Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Llamas To The Left Of Me...Trivets To The Right...Here I Am!

Well, actually, it was trivets to the left of me and llamas to the right and there I was--not exactly stuck in the middle, but situated in-between them as my booth neighbors at the Virginia Herb Festival at Sunflower Cottage Nursery in Middletown this past weekend.  Three days of fun in the sweltering sun and, even with a tent for protection from the elements and plenty to drink, I now have a pretty good idea as to how a fried egg must feel when over-cooked!

Peter and I set up camp last Thursday evening, the night before the Herb Fair was to begin because I wanted to get there early and claim a great space right next to the actual Sunflower Cottage on the nursery property where, I had been told, it was considered a prime location for vendors.   A place I was pretty sure plenty of people would walk by and see my booth--not up on the hill so far away from all of the herb and flower action.  And, by all accounts, it was a great space.  Zipped up tight and ready to go for the next three days...

I also learned that the old adage some very wise person once said, "Never work with children or animals because they will upstage you every time," is absolutely a very true one!  To my right, a llama named Raven and her two alpaca charges were the hit of the fair.  People who may have been looking at my booth with every intention to come in and browse, heading directly for a cast-limestone bunny or a handmade sunflower pin, would suddenly catch a glimpse out of the corner of their eye of one of these very calm and extremely cute animals batting their long eyelashes at them and away they would run right out of my booth barely taking time to put down what they were once interested in and hurry over to them with an, "Awwwww...look at those sweet, cuddly things...can I pet them?"  Never to even glance my way again!...(Insert heavy, heavy sigh here).

I have to admit that, yes, even I was a bit smitten by their "woolly" charm and natural guile, but really, I had the garden ornaments at the garden fair!  I had the Royal Purple and Mitchum Grey Lavender bundles beautifully bound and swaying in the soft summer breeze.  It was my booth, Blooming Hill, where fairy birdbaths were plentiful and handmade pillows were invitingly plump and colorful.  What did those "wiley" creatures offer other than maybe some pretty good garden fertilizer--okay some very nice wool, too--but it still needed to be spinned and who comes to a garden fair looking for fertilizer, anyway?!  Llamas over lavender?...What is this world coming too?!

"And the trivets?" you ask. How could they draw your booth visitors attention away?  They, along with many other pretty hand-painted items were located in the booth to my left and offered by a very sweet lady named Natalie.  Her booth seemed to always have a much cooler breeze and way better shade than mine as she sipped her bottled ice water and stayed calm and cool under the shelter of her tent. (Again...insert heavy sigh...).  Anyone in their right mind, including me on a few occasions, sought the shelter of shade and the comfort of a cool breeze under her tent canopy.  (Note to self...next year, take her spot.)

The entire plant nursery, full of demonstration and display gardens, called Sunflower Cottage, where the herb fair took place, is a very interesting and pretty location, especially for those interested in all things garden related.  It is situated in a valley of the Blue Ridge with lovely, long hoop houses filled with robust, healthy-looking plants, even in this grueling weather. There is a wonderful labyrinth dug and maintained by this nice young man named Shane who told me that they only gave him "something that you use to hoe or pull weeds with to edge, clear and smooth the path and I did it in only six hours!"   Only somebody young and naive could do that all by himself with a smile on his face, seemingly enjoying every minute of it and proud of his work, too. Ahhhh, the Zen of it all!  I think the karma must be good here even though the lavender in their gardens was not yet ready to pick this past weekend.

High Tea was also served every day in the actual Sunflower Cottage located just behind my booth.  It had a "Little House on the Prairie"  feel going on and it was where, I suppose, the llama, Raven, and her two little alpaca charges (but, not me) were probably invited every one of the three days of this fair to join visitors for some respite, good food and company.  At least while the llama and alpacas were on their break, people would come into my booth and spend some time--probably wondering to themselves the entire time, "where are those adorable creatures, anyway?!"

There were also some very informative talks and presented close to my booth as well from speakers about edible flowers and healing herbs as well as cooking demonstrations from well known area restaurants like L'Auberge de Provecal in White Post, Virginia and One Block West in Winchester, Virginia.  If you are a food groupie, you are already well acquainted with their fabulous fare.  In short, Sunflower Cottage was a happening place and I was part of it for the entire weekend.

All in all, it was a good time for me at the Virginia Herb Fair, peddling my garden wares as a vendor, albeit a very hot and sticky one and also the last of the fairs for me until the end of summer.  I always seem to have a lot of fun and I never miss an opportunity to talk about all of the fine qualities lavender has to offer.  However, it's now time to focus on the tasks at hand in my own garden where the lavender is growing a bit impatient and beckoning me daily to come and harvest it in order to get ready for a new crop of fairs in the fall.  There is never any rest for the weary around here but I love summer and high summer is just around the corner.  Now it's time to enjoy the fruits of labor in my own garden
 where there is only a big, friendly dog around who doesn't seem to have to steal the show--well, at least not all of the time.

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