Mid summer check-in

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I’ve been enjoying our warm summer weather, harvesting lots of tomatoes (sweet 100 and early girl) and strawberries, and also working on the floral scent that’s been in development for quite a while. The tomatoes are providing too much harvest to eat, so I’m freezing the extra.

The new scent features a beautiful mimosa oil in the heart, along with jasmine and orange blossom. It’s easy to create various pretty floral accords for the heart, but it has been hard to design a base that provides enough staying power without getting in the way of the floral and without going either too sweet or too woodsy. The mimosa is not long lasting, but I’d like to keep that yellow flower goodness going. I’ve used lots of beeswax and a touch of honey. I’m still playing with this one.

oakyitmouse_sm2I’ve added some mini sprayers to the garden drip system this year, and the side benefit is that they bring birds to the garden to bathe in the spray each morning. It’s been fun to watch them from the kitchen window while I do my morning cooking. We have goldfinches, robins, oak titmice, and others. The oak titmice seem to love to bathe, sometimes enthusiastically splashing water all over the deck from the small birdbath. Very cute.

We have lots of woodpeckers too, but they don’t seem to be drawn to the garden water. A flock of large crows spent several weeks here feasting on my plum tree (they are loud!). When they left, a group of seven female turkeys (adults and “teens”) moved in.

Summer always goes too fast for me!

(oak titmouse photo credit wiki)

Checking in…

It’s been quite a while since I’ve checked in on the blog. I’m still working on the two new scents and will post about them when they are ready for sampling.

I thought I’d share a few pictures from this spring. I’ve been working to improve the garden drip system because our well water clogs drippers with alarming frequency, leaving plants thirsty. I’m making progress on the project.

Here’s a beautiful anise swallowtail butterfly that rested on some lavender in my garden long enough to let me take some pics.

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We planted a few fun new shade plants, including a climbing hydrangea and an oak leaf hydrangea. The oak leaf hydrangea has unique, large, white arching blooms. The beautiful large leaves turn color in fall. This plant is still small but has already bloomed.

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A robin family raised babies in a nest in the cottage eaves in May, and we now have a family of huge crows living here. Below is a picture of two baby robins waiting for Mom to drop off more food.

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The tomatoes are just starting to produce, and my zucchini plant has grown huge but is not yet producing anything. I’m getting some yummy strawberries, but it takes a lot of plants to get much of a crop.

I’m growing a new rose this year, David Austin’s Gertrude Jekyll. It has a heavenly old rose scent and a beautiful old-fashioned rosette shape. I’ve read mixed reviews on the bush growth and health, so I hope to have luck with it! The shape and scent remind me a bit of my beloved Fantin Latour that covered a wall many years ago where I lived before moving here, though it was a paler pink color.

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This weekend my brother and his family will be visiting, so orders may be a little slower to ship between this Friday (6/30) and Monday (7/3). It will be fun to see them.

Happy summer! 🙂

Birds and Butterflies!

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A few days ago I watched the first flight of a gulf fritillary butterfly after it emerged from the chrysalis; I was babysitting it for Nancy and had the fun of watching it emerge. The butterfly took a little while to fly off, flapping and drying its wings before it was ready to fly. Then off it went high up into an oak tree.

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The next day, I watched a small bird (maybe a finch?) bobbing back and forth wildly as it rode on an anise hyssop wand, eating the seeds from the dried flower pod. The bird was too heavy for the branch so the branch kept falling over to the ground and then popping back up, but the bird held on and kept eating.

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It had a pretty yellow breast. We have house finches with red breasts and also these small birds with yellow breasts (not sure what they are). My pictures aren’t great because it was hard to focus while it was in motion and I couldn’t get very close, but it was still fun to get a few photos. Maybe someone can identify it for me.

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I’m still working on the gardenia, and getting some medical appointments done while on my time off. My side injury seems healed, and we have family coming this Friday through Sunday.

Hope your summer is going well!

Container Zucchini

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We’re trying a new zucchini seed this year developed especially for container growing, and the plants are great — giant decorative foliage with abundant zucchini tucked into the center of the bush. The variety is called Astia and is sold by Renee’s Garden seeds.

IMG_0492_sm_webIf you need to grow your veggies in pots, this is a nice way to do zucchini.

I’m also getting lots of tomatoes and am trying an experiment this year to freeze the excess crop. I’m blanching them and freezing in glass jars to use next winter.

We’re having a heat wave right now with temps well over 100 degrees (it peaked at 108 today), and the plants are looking droopy. People are looking droopy too, lol.

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Spring Pictures

No news right now, but I thought I’d share some photos I snapped recently. The first photo shows the hills in the late afternoon as seen from my parents’ deck (the vineyard in the foreground belongs to the winery next door to us):

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And the next two photos show the Ballerina rose (hybrid musk) that is currently in full bloom (it repeats throughout the summer):

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Forest Walk Review on EauMG, and some fun links

Yesterday Forest Walk was reviewed on EauMG — thanks, Victoria!

A few days ago on Bois de Jasmin, Victoria Frolova posted a beautifully photographed story about her visit to Keukenhof Gardens in the Netherlands. She captured images of fields of dazzling tulips and hyacinths. Do check it out if you are a garden lover.

In light of the restrictions being placed on fragrance ingredients, including many naturals, it is always nice to see some good press about the effects of natural aromatic ingredients. A component of myrrh has been found to have anti-cancer action, and researchers are studying whether it can be used clinically. Frankincense is also being studied for anti-cancer activity.

Today is the artisan fragrance salon in Seattle. Some of my friends are showing there and I hope it goes well!

Sunday in the garden

One more set of spring garden photos. 🙂 While I was outside yesterday, a deer was munching on grass around the foundation of the main house. She was about 40 feet away from me, but I got a few pictures with the telephoto lens. She put her head up to look at me periodically but wasn’t too concerned that I was watching and clicking pictures. Those big ears are cute.

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I also took a few quick pics in the garden. Here are fresh green ostrich fern fronds that emerge each spring in the back planter box under the shade of the oaks. I love the extra bright green at their tips. These are behind the deer fence or else they would likely be eaten.

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And here is a rare old rose, Gruss an Coburg, with the most delicious fragrance. It has a pretty peachy color and an unusual flower form. The bush itself gets a bit lanky but is worth growing because it repeats bloom all summer and has an incredible scent. It’s not a long-lasting cut flower though (I get a day or two from them).

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I posted a picture of Climbing Pinkie rose last year, but here she is again this spring. The bloom should get heavier later this week with warm weather predicted.

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My First Peony!

I planted a peony a bit over a year ago, and it just produced its first bloom! We can’t grow peonies very well here because our winters aren’t cold enough, but some varieties will bloom. This flower is enormous – just over 8 inches in diameter. The scent is green and earthy, with what seems like salicylate notes, plus a little subtle spiciness. I don’t think this variety is one of the best for scent, but the bloom is spectacular. The peony notes I’ve smelled in fragrances seem fresher than this and are often combined with rose notes, whereas this real-life blossom seems earthier. It’s fun to finally have a peony flower!

Spring is in the Air!

It hit 80 degrees here today and I couldn’t resist spending some time outside this afternoon. My SIL was in town and stopped by for a quick visit, so we sat on the porch for an hour catching spring fever.

Here are a few photos I took in the garden today. The first is a winter iris (iris unguicularis) that is very late. It blooms fall through winter and is usually finished blooming by now, but these blooms with their beautiful markings are welcome anytime.

The next pictures show my plum tree, which is almost at the peak of bloom.

And this next picture shows the iris pallida variegata that are just emerging from the earth (the variegata form has eye-catching stripes on the foliage that provide interest even when the plant is not flowering). They will form pretty blue flowers in a few months. Iris pallida roots are used to make orris for perfume. These fresh shoots in February are among the first promises of spring as the garden starts to grow again. The sights of spring in the garden bring me joy every year. 🙂

Some local finds for cooks, gardeners, and plant lovers

From time to time I post about local artists or nurseries for a little change from fragrance. Thought I’d mention a few places local to me that also offer mail order and might be of interest.

First, McEvoy Ranch in Petaluma (just a little bit south of us) is a great spot for award-winning artisan olive oil. Their oil is certified organic, extra virgin, and is amazingly flavorful compared to most olive oils because it’s so fresh. They also produce organic honey and some olive oil body products.

Another unique spot in Petaluma is Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds, of interest to organic gardeners. They stock 1300 varieties of heirloom non-GMO veggie, herb, and flower seeds. The Petaluma store is huge, but they do mail-order too.

And the third item is something we just recently discovered at a nearby winery — botanical notecards and prints by local artist Victoria Kochergin. Her delicate drawings appeal to plant lovers.