Garden Project of the Day: Sage Pear Herbal Tea

It’s getting seasonably cold here in Wisconsin, and the little flashes of green that remain in the garden are rapidly fading. One of the last plants that is still plugging along is the Sage, which often manages to stay green and lovely through Thanksgiving, when everything else in the garden except for the evergreens has long lost its leaves.

Before it is too late, I’ve been cutting as much sage and drying it in the dehydrator as I can while still leaving enough out there for Thanksgiving dinner. The house smells lovely, and I’ve been dreaming up ways to use the beautiful gray-green leaves while their flavor is still at its best. I think I’ve finally found a favorite! Paired with dried pears that I put up from our trees and a little candied ginger, the sage makes for the perfect tea to warm up with as the days get colder. I find the dried fruit and ginger add just the right amount of sweetness to the drink, but if you like a sweeter tea you can also add honey.

Michelle’s Sage Herbal Tea

Break the sage leaves and pear slices into pieces approximately 1/4 inch long. Mix together with the ginger pieces.

To drink, steep for 10 minutes.

This is enough for one small pot of tea, but you can (and probably should!) put together more than one serving at a time. You can store the dried tisane in an air tight container so you have it on hand whenever you’d like a cup. Enjoy!

As a side benefit, Sage tea is said to be good for your skin, gums, digestion, and memory. Some sources say not to drink more than two to three cups a day, as it can induce seizures or kidney damage in high doses. If you have any left over after your 2 cups, consider using the rest to rinse your hair. It’s said to be a good natural dye for covering grey hair!

Garden Visitor of the Day: Opossum

Last night’s garden visitor was about as welcome as can be. After a year of running what I dubbed the “Possum Cam”, a possum has finally shown up in the yard. I’m certain he (she?) has been here before, but this is the first time I’ve caught him (her?) on the cam.

What a cutie! Possums are one of my favorite wildlife visitors. Growing up, we had a backyard possum who visited almost nightly for a period of time and was obsessed with the case of beer bottles my dad stored on the back patio in the fall and early winter to keep it cool. Try as he might, the possum could never open the hinged cardboard lid but that didn’t stop him from trying!

This next clip is of our little visitor having a bit of a snack on our deck. Whether he is eating one of the fallen grapes or an insect who was wandering among them, I am not sure. Possums are omnivorous. You may have heard that they love ticks, an especially annoying and dangerous pest in our area, and can eat as many as 5,000 ticks in a single season. This number has been questioned by a study that was done in laboratory conditions and found that opossums did not actually eat many, if any, ticks. Hopefully the truth is closer to conventional wisdom, because anyone who gets rid of ticks, even if it isn’t 5.000 a season, is a friend of mine.

One final video, so you can see our little opossum friend’s footsies. These unique creatures are the only marsupials in North America, have more teeth than any other mammal in North America, is our only native animal with a prehensile tail, and our only native animal with opposible thumbs (on its hind feet). You can see the unique feet and tail in this video.

Delightful, aren’t they?

Garden Visitors of the Day: Busy as Bees

The bright greens, pinks, whites, and yellows of summer have given way to the muted purples, golds and olives of fall. Why have I posted a video of nothing happening you ask?

Look a little closer. Zoom in on the purple New England Asters on the left side of the video. They are absolutely humming with bumblebees and honey bees. I know it is a little grainy posted here – but can you see the way the bees work their way around the central disc of the flower, visiting each of the disc flowers around the edge in turn? They spend a lot of time on each because what looks like one flower to us is really a collection of many tiny little flowers. Lovely, isn’t it?

If you are looking for a plant that sustains the bees through the fall, consider the New England Aster. This and Goldenrod, plus perhaps some hardy geraniums, will keep them fed.