Carolee's Herb Farm

Carolee's Herb Farm

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Carolee's September E-Newsletter







This month has really flown, as all of them seem to do anymore! We’ve been busy taking cuttings, collecting seeds, harvesting bittersweet, up-potting, and weeding. We also did the Matthews Covered Bridge Festival, hosted several groups, and gave some speeches. We spent an afternoon making some herbal wreaths and braiding sweet grass, so the Big Barn Gift Shop and Herbal Cottage smell wonderful! I’ll be traveling to North Carolina for a conference and visiting lots of gardens yet this month, so expect some new plants and ideas---you know I can’t travel without picking up a few treasures!

HSCI Education Night-Monday, Oct. 5th

The Herb Society of Central Indiana will host its annual Education Night at 6:45p.m. on Monday night, October 4th at the Clay Township Hall (corner of College Ave and 106th St.) in Carmel. It’s an opportunity to hear several brief presentations on using herbs for cleaning, see some demonstrations on making herbal lip balm, do a make-and take project, sample some delicious herbal refreshments, and more. This event is open to the public, and it’s FREE! I’ll be doing a make-and-take lavender incense class and participating in the “Tough Herbs for Tough Times” presentation. It’s a great opportunity to learn about herbs and network with some wonderful people. Hope to see you there!

Pumpkins, Perennials & Pots, Saturday Oct. 10

Our annual fall celebration features a 50% 0ff sale on remaining perennials that day only, talks on Caring for Herbs and Houseplants Indoors” at 11:00 and “Witchy” Herbs at 1:00. Learn about the traditional herbs used for protective swags by the door, amulets, and spells to keep the evil spirits from moving in with you for the winter! You can also make a moth-repellent bag for your closet. Enjoy pumpkin refreshments and apple cider while you look for all the items that are on sale. All of our mums, pumpkins, fall décor, and many houseplants will be on sale.

Hildegard von Bingen Day.   I’m really looking forward to the “Hildegard” celebration on Saturday, October 17. We’ll be featuring the music composed by St. Hildegard, have a display of some of the herbs she wrote about, and sample her herbal tea blend. I’ll also be showing the items I purchased at her Abbey in Germany, and will give talks about this amazing pioneer of herbs at 11:00 and 1:00. Enjoy refreshments, too!

 Hand-painted Furniture

We are blessed to have our resident artist, LouRae Rumple, creating one-of-a-kind items for our shop. Recently, she completed several furniture pieces with artwork in herb and garden motifs. They are beautiful, and will add a special touch to any room or garden. We also carry her original note cards in an herbal garden design, a lavender bunch, and two fairy designs. I’m hoping she’ll create even more!

Sweet grass & Vanilla Grass

 Most of us are familiar with the basic cooking herbs, but there are dozens of other amazing herbs that are not as commonly grown. I’ve always had a passion for fragrance herbs, because traditionally they’ve been used in so many ways. Two of these interesting plants are Sweet grass and Vanilla Grass, both hardy perennials that I’ve grown for years. Sweet grass (Hierochloe odorata) is a native in North America. It piqued my interest when I read about local Indian tribes using this sacred plant in smudge sticks during rituals and in baskets. Traditionally, it was woven into the top and handles, where the warmth of hands carrying the basket would release the sweet vanilla-like scent. It was also used as a strewing herb in early times. The French have used it as a flavoring and in perfumes, and I’ve heard that it was used as a tea ingredient in some European countries. My first plant quickly grew into a small patch, which I harvest each September. The 2-3’ or longer strands are woven into braids, or blended with ritual sage and cedar for smudge sticks. Adequate rainfall produces longer grass. This year, it is a bit shorter due to lack of rain in our area. Always harvest the grass before a frost for best fragrance. Sweet grass is also sometimes called “holy grass,” “buffalo grass,” or “vanilla grass.” However, the term vanilla grass is usually reserved for Anthoxanthum odoratum. This grass is also a North American native, but it remains much shorter than Sweet grass. Many people grow Vanilla Grass in pots on patios or sunny windowsills, where the vanilla aroma can be enjoyed easily. Vanilla Grass is also often called sweet vernal grass. Its aroma reminds me of dried sweet woodruff. Enjoy growing either of these grasses in average soil, in full sun or light shade. Deep shade will result in little or no fragrance. Use them in potpourris or linen sprays, or just enjoy their aroma in the garden or pots.

 Cherokee Double Wall Basket Weaving Workshop

There are still a few openings for the Cherokee Basket Workshop. You’ll use commercial reed, dyed with natural plant dye. Our instructor is an expert in Cherokee techniques and reed usage, Robin McBride Scott. In the 2 ½ hr. class, you should complete a basket that will measure 3” x 4”, but once you learn the technique, you can make any size. Class is $23. Call now for a reservation. All other workshops for the remainder of the 2009 season are filled.

Late September in the Garden

  1. It’s a good time to collect seeds and store them for next year’s garden. 2. It’s also a good time to take advantage of season-end garden center sales, and stockpile mulch to put on the garden after the ground freezes. 3. It’s a great time to make a cold frame, so you can plant late-season salad crops (lettuce, spinach, kale, etc.) that will last far into frosty weather with that little bit of protection a cold frame provides. 5. Start thinking about creating a space indoors for tender plants that will come inside soon. 6. Enjoy the sedums that are adding so much to the garden’s appeal this time of year. They come in a range of sizes, leaf colors, and flowers. The butterflies love them, too! 7. Weed! All the weeds are trying just as hard as your flowers are right now to make seed. Remove them now to save hours next spring! 8.  It's a wonderful time to use extra herbs and flowers in your garden to make a harvest wreath!

Lavender-Pear Dessert We don’t have as many pears on our tree this year, but they are plentiful in the stores now and should be throughout autumn. Try this yummy dessert!

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In small mixing bowl, melt 1 stick butter or margarine. Add 1 package (about 11 rectangles) graham crackers rolled into crumbs, 1/3 c. sugar, 1/3 c. flour, ½ tsp. vanilla. Mix well. Press into an 8x8 baking dish. Bake 10 min, or until just beginning to brown. Drain a 29 oz. can of pear halves. Slice each half lengthwise into ½” slices. Set aside. In mixing bowl, combine 8 oz. cream cheese (room temp.) ½ c. sugar, 1 tsp. lavender flowers, 1 egg and beat until smooth. Pour over crust. Arrange pear slices prettily over top of custard. Sprinkle with cinnamon sugar. Bake for 30 min. or just until center seems set.

That’s it for September. It’s such a great time of year. I actually like it better than spring, because I have more time to enjoy it! I hope your days are filled with the blessings of the harvest season.


Carolee’s Gift Barn Sept. E-coupon 40% off all Elmwood teas, all teapots, tea cozies and tea accessories…Valid until October 24, 2009. ************************************************************************ Carolee’s Cottage E-coupon 20% off any item in our Country Cottage. If you like primitive/country décor, you need to visit our Cottage! Valid until October 24, 2009. ********************************************************************** Carolee’s Sept. Plant E-coupon 20% off fragrance plants……patchouli, scented geraniums, vanilla grass, sweet grass, and lavenders. Valid until October 24th, 2009 or until we run out of plants! Cannot be combined with other discounts. ************************************************************************