Sunday, October 28, 2007

A Daisy Chain

The flower which I found on the October page of my calendar came as a surprise - bellis perennis, or the common daisy. It's not a plant I would really associate with autumn, and even the calendar admits that April to August is the best time for collecting the leaves and flowers of the plant for medicinal uses. I suppose calendar compilers are a bit like bloggers - there ar some months when you just can't find anything current to write about ...

Daisies have been used medicinally since the ancient Assyrians, who used it to combat eye problems. It's most common use, in ointment form, has probably been to treat wounds and bruises - hence its common name Bruisewort. Other uses over the ages have included to cure ulcers, arthritis, rheumatism and liver complaints.

The calendar suggests using it for coughs, dry skin and eczema. For coughs make a tea by adding 250ml hot water one to two teaspoonfuls of leaves and flowers, leave it to stand for 10 minutes and then strain. You should drink it three times a day. For dry skin or eczema you can add it to your bath water. Mix up equal quantities of dried pansies (flowers and leaves, daisies (flowers and leaves) and calendula flowers. Steep 30 grams of the mixture in two litres of boiling water for 20 minutes. You then drain it and add the liquid to your bathwater.

There's a lot on the web about daisies - growing them, their medicinal uses throughout history, legends and sayings. They come up a lot in literature too. So here's my "daisy chain" of links....

Four sites discussing the cultivation of daisies; medicinal and other uses throughout history; sayings, legends and symbolism regarding daisies :

Plants for a future

My Garden

Flower and Garden Tips


Daisies in literature

Chaucer on daisies (scroll down)

Shakespeare on daisies

Wordsworth on daisies

Tennyson on daisies

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Gardener's Bloom Day

Tomorrow is GBD, but I know I'm going to be too busy to post. So here goes, five hours early.

My pride and joy this month are my asters. I've had this plant for about three years, but every September it gets hit by white mould, and I end up having to cut it back before it blooms. This year I sprayed preventively and it's given me the best display so far.

Also beautiful are these chrysanths, but I'm less proud of them as they were bought recently. My own seemed to have succumbed to something - the top leaves are still fine, but the majority have browned and died. A watering problem? A fungus? I'm not sure. They have a lot of buds, but the plants as a whole look tatty.

That's the autumn stuff, but we've had a really warm October this year - we were out in T-shirts today and it must have been around 80° at mid-day. So a lot of the summer annuals are still blooming happily. In particular, my white surfinia were really coming on - but as they trail over the balcony, they were badly damaged by a couple of days of monsonic rain which we had about ten days ago. The plumbago was also hit, but it's bounced back.

Everything else though is doing fine, with a lot of things blooming again for the second time. These little antirrhinums, unlike most of their friends, have escaped the caterpillar plague, as has the white alyssum. The purple alyssum was too badly hit to warrant a photo here, though.

The four o'clocks are still blooming, though I'm starting to collect the seeds as well. And I've put in some cyclamen and some pansies for the winter and spring. But I'll save them for future posts.

PS : I've now got a lot of links for the Garden Bloggers' Retro Carnival, and thank you to everyone who's sent them. There's still time if you haven't sent in a link yet. The carnival starts the first week of November.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Hooked on Succulents ...

First of all, thank you to everyone who has sent links for the Garden Bloggers' Retro Carnival. People have sent in some really nice posts, including some with stupendous photos. But don't worry if you're still thinking about it - there's time yet. Just leave me a comment with the link to the post you want to nominate.

The BBC seems to be hooked on succulents at the moment. Every time I go into their Science and nature news site there seems to be an article on some cactus bursting into flower. A couple of days ago I found
this feature about a Hoodia plant, which has flowered for the first time ever at the Eden Project. It's native to South Africa and has always been eaten by bushmen in the Kalahari desert to ward off hunger. Research is currently being done to see if it can be used to fight obesity - hopefully it's not the flowers which they need to use.

But at least at the Eden Project they don't have
the problem caused by an Agave Americana at the University of Wales in Bangor. If you have one yourself, don't plant it in your greenhouse ...

A friend of mine gave me the mother plant of the succulents in the picture (I've forgotten their name). These are cuttings I took a year or so ago. They've grown at a rate of knots, but they haven't flowered yet. Should I be worried?

Monday, October 01, 2007

Let's Have a Garden Bloggers Carnival!

About a month ago, in connection with my other blog, I received an invitation to participate in a "blog carnival". The idea is that bloggers who are writing on the same topic send a link to one of their posts to the carnival organiser, who then publishes them with a brief description of what the post contains.

I thought it was a great idea, and wondered if we could do the same for garden blogs. But given we've got Garden Voices which does the same thing every day (thank you GV!), there didn't seem much point.

Then about a week ago, I was looking for an old photo which I remembered posting last year, and came across a post which I'd completely forgotten writing but which, on rereading, seemed really good. And it occurred to me that we all must have posts sitting in our archives which deserve another outing.

So here's the idea - send me a link to a post you wrote some time ago, which by now everyone will have forgotten about, but which you think is worth re-reading - or which you'd like new readers to see. Use the comments box - I won't publish the messages but will collect up the links. Then, during November when life in the garden calms down (at least for those of us in the northern hemisphere), I'll publish a series of posts including all of them. We'll call it the Garden Bloggers' Retro Carnival. Just to get you in the mood, the photos on today's post are all from 2006 to early 2007 - spring, summer, autumn and winter.

Anyone's welcome to participate, so by all means pass the message on to other bloggers you're in contact with. And if you haven't been blogging long and don't have any old posts, don't worry. Send a link to a recent post and we'll have a newbies section.

If you'd like to see what a blog carnival looks like, have a look at this one which focuses on books and reading .

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