Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Herb for Bees - Autumn food !

Lemon verbena or Aloysia citrodora would be one of my most favorite herbs. It is flowering profusely in the Herb Garden at Hamilton Gardens, filling the area with its bewitching lemony scent.

 Native to many parts of South America, this plant was taken to Europe in the 18th Century, where it became very popular and used in alot of different cooking styles. In Victorian times it was simply known as `the lemon plant` Today Lemon Verbena is used to flavor meat and fish dishes, puddings, cakes, my favorite being a refreshing drink infused with crushed leaves, left to cool and add soda water for a sparkling beverage !

Along with Solidago (Golden Rod), this beautiful bushy small shrub flowers late summer, early autumn, providing much needed nectar/pollen for honey bees and other pollinating insects, the white/pinkish flowers cover the plant. It does need to be planted in a warm, frost free spot and cut back hard each autumn after flowering as it tends to get straggly - but nothing else can compare with Lemon verbena for the best lemon scent after an actual lemon !

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Autumn is near . . .

The beautiful vase-shaped hips from Rosa moysii with lots of tiny black seeds ready to fall out everytime you shake them. I remember when my children were babies you could buy rosehip syrup which was diluted with water, providing a great source of Vitamin C ! It most probably was full of sugars ! You can`t buy it now.
I cut one open to taste, it was quite sweet and I would imagine a very nice drink could be made - I must google it ! I have added the remaining hips to my `autumn` collection ..
Allium flowers, bees love these pretty white umbels which planted en mass look rather gorgeous I think. Autumn is my favorite season, I so look forward to the days closing in, mellow golden light, cool temps, leaves changing colour - I know it is the ending of the life cycle for many plants, but I feel so energized and alive !!
Miss Bee coming into land with golden rod filled pollen baskets - the bees in the hives at the Sustainable garden in the Hamilton Gardens are still out and about each sunny day. The solidago is one of the last herbs to flower during late summer/ early autumn here in NZ, everything else in the herb garden having reached the end of their flowering. Lemon balm is flowering profusely at the moment, the smell of the flowers and leaves is divine, I must grow more bushes of it next year.