Saturday, June 28, 2014

Weekend Recipe - Butter with Horseradish and Mustard

July 4th is just around the corner.  Will you be grilling out?  This recipe will put some zip into any burger, beef, turkey or veggie!


Horseradish and Mustard Butter
Do you like butter on cooking steak?  Then this butter will be just what you want to try.  The flavor of horseradish with mustard will be good on beef, chicken and pork.  Experiment and enjoy!

2 ¼ sticks softened butter
2 tablespoons horseradish cream
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley

Place softened butter in medium bowl. Add remaining ingredients; mix until well combined. Place butter mixture on a piece of plastic wrap about 8 in. long. Roll mixture into a log about 2 inches in diameter; wrap tightly. Chill until required.

Formed into a log and wrapped in plastic wrap, butters like this will keep for up to 1 month in the freezer and up to 5 days in the refrigerator. Allow to soften slightly at room temperature before slicing into rounds. You can halve the quantities given here, if preferred.


If you love herbal butters, the Backyard Patch makes a selection of different blends crafted especially to blend into butter.  You can find them all here.  We even make one with horseradish!


Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Fresh Basil Recipe - Summery Veggie Tart

This is the perfect recipe for summertime surplus!

Quick Summery Veggie Tart
Makes 4 main-dish servings



1 Tbls. plus 1 tsp. extra virgin olive oil
1 clove garlic, crushed with press
1 small red onion, finely chopped
1 large red pepper, finely chopped
Salt and pepper
4 oz. cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup  fresh basil leaves, finely chopped, plus additional for garnish
1 small. zucchini (4 oz.), trimmed
1 small yellow squash (4 oz.), trimmed
1 (9-in.) refrigerated ready-to-unroll pie crust

Directions: 
  1. Preheat oven to 425°F.
  2. In 12-in. skillet, heat 1 tablespoon oil on medium-high. Add garlic and cook 30 seconds, stirring. Add onion, red pepper, and 1/8 teaspoon each salt and freshly ground black pepper. Cook 4 minutes or until softened and browned, stirring frequently. Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature. Mixture can be refrigerated, covered, up to overnight.
  3. While mixture cools, combine cream cheese. basil, and Ys teaspoon each salt and pepper; stir until well mixed. With vegetable peeler, peel zucchini and squash lengthwise into thin ribbons.
  4. Lay piecrust flat on jelly-roll pan. Spread cream cheese mixture in even layer, leaving one inch border. Spread onion-pepper mixture over cream cheese; decoratively arrange zucchini and squash ribbons on top. Fold border of dough over vegetable mixture. Brush remaining teaspoon oil over zucchini and squash.
  5.  Bake 30 to 35 minutes or until browned. Serve tart warm or at room temperature.



RECIPE TIP: Make pretty zucchini and squash ribbons using a vegetable peeler: If the vegetables have a lot of seeds, rotate them 90 degrees each time you hit the seeds, and start peeling on a different side. Discard the core of seeds.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Weekend Recipe - Grilled Tomatoes with Goat Cheese Stuffing


This weekend (Sunday 6/22 from 9 to 4) we have our booth at the Arlington Heights Garden Walk and Unique Boutique, located on the Arlington Heights Historical Museum grounds. We decided to serve a cheese spread that is best with goat cheese, so in the process we worked with several blends of herbs tasting what went best with goat cheese.  One of the first we tried was using our Herbs De Provence in the soft white cheese.  This grill recipe is the result of those tests.  Such a decadent appetizer or salad course should not be this easy!  Try it on your grill soon!


Grilled Stuffed Orange Tomatoes
       with Black Olives and Provencal Goat Cheese

4 orange tomatoes (you can use red)
1 15 oz. can black olives, sliced
1/2 cup goat cheese, flavored with herbs (see below)

Cut a cone around the stem bud, cutting out the center portion of the tomato. Scoop out the seeds.

Make the flavored goat cheese by blending ½ cup goat cheese with 2 tsp. Herbs de Provence or 1 Tbls of mixed chopped fresh rosemary, thyme, lavender buds and oregano.

In a mixing bowl, toss the black olive slices and the goat cheese and stuff into the awaiting tomatoes.

Place the stuffed tomatoes on a hot grill and grill for about 5-8 minutes, or until goat cheese gets oozy…and the tomato skin begins to wrinkle.

The Backyard Patch makes many blends to mix into goat or cream cheese that make entertaining fun and easy.  You can find them all here.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Lady's Mantle - Herb of the Week

Decided to go with an herb of the week I love to look at.  It is also an early herb in the garden and its was out in full force this Spring when many plants were not.. 

Lady’s Mantle Alchemilla xantbochlora


According to tradition, this was a popular "magic" plant in northern Europe from earliest times, rising to prominence during the Middle Ages for its connections with alchemy. It was also sometimes associated with the Virgin Mary and dubbed Our Lady's mantle. Subsequently shortened to Lady's Mantle, the scalloped leaves supposedly resembling a sculptured cloak. It was traditionally prescribed for infertility and "women's troubles" and was said to regulate the menstrual cycle and ease menopausal symptoms - as it still is prescribed by herbalists today.



The most striking thing about Lady’s Mantle is the way the dew collects on the leaves in the morning and after a rain.  I heard one story where these sparkly droplets are the reason it is considered a Lady’s Mantle – covered in diamonds.  I recently learned that these are not dew drops at all. According to American botanist, Ryan Drum, the 'dew' that collects on the tips of the leaves and in the well of the open leaves is actually a vascular secretion that rises up to the tips of the leave's margins at night, then rolls down into the cup to be reabsorbed in the late morning. 

Its connection to alchemy is how the scientific name was assigned. The ability of the leaves to hold moisture drops, often dew, trapped in the central dips of the leaves and by their waxy surface. Dew was a much-prized ingredient in the recipes of the alchemists of old and this plant could provide an accessible source.  So the herb was named 'Achemilla"- the little alchemist.

The genus Alchemilla contains some 200 species native to the north-temperate zone. The nomenclature is very confused, in part because these plants can produce fertile seeds without pollination. Thus, all the offspring of a given plant are identical to the parent, and every minor difference between populations is perpetuated. Some taxonomists have considered these slight variations to be species while others have not.

Related species A. alpina, another medicinal species, is lower-growing, 4-8 in with Star-shaped leaves. A. molis, from the carpathian mountains and known as "the garden variety", is the most attractive of the three with paler green, scalloped leaves and a more luxurious show of greeny-yellow flowers. It is widely grown in herb gardens. but has less medicinal value.


To Grow

A perennial member of the Rose family, Lady’s Mantle it will grow to 16-20 inches in height, with harry, branched stems and deeply lobed leaves (seven or nine lobes) with serrated edges and a froth of yellowish-green flowers in late spring and throughout summer. Found in mountainous areas, meadows, pasture lands and on rock ledges in Europe and throughout northern temperate regions. Grows in any soil in sun or partial shade. Self-seeds prolifically and seedlings come true. Fresh seed germinates readily. Sow seeds in well-drained potting medium, 1/8 inch deep. They may take three to four weeks to germinate at 60 to 70 degrees. If you have room for only one plant, you may prefer to buy one or get a division from a friend.


To increase your stock of lady’s-mantle plants, separate pieces of the crown with their attached roots in spring or fall and plant them in moist, fertile soil. If plants seem to be spreading too rapidly, hold off on the fertilizer. Lady’s-mantle will tolerate a fairly dry soil, though it grows best with ample moisture.

Lady’s Mantle also may be grown in a container, outdoors or in. Place it in a cool, deep pot and fertilize it occasionally with a high-nitrogen fertilizer. Keep the soil damp in spring and summer, drier in winter.

In cooler climates, Lady’s Mantle is quite trouble-free. In humid areas, however, water remaining on the leaves and crown in summer promotes fungal diseases. Good air circulation, thorough garden sanitation and a sand mulch are preventive measures worth trying. Applications of a fungicide may be necessary in difficult cases.

Clusters of 1/8-inch greenish-yellow flowers held above the leaves appear in June and July. The individual flowers are insignificant and, because they have no petals, don’t even hint at their family relationship to garden roses.

 As an ornamental, Lady’s Mantle is superb in the front of the perennial border or as a ground cover in front of old roses, rhododendrons, azaleas, ferns or pines. For a ground cover, set divisions 8 to 10 inches apart. Lady’s-mantle’s large, more or less smooth leaves contrast nicely with the fuzzy foliage of lamb’s-ears or horehound, the vivid green leaves of fern-leaf tansy or the small, neat foliage of hyssop. The flowers harmonize well with those of lavender, garden sage, hyssop, anise hyssop or nasturtiums. 


To Use

Lady’s Mantle has numerous traditional medicinal uses.  The plant leaves have astringent and anti inflammatory properties.  It has been used to controls bleeding and is taken as an infusion for menstrual and menopausal problems. Applied externally for vaginal itching, as a mouthwash or lotion for sores and skin irritation.
The reputation of Lady’s Mantle as a medicinal herb has some scientific basis: Tannins give the root and dried leaves an astringent property. Nevertheless, claims for its efficacy were extreme. Herbalist Gerard noted, “It stoppeth bleeding, and also the overmuch flowing of the natural sickness.” Lady’s Mantle also was prescribed to calm hysterics, relieve vomiting, lighten freckles and even restore lost virginity. The herb, though not fragrant, was sometimes placed under the pillow to promote sleep.  Most of these later suggestions are more folklore than truth.

Brew an infusion of the leaves and flowers  to treat menstrual irregularities and difficulties. Rich concentrations of tannin make it especially valuable in curbing heavy or excessive menstrual flow, and staunching bleeding from cuts and wounds.  Make a standard brew of 1 to 2 teaspoons of dried herb to each cup of water. Drink warm to relieve cramping.


Growing Lady’s Mantle as an ornament can encourage you to use it in ornamental ways as well.  The blossoms are excellent in both fresh and dried arrangements.  Because they have no petals, they dry well and add great texture.  You can also press the leaves and use them to decorate notepaper or bookmarks. Because the distinctive edge and deep ribbing you can press them into ink and use them as a stamp or to ornament tuffa or concrete.

The leaves are edible and sometimes shredded and added to salads.  Lady’s-mantle has been used very little in the kitchen. The young leaves can be added to tossed salads as a bitter accent. In northern England at Easter time, leaves of Lady’s Mantle, bistort (Polygonum bistorat) and lady’s-thumb (Persicaria vulgaris) were mixed with oatmeal and barley and boiled in a bag to make an herb pudding known as Easter mangiant.

Recipes

I found this recipe for a woman’s Tea on the Modern Alternative Pregnancy website

Happy Uterus Tea
I created this simple tea to alleviate menstrual cramps. You can also use this tea at the very end of pregnancy to prepare your uterus for labor and prevent hemorrhage. Here’s what you’ll need:
1/2 c Lady’s Mantle
1/2 c Red Raspberry Leaf
1/4 c Lemon Balm (you can add more to taste)

Put these in a pint-size Mason jar with a lid and shake until they’re mixed up well. To make this tea, steep a tablespoon of herbs in a cup of hot water for about 5 minutes. Begin drinking the tea about a week before I’m expecting my period. If you have problems with heavy cramping, try drinking a cup (warm or iced) every day of the month.

This lotion recipe was shared by author Leslie Bremnes on The Herb Society Forum

Lady’s Mantle Lotion

30 ml.glycerin
10 drops of essential oil of lemon, rose, geranium or sandalwood 
10 g carragheen moss dissolved in a little hot water 
30 ml strong infusion of lady’s mantle 
60 ml alcohol (Vodka) 

Directions
Stir the glycerin into the dissolved mossAdd the essential oil to the vodka mixing well, and then blend the two mixtures. Stir in the herbal infusion, blending well. Pour in a screw-top jar and label. Shake before use if necessary. 


A Small history of Alchemy

In its narrowest and best-known sense, the primary concern of alchemy was the transformation of base metal into gold, but its wider significance is that it marked the beginnings of systematic chemistry.  With origins in ancient Egypt, the science of alchemy passed to the Greeks of Alexandria, to the Arabs and then to the West. Leading alchemists of the 13th century were Albertus Magnus, Roger Bacon and Arnold de Villeneuve, who wrote widely on the subject. Although they believed in the "philosopher's stone" (the instrument capable of transmuting metals into gold), they were also pre-occupied with the discovery of a divine water, or elixir of life, capable of healing all maladies- with the purest dew as a necessary component.

In the 16th century, the Swiss physician, Paracelsus, took up some of the tenets of alchemy, including the concept of the "prima materia" and the "quinta essentia", the primary essence of a substance, but gave it a new direction - The chief objective was the making of medicines, not gold, dependent on a study of the properties of plants and their effects on the body.


Photo one photo credit: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/64776479@N00/139544848/">Sassy Gardener</a> via <a href="http://photopin.com">photopin</a> <a href="http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/">cc</a>

Photo three photo credit: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/21212056@N06/4645790908/">Chris Coomber</a> via <a href="http://photopin.com">photopin</a> <a href="http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/">cc</a>

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Russian Carrot Tea Sandwiches - Weekend Recipe

This weekend (6/22) I am at the Arlington Heights Garden Walk and Unique Boutique. Since it will be a lovely day in the gardens, I thought a tea sandwich with garden veggies would be the perfect recipe for the week.



Russian Carrot Sandwiches
(Adapted from the Madison Herb Society Tea Time cookbook)

3 Tbls. olive oil
3 Tbls. fresh lemon juice
2 tsp. honey
1 clove minced fresh garlic
Black pepper, ground to taste
1 tsp. lemon thyme leaves (sub. Common thyme is possible)
1 Tbls. crushed coriander seeds

2 cup. grated carrots
1 Tbls. minced fresh parsley
softened cream cheese for spreading on bread
bread (rye or pumpernickel are good choices)

Whisk olive oil, lemon juice, honey, garlic, pepper, thyme and coriander seeds together to make a dressing.

Toss grated carrots with dressing and add parsley. Chill in refrigerator at least 2 hours, or more, before preparing sandwiches.


To assemble, spread cream cheese on each slice of bread (with or without crusts). This will keep the carrot mixture from seeping into the bread and making it soggy. Place a liberal amount of carrot mixture on half of the bread slices and top them with the remaining slices. Cut into finger sandwiches and serve. I also used small rounds or mini bread slices and served them open face.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Iced Green Tea Chai - Weekend Recipe

There are many herbs that are cooling and cinnamon and ginger are two of them, so enjoy this Chai iced tea on a hot day to experience the cooling effects.


Iced Green Tea Chai
Serves 4

4 cups water
1 cinnamon stick
1 Tbls. green cardamom pods
1 tsp. whole cloves
2 Tbls. sliced ginger root
4 tsp. green tea leaves
milk or non-dairy milk to taste
Sweetener to taste


Bring water to boil.  Add cinnamon, cardamom, cloves and ginger root.  Simmer over low heat for 10 minutes.  Remove from heat and add green tea.  Cover and steep for 10 minutes.  Strain and chill tea mixture.  Serve in chilled glasses with cold milk and sweetener to taste.

Monday, June 9, 2014

World Environment Day at Chicago Botanic Gardens

Saturday I attended Wold Environment Day at the Chicago Botanic Garden.


butterfly milkweed
The event was free to those entering the park and there was much to do and see all over the place.  I came home with two plants (a butterfly milk weed and a white cherry tomato) in addition to a wealth of information for my gardens. Mine won't bloom until next season, but here is a milk weed I caught in the wild last summer.


Evaluation gardens outside the Plant Science Center
I went because I was invited to attend the lecture given by Scott Hoffman Black of the Xerces Society.


He was speaking on preserving Monarch Butterfly habitat -- The Monarch Butterfly: How You Can Help Save this Iconic Species 

Scott Hoffman Black is the executive director of the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation.  He gave his presentation in the central hall of the Daniel F. and Ada L. Rice Plant Conservation Science Center on the east side of the Botanic Garden.  

You can see the gorgeous photographs he showed as part of his lecture.  And he shared a great number of facts, the most striking is that just a few years ago there were a billion Monarchs in North America and now there are only about 33 million.  That is a near 70% drop.  We should worry about this because it says much about habitat destruction, pesticide over-use and many other cultural realities of today.

His talk detailed how Monarchs travel from as far north as Ontario to winter over in Mexico a trek of almost 3,000 miles, then come back to the Midwest, taking two generations of butterflies to make it back to Illinois.  That means the butterflies that travel to Mexico each year, have never been there before, yet find their way... How extraordinary!

I love monarchs.  My sister used to grow milk weed and we were a fly over spot on the migration south where I grew up in Ohio, so I have had them in my life and gardens for a very long time.  Once they laid eggs on the milk weed, which grew into caterpillars that have the greatest stripes.  We even got to witness the butterfly emerging, when my father brought a crystalis indoors so we could watch the transformation into a butterfly.  We then released it back into the wild.  It was one of those great nature experiences I still recall fondly.  It probably cemented my love of Monarchs.

My take away from the lecture was unlike so many other endangered species activities we may engage in, this one is a species in my backyard and my backyard can help this species continue to thrive.  Planting butterfly nectar flowers and providing milkweed for breeding and food for caterpillars is something that is simple and easy to do.  And in the process I can help bees and other pollinating insects as well.  If you want more details I recommend checking out the website for the Xerces Society (Named after the first butterfly species in the US to go extinct!)  There is even a seed finder for companies that have milkweed seed in your area.

The overall theme of World Environment Day was actually the world in your backyard.  There were many places where I picked up on this message.  I learned about a volunteer program to identify native species and collect stats on their growth situation and habitat dangers.  I also learned about earthworms, mushrooms, and bees.  I even spoke with a bee keeper.
Over in the Herb and Vegetable Garden was this great display on DIY Herbs De Provence with sample plants!

I will admit that I went to the Botanic Gardens strictly for the lecture.  If I had not wanted to see the Walled English Garden before the July heat, I might not have walked to the other side of the park that day, but the weather was perfect and the Botanic Garden was beautiful and I just could not help myself.


view toward the Japanese garden that day
I was never so glad I made the effort.  They had several booths set up in different locations.  Corporate sponsors, local garden clubs and the Horticulturalists from the staff.  That was the best part.  They had booths on specific subjects to start a conversation, but you could ask them just about anything.  I figured out what to do about  nutritional issues in my community garden plot, discussed heirloom tomatoes, learned about native butterfly attracting flowers I can get locally and grow in my garden and I even got some seed bombs of local prairie plants to plant as well.





All in all it was a wonderful experience and I would recommend it next year, it should again be around the first weekend of June.  Until then I suggest the other great events they have coming up.  These will surely be as much fun!
             Garden Chef Series (every weekend until well into October)
             Herb Garden Weekend  - July 26 & 27 - how can I miss this!
             Heirloom Tomato weekend - August 24 & 25 - I need to know how mine stack up!
             Farmers Markets - first and third Sunday of the month once the local growing season gets going!

So let's go visit the Chicago Botanic Garden this summer!  I'll see you there.






Saturday, June 7, 2014

Weekend Recipe - Basil Grilled Chicken

This perfect recipe to use fresh basil from the garden is great with lemon basil, purple basil, Thai basil or your favorite pesto basil.

Lemon basil with tangerine marigolds

Basil Grilled Chicken 

3/4 tsp. coarsely ground pepper
4 chicken breasts, skin removed
1/3 cup butter or margarine, melted
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil

BUTTER:
1/2 cup butter or margarine, softened
2 T. minced fresh basil
1 T. grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 t. garlic powder
1/8 t. salt
1/8 t. pepper

Press 3/4 tsp. pepper into meaty side of chicken. Mix 1/3 cup butter and 1/4 cup basil in bowl. Brush chicken lightly with some of the mixture. Allow the rest to remain and room temperature so it is spreadable.  Grill chicken over medium coals for 8 to 10 minutes per side or until cooked through, basting frequently with remaining basil and butter mixture.

For the basil butter, mix 1/2 cup butter, 2 Tbls. basil, cheese, garlic powder, salt and pepper in small mixer bowl. Beat at low speed until blended and smooth. Remove to serving bowl and set aside. 

Once cooked, serve chicken with whipped basil butter and linguine or other pasta and fresh seasonal vegetables for a complete meal.  then toss a few fresh leaves basil leaves on for garnish!

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Herb of the Week - Thyme, English, German and French

Okay I am cheating today.  I have another blog (www.communitybackyard.blogspot.com) where I am posting the planting, maintaining, harvesting and creating that can be done with a 20 x20 Community Garden patch.

I have my patch and the blog is a discussion of my joys and sorrows of this endeavor which I hope will inspire others to get a community plot or till up a small patch in  the backyard.

Today (Wednesday) I posted a how to on making a raised bed.  I created a raised bed for the thyme in the Community Patch.  so now I am going to give a few details about three of the plants in that bed.

English Thyme, German Thyme and French Thyme - What's the difference?

 According to some English and German are the same. However, they are not really.  They are at best sub- species which developed originally due to climate differences in these three locations.  All are considered Thymus vulgaris which is Thyme.

Now I am having camera issues so these were the best I can do, but the German and the English are next to each other and by golly they do look similar to me.

German on the left, English on the right

However if you look more closely, you will see that the English thyme has a red stem and the German does not.  I think the scent and flavor are the same, however. You will have to take my word for that.


German Thyme  has tiny leaves when compared to Common thyme.  But the leaves are packed with more aromatic oils than many larger-leaved varieties. Also called winter thyme because it’s one of the most cold hardy thymes, it is an upright grower.  So right now these look similar, but soon the German will be branching skyward while the English will be spreading sideways.

Here is a close up of German Thyme:

slightly rounded leaf but not as round a common thyme


Here is Common Thyme
Common thyme has a rounded leaf. and bushy habit and an upright style of growth.  

However the English thyme has a decidedly pointed leaf.  That is obvious even in these photos.  English Thyme is a smaller low growing plant with tiny leaves and an intense flavor. Essential in chowders, and delicious sprinkled on potatoes for roasting. One of the best thymes for culinary use which is why I grow it.

Here is English thyme close up:
not like common thyme!

Now let's look at French Thyme


French Thyme is another culinary thyme, but it originated in the Provence region of  France and is the thyme used in Herbs De Provence and in other French dishes.  The flavor is kin to Common thyme but a bit more musky.  The leaves on this plant are pointed rather than rounded and the stem has a reddish color.  This is not as hardy as English Thyme and is a slower grower, so it is perfect in containers.  French Thyme is one of the thyme plants that did not make it through last winter in my herb garden.

French is on the far right, Lemon thyme is on the left
Here is a close up:
French thyme
The big difference between each of these Thyme plants is not so much the flavor or the look, but rather the hardiness.  There are subtle differences in flavor which is why I like to use the English in my vinegar and the German fresh in cooking.  The French is perfect dried and does not lose as much flavor in the drying process as other more round leaf thymes tend to.

Which ever thyme you choose, try this blend.
 

1 tablespoons whole black peppercorns
1 tablespoons whole white peppercorns
2 tablespoons fennel seeds
1 1/2 teaspoons dried thyme
2 tablespoons dried culinary lavender flowers

Pinch of savory 

Place the pepper and herbs in a food processor and grind to a powder.  Use as a meat rub, sauce seasoning, or blend 1 Tbls with lemon juice and oil to make a vinaigrette.


Which one should you grow?  Only you will know.  However, if people do have a preference, I'd love to hear about it.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Facing the Music - What does the herb garden look like this year

There are no good overall shots of the garden as yet. I sat on my camera and broke the screen, so now I cannot tell what I am taking pictures of and I cannot change the settings.  Until I get a new camera, I can take outdoor photos, medium range, full sun only because that was the setting when I sat on it.

Here are some details of the garden plants.  There were some situations I prayed would not happen, some I expected and others that were a complete surprise.

We will start with some good news.  The Catmint (and other mints) are thriving, not even a polar vortex can keep mint down!

catmint / catnip

The whole row looked as good as these couple of plants. This chives got very thick, like German leek chives, I do not know why.  The flowers are not as purple as in past years, more of a pink shade.  I took this image and promptly cut off all the flowers for vinegar!

chives
The dill did come up from seed, some from last season self-sow and some I threw down this spring, but the early heat made them leggy and thin and they are falling over already.

dill
Now to the expected bad news.  This winter was too harsh for lavender.  Even though I do not trim them in the fall and even though I piled mulch on them after the first frost, they were largely dead this spring.  In hopes of encouraging growth from the base, I trimmed them a month ago.  However, well... you can see the results.
dead lavender

end plant from above photo with some small growth!!
More dead lavender, but one plant has made a healthy comeback.
I prayed that the snow cover would protect and preserve my thyme plants when the weather turned bitter, but this was not to be.  My lemon thyme fared best, those plants int he middle of the row arte still alive.  The ends of the rows are all dead and have been ruthlessly yanked from the ground so there is no photographic evidence of their demise.  However, the lowest growing thymes seem to have fared the best.  There was some winter kill in the creeping thyme.  The red creeping thyme, almost a miniature thyme seems to have fully recovered from winter with few dead stems.  It is now a carpet taking over the vacated places of its neighbor plants.

common thyme with winter kill

creeping lemon thyme with winter kill

Creeping red no death at all!
The peppermint, of course wintered over, but it was stressed and this spring was plagued by an infestation of bugs that are damaging the leaves and leaving black spots.
Black stem Peppermint
 From a distance you cannot see the damage, but if you look at a close up of the same plant you can see the infestation and the leaf damage.,  See the white bug there in about the middle of the photo?

Peppermint
The plant that surprised me with its inability to survive the winter was sage.  A woody shrub it is normally my first plant to green in the spring after the salad burnet and chives, but this year some plant stalks were totally dead.  Many of the plants did spring new growth from the crown, but they are in sorry shape and there was no spring harvest of sage this year. (I love the sweetness of spring sage leaves and use them in salads and to make vinegar.)
Russian sage growing from the crown the stalks still dead.

The plants at the top of the picture are just dead.


Common sage again many dead branches

I have many more pictures of dead sage, but I think this is enough carnage.  Now back to some good news.  The rue is fine and looking a nice bright green and flowering (a bit early).

Rue
The Golden Anise Hyssop I got after seeing the plant at the Arboretum last year not only made it through the winter, but it self seeded some wonderful little friends.

Golden Anise Hyssop
At first when I came into the garden and saw these plants, I thought they were lemon balm because of the bright green color, but when I realized the lemon balm should be on the other end of the garden.  I panicked thinking they had been relocated by wild life or water, but then I realized it was anise hyssop and I was pleased that my single plant (lower left corner of photo) had made so many babies. There is hope and growth after the long winter after all! 

In posting these photos I noticed something I did not while I was taking the pictures.  There are a lot of weeds in there.  I need to get to work!
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