Saturday, November 29, 2008

It's all a blur....

I know, I know.....the yellow leaves of the last post have long dropped off and blown away and we are nearly dipping our frosty toes into December days. The last few weeks have been simply a blur of big activity around here. I have no other excuse other than to admit that my creative focus has been bound in production to fill holiday demand and scheduling out classes for all of 2009. I am thankful that I have big orders to fill and that demand for classes has grown. Oh so thankful.The sense of urgency that comes naturally with the changing seasons from fall to hunkered-down winter is layered with holiday cooking, days "off" in the middle of the week, unexpected visits and a break with the normal rhythm of my days. Wrapping up another year of classes collides with a jump in the truck and a weekend of driving to bring the wayward Iceman from the North for a quick week at home. All the while, mulling over important travel details with darling daughter as she prepares to maneuver through three airports to arrive on a sunny summer Australian beach a few days before Christmas. The blurry image above is my first published attempt with my new camera after attending the class to understand it's workings. I was practicing my action panning shot without a flash...a challenge even to those with more experience than I. Anyway, it does artfully depict the crazy scene around here, so I chose to post it. Fast, blurry and challenging !! Over the years, I have learned to adapt to the balance that is required with operating a home-centered business. It takes alot of juggling, compromise and multitasking skills. But sometimes it's just worth getting up in the dark hours before the rest of the world, to get things done, think uninterrupted thoughts and feel that tiny creative spark that comes with quiet rewarding work. It makes it that much easier to share an hour cuddled up with a kid who has a story to tell, a neighbor who needs a helping hand or to follow a cooking muse in the middle of the day. The days can be mighty long but the benefits and rewards are so worthwhile. It's the best of all worlds and I can never say I've led a boring, unfulfilled life.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Fall fun

I know a number of people on the Merry Blogsters live in the Northern States, and I don't MEAN to rub it in has been beautiful weather here in North Georgia (temperature high 50's, lower 60's). It was perfect weather to go out with my granddaughters and enjoy this fall weather. We have a beautiful maple tree that has just turned a golden yellow, and "blessed" us with a yard full of leaves. The girls and I went out to play in the leaves, and another one of their favorite things to do in the garden, "hunt for worms". If it makes everyone shivering from the cold feel any better, the forcast is for temperatures overnight in the low 30's with a possibility of snow flurries in the morning. Hope you enjoy our pictures!
Karen, Mackenzie, and Kendall

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Tea Swap

Its getting cold here and they call for snow. I am getting that tickly feeling in the back of my throat that warns of a cold coming on so I thought I'd have a cup of tea. We sometimes do swaps here at Essential Herbal and recently did a tea swap so I looked through the teas I had for an appropriate one. Oh, so many good ones to choose from. I settled on Debra's because I knew the echinacea, astragalus, rosehips as well as the other ingredients would do me well on a day like this. So I brewed my tea and settled in at my computer for more work. However, now, hours later, I can't feel that tickle in my throat any more.

Cindy Jones

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Do You Recycle?

Part of being green and sustainable is recycling and reusing. This is being made easier with a variety of websites dedicated to the cause. At Earth 911 you can look up information for your city on what can be recycled or disposed of and where. In fact, you can put in a specific item you need to get rid of such as used motor oil or electronics and then be directed to a location near you. It also carries news articles related to recycling.

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:

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:

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.

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

Pictures from the fair - Sonny and Andrea are engaged!

Today we were summoned to the renaissance faire. It was a simply gorgeous day.

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

Early Morning Aromas

This morning I woke to an odd smell. At first it smelled like burning plastic so I hurriedly threw on my robe and went to check the stove and breaker panel. Sometimes Gab will get up at night and cook something and it was possible she left a burner on. And Zack will even forget he was getting ready to cook something and leave the stove on. No fire alarms were going off, but I couldn't sleep without making sure anyway. Went downstairs, nothing. Checked every outlet and every plugged in electronic device and nothing was hot. So I went back to bed for a few more hours until the alarm would go off and wake me at 5:30. As I got back under the covers, it occurred to me that I had eaten a pasta dish heavy with garlic right before going to bed, so maybe it was just me smelling like that...but I sure hoped not.

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

Pictures Around the Garden

This is my favorite time of year; things are growing and the eating is good. The work load has slowed down some and there is more rain so it is not so hard to keep things alive. It gave me enough time to work on building a raised bed I will use next summer for herbs. I went through the garden to take some pictures to share.

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

A find on the trail...

We were just walking up the hill and a beam of the setting sun seemed to draw my attention to something that I could hardly believe was some type of caterpillar. It was wound around a branch in a fir tree.

Here's a picture of our "find":

I took a shot of it next to a lighter to show the size.

We think this is the front/head end.

And this is the hind end.

So, my DH identified our bizarre visitor as an Imperial Moth.

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!):

Imperial Moth
Eacles imperialis (Drury) (Saturniidae)

L.L. Hyche, Associate Professor
Department of Entomology & Plant Pathology
Auburn University

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 insect spends the winter as a pupa in the soil; adults emerge in spring. The adult is a large moth with wingspread of 100-150 mm. It is sulfur yellow, marked in varying degrees with lilac to purplish-brown bands and spots. Females lay large yellow eggs or in small groups on either surface of host leaves.

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

The imperial moth caterpillar is a solitary feeder. It may occur on any of the many host trees, and is usually encountered most commonly in late summer and fall. These large larvae individually can consume a lot of foliage, but are seldom present in sufficient numbers to cause serious damage. Large, colorful, and armed with horns and spines, the caterpillar may look fierce and dangerous; however, it is harmless and does not "sting" or stab man.

Friday, August 8, 2008

The Essential Herbal ~ Sept/Oct '08

The next issue is in the mail, and it is such a great fall issue! We have articles on various herb crafts - from making tinctures to harvest soaps, several great recipes, gardening information, book reviews, and enough projects and ideas to make us almost look forward to the waning sun. Take a look at the table of contents below! TABLE OF CONTENTS

Crossword Puzzle - A little botanical nomenclature.
Field Notes from the Editor
Suburban Herbie, Obsessive Gardening - Geri Burgert
Dia de los Muertos - Betsy May
List Article - Winter Preparations
Simple Tincture Making at Home - Sarah Campbell
Down on the Farm, Seed Saving - Michele Brown and Pat Stewart
Book Review Unlikely Lavender Queen - Cindy Jones
Colours of Autumn, Mrs. S.J. Head
Book Review, The Priestess of the Forest - Sarah Campbell
SouthRidge Treasures, Horseradish - Mary Ellen Wilcox
Tealight Tutorial - Abbie Sewell
The Soap Pot, Harvest Soap - Alicia Grosso
Louisiana Lagniappe, Mushroom & Eggplant Pie - Sarah Liberta
Never Enough Thyme, Sunchokes - Susanna Reppert
Rebooting Your Brain - Susan Evans
Stuffed Shirts - Sue-Ryn Burns
The Twisted Sisters Tour~4 Days, 3 Cities! - Tina Sams

Monday, August 4, 2008

Naked Lammas Ladies in Bloom!

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

Roses are Blooming

I love the first summer at a new place; everything that blooms is a surprise. I have several rose bushes blooming right now but unfortunately do not know what they are. Some are slightly aromatic and some are beautiful pink and red hues. I love the large bushes on the property line (see picture) that I never water. I spent today cutting flowers and buds to dry for later unknown crafts. Because I want to have very aromatic roses for distilling I also bought several new ones this year. They include a Kasinlik, Golden Celebration and Mr. Lincoln. I am using my chicken manure to fertilize these so that next summer they will reward me with enough blossoms to distill.
Cindy Jones

Friday, June 13, 2008

House progress!

Whew! So far this summer has been really really busy for me. My full-time job has been exceptionally hectic, plus we've been trying to get our house built. I'm sorry I haven't been posting regularly to my own blogs and this one. But I am so excited to finally see the walls of our house coming up! That's our daughter, Gabby in the kitchen window. The walls are 10' high on the ground floor. Since it's a small house, this will give it the feeling of being more spacious than it really is. Plus, it might help keep it cooler in the summer. Today they raised the interior walls and hoisted the trusses up for the loft bedroom floor. This weekend maybe we'll get the rest of the walls raised and next will come the roof. Gary and I have had a pretty good mind-picture of the house since the beginning, but the kids have had a harder time imagining what it will look like. Now that the walls are in place at least Gab is getting excited and more willing to help out. Garrison hasn't seen it yet, since he's on a summer trip to his grandparents house. But I'll be he'll be excited when he sees it, too. My oldest son, Zack, is on a road trip with his new trucking job, and I'm sure he'll be happy when he comes in, too.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Tina one, Weeds zero - for today.

We've had a couple of beautiful days here. Mild temperatures, low humidity, and a nice breeze. These were about the first really perfect days we've had for a while, with cool and wet being the typical forecast in May. So, like any self respecting gardener, I set about reclaiming the gardens. They aren't all under control, but it is a darned sight better than it was. There really should be some "before" pictures, but honestly that would have been to embarrassing. To begin, let's start out with my $1 wheel barrow that I found at the barn sale down the road last week. Don't ask me why (or even how) I've been working on all the different areas here without one. It was ridiculous. So that would explain why I swerved into the farm lane and tossed this baby into the back of the car. It reminds me so much of my first car. Looks like crap, but does a fine job. The fact that it's already been WELL broken in means that I won't have to feel bad about scratching it with a shovel, or leaving it out overnight when it might get a little rust.
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

The Great Horned Owl

We have seen this great horned owl on our property several times. Owls hold a special place in many cultures so I find its visits interesting although it is scary to look into the eyes of a great raptor. In some cultures there are associated with energy, wisdom, and bravery, but also foretellers of bad fortune. I am hoping that on our farm it is a good sign and will bring good energy for all of our endeavors; herbal and other.
Sagescript Institute

Saturday, May 10, 2008

A Mother's Day Tussie Mussie

A Mother's Day Tussie Mussie can show your Mom how you feel in the Victorian Language of Flowers. I Remember making one for my Mom several years ago. Although she is no longer alive I will walk my garden (and look in my dried collection) to see what plants I have to pay tribute to her on this Mothers Day.

Basil for the unconditional love she gave me and my siblings.
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.
Happy Mother's Day to all Moms.
Cindy Jones

Monday, May 5, 2008

Herbal Pest Control

Several years ago I bought 2 Don Juan climbing roses. I had avoided roses for years due to their need for much more attention than I was willing to give them. A regimen of spraying, fertilizing, pruning etc. The Don Juan roses were not as finicky, so I tried them out. The first year wasn't so bad, producing big, dark red roses which I trained on a post fence. The next year, by the end of April, beginning of May, the plants started dropping their leaves, leaving only the branches, which still produced a fair amount of flowers but looked terrible. I vowed to do better the next year, and sprayed in early march, fertilized but soon forgot about my promise to the roses. Same thing happened so that fall I cut them to the ground, and continued to do so the next year, not allowing them to grow very high throughout the summer. This year, I wanted to be able to use the roses in my bath and body products, so I didn't want to spray them. I looked at them a couple of weeks ago, and they were already covered with aphids, so I started looking for a "green" way to control the aphids.

According to an article in this months Organic Gardening Magazine attracting Lacewings to your garden will provide pest patrol for aphids. Each lacewing devours hundreds of the little pests causing damage to your plants. How to get those aphids to your garden? Plant catnip in your beds around plants where aphids lurk. Studies have shown, that the chemical in catnip mimics a pheromone emitted from the male lacewing to attract female lacewings. Other studies have also show that carrot family herbs suck as angelica, dill, and cilantro also attract lacewings. So be sure and add these herbs to your garden this year.


Thursday, April 24, 2008


The smells of spring....freshly mown grass, and newly turned earth. Every year, I can't wait to get started on new gardens. Ideas that have been turning over in my head, pages torn out of magazines, and baby plants just itching to get out of their pots, are all waiting until this weekend to get the new gardening season started. When we were small and put more food on our plates than we could ever eat, my mother would say our"eyes were bigger than our stomach". Well, this is usually what happens to me and my garden plans. But this year, I know my limits. I will need to start a new herb garden, but since I am not much of a cook, I am planting herbs that I can use to make teas, or my bath products. Lavender, lemon balm, calendula, comfrey, catnip, spearmint, peppermint, roses, and a few other herbs will go into the garden. Vegetables will only be enough we can eat, or give away. No zuchinni this year. I never got around to making that zuchinni bread and could not give it away. The green onions have already been planted, and are about ready to eat. The potatoes are poking their green leaves up, and will make great small red potatoes. Tomato plants will be planted, and I can already tastes those great fried green tomatoes. We are trying cantalopes this year, so I need to research the best way to grow those. I actually took the advice of some of those HGTV garden shows, and have planned out my gardens on paper. Hope everyone is anticipating a great gardening year, and looking forward to a great harvest.

Monday, April 14, 2008

First Walk in the Woods - April '08

I have been wanting to visit the woods for over a week now, but things kept getting in the way. Getting the May/June issue of The Essential Herbal mailed out was one of them, amidst an avalanche of others. Over the weekend when we were traveling to and fro, I noticed that marsh marigolds and something that *might* have been dutchman's breeches were catching my glance while we whipped along on the back roads.
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.
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.

Finally it was time to go back up towards the house. I had to pass Maryanne's (and stop in to finish wrapping an order of soap for delivery today...). Along the way, her driveway was ablaze with daffodils and tulips. I layed down on the warm macadam and looked closely at the different forms.

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!