Becky Kirts is a Master Gardener residing in Shelby County, Kentucky. She loves to share recipes, garden information and travel fun on her blog. Gardening is in her genes. Becky grew up in a family of eight where a love of nature and gardening was understood and respected. In addition to growing plants, she has spent years cultivating her passion through research, writing, and teaching. She did this while raising two children and working full time.

Becky lives in a beautiful 100 year old home on land once owned by Squire Boone. She is lovingly trying to nurture the land to make it a home for birds, wildlife, plants, pets and family. Becky’s property has over 60 varieties of trees, a vineyard, berry patch, a potager garden, and much, much more.

Becky hopes that you will enjoy her personal approach to life in her garden and beyond.
 

 

Green in My Garden Today!!
by Becky Kirts - posted 01/27/17

Look at what I found Green in my Garden today!

 

Yes…It is Catnip and Yes my cats go absolutely crazy.   “Nepeta Cataria”  is also known as catmint, cat’s wort, cat’s heal all, cat’s-play or even cat-grass. What ever you want to call it, this harmless “drug” sends all my furry 4-legged fiends into ecstasy, without any long term effects. Beware, it is not only cats but also big felines such as lions, tigers, and lynx react to the scent of this herb as well. 

However, over 33% of all cats are not effected by the herb. Reaction to the herb is based on genetics. They either inherit the love of catnip or not. I have read that in olden times, Farmers would plant catnip all-around the heat fields, in an effort to attract cats which would in turn chase and devour the rodents, that where eating the wheat. Pretty clever, if I may say so. 

Catnip is easy to grow, however I have found it seems to do better in partial shade. Each plant seems to last for a couple years and then since I don’t harvest the blooms, it reseeds and pops up in a different location. I don't personally collect the seeds but they do stay viable for over 5 years. 

The blooming period is about 1-2  months, during the summer or early fall. The blooms are quite attractive with spiked hues of white to a pale pink or purple. Although they are not fragrant they do attract bees and butterflies. The foliage has a very pungent aroma, that is a cross between  thyme and oregano. The leaves are an arrow shape, with serrated edges and are a gray-green color, which lends itself beautifully to a silver garden. 

I have had good success transplanting this plant in the spring and the fall. It is also very easy to dry, both the blossoms as well as the leaves.  And yes, my cats enjoy the dried as well as the fresh.  It is fun to stuff into small little cat pillows as well as fabric mice or a fabric ball. 

Please do not confuse this variety with the more decorative Cat Mints such as  ‘6 Hills Giant’ (Nepeta x faasserill). This plant has very showy blue blooms and is often used as a beautiful border. There are other new varieties but although I love this plant, I have not seen my feline friends hanging around it. 

Catnip has many beneficial qualities for humans as well, but not are near as entertaining as a cats response to the herb.  I will save the human reactions and benefits of catnip for another article. 

 

There you go, cat lovers, farmers and big game hunters…..go plant some Catnip You are liable to get a big lick of thanks.  

 

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A Southern Charmer….. is my Bloom of the Week
by Becky Kirts - posted 12/15/16

 

 

 

I just recently discovered this beautiful southern charmer. What is more captivating than a bush that blooms during the winter months. This bush is next to my daughter's house in Athens Georgia. I was  down there the first of December and was taken in by this roselike bloomer.  Although I have spent a lot of time in the deep south, these are not as prevalent down near the Ft Meyers area.

 

The south is definately this beauty's soul. In fact it is the state flower for Alabama. Camellias (Camellia japonica) originate from from eastern and southern Asia. With over 3,000 named varieties there is no end to the color, forms and sizes available.

 

I have never attempted to grow this amazing plant in my Kentucky garden.  There is some hope, however as the species C. oleifera,  might possibly make it in a shelter area. It can withstand  temps as low as -15 degrees.

 

I have read that they make great container plants, I might try it as I have been able to keep a gardenia

alive in a container and overwintering it in the Herb House. I will let you know.

 

We will be in Charleston over the Holidays, so I am going to explore the botanical gardens that were established by Andre Michaux.  This enthusiastic French plant explorer and botanist first introduced these to this region in 1786.  He shared many of his prized camellias with his friend Henry Middleton, who had a plantation right next to Michaux. 

 

Today the grounds are both open and boost of beautiful landscapes, plus much more. I will check out both...So more pictures of these southern belles to come. 

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Some Sage Advice
by Becky Kirts - posted 11/25/16

Yes…it is Sage, but specifically Salvia officials ‘Berggarten’.  I love this sage, the leaves are such a beautiful shape, much more attractive than the sharp pointed narrow leaves of garden sage. Yet, it has just as good as flavor if not better. 

The bright green new growth in the spring gradually fades to a soft downy gray. If this plant is grown in the full sun, the plant can develop a purple hue. What I love about this variety is that it stays much more compact and beautiful. It rarely blooms, so that energy is put back in to the plant and so it stays very handsome longer. My regular garden sage tends to get straggly and I have to cut away back every spring. This variety is just flat out prettier. 

My ‘Berggarten’  is planted in full sun and continues to comfortably spread throughout the garden. 

I trim it often usually about 3 to 4 inches at a time. I use the trimmings for not only culinary but also decorations and drying as well.  Would stop this process early fall, as I feel it can weekend the plant. 

Right now it is still a mass of soft grayish pillows in a winter garden. Try it you will love it. I used it in my homemade turkey stock yesterday as well as my stuffing. Both were packed with flavor. Nothing makes me happier than being able to walk outside and pick fresh herbs, even at this late date, I still have plenty that can be used. 

 

 

 

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