Gardening for All the Senses

The beauty of gardening is that it can allow us to explore nature through all of our senses. Sensory gardens can provide a tactile and therapeutic environment for anyone regardless of age and ability. This month we explored plants that are fun to touch, smell and taste.

September 5, 2019

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Audio Transcript


Hadley Growers – Gardening for All the Senses

Presented by Ben Strong

September 5, 2019

Ben S: I want to get us started here. My name is Ben Strong. I'm the project manager here at Hadley. As you guys have already noticed we're going to be talking about sensory gardens and different things in those gardens. So I'll kind of hand it back off to you everybody. You guys were talking about a root beer plant. Do you know what the scientific name for that plant is?

Sue: Not offhand, but it is a... you type in root beer plant and pull it up and it's some kind of Mexican type thing. I live far enough south that, yes, it does grow. It'll die back in the winter, it'll come back up next spring and if we get another cold snap it'll die back at that cold snap but then come on back up again. It's just amazing. I've only had it for two years so I'm curious to see how big it spreads.

Speaker 3: Sue, is it like sassafras?

Sue: Sassafras is a tree and, no, I can't compare it to a tree. It's more like a huge shrub. Right now it probably stands about maybe four and a half, five feet tall and like I say, the leaves are probably ten inches in diameter.

Speaker 3: I mean, is it like sassafras in the sense that you can make a tea or a candy from it?

Speaker 4: Probably.

Speaker 3: Is it an edible plant, the root beer?

Sue: Some people say yes, and others say no. I haven't tried it. In Mexico apparently, they use these leaves to wrap things in. I'm assuming that you put in like a filling for a cabbage leaf kind of thing and then you roll it up and you steam it. It imparts the flavor of the root beer apparently. I haven't done that yet. I've just enjoyed looking at it right now.

Speaker 5: Well, I'm in Texas and I have a lot of Mexican acquaintances and things and I can ask, I can send out some feelers and see what I can find out.

Sue: Yeah, you can pull it up very easily on the internet.

Speaker 5: My attendant was in Mexico and so she kind of had all kinds of interesting things to tell me about things they ate down there and stuff like so I'll ask and see if she can poke around and find out for us.

Sue: Good.

Speaker 5: Because it'd be interesting to hear it from somebody that's doing it, you know?

Sue: Oh, yeah.

Speaker 5: And lives down there. Fascinating.

Ben S: Does anybody else have any interesting plants that have different flavors in them? I've never heard of a root beer plant before but that sounds pretty cool. I always wanted to try to grow a... I don't have... I'm not in the right zone for it, I'm just north of Chicago. But I always wanted to grow a miracle fruit. I thought that'd be kind of neat.

Speaker 5: Yeah, that would be cool. Chocolate mint.

Sue: Yes. What about it?

Speaker 5: It's great and it does smell like chocolate peppermint, it's cool.

Sue: The reason it has its name is because the stem is a reddish-brown and the leaves are teeny-tiny, not like the bigger spearmint or peppermint leaves; but yeah, it's good. Break off a sprig, put it in your water and you've got a really refreshing drink.

Speaker 5: It is really good. We used to do something; we made a drink and we'd take- we used spearmint for this, but we'd take spearmint and make tea and then we'd take... somebody decided we ought to do it and we got hooked on it. We made spearmint tea and put sweetener in and stuff like that and then somebody decided on a lark to add the chocolate stuff, cocoa; like Nesquik, and so we started calling it attitude adjustment. I look at the kids; all right guys, you need an attitude adjustment. Get over there and drink that. And we used to laugh.

Deborah: This is Deborah; I'm joining.

Sue: So Deborah, tell us about your favorite plants that you like the smell and texture of.

Deborah: I have an herb garden with about... here I think we have seven different herbs and I have to be a member of a farm CSA because we're- for vegetables because we live in the mountains. We're in a forest on a river so we're just lousy with stuff like deer and bear and... yeah, they just look at a vegetable garden and they say, “Yay, lunch.” So I haven't been able to keep vegetables going, but we can do herbs because we can grow them up on a deck in huge pots. So that's what we do in order to add to the vegetables and stuff that we pick up at our farm CSA.

Sue: Now what are you doing for preventing them from coming to you?

Deborah: They're up on a second story-

Sue: No, I mean, if you had vegetables on the ground in a garden what kinds of experiments have you run to keep the deer away?

Deborah: Well the deer- we've had six, seven, let's see; I think there were eight-foot fences and deer can just leap over. They just bound right over a fence and we were not willing to electrify the fence so we tried a couple of seasons and then just decided, right down the road there are beautiful CSAs so we let them do the work and we pick up once a week.

But the herbs are a really welcome addition and you can just use them liberally for, not half the year but maybe four or five months and-

Sue: So what kind of herbs?

Deborah: They're ordinary- it's basil, parsley; lemon thyme is something that was new to me maybe five years ago, and it's really nice and let's see; chives and cilantro and we do catnip for the kittens and whatever looks good that particular May when we go shopping.

Sue: Do you bring in any of your herbs and propagate and bring them back out in the spring?

Deborah: The chives volunteer and so does the lemon thyme and the catnip volunteers and we do not propagate the others, the basil and the parsley, because we have some really nice growers that just give the plant starts away, so we don't propagate during the winter.

Ben S: Does anybody have anything they grow for any scent or anything besides flavor?

Alice: This is Alice, and for the first time this year, I would like to add one or two new items to my container garden each year, and this year I acquired a citronella, which I'm sure most of you, if not all of you are familiar with that citrusy scent of the citronella and that it's supposed to keep away mosquitoes. Well I live right downtown in an area, so I don't really have a problem with mosquitoes, but each summer, I've had an issue with wasps and since I acquired the citronella plant, no wasps at all.

The only trouble is, I don't like the touch of it. Even though it's good for the olfactory senses, it is not good for the tactile senses, so I welcome it to my sensory garden, container garden, but I really do not like getting near it to water or anything because it's very, very prickly and I haven't gone to wearing garden gloves or surgical gloves, which I use for other things.

Even though it's a nice plant inside and people tell me how beautiful it looks, the touch of it is really not pleasant for me. Now it's gotten so large that- it's very windy here where I live in Milwaukee, and it's blown over a couple of times and I'll pick it up and right it and give it some water and it's not been bothered at all by falling. But I wonder what other people's experience has been with citronella plants.

Sue: Really? Oh that's... ‘cause we've got hornets; maybe that would help.

Speaker 4: That might work. That'd be cool.

Alice: No one told me that would help, but it indeed has. Now whether it's just a coincidence, I do not know but I had them up until the month that I got the plant and no more.

Irene: That's- it's Irene, comment. That's very good. I like the idea- so you don't like when you bring home peaches and you have to peel the peaches; are you one of those people as well? The hand thing; that kind of fuzz?

Alice: No- citronella is very prickly. It's very prickly, at least what I have is. I don't know, it's worse that feeling a cactus because it's all over the leaves.

Marsha: This is Marsha, and I'm calling for the first time. I'm listening to all of you; it's very interesting. I'm finding the touchy feeling of my cucumbers. Every time I go to pick my 12 to 14 inch long cucumbers, they have all these little pricklers all over them and you have to bring them in and wash them. That's something that is very tricky because I don't know what those little prickles are on the cucumbers.

Sue: It is part of the cucumber.

Marsha: I have a very, very huge garden and I start all of my- outside, and I start all of my plants from seed, and I'll begin as early as February, starting celery and then moving on through March with the tomatoes and peppers and then everything goes in the ground in June. I love the smell of basil, so I grow lots and lots of basil.

Sue: Different kinds of basil?

Marsha: Uh, no, just the large leaf. I know there are different fragrances, but I just love the smell of basil. I'll go out there and just pick a piece and smell it. All day long I'll carry it around. Plus I use it for flavoring and soups but I guess talking about prickly, it made me think of my cucumbers because they're very long, they hang on a trellis and when you got to pick them, they just have those little prickles on them that you have to come in and wash them off and that's not the way they come in the grocery store, but that's the way they seem to hang on the plant. I guess that's for their protection against any insects that may come along.

I do organic garden and, like the other lady who talked about deer, we have a lot of deer in the area and so we do have an eight-foot fence. But we're bothered more by bunnies and groundhogs, and the groundhogs will dig under.

Ben S: Yea those are always difficult.

Marsha: So we have to put our fencing way down in the ground, about a good 12 feet.

Oh, and the bunnies are the worse, the baby bunnies because somehow, they manage to squeeze through the fencing unless you have chicken wire. So it gets to be a challenge after a while when you don't really want to share with all the animals in the neighborhood. So it's quite a challenge.

Irene: And a comment- Irene. Debbie, one of the plants that you must try to grow is comfrey. Does anybody grow comfrey?

Deborah: I have in the-

Sue: I've got some out on my porch, but it- you know, I haven't done anything. I'm going to get together with a gal and we're going to do some salve out of it; we're going to do comfrey plantain salve and I can't wait.

Irene: Yeah. It's Irene- does anybody else grow comfrey?

Deborah: I have in the past, but we use the root as a fixative in sashays and herbal and flower sashays.

Irene: Yeah. I don't recommend, the lady with the citronella; I don't recommend you growing comfrey or stinging nettles because if you- or the cucumbers. I don't recommend you grow any of those because you will find the feel of those is very, very difficult to... even I have trouble and I don't usually take a notice of anything, but what I do with the citronella is I hack it all back and we run it through apple cider vinegar and some other essential oils and we turn that into fly spray.

So if there's some use for- like on dogs or cats or horses, that's the use I make of citronella when it gets up to be a height, but isn't there something about next year you can put rocks in the bottom of your planters in order to- didn't we read that in our course? Anybody take the Hadley course with Ed and-

Alice: Yes, I did and he- I did that before the course but I always put rocks at the base of my containers for my container garden, yes.

Ben S: Yeah, that's always really good for drainage. And I see that Charles has a question.

Alice: Once she lost an entire garden because she did not do that.

Ben S: Charles, go ahead if you have a question.

Charles: Can you hear me?

Ben S: Yes, Sir.

Charles: Okay. I've got a couple of bushes. One is a sweet bush-

Sue: A sweet shrub?

Charles: Yeah, a sweet shrub, and when it blooms, it smells like strawberry pie.

Sue: That's not sweet shrub.

Charles: It's not?

Sue: No.

Charles: This is a bush.

Sue: But what did the flowers look like on it?

Charles: I'm blind; I can't see the flowers.

Sue: Well, can you feel them? Are they like golf ball type things that stay closed?

Charles: They might be about the size of golf balls.

Sue: And they bloom probably April or May?

Charles: No, mine are a little later than that. But I also have a spice bush. And the spice bush is supposed to keep deer away. And you can take the leaves the spice bush and boil them and get this spiced tea. You can take the berries and let them dry, if the birds don't eat them, let them dry, and you can grind them up; that's where allspice comes from.

Sue: Tell me the name of that bush again.

Charles: Spice [crosstalk].

Sue: I just heard about that today.

Charles: It's supposed to-

Sue: I was at a master gardener meeting and they did talk about that.

Charles: It's supposed to keep deer away from your garden.

Sue: Nice.

Charles: I've got some of those in my yard. Now they do- they grow about five or six feet tall and about four or five feet wide. I also have a plant- I haven't planted this but I've seen it; it's called lamb's ear-

Sue: Yeah.

Charles: It's a brown color, and it's- it feels like, I've touched it and it feels like my dog's ear. I call it dog's ear instead of lamb's ear. But-

Sue: Nice and soft. Uh-huh. The thing about lamb's ear, you've got to keep the bottom leaves up off the ground, otherwise that's where it's going to rot out on you.

Charles: Yeah. And then, I've got- I am raising rosemary and that has a good aroma and I've got some sage. But my son tells me that the sage is not edible. I don't know if that's true or not.

Sue: What kind of sage is it?

Charles: I forgot. It's an ornamental sage or something like that. I don't really remember what it is. Or English Sage or something.

Sue: I think they’re all edible; they come from-

Charles: Yeah, I purchased it from a garden shop, and they said it was [crosstalk], and I thought well this would be good. But my son, he plants all the flowers and everything and he said, "Dad, you can't eat this stuff". I was going to use it with my chicken when I smoke chicken.

Sue: It's in the salvia family- s-a-l-v-I-a and as far as I know, they are edible. I wouldn't go whole hog on them now-

Charles: Yeah, you wouldn't put it with your hog?

Sue: But just one little sprig at a time, just to give it some flavor. Far as I know, I think that is okay. But do check it out online.

Charles: Yeah, you might look into that spicebush.

Sue: I will; I'll have to-

Charles: It's... I heard about that from the National Library Service.

Sue: In a book?

Charles: No, they-

Sue: Do they have a book that I could read about it?

Charles: Well, you should be able to find it. It's just spice, s-p-i-c-e.

Sue: No, I'm talking about a book that... if you found out about it from BARD, from the National Library Service, do you remember what-

Charles: In my area, they have some type of talk show that comes on a podcast and they send the podcast out, and this was a podcast that came out maybe in April or May.

Sue: Do you remember who the talker was; the speaker?

Charles: He was with the Tennessee Wildlife Commission.

Sue: Okay.

Charles: But the plant grows, from what I understand; I looked it up and it grows like in zones four through nine, or something like that. It grows mostly in the southeast in the woods. Along where the woods comes into the valleys.

Sue: Neat.

Ben S: Yeah, I'm looking at it online right now. So according to the Ladybird Johnson Wildflower Center, it's called lindera benzoin and it's the Northern Spicebush, spicebush, or Wild Allspice.

Charles: Yeah.

Ben S: And let's see... I'm trying to see what regions it is.

Charles: I'm in seven and it grows well here [crosstalk].

Ben S: Okay. It looks pretty interesting.

Sue: That sounds like a bush I've got to go get.

Ben S: Right, it can grow anywhere; I mean, with the right temperature, but it's- it can grow in dry or wet conditions, full shade or sun… saying a lot of teas can from it.

Charles: Yeah.

Ben S: That's really interesting. And it's good for different butterflies, including the Eastern Tiger Snowtail.

Charles: Yeah; that's what I try to attract, you see. I have a neighbor that doesn't like bees, so he kills the bees and I've tried to attract them. So he's always killing them and I'm trying to get them to come in my yard.

Speaker 11: And um- [crosstalk]. Go ahead, Sue.

Sue: Bees can be very specific to particular plants like in the early Spring when the Trillium and- what’s the other one?- the Phlox are coming up; you know, before the Daffodils are even in bloom. There's a bee called a Specific Bee or a Special Bee, I can't remember what it is, but it has... that's the only plant that that particular breed of bee will go for, and once that has stopped its production cycle, the bee is dead.

So, sometimes your bees can be very specific to specific plants and... find out more about it. I was fascinated by this talk we had at lunchtime. It's called a lunch and learn that I go to on the first Thursday of the month.

Irene: Oh, how inspiring. It's Irene and back to your sage, Charles; one of the things that might work with you to get you... whether the sage is something you can tolerate is I make a tea from sage and it's definitely an acquired taste but it's very similar to Chinese Green Tea, so that is probably one of the areas that you can carefully start using the sage if you feel that it is something edible.

Irene: So the thing to do is to get a person to take the photograph; I do it with a video and then they take a screenshot, and they hand it over to, the website. So that's something that we can all take part in, if we have a smartphone and... you can do it on WiFi, but if you're way out in the field there, you'll need a cellular data connection. So, that's one of the things we've been working on. Go ahead, Sue.

Sue: I'm familiar with that source, but I volunteer over at a wildlife federation place and all my plant questions just go right to the expert or they will actually, because of the connection extension service, you bring your plant or you send pictures of your plant and possibly, they will ask for other additional things like is it a rhizome, is it a root, does it have berries, does it have flowers; you know, what can you tell me more about the plant? Anyway, it gets sent to the land grand university in every state to identify by their plant experts what the particular plant is. Now, I don't know how it would work in Canada, but I imagine they would have something similar.

Irene: I-

Charles: Also, on-

Irene: Go ahead.

Charles: Also, on deer, I've planted marigolds in my garden. It keeps the deer away. They don't like the odor or whatever the scent that the marigolds put out.

Ben S: [crosstalk] that's really good for that.

Charles: Yeah. And I've tried garlic. But I understand you can't plant that with your peas because it keeps the peas from producing, germinating or something.

Ben S: I see we have a question from phone number 530 as well?

Deborah: Yes; it's Deborah. I'm the herb gardener and we're always looking for ways to preserve our CSA booty for the winter. We have such a short growing season here in Colorado, and the herbs are particularly difficult to continue to grow or to shepherd through the winter and I've found something that is just fabulous; we have such an abundance of the herbs and I hate to lose them, I hate to waste them. So we harvest the leaves and the stems and all and suspend them in just a bit of a really good olive oil in one of those little baggies- snack baggies and they freeze all winter long and they'll last for the winter. I just pull out one and it's got just a couple of spoons of the olive oil and a lot of suspended herb it.

I understand it's not beautiful, that the green is gone, but it just tastes so fresh in stir fry or a soup starter, and that's the way that I preserve my abundance of herbs that I get all summer long.

Sue: And that's your basil?

Deborah: That's basil, parsley; it's all our herbs.

Sue: Oh, okay.

Deborah: And I'll put them in combinations like parsley and chives or basil and lemon thyme; I'll put them in combinations and my only- it's not a problem, but it's a niggling thing, I use an i.d. mate to put a barcode on... you know, I'll bundle up all the parsley and lemon thyme, say, and I'll put a barcode on it so that I'll know all winter long which is which; but quite frankly, I'm just happy with whatever I pull out. And it's just delicious and it tastes so much fresher than anything you even get in the supermarket at that time of year.

Alice: Has anyone heard that one should not eat herbs that are grown in plastic containers? I heard that on a garden show on the radio. Has anyone else heard that?

Irene: Comment, Irene. I have a great process with any- a method with anything that I do use some plastic and what I do with the plastic is, because I get all this marvelous braille paper from the books, braille books that I'm reading and braille magazines; I line all my plastic with braille paper- I know, I should recycle it but braille paper is probably [crosstalk].

Speaker 12: That's great. No, you are. That's recycling.

Irene: Braille paper-

Sue: Reduce, reuse, recycle, why not.

Irene: Braille paper is most effective because it doesn't have any print on it and it probably- and especially if it's the brown braille paper, it's probably the most effective. So, when I get tired of reading the book, they go into the herb pots.

Ben S: That's really interesting.

Alice: That is [crosstalk].

Ben S: What are other people doing for their sensory gardens?

Alice: Besides the herbs, which I love to grow the herbs for the fragrance and the feel of them, I still love my geraniums. I love the way the geranium flowers and leaves feel and this year, one of my new additions was a bromeliad and that's a very interesting flower. It can only stay outside to 55 degrees and last night I was worried about it and the last I heard, it was going to get down to 56 and I thought, oh, it will be all right, I won't move it.

Then this morning when I got up it was 50 so I was worried about it, so I just find it a very interesting plant. The wonderful thing container gardens, they're like musical chairs. I like to move them around and create different groupings and create different color schemes and so forth. Right now, with the addition of my yellow mums in my back garden, I put it next to the reddish color bromeliad; I don't have any color vision; I don't have any vision at all, but I can still picture it in my mind.

Then I have it next to a violet plant that got quite large this summer and then lavender and such. Then I have what I call my basil tree by that because I took Ed's course a number of years ago. I knew very well, coming from an Italian family, growing Italian basil, but I didn't know about growing a basil tree so, since taking Ed's course, I've always grown my basil into basil trees, which are quite fun to grow and very fragrant. But I like the different touch of the mums this time of year.

I love to feel the mums and the peppery smell of them, as opposed to being next to that tropical, I think it's tropical or subtropical bromeliad and how different of a plant that feels like. And then just a common violet next to that and then the very feathery lavender, and then my geranium; it's such a different texture for each of those and yesterday, I live in a very large apartment complex. It's all of one city block and part of the next double city block and I was out in the back area of my townhouse yesterday and most of the people how live here are much younger than I am, and I'm retired now.

So I was back there, and a young man came down the stairs into the inner courtyard and he said to me, and I don't know him, he said, my wife and I enjoy your flowers so much every time we walk by here. He and I talked a bit and he said, oh, it just cheers us up to see all your flowers. And I thought, oh that made my day. I just absolutely loved hearing that and I think that living in the middle of the city, even though the landscapers tend once or twice a week to all the landscaping here, I think it's still nice when we have our own container garden also, and it's so much fun to hear the comments from other people.

Sue: Yes. I was going to cheer you on, but I didn't want to interrupt.

Charles: I have a question. Has anybody ever tried- for a winter garden, ever tried to use like a fish tank? Would that... you know it's got glass on its sides, but I've seen them where it's a plastic, like a dome. I used to have this thing that's like a dome and you could raise plants in it; raise herbs in it. I wonder if a fish garden, like a fish tank; you could have some type of lid or light up above that would provide it with light.

Ben S: I know aquaponics is a thing…

Charles: Go ahead.

Sue: Indoor or outdoor with your fish tank?

Charles: Indoor. I mean she's-

Sue: A terrarium.

Charles: Yeah. Terrarium.

Irene: Terrarium. Yes.

Charles: She's saying that she's having problems raising herbs on the- to get it through the winter. By putting it in a terrarium, she might be able to do it year-round.

Rhonda: Probably so.

Ben S: If you're using a fish tank to grow your herbs, I mean, I've never done it, it I know aquaponics is a thing where you have the fish tank with actual fish in it and then the plants will be on top of the water and then the fish obviously fertilize the plants. The fish kind of nibble on the roots a little bit, but the plants also get the nutrients out of the water; it's a whole, kind of life cycle thing.

Some people do with the decorative Bavarians and things like that. Just kind of neat. I don't know what's involved in that though.

Sue: Okay. When you were saying the fish tank idea; I'm going to try something this fall, going into winter... when micro-greens outside, where you take a big plastic basin, and I'm looking at one that's maybe 18 inches long by maybe a foot wide and maybe another foot and a half tall kind of basin. Put the lid on the ground, get yourself a bag of potting soil that would fit the shape of the lid and then you poke holes in one side of that bag, set it on the lid, and then pot a rectangle shape out of the top side of that potting soil, and then put your micro-greens on that and put the rest of the container, like your fish tank type thing, on top of that and when it's cold, you can let the plants be under the warmth, the hibernation of this mini greenhouse and if it's warm enough, you can raise up the sides so that the plants get some natural air, and of course you lift up the thing to water them.

I bet you could do the same thing with a fish tank turned upside down. I hadn't even thought of that. I would like that idea better because it would be more direct sun getting to those plants. You'd have to set it on something like a bale of hay or something to keep warmth at the bottom of the container.

Charles: I've had, what do they call it, it's sort of like a heat box or something where you have a frame where you put plastic over it, put manure inside the box, then put your plants in there and it'll last through the winter.

Sue: Are you sure it would be manure? Because that might get way too hot for some plants [crosstalk].

Charles: Well, it depends on what you're raising. Yeah. Well you don't use this- this just goes through the winter. I have put like a light bulb in there to generate some- like a little shop light and started tomato plants. But it's been years since I've done anything like that.

Sue: Yeah. Oh, gosh. It's a little bit different than a greenhouse. I can't remember what they are called, but yeah, I know exactly what you're talking of.

Alice: Sue, and the north extension has worked a lot with hoop houses to get an extra start in the spring.

Ben S: Does anybody have any other tips on getting their sensory gardens up and running or any difficulties they've had deciding on what to put in them?

Irene: I think the battle is always- it's Irene- the battle is always to stay ahead of the bugs and the wildlife. So we just have to come up- I like the idea of the spice tree, Charles. That's an excellent concept and if it grows in zone four, I'm going to get myself one. The one thing that I have enjoyed growing is nasturtiums.

Sue: Neat.

Irene: Does anybody enjoy growing nasturtiums?

Sue: I have wanted to but- they're a summer flower so I can't plant them now.

Irene: No. It's a summer flower. But apparently, they will come back if you can get the right conditions. And they grow quite well. Does anybody want a definition of why you would grow nasturtiums, what they taste like?

Sue: They taste like hot peppers, don't they?

Irene: Correct. Yeah. So what you've got is sort of a round flower, they grow from seed and they will reseed themselves if you can get the conditions correct. They like- I think they like partial shade and I've been very successful this year with nasturtiums.

I got one up about to- I think it's about 18 inches tall and the flower comes out; you can also eat the leaves. You can eat the whole plant. The flower comes out on kind of a stem with kind of a little stem to the back of it and they're a unique kind of texture and spicy flavor for a salad, so that's a very definitely- something that I'm trying to persuade it to keep growing and the rabbits didn't eat it. That's the most exciting thing.

So find things that the rabbits won't eat and that's my goal in life. But one of the things I did do- I've got to keep going. Sorry guys. I have a container in the front yard and the bugs got the cucumbers. Sue, you can probably tell me how to deal- I like your idea on the tomatoes. I think that was last month. I think you've got the right idea on growing tomatoes.

The bugs got a little heavy on the cucumbers last year so in order to put a nice-looking flower arrangement- color arrangement, ‘cause I don't see any colors at all. I have no sight, so in order to get that nice-looking color arrangement on the front yard, I planted beets and beets, Swiss Chard, and lettuce and I'm just thrilled with the size and quality of the beet leaves and tell me what color- beet leaves are purple.

Sue: Right.

Irene: And then we've got purple and sort of yellow-green and then I think a deeper green so I thought that was a lovely arrangement in a container that will go ahead and produce until the- we haven't got frost yet so, anybody else produced a container of color like that? I like that one.

Sue: Several years ago when I took Ed's course, I had pineapple sage, which has the red flowers and they're probably getting ready to bloom in about a month, and oregano is the filler and thyme is the spiller and then I put in some chives when I got them. It was a real cute little herbal container garden. And somebody else wanted to talk.

Alice: Sue, this is Alice and I just wanted to mention a follow-up to the May meeting. I was not able to attend the June meeting and didn't seem appropriate for the August meeting but this, I think, will somewhat go in with the theme of sensory gardens. After the May meeting, when there were some people wanting to know about some roses, there was, the week or so after that meeting, on the Wisconsin Public Radio Friday Garden Show, a gentleman who spoke for 90 minutes about roses. He's a rosarian and he was just incredible as a guest and he said there's a line of roses that are called Soft Touch Roses that do not have thorns and he said he's had very good luck with them and he doesn't understand why they are not more popular than they are.

I think there was some interest in something like that at our May meeting so if anyone wants to look up for next year, Soft Touch Roses. He did say that he does grow them. He has 2000, I think he said, here in Wisconsin. Of different varieties of roses or varieties.

Sue: Do you know anything about the varieties? Are they an old bloom; are they a hybrid? I haven't heard of them. This is the first time.

Alice: Well, I had not either and I always say I'm going to look it up on the internet and I haven't yet. I know he referred to another that's called a blueberry rose that he found particularly good for Wisconsin but, in general, this group of roses is called Soft Touch and that's really all I know. But it came from a very good source and I wanted to share that with people-

Sue: Fantastic. Thank you.

Alice: You're welcome. You can find that show archived on the Wisconsin Public Radio website under the Larry Meiller Show. M-E-I-L-L-E-R. He has some wonderful garden shows every Friday, which I've mentioned before. But that one that was all about roses was quite good.

Rhonda: Alice, this is Rhonda. I heard that show as well and it's easy to find. Larry's show is

Sue: Say that again, please.

Rhonda: WPR as in Wisconsin Public Radio dot org slash Larry.

Sue: Thank you.

Rhonda: And every Friday, he does the 90 minute. It's rebroadcast, shortened 60 minutes. That's from 11 to 12:30 Central on Fridays and then Saturday morning, he cuts it down to an hour and then that's broadcast at 6 am for early risers.

Alice: Yes, if I'm out walking with my guide-dog and miss some of it, I always try to listen to the 6:00 repeat hour, so I'm glad they repeat some of it. But thank you, Rhonda for remembering that website. That's good to share because it is a wonderful source.

Sue: Does anybody know how to keep winter savory alive? Mine died off.

Ben S: I am looking it up right now. You said it's winter savory?

Sue: Correct.

Ben S: Okay. Let's see what Google has to say.

Sue: I had it going all through the winter and then in the spring, half of it was looking in trouble and the rest of it went this summer and I don't know whether it was damaged at the root level; whether it was... I just don't have any idea.

Ben S: Yeah. Well, it says here that it likes full sun, six hours a day, well-draining soil, pH of 6.7, and it says to grow from seed indoors and transplant outside when the soil warms up, leaving ten to 12 inches apart.

Sue: I only had one plant of it. Now, that almost sounds like summer savory. So...

Ben S: Let's see what the difference is. Okay. So winter savory is just a little more bitter, they're very similar. Summer savory is not as bitter, and it's used more in like sausages and things like that because it's sweeter and its aroma. But it sounds like they're pretty similar. Now-

Tanya: Hi this is Tanya-

Ben S: Go ahead.

Tanya: I was going to say it while you were looking that up. I had a hard time figuring out how to unmute myself for all this time. I just wanted to share something I got for my garden. It's this really cool fountain, I don't know if you can hear it in the background, but it's solar paneled and just a nice little feature in the middle of the garden to give it something more auditory to add to all the other things. I don't know if anyone else has something-

Ben S: That's a really good point. It doesn't necessarily have to be a plant in your sensory garden, it's the entire garden. So, I mean, a fountain would fit that perfectly.

Tanya: Yeah. It's really tranquil and since it's solar powered, there's no cord to trip on or anything like that so it's really handy.

Ben S: That's awesome.

Alice: This is Alice. Similar to that, I have one of the guardian angels on my front porch between my lavender and geranium plants, sort of tucked in between them and so I do like having a piece of sculpture in my garden, so I'm glad you mentioned about the water fountain.

Tanya: Yeah. It's cool.

Sue: Alice, I'm glad you mentioned the guardian angel because it reminds me. When I went on the Katrina Hurricane relief, we got to this one house where this lady said, I don't know where this came from; nobody in the neighborhood has been looking for it, but I have this guardian angel that floated down the street and landed at my house. And I thought, wow.

Alice: That's quite a story.

Sue: It was.

Ben S: Well, we're just about out of time here. Does anybody have anything else they would like to add to our discussion real quick?

Irene: One of the things that I am planting is horseradish and you can also eat the leaves. So if anybody-

Ben S: Oh, I didn't know that.

Irene: But the lady at the garden center said you gotta know that horseradish is inclined to take over, and I'm like, yeah, that's what I'm looking for.

Sue: Isn't that a warm-weather plant? That doesn't make it through the winter does it?

Irene: Yes it does. Whatever type I have. What I did last year- that was my first year growing last year. A very tall plant. Apparently, the leaves can get up to two feet tall and you can really recognize it because the veins go straight up. It's sort of similar to a plantain but the veins of the leaves go straight up and also the leaf tastes like horseradish so-

Ben S: Wow. That's really neat.

Irene: I dug it all up last year, put some of the root back into pots and this year, I think I have about twice as much horseradish as I did last year. So, go for the horseradish if that's something you enjoy. It takes a bit of work to clean it up and produce horseradish- what I do is you've got to wash the roots and I run them through the food processor, I think it was lemon juice and olive oil and it lasted probably... I got about four ounces and it lasted me probably till Christmas, so a really good crop is horseradish is something you like. It's close to garlic.

Charles: [crosstalk].

Irene: Say again?

Charles: My father uses... my father planted, when he was alive, he planted radishes with his turnips and so when we went in to pick the turnip greens, we'd pick the radish leaves as well, and we'd boil them or cook them with the turnip greens or spinach or whatever we had.

Irene: Nice flavor. Very good, yes. Excellent. Okay. Thank you, Ben. That's your tip of the day.

Ben S: Wonderful. I will jump on that. I do love horseradish; it goes on everything. Thanks everybody for joining me today, and we'll be back next month and we'll... I'm not sure what's on the agenda for next month but whatever it is, we'll talk about it. Thanks everybody.