Friday, June 13, 2008

Our last herb festival for the spring of '08

Ah.... we are finished with the wild hubbub of herb festivals for this year. We still have that one big hairy weekend (the Twisted Sisters' PA tour, as we like to call it) in July, but otherwise it's just the Saturday morning farmers market in Mount Joy for a while.
It has taken me almost a week to get around to this blog entry. The July/Aug issue of The Essential Herbal was delivered while we were away at the Alloway Creek Art and Garden Festival, so for the first half of the week that needed to be prepared for mailing. It has become quite an operation - first the bulk mail to the subscribers is prepared and taken out to the PO, and that is followed by the shop copies, writer's copies, and the advertiser's copies. Sometimes it takes me well over a week to accomplish, but I'm patting myself on the back to have gotten it done in short order this time with no loose ends hanging.

So on with the story....
Last Friday and Saturday we set up at Barb and Roger Steele's herb farm to take part in their festival. The kids were all set to handle the farmers market, and we'd packed two complete "sets" of crates - one for them, and one for us. The weather turned HOT just prior to the weekend, so we girded ourselves for that, but I must say that there was really no preparing for the heat that arrived on Saturday. Nuff said there.
One of my favorite things about going to Alloway is the gardens. I feel the same way about The Rosemary House, or when I visit Sarah Campbell's labyrinth. I LOVE the people, but really, really enjoy seeing the way other people create gardens. All of them add touches of whimsy and demonstrate unusual techniques or ideas that inspire me. At Barb's, I saw my first lavender hedge, something that stayed with me, nagging, until I had my own long row of lavender along the split rail fence out back.
Herb and veggie plants are huge this year. It always is something you see at herb festivals - people loaded down with boxes, flats, wagons, and wheelbarrows full of plants. It really seems to me that there are more people gardening than ever before. A tomato plant here, a basil there, maybe a pepper or two. We all have to start somewhere, and it feels like more people are starting this year than ever before. The current tomato scare will only fuel that, especially following the problems we've had with lettuce, etc. in recent years.

These poppies were some of the most photographed flowers of the garden. They are so strikingly beautiful and colorful. Who could resist?
Barb Will of Sugar Grove Herbs in Somerset was there with her garden decor. The wooden star beside her is a historic reproduction of barn stars from Somerset County, and they are made by her husband, Fred. There are some really beautiful stars and I'm still trying to figure out where and how to put one on my house because they are so cool. I snapped some more pictures over the weekend because everything was so lush and gorgeous, full of blooms. I wish I could have captured the constant bird-song on a picture. That was extraordinary, and we were just far enough south to see several varieties of birds that aren't around here.
This elderberry bush is perhaps 20" wide and just as tall. It was covered with the elder blow. There is something so delightful about the flowers, so delicate and sweet. There will be enough berries on this bush to keep the birds happy for a while, with enough left over to create some syrup, tincture... and maybe even dry some. I don't know what Barb does with them. There are probably several bushes in the fields surrounding the farm.

This is our tent, nestled in right under the paw-paw grove. That really helped to keep us in the shade. Little gold no-see-ums seem to like paw-paw trees. They liked us too. We used some of our Git Stick the first day, and escaped their wrath, but forgot on Saturday. Maryanne's legs got pretty well eaten up. You can see the standing displays below. They were just put together during the week prior to the show. They kept the lipbalms and the lotion sticks up-right and miracle 0f miracles, we didn't have any melted product. However, we did lower the tent overnight on Friday, and condensation dripped on some of the shrinkwrapped soaps. About 10 bars needed to be unwrapped and air-dried for a while. No problem, though. They're fine.
This little potting shed catches my eye every year. See the elderberry bush beside it? That's just a wee portion. I don't know what the thistle is growing in front, but I just love the way it was allowed to grow in front of the door. There's that whimsy.
The yellow striped tent held about 6 vendors. There were some unusual hostas and water plants, along with some antiques and one booth with some really fascinating artwork done with found objects. I really loved her stuff, and regret not getting a particular box from her that was decorated with baubles, glitter, and dolls heads. It was just so out-there, and even though it sounds weird (well... I guess it was, really), it turned out to be a thing of beauty. Last time we did this show, we shared the yellow tent, but decided to be stand-alone this time. It's fun both ways.


patti flynn said...

i really enjoyed reading about your day out...and the pix were great.
ADORED the potting shed and thistle!

roosterhen said...

vungWhat a lovely day in a beautiful setting! The heat and leg biting no-see-ums don't show up in the pics al all ;) It all looks cool and serene. Thanks for sharing!

Allybarb said...

Just got around to reading about your visit to Alloway. While weeding this morning at Alloway I was stung several times by yellow jackets so I am taking a rest from the garden. What a surprise--little worse than the no-seeums we have been enduring this summer.
Oh, the thistle by the "Potting Shed" aka old outhouse--is the Scottish Thistle, Onopodon acanthium, a biennial. It bits too but is the symbol of Scotland. I deadhead it to keep the population under control. Thanks to all who made the Alloway Garden Faire a success!


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