Carolee's Herb Farm

Carolee's Herb Farm

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November E-Newsletter Print E-mail


November E-Newsletter

     It seems once Halloween arrives, the holidays just come so fast there’s barely time to take down one set of decorations and put up another!  Even though we did not take a major trip this autumn, the time has just flown incredibly fast with family gatherings, work, and entertaining!
     We finally have the farm all closed down for the winter.  Perennials are trimmed and moved into the coldframe. Statuary, signs and benches have been moved under cover.  The Cottage and the Barn are all packed up.  Shade cloths have been taken down and stored away. However, I didn’t do the painting and furniture moving in the Barn for new displays, or get more hypertuffa troughs made, or even get all the fall bulbs planted like I did last November when we had over a week of sunny, 60 degree days!  I guess I’m getting old and slow!  I had visions of trimming and edging the gardens, knowing that we will be short on time next spring, but that didn’t happen either.  I’m still hoping that once the ground freezes, I can put down an insulating layer of mulch. 
   So, what have I been doing? Enjoying beautiful sunrises, as shown above! Taking lots of cuttings; seeding pansies, perennials and violas.  I’ve also harvested bushels of herbs for next year.  We’ve never had so many herbs drying in the barn!  I’ve been dreaming up and testing new recipes.  But, mostly I’ve been writing, writing, writing in hopes of finishing “Herbal Blessings,” the fourth (and I think final!) book in my herb gardening novels series before I start speaking and doing shows in January! 

Gift Marts
I’ll be heading off to the major gift marts in search of new, exciting treasures for the farm gift shops in early January.  If there are items you think we should carry, let me know!

Illinois Herb Day
The date for next year’s Herb Day sponsored by the Univ. of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana is Saturday, January 18.  It’s always one of my favorite days of the year!  It will be a full day of herbal speakers, a continental breakfast, hearty herbal lunch buffet, lots of door prizes, and garden/herb vendors.  Amazing speakers including authors Rosemary Gladstar and Holly Shimizu are scheduled to appear!  Carolee’s Herb Farm will be there with lots of herbal treasures.  Registration is limited, and will fill faster than usual!  Mark your calendar & plan to attend.  More details next month.

Whitley County’s First Garden Symposium!
I’m honored to be speaking at “Garden Thyme” on Saturday, Feb. 2.  This all-day symposium will be held 8:30-3:30 at the 4H Center Bldg. in Columbia City, IN and includes five presentations, vendors, lunch, and morning refreshments for $30! Registrations must be made before 2/10. E-mail This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it for information

“Spring Tonic” Garden Symposium
We had such a good time at “Spring Tonic” in Paoli last spring that I’m returning to speak for this year’s event on Saturday, Feb. 8.  Vendors, speakers, good food and good company!  More details in the next newsletter, but if you want to spend a day in hill country with lots of interesting gardeners, mark your calendar now. (You can read a bit about last year’s event in the March 2013 E-newsletter!  Lots of love & efforts goes into this special day!)

2014 Schedule
I’m working on the 2014 Farm Schedule, and it’s already getting tricky with all the speeches and shows we’ve committed to doing, plus some exciting travels.  So, if there’s a workshop topic you’d like let me know.  It’s also wise to book group tours and visits as far in advance as possible.  The farm will open April 1st.  Fairy Days will be the last weekend of April, so plan ahead and mark your calendars now.

The winner of the beautiful 2014 Herbal Calendar, designed by Susan Belsinger is Linna Joseph, Edwardsville, IL!  How did she win?  She was the random draw from among all the Carolee’s Herb Farm Facebook Friends!  If you have not yet become a farm friend, do it today!  You might win the prize next month!

Christmas Orders
If you plan to order books, lavender, garden playing cards, fairy items or other products from our on-line store, please do so before Dec. 12 in order to insure delivery. 



An Herb to Know:  Juniper!
     Each year, I make the greenery swags and garlands to decorate our county’s Historical Museum for the holidays, and to make an advent wreath for our home.  I enjoy working with the fragrant evergreens, and it motivates me to do some neglected pruning!  This year everything seems to be highly productive, from apple trees and berry bushes to black walnuts.  I noticed the same with the juniper branches that I cut for the swags.  They were loaded with dark blue-black berries.
     It is fitting to discuss juniper this time of year, the season of Advent.  Many scholars consider juniper to be herb of sanctuary.  It symbolizes life and hope in Advent decorations.  Placing juniper branches on or above the window and doors was a common practice to protect a house of worship from evil.
     St. Francis of Assisi appreciated the branches of juniper, for they give protection and shelter to the wild creatures and birds.  There are many junipers that are native to the Holy Land, Europe, and North America.  All of them have the sweet, clean fragrance associated with the holidays.
     I readily admit I’ve never cooked with juniper berries, although I have eaten and enjoyed them many times, generally in German fare.  I have used them in Christmas potpourris, and on occasion I’ve appreciated the flavor they impart to gin!  The berries are first green, and gradually ripen to blue-black.  One must plant a male and a female to have berries.
    Not surprisingly, juniper (Juniperus communis) has a long history of herbal use.  Most of the old herbals report that juniper berries are useful to treat flatulence, kidney and gall stones and that continues today. 
    The list of ailments treated with juniper is extensive, including plague, poisoning, coughs, shortness of breath, consumption, convulsions, cramps, childbirth, ague, gout, heart problems, palsy, vertigo, nose bleeds, ulcers, chilblains, toothache, leprosy, hemorrhoids, dropsy, rheumatism, and poor appetite.
   It was said to strengthen the brain, improve the memory, and improve eye sight.  This was done by “fumigating” the brain with a sprinkling of powdered juniper berries in one’s night cap!
     Of course, it was commonly thought that the berries were also effective against scorpions, flies, wasps, snake bite, rabid dogs, and worms.
     Burning dried juniper berries to fumigate the sickroom was common practice to prevent contagion, although there does not seem to be research to confirm that this or most other treatments listed above were effective.
     Like most other herbs, juniper is used as a flavoring both in foods and beverages.  In some cultures, juniper berry tea is a common, daily beverage, and it is often used to flavor beer.
    Juniper oil, pressed from the ripe berries, is a prime ingredient of gin, along with coriander seed, angelica stems, and orris root!
    In cooking, juniper berries are often cooked with meat, especially pork, duck, and goose which tend to have more fat not only because the flavors blend well, but because the berries aid in digestion.  They are tasty additions to stuffings and sauces, or chopped and added to cheeses.


Recipe: English Pimm’s Christmas Cocktail
Our English friend, Ian brought a huge pitcher of this tasty beverage to our annual tree-decorating party, explaining that it is a family tradition for the holidays.  Pimm’s is an English liqueur, made with a secret mixture of herbs, quinine, and gin (that’s juniper flavored!) that was invented in the 1840’s by London oyster bar owner, James Pimm.  This British invention is almost as much a tradition as a cup of tea!  Often served as a thirst-quencher in the summer with a variety of citrus fruits, cucumber slices and mint in a base of lemonade, the Christmas Cocktail is made instead with chunks of apple, watermelon, pineapple, strawberries, blackberries, or blueberries and a base of cider.
     Mix 2 parts cider and 1 part Pimm’s liqueur.  If you want a more potent drink, add 1 part gin.  Pour over fruit and allow to mellow and chill for an hour. This is generally served over ice, but we didn’t want to dilute it, so we didn’t!  And the especially delicious fruit “salad” allows one to pretend that it’s healthy!!!

Tried to squeeze this newsletter in under the wire, but just couldn’t make it happen!  Hope your Thanksgiving was extra special.  We all have so very much, so many blessings, so GIVE THANKS every day! 

Herbal blessings, Carolee