THE MIGHTY MULLEIN PLANT
Mullein leaves and blossoms
Mullein is an amazing plant that grows in full sun or shade and can reach ten feet tall. It is a natural soil tester.
- If the flower spike grows crooked it indicates the soil is contaminated with chemicals.
- It is drought resistant by retaining water in the huge cabbage-like leaves.
- It is a multi-purpose herb with many healing properties from its flower, to leaves, to root.
Some remedies include making leaf poultices for treating hemorrhoids. The indians rubbed Mullein leaves in their armpits to treat prickly rash and the Quakers used the leaves to redden their cheeks. Mullein flowers steeped in the sun with olive oil is known for relieving earaches.
According to plant lore, the Romans dipped the stems in tallow to make torches and referred to Mullein as the candlewick plant. It was thought to scare away witches and bad spirits.
Designer Tip: The dry stems make interesting material for creating large arrangements. When sprayed gold they add the perfect glitz to outdoor pine arrangements for the holidays.
Gathering Tip: Look around your property and neighborhood. I bet some Mullein is growing nearby. Watch the yellow blossoms bloom up and down the stem then wait until the stock turns completely brown before cutting. Make sure the seeds have fallen (or shake well) before bringing indoors as each plant produces hundreds of seeds. Spray the whole stock gold or leave natural and hang in the garage for holiday decorating. You will be glad you did when December rolls around.
A POCKET FULL OF POSIES
The long days of June, with hours of extra sunlight, make it easy to snatch a short evening walk. Mountain breezes fill the air with the scent of hay. The Oxeye Daisy is starting to bloom and compete with the field grasses for a place in the sun. Their cheery faces sway along the creek banks and meadows inviting us to take them along home.
Mixing wild grasses with the daisy flower creates a simple bouquet of summer. When we follow patterns found in nature the designs flow with balance and harmony.
The milk glass vase adds to the country charm but so does a crock or glass jar.
Placing taller grasses to the center of the arrangement adds height and allows the natural bent of the daisy to spill over the sides of the container. Do not be concerned with right or wrong methods for putting stems into a vase. Sometimes the best arrangements are made by children who do not worry about "proper ways."
I find that flowers brighten ordinary days whether we enjoy them in nature or bring them to our tables. Becoming aware of what is blooming, and watching the season change from day to day, is a way to bring nature's harmony to our souls. Picking bouquets of flowers is a way to share this harmony with others.
" I know a bank where the wild thyme blows,
Where oxlips and the nodding violet grows."
A Midsummer-Nights Dream
Take a walk today,
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The Osage Orange or Hedge Apple is gaining popularity in decorating designs with its lime green color and texture. I especially like the fresh citrus scent. It is a natural air freshener and known to repel spiders. I tested the spider theory last fall by putting a dozen balls around the basement, and found very few cobwebs the following spring (see our previous post Remedies for Creepy Crawlies
). It made a believer out of me. This fall I gathered a bushel of these apples to use in decorating and putting in the basement as a repellant.
Hedge Apple trees are native to many states across the nation. There are plenty of websites, like eBay, where you can purchase them, and read people's praises about this weird fruit. If you are lucky enough to have access to a tree, gather a few Hedge Apples for your pantry. Pick apples as soon as they drop before they have a chance to blacken from laying on the ground (which is usually late October). For a recent corporate event, I added them to the centerpieces to give a little twist to fall decor. The room was filled with a pleasant fragrance. I love designing with a purpose beyond beauty. Add them to your holiday centerpieces with gourds or autumn leaves for a festive punch!
A FRAGRANT HERB
Sweet Annie is one of the most fragrant herbs. It is used in floral arrangements as a scented filler and as a remedy to keep spiders away. Given plenty of space the plant with reach five feet tall to five feet wide or more. Closer planting yields a cluster of smaller stems three feet tall. If your not greedy with the harvest or overly tidy with your gardening, you may find Sweet Annie volunteering in your beds the following spring. Some gardeners declare this herb as a curse when left unattended. I like to see it as a blessing in abundance.
To harvest Sweet Annie, wait until the heads become fully open and yellowish in color; then clip stems and bundle with a rubber band. Hang in a hot dry attic. The whole plant may also be lifted from the roots to dry upside down (note: this methods takes more drying space and will eliminate volunteers for next spring).
If Sweet Annie is harvested too early (before the tiny yellow blooms mature) the stems will dry to a fine green color without a full robust finish. If Sweet Annie is harvested too late the dried stems will be crumbly and messy to use in dried arrangements.
Why buy costly commercial products when Sweet Annie abounds in the garden? With a calming fragrance and useful purpose; this herb has earned the right to stay in my garden.