrid illustrates how some herbs are” tamed” to become strictly ornamental plants. The Thompson & Morgan seed catalog says this plant is ideal for cottage gardens and is a good cut flower.
Called Fishwort, Fish Mint, Chameleon Plant or Vap Ca Houttuynia cordata ‘Tricolour’ is a popular culinary herb in Vietnam, Northeastern India and Southwestern China. This plant over winters outdoors on Vancouver Island. It is often called fish mint because it is said to have a fishy flavour. I tried a leaf and found the flavour to be more of a bitter citrus-peel taste.
This explosion of blooms greets visitors as they walk through the entrance gate to the farm. Styrax Japonica is primarily grown as an ornamental, however other members of this genus produce resins that have been used in perfumes, certain types of incense, snake repellant, and medicines in the middle east since ancient times. Click on the photo to go to the list of Styrax sp. contained in the rare plant collection at Holker Hall and Gardens located in the UK.