Friday, December 31, 2010


"The poetry of the earth is ceasing never;
On a lone winter evening when the frost
Has wrought a silence, from the stove there shrills
The Cricket's song, in warmth increasing ever."
- John Keats

Wednesday, December 01, 2010


"Withering and keen the winter comes,
While Comfort flies to close-shut rooms,
And sees the snow in feathers pass
Winnowing by the window glass."
- John Clare

Sunday, November 28, 2010


"The warm sun is failing, the bleak wind is wailing,
The bare boughs are sighing, the pale flowers are dying, and the year
On the earth her death bed, in a shroud of leaves dead, is lying."
- Percy Bysshe Shelley

Sunday, November 21, 2010


"Come months, come away,
From November to May,
In your saddest array;
Follow the bier
Of the dead cold year."
- Percy Bysshe Shelley

Saturday, November 20, 2010


"oh wild West Wind, thou breath of autumn's being,
Thou, from whose unseen presence the leaves dead
Are driven like ghosts from an enchanter fleeing,
Yellow and black, and pale, and hectic red"
- Percy Bysshe shelley

Thursday, November 11, 2010


"In winter when the dismal rain
Came down in slanting lines,
And Wind, that great old harper, smote
His thunder-harp of pines."
- Alexander Smith

Wednesday, November 10, 2010


"The leaves which in the autumn of the year
Fall auburn-tinted, leaving reft and bare
Their parent trees, in many a sheltered lair
Where winter waits and watches,
cold, austere."
- Old Year Leaves by Mackenzie Bell

Saturday, November 06, 2010


"Nature now spreads around, in dreary hue,
A pall to cover all that summer knew;
Yet in the poet's solitary way,
Some pleasing objects for his praise delay"
- John clare

Tuesday, October 26, 2010


Calm and deep peace in this wide air,
These leaves that redden to the fall,
And in my heart, if calm at all,
If any calm, a calm despair."
Alfred Lord Tennyson

Friday, October 22, 2010

sonnet time

"That time of year thou mayest in me behold,
When yellow leaves, or none, or few do hang,
Upon those boughs which shake against the cold,
Bare ruin'd choirs, where late the sweet birds sang.
In me thou seest the twilight of such day."
- William Shakespeare

Saturday, October 16, 2010


"Thus harvest ends its busy reign,
And leaves the fields their peace again,
Where Autumn's shadows idly muse
And tinge the trees in many hues."
- John clare

More yard art - glass totems, cont'd

Back in August I posted some photos of the glass yard art I was making. Here are a few more photos:

(Reminder - click on the picture to see it better.)

Below is a photo of most of them, catching the autumn rays in my front room when I first brought them in for the winter. It is important to remember to bring these glass things indoors, along with china tea cups, clay flower pots, and the like - to keep the frost from cracking them. I have put the blue glass owl totem on the coffee table now, but will probably have to store it in a safer place for the winter.

Wednesday, October 06, 2010


"Now Autumn's fire burns slowly along the woods,
And day by day the dead leaves fall and melt"
- William Allingham

Friday, October 01, 2010



If melancholy had a home, it would be
A garden in October when frost has picked
The last tomatoes and pinched the peppers free.
I wandered such a place one day; I kicked
Through rotting tangled vines of cucumber
And broken pods of okra, broccoli plants
With stems like trees, and quiet as in slumber,
Two grapes winding up a fence. My glance,
However, fixed at lst on a bed filled

With tall asparagus wholly gone to seed:
Like Christmas trees they stood, their bulbs spilled
Beneath to settle in the earth, freed
For next year's growth. It was a fine bed
(I guessed it at five seasons) showing good care,
And more, restraint. Asparagus is better bred
With patience; the grower's cutting hand must spare
Emough green shoots to drive the crop to come.
He knows each year brings more if he holds
His urge to gather early, leaving some
To infuse the soil with life, for life folds
Into life. I have seen men swallow dreams
From tasting too much extravagance, consuming thus
Too much too soon, and failing, so it seems,
To savor the wisdom in asparagus.
- Bruce Jacobs

Thursday, September 30, 2010

What I did on my summer vacation

Does the time get away from you like it does for me? People say "what have you been up to?" and I never know what to answer - just puttering around, in my own little universe, would be the proper answer I suppose. I guess I could say I became fascinated by tincturing bitters last year after a herb walk led by Jim McDonald last fall at the Ecology Center in Oxford. Then I could tell about how I made a large herbal wall hanging after Robin Mickiewicz demonstrated the craft at Crossroads Village this summer. I made a nice wreath from Silver King Artemisia and Costmary blossoms which was sold at the GCHS tea. And how I began collecting and gluing together junque glass into garden totems after seeing some at a craft show. I need to post a few more photos of them.
But as to what I've been up to? I dunno ... puttering around, as usual. How about You?

I'm posting the following overly long list of my 2010 herbal adventures which I began keeping track of as of June 22, although some of it was remembered and added from earlier this year (and which I may add to as the year goes on, just to keep it all in one place):

Over the summer I made 2 versions herbal tea, which I like to drink sweetened with a little of my home grown stevia or some local honey from the farmers' market:
1. "summer" blossoms:
red clover, german chamomile, primrose, thyme, oregano, savory, ironweed, Baikal scullcap
2. Lemon herbs and flowers for digestive, sedative, headache relief, tonic and nervine
rose petals, lemon verbena, lemon balm, lemon basil, lemon thyme, calendula, rosemary, mint

I made a bug repellent  tincture which I'll dilute with witch hazel:
Catnip (fresh) flowers and leaves, pennyroyal (fresh) tops, a few (fresh) tansy leaves, and dry yarrow leaves.
This, after reading the label of a verry expensive ($9.00 for 2 ounces) "natural" insect repellent that Herb bought for golfing. Its list of ingredients: lemongrass, patchouli, peppermint, catnip, and Neem, in witch hazel.

I've been harvesting like crazy:
dandelion roots and crowns (screen dry and zipbagged)
kale leaves (dehydrated and zipbagged)
hawthorn leaves (May) and fruit (Sept-Oct) (screen dry, zipbagged leaves)
mugwort leaves (screen dry) (made sleep pillow with hops) (may still make tincture, oil, moxa floss)
hops "cones" (screen dry) (see mugwort)
monarda flowers and top leaves (hang dry and zipbagged)
Greek oregano leaves (hang dry, screened and bottled)
sage leaves (hang dry and bottled)
thyme leaves (screen dry and bottled)
bay leaves (screen dry)
lavender stems with blossoms (hang dry, zipbagged and bundled)
blue vervain "Simpler's Joy" tops (hang dry and zipbagged)
oenothera (evening primrose) (hang drying whole plant)
lythrum (loosestrife) tops (hang dry)
calendula tops and petals (screen dry)
veronica tops (hang dry)
motherwort leaves (screen dry)
heal-all leaves and flowers (screen dry)
borage leaves and flowers (screen dry, bottled)
southernwood branches, Silver King artemisia tops (hang dry)
red clover flowers (screen dry)
goldenrod tops (hang dry)
purple aster tops (screen dry)
sweet annie (Artemisia annua) branches, hang dry
sassafras leaves (from Ludington), hang dry, zipbagged
castor beans
pineapple sage leaves
mullein root and leaves from first year plant dug in October, hang dry
violet jelly (picked flowers with Aubrey) (gave some to Theresa, Ashley on Mother's Day, and Lois M. )

rose petal jelly (Tuscany and Mme Isaac Periere? check FB) (gave some to Tree and Ash on Father's Day) (gave some to Norma, Ulrike, and Lois)
rose petal honey (some for me, and tiny jars with Kayla and Aubrey) Red/Pinks Tuscany, Mundi, and Mme. I.P.
rose petal elixir ( a.k.a.preFB "rose petal cordial") Red/Pinks
rose petal infused oil - Red/Pinks - Mundi and Mme IP
rose petal vinegar - Reds/Pinks - in homemade organic cider vinegar
rose petal beads - You can use pale pink and white blossoms - it will turn black anyways! (still in progress)
rose petals (screen dry and bottled) for tea and other uses

(March) honey sweetened rose hip tincture with ginger honey from '09 dried rose hips, and (September '10) rose hip tincture from R. eglantina
and tinctured purchased dried elderberries with honey to make cough syrup

elderflowers (4 from my 3 2 yr old plants), fresh, tinctured
StJW tops, fresh, tinctured (began collecting on summer Solstice)
St. J's Wort tops, fresh, oil
holy basil tops, fresh, tinctured
Solomon's seal root, fresh, tinctured
purple aster tops, fresh, tinctured
juniper berries (from beach lot), fresh, tinctured in gin (what the heck?)
quince fruit, fresh. tinctured (for "ratatifa"?)

meadowsweet - dried 2 flower heads in full color (they dry out in the yard as the beetles attack them and they go to seed) as an experiment. Next year I will fresh tincture some.
peonies and sea oats -dried for arrangements

mixed flower bouquets, of course!
dandelion greens - cooked
strawberries and alpine strawberries
mixed lettuce salads spring and fall
basil leaves fresh as sandwich greens, cooked in pasta sauce, in tomato salad, in bruschetta, in pesto, froze pesto cubes (trying to be more conservative this year, I planted Genovese, regular sweet, lemon, holy, and 'Siam Queen' Thai)
parsley, part of my pesto recipe
dillweed in dill sauce on fish
lemon balm, purple aster herbal teas
garlic scapes - green dip
rosemary, oregano, marjoram, used cooked in pasta sauce, chili, oven roasted veggies, and so on
tomatoes, peppers (Herb made lots of fresh salsa),the freezer is full
garlic and shallots: dug on July 26 (big this year), replanted 30 cloves on September 30
Jerusalem artichokes to roast with a roast beef

I have Plans for:
comfrey - oil? dry some

marshmallow root and maybe the leaves
always more thyme!
anise hyssop - just planted a new one after having been without for a few years
feverfew? angelica? (there weren't as many seedlings this year as usual)

southernwood, absinthe (wormwood)
ginkgo leaves
Solomon's seal root, and false solomon's seal
rose hips

European betony (Stachys betonica or Stachys officinalis)
Baikal skullcap (the Chinese plant, not the native that all the herbalists are talking about)

and, when the plants are ready:
gogi berries (or wolfberry) from the plant I started from seed last year
elderberries from the plants I started last year
New Jersey  tea from the seedling I transplanted this year.

What I missed so far and will try to use/make next year:
hawthorn flowers, lily of the valley flowers, lilac flowers, dianthus and apple blossoms, meadowsweet blossoms, and chamomile (pick with Aubrey to make Peter Rabbit Tea)
Rosa englatina leaf for tinctures
chervil, sweet cicely, valerian blossoms

Sunday, September 26, 2010


"Yon hanging woods, that touched by Autumn seem
As they were blossoming hues of fire and gold;
The flower-like woods, most lovely in decay..."
- Samuel Taylor coleridge

Thursday, September 16, 2010


"The calmest thoughts come round us; as of leaves
Budding - fruit ripening in stillness - Autumn suns
Smiling at eve upon the quiet sheaves."
- John Keats

Monday, September 06, 2010


"Best I love September's yellow,
Morns of dew strung gossamer;
Thoughtful days without a stir"
- Alexander Smith

Thursday, September 02, 2010


"Oh for a draught of vintage! that hath been
Cool'd a long age in the deep-delved earth,
Tasting of flora and the country green,
Dance, and Provencal song, and sunburnt mirth!"
- John Keats

Saturday, August 21, 2010

quote paradise

" What was Paradise?
But a Garden,
An orchard of trees,
and Herbs
Full of pleasure, and
Nothing there but Delights."
- William Lawson

Friday, August 20, 2010

quote dragonflies

And forth on floating gauze, no jewelled queen,
So rich the green-eyed dragonflies would break
And hover on the flowers - aerial things;
With little rainbows flickering on their wings
- Jean Ingelow

Thursday, August 19, 2010

quote August

"A spell lies on the garden. Summer sits
With finger on her lips as if she heard
The steps of Autumn echo on the hill.
A hush lies on the Garden. Summer dreams
Of timid crocus thrust through drifted snow."
- Gertrude H. McGiffert, from The Garden In August

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

First flower for my Baikal Scullcap

As long as I posted this on Facebook, I thought, why not post it here on the old, long-neglected blog? Sorry I've been away so long - life has taken me on another turn of the path, and I have needed to recollect some parts of myself, so to speak.
I know, I speak in metaphors only I understand. Wish it was easier :\

Well, on to the plant story... I was cutting back my germander this morning and suddenly thought to check out how the single scullcap seedling I planted this spring was doing. There she was, blooming under the angelica!

Pretty flower, eh? It's just bloomed :)
The root is what is used in Chinese medicine ... but, but this baby is too pretty to dig up!

Only this variety is the one FBF herbalists don't (apparently from the conversation) enthuse about, Scutellaria baicalensis. Coincidentally while looking up any reference to it I read in Tierra's The Herbs of Life that germander is a common adulterant in commercially sold scullcap.
I do love coincidences.

glass totems

I've been gluing scavenged glass from yard sales, gifts, and the resale shops into yard art! Check 'em out:

Monday, August 16, 2010

quote flowers

"For myself, I like having flowers to smell when I walk in the garden, flowers to cut for the house, flowers to share with friends. Having these in abundance proves the methods of my madness to be working well, and well worthwhile."
- Susan Urshel

Sunday, August 15, 2010

quote cottage garden

"Some people call this a cottage garden, but it's just a good messy garden. There's no plan. It's not like a painting - I just stick the plants in. I like large quantities of blooms all jumbled together."
- Tasha Tudor

Friday, August 06, 2010


"Come, let us stray our gladsome way
And view the charms of Nature,
The rustling corn; the fruited thorn,
And every happy creature."
- Robert Burns

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

quote August

"The eighth was August, being rich arrayed
The garment all of gold, down to the ground;
Yet rode he not, but led a lovely maid
Forth by the lily hand, which was crowned
With ears of corn."
- Edmund Spenser

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

quote August

"Fairest of months! ripe Summer's Queen
The hey-day of the year
With robes that gleam with sunny sheen,
Sweet August doth appear."
- R. Combe Miller

Monday, August 02, 2010

quote Summer

Now summer's in flower, and nature's hum
is never silent 'round her bounteous bloom,
Insects as small as dust, have never done
With glitt'ring dance, and reeling in the sun.
- John Clare

Sunday, August 01, 2010


"Someone once said of a beautiful public garden, "It just shows what God could do if he had the money." But even the grubbiest garden, abounding with weeds, shows what we can do without money just because God is so good."
- Monica Moran Brandies

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

quote night

In puffs of balm the night air blows
The perfume which the day foregoes,
And on the pure horizon far,
See, pulsing with the firstborn star.
- Matthew Arnold, from The Liquid Sky

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Plant and Pest Hotline, may I help you?

"Why did your plant die?
You walked too close, you trod on it,
You dropped a piece of sod on it.
You hoed it down, you weeded it.

You planted it the wrong way up,
you grew it in a yogurt cup.
But you forgot to make the hole;
The soggy compost took its toll.

September storm, November drought.
It heaved in March, the roots popped out.
You watered it with herbicide.
You scattered bonemeal fr and wide.

You walked too close, you trod on it.
You dropped a piece of sod on it."
- David Godine, from A Gardener Obsessed

Friday, July 16, 2010

quote sun

"The sun is coming down to earth, and the fields
and the waters shout to him golden shouts."
George Meredith

Thursday, July 15, 2010

quote Nature

"Henceforth I shall know
That Nature ne'er deserts the wise and pure;
No plot so narrow, be but Nature there."
- Samuel Taylor Coleridge

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

quote grace

A cloudless sky; a world of heather,
Purple foxglove; yellow of broom;
We two among it, wading together;
Shaking out honey, treading perfume
- Jean Ingelow

Monday, July 05, 2010

quote education

"I learned about gardening soon after I learned to walk. Tagging after my grandpa with my little watering can, I sprinkled where he hosed, jabbed at the earth with my toy shovel where he cultivated the soil, peered at the flowers that he examined."
- Ruth Shaw Ernst

Friday, July 02, 2010

quote daisies

"Daisies, those pearled Arcturi of the earth,
The constellated flowers that never set."
- Percy Bysshe Shelley

Thursday, July 01, 2010


"... a refuge, a place of quiet contemplation, a source of nourishment for mind and body alike."
- Dean Pallier

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Oh velvet bee, you're a dusty fellow;
You've powdered your legs with gold!
O brave marshmary buds, rich and yellow;
Give me your money to hold!
- Jean Ingelow

"What sort of insects do you rejoice in, where you come from?" the Gnat inquired.
"I don't rejoice in insects at all," Alice explained..."
- Lewis Carroll, from Through the Looking Glass

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

"We need another and a wiser and perhaps a more mystical concept of animals. Remote from universal nature, and living by complicated artifice, man in civilization surveys the creature through the glass of his knowledge and sees thereby a feather magnified and the whole image in distortion. We patronize them for their incompleteness, for their tragic fate of having taken form so far below ourselves. And therein we err, and greatly err. For the animal shall not be measured by man. In a world older and more complete than ours they move finished and complete, gifted with extensions of the senses we have lost or never attained, living by voices we shall never hear. They are not brethern, they are not other nations, caught with ourselves in the net of life and time, fellow prisoners of the splendour and travail of the earth."
- Henry Beston, from The Outhermost House

Monday, June 21, 2010

"... a place as favorable to plant and animal life as it is pleasing to the human eye ... and nose, for the myriad of sweet scents; and ear, for the chatter of bird; and mouth, for the harvest-fresh flavors of berries and vegetables; and hands, for the velvety feel of the petals of pansy or wild poppy."

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

"The columbines, stone blue, or deep night brown,
Their honeycomb like blossoms hanging down;
Each cottage garden's fond adopted child,
Though heaths still claim them,
where they grow yet wild."
- John Clare

Monday, June 14, 2010

And I serve the fairy Queen,
To dew her orbs upon the green;
The cowslips tall her pensioners be;
In their gold coats spots you see.
- Wiliam Shakespeare, from Fairy Song

Saturday, June 12, 2010

"Lovliest of lovely things are they,
On earth that soonest pass away,
The rose that lives its little hour
Is prized beyond the sculptured flower."
- William Cullen Bryant

Friday, June 11, 2010

"All things that love the sun are out of doors;
The sky rejoices in the morning's birth;
The grass is bright with raindrops; on the moors
The hare is running races in her mirth"
- William Wordsworth

Thursday, June 10, 2010

quote grass

"My earliest love of flowers, how good
To lay my sunburnt face,
In grass so lush,
It shames the name of green..."
- Alfred Hayes

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

"All day I hoe weeds
All night I sleep
All night I hoe again
In dreams the weeds of the day."
Anon, translated from Japanese by Kenneth Rexroth

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

"If you tickle the earth with a hoe, she laughs with a harvest."
- Douglas Jerrold

Monday, June 07, 2010

"When in these fresh mornings I go into my garden before anyone is awake, I go for the time being into perfect happiness. In this hour divinely fresh and still, the fair face of every flower salutes me with a silent joy that fills me with infinite content; each each gives me its color, its grace, its perfume, and enriches me with the consummation of its beauty."
- Celia Thaxter

Sunday, June 06, 2010


"What continues to astonish me about a garden is that you can walk past it in a hurry, see something wrong, stop to set it right, and emerge and hour or two later breathless, contented, and wondering what on earth happened."
- Dorothy Gilman

Saturday, June 05, 2010

quote time

"To everything there is a season..."
- Ecclesiastes 3:1

Thursday, June 03, 2010

quote inspiration

"You have your brush, you have your colors, you paint paradise, then in you go."
- Nikos Kazantakis

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

quote roses

"If you want to grow beautiful roses, you must have beautiful roses in your heart."
Rev. Dean Hole

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

quote Roses

"The rose laughs at my long-looking, my constantly wondering what a rose means, and who owns the rose, whatever it means."
- Rumi

Monday, May 31, 2010

quote Life

Posted by a FBF:
"we are rowing down a river of burning garbage with snipers on both shores. Many of us know we’re not crewing a ship, but a tea cup with sails made of memories of the
worst and the best of what we’ve lived. And, there under one of the small rowing benches,... is the Life Force protected under a worn tarp, still glowing. Our work: to ...carry that forward unharmed."
- Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estes

Sunday, May 30, 2010

gardening humor

Plant alphabetically!
Alyssum in the first row, Bulbs in the second, and so on.
That'll put your Weeds way in the back!

Saturday, May 29, 2010

quote book

"A book is like a garden carried in the pocket."
- Chinese proverb

Friday, May 28, 2010

quote planting

"When you pour a packet of seeds into your hand and begin to place them the proper distance apart in the furrow, you become not just a participant, but a custodian of like."
- D. Landreth Seed Co. catalog

Thursday, May 27, 2010

quote violets

"Violets dim yet sweeter than the lids of
Juno's eyes or Cytherea's breathe..."
from A Winter's Tale by William Shakespeare

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

quote Life

"Another world is not only possible, she is on her way. On a quiet day, I can hear her breathing."
- Arundhati Roy

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

quote Life

"If your knees aren't green by the end of the day, you ought to seriously reexamine your life." - Bill Watterson

Monday, May 24, 2010

quote May wine

"From my youth I recall that elusive smell of woods in spring—a sweetness ascending from mold and decay but with the breath of young life rising from it. That is the odor that permeates the house when May wine is poured into the May bowl. "
- Adelma Grenier Simmons, Herb Gardening in Five Seasons

Sunday, May 23, 2010

quote life

"The true meaning of life is to plant trees,
under whose shade you do not expect to sit."
- Nelson Henderson

Saturday, May 22, 2010


"Oh Adam was a gardener, and God who made him sees
That half a proper gardener's work is done upon his knees.
So when your work is finished you can wash your hands and pray
For the Glory of the Garden, that it may not pass away!
And the Glory of the Garden, it shall never pass away!
- Rudyard Kipling

Friday, May 21, 2010

quote gardening

"When I began to dig and plant, I little knew the joy which would grow out of the soil, and descend from the skies, and gather from far-off places and times to gladden my soul."
- Candace Wheeler

Thursday, May 20, 2010

quote a gardener's life

"This I think is a gardener's life. Hope renewed, failures forgotten, knowledge and action wedded, bookish plans and practical applications, winters of study, summers of work, a yearly opportunity to turn our failure into sucess."
- Adelma Grenier Simmons

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

quote Life

"I still find each day too short for all the thoughts I want to think,
all the walks I want to take, all the books I want to read, and all the
friends I want to see." 

- John Burroughs

Tuesday, May 18, 2010


"We didn't inherit the earth from our parents. We're borrowing it from our children." - Chief Seattle (1788-1866) Suquamish/Duwamish Chief

Monday, May 17, 2010

quote flowers

'Thanks to the human heart by which we live,
Thanks to its tenderness, its joys, and fears,
To me the meanest flower that blows can give
Thoughts that do often lie too deep for tears."
- William Wordsworth

Sunday, May 16, 2010

quote flowers

"I think the reason that Grandma's garden is so well remembered is that children were allowed to pick as many flowers as they needed, for there was nothing rare or choice in the flower beds: petunias, four o'clocks, roses - the more they were picked, the better they bloomed."
- Elizabeth Lawrence

Saturday, May 15, 2010

quote garden

'My garden is a veritable album, and as I wander over our place I find many a dear friend or happy hour commemorated in it."
- Mrs. Theodore Thomas

Friday, May 14, 2010

quote violets

"I come, I come! ye have called me long,
I come o'er the mountains with light and song!
Ye may trace my steps o'er the wakening eart,
By the winds that tell of the violets' birth..."
- Mrs. Felicia Dorothea Hemans
Quoted by Edith Holden in The Country Diary Birthday Book

Thursday, May 13, 2010

quote primroses violets

"Long as there's a sun that sets
Primroses will have their glory
Long as there are violets
They will have a place in story..."
- William Wordsworth

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

quote violets

"As violets recluse and sweet,
Cheerful as daisies unaccounted rare;
Still sunward gazing from a lowly seat,
Still sweetening wintry air."
- Christina Rossetti

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

quote spring

"And the Spring arose in the garden fair,
Like the Spirit of Love felt everywhere;
And each flower and herb on Earth's dark breast
Rose from the dreams of its wintry rest."
- Percy Bysshe Shelley

Monday, May 10, 2010

quote primrose

"Through primrose tufts in that green bower
The periwinkle trailed its wreathes
And tis my faith that every flower
Enjoys the air it breathes."
- from Lines Written in Early Spring by William Wordsworth

Sunday, May 09, 2010


It was a heartfelt game when it began -
polish and cook and sew and mend, contrive,
move betweens sink and stove, keep flower beds weeded -
all her love needed was that it was needed,
and merely living kept the blood alive.

Now an old habit leads from sink to stove,
mends and keeps clean the house that looks like home,
and waits in hunger dressed to look like love
for the calm return of those who, when they come,
remind her, this was a game, when it began.
- Judith Wright

Saturday, May 08, 2010

quote daffodils

"Daffodils that come before the swallow dares,
And take the winds of March with beauty."
- William Shakespeare

"Daffy Down Dilly has come to town,
In her yellow petticoat and green gown."
- folk

Friday, May 07, 2010

quote Spring

""Now the North Wind ceases;
The warm South-west awakes.
The heavens are out in fleeces
And earth's green banner shakes."
- George Meredith

Wednesday, May 05, 2010


Maytime Magic
by Mabel Watts

A little seed
For me to sow...
A little earth
To make it grow.

A little hole,
A little pat...
a little wish,
And that is that.

A little sun,
A little shower...
A little while,
And then - a flower!

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

quote Herbs

"Pounding fragrant things -- particularly garlic, basil, parsley -- is a tremendous antidote to depression. But it applies also to juniper berries, coriander seeds and the grilled fruits of the chili pepper. Pounding these things produces an alteration in one's being -- from sighing with fatigue to inhaling with pleasure. The cheering effects of herbs and alliums cannot be too often reiterated. Virgil's appetite was probably improved equally by pounding garlic as by eating it.”
- Patience Gray

Monday, May 03, 2010

quote Wisdom

"It is a great joy the day we discover that we can learn things without having to make the mistake ourselves."
- Henry Mitchell

Sunday, May 02, 2010

quote Herbs

"A herb garden needs no window dressing from other brilliant flowers - herb foliage makes a varied and harmonious tapestry of leaves, and its gentle flowers are a bonus. Above all, of course, there are the scents - crushed in your fingers they linger, and as you walk by they waft towards you in a tantalizing medley."
- Rosemary Verey

Saturday, May 01, 2010

quote May

"Ye that pipe and ye that play
Ye that through your hearts today
Feel the gladness of the May"
- William Shakespeare

Friday, April 30, 2010


"Besides germination, April is also the month for planting.  With enthusiasm, yes, with wild enthusiasm and impatience you order seedlings from the nurseries, for you cannot exist any longer without them; you promised all your friends who have gardens that you would come for cuttings; I tell you that you are never satisfied with what you already have.  And so, one day, some 170 seedlings meet in your house, and they must be planted immediately; and then you look round in your garden and find with overwhelming certainty that you have no space left for them!  ...'No, it's not possible here,' he murmurs in a low voice; 'here I have those damned chrysanthemums; phlox would smother it here...and near this achillea there is no room either--where shall I put it?  ...Ha, here is a bit of space; wait, my little seedling, in a moment I will make your bed.  So, there you are, and now grow in peace.'  Yes, but in two days the gardener will discover that he has planted it right on top of the scarlet shoots of an emerging evening primrose..."
- Karel Capek, from The Gardener’s Year

Thursday, April 29, 2010


"That strain again; it had a dying fall,
O' it came o'er my ear like the sweet south
That breathes upon a bank of violets
Stealing and giving odour."
- William Shakespeare

Wednesday, April 28, 2010


"There was a time when meadow, grove, and stream;
The earth, and every common sight,
To me did seem
Apparelled in celestial light"
- William Wordsworth

Tuesday, April 27, 2010


"If it were of any use, every day the gardener would fall on his knees and pray somehow like this:
O Lord, grant that in some way it may rain every day, say from about midnight until three o'clock in the morning, but you see, it must be gentle and warm so that it can soak in; grant that at the same time it would not rain on campion, alyssum, helianthemum, lavender, and the others which you in your infinite wisdom know are drought-loving plants--I can write their names on a bit of paper if you like--and grant that the sun may shine the whole day long, but not everywhere...and not too much; that there may be plenty of dew and little wind, enough worms, no plant-lice and snails, no mildew, and that once a week, thin liquid manure and guano may fall from Heaven. Amen. "
-Karel Capek, The Gardener's Year, 1929

Monday, April 26, 2010


"We must learn to look on plants not as mere points of color, but as old friends on whose coming we can rely; and who, returning with the recurring seasons, bring back with them pleasant memories of past years."
Henry Bright

Sunday, April 25, 2010


"The boughs of the oak are roaring inside the acorn."
- Charles Tomlinson

Saturday, April 24, 2010


"A garden is a private world or it is nothing, and the gardener must be allowed his vagaries."
- Eleanor Perenyi

Friday, April 23, 2010


"Almost anything you do in the garden, for example weeding, is an effort to create some sort of order out of nature's tendency to run wild. There has to be a certain degree of domestication in a garden. The danger is that you can so tame a garden that it becomes a thing. It becomes landscaping."
- Stanley Kunitz

Thursday, April 22, 2010


For My Daughter, Age 16, Downcast by Winter
by Philip Legler

April now, and from the ground up
the snow is going, melting
in its six-month hold, the way
ice locks the bay in. Trout,
deep under, rise as if
from their shadows, and along
Lakeshore you park our car
off the road to watch the ice-
breaker slice through and open us
up to summer, the first ore boat
at the harbor.

Ashore, you wade
through puddles, mud, slush,
water flooding our town,
in gutters, from roofs, wind
blowing off Lake Superior, shaking
the Amoco sign like kids
banging a lid. A kite,
bobbing with its string adrift,
swoops over Presque Isle,
climbs a moment, lifts your head
to the sun in a perfect sky.

patting self on back, breaking arm

This web log been getting some notice lately, completely undeserved, but happily accepted! Unfortunately, lately I haven't been posting regularly - life has been getting in the way of art, so to speak. If you're here for the first time, forgive the mess, and please, look to the labels in the sidebar... there might be something worth your visit, there.
What prompted this mea culpa? I ran across a compliment on another website today - Betsy's Herb Garden was listed by the writer as one of the 50 best blogs to read to learn about herbalism.
 50 best blogs to learn about herbalism

During the last few years I've been asked to advertise a couple of garden products, and to write for a well known herb magazine ... but purely as a volunteer proposition, without any real monetary payment other than getting my "name" out there into the big world, and, wooo! a link back to my blog.
Ahem, I don't need to advertise my blog. I have all the Attagirls I'll ever need from paid staff who know the precise value of volunteers* for their own program's bottom lines. I've volunteered for non-profits thousands of hours, literally. I've made memories and  friends, and have earned the opportunity to contribute to my community, but no points on my Social Security account, nor gas money for a' that. Brownie points, not redeemable for cash. My mother raised me wrong.

*over 20 dollars an hour in 2010, what I call "padding".

Wednesday, April 21, 2010


"Seeds are a link to the past."
- Rosalind Creasy

Tuesday, April 20, 2010


"Wth umbled hair of swarms of bees,
And flower-robes dancing in the breeze,
with sweet, unsteady lotus-glances,
Intoxicated, Spring advances."
Translated from Sanskrit poem

Monday, April 19, 2010


"Oh, how this spring of love resembleth
The uncertain glory of an April day!
Which now shows all the beauty of the sun
And by and bye a cloud takes all away."
- William Shakespeare

Saturday, April 17, 2010


"We begin as a mineral. 
We emerge into plant life and
into animal state, and then into
being human, and always
we have forgotten our former states,
except in early spring, when we slightly recall
being Green again."
- unknown (Can anyone i.d. the origination of this quote?)

Here's another snippet from who knows where(?):

" I am a part of all you see
 In Nature: part of all you feel:
 I am the impact of the bee
 Upon the blossom; in the tree
 I am the sap--that shall reveal
 The leaf, the bloom--that flows and flutes
 Up from the darkness through its roots. "

Friday, April 16, 2010


"It may indeed be phantasy, when I
Essay to draw from all created things
Deep, heartfelt, inward joy that closely clings;
And trace in leaves and flowers that round me lie
Lessons of love and earnest piety."
- Samuel Taylor Coleridge

Thursday, April 15, 2010


"Sell the country? Why no sell the air, the clouds, the great sea?"
- Chief Tecumseh

Wednesday, April 14, 2010


"A real gardener is not a man who cultivates flowers; he is a man who cultivates the soil ... If he came into the Garden of Eden he would sniff excitedly and say: "Good Lord, what humus!"
- Karl Capek

Tuesday, April 13, 2010


"The more help a person has in his garden, the less it belongs to him."
- william H. Davis

Monday, April 12, 2010


"I love the verse that, mild and bland,
Breathes of green fields and open sky.
I love the muse that in her hand
Bears flowers of native poesy."
- The Native Muse by John Clare

Sunday, April 11, 2010


You won't find them in places where society goes,
Like flower shows.
Their affections
Run more to junk yards and other low-rent sections--
Not flowers to make perfume of or wear.
People see them in their lawns and swear.
Cows eat them and their milk tastes funny.
Bees make them into honey.
The farmer turns them under with his plow,
Or makes them into wine if he knows how.
They hang around street corners on pipestem legs,
And taste good in salad with vinegar and hard-boiled eggs.
In broken bricks and cinders they
Do well.  Also in clay.
Hills they prefer to valleys.
They like to grow
Where kids go,
In vacant lots and alleys.
Little girls use them for various things,
Such as money.  They put them on strings,
Or hold them under their chins to see if they like butter.
Golfers knock their heads off with a putter.
You can split them with your tongue to make long curls,
Which small comedians wear to look like girls.
They hug the earth where lawnmowers mow,
And so survive.
Elsewhere they stretch taller.
In areas where nothing else will grow
They thrive--
More like the sun than sunflowers,
Only smaller.
They can't be stopped although you hoe and spray them;
The best that you can hope is to delay them.
No skirmish ever proves to be the last;
No victory quite manages to stay won.
They seem to propagate about as fast
As a middle-aged gardener can run.
There isn't any more that you can say
About these tawny, undesired plants
(Teeth of the lion is what they're called in France)
Except that certain things are here to stay,
Things that don't pertain to public good,

Such as firecrackers, unplanned parenthood,
Snowballs, or a bedtime story--
Things you'd never dream
Of including in a modern social scheme.
Dandelions fall in this category.
- Will D. Stanton

Saturday, April 10, 2010


 Back, for a moment.
*I've just been blogging on the Genesee County Herb Society blog about our April meeting, if you're interested.

**If you're wondering about those extra page links above,  so am I. I still haven't figured out what to do with them yet. All in good time, Grasshoppa.

***And, I ran across a Google feature that lets me make a custom search engine - and put in my favorite, personal favorite  "herbal living"  blogs as the sites to search, which should bypass a lot of digging if you want a herbal response to a question you might have. It's posted over there on the right side of the page and I call it Google For Herbs (recommended sites).
Want to test it out? Just type say, violets, or huckleberries, into the search line and see what happens.
Cool, huh? (Btw, when you want to clear the search, click on the x.) Just don't forget to come back after your wanders.
I've added a bunch of my favorite herbally oriented blogs and websites that I read with my Google Reader (RSS), and I'll add more as I remember or run across them.

 Now for my personal update....
"It's been a week." That's what I used to say after a particularly awful week, but I'm updating my complaint to March was a month.
Well, not all of March - it did come in 'like a lamb', weatherwise, and I got a wonderful head start on pruning and flowerbed maintenance, though that was cut short. Herb had a heart attack, his third. Yep, TGFHI (Thank Goodness For Health Insurance - I pray everyone will someday have the same quality of health care he got, without being forced into bankruptcy and lifetime peonage).
And... he caught a cold from a sick nurse in the hospital (why do you go to work in a cardiac ward when you're sick? Is the money that important?) and then he gave it to me. It musta been some super germ, 'cause it knocked me flat for a week. But NOW Herb is well, feeling better in fact, back to work - he got a consulting job with a friend, so it suits him perfectly, and I'm getting back to life as well.
But like the poem says, April is cruel. We've lost our tentative hold on spring - the daffodils are blooming, and though it hasn't snowed on them (my personal weather adage) it's definitely cold enough for that to happen. The incredible pure white blossoms of the star magnolia browned after last night's heavy frost, and working outdoors isn't fun in these temperatures.
And the ground is finally wet after a long dry spell. We had 2 inches of rain in a day... it seems like the weather isn't as moderate as it used to be.

The holiday was great. Patrick and Mary Clare flew home and we all were together the weekend after Herb checked out of the hospital, but for actual Easter the family gathered at Skip and Tree's house. I left my camera at home. I'm not a great photographer anyways, but it would have been nice to help recall how beautifully Ashley dresses up my little K and A. and how animated they were over their Egg Hunt.
Skip and Tree are such good "from scratch" cooks, too, we really get a gourmet meal when they host the party. Skip is the master of the grill and served barbecued hot wings of his own recipe to nosh, and later, grilled pork roast on a bed of onion and fennel, with salads and a side of his incredible risotto. Followed by strawberries and whipped cream.

And here's the quote that was previously scheduled for today:
"When there is personal darkness, when there is pain to be overcome, when we are forced to renew ourselves against all the odds, the psychic energy required simply to survive has tremendous force, as great as that of a bulb pushing up through icy ground in spring, so after the overcoming, there is extra energy, a flood of energy that can go into creation. "
- May Sarton

Friday, April 09, 2010


 "Honest winter, snow-clad and with the frosted beard, I can welcome not uncordially; but that long deferment of the calendar's promise, that weeping gloom of March and April, that bitter blast outraging the honour of May--how often has it robbed me of heart and hope."
- George Gissing

Thursday, April 08, 2010


"Those of us who are gardeners do not need to train ourselves to be aware of the seasons, intuitively or in any other way, for the seasons have us by the throat."
- Germain Greer

Wednesday, April 07, 2010


Spring tiptoed through the town last night,
Disguised in robes of winter-white.
 Today it seems so far away
   The wind is cold, the skies are gray
 But there are signs that prove it so-
Small crocus footprints in the snow!
- E.A.Guest, I believe

"Quietly Nature
does her work,
warming the
earth where the
violets lurk,
bidding the
crocus rise and
though the
garden's still
with winter's
then she tells
the birds to
and green
leaves usher in
the spring."
- Louise Riotte

Tuesday, April 06, 2010



It's a warm wind, the west wind, full of birds' cries;
I never hear the west wind but tears are in my eyes.
For it comes from the west lands, the old brown hills,
And April's in the west wind, and daffodils.

It's a fine land, the west land, for hearts as tired as mine,
Apple orchards blossom there, and the air's like wine.
There is cool green grass there, where men may lie at rest,
And the thrushes are in song there, fluting from the nest.

'Will ye not come home, brother? ye have been long away,
It's April, and blossom time, and white is the May;
And bright is the sun, brother, and warm is the rain,--
Will ye not come home, brother, home to us again?

'The young corn is green, brother, where the rabbits run,
It's blue sky, and white clouds, and warm rain and sun.
It's song to a man's woul, brother, fire to a man's brain,
To hear the wild bees and see the merry spring again.

'Larks are singing in the west, brother, above the green wheat,
So will ye not come home, brother, and rest your tired feet?
I've a balm for bruised hearts, brother, sleep for aching eyes,'
Says the warm wind, the west wind, full of birds' cries.

It's the white road westwards is the road I must tread
To the green grass, the cool grass, and rest for heart and head,
To the violets and the warm hearts and the thrushes' song,
In the fine land, the west land, the land where I belong.
- John Masefield

Monday, April 05, 2010


It seems so sad to see the birds
fighting and squabbling and having words
When one little robin finds a worm
the other with jealousy starts to squirm
Just like people

Even the birds have joined the race
flitting around at an awful pace
Flying hither and flying fro never
knowing where to go
Just like people

You know the trouble with them today
is they can't live their lives in a simple way
They always seem so in a stew
never knowing what to do
Just like people.

I know that they must feel the same
and are just as tired of playing the game
They would like to stop a while and rest
allowing time to feather their nest
Just like people

If we could get off this merry-go-round
and put our feet on the solid ground
And stop a minute just to view the sky
with its colors of every hue
We could be nice people

The world is full of trouble and woe
there's not much to live for as you know
But if we look at the grass so green
after the rain has washed it clean
We could be nice people

If we could live just like the flower
sparkling with color of a shower
Growing together with all kind of faces
we wouldn't have trouble with different races
We would be nice people

If we look at the beauty all around
the birds and the bees make a beautiful sound
The trees that are so full of leaves
We wouldn't have time for petty peeves...
We would be nice people.
- Pauline Carroll

Sunday, April 04, 2010


"I think these difficult times have helped me to understand better than before how infinitely rich and beautiful life is in every way and that so many things that one goes around worrying about are of no importance whatsoever."
- Isak Dinesen

Saturday, April 03, 2010


The flower that smiles today
                      Tomorrow dies;
All that we wish to stay,
                      Tempts and then flies.
What is this world's delight?
Lightning that mocks the night,
   Brief even as bright.

Virtue, how frail it is!    
                       Friendship how rare!
Love, how it sells poor bliss
                       For proud despair!
But we, though soon they fall,
Survive their joy and all
  Which ours we call.

Whilst skies are blue and bright,
                       Whilst flowers are gay,
Whilst eyes that change ere night
                        Make glad the day,
Whilst yet the calm hours creep,
Dream thou--and from thy sleep
  Then wake to weep.
 --Percy Bysshe Shelley

Friday, April 02, 2010


To what purpose, April, do you return again?
Beauty is not enough.
You can no longer quiet me with the redness
Of little leaves opening stickily.  
I know what I know.
The sun is hot on my neck as I observe
The spikes of the crocus.
The smell of the earth is good.
It is apparent that there is no death.
But what does that signify?
Not only underground are the brains of men
Eaten by maggots.
Life in itself
Is nothing,
An empty cup, a flight of uncarpeted stairs.
It is not enough that yearly, down this hill,
Comes like an idiot, babbling and strewing flowers.
- Edna St.Vincent Millay

Thursday, April 01, 2010

a silly season classic

"I am a wayward, willful, contrary gardener. I don't follow seed-packet directions."
- Barbara Dodge Borland

"Every year, back comes spring, with nasty little birds yapping their fool heads off and the ground all mucked up with plants."
- Dorothy Parker, 1893-1967, American author, poet, journalist, humorist

April Fools, need a smile? Try out this solid gold classic "Garden Humor" site. Back whenever- in the 90's, I enormously enjoyed "Dibble's" storytelling - whenever his next installment arrived in my e-mailbox...

Wednesday, March 31, 2010


"Now this sweet vision of my boyish hours
Free as spring clouds and wild as summer flowers
Is faded all - a hope that blossomed free
And hath been once no more shall ever be."
John Clare, from The Mores

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

quote for the first mild March day - a month late

"It is the first mild day of March:
Each minute sweeter than before,
The redbreast sings from the tall larch
That stands beside our door..."
- William Wordsworth

Monday, March 29, 2010


All Nature seems at work. Slugs have their lair -
The bees are stirring - birds are on the wing -
And Winter, slumbering in the open air,
Wears on his smiling face a dream of Spring!
- Samuel Taylor Coleridge

Sunday, March 28, 2010


"There is hope for herbalism and natural healing in the 20th century. Everywhere a revival of interest and a new spirit of inquiry are evident... The debt to plants as the original sources of valuable modern medicines is today more readily acknowledged... The current revival of interest in the values, properties, and uses of nature's products gives hope that thousands of years of accumulated knowledge will not be completely buried in the stampede so dubiously named progress."
- John Lust, The Herb Book

Saturday, March 27, 2010


From an old copy of the Gilded Herb (a Canadian magazine):
"Spring is the season of hope and emerging new green life. Its promise has served to cheer many a winter-weary Canadian - even in centuries past. Here is a quote from Catherine Parr Traill, a pioneer of the 1800's. Emigrating from England, she found a hard life awaiting her in the forests here, but left us with a written legacy of her thoughts. In April, 1888, from Peterborough, Ontario, she wrote a letter to her daughter, Annie Atwood. In it she notes that "the cold winds still prevail" and that she "longs for sunny mild days". Then she says:
"I long for air and pottering about the garden and the sight of green things is life to me."

Friday, March 26, 2010


"If you've never started seeds, don't worry too much about it. Remember, nature has designed them to want to grow. You and the garden seeds have exactly the same goal ... what could be more reassuring?"
- Ruth Page in Over The Hedge

Thursday, March 25, 2010


"Flowers sweeten the air,
rejoice the eye,
link you with nature
and innocence
and are something to love.

If they cannot
love you in return,
they cannot
utter hateful words
even if neglected; for
though they are all beauty
they possess no vanity; and
living as they do
to do you good
and afford you pleasure
how can you neglect them!"
- Leigh Hunt

Wednesday, March 24, 2010


"A man of knowledge like a rich soil feeds
if not a world of corn, a world of weeds."
- Benjamin Franklin

Tuesday, March 23, 2010


"But pleasure are like poppies spread,
You seize the flow'r, its bloom is shed;
Or like the snow falls in the river,
A moment white - then melts forever"
- Robert Burns, from Tam O'Shanter

Monday, March 22, 2010


"The wisest, happiest, of our kind are they
That ever walk content with Nature's way,
God's goodness - measuring bounty as it may"
- William Wordsworth

Sunday, March 21, 2010


"This is what you should do: love the earth and sun and the animals, despise riches, give alms to everyone that asks, stand up for the stupid and crazy, devote your income and labor to others, hate tyrants, argue not concerning God, have patience and indulgence towad the people, take off your hat to nothing known or unknown or to any man or number of men ... re-examine all you have been told at school or church or in any book, dismiss what insults your own soul, and your vey flesh shall be a great poem."
- Walt Whitman

Saturday, March 20, 2010


"I bequeath myself to the dirt to grow from the grass I love.
If you want me again, look for me under your bootsoles.
You will hardly know who I am or what I mean.
But I shall be good health to you nevertheless."
- Walt Whitman

Friday, March 19, 2010


"To laugh often and much,
To win the respect of intelligent people
And the affection of children,
To earn the appreciation of honest critics
And endure the betrayal of false friends,
To appreciate beauty, to find the best in others,
To leave the world a bit better,
Whether by a healthy child,
A garden patch, or a redeemed social condition,
To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived.
This is to have succeeded."
- Ralph Waldo Emerson

Thursday, March 18, 2010

early crocuses

"We must learn to look on plants not as mere points of color, but as old friends on whose coming we can rely; and who, returning with the recurring seasons, bring back with them pleasant memories of past years."
Henry Bright

The Tommies are blooming.

More Signs of Spring:
Tim, across the street, starting his riding mower.  Ahem, every time I go out the door.

Meijers parking lot - the appearance of huge mounds of plastic bound mulch and bales of soil.

All the cr@p people have thrown from their cars (who raised them?) over the past 4 or 5 months is not yet hidden by new weed growth.

I stepped on my first slug of the year this morning.

And, the Tommies are blooming!

"My house is the one with the cloud over it"

I ran across that line when I was Googling "skunk spray vinyl siding cleaning"...

Yes, a few days ago MY backyard was blessed by the presence of a dying skunk.
When I woke up Monday, there was the faint scent of skunk migration in the air, a familiar Sign of Spring.
But when I came home from my walk, and walked up the driveway, I sensed something was awry.
The "Cloud".

I went through the house to the patio, and stood there, wondering why the acrid smell wasn't dissipating; it was seeming to get worse every minute...
Because there, next to the south facing, sun-warmed house wall, was a dying skunk. Poor animal.

We often get groggy wild animals coming up to the protected, gravel lined southern el of the house in the early spring - opossums, skunks, feral cats. Our adopted feral cat PeeWee used to nurse her baby, Little Cat, there on a clump of Opuntia pads. But this skunk came to die in a warm untroubled spot. Poor animal.

I felt bad for him, in my better self I'd try to honor his slow death ... but the smell was infiltrating the house. I had to do something. I needed a Death Panel. So I called a local humane trapper - $85 to set the trap (which the skunk would have to rise from his deathbed to enter) and $50 to haul away. Remember I told you my budget is squeaking?

I called County Animal Control. No dice - they pick up pets only. But the nice public servant advised, after I mentioned the R word (Rabies, not Retard!), that in some communities the P.D. will send out a cop to shoot nuisance wild animals.
Great idea!

Grand Blanc Township Police sent out a policewoman within 10 minutes or so. Pretty impressive response time for a non-crime call. (Kudos to the GBPD!) In dismaying contrast, when my 2 year old granddaughter's bedroom door was being kicked in by a robber, it took Flint Police 3 hours to respond to the 911 call.

Of course, when all was said and done, the death panel decided we should wait until second shift before proceeding. The coppette told me the skunk probably didn't have rabies because it wasn't foaming and making the right noises. But to keep the cats indoors. And the angle of the coup de grace shot by her service revolver was too close to the house - siding, footing, perhaps the sewer pipe? could be compromised.
How did the situation resolve?
Herb came home. He took care of it.
A Day in The Life.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010


"Nobody sees a flower, really - it is so small - we haven't time, and to see takes time, like to have a friend takes time."
- Georgia O'Keefe

Tuesday, March 16, 2010


"The flowers of late winter and early spring occupy places in our hearts well out of proportion to their size."
- Gertrude S. Wister

Monday, March 15, 2010


At this time of year I begin to think Winter will never end. My need to dig and plant is almost an overwhelming anxiety... but rest assured, it won't be long before the joyful color of early spring flowers, the living scent of the earth after a gentle rain, the peace of an evening walk in the herb garden will become reality!
There is something about memory of springs past that tugs at the heart, and sprouts anticipation for the magic of another season! The yearly renewed celebration of life.

Rose Hip - Ginger Cordial

This ought to be a fun, tasty and efficacious herbal cordial.

In response to an opening question by Linda Conroy on "how do people use rose hips", the following recipe was posted on Facebook by Heather Nic An Fhleisdeir, who makes a low alcohol tincture of rosehips and fresh gingerroot. She wrote this on Feb. 26:
 "(Fill) a jar one third the way full of dried deseeded rosehips, pouring just enough hot water over them to reconstitute and let cool. Fill with 40% alcohol (I like scotch whisky) and let steep three weeks. It has a nice body to it and since it is low in alcohol it extracts a nice amount of the nutrients. I like to mix it with my fresh ginger tincture, mmm"

Linda Conroy had posted: "Rose hips, fresh harvested from the wild contain between 1500-2500 grams of Vitamin C per 100 grams of weight. This is 47 times more than an orange. which contains around 53 mgs of Vitamin C per 100 grams of weight."
Of course it is easier to eat an orange... but rose hips are local, free, wildcrafted or cultivated food (uncontaminated with pesticides), and when you pick and process your own roses' hips, you become a personal part of the process of nourishing life.

I wrote: (I make) "Rose hip jam, but I always wonder if I'm destroying the Vit C by cooking? It does taste good, though."
Linda responded: "I do believe that some of the vitmain C is lost in each step of processing. The ultimate way to prepare roseship for optimal vitamin C is to prepare them fresh and not heating or drying them. This is why I like to steep them in honey or vinegar when they are fresh. But there are other nutrients that roseships offer when cooked, such as carotenes. (And since carotenes are fat soluable, roseship pie or cheese cake as mentioned above is ideal!)

Next year - rose hip honey, for sure!

Well, with all of that fresh knowledge, I decided to tincture some of my dried rose hips and in three week I'll add them to some ginger root honey I made.
Here is my method:
My Version Rose hip and Ginger root Cordial
March 11, 2010

1/2 cup dehydrated rose hips
1/2 cup hot, not boiling water
Cover rose hips with water, allow to cool. Then add:
1/2 cup Jack Daniels (43 percent Alc. by vol.= 86 proof)
Cover and allow to tincture for 3 weeks in a cupboard, shaking the bottle every day.
At the end of 3 weeks,stir in ginger honey, made by infusing 1/2 cup honey and peeled sliced gingerroot.
I'm not sure if I'll bother straining out the healthful solids to get a clear cordial - I'll try to keep this updated. However, rest assured, the rose hips and ginger won't go to waste.

Sunday, March 14, 2010


"the highest reward for a man's toil is not what he gets for it, but what he becomes by it."
- John Howard

New post at GCHS blog

March sunshine

Not The Sun per se, but look down,
the Winter Aconite are blooming today.

Saturday, March 13, 2010


"... and no man but feels more of a man in the world if he can have a bit of ground that he can call his own. However small it is on the surface, it is four thousand miles deep, and that is a very handsome property. There is great pleasure in working the soil apart of ownership of it. The man who has planted a garden feels that he has done something for the good of the world. He belongs to the producers."
- Charles Dudley Warner

Friday, March 12, 2010


"If it is the greatest and highest that you seek, the plant can direct you. Strive to become through your will what, without will, it is."
- Goethe

Reporting on Mom Nature

March came in like a lamb this year. Every day since March 1 has been lovely.
It especially seems like Spring is awakening because of the "simultaneous contrast" of the extreme winter of February!
(I just had to use that expression I picked up on Wednesday at the Flint Institute of Arts "movies at noon". This week talked about the later Impressionists and their struggle to eliminate line, and an exploration of color mapping, but that's another blog.)

Finally, saw a robin on Thursday. I've been outdoors every day since March 1st looking, waiting. Ever since that sighting, which is not really rare seeing as how there are "rogue robins" now who overwinter in Michigan, but for me it was my first robin of the spring - ever since that sighting, the bird chorus is singing whenever I open the door.

In the backyard Snowdrops are blooming. The honey bees are interested - amazing that there is enough to life in the world to bring the bees out, before the crocuses have even broken the surface of the soil. The pussy willows have broken bud - but barely, there is no pollen going on yet.

Yesterday I found honey bees entering a hole at the bottom of my compost bucket.

There was an (unusual for us) east wind blowing yesterday - and was it warm! Besides the honey bees, it brought life to the streets: teenagers- walking, hangin' out, skateboarding, pumping the bass and driving with the windows down - signs of spring.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

alternative view

"If you cannot work with love, but only with distaste, it is better that you should leave your work and sit at the gate of the temple and take alms of those who work with joy."
- Kahlil Gibran
I always wonder what this photo would have looked like with a good camera?

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Time wasted

"It is the time you have wasted for your roses that makes your rose so important."
- Antoine de Saint-Exupery, from The Little Prince

Tuesday, March 09, 2010


"It would never occur to most gardeners to write a poem or paint a picture. Most gardens are the only artistic efforts their owners ever make."
- Hugh Johnson

program quotes

"A little garden,
all one's own,
is a real Eden.
Earth posesses no greater charm."

Monday, March 08, 2010


"If, going to someplace, we had first to settle how to put the front foot down, we should never get there. If the painter had to plan out every brushmark before he made his first, he would not paint at all. Follow your principles and keep straight on; you will come to the right place, that is the way."
- Meister Eckhart

link to GCHS blog

For those interested in the Genesee County Herb Society, I posted some memorabilia over at the GCHS blog (link) yesterday.

Sunday, March 07, 2010


"We sleep, but the loom of life never stops; and the pattern which was weaving when the sun went down is weaving when it comes up tomorrow."
- Henry Ward Beecher


This from the program from our 1996 Herb Symposium:

Lessons in Flowers
Flowers are one of the few non-controversial things in life.
But they are certainly great teachers. They nourish our sensibilities, quicken our wonder over Nature's magnificence and variety.
They prove to us, above all, that there is a power that defies mortal impatience, rebuffs willfulness, induces serenity in a world that is largely aimless bedlam.
The best way to realize this, of course, is to grow them as well as buy them.
Even the posture required is healthily humbling, for most of a gardener's work is done upon his knees; hoping with love and reverence that what he does will be approved by the Master who rules the sun, the earth and air.
If he has faithfully followed His law, the result will be something human lives should resemble: a transitory and fragile existence under the compulsion of time, but leaving an unforgettable perfume, color and form to its successors.

Saturday, March 06, 2010

What is an herb?

"For generations the herb garden has provided rich and poor alike with food, medicine, fragrance, and flowers and foliage to make life even more beautiful.

"With all their diversity, herbs are not easy to define. If you look up the definition of herb in 'Webster's Dictionary, herbs are defined as herbaceous plants with soft stems, and do not develop woody stems. Herb gardeners do not take this definition literally, or they would not be growing woody plants like rosemary, lavender, sage, thyme, even roses, or trees like black birch or ginkgo.

"A more encompassing and widely accepted definition of an herb is a plant whose roots, stems, leaves, flowers, fruits, seeds, or seed pods are valued for their medicinal, savory, and aromatic quality. But there is ambiguity here as well. What about vegetables? They are used for their flavor and healthful benefits. What about plants without a practical use, but are valued for their historical or sentimental significance? Does this not include most of the plants that are grown? We find that we could spend a large amount of our time enjoying this wide, wide variety of herbs. One can find a new plant and new use for that plant nearly every day."
- From Grand Oak Herb Farm flyer
Written by one of the Hargroves (Beulah?)

Friday, March 05, 2010


"A great number of people get depressed during the winter time. Everything looks barren, fresh herbs and produce are scarce, and it seems the sun just doesn't shine very much. However, if we look closely you can see the beauty, the simplicity of what is left in the garden. The tree branches and plant structure create intricate forms that we do not see at any other time of year.

"Just because the trees lose their leaves doesn't mean we can't enjoy watching the birds that alight there. Seeds from the herb plants, now dormant, provide food for the birds. We can now truly reflect on, "for everything there is a season."

"Winter also gives us the luxury of time to use the bounty of our gardens in a creative way. The holidays provide a perfect opportunity to share our passion for herbs and gardening with friends and family. Dried harvests provide us material for many special projects. Twigs from thyme and lavender make a sturdy frame for a basket or wreath. One can package or bottle a special blend of herbs guaranteed to delight the gourmet cook in your crowd. Winter holds a special charm, we just need to look for it."
- From Grand Oak Herb Farm flyer

Thursday, March 04, 2010


"I play for Seasons; not Eternities!"
said Nature, laughing on her way. "So must
All those whose stake is nothing more than dust!"
And lo, she wins...
- George Meredith

Freeing up some time

Let's just call it that. No, I won't be at the Michigan Herb Associates annual spring conference at MSU next week, nor at my favorite herbalist's herb walks, nor at the Master Gardener conference, nor participating in the organic CSA we supported for three years, nor taking that painting class. My budget is squeaking.

Getting rid of the junk, responsibly

We recently had an old, heavy, big computer monitor die. Those are the ones with all that lead shielding, as well as the other poisonous heavy metals and plastics that were used in those gi-normous monitors. I read somewhere years ago that a monitor like that would have approximately eight pounds of lead in it. Instead of putting out to the trash collection where it could end up in the landfill, we took it to CBC recycling in Flint on Saginaw Street. They charge $5.00 but if you can wait until the spring county-wide recycling day it would be free. I understand Goodwill will also recycle these things, responsibly.

Speaking of recycling heavy old appliances, if you are a Consumers Energy customer in Michigan, and you have an old refrigerator or freezer to dispose of, call Consumers (or go online) and they will pick up the said appliance for responsible recycling ... and they will give you a $30.00 incentive! It's a program from the EPA called RAD (Responsible Appliance Disposal).

Wednesday, March 03, 2010


"The tree which moves some to tears of joy
is in the eyes of others only a green thing
that stands in the way.
As a man is, so he sees."
- William Blake

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

my artist, K, 4 years old

Can you see me in this portrait? Head, hair, ears, eyes, mouth, body (with shirt), legs, feet and at the last moment, arms.
And the script at the left reads: "Grama, I love you."
My heart melts.


(... shared by a FBF) Wealthy is a venue in Grand Rapids, MI, that's been getting some good "folk" press recently.

UPDATE: Coincidence? I just got the spring calendar from The Ark (in Ann Arbor @ see that May Erlewine and Samuel Seth Bernard will be playing there on Thursday, May 20 at 8 p.m. Good to get your tickets early.


'The snow lies on the ground, patchily, not with a good warm covering, but like a tattered shawl that lets in the cold. I know just where to look for the newcomers in the borders when spring calls them out."
- Helen Ashe Hayes

Monday, March 01, 2010

quote March storms

"The stormy March is come at last
With wind, and cloud and changing skies;
I hear the rushing of the blast
That through the snowy valley flies."
- William Cullen Bryant

Sunday, February 28, 2010


"From December to March, there are for many of us three gardens -
the garden outdoors,
the garden of pots and bowls in the house,
and the garden of the mind's eye."
- Katherine S. White

guide for worm ranch dudes and dudettes

I was just Googling around and ran across this informative, handy, colorful brochure about vermiculture offered online by Metro Vancouver. Good for handouts if you are spreading the word...

Saturday, February 27, 2010


The other day I was following a Google trail to learn of a timeless African folktale concerning a wise and tricky spider which is very similar to the trickster wisdom stories in several other ancient cultures in diverse parts of the world, and I ran across this sentence you may enjoy.
The traditional Ashanti way of beginning tales is so: "We do not really mean, we do not really mean that what we are about to say is true. A story, a story; let it come, let it go" and traditionally we finish thus: "This is my story which I have related. If it be sweet, or if it be not sweet, take some elsewhere, and let some come back to me."



"Time is an herb that cures all disease."
- Benjamin Franklin

Spoken as if "herbs" were commonly accepted as a medicine in Ben's era, which they were.

NOTE for those who may have been wondering, especially after all of those made up quotations about freedom and so on that were exposed as fraudulent during the last election cycle... about whether I've sourced all of these quotes in a properly scholarly manner. Sadly, no. I just run across neat thoughts everywhere, and like a crow that pecks up shiny objects, I take them home to my nest. If they shine for you, use them at your own risk.

Friday, February 26, 2010

What is an herb?

"If you can cook with it; garnish a salad with it; soothe a burn or scratch with it; make a tea from it; soak in the tub with it; perfume your sheets with it; kill a bug with it; make a potpourri, sachet, wreath, or something else good smelling with it; weave, dye, or spin something with it; scour pots or wash with it; worm your pet with it; formulate oils and lotions to beautify your body with it; cast a spell with it; or make abig mess involving a glue gun, wheat stalks and raffia with it --- it's an herb."
- Rob Proctor and David Macke, from Herbs in the Garden

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Outlier resistance. after a conversation with Sharron

How are you on the intellectual property debate? When is some piece of knowledge - a dead author's work long after his immediate heirs have died, a folktale from Africa passed down through American slavery and copyrighted by Disney, even the genetic code for a fruit fly or a staple crop or a human - private and not shareable? Something to think deep thoughts about.
I love my conversations with Sharron.
We were discussing this the other day.

Sooo, I'm having an internal debate as I write...

I do want to share this (following) haiku with you, even though Tina threatens to bounce off her Yahoo Group anyone, no exceptions, who copies and publishes anything posted in the group. The group and its participants are a reservoir of good herbal conversation that ferments into a wonderful, independently published magazine, devoted to herbs, called The Essential Herbal.
If you Google The Essential Herbal you will be directed to Tina's website and blog.
Anyway, I'm hoping she takes this as a compliment - and an ad, a recommendation, pointing out to you that you really should subscribe to the Yahoo group (go to Yahoo, get an account, and search for The Essential Herbal) and subscribe to receive the magazine.
I'm expecting my copy to land in my mailbox any day now, can't wait!
So, here's the haiku that got me thinking about all of this, written by the other half of the sister team, Maryanne. I think it is lovely.

Pristinely, softly,
the snow covers the earth.
The world seems to sleep.

Cotton covered trees.
I live inside a snow globe,
silent and peaceful.

We learn patience now.
Slowing down and snuggling up.
Love it while it lasts.

Soon enough we'll see
the world awaken to green.
All unfurls with Spring.



"The ordinary world is already enchanted. The enchanted world is not a fantasy or a hope for the future; it is real, and it is now. What keeps us from seeing the enchanted world - really, now - is the Dead World story we tell ourselves and each other. We soak up this story unconsciously as we grow up. It comes from a narrow, poverty-stricken vision that our world is made only of lifeless matter. This story was invented over the past few centuries in the name of science."
- Jeremy W. Hayward, from Letters to Vanessa

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

an internet classic for catalog addicted gardeners

I first read this website ten years ago when it was on members dot tripod... If you like reading plant catalogs, have fun... then go read the link at the bottom of the page - Plant Delights, for a really good catalog.


"Technology is, of course, a two-edged sword; it can be the means of understanding the wholeness of man and nature or of destroying it."
- Eugene Odum, from Fundamentals of Ecology

Tuesday, February 23, 2010


"Nature cannot be ordered about, except by obeying her."
- Sir Francis Bacon

Monday, February 22, 2010


"The sun, with all of those planets revolving around it and dependent upon it,can still ripen bunch of grapes as if it had nothing else in the universe to do."
- Galileo

Sunday, February 21, 2010


"How can those who do not garden, who have no lot in the great fraternity of those who watch the changing year as it affects the earth and its growth, how can they keep warm their hearts in winter?"
- Francis King

Saturday, February 20, 2010


"Progress is simply the price we have to pay if we are determined to continue losing our sanity."
- Ben Maudlin

Friday, February 19, 2010

Some useful advice to counterbalance all of my whining

Since I mentioned having taught a class on green cleaning in that entry about having lost my cement Buddha attachment, it's probably a good time to show one of the best cleaning tips I came up with in all of the time that I spent researching the subject. Oven cleaning - the recipe is at the end of the post.

I offered the class along with three other herbally inspired classes through our local community education program and got very little response. Although maybe in the time that's passed since then, people have become more receptive to the idea of cleaning with nature, instead of killing nature in order to meet a Madison Avenue generated perception of cleanliness. And I also presented the class to the GCHS Spring Herb Symposium a couple of years ago as well, as well as a shortened version presented as an herb study to the GCHS during the following year where it was well received.

But it wasn't just something I did as an challenge for my volunteer commitment to educating the my small circle of the world about practical living with the useful plants known as herbs. I first got into green cleaning when I cleaned house for a friend who was an Executive's wife while she went out and got a real job. Her standards were like something you'd see in Architecture Digest... her favorite magazine, and since her kids were the light of her life, she wanted to go as natural as possible.

We used to walk together in the mornings, and discuss the way the world was being poisoned... NO, let me write that in the active voice... we used to discuss the way we are involuntarily being sold into poisoning our world. And so when the job presented itself, for a year I cleaned a beautiful house with completely green cleansers. And did she buy anything particularly expensive and rare to use as cleaning agents? No. I used white vinegar, Bon Ami, soap, baking soda, borax, and Barkeeper's Friend.

Anyway, background done, let me tell you about cleaning your oven. About 10 or so years ago I bought one of those so called self cleaning ovens, but the first time I used it, I had to leave the house. There is something in that coating, combined with the high temperature, that just affected me horribly.

The next time a pan of lasagna boiled over I tried the green method, and it worked like a charm. Here it is:
Green Oven Cleaning
1. Try to catch the spill as soon after it happens as possible. Scoop it up with a spatula.
2. While the oven is still hot, sprinkle the mess with a good amount of baking soda, or a mixture of equal parts baking soda and borax.
3. In a spray bottle, combine water and a small amount of liquid soap (maybe 1/4 cup soap per 2 or three cups of water)- I recommend using Dr. Bronner's peppermint soap. Use this spray to spray the baking soda.

4. Allow it to work overnight. The next morning you can just about wipe the burned, oily, or sticky mess away with a dish rag. No harsh chemicals like the aerosol foamy stuff we used to gag on in the old days. No invisible gaseous vapor to wonder about breathing. you can use this method in the winter when the windows need to stay closed. And if you use peppermint soap, it even smells nice when you're done.

Thursday, February 18, 2010


"If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need."
- Cicero

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

watch what you say about, Ahem, social media

Oh, Bubbie, within an hour of posting that entry about not "sharing" on FB, my monitor went out. Co-inky-dink? Woooo... ain't life funny?

I'm now posting from my new laptop ... waiting for my IT guy to bring me a new monitor (he just got a new shipment, by chance) ... and I still haven't figured out how to get into my main mailbox, being an old lady with few technical skills.
But it does give me an opening to talk about website and blog "comments". I read plenty of other blogs, but must admit I rarely leave comments. I'd have to go from the RSS reader to the blog, then write the secret word as it appears to get past the spam filter, and then think of something original to say. Too much volunteer work and you may know how I feel about that.

I do appreciate comments, so I guess it makes me a bit hypocritical. And as much as I appreciate your comments, replying is even more work, so I usually either decide I need to check out a new link or something I've bookmarked, or I get up and let the cat out ... but please, don't feel I haven't read the comments... I really do like the feeling that someone out there is reading.

Someone, anyone, except those gosh durn persistent "Anonymous-es". Here's the low down: if you send a comment as "Anonymous" your message goes right into my spam file. But I still end up sifting through the replica watch, Viagra, and broken English hacker practice entries, just to find your missive. I encourage you to leave a name, even if a pseudonym, if it's not too much trouble.

ordinary perception needs some polishing now and then

This quote is for an acquaintance of the ignorant sort who commented that I must be a Buddhist (after a conversation about a disturbing forwarded email concerning Mr. Obama and reforming the health insurance system that I debunked with Snopes), because I talk about loving the earth, and being (OMG! shockingly!) green. Like when I taught that class on green cleaning. (Sheeeeesh) I didn't know whether to be insulted or flattered. I sometimes am completely flummoxed by the way Right Wing Christians treat other mortals. I can't imagine a Buddhist presuming in such a manner.

"In the Buddhist tradition, mandalas are objects of meditation with a specific purpose: to transform our ordinary perception of the world into a pure perception of the buddha nature which permeates all phenomena."
- from Mandala: The Architecture of Enlightenment

I was once "attached" to the cement Buddha in that photo above. I'd found him on a rare outing to some nursery in the middle of nowhere - he was sitting in an old yard full of abandoned cement yard ornaments, half hidden in long grass and weeds and the place just happened to be open as we were driving past. Something made me ask to stop, and Herb actually did, for once. It was karma, or kismet, whatever they call that, when you find something you should have.
My middle son, who never wants anything, and is the very hardest person to find a gift for, actually pointed it out on a visit home, and I gave it to him when he graduated. I don't even know if he bothered to take it to Massachusetts with him. And he sent me a cute "Cat Buddha" one Christmas, but that is an indoor prop.
I now have a cement Foo Dog that guards my door, but the attachment is missing. Was that the point?


"Anticipation is one of the joys of gardening and if you look you can find signs of each season long before the calendar confirm it."
- Nancy Goodwin

Tuesday, February 16, 2010


"Therefore all seasons shall be sweet to thee
Whether the summer clothe the general earth
With greenness, or the redbreast sit and sing
Betwixt the tufts of snow on the bare branch."
- Frost at Midnight by S.T. Coleridge

my FB work-around

Did you ever read something really good, say from the Organic Consumer's Association website, and hit the "Share on FB" button, then wait forever for FB to tell you there was a problem? That never happens with the middle of the road corporate sites, does it. Just askin'.
For example, here is a nice explanation of why several years ago I quit answering questions for the Master Gardener hotline and help desk. After a lot of wrangling with my conscience I simply could not go on ethically recommending products that I feel may be injurious to the "seventh generation".
But this morning, when I tried to "share" this Monsatan bashing OGA link on FB... ::crickets::

So, from the same list serve I wrote about previously, here is the very link (note how old this research is!) that FB couldn't or wouldn't "share":
More discussion from the list-serve:
"Here is documented biological hazard:
this link has numerous reference links. Health Hazards abound:
For a combo look check out
The USDA is considering a proposal to de regulate Glyphospate (Roundup)Tolerant Alfalfa.
The public comment period ends today.

(And FB isn't the social networking site that is owned by Rupert "FAUX News" Murdoch! I'd expect censorship over there!)