Wednesday, May 23, 2007

A Herb or Not a Herb?

Useful plants is how I've always described herbs. My tree peony isn't useful, as far as I know, for medicine or flavoring or any of the other multiple ways herbies make use of plants. But there must a niche in the concept of usefulness that contains the usefulness of plants to memory, association and symbolism.
My youngest son brought me this 'Japanese tree peony' for mother's day, many years ago, before they became popular. It was the most unusual plant he could find at the nursery. I should have suspected then that he would grow up to be the wonderful and unusual young man that he is. If you were the mother of a strong willed child who marched to the beat of his own drum, then you will understand why I say that. But all of my children are unusual individuals.
See how this plant recalls associations for me? When it blooms every May, I always remember the day he gave it to me.

Monday, May 21, 2007

May magic

"They always called it Magic
and indeed it seemed like it
in the months that followed--
the wonderful months-- the
radiant months-- the amazing
ones. Oh! the things which
happened in that garden!
If you have never had a garden
you cannot understand, and if you have had a garden you will know that it would take a whole book to describe all that came to pass there."
The Secret Garden, by F.H.Burnett

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Mrs. Beeton and The Martha

Herb is fishing up north of Wawa Ontario somewhere, and I'm right now watching a wonderful juicy Masterpiece Theatre Victorian version of the life of the original 'The Martha' ... Mrs. Isabella Beeton. The actress portraying Mrs. Beeton has a body language and facial expression and control that in her character's times of adversity will touch a chord. From beyond the grave her narration logically analyses and explains her life ... and reveals the human background to her 'Book of Household Management'.
Immediately I thought of the Gutenberg Project, and, applying Google, I found a zip file as well as a fine website allowing us to read the original online... I'd love to find a free online photocopy with the original typeset, like the American Victorian household management book I mentioned in an earlier post from the University of Michigan. Something to put on the to-do list for another day.
I must mention, that when I read 'Just Desserts' years ago, I had a new appreciation of Martha Stewart's rise to fame. There was a human story behind both of these household diva superstars. Never having been a soap fan or a watcher of television celebrity, I'm probably not as jaded as the average American to stories like these.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

a little bit of my world

The path to the herb garden. Nothing fancy, and nothing here that anybody can't do. I've begun dragging the herb pots out of the garage.

Step inside the herb garden. Forgive the mess, I haven't begun my spring maintenance yet.

The wildflower path, who knew these plants would go so crazy! I heart my Michigan spring.

Catching up on the spring photos

A bee working the Early Meadow Rue. Note that ants and ground beetles will pollinate the ginger growing below.



A better photo of Lungwort

The veggies are under lights...

Stinging Nettles and the GCHS Brush with Fame

I was surfing the 'net this morning and came across
this cute article about a (Stinging) Nettles Day
celebration in Devon England:

In the story was a link to this very nicely done page
that you could call an "on-line herb study" of nettles:

It ALMOST makes me wish I had a boatload of nettles
growing in my yard, but... maybe that statement IS
going a bit too far. I had a minor brush with a stinging
nettle (I immediately understood what it was) while
weeding a few years back.
While doing my usual bare-handed weed-pulling I
naively grabbed a single nettle plant and
I still recall the instant recognition of something I'd
only, until that moment, read about in books.
The seed had probably been brought in with a bag of
composted manure since the plant is not common in
my immediate neighborhood.
After reading these websites on the nettle I'm suddenly
interested in nettles, one sign of a true herbie.
I could probably put out the word and find a
gardening friend who would be willing to part with
some nettles... probably if I did her weeding.

You say nettles don't float your boat? and what did the
title of this message mean, the Genesee County Herb
Society's mysterious "brush with fame"?
Well, a few days ago on another surfing expedition,
I ran across a cooking blogger who listed
"the ten strangest cookbooks on his cookbook shelf",
and our GCHS "Herbal Favorites" was number 8!

The writer of
LunaPierCook (link)
explained our selection:
it was the Nettle Soup recipe (as well as the highly
herbed Lavender Ice Cream recipe) that did
us in. But at least for a strange cookbook list, we
were in good company, along with Dixie Dave and Anthony Bourdain.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Happy May Day

Charming people celebrating Spring.

Garland Day

The Maypole Dance

and Morris Dancers

"A little madness in the spring
is wholesome even for the king."
-- Emily Dickenson