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Herbal Compress

May 31st, 2018

Last Friday I got bit by a black fly on my eyelid. Fly bites tend to leave me with a ton of inflammation, often the size of a gold ball or larger. That means I woke up the next morning with my eye so swollen it wouldn’t open. Since I had an event to attend on Saturday evening, I was keen to get the inflammation down quickly. After a bit of research, I settled on a mis of: freshly harvested dill and rosemary mixed with some lavender blossoms from the pantry.

It was made into a tea into which I dipped a washcloth. After chilling the washcloth in the freezer, I applied the compress for 10 minutes every hour. By evening, the swelling was mostly unnoticeable. I think dill was the main component in the reduction in inflammation (the lavender helped tremendously with the itching). Five years ago the same thing happened to me and my eye was swollen shut for three days. This time, the compress made a huge difference in the length and severity of the bite. I’m quite happy to have discovered this gem of a compress, no doubt it will come in handy this summer as the deer flies will be out in July. It’s a good thing I always have a ton of dill in the garden!

What herbal remedies have you found work like a dream?

New Roses

May 30th, 2018

My poor ‘Gertrude Jekyll’ Rose doesn’t look very good coming out of winter. I’m not sure why, she’s come through with flying colors for the past 5 years. This spring, I did order two new roses from Annie’s Annuals, both own root roses that are typically a bit hardier than grafted roses.

One was ‘Golden Celebration’ the other ‘Joasine Hanet’. Both are shrub roses with beautifully full flowers. The pink the one is much smaller than than the yellow one, both are stunning. Both were small shrubs, but I actually prefer than as they’re easier to plant, are much cheaper, and often catch up to larger plants in a year or two.

Another beautiful thing about own root roses is that you can propagate them yourself. Since I’ve been wanting to try my hand at propagating roses, I now have a few varieties to use. If I’m successful, I’ll be able to have more of these in my garden and give them to friends.

If you live in a cold climate and have trouble growing and keeping roses, check out ‘Growing Roses in Cold Climates’ it’s a fantastic resource for those of us in colder areas. They give recommendations for varieties and ways to help them overwinter much better. I’ll be using one of their recommended methods to help Gertrude out this coming winter.

Do you grow roses in your garden? Which is your favorite?

Friday Favorite: Plume Poppy

May 25th, 2018

Two years ago I spotted a plume poppy (MACLEAYA) in the gardens at Shelburne Farms in Vermont. I didn’t know what it was at the time and spent a bit of time searching to no avail. I was struck by the size of the plant and how delicate it was despite its towering nature.

Fast forward to last summer, I spotted this plant in the gardens at Fieldstone Gardens when we were there visiting. Naturally, I purchased one and planted it in the nursery area of the back garden. Since I now knew the name, I did some research on favorable conditions and the nature of the plant (is it thuggish or invasive, etc). One of the great features of this plant is that it’s a perennial so it dies back to the ground during the winter. Than can make it a valuable plant in areas with lots of snow.

While it does spread by runner, I’ve both read and heard that it’s easy to pull up the side shoots to limit spread (once a season suffices according to most sources). Mine has tripled in size in a year, which is actually great because I want it to be a large plant and take up a large space. With the vast nature of the gardens here at Chiot’s Run, we welcome plants that can spread, grow large, and take up a decent amount of garden real estate. I’m also always looking for giant wonders to add height to the garden.

Have you ever spotted a plant in a garden and spent a year or two trying to find out what it was?

Here She Comes

May 24th, 2018

I’ve been waiting and watching to see if my copper birch leafed out this spring. It’s planted in the main garden for now, waiting for a spot to be prepared for it in the pasture. I first fell in love with copper beeches when I visited Longwood Garden 15 or more years ago.

I’ve been looking for one for quite a while, at least one that wasn’t ridiculously expensive. Last summer, I found one at Fieldstone Gardens.

After watching all the local native beeches leaf out, I was wondering if my little copper beach was going to leaf out or die. One day I looked and saw one leaf popping out, the next day it was almost fully leafed out. This summer I’ll be preparing a place of honor for it in the garden. It will become a specimen tree, planted in a spot all to itself where it can grow to its full glory. Now that we’ve lived here for a while, it’s time to start adding specimen trees as focal points throughout the garden. This tree will take years and years to grow old and stately. No doubt it will be around long after I’m gone.

What’s your favorite tree?

New Plant: Sweet Woodruff

May 23rd, 2018

I’ve been looking for a few small groundcover type plants to add under the big apple tree. Years ago, I spotted sweet woodruff growing as a groundcover under large trees and filed it away in the back of my brain. When I was at a greenhouse recently, I spotted one for a few dollars.

Often, when I’m thinking of adding plants to the garden, I purchase one and watch it for a year. Plants can be pretty specific about their likes and it’s always good to watch one plant for a year before investing lots of money in a lot of one thing.

So far this plant is thriving under the old apple tree. I’ll be particularly interested in watching it next spring to see how it survives the winter and how quickly it gets going in the spring. For a ground cover to be effective as a weed suppressant, early emergence is an important factor.

Do you have any favorite ground covers?


This is a daily journal of my efforts to cultivate a more simple life, through local eating, gardening and so many other things. We used to live in a small suburban neighborhood Ohio but moved to 153 acres in Liberty, Maine in 2012.