Monday, May 30, 2011


Peonies are a very long lived and hardy perennial and always bloom in time for Memorial Day, thus they are often referred to as the Memorial Day Flower. The white peony and the deep double red peony with perhaps some red poppies and a perky blue bow would make a terrific red, white and blue bouquet that would definitely say 'Happy Memorial Day'!
Our peonies have been growing on the property since before we purchased it. They are very low maintenance. We like to tie a string around them before they begin blooming to make sure they don't flop onto the ground and very late in the fall, we will cut them back.Our peonies anchor the pathway through the edible flower garden. They are an edible flower themselves, however, it is a large mouthful of flower and host to many ants! Because it is such a large flower, we will toss them in with the salad greens. Be sure to remove the white part of the flower that is down at the bottom of the flower, as we find that part slightly bitter. A tossed salad with peony blossoms is sure to get the conversation going at the picnic!

Paeonia root was used years ago as a nerve tonic by our great grand-mommy Fister who had St Vitus' Dance, a brain disease which causes involuntary movement/palsy.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Thyme on her hands

Meet Christy, one of the busy "Rosemarians" at The Rosemary House. Christy is a Science Teacher, Wife to Pat, Mommy to James and Colleen, her college age twins and high schooler Shannon. She is an avid gardener, scrapbooker and reader. She can be found at The Rosemary House at least twice a week, filling orders, working behind the desk, restocking the shelves, watering and more. Here she is pictured with an early harvest of thyme leading us to think of the phrase "Time on her hands" --- a rarity here at The Rosemary House and Sweet Remembrances! Christy can be found at The Rosemary House today (Saturday) as Nancy and Susanna are at the Baltimore Herb Festival.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Daisy Fleabane

Daisy Fleabane, Erigeron strigosus is a native annual wildflower. It's name came from the early Colonists belief that it repelled insects. They would use it to stuff mattress pads in an effort to keep away the bugs. It has been shown that it does not have any flea repelling qualities. In fact, it attracts a number of bees and other insects. Often dismissed as weeds because they are so ubiquitous around the US, they are actually quite a cheerful plant. The many petals are frequently used to pluck for a fortune telling round of "He loves me, he loves me not".

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Natural Plant Dyes

Since the days of Joseph's Coat, herbs have been utilized to dye and transform woolens and linens into exciting colors. It is -- or was-- one of their most important economic uses. The harvest from our roadsides and waysides is abundant with plant material to experiment with this ancient craft.
Madder (bright red color, above) and Osage Orange (yellow color, below), Queen Anne's Lace (soft green color), black eyed Susanna's (moss green), Sumac (Confederate Grey), black walnut hulls (rich chocolate brown), sassafras bark (tan), onion skins (golden/orange) and dandelion roots (celery) are only a few of the natural plant dyes readily available for the gathering.

If you try dying with herbs, bear in mind at all times that it is not an exact science but rather an uncertain adventure. The results of each experiment will be affected by the amount of the plant material, how and where it is grown.
To Dye, use any untreated white wool or natural cloth. I suggest no less than one quarter pound and up to 1 pound of wool per dye bath. Tie the wool loosely in several places so it does not become entangled.

For best results for permanence and clarity of color you will need to mordant your wool. To do this, first simmer it in a bath of 1/3 C alum to four gallons of water, Always add the wool to cold water and raise the temperature simmering gradually, stirring gently on occasion. Alum is the safest, easiest and most readily available mordant with which to work. Other mordants are iron, tine, chrome and copper. Each mordant will yield a different color, some colors drastically different color in the dye bath. In the meantime prepare your dye bath by boiling your herb of choice, say the tops of a peck of goldenrod for two hours and strain. The mordanted wool is then simmered gently in the dye bath until the desired color is obtained. Different dye lots will yield considerable variation on the same color but the goldenrod should be a vibrant golden yellow hue. Rinse the wool until the color runs clear. Allow the dyed wool to dry thoroughly and rewind it to use for special projects.
Natural plant dyeing is a magical project that begins with gathering plants and ends with the creation of beautiful colors.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Pennsylvania Redware Pottery

Redware pottery was brought to Lancaster County, Pennsylvania by the Germans. This little heart shaped plate is a reproduction piece that I am thrilled to own because of all the colorful herbs on it. Another example from our collection, this plate is a more historical reproduction reflecting some of the traditional artistry. In the 18th and 19th Century redware pottery was made all over the Eastern US, every region had its own look. Pennsylvania's pottery is considered the most famous, prolific and artistic.

The samples of redware pottery (below) are from the Landis Valley Museum. Forms were thrown, slabbed, coiled and hand built. They used simple solid color glazes to multicolored. The simple red slab with the yellow, wavy slip lines (shown on the middle shelf of the cupboard) is also a very classic Pennsylvania pottery form.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Landis Valley Tavern Kitchen

At the recent Landis Valley Herb and Garden Festival, held at the Landis Valley Museum , this herbal vignette was spotted.In the foreground is a basket of hops ready to be brewed into ale. On the windowsill is a Rosemary plant ripe for snipping. There is also the fragrant and very lemony lemon verbena.
Today's meal was cooked on the cast iron dutch ovens in the fireplace. Pies, herb butters and more. A thick and hearty chicken vegetable noodle soup is being served up by Peg.Here, a ham and egg pie.

Resting after a day of chores.

Monday, May 23, 2011

German Four Square Gardens.

The Frankeberger Tavern,the oldest building in our little town, is owned and maintained by the Mechanicsburg Musuem Association . This tavern was in use during 1801-1810, a time when there was a dependency on herbs, greatly used for seasonings, preservatives, medicinals, for dyeing fabrics, as insecticides, teas and other beverages, as well as many other household tasks.
The little garden on the East side of the Frankeberger Tavern is intended to represent a typical Pennsylvania German Four Square Garden of the period.
Dating back to Medieval monasteries, such gardens (typically much larger) were a way of life for everyone, especially the innkeeper and traveler.
This Pennsylvania Redware plate shows the layout of a typical foursquare garden. Brought to this area by the Pennsylvania Germans, the gardens were traditionally four squares within a larger square, divided by two paths for easy access, well tended and planted for high yield. They were often planted in raised beds for better drainage and of course planted in full sun.
Another example of a raised garden bed, this bed of early spring greens can be found at the Tavern at the Landis Valley Museum.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Before and After

Last Friday we had a break in our very wet spring to get some gardening done. Throughout the gardening season, we are fortunate to have a willing crew of "Apprentice Gardeners" dedicate an evening to The Rosemary House gardens and help pull a few weeds. In return we offer surplus plants and seeds and an evening meal. It's a win-win for everyone involved.Eileen and Joyce found this pathway again.
While Ray trimmed our massive boxwood back into a heart. A very special thank you to all our gardeners~ from the bottom of our heart!

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Fairies of the Dark Realm

While we much prefer fairies of love and light, it is generally recognized that the fairy world is a parallel universe to ours. So while there are good mortals and bad mortals, fat mortals or skinny mortals, the world of the wee folk is similar. Ever read any C.S. Lewis? At the recent Spoutwood Farm Fairy Festival there was a section of Dark Realm Fairies for those brave enough to enter. Bones and black, fires burning too, I stepped in took a photo or two and dashed back out, quickly.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Fairy Sized Terrariums

Little Fairy furniture, tables, a garden trellis, gazing balls, and chairs plus tiny little plants, small glass containers with pebbles, charcoal and soil, add to that a tablespoon of water and you have: Adorable indoor fairy homes! Pathways, mossy patches, and sparkly glitter make it perfect! This one is a condo!Our clever friend Bubble Fairy (Patti Van Brederode) made all the fairy furniture and led the fun class.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Tea Cup Thursday, Wonders in Fairyland

Fairies flutter about around here and we never know where we might spot one... perhaps in the garden, or in the gift shop, even in the tea room. Since we've been sharing fairy things this week, our Tea Cup Thursday post will be in keeping with the theme.This little fairy tea cup is an original design by Helen Shook, dated "2001", noted to be #6, and labeled Butterfly Faerie, "A Special Cup of Tea". While this precious little fairy sits on the shelf, waiting to pour anyone that might desire a sweet sip of nectar. Perhaps she has an herbal tea in her little tea pot.

These petite teapots are a delight as they represent various flower fairies.
And this fairy tea pot was a fun find one day a few years ago.
Join Miss Spenser and others today to see what they might be sharing on Tea Cup Thursday.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Fairy Garden Creations

Last week was our Fairy Garden class, each participant young and old had fun creating a new fairy habitat. Gates, arbors, gazing pools, resting thyme patches, privacy areas, pathways and walkways were all included in the gardens. A variety of boxes and baskets were used and about 4 or 5 plants, all favorites of the wee folk were included. Of course lots of glitter, sparkles, found objects such as shiny pebbles, acorns, and sea shells were included. Everyone left with a terrific home, sure to attract the fairies!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Seeking Fairies?

Don't go looking for fairies.
They'll fly away if you do.
You can never see the fairies
Till they come looking for you.
~Eleanor Farjeon

Monday, May 16, 2011

Spoutwood Farm Fairy Festival

Every year we are the Herb Plant vendors at the large Spoutwood Farm Fairy Festival. This annual event celebrated its 20th year this year and attracts over 10,000 visitors. It has many of the sweet aspects of our little fairy festival like little girls and bubbles and the talented Posie Fairy, but this festival is definately an event for adults as well. Here are a few snapshots of the Fairies who wandered through our booth. Fun
and creativity abound!
Owners of Spoutwood Farm , Rob and Lucy Wood were crowned King and Queen of the May for this year. They look very regal indeed. Everyone comes to this event. Mermaids, Woodland fairies, and more. Always the first weekend in May it is a fantasy event to look forward to!