Wednesday, February 28, 2007

a path with heart

While I was nosing around in the University of Michigan Humanities Text Initiative website, finding such gems as the home economics manual I talked about a few days ago, I ran across this too in The American Verse Project...

Cawein, Madison Julius, 1865-1914
Weeds by the wall : verses
Madison Cawein
Louisville, Ky: John P. Morton & Company, 1901

Take your time, and enjoy the imagery.
Mid-August, early September.
I've been here.

by Madison Cawein

THERE is a path that leads
Through purple iron-weeds,
By button-bush and mallow
Along a creek;
A path that wildflowers hallow,
That wild birds seek;
Roofed thick with eglantine
And grape and trumpet-vine.
This side, blackberries sweet
Glow cobalt in the heat;
That side, a creamy yellow,
In summertime
The pawpaws slowly mellow;
And autumn's prime
Strews red the Chickasaw,
Persimmon brown and haw.

The glittering dragon-fly,
A wing├ęd flash, goes by;
And tawny wasp and hornet
Seem gleams that drone;
The beetle, like a garnet,
Slips from the stone;
And butterflies float there,
Spangling with gold the air.
Here the brown thrashers hide,
The chat and cat-bird chide;
The blue kingfisher houses
Above the stream,
And here the heron drowses
Lost in his dream;
The vireo's flitting note
Haunts all the wild remote.
And now a cow's slow bell
Tinkles along the dell;
Where breeze-dropped petals winnow
From blossomy limbs
On waters, where the minnow,
Faint-twinkling, swims;
Where, in the root-arched shade,
Slim prisms of light are laid.
When in the tangled thorn
The new-moon hangs a horn,
Or, 'mid the sunset's islands,
Guides a canoe,
The brown owl in the silence
Calls, and the dew
Beads here its orbs of damp,
Each one a firefly lamp.

Then when the night is still
Here sings the whippoorwill;
And stealthy sounds of crickets,
And winds that pass,
Whispering, through bramble thickets
Along the grass,
Faint with far scents of hay,
Seem feet of dreams astray.
And where the water shines
Dark through tree-twisted vines,
Some water-spirit, dreaming,
Braids in her hair
A star's reflection; seeming
A jewel there;
While all the sweet night long
Ripples her quiet song.

Would I could imitate,
O path, thy happy state!
Making my life all beauty,
All bloom and beam;
Knowing no other duty
Than just to dream,
And far from pain and woe
Lead feet that come and go.
Leading to calm content,
O'er ways the Master went,
Through lowly things and humble,
To peace and love;
Teaching the lives that stumble
To look above,
Forget the world of toil
And all its sad turmoil.


"Those who contemplate the beauty of the earth find reserves of strength that will endure as long as life lasts. There is symbolic as well as actual beauty in the migration of the birds, the ebb and flow of the tides, the folded bud ready for the spring.
There is something infinitely healing in the repeated refrains of nature--the assurance that dawn comes after night, and spring after the winter."
-- Rachel Carson, The Sense of Wonder (Harper & Row, 1965)

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Fun with earphones

Susan Wittig Albert has always been a good read, but today I ran across her podcast page. Click the link here.
I listen to .mp3s while gardening... here's a hint: run the wire to your earphones from your belt up UNDER your shirt. It saves on the wire getting caught on, say, a rose bush, or clipped by, say, an errant pruner.
Susan's promised us ten podcasts about ten herbs ... and from there, who knows? Enjoy!

Monday, February 26, 2007

tea receipt from Queen Victoria's time

(As usual, for a big picture, click on the picture.)

Did Victorian era housewives commonly infuse their (black) tea for 20 minutes and then add the infusion to the pot with hot water? I wonder what Elizabeth would have thought about our newfangled tea bags?

Sunday, February 25, 2007

a blast from the past

Net-surfing is fun... you NEVER know what you'll run across. Television can't compete!

This book (click on the title page to enlarge)written for 1865 housewives is readable one page at a time, online if you follow this link to the University of Michigan Humanities Text Initiative.

Just posting the title page now, I'll be back tomorrow with something from the book for my herbie pals.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

from Kitchen Gardeners International

Hey, ya!
Just a little happy pick me up on an icy gray winter day.
Hope, Michiganders.
Spring, and salads from the garden, will return.
Plant it and salad will come.
Speaking of salads, on Saturday I read The Greens Book by Susan Belsinger and Carolyn Dille. A lot of great recipes, but the part that I really appreciated is a good useful discussion of the cultivation of particular greens.
I will use this book, already did last night, as a matter of fact.
Following not a particular recipe, but rather the spirit of adding greens to everything, I added a half a bag of Cut and Clean EuroGreens (Swiss Chard, Mustard, Turnip and Kale) to chicken ravioli, along with pesto and frozen Roma and cherry tomatoes. Yum.

Back to the video, here is a little hint on washing greens I picked up from the book... add about a tablespoon of vinegar to your water (up to a quarter cup for a half a sinkful) and swish and soak 5-10 minutes. Carefully remove the leaves without disturbing the water too much. The authors claim this eliminates 90 percent of second washings (and we know vinegar is a mild disinfectant and environmentally responsible).

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Cuppa Tea of the Week

Lemon Blossom Herbal Tea, by Stash.

I love it! With milk, it tastes like lemon meringue pie.

Ingredients: Rosehips, citrus peel, lemongrass, hibiscus flowers, licorice root, safflower, citric acid, rosebuds, ginger, and "natural flavors."
"an artful herbal tea blend with a juicy lemony taste and fragrant aroma."

Caffeine free.
Stash tea bags.

Tea bag wrapper entertainment:
"When the tea is brought at five o'clock
And all the neat curtains are drawn with care,
The little black cat with bright green eyes
Is suddenly purring there."
--Harold Monro "Milk for the Cat"


Colorful blossoms, lettuce-y green leaves: grocery-store primroses. A legit part of my food budget, primroses satisfy without calories!

Don't throw them out or try to carry on in pots after they are done blooming. Instead, plant them outdoors in the spring.
Many will rebloom and overwinter outddors. I have the best luck (overwintering) with white and yellow, but I keep trying the colorful ones. Hope is a good thing, and trying new things is what not giving up is all about.

Sonnet by V.B.Benedict
[from a 1976 Primrose Quarterly]

When barren winter seems about to die,
And withered leaves decay upon the earth,
Release from aching discontent have I
With Primula rosea's bright rebirth,
That gaily mock the February rains,
Seemingly to increase with every day.
Now it is a joy to live once more
Anticipating treasures yet to see:
Acaulis sweet and polyanthus friends adore,
And marginata blooming in the scree.
No loneliness is mine nor time to grieve;
These mark the potent season's full reprieve,
And life is rich in sight and song and mirth.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007


Preparing to teach a class, and preoccupied on the green and progressive blogs.
My Paph. has four blossoms open. Cool!
Outdoors, I think the back of winter is broken. Time to soak the parsley seeds.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007


Friday, February 16, 2007

"Only with winter-patience can we bring the deep-desired, long awaited spring."
-- Anne Morrow Lindbergh

Sorry for not posting enough, been busy over at the Backyard Herbalist ... link at the right--->>>

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

the power of herbs

"Above all others, the fragrances of green growing herbs, not gaudy or showy, but comfortable and homey, have the power to cast a spell over us so that we recall only the pleasant past, with all the sharp hard corners of grief and sadness softened."
-- Rosetta Clarkson

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

herbies in the digital age - part 2

In case you didn't notice I've added two garden blog finders to the blog(I don't really know what to call them - I registered my blog on their websites, like the 21st century way of putting a little "welcome to my garden" sign out by the mailbox.)

The owner of, Susan Myers, wrote a nice personal note on acceptance, showing me that there is someone there, a human being!, who actually looks at the blogs and notices the work. I'm registered there under Michigan gardens, in the company of some fine garden bloggers.
If you have a garden blog, follow the link and register yours, too!

Then, I registered on Stuart Robinson's Garden Tips and Ideas garden blog finder that has a nifty interactive map feature... By continent, you can click on an area and find links to garden bloggers.
So far, four other gardeners are blogging from Michigan on that site. Since I particularly enjoy bloggers who have four seasons to deal with, it is a great way to find them.

I have so much new reading to do! I encourage you, Go Visit, but come back, too.

Monday, February 12, 2007

"the definition of herb"

So many definitions for herbs - we call them useful plants, but those uses cover the gamut. One aspect of herbs are their associations, as in the language of flowers or the symbolism of certain plants. Certain orchids can be considered herbs: there is the orchid source of vanilla bean pods (a culinary herb), and the orchids that scent perfume (fragrant herbs).

My orchid is an un-named Paph. A tropical lady's slipper type orchid. A nutty perfesser orchid collector crossed two plants with yard long names: Paphiopedilum oberhausens diament x P. rothschildianum 'Charlesbourg', and while he was off on a collecting expedition, his greenhouse sitter took us on a tour of his greenhouse.
Given to me as a tiny seedling that day, it has bloomed twice in two years, the first time with one stalk, currently with two. Not culinary or fragrant, it is an herb of remembrance... I look at it and remember the cold winter morning years ago when some gardening friends stepped together into a humid warm greenhouse and were simply amazed.

what can I say, winter is getting a tad l-o-n-g

My pal Janet, wintering away in Florida, sent an e-mail reply to a message I wrote for the Herb Society bulletin board, that she is allowing me to share with you all. It might help to take our minds off the troubles of the world.**

" I see it has been very COLD there but I know you have already planted a hundred gardens in your dreams. This time of year my Dad had a stack of garden books 2ft. high next to his favorite chair and he read every one from cover to cover ( Wayside gardens was one of his favorites- is it still in operation?) He had all the new tomato seeds ordered and would start them in flats on the back porch. Wish I was half the gardener he was.
We are enjoying our winter here, It has been cooler than usual but today it was 70 so we aren't complaining.
Tell all the gals Hi for me - see you when the grass turns green.
Your friend, Janet"

Now, folks, Janet is a wonderful artistic gardener - her plants like her and grow so well for her!
Green grass, ah, the memories. I miss the smell of green grass. There's just no way to capture the greenie-ness it.
I could use sure some 70 degree sunshine about now. Yes, Wayside is still the wish book around here - what luscious photos. The lovely deep saturated purple roses on the cover makes me sigh but then turn the page and you have a two page spread of the most perfect huge happy colorful Echinacea, that just bring a joyful heart to look at them.
Wayside's catalogue has me at hello as they say.

Gardening in Michigan in February demands a heated spot for a comfy chair with a good light and a small cleared place to set the teacup or coffee mug, room for notebooks and plans, and piles and stacks of books and catalogues.
The best thing about winter dream gardens is the weeding is so easy on my back and the bugs are only good ones, like butterflies and fireflies.

**The Wayside and all the other garden catalogues come free and unsummoned in the mail, small mizpahs from the world of the living to our frozen landscapes, you could say... the Nation magazine you see on the table comes by subscription, we invite contrition and dream redemption. I will say no more.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Winter is the time for careful Forethinking

"The chief beauty of the kitchen garden, as well as the reason for its existence, is its utility. Not an ugly utility, let me hasten to say now, at the very outset, but rather the beautiful and homely usefulness which calls to mind the fine, sturdy virtues of thrift and honesty and careful forethought."
--Dorothy Giles, "The Little Kitchen Garden"

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Echinacea photos

(You should be able to see a bigger picture if you click on the individual photos. To return to the blog, click your back button. I'm sure there are a few more coneflower photos in my files, it just will take time to find and post them. Another hint: If you want to see all of the posts concerning a particular subject, click the tag list on the right. It will bring up all the humor posts, for instance.)

2001 - A good herbie photo... yarrow and silver king with coneflowers. Ahhh, summer!

2002 - Self sown coneflowers, in the gravel path in my herb garden. I hate to pull the seedlings, they are so spunky!

2006 - Purple Coneflower blooming with Shasta Daisies

Echinacea p.'White Swan' blooming in the shade. The hostas are tattered by slugs. I hate slugs... but I do have fireflies.

Bonnie's Purple Coneflower

Bonnie sent me this today, and it reminded me to post some of my own Echinacea photos. I'm slow. I'll get to it.
Note for Herb society gals, I also added it to the Echinacea Herb Study photo album in the Yahoo Group.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

"Anyone who thinks that gardening begins in the spring and ends in the fall is missing the best part of the whole year. For gardening begins in January, begins with the dream."
-- The Country Garden, by Josephine Nuese, 1970