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Monday, April 30, 2012

Come Tiptoe Through the Wine-cups with Me!

Caterpillar on Indian Paint Brush,
Spring Creek,
Thank you, Mr. C for holding that flower up for
the photo!
Good morning, All!  My, my, my, we have been busier than long-tailed cats in a rocking chair factory!  Now that Farmer's Market has started, there are products to be made, herbs to be gathered, we are still planting stuff,  and all the critters are always needing some kind of attention.  Here lately, we have been living on Nachos and Wild Greens Salad, there just has not been time to cook!  And to top it all off, I have started teaching herb classes on the farm.  Yikes!  But, honestly, I love every busy minute!


We did take off a day last week to go to the Spring Creek Park Preserve at Garland.  Wow!  The wildflowers were pretty much in full glory!  Blooms and Butterflies everywhere!  If you have never been, I would suggest  finding some time to make the trip.  It was really easy to find.  If you live east of Garland, you will take I-30 West to the President George Bush Turnpike (toll road), then you will exit toward N Garland/Holford Rd., then turn left on Holford Rd...turn left....then turn right.....you have arrived at the Preserve!




These are some of the beauties that Mr. C, Cousin Sandra, her daughter-in-law, Jackie and I saw!







Wine-cup

Wine-Cup Callirhoe involucrata


Wine-Cup, which is also known as Poppy Mallow, is pollinated mainly by bees seeking nectar and pollen.  To the Lakota this plant is known as pezhuta nantiaziliz, meaning "smoke treatment medicine"-the smoke from a dried, smoldering root was inhaled for relief from a head cold.  The Osage and other tribes prepared the sweet, starchy root in various ways as a food source.  Wildflowers of Texas by G. Ajilvsgi
Primrose
There were 2 types of Primrose blooming.
This is Missouri Primrose, I believe.

Missouri Primrose Oenothera macrocarpa


The Evening Primrose is prized by herbalists for it's medicinal qualities, but I could not find any information about the Missouri Primrose being either medicinal or edible.  If anyone has a reliable source that states that Missouri Primrose is medicinal or edible, I would love to check it out!  The sphinx moth relies on the Missouri primrose as an important food source.  The moth, in turn pollinates the flowers on the one night they bloom.  The flowers also attract hummingbirds who use the early morning  or late afternoon blossoms as a source of nectar.  Butterflies and bees also flock to the blooms.  Does not appeal to deer. (this info is from gardenguides.com)
I believe the purple flower is
Mealy Sage Salvia farinacea
Mealy Sage Salvia farinacea


This is another plant that I have not been able to find any information on whether it is edible or the medicinal qualities.  If you know something I don't let me know!  But, for now use this plant as a beautiful ornamental.  We have this growing in one of our gardens.  Looks especially beautiful in an arrangement with Artemisia.





Skullcap Scutellaria


From L to R....
Skullcap, Sensitive Brier and not sure what
the little yellow flowers are......
Beautiful and quite prolific.  Skullcap was traditionally used in the treatment of a wide range of nervous conditions including epilepsy, insomnia, anxiety, delirium tremens, withdrawal from barbiturates and tranquilizers and neuralgia.  And infusion of the plant has been used to promote suppressed menstruation, it should not be given to pregnant women since it can induce miscarriage.  This plant should be used with caution since in excess it causes giddiness, stupor, confusion and twitching.
Okay, this is where we get into some iffy territory with the medicinal herbs.  There are over 350 species of Skullcap and they all are used in different ways.  So, remember to research your plants thoroughly before using them and/or buy them from a reputable source!

Sensitive Brier......Other common names for this plant include CATCLAW, in reference to the prickly characteristic of the plant, and SHAME-BOY, referring to the sensitive foliage that closes when touched.  The fruit of the sensitive brier is a long, slender, rounded pod densely covered with prickles; it is attractive when used in dried arrangements. Wildflowers of Texas by G. Ajilvsgi

We have a fun herb class coming up in May!  Learn how to make your own herbal insect repellents!  You can call....903-866-3606 or email me for more information....stdragonfly@yahoo.com.  Or see the post titled Lady Lavender and A Beastie Be Gone Class.


My friend, Ann, is a Master Naturalist that lives out at Holly Lake, Texas...you might want to check out her blog.  http://thejardinencantado.blogspot.com/    

Well, a lovely garden club is coming for a visit tomorrow morning!  Need to get busy and get them some herbal tea made so it can be chilling and make a few snacks.  Until next week, herbally yours, Susan


"Women are vain.  They think they look better in hats--if they have any sense."
94 year old Louisa Hagood


What a lovely hat pin!
And I do agree with Ms. Hagood!
I tend to be vain and I love
wearing my hat!

Monday, April 23, 2012

Lady Lavender and a Beastie Be Gone Class!

Madame Flamingo invites Lady Lavender for Tea Time.
Can you guess what flower will be in the herbal tea?
Good morning, All!  Cousin Sandra is finally home from Austin, and as always, she loaded up the Santa Fe with baby plants and not so baby trees (more like pre-adolescent trees).  We finally have all in the ground except for a few that will have to go in pots in the shade garden.


Wanted to share with you a little about the April herb class The Wild Side of Herbs.  We (me, my wonderful group of students and Chi) had a great time walking through the yard, garden and wild area identifying edible and medicinal "weedies".  There was a whole range of students from those who had never eaten the weedy plants to budding herbalists actually enrolled in herbal education programs.


This is part of the Saturday class
talking about Dewberry.  There is
a young plant growing there and
we talked about harvesting leaves
to use for tea.
Chi
Herb Dog!
Chi was very helpful, every time we would point out and talk about an edible plant, she would proceed to eat it.  Thank you, Chi.  Oh, and she totally enjoyed sharing her vast collection of sticks (to be thrown, of course!) with the students.  She obviously makes it quite clear that even though she is a Border Collie she is an Herb dog not a Herd dog.

A gorgeous field of Lavender,
can you imagine how mind blowing this
would smell!
photo by travelvista.com
Lavender
Lavendula

This week, well, actually tomorrow (Tuesday) I will be giving a little talk about weeds at a local garden club.  And the ladies really wanted me to talk about Lavender, as well.  So, let us see what we can find out about this lovely plant.  In a nutshell or lavender bud......

Lavender Essential Oil
This EO is a must for any home
herbal first aid kit!
photo from nodosh.blogspot.com
The English word lavender is thought to have come from the Old French word, lavandre, to wash or the Latin lavare (to wash).  I guess the Old French and Romans made an infusion for their baths.  

Lavender is in the mint family Lamiacaea and there are 39 species.  The native range extends from the Canary Islands and Madeira, North and East Africa, Southern Europe, the Mediterranean, Arabia and India

The plant is commercially grown for the production of essential oil.  Lavender EO is antiseptic (agent used to remove pus, blood, etc.) and anti-inflammatory (controlling inflammation, a reaction to injury or infection).  Only the buds contain the essential oil of lavender.

During WW1 the EO was used in hospitals to disinfect floors and walls.

Lavender oil heals acne.  Mix Lavender EO in a 1:10 dilution with water, rosewater, or witch hazel.  In other words, 1 tsp. of EO mixed into 10 tsps of the liquid carrier.

Lavender is not used in traditional southern French cooking but in the 70's the herb blend herbes de  Provence (which usually includes lavender) was invented by spice wholesalers, so lavender has become more popular in cooking.  The buds are sometimes paired with sheep's or goat's milk cheeses.

In the US, we make lavender syrup and use the dried buds to make lavender scones and marshmallows.
Lavender Wands
They are so beautiful!
Photo from chappellhillllavender.com
Marshmallows?  Interesting.




Lavender is and has been used as an insect repellent.  I had a friend that loved to make Lavender wands for her friends to hang in their closets.  





Here is a website on how to make lavender wands...www.gardengatemagazine.com/extras/62lvenderwant.php

Lavender is a must in dream pillows, aiding with sleep and relaxation.  You can even make an infusion of the lovely flower heads to drink before bedtime.  Infuse about 1 tsp. dried buds or 3 tsps fresh buds in one cup boiling water for about 5-10 minutes.  Add some Lavender infused honey.  Ahhh, heavenly!

Lavender Cookies
Sure wish I had these made!
Photo from allrecipes.com
Easy Lavender Cookies!


Buy yourself one of those great Sugar Cookie mixes.  There are even some gluten-free ones on the market!


You will be following the directions on the package, but to the dry ingredients add 1 Tbls Lavender flowers.  I would roll the flowers in the palm of my hand to break them up a bit.  I have found that I always need a little extra liquid.  Maybe 2 extra teaspoonful.  Bake according to directions.  Sprinkle lavender sugar on top or make a little glaze and if you have fresh lavender, stick a flower on each glazed cookie!  There, easy and delicious!


Lavender sugar?  No, I don't think you will find that at the local grocery store....well, if you live in the big city, you might, but not out here in the country!  Lavender sugar is so easy to make!  This is what you will need......


2 Cups (castor) sugar....I use regular old white sugar
1 Tablespoon, food grade dried lavender buds, you could use fresh lavender flowers if you have plenty in your garden.           Increase to 3 Tablespoons if using fresh flowers.


Now grind dried buds to a fine powder in the food processor or coffee grinder dedicated to herbs.  You will have to chop the fresh buds by hand.


Place sugar and lavender into a pretty, clean jar.  Label (always label!  This is the voice of experience talking to you!  Always label!)  Put in a dark cabinet for a couple weeks.  Add your beautiful, fragrant sugar to tea or sprinkle on top of your lavender cookies!

May Herb Class announcement!

Natural Insect Repellents

 Wednesday           Saturday
May 16, 2012           May 19, 2012
2-4 pm...................$30.00 per person

You can create you own insect repellents without the harmful chemicals that are found in commercial repellents!

  • Learn natural ways to get rid of fleas and repel mosquitoes.
  • Explore fresh and dried herbs that are good at getting rid of the little beasties.
  • Make your own custom insect repellents.
  • Learn herbal ways to ease the stinging and itching.
Please call or email for information or reservations.
Susan
903-866-3606                                                                                stdragonfly@yahoo.com

You might like to bring a camera, bug spray, notebook/pen and a walking stick!  We have Elderberry jelly and syrup, granola, fresh eggs, chicks, candied ginger, herbal teas and medicinals for sale.

Okay time to get to work!  Have to get ready for the herb talk tomorrow and don't forget Winnsboro, Texas Farmers Market, now every Saturday morning until October!  Get there early for the best produce!  Until next week.....I hope you can keep those little biting beasties away from your tender skin!  Herbally, Susan

Anyone who thinks that they are too small to make a difference has never tried to fall asleep with a mosquito in the room!
Christie Todd Whitman

Larkspur in April
Hopkins County, Texas


Monday, April 16, 2012

Earth Day, Sunday, April 22, 2012

Earth Day
Sunday
April 22, 2012
Good morning, All!  Just wanted to share a few thoughts with you this morning on Earth Day.  I feel about Earth Day as Ray Stannard Baker felt about Christmas
Day.  See post entitled To All In Texas and Beyond, Merry Chirstmas, Ya'll.

With Mr. Stannard's blessing (I hope) this is how I would rewrite his quote to express my feelings about Earth Day.

I sometimes think we expect too much of Earth Day.  We try to crowd into it a whole years worth of loving Mother Earth and the plants and creatures that dwell on her.  As for me and mine, we like to take Earth Day a little at a time, all through the year.  And thus I walk my prairie and woodland path into the Spring, let it overtake me unexpectedly, waking up some fine morning and suddenly saying to myself:


Spider Lily
Hymenocallis liriosme
Why this and everyday is Earth Day!

The Native Plant Society of Texas, Winnsboro Chapter, will be meeting this Thursday!  We meet at 6:00 at Art & Espresso on Market Street in Winnsboro, Texas.  We would love for you to attend our meetings.  Feel free to bring your mystery plants, a field guide or two and a friend or loved one for a fun and fact filled hour about plants.  If you need more information, please call me at 903-866-3606.


Now come take a virtual walk with me and let's see what has been blooming around here this April.




Yarrow
Achillea millefolium


Yarrow is one of my favorite plants.  She is so versatile and beautiful in her own wild way.  You will see Yarrow blooming now along roadsides and in pastures.  From a distance it will look a little like Queen Anne's Lace.  The Yarrow leaves are feathery like a fern and the flower of the Queen Anne's Lace are claret-colored or pale pink before they open, then bright white and rounded when in full flower.


Milfoil (Yarrow) makes an excellent plant for the yard and is extensively cultivated.  A tea from the leaves is said to be good for fever and restful sleep.  Many other medicines are made from all parts of this plant, including a blood coagulant and a local anesthetic.  Wildflowers of Texas, G. Ajilvsgi

Showy Primrose or Pink Evening Primrose
Oenothera specios
The Pink Evening Primrose is not the Primrose so prized by herbalist for it's medicinal qualities.  But, this plant has taken up Spring residence in my garden.  So, I have been using her to make some oil and tincture.  If you come across this plant, gently pick a flower and do like any kid would do!  Hold it against your nose for a face full of butter colored pollen!

Pink Evening Primrose is anti-microbial (assists the body in resisting and destroying microbes), anti-inflammatory (reduces the redness, heat and swelling of inflammation when used internally or externally), anti-ulcer (herbs used to treat ulcers in the stomach and upper part of the small intestine), anti-pyretic (reduces fever), and analgesic (relieving pain, taken internally or applied externally).

The greens of this plant are edible but best used before flowering.

Prairie Spiderwort
Tradescantia occidentalis

Prairie Spiderwort is blooming in all sorts of colors this year.  I have seen violet to a dark purplish blue and have even seen a white one.  They are growing along the roadways now.  The leaves and flowers of this plant are edible, they can be eaten raw or boiled.  The root is poisonous!  Contains saponin so please avoid the root.  The Dakota Indians used this plant as a love charm while singing.  Information from Wildflowers of Texas, G. Ajilvsgi



Enough for today.  Time to get to work!  Remember, let everyday be Earth Day for you and yours.  Simple acts such as planting wildflowers, heck, even not mowing them down until they have seeded, helps the Earth
Salvia greggii
Autumn sage, Cherry sage,
Gregg salvia
Photo by Dana Michael
tremendously.  The bees will love you!  How about planting something the bees love like Salvia or Sage?  Now, Salvia will take over your garden, so be mindful where you plant her.  She is a great plant to share so if she gets a little unruly, just pull her up and put her in a pot and give her to someone that loves bees, butterflies and hummers!

Oh, and remember!
The Winnsboro Farmers Market opens this Saturday!  Visit the new website:  www.winnsborofarmersmarket.com.  The website is beautiful!

This month's herb class The Wild Side of Herbs will be Wednesday and Saturday of this week!  Let me know if you are interested in joining us for an afternoon herb walk, discussion and some simple herbal medicine making!  You can email or call me.  Susan....stdragonfly@yahoo.com or 903-866-3606.

As always, Herbally yours, Susan

We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children.
Native American proverb








Monday, April 9, 2012

Have You Heard the News!

Have You Heard the News!
Eggs really are good for you!
Good evening, All!  There are some exciting events and classes coming up this month!

Eggsceptional Day!
Saturday, April 14, 2012
Tinney Chapel Family Life Center
449 CR 4620
Winnsboro, TX

Peter H. Langsjoen, M.D., F.A.C.C. will be  at Tinney Chapel Family Life Center.  Dr. Langsjoen will be speaking on the saturated fat and cholesterol fraud.  Find out from an expert the truth about magnificent eggs and why you can eat them.

At this event there will be speakers, vendors and a lunch for prepaid guests with Dr. Langsjoen.

I was able to attend this event last year.  Learned a lot and was happy to visit all the great vendors.  This year StarDragonfly Herbals will have a booth!  Hope to see you there and yes, I will be selling eggs from our Happy Free Range Chickens!
For more information, please call 903-629-3034.

I have been having a great time preparing for the April herb class.  There will be some useful information on the bounty of goodness that grows around us, some recipes, a herb walk and a chance to make some good medicine!


The Wild Side of Herbs
April 18 or April 21, 2012
2-4 pm
$25.00 per person

Herbs are all around us, whether we live in the country or the city.  They are called weeds!  They are nutritious, full of good medicine, and very easy to find!

Please call or email for information or reservations

903-866-3606         stdragonfly@yahoo.com

Cut Leaf Evening Primrose is in bloom now!

Native Plant Society of Texas
Winnsboro Chapter

Thursday April 19, 2012
6:00 pm at Art & Espresso, Winnsboro, TX

Bring a couple of those mystery plants, a field guide if you have one or two, and join us for a fun and fact filled hour!  All you need to attend is a love of native plants.  Have questions?

Call or email me........903-866-3606 or stdragonfly@yahoo.com.

Chef Debbie and some great Farmer's Market patrons and vendors!

The Winnsboro Farmers Market
Opening Day!!!!
Saturday, April 21, 2012
8-Noon

Folks, the Market is going to be great this year!  Come on out and visit the vendors, the chefs, the 4-H kids, and musicians!  Stop by StarDragonfly Herbals table and say Hi!  I will be so excited to see all my friends again!

Now these events are just whats go'in on in April!  I will tell you about May in a couple weeks.  I do know that there is a Mother/Daughter Tea Party coming up, and a new herb class that will be about Natural Insect Repellents.  My goodness have you seen the size of the mosquitoes lately!  They look like sparrows.  But, then again, everything is bigger in Texas!  Herbally yours, Susan

As long as there's a few farmers out there, we'll keep fighting for them.
Willie Nelson
On the Road again!

Monday, April 2, 2012

Here Comes Peter Cottontail, Hoppin Down the Bunny Trail!

Can you see Chi's fangs?
This is the Head of Ranch Security look when
Mom makes Chi pose for photos.
Now, imagine that look with bunny ears.
Not pretty.
Good Morning, Yes! Hippity Hoppin, Easter's on its way!  


I found an article on Herbs of Easter:  History and Traditions, written by Jackie Hardin.  I am not sure if Jackie wrote for Rodale's Illustrated Encyclopedia of Herbs, 1987 Rodale Press, or if this was an article she/he wrote using the Rodale book as a source.  Anyway, all that said, I think the article is interesting and in a bit I would like to share it with you!


Okay, I am proud of the our Irises and want to share a few more photos with you.  But, first a story.  When we were living in Round Rock, TX, Cousin Sandra bought a whole bunch of beautiful Irises from a catalog.  That was great, and after a fashion we got them planted.  In the Spring of 2008, (I think that was the year), Cousin Sandra discovered the Northeast part of Texas, bought a farm, and we prepared to move.  Part of this preparation for moving......was....I got it into my head that there was no way we were going anywhere without those Irises.   

(Ya'll, I admit, I do these things to myself, I have no one else to blame!)  So, by this time its June, 104 degrees, and there I be, in a fire ant infested garden, digging up Iris bulbs.  Okay, that is not the worst of this story......we moved to our present location on July 4.......when we left Round Rock the temp was 107 and when we got here the temp was 104.  Thank God, for the cooler weather!  But, this all meant that in the heat of summer, we had to dig up the present Iris bed, amend it with compost, all the while fighting sand, fire ants and mosquitoes!  So now the story has come to an end.  And every year the Irises get more spectacular.  Would you do it again, you ask?  Sure, like I said earlier, I get myself into these situations (such as gardening in 104 degree heat), so why should I quit now!


There are a few
others that bloomed this morning but I will save them for next week.


Herbs of Easter:  History and Traditions
The herbs of Easter include chervil, tansy, hyssop, vervain, rosemary, rest harrow, and mistletoe.  Some of these herbs I have heard of and some are new to me.  So let's see what we have here........


Chervil
herbcompanion.com



Chervil, along with tansy and vervain symbolize the Resurrection.  Chervil is the symbol of the return of life and is a traditional ingredient in Holy Thursday soup.  

Chervil is a hardy annual that often self seeds over winter.





Tansy
4-control.com




Tansy, derived from the Greek word anhanasia, meaning immortal, was used from Ancient times up until the American Revolution as a meat preservative.  Representing everlasting life, tansy was used to rejuvenate the body after a long winter of salted meat and fish.  Later it was used to purify the body after fasting for Lent.  Tansy is a perennial small shrub that can be invasive if left unchecked.





Hyssop
whitesagelanding.net
Hyssop is mentioned throughout the Bible.  In John 19:29, we read,



"There was set a vessel full of vinegar, so they put a sponge full of vinegar
upon hyssop and put it to his mouth."  

Many experts think the hyssop mentioned in the bible was not the herb we know today, but one of the marjoram's.  The controversy continues.  Hyssop is a perennial small shrub.  It may be started from seed, cuttings or division.





Vervain
ontariowildflower.com





Vervain is an ancient herb, sacred to the Druids, Egyptians and Romans.  The Latin name is taken from the words, "sacred bough".  Vervain is one of the herbs of the crucifixion, used to staunch the wounds of Christ. The herb grows easily from seed.

Vervain is a Texas wildflower.  Vervain grows in all Zones.


Madame Flamingo and the Rosemary.
This Rosemary looks a little stressed but
it is greening up.
 I just want you to
know that as your fearless (Ha!) blogger and
photographer, I was attacked by a foot long
garden snake while in process of getting this photo.
Okay, folks, it might as well been a copperhead,
and yes, I screamed like a girl.







Rosemary is such a beloved plant among herb lovers there are many herbal legends associated with the herb.  Helen Noyles Webster wrote in her 1939 book, "Herbs", that rosemary recalls the presence in the garden, a memory in the Garden of Gethsemane with the quiet solitude of old olive trees under which rosemary grew and blossomed.  Legend tells that rosemary grows to six feet in thirty three years, then dies in tribute to Christ.






Rest Harrow
Ononis spinsoa
O.arvensis
naturephoto-cz.com





Rest Harrow, Ononis spinosa or O.arvensis, is said to been used to make the crown of thorns at the crucifixion.  Sometimes, called wild licorice or cammock, this vetch's natural habitat is Europe, including Great Britain.  The flower is sweet pea like in appearance, but the plant has rough, woody leaves and thorns.  Rest Harrow was well known in Ancient Greece where it was used to cure delirium.  The wild herb was believed to have such strong powers it was said if placed upon a stone, the stone would dissolve. 
Mistletoe
en.wikipedia.org



While we consider mistletoe a Christmas plant, in Brittany it is known as herbede la cross.  It is believed to be the wood used to make the crucifix when mistletoe was once a tree.  For its offense the tree was degraded to a parasite, forever more clinging to another. Hmmmm, I thought that was the Dogwood Tree.

The Wild Side of Herbs

April 18, 2012 or April 21, 2012......2-4 pm
$25.00 per person
Please call 903-866-3606 or email stdragonfly@yahoo.com for more information!

Well, that is about it for today, folks.  I sure hope the Easter Bunny hops down your trail and leaves you a basket of goodies.  Well, if not actually a real basket of goodies, how about some good love and blessings!

Happy Easter from me and all the StarDragonfly Herbals Gang!