Friday, May 28, 2010

First Hummer Sighting!

I'm thrilled that the little lady doing fly-bys has finally landed at the feeder!! She wasn't there long enough for me to get a shot of her, but I found a beautiful picture of a lady just like her on by Jhonnywalk.
This is a picture of the beautiful feeder my mom gave me last year for my birthday... I just love it :) More importantly, the hummers love it too! :)

O My Harvest Time!

There are so many delicious things in our yards right now that I thought I would share what was filling our harvesting baskets Wednesday! And what were we doing with all these herbs you ask? Wendy and I were blending some wonderful fresh teas for our garden club social. We just had a blast! We took all of the fresh herbs with us and chopped them all up into a bunch of different teapots to make some fun different blends... and they were soooooo yummy! :)

Bee balm
Blackberry leaf
Chive stalks and flowers
Oregano (golden)
Peppermint (chocolate)
Raspberry leaf
Sage (garden)
St. John's Wort
Thyme (creeping)

If you'd like tips on their medicinal benefits, check each of them out at
I think there might have been more, but that's what I can recall right now!
Try your own fresh blend from your yard with whatever you have on hand!
Happy sampling!
Val :)

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Beautiful Blossoms

Julie over at Mutch To Stamp has us posting pics of our flowers. Here are a few of mine from last year!

Do you have garden pics too?

Friday, May 21, 2010

One of Nature's Miracles

Yesterday was recycling day and DH took the green bin up to the curb but not the plastics, paper, or cans. I got them all bundled up and out to the curb before I noticed this special surprise by the back door!

This is not the first luna moth to perch itself on the siding under one of the outdoor lights, but it is the first time I have been able to get really good pictures! It stuck around long enough to pose for its photo shoot and then it quietly flitted off into the sun.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Heathers Planted

After our garden club hosted a great presentation on Heaths and Heathers by Mr. Dawson in March, I stumbled across a huge display of gorgeous Erica Heathers at the grocery store (of all places!) They are early spring bloomers and are still holding their blooms after sitting in the pots for almost 8 weeks by the back door (poor things!).

They are finally in the ground and will be receiving some water again this afternoon! If you haven't considered Heathers before, check them out! They are very hearty, thrive in poor soil, provide long-lived color, and require very little maintenance.

Flowers as Medicine

I'm finally getting back to the herbs I suggested for trying in your herbal beverages. Let's start with the flowers. I thought I'd try to provide one well known medicinal use for each one, but as it turns out, each herb has so many uses that I couldn't choose just one!.


Linden - treatment of colds, cough, bronchitis, infectious diseases, and headache (particularly migraine); linden is diuretic (increases urine production), antispasmodic (reduces spasm), and sedative

Red clover - blood purifier, improves circulation, promotes the production of mucus, stimulates the secretion of bile, alleviates symptoms of menopause, slows down bone loss, encourages bone density, increases levels of good cholesterol

Calendula - The flavenoids present in the calendula flower and its inherent anti-inflammatory, astringent, antifungal, and antiseptic properties result in an ideal topical agent; poultices: bruises, impetigo, vericose veins, minor burns; ointments: chapped lips, bedsores, shingles; tea: gently promotes perspiration (good for fevers).

Chamomile - bitter properties make it a good aperitif to promote good digestion or a good after dinner tea to settle the stomach and reduce gas; commonly know for its gentle sedative qualities

If you would like more information any of these herbs and other ways of using them, please feel free to comment on this post.

Val :)

Friday, May 14, 2010

Seeds Planted

I thought I'd start posting what I put in the ground and when I put it there... a bit of a garden journal if you will. Perhaps this will help me keep track of what grows and what doesn't. I have back-dated this post to Friday, May 14 as that's when the seeds actually went in the ground.

Sown directly outdoors in the gardens at the top of the driveway:

Monday, May 10, 2010

The Basics of Making Herbal Beverages


For the purposes of this blog, the term "tea" will refer to hot or cold beverages created using the leaves and flowers of various herbs. These teas may or may not contain tea leaves (such as green tea leaves).

Let's keep it simple. Here is the most basic method for preparing herbal tea in a saucepan:

Dried Herbal Tea
1 teaspoon dried flowers/leaves (single herb or blend of herbs)
1 cup boiling water

Fresh Herbal Tea
1 tablespoon fresh flowers/leaves (single herb or blend of herbs)
1 cup boiling water

Always cover tea to keep in the herbal goodness.
Steep at least 10 minutes (or longer for stronger tea).
Strain and serve.


When preparing a herbal "tea" that contains seeds and roots, the decoction method is used. This method is slightly more aggressive in order extract the medicinal benefits of the seeds and roots - but it's still super simple!

The same proportions apply, but the method differs:

Dried Herbal Decoction
1 teaspoon dried seeds/roots (single herb or blend of herbs)
1 cup boiling water

Fresh Herbal Decoction
1 tablespoon fresh seeds/roots (single herb or blend of herbs)
1 cup boiling water

Always cover decoction to keep in the herbal goodness.
Bring to a boil and then simmer for at least 15 minutes.
Remove from heat, strain and serve.
Add any flowers/leaves and steep for 10 more minutes.
Strain and serve.


Here are just a few of my favorite herbs divided into their respective flower, leaf, seed or root categories. We'll talk about the medicinal benefits of them in my next post. For now, you can try them for flavor!

red clover

lemon balm



Happy sampling!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Tips For Gathering and Drying Herbs

These tips have been gathered from both herbal elders and personal experience. They outline optimal conditions for producing both an enriched gathering experience and high-quality herbs.


  • collect herbs on a dry clear day after the dew has lifted and before the sun has drained them of energy (i.e. earlier in the day is optimal)
  • paper bags are excellent for collecting herbs; they don't take up much room, they help absorb moisture and they are not air tight
  • gather herbs in areas away from pesticides, herbicides and other pollutants; avoid roadsides, train tracks and lawns treated with 'weed and feed' (or any other chemicals)
  • take your time; be respectful of nature and all of its creatures
  • harvest from the center of the plant colony instead of harvesting at the edge of a plant colony where it is trying to expand its territory
  • do not over-harvest an herb patch; be mindful of the size of an herb patch and the general availability of the herb
  • harvest only as much as you need for this year; dried herbs for medicinal use only have a one-year shelf life
  • in your own way, give thanks to the earth for the bounty of your harvest


  • dehydrate herbs in an airy dry spot out of the sun; be sure plant material is not clumped and has enough space to dry properly
  • dehydrators are excellent for drying heavier materials like flower buds and organic fruit peelings
  • be sure herbs are bone dry before storing them or they will develop mold and spoil


  • once herbs are bone dry, package them in airtight containers (like mason jars) and store them in a cool spot away from sunlight
  • be sure to label containers with the harvest date and location
  • herbs loose their vitality after one year so it is best to replace them each growing season


  • please feel free to post questions in the comments section and I will do my best to answer them