Tuesday, May 17, 2011

The King of the Herb Garden - French Tarragon

French tarragon is considered the best kind; its small strong green leaves taste very distinctive, anise-like, sweet, spicy and rarely bitter, it is considerably more aromatic and finer than the Russian tarragon, which is somewhat bitter and rarely tasty. Tarragon contains two to three percent essential oil with the main component being tarragon oil.
It's essential to Georgian cuisine either fresh with sharp cheese or in some dishes as the main flavouring.

Love that Lovage

I discovered this plant few years ago when was shopping in our local Garden Center. I walked through the shelves reading tags... "Lovage" - I pinched the leaf and was surprised finding very pleasant taste with a hint of nut+celery.

Plant Facts:
 This hardy perennial belongs to the Umbelliferae family, which also includes parsley, fennel and celery. Like celery, it has a hollow stem and serrated leaves. Lovage is one of the earliest herbs to appear in the garden at the beginning of spring. Its flowers grow in clusters ranging from green to yellow.
Native to Europe and southwestern Asia, the shrub now thrives where there is full sun and fertile soil. Its leaves and seeds all have therapeutic properties.
Lovage is tasty, too; although quite similar to celery in its appearance and flavor, this herb is able to retain its flavor in slow-cooked soups and stews.

Using just a pinch of lovage, you can impart the sharp flavor of celery to stuffing, creamed soups, stews and even potato salads; its seeds work well in pickling brine and dressings. In its medicinal form, lovage has been prized since the Middle Ages for treating all manner of ailments. Known primarily as a dependable yet gentle diuretic, lovage has been especially useful in reducing water retention and swelling in the feet.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Landscaping with natural materials and native plants

We bought the house 6 years ago in October and all those long months till my first Spring over here I studied glossy magazines pretending the landscape of open area around the house perfectly designed with perfectly groomed bushes and bright flower beds.

Little by little I borrowed ideas and completely changed my mind. I've decided to go with natural materials and mostly native plants implementing stone borders, walls and walkways.

Creating the landscape I use basic principals of unity, variety, balance and proportion filling the space with handmade objects.

Every spring after pruning the grape I have plenty of stems for weaving. Grape vine is flexible and easy to work with after it's soaked in water. With the grape vine I've converted ugly stubs into planters and created display objects for the landscape.