Tag Archives: heirloom

June in my Garden in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia


Flower Bed along the road 8Husband Dennis was out with his camera this morning and captured some lovely shots of the flower bed along the edge of the yard that borders the road. We’ve had some sumptuously gorgeous days lately with low humidity and blue skies that reach to heaven. This time of year it’s very hard to be in when the garden beckons, and bird calls float through the open windows.

To be overcome by the fragrance of flowers is a delectable form of defeat. ~Beverly Nichols

A morning-glory at my window satisfies me more than the metaphysics of books. ~Walt Whitman

How can one help shivering with delight when one’s hot fingers close around the stem of a live flower, cool from the shade and stiff with newborn vigor! ~Colette

Flower bed along road 6-16-2014

Flowers have an expression of countenance as much as men or animals. Some seem to smile; some have a sad expression; some are pensive and diffident; others again are plain, honest and upright, like the broad-faced sunflower and the hollyhock. ~Henry Ward Beecher, Star Papers: A Discourse of Flowers
Give me odorous at sunrise a garden of beautiful flowers where I can walk undisturbed. ~Walt Whitman

Flowers really do intoxicate me. ~Vita Sackville-West

Every flower is a soul blossoming in nature. ~Gerard de Nerval

I perhaps owe having become a painter to flowers. ~Claude Monet

larkspur and shirley poppies

A flower’s appeal is in its contradictions — so delicate in form yet strong in fragrance, so small in size yet big in beauty, so short in life yet long on effect. ~Terri Guillemets

Let us dance in the sun, wearing wild flowers in our hair… ~Susan Polis Shutz

The flower that follows the sun does so even in cloudy days. ~Robert Leighton

Flower bed along road 4

Image of: Roses, larkspur, Shirley poppies, calendula, asparagus, sage, lamb’s ears, lilies, hollyhocks, coral bells, California poppies, lavender, and numerous other herbs and flowers.

“Good apple pies are a considerable part of our domestic happiness.” ~ Jane Austen


Apple BlossomsWith a foot of snow on the ground and near zero temps, this seems an apt time for an excerpt from my new herbal, Plants For A Medieval Herb Garden in the British Isles. The kindle version is out now; daughter Elise is formatting the print book. Lots of images to fit in. And now–apples. Bet you didn’t know they belonged in an herbal.

The history and lore behind apples is fascinating. And we all know what Johnny Appleseed thought vital to plant in America. The thing that most struck me in reading about apples, is how the history of the apple is closely linked with the history of man. From the earliest times, wherever people went, the apple went, and is associated with peace and a gentler life. If folk settled down, built a cottage and planted apple trees, that spoke to domesticity and disinterest in warfare. Maybe more people should plant them today. I do. And then all hold hands and sing the Johnny Appleseed Blessing to help bring about world peace.

AppleBack to apples. These early cultivars weren’t the sweet fruit we know today, but much smaller and tarter. In the Middle Ages, most apples were made into cider. By Shakespeare’s day, the new varieties were referred to as ‘dessert apples’ and served accompanied by caraway. Apples were probably introduced into Britain by the Romans and have a long history of use there. In the Scottish Highlands, the crabapple tree is the badge of the Lamont clan.

(Image of Cox’s Orange Pippin, an old heirloom apple)

From A Modern Herbal: “The chief dietetic value of apples lies in the malic and tartaric acids. These acids are of benefit to persons of sedentary habits, who are liable to liver derangements, and they neutralize the acid products of gout and indigestion. (You don’t want a deranged liver).

A knight, his lady, and an appleApple cookery is very early English: Piers Ploughman mentions ‘all the povere peple’ who ‘baken apples broghte in his lappes’ and the ever popular apple pie was no less esteemed in Tudor times than it is today, only our ancestors had some predilections in the matter of seasonings that might not now appeal to all of us, for they put cinnamon and ginger in their pies and gave them a lavish colouring of saffron. The original  pomatum seems to date from the herbalist Gerard’s days (1545-1612), when an ointment for roughness of the skin was made from apple pulp, swine’s grease, and rosewater. The Apple will also act as an excellent dentifrice.”

(Image of a knight, his lady, and an apple)

flowering crabapple April 2011 246From The Family Herbal: “The juice is cooling, and is good externally used in eruptions on the skin, and in diseases of the eyes, where a sharp humour is troublesome.”

(Crab apple in our yard)

“Even if I knew that tomorrow the world would go to pieces, I would still plant my apple tree.” ~Martin Luther

My Answer to World Peace


This will come as no surprise to those of you who follow my blog, but I strongly feel and emphatically declare the world would be a far better place if everyone had a garden.  I’m convinced when people are growing things, they’re much less prone to destructive behavior.  Granted, violent extremists, serial killers and zombies seem beyond redemption, but the rest of humanity would gain immeasurably from a connection with the earth.  To cultivate a garden is to commune with the essence of life and the source of all creation.

“The best place to seek God is in a garden.  You can dig for him there. ” ~George Bernard Shaw

I urge planting herbs, vegetables, fruits and flowers in an outdoor plot–convert a patch of lawn if need be–or as part of a community garden. This is a particularly good idea because it brings together people of all ages, from the very young to the elderly, and provides wonderful learning opportunities for children while tapping into the storehouse of knowledge many older people have.   The interaction between those joined in the common purpose of producing food and beautifying their neighborhood helps cultivate the people along with the plants.

Above pic from the site How To Start A Community Garden.

Our church has a communal garden with small plots for those who ask for them.  Folks garden side by side, sharing trials and triumphs and learning together.  More churches could do this if they tilled up part of their yard and put in vegetable plots  instead of only grass.

Sacrilegious?  I don’t think so.

Back to the garden, think sustainable methods, like making compost, and practice organic gardening.   Encourage beneficial insects, butterflies, and song birds to make their home in your yard.  You’d be amazed how many you can attract just by planting a patch of sunflowers and zinnias.

Anything that rots and hasn’t been sprayed with herbicide or pesticide can be used as mulch, although it’s best to compost the material first.  Old hay or straw make good mulch without needing to break down before using.   Different parts of the country have various natural material that can be used.  Organic matter feeds the soil and encourage earthworms.   Remember, as I tell my children and now grandchildren, happy worms make happy dirt.  Worms are the gardener‘s friend.  Non-hybrid, heirloom seed can be saved for next year and shared with others, and old-time flowers can be divided and spread around.

If digging in the earth isn’t an option for you, try growing plants in pots on a patio, deck, rooftop, sunny windowsill, or under fluorescent lights.  These can be fairly inexpensive to set up.   I used to have a stand with long fluorescent lights suspended over it about 6-10 inches above the foliage.   Raise the lights as the plants grow.  You’ll need warm and cool fluorescent bulbs for good plant growth, but not the more costly ‘grow lights.’  Although they’re good too.

“No two gardens are the same.  No two days are the same in one garden.”  ~Hugh Johnson

A film I really enjoyed about how gardening can reform and transform prisoners is Greenfingers with Clive Owen.  The movie is based on a true story which makes it even better, and it’s a love story, another plus, and the fabulous Helen Mirren co-stars.  I also really like actor David Kelly.  He’s wonderful.  The gardens featured  are gorgeous and I never tire of looking at Clive.   This is a feel good movie.

“Green fingers are the extension of a verdant heart. ” ~Russell Page

****Royalty free images–except for the film cover