Petite Purple Irises and Stinging Nettle

It is the last day of February and my dwarf irises are blooming. I was surprised to see their purple petals as I returned home from a weekend trip. Winter isn’t over, but my tulip and hyacinth bulbs are sprouting leaves.

Dwarf Iris

What will our spring be like? My thoughts turn to garden plans. Every year I like to introduce a new plant to my herb garden.

It is so convenient to have fresh herbs for the kitchen. I have thyme for chicken and broth, sage for turkey, rosemary for potatoes and soups, chocolate mint for coffee, tarragon for salad dressing and basil for pesto and tomato sauce.

This year I want to add stinging nettle. I am familiar with nettle tea, having read about it in the Wise Woman Herbal for the Childbearing Year.

The common stinging nettle is a uterine tonic and general nourisher with a special ability to strengthen kidneys and adrenals. Its high mineral and chorophyll content makes it an excellent food and tonic for the hormonal system.*

The New American Herbal has more information about this plant. It is called stinging nettle because the leaves have fine hairs that cause pain and inflammation when touched. It is important to wear rubber gloves when harvesting the leaves of this plant.

Properly handled with gloves and long sleeves the leaves can be easily gathered and then neutralized by the heat of cooking . . . Once you know how to respect them, you’ll find nettles deliciously mild with a deep nutty green taste and a slightly minty finish. **

I saw a recipe for nettle soup in a Swedish cookbook. I think the nettle leaves would be a good addition to broth—adding good mineral content as well as flavor.

And so I will order some stinging nettle seeds from Mary’s Heirloom Seeds. Then I have to decide on a safe place to grow them—perhaps in a container.

Do you have some garden plans?

*Susun Weed, Wise Woman Herbal for the Childbearing Year, Ash Tree Publishing: Woodstock, New York, 1986, p. 2

**Stephen Orr, The New American Herbal, Crown Publishing Group, New York, 2014, p. 330

Sharing this post with Garden Week at You’re the Star,  the Art of Homemaking,  the Homemaking Party, the Healthy Happy Green & Natural Party,  Tuesdays with a Twist and Sue’s Wordless Wednesday

Lilac Bouquets

The lilacs are in bloom and I enjoy arranging them in bouquets. My grandmother had lilac bushes and the one in my yard was a shoot that I transplanted.

Lilac Bouquet

His tenderness in the springing grass,
His beauty in the flowers,
His living love in the sun above–
all here, and near, and ours.

Samuel Gilman (1791 – 1858)Lilac BouquetLinking with Seasons and Sue’s Wordless Wednesday

The Tulips at Windmill Island Gardens

In late April of 2012 we visited Windmill Island Gardens in Holland Michigan. The park wasn’t due to open quite yet, but the tulips were early and we were fortunate to see the gardens in full bloom.

The Tulips at Windmill Gardens

Tulips have so many varied colors. It it a tribute to the Creator of all flowers.

Tulips_1638

The news and politics can weigh heavy on my mind, but God makes rest and joy available in nature. I have some tulips blooming in my yard– and happy memories of Windmill Island.

When I go out to the garden the noise and rush of the world comes to a pause. Now the peony stems and buds are poking through the soil. The lilacs are beginning to bloom and I see the promise of berries on bushes and strawberry plants.

The poem by Winifred Mary Letts (1882 – 1972) makes me smile.

That God once loved a garden
we learn in Holy Writ.
And seeing gardens in the
Spring I well can credit it.

Tulips_1655

It is easier follow the guidance given in Philippians while working in the garden.

Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.           Philippians 4:8

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Can you imagine what it was like for Adam and Eve to talk with God in the first garden?

Linking with Mom to Mom,  Words with Winter,  Word of God SpeakGrace & Truth,  Thought Provoking ThursdayNature Notes, Seasons and Sue’s Wordless Wednesday

Bright Colors in Albuquerque

We visited the Botanical Gardens in Albuquerque, New Mexico.   The   viola (or johnny jump ups) were blooming.

johnny Jump Ups

In the conservatory, a Mediterranean flower exhibit was a vivid mix of bright colors.

Mediterranean Exhibit

Mediterranean Flower Exhibit

 

Bromeliad
Bromeliad

Taking a walk through a neighborhood I saw this cross on a door. It is a reminder that we are in the season of Lent, and this weekend we celebrate Palm Sunday.

Cross

Linking with A Little R & R, WholeHearted Wednesday,  Seasons, Sue’s Wordless Wednesday and Tuesdays with a Twist

Daffodils, Crocuses, Flowering Rosemary, Oh My!

Spring is coming to the southern states. I am enjoying the colors that are brightening the landscape. And I wish rosemary grew as abundantly at my home as it does in New Mexico! Flowering tree

Kansas_5174

 

Kansas_5175

Rosemary
Rosemary plant (bush)

 

Rosemary flower
Rosemary flower

Linking with Friendship Friday,  A Little R & R,  SeasonsTuesdays with a Twist , the Homemaking Party and Sue’s Wordless Wednesday

Flowers and Wreaths at the Chicago Botanical Garden

We had a lovely afternoon at the Chicago Botanical Garden. The flowers were in bloom in the conservatories. Lovely wreaths adorned the walls. Poinsettias lined the displays and were hanging from the ceiling! A variety of trains were on display as a Christmas exhibit. The miniature trains travel on tracks through scenes of Chicago.

Blue Hydrangeas at Chicago Botanical Garden

Chicago Botanical Garden

Pointsettas

Chicago Botanical Garden

Christmas Train Exhibit

Linking with Whole Hearted Home, A Little R & RTuesdays with a Twist, Titus 2sdays and Sue’s Wordless Wednesday

A Flower that Survives the Snowstorms

It is December in Illinois, and throughout our neighborhood there are winter decorations.

December_4882

We have a wreath on our door.

Christmas

My display of angels celebrating the birth of Jesus is in our foyer.

Christmas

We have had two snowstorms and to my surprise the calendula flower has two buds. It may still bloom! I love this flower.

Calendula survies snowstorms
Calendula Buds

Linking with Friendship Friday,  A Little R & R,  Tuesdays with a Twist and Sue’s Wordless

image-in-ing

Lovely Aroma in a World of Conflict

A Sweet Aroma
Last rose in my garden

Are you discouraged by the conflicts and moray decay all around us? I am. The study of the book of Acts is giving me hope. I am glad that this book was chosen for the fall Precept Bible study.

Sometimes political issues stir my emotions. Can political action groups solve the problems? They may have a place, but the problems in our country are spiritual.

It is not wrong to stand up for a point of view—in fact we must pursue truth.  Every life is valuable.  God designed marriage as one man and one woman. This truth comes from the word of God.

As I spend time studying the Bible, I realize that God’s plan of            salvation is woven through the scriptures and this message is most important. The gospel changes hearts. The apostles spoke about Jesus:

And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.      Acts 4:12

The apostles and early church were focused on the message of the gospel. Even when persecution began they prayed for boldness.

And now, Lord, look upon their threats and grant to your servants to continue to speak your word with all boldness.       Act 4:29

Followers of Jesus, the church, have a specific role for this time. We are called to be a witness for Jesus Christ. Through our words, our    attitudes and actions we have a responsibility to have a message that points to Jesus and salvation. Sometimes we fall short. We need to be in the Word, in prayer and dependent on the Holy Spirit. Jesus has     given the Holy Spirit to be our helper.

I know that I am more sensitive to the Holy Spirit when I am studying my Bible, spending time in prayer and joining in fellowship in my home church. These are necessary activities. I encourage you to       embrace these practices.

But thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession, and through us spreads the fragrance of the        knowledge of him everywhere. For we are the aroma of Christ to God, among those who are being saved, and among those who are     perishing. 2 Corinthians 2: 14-15

Prayer: Dear Lord, thank-you for completing the plan of salvation. Thank-you for forgiving my sins and giving us your Word. Guide me by the Holy Spirit to be a witness for you.

Linking with Thought Provoking ThursdayWholeHearted Wednesday,  A Little R & R,  Titus 2sday,  Hope in Every SeasonWords with Winter,  Sharing His Beauty,  Sunday Stillness,  Grace & Truth and Faith Filled Friday

Beauty in His Grip Button

Calendula: A Healing Flower

Art Shades Calendula

In recent years I have been charmed by the benefits of a flower that has a long history. According to the Complete Herbal Book: This sunny little flower—the “merrybuds” of Shakespeare—was first used in Indian and Arabic cultures, before being “discovered” by the ancient Egyptians and Greeks.*

The medicinal qualities of calendula are listed: Calendula flowers contain antiseptic, antifungal and antibacterial properties that promote healing.*

This year I bought some heirloom seeds from Select Seeds—Art Shades Calendula and Orange King Calendula. Both are growing in my garden.

Calendula Flower
Art Shades Calendula
Calendula Flower
Orange King Calendula

Calendula is an edible flower, and the dried the petals of this flower have been called poor man’s saffron. I dry my calendula flowers by placing them on cheesecloth or a paper towel over a drying rack.

Drying Calendula Flowers

It takes approximately 2 weeks for the flowers to dry in room air. Then I place them in an airtight canning jar for use throughout the year.

Calendula flowers make a healthy tea. Tips for a variety of ways to benefit from calendula tea are posted at thenerdyfarmwife.com. Be sure to note the caution mentioned for use during pregnancy.  Calendula salve is another way to make use of the flowers. It is fairly easy to make. You can find my process here.

Every couple days I pick the blossoms, but when I am not fast enough they go to seed. The seeds can be saved for next year’s flowers.

Calendula Seed

The curved seeds with a bumpy surface are released from the dried flower head.It is possible for the plant to self-seed for the following year, but that hasn’t worked well in my garden. I plant the seeds outside in the early spring.

If you don’t have calendula in your garden but would like to add it to your stock of helpful herbs, you can order a package of dried calendula from The Bulk Herb Store.

Great selection of bulk herbs, books, and remedies. Articles, Research Aids and much more.

*McVicar, Jessica, The Complete Herb Book, Kyle Cathie Limited: London, 1994.   p. 56-57.

Wildcrafting Wednesday Featured Blogger

Linking with the Happy, Healthy, Green & Natural Party,  Whole Hearted Home,  From the Farm,  Friendship Friday, the Homemaking Party, So Much at Home,  Wildcrafting WednesdayRoses of Inspiration,  Wordless Wednesday and  Words with Winter

Star Flowers

When the grandchildren come to my home they like to pick berries and flowers. I name the various berries and tell them a little about them. We talk about which berries are safe to eat.

The flowers have names too. The granddaughters have enjoyed picking stalks of flowers— tiny white stars covering a stem that is shaped like a shepherd’s crook—from the front of my yard. This plant has a funny name, gooseneck loosestrife. I bought this plant as a perennial and had no idea how aggressively it would spread. I have to set boundaries and uproot it when it wanders, kind of like a shepherd managing his sheep.

Gooseneck loosestrife
Gooseneck loosestrife

I encourage the girls to look at the herbs in my herb garden. A few days ago we all munched on a leaf from chocolate mint, giving opinions about the flavor.

This is my opportunity to share a love of nature, enjoying the world God has created. Together we delight in the bright flavor of a currant berry or raspberry. We see a new flower with wonder. As a grandparent (and retired nurse) I feel blessed in having this time–finding it easier to pause to see than when my children were little.

What a desolate place would be a world without flowers? It would be a face without a smile; a feast without welcome.—Are not flowers the stars of earth?—And are not our stars the flowers of heaven?                                                                    Clara Lucas Balfour (1808 – 1878)

Forest wildflower
Forest wildflower

 

Yellow Columbine
Yellow Columbine

Praise the Lord! Praise the Lord from the heavens; Praise him in the heights! Praise him sun and moon, Praise him all you shining stars! Let them praise the name of the Lord! For he commanded and they were created.
Psalm 148: 1, 3, 5

Linking with Sunday StillnessWeekend WhispersThought Provoking Thursday,  A Little R & R,  So Much at Home,  Wordless Wednesday,  the Art of Homemaking and Good Morning Mondays