2021 Blooming Hill Events and Happenings

We are working on it. Stay tuned...

Wednesday, January 26, 2022

My Amaryllis, Oh My!

Every October, I buy an amaryllis bulb from the grocery store or the hardware store, bring it home and set the bulb in it's pot with growing medium and place it in a window in anticipation of her bloom.  And, every year, without fail, this rather nondescript bulb, other than for its size, transforms itself into a "splendiforous" aura of colorful, curly petals that slowly unfold themselves, in frivolous fashion, on top of a straight, strong spire of a stem.  Every year, until this year that is, the amaryllis I buy starts blooming somewhere between Thanksgiving and Christmas and can be the standout beauty in the display of holiday decorations. 

However, this year, except for a few emerging smooth, strap-like leaves from the top of the half-exposed bulb sticking out of the dirt, my amaryllis was no where to be seen at Thanksgiving and showed no signs of blooming anytime soon.  When she did finally decide to make her petals' presence known, she arrived much too late as it was long after the Christmas Party, Boxing Day Brunch and even New Year's Celebrations. After all, it is almost the end of January yet, she chose to make her debut around the middle of this bitterly cold month. Right now, the amaryllis stands proudly in the family room window, its stem reaches for the cold, bright sun outside, lording over the snow covered herb garden.   

For all of her tardiness, she is now standing straight and proper, like the perfect lady she has been bred to be in the family room window, overcoming the starkness of this cold month. Amaryllis is timid and sweet and glorious all at once.  Perhaps, for me, it is best that this amaryllis bloomed late this year, as I have time to linger and gaze and truly appreciate her self-imposed arrogance reflected in her bloom time, as she dwells upon her own wintertime brilliance.   Amaryllis is an especially easy bulb to grow as a houseplant and what a treat to enjoy this flower, after the holiday grandeur, to remind me of the small blessings that miraculously appear everyday, throughout the year.  

The Latin name for amaryllis is Hippeastrum, which means ‘knight’s star’, and the plants originate in central and southern AmericaIn the language of flowers, amaryllis embodies the characteristics of timidity, pride, even haughtiness and most of all, beauty and she is surely all of that rolled into one and I'm so glad I've had a chance to get to know her whether she arrives to the party on time or like this year for me, fashionably late.

Tuesday, January 5, 2021

2021 Pantone Colors of the Year: There's Light at the End of THIS Tunnel--Fingers Crossed!

Drumroll please!..........................And now, Pantone's trending colors for 2021: 

"Ultimate Gray"


Every year, Pantone LLC, in the interest of matching color spaces in just about everything from homes and offices to even printed materials promotes one or, in this 2021 case, two of what they feel will be the trending color(s).  Last year, it was a classic calming color of a cerulean blue.  Did it help us through year #1 of Covid-19?  Well, if you got yourself outside and enjoyed the weather and especially the occasional clear night skies, maybe you did understand that chosen hue and were able to bring that sky color inside to help immerse yourself into some kind of a serene mood.

Let's just imagine this as a beautiful night sky with stars parading through.

So, now we move on to 2021 and it's time to bolster our spirits and pull out our big paint brushes in order to bring our imaginings into a brighter future and pivot to what will hopefully be a changed, more health conscious and cooperative communal normal.  At least let's try to aim for that, which brings me back to my original intention of introducing the 2021 Pantone Color(s) of the year; "Ultimate Gray" and "Illuminating" (Shown at the beginning of this blog entry and depicted in the pictures below):

Thick, gray fog that almost will not give up, kind've like this pandemic.

The closest analogy I can think of, being the lavender grower that I am, would be to picture the field in early morning, shrouded in heavy mist just before the sun breaks out to warm the grass and invite the day to begin.  Then suddenly, sunshine erupts and parts the dewy fog beckoning birds, bees and butterflies to take their cue and, "come out, come out, wherever they (and you) are" in order to get on with the business of the day.

The illuminating sun breaking through the clouds and welcoming brighter times to come.

So, what do you think?  Are the colors "Ultimate Gray" and "Illuminating" true reflections of what will be in 2021 and lead us to the light at the end of this tunnel?  Fingers crossed for you and for me and, for all of us, that these shades of mist and sunlight are indicators of what's to come this year.  Stay safe and, above all, stay well by practicing the  "Three W's" of this pandemic;  wear your mask, wash your hands and watch your 6 foot distance.  If it helps, think, "Do unto others as you would have others do unto you"😊!  Maybe, treat yourself and give your interior walls a promising update, then go for a walk in those cool gray sweat pants you wear to your ZOOM meetings and soak up some of that wonderful, warming and illuminating sunshine.  Now, don't you feel better already???  Thanks, Pantone!


Saturday, March 14, 2020

Saturday, March 14, 2020

A Calm Spot in a Frenetic World

Zombies on television, politics, Covid-19, global warming, and a looming recession to boot--way too much information out there in the world today, for any of us to digest all at once.  What's a person whose trying to hold onto their sanity to do?  Perhaps visit a lavender farm, when we can all come out out of self-quarnetine, in the months to come.  Here at Blooming Hill, we have been fortunate enough to be spared the coronavirus to this point, and we will continue to do our part in trying to stay clean, healthy and safe.  Hopefully, the warmer weather and our dear, DEAR friend, the sun, will do their parts in encouraging the lavender to grow and thrive during this, our 10th season of business when we open next month.

Until then, let me regale you with our photo spread in the Spring 2020 issue of Living the Country Life Magazine, published twice yearly.  We are honored and most grateful to the folks at this publication for featuring Blooming hill Lavender Farm & Gift Shop and showcasing pictures of our "happy place".  Afterall, like my Swedish grandmother Helga Charlotta would say,"the sun always shines" and I add, "here at Blooming Hill" because we know that lavender has anticeptic and antibacterial properties as well as aroma therapeutic value that can benefit anyone through this uncertain time and beyond.

Blooming Hill Lavender Farm & Gift Shop will open our doors for the 2020 lavender growing season beginning on Friday April 3 with lavender plants, products and gifts for the gardener and we hope we will see you sometime in the coming months.  Until then, thank you again, Living The Country Life Magazine for this wonderful opportunity and to all of you out there, our friends and customers, who come and visit us.  Stay safe, stay well, keep washing your hands, try not to touch your face (this face one is particularly challenging for me) and see you soon.✌
Blooming Hill Hours are Fridays and Saturdays, 10-5 to the public and Thursdays by appointment, April through December.  We are located at 19929 Telegraph Springs Road, Purcellville (We are actually in the hamlet of Philomont, but GPS will tell you Purcellville) Virginia 20132.

Monday, January 27, 2020

2020 Has Been Declared The "Year of the Lavender"!

The National Garden Bureau, the non-profit organization promoting gardening in North America on behalf of the horticulture industry and its members, has announced the four plant classes that will be featured in the 2020 "Year of the" program announced back in August of 2019 that one of those plants, representing perennials, will be lavender--so cool! At least, I think so👍😉💖.  So, for those of us obsessed with lavender, 2020 is the "Year of the Lavender" and we will be busy growing, harvesting, promoting and loving this plant (like usual, only with a little bit more fanfare) that gives and gives and asks for little in return except for hot summer weather, sun, a little precipitation and some good, drainable soil in order to bloom its little heart out.

The "Year of the..." program is meant to represent plants and crops specifically for the North American market that are easy to grow, genetically diverse, and with a lot of new breeding to showcase.  Lavender (the genus lavendula) fits into all of those categories.

Oh yeah--the other three classes of plants include Iris for bulb crops, Lantana for annuals, Corn for edibles and Hydrangea for flowering shrubs.  All beautifull plants in their own rights and all are also growing in my yard. However, I have to admit, and those of you that know me know that Lavender reigns as queen here at Blooming Hill. 

Friday, April 12, 2019

Women's History Month | Blooming Hill Lavender Farm & Gift Shop

Many thanks to Visit Loudoun for featuring Blooming Hill Lavender Farm and Gift Shop during Women's History Month (March).  Women Farmers aren't just considered "Farmer's Wives" anymore, although that is a very honorable person to be as Farmer's Wives are among the most capable, multi-tasking individuals on the planet.  And, women farmers come in all shapes sizes, geographical locations and have a talent to grow just about anything from lavender to flowers to pumpkins to animals to bees.  the sky is the limit!  Go Women Farmers!

Sunday, March 17, 2019

Men in Trees!

That's not a cardinal but a very brave and capable tree man!
The weather, this past week, finally lent itself to yard clean up from this long and nasty winter that still seems to keep at least it's one last desperate grip on Northern Virginia, not to mention everywhere else in the country.  So with a brief respite from snow and ice and rain this week, I forewent the opportunity to play a little golf and concentrated on the arduous task of raking out, weeding and edging the garden beds.  No trimming yet as I have a feeling crafty Mother Nature and wily old North Wind still have plans for March.  I know this because my creaky knees keep reminding me about the ever changing weather patterns.

Still, a few days of 70+ degree weather also prompted me to find someone to come and cut down a bunch of trees--six to be exact.  Six ominously old and scarily leaning trees with brittle branches that were hatching a plan ( I could feel that in my bones, too:) that involves falling branches, big time, on the new glass orangerie Peter is installing down at the shop.  Time to take action.

In came the tree crew, chainsaws, ropes, trailer and all, bright and early on a breezy Tuesday morning along with the fastest and most fearless tree climber I have ever seen.  As he climbed higher, more and more branches were being cut and coming down easily, while the rest of the crew gathered and cleaned up the fallen branches.

Tree trimming is definitely not for the faint of heart!
While the whole process went smoothly and quickly, just watching the acrobat in the tree was quite stressful to see, speaking as someone who does not like extreme heights or, for that matter, climbing ladders. This guy shimmied up each tree with speed, finesse and grace, equipped only with a chainsaw tied to his belt and a safety rope attached to his waist--no ladders or cleats.  It was truly amazing to watch!

Sunday, January 13, 2019

January is National Hot Tea Month

January is National Hot Tea Month and in honor of this momentous occasion that lasts thirty one gloriously delicious days, lets celebrate by brewing up a pot of tea and savoring the aromatic flavors that swirl together and reveal themselves inside a favorite teacup.  Then, drink it up or sip it slowly--anyway you like as, " a cup a day" is a good New Year's resolution to "help keep the doctor away."  Better still, sharing your pot of tea will make "teatime" that much more special to relish, especially on a brisk January Sunday afternoon that is flaunting grey skies and boasting billowy snow drifts.  So put the kettle on, pull out your teapot, find the perfect cup, small or large, and follow these tips to brew a perfectly tasty, all natural and healthy blend that hails from ancient times and features modern twists.

Tea Crafting:  How to Make the Perfect Cuppa:

1. Use freshly drawn cold water. For full tea flavor, let the tap run for a minute so that the water will be filled with oxygen. Water that has already been boiled and has been sitting in your kettle is no longer oxygen rich.  Reboiling water only robs it of more oxygen which takes away from the full-bodied flavor tea, of any kind, should have.

2. Heat the Pot. To preheat the tea pot, rinse with nearly boiling water, swirl the water about, and discard through the spout.  If you skip this step, the water temperature will drop on contact with the cold pot and your cup of tea's flavor will suffer.

3. Measure one teaspoon loose tea per cup into your teapot.  You can add the age-old suggested of add one more teaspoon for the pot, if you like stronger tea but it's really not necessary.  Put the loose tea in the tea pot directly (not the kettle that sits on the stove--silly you), or in a fabric bag, paper filter or infusing basket.  If you use a tea ball, only fill the ball half way as the tea leaves expand and one-half tea ball measures one teaspoon.  Allow the water to circulate around the tea.  Note: A pre-measured, pre-sealed tea bag is always good for two cups of tea, if desired.

4. Bring the Water to a Full Rolling Boil Before You Pour It into Your Teapot or Cup.   Pour the hot water over the tea leaves.  Water that is not hot enough or over boiled can result in flat-tasting tea.  Immediately cover the teapot and let the flavors infuse together.  Note: Dunking a tea bag in water only results in mediocre tea.  Leave it to rest in the water for the specifies steeping time.  You can also use a teapot cozy or potholder to hold the heat longer in the teapot.

5. Brew By the Clock. Never attempt to judge tea strength by color.  The larger the leaf, the longer the brewing time.  Steep most teas 3-5 minutes, any longer and the tea may taste bitter.  Herbal teas, known as tisanes or infusions, may take longer, especially if the herbs are fresh.  Green, white and oolong teas are more delicate than black teas so follow the instructions on your tea blend package as they may not take as long or need true boiling water to brew correctly.

6. Strain.  Remove the the leaves/bags to prevent further steeping.  Stir the tea and serve immediately or make sure you keep your teapot hot and your second and third cup will taste as good as your first cup.

Image result for images of tea cups and tea potsDo you take your tea strong or weak?  If you answer weak, then fill the cup only three quarters full and then dilute it with more hot water.  Do you take your tea plain or with milk, sugar or lemon?  Never combine milk with lemon because acid curdles milk.  If you like lemon in your tea, place the slice in the bottom of the cup first, then top with tea.  Milk in herbal teas (tisanes) will also curdle and ruin the flavor so that's a "no-no," too.  Honey is always a good choice in place of sugar as an all natural sweetener in any tea or tisane.

Image result for images of Alice in wonderland tea party  So, there you have it.  Simple right?  Easy-peezy, lemon-squeezy.  Enjoy your hot cup of tea and enjoy the month of January, while they both last. And, although some may think it correct, pinkies are never, ever up (rather tacky looking, actually) as one should hold the cup firmly and curl the pinky finger inward toward the fist.  Now you've got it. Perfect!