Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Herbs and Flowers For A Fairy Garden

Who doesn’t want to attract fairies to their garden? Of all the herbs associated with the little folk, the most important one is thyme, which I love. I’m forever planting more varieties of thyme. In Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Titania, the fairy queen, sleeps in a bed of wild thyme growing on a bank. Sure. Why not?

(Thyme in our garden)

Foxglove is also essential for a fairy garden. According to legend, fairies sleep in the bell-shaped flowers, and wear them as gloves. Which use they choose, probably depends upon the size of the fairy. Other common names for foxglove include fairy fingers, fairy thimbles, and fairy cap. However, I'm extremely challenged in growing foxglove in my farm garden(s). The plants soon figure out they're not in their native dappled woodlands. 


Another favorite herb is saffron, also known as the saffron crocus, which bloom in the fall. Fairies are said to be especially fond of this culinary herb/spice used for flavoring cakes and dyeing cloth. Other recommended plants are fragrant rosemary and roses. Roses are much loved by fairies for their beauty and divine scent, and by me. And I am never without rosemary. I bring these herbs indoors in pots in late fall. They’re not exuberant about life in my sunspace but generally survive to glory again in summer. Wood anemones are beautiful plants preferred by fairies because the flowers close at the onset of bad weather and at night and offer the tiny beings a safe spot to rest or wait out the bad weather. I have some anemones, also called windflowers. These beauties grace the spring garden.

(Rosemary, Geraniums, and Lavender in my garden)

Not to neglect bluebells, also beloved by fairies. These beautiful blue flowers that carpet woodlands in spring are also known as harebell, Scottish bellflower, and fairies thimble. It was, and maybe still is, widely believed that fairies live among the flowers. Another name for bluebells is Dead Man's bells because fairies were thought to cast spells on those foolish enough to pick or damage the delicate blossoms.

When meandering through drifts of bluebells, it’s wise to stick to the path, or you may stir up the wrath of fairies and release the spells trapped in the blooms. Never a good idea, and one that would be echoed by our resident fairy expert, my 12-year-old niece, Cailin, who warns never step into a circle of flowers or go anywhere without the fairies' permission, or they will get very upset. And you do not want an upset fairy, or fairies, on your hands. Particularly the furious wind fairies, but that’s another story.

(Virginia bluebells and narcissus in my garden) 

A dear author friend of mine who is quite knowledgeable about fairies says they love many kinds of herbs and flowers. She has spotted some tiny ones in photographs of my garden. I’ve read they are drawn to the same plants that attract butterflies and hummingbirds. Keep watch, you never know where they may be.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Geese Are Grazing In My Yard

Geese in front yard.jpg1
(Image from last summer but you get the idea)
Barnyard geese grow fussy and restless this time of year. The gaggle are in search of nesting sites and busy bringing about the goslings who will soon scuttle behind their parents. I read our variety of geese are called Pilgrim, because their coloring resembles the drab garb of those early folk to America's shores, not because they date back that far. I used to think they did. Duh on me. This American breed was developed in the early 1900's. They are termed friendly and called good parents by one site who sells the fuzzy goslings. I beg to differ. While it's true these are not 'attack geese' I must point out that they hate me and run fast and far, so I must sneak up in them to get pics or use a telephoto lens.
Gray Geese sitting on eggs
(Nesting Geese in the barn)
As for their parenting, I would add, 'When they remember.' They tend to misplace their offspring and forget where they put them. It's not unusual to discover a peeping gosling in great distress because it was left behind. I've retrieved and returned these babies more than once. But the adults lose a certain number every year. If they didn't, the gaggle would be far larger. They roam about the farm, my yard, and the meadow. While they love swimming on the pond--now empty as it will soon be dug out and deepened--they are content with puddles, the cow's watering trough, and ample grass. They also glean corn from grain the cows spill as they eat. We never feed the geese anything. They are free ranging. I've tried tossing grain their way to make friends with the 'Beth haters' but they just think I'm throwing stuff at them and run faster.
Geese and goslings
Sigh. I continue to try and befriend them but they are a ornery suspicious lot. Still, I'm fond of the cantankerous critters and protect them more than they know. So don't ask if you can buy some to eat, and people do. The answer is NO! I am their defender whether they like me or not.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Herbs and Romance for Valentine's Day

"There's a few things I've learned in life: always throw salt over your left shoulder, keep rosemary by your garden gate, plant lavender for good luck, and fall in love whenever you can." ~Alice Hoffman, Practical Magic

"My gardens sweet, enclosed with walles strong, embarked with benches to sytt and take my rest. The Knotts so enknotted, it cannot be exprest. With arbours and alys so pleasant and so dulce, the pestylant ayers with flavours to repulse." ~Thomas Cavendish, 1532.

 "Good morrow, good Yarrow, good morrow to thee. Send me this night my true love to see, The clothes that he'll wear, the colour of his hair. And if he'll wed me." ~Danaher, 1756


"There’s rosemary and rue. These keep Seeming and savor all the winter long. Grace and remembrance be to you."- William Shakespeare

Thyme Creeping Red
I know a bank where the wild thyme blows, Where oxlips and the nodding violet grows,
Quite over-canopied with luscious woodbine, With sweet musk-roses and with eglantine:
There sleeps Titania sometime of the night,  Lull'd in these flowers with dances and delight.
A Midsummer Night's Dream
dill with white aster and other herbs and flowers in our garden(Dill in our garden by Daughter Elise)
 When daisies pied and violets blue And lady-smocks all silver-white  And cuckoo-buds of yellow hue. Do paint the meadows with delight.
Love's Labours Lost

lavender 3
"And lavender, whose spikes of azure bloom shall be, ere-while, in arid bundles bound to lurk admist the labours of her loom, and crown her kerchiefs witl mickle rare perfume."
~William Shenstone The School Mistress 1742

herb garden
"Those herbs which perfume the air most delightfully,  not passed by as the rest, but, being trodden upon and crushed, are three;  that is, burnet, wild thyme and watermints. Therefore, you are to set whole alleys of them, to have the pleasure when you walk or tread." -  Frances Bacon 
"How could such sweet and wholesome hours Be reckoned but with herbs and flowers?" -  Andrew Marvel

Friday, February 10, 2017

Award-Winning Historical Romance Novel, Red Bird's Song--An Amazon Best Seller

Award-winning historical romance novel
Award-winning historical romance novel
The story behind the story: Red Bird's Song is based on events that occurred to my ancestors in the Virginia colonial frontier. This adventure romance centers around their conflict with the Native Americans during the French and Indian and Pontiac's War and has a The Last of the Mohican’s flavor.
Research into my English/Scots-Irish ancestors unearthed accounts that inspired much of Red Bird's Song. My fascination with Colonial America, particularly stirring tales of the frontier and the Shawnee Indians, is an early and abiding one. My forebears had interactions with this tribe, including family members taken captive. I have ties to Wicomechee, the hero of Red Bird’s Song, an outstanding Shawnee warrior who really lived and whose story greatly impacted the novel. More on Wicomechee  is included at the end of the story, as a bonus for those who read it.

I’ve gone on to write other Native American themed historical romances, some with paranormal elements, each carefully researched. I'm grateful for the help of historians, reenactors, anthropologists, archaeologists, and the Shawnee themselves. All the titles in my Native American Warrior series are available in kindle at Amazon.
Handsome Native American warrior
The initial encounter between Charity and Wicomechee at the beginning of Red Bird’s Song was inspired by a dream I had on New Year’s Eve–a propitious time for dreams–about a young warrior taking an equally young woman captive at a river and the unexpected attraction between them. That dream had such a profound impact on me that I took the leap from writing non-fiction vignettes to historical/paranormal romance novels and embarked on the most amazing journey of my life. That was years ago and the saga continues.
At the start of Red Bird's Song, I also met the prophetic warrior, Eyes of the Wolf, in another dream. When I describe him in the book I’m envisioning a character I know. Eyes of the Wolf became a spirit guide and spoke to me throughout the writing of this book, and others. He’s there still in various guises. My journey with him is not complete.
pipetomahawkThe attack at the opening of Red Bird’s Song in the Shenandoah Valley is based on one that occurred to my ancestors and is recorded by Historian Joseph A. Waddell in The Annals of Augusta CountyA renegade Englishman by the last name of Dickson led the war party that attacked them. I’d initially intended to make Colin Dickson in Red Bird’s Song the historical villain that he was, but as soon as he galloped onto the scene I knew differently.
Hawk EyeRegarding the setting for Red Bird’s Song: In the early mid 1700’s, the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia and surrounding mountains was the colonial frontier. Only hardy souls dared to settle here. The bulk of these were the tough Scots-Irish, among them my ancestors. If 18th century warriors only had to fight regular British troops, they might ultimately have prevailed. They scared the crap out of men trained for conventional warfare. But the long knives were born fighters, and not easily intimidated. They learned from their cunning enemy and adopted their methods, weapons, and clothing.
The ruggedly beautiful Alleghenies are also the setting for some of my other historical-paranormal romance novels, Through the FireKira, Daughter of the MoonThe Bearwalker's Daughter, and my short historical romance, The Lady and the Warrior. I see these ridges from our farm in the Shenandoah Valley. The foothills are only a hop, skip and a jump away from us. The ever-changing panorama of the seasons never fails to inspire me. My Young Adult/Native American Wolf Shifter romance series entitled The Secret Warrior is also set in the mountains.
The Alleghenies, the Virginia colonial frontier
Red Bird's Song is Book 3 in my Native American Warrior Series. The series loosely ties together based more on time and place and strong Native American characters than as a traditional series that follows the story line. However, Kira, Daughter of the Moon is the actual sequel to Through the Fire, and there will be other sequels. In addition to Native Americans, hardy Scots-Irish frontiersmen and women, colonial Englishmen and ladies, and even a few Frenchmen also play an important role in this series. So far, it spans the gamut from the dramatic era of the French and Indian War, through Pontiac's War, The American Revolution, and shortly afterwards.
Story Blurb for Red Bird’s Song:
Taken captive by a Shawnee war party wasn't how Charity Edmondson hoped to escape an unwanted marriage. Nor did Shawnee warrior Wicomechee expect to find the treasure promised by his grandfather's vision in the unpredictable red-headed girl.
George III's English Red-Coats, unprincipled colonial militia, prejudice and jealousy are not the only enemies Charity and Wicomechee will face before they can hope for a peaceful life. The greatest obstacle to happiness is in their own hearts. As they struggle through bleak mountains and cold weather, facing wild nature and wilder men, Wicomechee and Charity must learn to trust each other.
"A beautifully written story filled with adventure and suspense...This book touched my soul even as it provided a thrilling fictional escape into a period of history I have always found fascinating." --Night Owl Book Review by Laurie-J
"I loved the descriptions...I felt I was there...Many mystical episodes are intermingled with the events...The ending is a real surprise, but I will let you have the pleasure of reading it for yourself."  --Seriously Reviewed
***For more on Red Bird's Song and my other titles, visit my: Amazon Author Page.