Through the Year

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.


The man who wants a garden fair,

    Or small or very big,

With flowers growing here and there,

    Must bend his back and dig.

The things are mighty few on earth

    That wishes can attain.

Whate'er we want of any worth

    We've got to work to gain.

It matters not what goal you seek,

    Its secret here reposes:

You've got to dig from week to week

    To get Results or Roses.

Edgar A. Guest



As I look down my garden walk

   I see white iris stalk on stalk

Lifting their heads in clear surprise

   At a white swarm of butterflies.

I cannot tell which is more white,

   For both are charged with April light,

Or which will first take wing and rise,

   The iris or the butterflies.

HSA Seasonal

Mother Nature can be capricious at times. The April 1st snowstorm here in the Northeast is an example of her volatile nature. After a long, cold, snowy winter, we were already anticipating the appearance of spring, eagerly awaiting those elements that mean spring in New England. Crocus, daffodils and other spring plants were emerging, and other perennial plants were shrugging off their winter torpor and showing signs of activity. Then, BAM! A heavy wintry mix of the dreaded white stuff, which had pretty much disappeared in spite of the almost record snowfall of the past season.

Pussy Willow

 The crazy, stormy weather seems to have lessened. March decided to come in fairly quietly, and the snow has finally begun to melt. It's time to begin thinking of the upcoming season of planting, if you haven't already. Emerging plants, peeking out from under their warm blanket of snow, prove that spring is coming at last. Some perennials are already showing signs of growth, with tight little buds just barely in sight. One of these is horseradish, the IHA Herb of the Year for 2011.


As the light grows longer

The cold grows stronger

If Candlemas be fair and bright

Winter will have another flight

If Candlemas be cloud and rain

Winter will be gone and not come again

A farmer should on Candlemas day

have half his corn and half his hay

On Candlemas day if thorns hang a drop

You can be sure of a good pea crop.

                             An old Scottish poem

"The astrologers went into the child's inn, and found him with his mother. Then with prostrate bodies they worshipped Christ, and opened their treasure chests and offered him threefold gifts: gold, incense and myrrh. . . . The gold signified that he is a true king, the frankincense that he is the true God, the myrrh that he was then mortal; but now he remains mortal in eternity".

from Sermon on the Epiphany of the Lord, by tenth century monk Aelfric

"Every year at just this time,

In cold and dark December,

Families  around the world

All gather to remember,

With presents and with parties,

With feasting and with fun,

Customs and traditions

for people old and young"


"A beautiful and happy girl,
With step as light as summer air,
Eyes glad with smiles, and brow of pearl,
Shadowed by many a careless curl
Of unconfined and flowing hair;
A seeming child in everything,
Save thoughtful brow and ripening charms,
As Nature wears the smile of Spring
When sinking into Summer's arms.


"Come, said Fiacre Colman

Walk gently in my garden,

Meditate under the linden tree,

And listen to the bumble bee.

In my garden you will find

Plants for all of human kind,

Herbs for flavor and for fragrance,

And sometimes for a physic;

Feel the whisper of the air caress

Each fragrant flower in happiness.

Saint Fiacre