Writing and The Written Word

Down in a green and shady bed
A modest violet grew;
Its stalk was bent, it hung its head,
As if to hide from view.

And yet it was a lovely flower,
Its colors bright and fair!
It might have graced a rosy bower,
Instead of hiding there.

Yet there it was content to bloom,
In modest tints arrayed;
And there diffused its sweet perfume,
Within the silent shade.

Then let me to the valley go,
This pretty flower to see,
That I may also learn to grow
In sweet humility.

–Jane Taylor

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Writing and The Written Word

(SONG OF SOLOMON, ii. 12.)

Now the winter cold is past,
And blithe March winds are blowing,
In sheltered nooks we find at last
Bright flowers of spring are growing.

Along the hedge-row’s mossy bank,
Where ivy green is creeping,
We see through weeds and nettles rank
The dark-blue vi-o-let peeping.

And in the sunny garden beds
Gay aconites are showing,
And snowdrops bend their graceful heads,
And crocuses are glowing.

God makes the buds and leaves unfold,
All flowers are of His giving;
He guards them through the winter’s cold,
He cares for all things living.


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My Yard is flowering

Admittedly, my garden has been neglected this year. Normally, by now I would have mostly transitioned my fall garden and have started planting my spring garden. However, this year I’m behind schedule, but when I went out into the yard today to look at the garden and yard, I discovered that my yard was flowering.  So, here are some quick pictures of the variety of plants which are kind enough to be flowering in my back yard and garden.

Flowering Bok Choy

Today, I was pondering on harvesting some Bok Choy and adding it to my favorite cabbage and green bean recipe. However, when I looked out my window I got a surprise. My Bok Choy which I had inter-planted with my carrots had bolted and gone to flour during the week. I, actually, have never seen Bok Choy flour before. I guess I have always harvested and eaten it before the weather warmed up enough for it to bolt.  This really demonstrates just how much bok choy is a nice cool weather crop. It has only been intermittently warm, and by warm I mean high 70s low 80s, and consistently for a couple weeks.

By the way, if you happened to notice the native on one of the flowers in the picture, have no fear, the poor bee was just on motionless by the cool low 50s weather this morning.  When the weather warmed up the poor thing just flew away.

Wisteria Vines For Butterflies

Blooming Wisteria
Blooming Wisteria

Popular with butterflies, Wisteria has large compound leaves and pea-like flowers in handsome pendent clusters. Wisteria, a hearty and long-lived deciduous line, can grow to 100 feet and has fragrant flower clusters in late spring, early summer.  Long velvety seed pods develop in autumn.

There are two groups: one, the Chinese, twines from left to right; the other, Japanese, from right to left.

Botanical Name

  • Wisteria


  • Zones 5 to 9

Wisteria Flower
Wisteria Flower

Bloom Time

  • Late spring


  • Can reach 30 feet tall or more, and 10 to 30 feet wide or more.


  • Dangling clusters of lavender, white or pink pea-like blooms.

Light Needs

  • Full sun to partial shade.

Wisteria Growing Tips

  • Wisterias are climbers with twining stems that have been known to break flimsy structures; requiring sturdy permanent support.
  • Be patient with young plants; it can be many years (up to 10) before they bloom
  • To promote good flower clusters on the spine, cut back the fast-growing shoots in summer
  • Wisteria are rapidly growing vines and have been known to kill trees, therefore, they should be planted well away from any trees you value.
  • Wisteria should be pruned back to two or three principle vines to provide optimal bloom production.
  • If planted and permitted to grow on your home, do not let wisterias scramble at will over your house – it will not be good for your gutters or shingles

When Should Wisteria Be Pruned

  • Wisteria vines must be be pruned annually, often two or three times a year if growth is especially rampant.

Wisteria Are Poisonous

  • All parts of the Wisteria plant are poisonous , if ingested


Hibiscus Tea (Agua De Jamaica)

Hibiscus Tea (Agua De Jamaica)
Hibiscus Tea (Agua De Jamaica)

I know this tea from the Mexican with cooking tradition and it is a favorite summertime drink around our home.  The flowers used for Hibiscus tea are easily obtained online or in your local grocery, at least in the Southwest. In the Mexican tradition, it is known as Agua or Water, but it is actually a tea made from the flowers of the Hibiscus plant. While usually drank chilled and/or on ice, it makes a perfectly fine hot beverage, as well.

Hibiscus scarlet colored tea is a flavorful and versatile drink, which can be used in a multitude of ways, including:

  • To add flavor and color to a berry or fruit smoothie, or simply, to thin a smoothie a bit.
  • Frozen to make Popsicles
  • To make colorful ice cubes for your summertime drinks
  • Added to Jell-O for more depth of flavor and or color
  • Added to beery jellies, jams, and other recipes to more depth of flavor and or color. This is especially true of strawberry recipes.

Also Known as:

  • Agua De Jamaica
  • Jamaica Water

Hibiscus tea is very simple, though many recipes make it more complicated than it needs to be.  Basically,  you need the hibiscus flower and water.  A sweeter is strictly optional.  Actually,  to provide maximum flexibility, I recommend you don’t sweeten the tea until the time of consumption.   This allows each individual to sweeten the tea according to their personal tastes and/or needs.  Also, It makes a perfectly fine unsweetened drink, which is my favorite way to drink Hibiscus ice tea.   Also, if you skip the sweeter, it not only keeps it very low calorie,  but it is the most flexible way to allow you in incorporate the tea into other recipes, which may have already been sweetened and/ or don’t need the additional sweeten.



Ingredient1 Quart Measure12 Quart MeasureNotes
Hibiscus Flower½ cup1 cup 
Water1 quart2 quartsI use 2 cups for boiling and the remainder cold
Sugar/Sweetener6 tablespoons¾ cupStrictly optional


  • Rinse the flowers quickly to remove dust and debris
  • place flowers in saucepan with 2 cups of water and
  • Bring water with flowers to a boil.
  • Reduce to a slow simmer for ten minutes
  • Permit to cool
  • Strain through a fine wire strainer to remove flowers into a pitcher
  • Add cool water and/or ice according to pitcher size
  • Server Chilled

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Ask The Gardener: I recently planted some Lavender, but it is dying?


I recently planted some Lavender, but it is dying! What am I doing wrong?

I thought lavender did well in drier soil, it is on the west side of the yard planted in front of the house, and I know it does well here because the municipalities plant it all over the place. I have two French lavender plants and 2 of a different variety.


Without seeing your plants is a little hard to say. So, we will take the general approach. If I were going to solve this problem sight unseen, I would do the following:

  • Make sure you are watering the plants enough.  While it is true that lavender, once established, is hearty and hot dry weather tolerant, the first year they need extra care. I would deep water them with drip irrigation or by building a mound of dirt around them and filling it as much as possible creating a basin. During the hottest weather, you may need to do this daily really hot weather. If you put your finger in the soil near the plants, the soil should feel moist (not sopping wet) and slightly cool.
  • Just in case of disease or fungus, I would treat my plants for disease and fungus. Perhaps, a good brand of  3-in-1 Insect & Disease Control Plus Fertilizer.
  • If your soil is poor quality:
    • side dress your plants with half an inch to an inch of composted manure, which is normally available at your local yard and garden supply store.
    • Consider adding fertilizer stakes near the plants.
    • Mulch your plants; you will want to put down 2 to 4 inches of mulch and you will want to mulch out a couple of feet from the plants to make sure you cover all the root base.

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