Saturday, November 29, 2008
Friday, November 14, 2008
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
Thursday, November 6, 2008
We are probably all aware of thrift stores such as Salvation Army, ARC, and Goodwill as places to find a variety of used household items and clothing. Thrift stores have been around for along time and have provided me with many needed items at a discount price. These organizations are also been a valuable resource when cleaning out my closets and drawers and hopefully my children’s used clothing have benefitted others. I have been on several phone lists for thrift stores that call me about every 6 weeks to see if I have anything to pick up. Its convenient for me and provides an incentive to clean.
Restore is a store run by Habitat for Humanity and sells (as well as accepts) various household and building items for resell. I have bought many items there for the yard and office including fence posts, office chairs and room dividers. They usually have shelves and shelves of nails and screws as well as paint. Go here to see if there is one in your town: http://www.habitat.org/env/restores.aspx
The Freecycle Network was established to keep things out of the landfill and is an example of one person’s trash can be another person’s treasure. They have more than 4,000 local groups that are run as Yahoo Groups. If one person has something they no longer want and are willing to give it for free to someone else who needs it they can post it on their local Freecycle group for someone else to take. Go here to find a local group: http://www.freecycle.org/.
Craigs list is a site where anyone can post free classified ads. There are sites for over 500 cities. Many things on Craig’s list are free or at least inexpensive. I have used Craig’s list to find inexpensive yard tools and free firewood. www.craigslist.org.
I am posting these links and more when I find them on the right border of my website to make it easier to find them. Let me know if you know of any other useful ones.
Saturday, October 18, 2008
The immense straw man greeted us as we entered, in stark contrast to the queen growing by the side of the mansion. Heh heh... I have gardening gloves just like the queen's!
Our kids work there, and one of their best friends, Sonny, met his sweetheart there last year. Today he proposed to her on stage during the Queen's Court intro to the day. We were happy to go witness it. He did a fine job of it, too. Sonny approached the stage filled with confidence. We were all so happy when these two finally decided to stop the wild flirtation and finally date. They make a very sweet couple. They changed quickly and surely from 2 single people into a couple who are very much ready to make a life together.Andrea came forth, and Sonny gave her several dozen roses before dropping to one knee. He'd written what he wanted to say to her. I think the queen may have been in suspense, but how could any woman turn that down? Look at him! The ring was his grandmother's.And of course, she said yes. To my stunned surprise, I looked beside me to see my sister and daughter both in tears. I must be getting salty in my dodderage.
For the past 10+ years since we sold our shop at the faire, visits have been a quick walk around the grounds and out. It hasn't been fun for my sister and me. Today was different. There were some beautiful things to see, some old friends to visit - although it was crowded so there wasn't much time to visit. Below you'll see some of the things that caught my eye.
A Harvest Moon Table A Most Fine and Bountious Harvest Table
Our friend Fenris the potter is an artist in so many different mediums. These altars are his work and they are truly divine.
A corner, almost out of sight held this vision.
One of the celtic bands that took the stage today. These drummers were absolutely incredible and drove the crowd wild. The bag-piper held his own quite well too!
The kids - Rob, Sonny, and Molly. Now for some reason THIS picture might make me tear up. They are all grown now. Seeing them in our old stomping grounds, forging (heh heh - little pun, sorry) their own way is odd. They relate in completely different ways to the things that we used to tell them about. It's just ...odd.
The fountain in front of The Globe, dressed for Autumn.
Another, more primal, straw man.
Maryanne (normal) and the kids (who've been too long at the faire).
The grounds of the shire were decorated to welcome the harvest more beautifully than they ever even came close to during our days there. We were very saddened to see that the giant ginkgo tree at the top of the hill was gone. On days like this, we'd look up and see the brilliant blue autumn sky (forever named "Emil blue" for Don Juan's shirt our first year there, which matched the sky, and Don Juan was portrayed by a gorgeous young man named Emil). The clear, pure yellow of the ginkgo leaves would contrast so strikingly with the sky that it would take our breath away.
Still, it was just beautiful, clear, cool, and crisp as any Autumn day could be. Fare Thee Well...
Friday, October 17, 2008
The alarm went off and the smell was still there and I still had not placed what it could be. Got dressed, started my coffee, and opened the door to tell the dogs hello - whoa! There was the source of the smell! Badger had gotten skunked and as the odor wafted up to my bedroom it smelled less and less like skunk and more and more like burnt rubber. I remembered now that I've smelled that before, haha.
Tuesday, September 2, 2008
Comfrey that has already been cut back once for distilling.
Elderberries that are almost ready to harvest for syrup and for tincture.
Larkspur, most of which has gone to seed and safely saved for planting elsewhere next year.
Holy Basil which is growing quite slowly.
My new raised bed which is one out of three that will go in this same area. Next year it will be overflowing with herbs.
Sagescript Institute, llc
Thursday, August 28, 2008
Here's a picture of our "find":
From the Auburn University website (I deleted the pictures that were almost identical to the ones we took above - and we were right about which end was which!):
Eacles imperialis (Drury) (Saturniidae)
Department of Entomology & Plant Pathology
The imperial moth is distributed throughout the eastern United States west to Texas and Kansas. The caterpillar feeds on foliage of a variety of broadleaf and coniferous trees. Some common hosts are oaks, sweetgum, sycamore, elm, hickories, walnut, maple, basswood, honeylocust, pines, red cedar, and bald cypress. In Alabama, the caterpillar is found on both pines and hardwoods.
Life Cycle, Description, and Habits
The full-grown caterpillar is 75-100 mm long. It occurs in two color forms, green and brown. In the green form, the head is orange-yellow with vertical black or dark stripes on sides and front. The thoracic legs are yellow. The body is green and thinly clothed with long whitish hairs. The second and third thoracic segments each bear a pair of stubby, rough yellow horns, and rows of smaller yellow spines occur along the body to the rear. The last abdominal segment bears conspicuous yellow and black triangular plates. The spiracles along the sides are large, oval and pale yellow to cream in color. In the brown color form, the body, horns, and spines are tan to reddish brown. When fully grown, larvae leave foliage and pupate in the soil. Two broods may possibly occur each year in Alabama; however, the caterpillar is most commonly seen in August and September.
Occurrence, Damage, Importance
Friday, August 8, 2008
Monday, August 4, 2008
Scattered throughout my gardens are a gorgeous flower that my mother-in-law always called "Naked Ladies". They are a type of Nerine. The strap-like leaves come up in the spring, and die back completely by early summer. Then, at the first of August every year the flower stalks emerge from the ground like smooth green snakes, growing 6 inches a day, gradually opening to these beautiful lily-like pink flowers. Because they emerge at the first of August, I have taken to calling them "Naked Lammas Ladies". Green blessings, Sarah
Wednesday, June 25, 2008
Friday, June 13, 2008
Tuesday, June 3, 2008
The row of Grosso lavender is getting ready to bloom. You can see here the thousands of spikes starting to form. It's time to stock up on some ribbons for wands, and this year we'll have plenty to sell in bunches at market. Maybe enough to distill, too. Just a few short days ago it was hard to tell where the field ended and the row of lavender began. Is it just me? Or do all gardeners suffer anxiety attacks when their gardens are looking invaded? Just looking at that crisp row makes me feel so much better! The Bergarten Sage in the foreground is just barely blooming this year, spending all of her energy on putting out those lush leaves. That's fine with me. The leaves are the part we use anyway.
At the far end of the lavender row we have a lush Lemon Thyme, some Mountain Mint, and Tarragon. They form the corner of the berry patch (protected by the lattice panels). Inside are lots of blueberry plants and some very healthy elderberry bushes. The blueberries aren't doing anything except growing yet. Same with the elderberries. I'm hoping that the warmer temps and the mulch will give them a little shove in the direction of blossoms. If not, there's always next year. However, 2 of the blueberries that I had considered nibbled to death by the rabbits or groundhogs have decided to start growing again. That was a pleasant surprise. Those varmints chewed them off right down to the ground. An elderberry facing another direction is already in bloom, but the leaves are yellow - possibly too close to a white pine? This is her third year. Last year there was just one umbel. The frothy elder "blow" is such a pretty thing. It's hard to decide whether to harvest the flowers or wait for the berries (and fight the birds for them). The birds are incredible this year too! Yesterday I saw an Oriole, brilliant orange swooping over the pines. The Gold Finches are everywhere, and a hummingbird sipped at the chive blossoms. Bluebirds? Yeah, we've got 'em.
In the middle of the yard is a little oasis of Chamomile. Just last week I picked off every single bloom for the still, and you can see that didn't give them a moment's pause. They just put out more flowers. They need another picking, but we're talking hours here. It is no small feat to pluck that many flowers. It is akin to picking the violets for syrup, except that the violets snap away from stem more quickly. Chamomile requires a small pinch to keep the stemmage to a minimum. It's such a cheerful little spot. I love to sit in the grass next to the patch, and watch the sun go down over the flowers while picking.
Out by the front door is the Valerian. It is in full bloom now, and the scent is amazing. Off to the left is an old-fashioned, late-blooming lilac bush. The day the lilacs stopped perfuming the entrance, the Valerian went into bloom, giving us a non-stop, breath-taking welcome to the outdoors every time we step outside.
Soon we'll be greeted with Bog Sage and Bergamot, but nothing will again come close to the fragrance outside the door for the rest of the year. It's hard to believe after seeing all the seed pods (and picking those that were reachable), but so far the Moonflower hasn't shown up.
Every year is a surprise. It never fails. Even if nothing new comes up, there are always plants that were forgotten somehow, and as they show up it's a little gift to brighten my day.
For instance, out in the front garden there is a Munstead Lavender that is starting to bloom. Next to it is a smaller version that came up on its own last year. It has a couple of little spikes this year. This is the first time I've ever had a lavender mom and baby. That was one of those great surprises!
Tuesday, May 27, 2008
Saturday, May 10, 2008
Rosemary for remembering her and the lessons she taught me.
Sage for her endless wisdom and to represent my grief.
Scented geranium for our happy times together.
Lavender for her devotion to her family.
Thyme for her strength and courage in raising 8 children.
Monday, May 5, 2008
Thursday, April 24, 2008
Monday, April 14, 2008
So this morning after doing a few necessary things, I donned my hoodie and sneakers and grabbed the camera, past the pond with the mallards and frogs jumping at my approach, and headed into the woods.
It was WONDERFUL!!!
The area was rich with natives when my sister and her husband bought it, and since that time we've been adding a little here and there. In the spring, I feel like a mother checking on her sleeping babes. Sometimes I'll gently pull back some leaf cover to take a peek at what's going on underneath. This year that wasn't necessary, as things are getting into full gear without my nudgings (as they always would - I'm just to anxious to wait sometimes).
I was a little surprised to see the hepatica blooming all along the hillside across the stream. It took me about 30 seconds to get my feet wet and get the first splashes of mud up the back of my jeans. After all the rain we've had, another surprise was finding the stream shallow, but much wider. Last year I waited about a week too long and missed all but a few blossoms. The foliage is stunning too, but the flowers! Sigh....
Everywhere the jewelweed was starting to push up the first sets of leaves. It is easy to spot once you know it. The leaves are almost a blue-ish green, with a pale cast. In another couple of weeks there will be plenty for fresh soapmaking, but fortunately we stored plenty in the freezer so we'd have a good supply cured for the spring shows and wholesale orders.
The Mayapples are just starting to come up. The way they erupt from the ground is almost prehistoric to me. Little knobs pop up, and then get taller, finally opening up like an umbrella. If you look closely at the picture, you can see several stages of unfurling going on.
Next up was one of the trillium patches. Every year I try to add another plant or two in a different spot. This year I'd like to put them across the creek, where they would probably naturalize better. That bank hosts the most diverse plant life, so it probably would be a better (if more difficult to reach) home. These are my pet project. The clumps keep growing and it just fills my heart with joy to see them.
It would seem likely that sweet violets would be growing like crazy down there, but such is not the case. Only on the path where we walk do they grow. Not in large clumps, either... but single little plants glistening among the leaves from last fall. This year I did notice one area with a good colony. It just happens to be in the one area where we don't stick around long. There is a tree that has fallen against another, leaning precariously above the pathway for several years now. Right beneath that fall zone is a healthy group of violets, more than I've ever seen before. Made me smile to think that they are teasing me there.
The spotted, smooth foliage of the trout lily, or dog-toothed violet is everywhere, carpeting the entire woodland. Only 2 were blooming this morning. Each year the first to bloom are at the base of a particular tree, nestled in amongst the roots of the tree. I always know that if they are blooming, that will be the place to find them. Sure enough, there they were, blooming several days ahead of the rest. In another week, the forest will be alive with these glorious beauties.
Wonder of wonder, the dutchman's breeches came back again. It took me a while to find them, as a tree had fallen down the bank and obscured them from my view. But all of the clumps we put in two years ago have come back. Only one of them was blooming, and I am hoping that we were early. We're thinking of squeezing in a trip to Shenk's Ferry Wildflower Preserve later this week. They should be rampant there! Another week would probably be better, and we'd see more if we waited.
We put in two different varieties of wild ginger. The first is shiny, glossy, beautiful leathery leaves. This patch is several feet in diameter, and while the deer seem to enjoy munching on it, the plant doesn't appear to be any worse the wear. There were a few blooms under the leaves, but they are small and point towards the earth, making them difficult to see, much less photograph with a Kodak Easyshare.
The second variety has a little bit of fuzz to the leaf, and the tips of the leaves are more pointed. The stems are completely covered with this fuzz, and that will last all year long. This plant has the more classically shaped wild ginger blossoms. Although this one hasn't opened up completely, they are cup-shaped with pointed ends jutting out in four different directions. The color is scrumptious and unique. I adore them, and last year attempted to preserve one in resin. Not a great result, but I'm not giving up just yet.
Spring is the best. It makes winter worthwhile. It reminds us of everything good in the world and fills us with hope and renewal.
The first 10 or 15 walks in the woods each year are my favorite things to do all year. No matter how many times I see these things, each year it is like seeing old friends for the first time in a very long time. I have missed them tremendously!