Carolee's Herb Farm

Carolee's Herb Farm

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Home News Newsletters March E-Newsletter
March E-Newsletter Print E-mail

  View as you stroll through Selby Botanical Gardens, Sarasota, FL

March E-Newsletter

Such a busy, busy month! We left the end of February for Florida to visit our kids there. Although they complained about the “cold,” we were entirely comfortable and just thrilled to be out of bulky winter coats, woolen hats and gloves! There weren’t as many plants blooming as usual, because they have been experiencing cooler than normal temperatures for several weeks, but I enjoyed those that were, especially at the Selby Botanical Gardens in Sarasota (see article below). We enjoyed several great meals and shopping at the Italian Market on Saturday morn, since I’ve nearly used all the wonderful Parmesan we brought back from Bologna in November. I went straight from Florida to the Philly Flower Show (see article below), and then hurried home to give a series of speeches here and there. I really enjoyed speaking at the new Flower Show at Lucas Oil Stadium. It was my first time to see where the Colts play, and I enjoyed the wonderful fragrance of all the hyacinths in various gardens. After my speech there, we picked up our “German” kids at the Indy airport, and were busy baking cookies and playing electric trains. I had lots of little hands helping water in the greenhouse. What fun! Now it’s push, push, push to get ready to open. It’s hard to believe it’s only a few days away but the boxes for the Barn are arriving and the pansies, violas and primroses are beginning to bloom, so it is time!

  Butterfly Garden at Selby Botanical

Spring Newsletter & Website Update

The spring newsletter was mailed this month to those people who do not have e-mail. For those of you reading this, the new articles, the 2010 Events Schedule, the 2010 Workshop Schedule and other information that was in the printed newsletter is now available at Take a few minutes to decide which events and workshops to attend and mark your calendar now. You can register for Fairy Days there, too. There are also new products on the on-line store. A vendor form for crafters interested in exhibiting during our “Country Thyme in the Lavender Field” special event in June has also been added. Please note that this is the last year that the printed newsletter will be mailed. In the future, it will be posted on-line, or customers can pick up a copy at the farm or at shows we attend.


Carolee’s Herb Farm & Gardens will open for the season on Thursday, April 1st. We’ll have special refreshments, door prizes, and some other surprises. Look for lots of new, wonderful, hard-to-find items for your garden and home. The Big Barn Gift Shop will be filled with treasures, and Carolee’s Cottage will be an herbal country delight. Look for the Bargain Table featuring discontinued lines and other finds. Although the plant selection will be limited compared to later in the season, you’ll still find lots of wonderful culinary herbs, cold-tolerant annuals, and more. Some of the perennials are beginning to wake from dormancy, too. Come stroll through the cold frame and enjoy the early blooms. We’ll be open Tuesdays through Saturdays, 10a.m.-5p.m. Closed Sundays (except for workshop attendees) and Mondays.

  Another great view at Selby Botanical

Selby Botanical Gardens

Beautiful tropical gardens ramble along a pristine beach, with many opportunities for visitors to sit and gaze in wonder. Huge banyan trees, with their exotic above-ground root systems, bamboo-lined walkways and pretty gazebos also abound here, but the highlight of this well-designed garden is the epiphyte collection, those plants that live on, but do not harm other plants. Selby hosts one of the largest orchid and bromeliad collections in the world. It was my very first opportunity to see a tulip orchid, and dozens of other species. The fragrance and butterfly gardens were small but well done, and filled with flying visitors. There were also beautiful buildings, including a mansion and a carriage house that was serving teas, delicious salads, sandwiches and cookies, and a lovely gift shop. It was very early in the season, but the number of blooms was amazing. If you are in the Sarasota area, don’t miss it!

   The Fairies have already awakened the pansies and primroses, ready for Fairy Days!

FAIRY DAYS—April 10 & 11th

Our annual Fairy Days will be held Saturday & Sunday, April 10 & 11th. Join us for this magical day of fairy tales, fairy crafts, fairy tea and much, much more. Visit the Fairy Garden and the Enchanted Forest. Go on a Fairy Hunt and join in the Maypole Dancing. There will be presentations and demonstrations. See the website for more details. Fee is $2 per person at the door.

   Just one of dozens and dozens of gardens at the Philly Flower Show.

Philly Flower Show

This enormous show is always a highlight of my year. This year’s theme was “Passport to the World” with large display gardens from India, South Africa, Ireland, New Zealand and others. As one entered the show, a huge garden with an elaborate arbor greeted. Overhead was a life-size hot air balloon made entirely of flowers, over 80,000 blooms! Nearby, the garden from India contained a floral elephant, peacocks, elaborate floral carpeting and a beautiful pavilion. The Netherlands garden alone had over 100,000 spring blooms. A bamboo forest was so tall and dense that a flashlight was required to be able to see the underplantings and signage. South Africa had a giraffe covered in orange-toned orchids, a lion, and dozens of African shields, huts, and more. The Scottish garden brought back fond memories of stone bridges, gurgling streams, and wonderful alpines. There were also several other large gardens done by major local landscape designers. One of the most innovative and beautiful were gardens done inside semi-truck boxes stacked on levels. I really can’t explain it….you just had to see it to believe it. Several local colleges and organizations, and an exceptional section by high school students that featured various themes fill the center sections! It takes me at least two full days to go through the show, and there are sections that I basically fly through in order to spend more time in the areas that interest me most. There are so many gardens to explore! I always get lots of new ideas and see unique plants and new introductions. The scent of a million plants is intoxicating. Exploring the plant competition aisles is always fun, especially if the judging has been completed. I especially like the troughs, terrariums, and topiaries. This year the competition was dog topiaries and they were very, very cute. Other amazing displays are the miniature room competition, the unbelievable “paintings” made entirely with dried flower material, and the tabletop competition. Browsing through aisle after aisle of vendors is a joy, since all of the booths are truly garden related. No aluminum siding or guttering here! I’ve already marked my calendar for next year. The theme will be “Springtime in Paris” and I can’t wait. I know it will be amazing.

  A tiny part of the India Garden at Philly Show.

And the winner is!

The winner of our February question about favorite pansy colors was Jan Oleson, Craigville, IN. Our March question is: “Dandelions were a favorite spring food in olden days. These nutritious greens can be prepared in a variety of ways, and are helpful in removing toxins from the body. Tell us your favorite recipe/method of preparing these green/flowers. The winner, selected by random draw from all entries, will receive a $10 gift certificate. Remember, never use dandelion greens or flowers that have been chemically sprayed.


If you are a fan of Carolee’s Herb Farm, help spread the word. Mention us on Facebook and other social networking sites, Twitter during your visits to the farm, visit our website, and tell your friends about workshops and events. If you enjoyed “Herbal Beginnings” write a positive review on Amazon. We appreciate everyone’s help!

Garfield Park Herb Classes

Members of the Herb Society of Central Indiana host herb classes at Garfield Park in Indy one Saturday a month. I taught the March class on “Seed Starting Do’s and Don’t’s” on March 13 and had a great time. Everyone took home several pots of newly seeded herbs and lots of notes. Classes begin at 10a.m. Check the Garfield Park website for details and call the park for reservations.


Chicken with Rosemary Waffle & Dandelion Honey

When I travel, I’m always on the lookout for new food experiences. Our first stop on our way to California was actually in Indianapolis, due to snowy roads and airstrips! The menu description of “Veranda Chicken with a crispy Rosemary Waffle drizzled with Dandelion Honey” had my mouth watering. As I waited for the dish to arrive, my mind easily conjured up the flavors, and I ran to our room for the camera. Unfortunately, the dish was totally disappointing. The chicken was heavily breaded and greasy. Although I did a close inspection, I could neither find nor taste rosemary in the soggy waffle, and I suspect the entire platter was drizzled with a cheap honey adulterated with corn syrup rather than true dandelion honey. What a disappointment! However, it did provide inspiration for my rendition, which is more nutritious since it is broiled rather than deep-fried. If you don’t have bees to make dandelion honey, you can make your own once the yellow flowers start popping up (see below)! Just be certain dandelions have not been sprayed or treated with any chemicals. Mix together: 1 T. lemon juice, ½ tsp. black pepper, 1 tsp. chopped rosemary and 2 T. olive oil. Pound 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts with a rolling pin until they are about 1” thick. Marinate the breasts in the mixture for 1 hr. then turn the breasts over and marinate an additional hour. Meanwhile, mix 1 T. olive oil, 1 T. lemon juice, 1 T. chopped chives, 1 tsp. chopped rosemary, dash of black pepper, dash of ground pepper, and 4 T. dandelion honey (or substitute any dark, flavorful honey.) When chicken has marinated, place them in a shallow pan. Drizzle with the above mixture and broil until lightly browned. Turn them over and drizzle the uncooked side and return to broiler and broil until nicely browned. The chicken should broil about 30-35 min total. Make waffles according to package directions, but for each 1 c. dry mix add 1 tsp. chopped rosemary and a generous grind of black pepper. Bake in waffle iron as directed. Place chicken on serving plate. Add waffles and drizzle both with honey. Garnish with a sprig of rosemary. Serve immediately. 4 servings. Dandelion honey: Mix in a heavy saucepan, 3 c. water, 2 c. sugar, stirring until dissolved. Pick at least 8 c. dandelion flowers while they are open. Pull only the yellow petals from each flower. Discard the rest. There should be about 3-4 c. yellow petals. Add petals and 1 T. lemon juice to sugar water. Bring to boil, stirring often. Reduce heat to a simmer. Cook for about 2 hrs, until it has thickened. While it is hot, strain to remove petals. Add 1 tsp. vanilla to honey, stirring well. Pour into a container. This is delicious on pancakes, biscuits, or on toast.

     The next time we talk, the farm will be open and we’ll be preparing for the Central Indiana Herb Society’s Dilly of a Day Symposium (see details at .) In the meantime, I’m enjoying having my hands in the dirt and watching March Madness! Take time to enjoy the spring bulbs, and harvest some of those herbs that are popping through the ground! Herbal blessings, Carolee