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!




Monday, October 29, 2018

The Herb Society of America talks "Witching Herbs and their Lore"




New post on The Herb Society of America Blog


Witching Herbs and their Lore

By Andrea Jackson, Western Pennsylvania Unit of The Herb Society of America
When I started my herbal adventure many years ago, I was drawn to unusual herbal topics.  Oh, I made my vinegars (still do) and my wreaths. My cooking was much improved. But as my herbal interests broadened and my library grew and grew and grew, I became fascinated by the history and lore of herbs.
With fall comes the witching season. What better time to explore some of the witching herbs?  While many of the plants in our gardens can be used for charms and spells, some are truly sinister plants that every self-respecting witch needs.
Mandrake (Mandragora officinarum) ... In ancient times this plant was used as an aphrodisiac and treatment for infertility. It was mentioned in Genesis when the childless Rachel asked Leah for some of the mandrakes (likely the fruit) she has gathered. It must have worked since she subsequently gave birth to Joseph. Pieces of mandrake were found in the Egyptian tombs and it was mentioned in the Ebers papyrus.  How is came to be associated with magic may be lost in the mists of time but someone noticed the resemblance of the root to the shape of a man and a new charm was born.
Recall from Harry Potter how the plant screams when removed from the ground. This ear-piercing scream was said to be able to kill whomever tried to remove it. So, a special procedure was devised. Three circles were drawn around the plant for protection. Then, the soil was loosened around the plant and a black dog was tied to the plant.  The witch stepped out of the circle and called the dog which pulled up the plant.  In some telling of the tale, the dog would live if it stayed in the first circle but in most the dog was sacrificed to obtain the plant.
As if it wasn’t difficult enough to obtain a mandrake, a special procedure was needed to maintain it.  It must be bathed in wine, wrapped in white silk then covered with a black velvet coat. Each week it should be bathed and the bedding and silk changed.
Perhaps all of this was worthwhile since mandrake was believed to contain the red earth of paradise which was necessary to produce the philosopher’s stone. Oh, and it also made one invincible in battle.
Wolfsbane (Aconitum lycoctonum) ... Closely related to monkshood (Aconitum napellus), wolfsbane contains aconitine, a deadly poison, and was considered the most dangerous of all the magical herbs. This baleful plant was made by Hecate from the foaming mouth of Cerberus the three-headed dog who guarded the gates of the underworld.
If you have a stray lizard around, you can bind wolfsbane with the skin of your lizard and you will become invisible. Then think of all the candy you could snatch on Halloween.  If you are plagued by vampires and werewolves this is the plant for you since it is an effective deterrent.
Henbane (Hyoscyamus niger)  ... The plant looks and smells of death, perhaps because its favorite home is graveyards. Legend has it that henbane seeds were smoked by the Oracle of Delphi to increase his prophetic powers. Meanwhile the Celts considered it sacred to Bel, their god of prophecy.
Henbane contains atropine, scopolamine and hyoscyamine which in large doses increase the heart rate. They also cause dry mouth, dilated pupils, weakness and agitated excitement.  The herb can produce the sensation of the soul separating from the body and flying through the skies. It can also produce a sense of body dissolution and erotic hallucinations. Then, when it wears off the person remembers nothing of what has happened.
(It is interesting to note that atropine is used in medicine to increase the heart rate and scopolamine was a component of “twilight sleep” formerly administered to women in labor so they did not remember childbirth.)
Deadly nightshade (Atropa belladonna) and Jimson weed (Datura stramonium) and mandrake all contain atropine, scopolamine and hyoscyamine.  The plants and sometimes a bit of opium and fly agaric were included in flying ointments. This was a dangerous brew indeed.  Undoubtedly some witches got to the other side in a way they never intended.
If all this seems a bit frightening, just remember that you can keep witches away by throwing a yarrow leaf into the fire or by rubbing your floor with rue.
Happy Halloween!
Andrea Jackson, R.N.,  is a master gardener with a certificate in sustainable horticulture. She has more than 30 years’ experience studying, lecturing and loving herbs. She belongs to the Herb Society of America, American Herbalist’s Guild and Piccadilly Herb Club, and the American Botanical Council.
The Herb Society of America | October 29, 2018 at 7:00 am | Categories: Uncategorized | URL: https://wp.me/p3b0ip-1gu

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Tuesday, June 5, 2018

4th Annual Lavender Festival at Blooming Hill


     
4th Annual Blooming Hill
 Lavender Festival
Friday & Saturday, June 8 & 9, 2018
Talks, Have Tea with Us, Tours, Crafters, Labyrinth, Lavender Ice Cream, Gardens, Gift Shop, Wine & Mead Tastings, Cocktail Tastings, French pastries and treats & Yoga in the field. Best of all, LAVENDER!
Parking $5/Car
*No reservations necessary to have tea and scones out on the patio, $15/person.
*Make lavender wands & tussie mussies with members of the Herb Society of America.
*Learn about growing & crafting with gourds with members of the Virginia Lover’s Gourd   
  Society.
*Pick-Your-Own Lavender - 15 cents/stem.
*Lavender Plants for sale
*Specific costs apply to specific activities, purchases & tastings.
* Contact loudounvalleyyoga.com to schedule your space in a yoga class; Friday & Saturday - 12 noon  

                                                 
                                         Participating Crafters and Vendors:

Alex Carr Art Studio
Barefoot Weavers
Bittersweet Design Studio
Catoctin Distillery
Green Alchemy Herb & Mercantile Co.
Herb Society of America, Potomac Unit
AB Hats
La Petite LouLou Café
Loudoun Valley Herbs
Loudoun Valley Yoga
Madeira Woodworking & Garden Finds
Mary Mayo Designs
Stonehouse Meadery
Sunny Lane Forge
Suzabelle Vintage Handbags
The Oktopous Garden
Virginia Lover’s Gourd Society


19929 Telegraph Springs Road
Purcellville (Philomont) VA 20132
                                           bloominghillva.com
                                                           703-431-0779
JThe sun always shines at
Blooming HillJ!



Wednesday, April 25, 2018

#bloominghilllavenderfestival


     


4th Annual Blooming Hill
 Lavender Festival
Friday & Saturday, June 8 & 9, 2018
Talks, Have Tea with Us, Tours, Crafters, Labyrinth, Lavender Ice Cream, Gardens, Gift Shop, Wine & Mead Tastings, Cocktail Tastings, French pastries and treats & Yoga in the field. Best of all, LAVENDER!
Parking $5/Car
*No reservations necessary to have tea and scones out on the patio, $15/person.
*Make lavender wands & tussie mussies with members of the Herb Society of America.
*Learn about growing & crafting with gourds with members of the Virginia Lover’s Gourd   
  Society.
*Pick-Your-Own Lavender - 15 cents/stem.
*Lavender Plants for sale
*Specific costs apply to specific activities, purchases & tastings.
* Contact loudounvalleyyoga.com to schedule your space in a yoga class; Friday & Saturday - 12 noon  


Participating Crafters &  Vendors:
Alex Carr Art Studio
Barefoot Weavers
Bittersweet Design Studio
Catoctin Distillery
Green Alchemy Herb & Mercantile Co.
Herb Society of America, Potomac Unit
AB Hats
La Petite LouLou Café
Loudoun Valley Herbs
Loudoun Valley Yoga
Madeira Woodworking & Garden Finds
Mary Mayo Designs
Stonehouse Meadery
Sunny Lane Forge
Suzabelle Vintage Handbags
The Oktopous Garden
Virginia Lover’s Gourd Society

Our Location: (GPS Address)
19929 Telegraph Springs Road
Purcellville (Philomont) VA 20132
bloominghillva.com
  703-431-0779

  


JThe sun always shines at
Blooming HillJ!

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Welcome Spring!



The first day of spring is one thing, and the first
spring day is another. The difference between them is
sometimes as great as a month.
— Henry Van Dyke, "Fisherman's Luck"
While March may own the first day of spring, it also is responsible for the last day of winter!
Even though end of winter offers hope, it can also be as endless as the cold winter nights of December and January.
Perhaps it's time to sit a while and contemplate the ways of Mother Nature and not take her for granted, although the snow, a four letter word, is not so bad after all.
Wake me up when spring has sprung and the cold days are gone.  March still wants to hold on to the blankets of snow and keep the shades of grey drawn as if to say, "I'll hit the snooze alarm, pull the covers over my head and get a few more moments of sleep, out in the field, too.
Tables and chairs at the ready to welcome a change of pace and a flush of color along with the warm breath of sunny spring days--hope springs eternal!
Blossoms and snowflakes vie for their own space on this first full day of spring who, by the way cannot make up her mind as to which one is her favorite.  My money is on the blossoms that may fall off in the long run but, they are making way for green leaves.
Have a happy first day of Spring.  Keep in mind that the snow is just a fleeting fancy in March, a most fickle month!