Welcome to June! Summer is here. This is our second week of multiple, consecutive days over 90 degrees already, and we’re not even to summer Solstice yet! Like clockwork, the Japanese beetles showed up on Memorial Day, munching on the roses, as usual. Today I snagged a few more off my precious anise hyssop, and I’m sure they will get after the bee balm as soon as it begins to flower. The annual battle of wills has begun. I’ll lose, of course, but I will do my best to reduce the population of those rabid pests! Fortunately, we also have more butterflies showing up, like the beautiful Juniper hairstreak pictured above on the chamomile! Bugs, butterflies, and heat are sure signs that summer is settling in.
As the heat and the beetles bear down on the gardens, now is the perfect time to harvest some herbs for cool, refreshing teas. One of my favorite summer teas is made with fresh anise hyssop leaves and flowers with its licorice-mint flavor. Since the beetles have shown a preference for this herb already, I quickly harvested a bunch this morning – put some in the dehydrator and combined the rest with fresh-picked mint and lemon balm for a very uplifting summer tea.
Along with the anise hyssop, I also harvested bee balm, dill, calendula, lavender, and basil. The basil is now pesto and the rest are drying for use in teas and tinctures later.
Many of my favorite medicinal and food herbs are blooming in the gardens now and looking quite lovely. The bees and butterflies, flower beetles and spiders seem to be enjoying them, too.
Summer means serious growing season. Every day now is filled with the garden tasks of monitoring for pests and diseases, weeding, watering, harvesting goodies, processing herbs, and canning or freezing surplus vegetables. And there’s always mowing and trimming to do! But along with all the homestead tasks come the very fulfilling joys of walking in the woods, sitting by the creek or under the cherry tree, watching the dozens of baby birds, growing caterpillars, flitting butterflies, green lacewings, and flower beetles, and listening to the birds, frogs, and coyotes call at their select times of the day.
I hope you are enjoying your home, yard, garden, tree, or whatever wild or domestic space you have for being with plants and critters. Welcome to June and happy summer days ahead!