Jaunts in July

The end of July finds me back at home, after traveling to two wonderful events. The Annual Meeting and Educational Conference of The Herb Society of America was held this year in Pittsburgh, PA  from June 24 through June 26. Included were lots of wonderful speakers, including Jekka McVicar, who gave a lively talk on uses of herbs. Jekka is from the UK, and brought her special brand of humor and knowledge of many unusual herbs. She also experienced "ribbon-envy" as she noted upon her arrival that she did not have ribbons designating various aspects of the conference. It has been tradition to place ribbons on the name tags of those attending, with categories such as "First Time Attendee", "Board of Directors", "Vendor", etc. As our special guest, she was eventually awarded seven ribbons, which surely rivalled most of those in attendance. The "Royal Horticulturist" was a special ribbon, most likely never to be seen again!

The pre-conference dinner was a cruise on the rivers near the hotel. Pittsburgh is at the confluence of three rivers, the Allegheny, Ohio and Monongahela. It was a pleasant and relaxing ride. The Conference included the Festival of Flavor and Fragrance, which is always a crowd pleaser. Samples of Indian food, rose recipes, and more enticed everyone to join in the fun. Lots of vendors made this a great spot for shopping, too.

The Conference and Meeting is a way to become more involved in the workings of The Herb Society, as well as make new friends and welcome old ones. At the Awards dinner, one of the members of my Unit (The New England Unit) was presented with an Award of Achievement, a great honor, indeed. We were all proud to have this recognition bestowed upon Lucille Dressler, a long time member and Chair of our Archives. She is truly deserving of this award, and it was my pleasure to be able to sit at her table.

Returning home, I valiantly attacked all the weeds that had taken up residence in my garden. I hardly got started, it seemed, before I was getting ready to attend the next conference on my agenda, the International Herb Association's, which this year was held in Midland, Michigan from July 15-17. At least it was only about a 14 hour drive, so I re-packed the truck, and took off. I was presenting a workshop on "Herbal Tipples", or how to make herbal liqueurs, so I had lots of "material" that forced me to take the longer route around the Great Lakes, instead of traveling more directly through Canada. However, I arrived without incident, and was instanly taken up with the doings of another Annual Meeting and Conference. This was a grueling (but fun!) schedule, that had us up and at activities by no later than 8:00 a.m. each day (and sometimes before that). The IHA Conference is a smaller conference, but no less worthy. Though we have a Public Day, most of the conference is geared toward the professionals in the herb industry, and being able to interface with some of the movers and shakers in the herb world is what makes this conference so exciting. A special treat this year was the Ten Minute recipe section, where each participant had only ten minutes to create their favorite dish. There were professional chefs as well as those not so inclined. But everyone created something in the time allotted, which disappointed Art Tucker, the time keeper, as he was hoping he would be able to use a crook and sweep them offstage.

As I again returned home, I realized I had a serious problem with the weeds, as they now seem to be taking over more of the yard than I thought possible. I also arrived home to find the whole northeast in the midst of a heat wave, so weeding (except in the wee hours of the morning) just wasn't a wise thing to do. I did, however, get to harvest my first few tomatoes, and boy, are they ever good! Eva's Purple Ball and Crimson Giant, as well as Snowberry, a cherry type, were the first to bear ripe fruit. The heavy layer of grass mulch that I placed on the beds earlier in the season seems to have helped a lot in keeping them from losing moisture, and it helps with the weeds, too. The squash has escaped it's bed, and is now trolling across the lawn, which will cause minor detours in the grass mowing. Summer has arrived!
Marshmallow
The flower you see above is the marshmallow, which is a lovely summer blossom. My plants are now about three years old, so I may get a chance to harvest the roots and experiment with them.

I am doing a short demonstration at the Daniels Farmstead Farmer's Market on July 31. It will be focusing on herbal syrups and herbal liqueurs. In fact, just this morning I made a batch of Cinnamon Basil syrup, which will feature in that demo as well as the one I will be doing August 12 at Tower Hill Botanic Garden. That will be one of the talks and demonstrations we will be hosting at the Second Annual Herb Show, from Aug. 12 - 14. Come join us and see what is happening in the world of herbs!

Keep cool,

Karen