Sunday, June 25, 2017

A Glorious June In The Garden

The Shenandoah Valley has been blessed with a lovely June this year, not too hot, and we've received enough rain to water the crops and the garden(s). I relish the good earth while I can. Summer inevitably gets hit with heat, drought, and bugs, but before all that, this is the Garden of Eden, or as near as I'm likely to come. The battle to survive without succumbing to nature's harsher summer side lies ahead. But I have prepared the gardens as best I can. The plants we grow are hardy wildflowers, heirlooms, and herbs, with some vegetables mixed in. Nothing fussy. Many of the flowers choose their own sites. And every single day in the garden is different. A perpetually changing world, magical in its way.
Below is an image of my mini wildflower meadow. I've ordered more seeds from Eden Brothers, my favorite site, and am expanding. I shall need a longer hose for those dry days. I absolutely love seeds, brimming with possibility. What wonders may come...all from a packet of tiny life-bearing seeds. If they grow. I can't stop planting them to see. Then watching,  gleeful when they sprout. And waiting for the blooms, like an Easter egg surprise, because only I know what will be when the majesty unfolds. A wonderful secret to hold and to tend.

In every gardener there is a child who believes in The Seed Fairy. ~Robert Brault,

This would be me.

Friday, June 2, 2017

Herbal Recipes for Fragrant Potpourri and Toilet Water


Here are some potpourri making tips from my own experience and recipes from a charming book, Potpourri, Incense and other Fragrant Concoctions by Ann Tucker Fettner.  Amazon has some used copies. The toilet water recipes follow below.

For making fragrant potpourri:

Begin in the spring by drying rose petals, an essential ingredient. Other flowers such as bachelor buttons, asters, straw flowers and statice add color. Any blossoms that dry well can be used. Mints, lavender, and lemongrass are excellent herbs for fragrance. Save the peelings from citrus fruit. Additional scent comes from manufacturers who sell potpourri supplies.

Order ground orris root, lavender, and essential oils. Sachet bags can be made from circular scraps of breathable fabric all tied up with ribbons. Decorative jars also make attractive holders. Baskets filled with fragrant sachets are an appealing presentation if fund-raising is your goal.


After you’ve collected and dried an ample quantity of blossoms and herbal leaves, mix in your other ingredients. Use a large bowl, not plastic, but ceramic or pottery. To hold the scent, you will need a fixative, often calamus or orris root. Generally, you use a tablespoon of a fixative for every quart of dried material. Add any spices you’ve chosen, cinnamon bark broken fine, rubbed mace, ground cardamom seeds, by sprinkling them over the petals and fixatives. If you like, add the crushed citrus peel, maybe some crumbled vanilla bean, and mix well with your hands.


The ingredients must be absolutely dry or the blend will molder. To all of this, add your favorite essential oils, rose, lavender, geranium, or tincture of musk or amber. Experiment with different blends. Don’t combine all the oils in the same batch. The possibilities are endless.

When you’re satisfied that the mixture is well blended, let it age in a crock for several weeks. Don’t have a crock? Brown paper grocery bags will do. Store the mixture out of sunlight in an airy corner or attic. Stir occasionally, then package prettily and enjoy.

For making Herbal toilet water:

lavender oil 2

Basic Toilet Water: To three pints of pure alcohol add one and one-quarter ounces of lavender oil, three-quarters ounce of oil of bergamot, three-quarters ounce of tincture of ambergris. Mix together and bottle. 

Rose Water: Boil two quarts of distilled water and remove from the stove. Add one-eighth ounce of rose oil, four drops of clove oil, and one pint of alcohol. Let this stand for several days before bottling.Geranium Water: To two pints of pure alcohol add four ounces of rose water, five drops tincture of musk, one ounce tincture of orris root and one ounce of geranium oil. Allow to age.

Geranium Water: To two pints of pure alcohol add four ounces of rose water, five drops tincture of musk, one ounce tincture of orris root and one ounce of geranium oil. Allow to age.