The Herbarie

Sunday, November 11, 2012

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Saturday, September 22, 2012


The Tea Olives are Blooming!  Tea Olive (Osmanthus) are growing throughout all the gardens at Stoney Hill Farm.  The Ginger Lily are still blooming as well as a few Honeysuckle, but right now the Tea Olives fill the air with heavenly scent.    

Osmanthus fragrans has many, many tiny flowers that are powerfully fragrant. 


Sally and Cottage Cat are on their way to work at The Stoney Hill Farm office. 
Many Tea Olives line our driveway.  We enjoy our walk as we sniff along the way.

Gulf Fritillary Butterfly on Zinnia.
Butterflies are everywhere this time of year. 
They love the Zinnias! 


Gulf Fritillary on Cosmos Near Cottage

Gulf Fritillary on Belinda Rose Near Cottage
Yellow Swallowtail on Zinnias

Cloudless Sulfur on Zinnias
Metamorphosis - Ends are Beginnings - The Cycle of Life
My Roses are still blooming!   The Prince
Lantana near the Cottage Garden

One of the water gardens in Hummer Haven.

Ruby Throated Hummer taking a sweet drink
at the sugar water feeder near Stoney Hill Farm office. 
All hummers are preparing for the long trip south.


Autumn - Changes - Endings - Beginnings  
Love and Good Wishes, Angie

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Honeysuckle, Ginger Lily and Tea Olive!

August has turned out to be a wonderful month!  The past few weeks have given us lovely rainfall and moderate temperatures that feel like early Fall! 

The Honeysuckle is blooming again!  When I take my morning walk around our farm, the sweet scent is so lovely.  I’ve distilled more Honeysuckle Hydrosol for The Herbarie that will hopefully last through the winter until it blooms again in the spring.  I’ve also prepared my own honeysuckle tinctures to ward off cold and flu this winter. 
The Ginger Lilies are flowering and smell so heavenly!  Ginger Lily is a sure sign that Fall is on the way!  I always bring Ginger Lily into the house when it blooms and the entire house is filled with its sweet scent!  Ginger Lily is one of my absolute favorite scents!

Before long our many, many Tea Olives (osmanthus) will be flowering and sending forth their elusive, sweet scent.  This shrub is evergreen here in the south and is drought resistant, which makes it a fabulous landscape shrub.  The tiny flowers are not showy, but the scent is wonderful.  I like to prune tea olive into small trees and I have them in almost all the gardens.  The tiny flowers grow in clusters and are seldom noticed.  But visitors almost always ask about the mysterious, yet exquisite scent that drifts through the air on a bright Fall day. As seen in the picture above, I've lined our driveways with Tea Olive, Firepower Nandina and Melampodium - all tough, drought resistant plants that love our hot summer sun.

Our Honeysuckle, Tea Olive, and Ginger Lily remind me of the new scented botanical extract called Asian Lily.  And as promised,  Sensique Scented Botanical Extract Asian Lily is on the way!  Asian Lily is a special blend of natural botanical extracts and should be in stock the first part of September.  Asian Lily is light and softly exotic and perfect to use in fragrance-free formulations.  

My faithful roses are still blooming here and there.  Maggie has been in bloom all summer.  The Tea Roses – Monsieur Tillier and Mrs. B.R. Cant are  lush and full of blooms.   Othello (David Austin) Rose is very sweet and hot pink. 
The delicate climber Awakening grows beside the cottage porch among the Artemesia and day lilies.  The Camellia sasanqua are full of buds and will be blooming soon. 

Zinnias are everywhere and are every color of pink, orange, and yellow.  Butterflies and bees love these happy flowers!   They are also a delight to me every summer and are always welcome to reseed in my gardens!

Cardinal Flower is wrapped around the pergola and is very attractive to hummingbirds. When I gave a garden tour last week, the hummers were zooming all around us from flower to flower.
The muscadines are ripe and ready to be picked! 
Sally is working in the office today and I'm working in my lab.  The Herbarie has taken a break from processing orders until Tuesday, September 4.  During this time, I'm hoping to be able to catch up on my "to do" list as well as some needed R&R! 
Over the next few weeks we are going to be upgrading to use WordPress for blogging.  We also plan to connect with Facebook from the new blog.  Once everything is complete, I'll let everyone know so we can all migrate over to the new place!
Best Wishes for a Good Holiday Weekend!
Angie & Sally


Sunday, August 12, 2012

Happiness is the Smile of a Dog

That's what I am looking at right now and yes, it brings me great joy :-)

The past few weeks have been grueling.  After the chemotherapy treatment, Sally experienced terrible nausea and upset stomach.  She was very sick and didn't eat or drink for almost two weeks.  She had little energy and it seemed she was losing her spirit.  We had to rush to the vet three times for her to receive fluids subcutaneously.  Thankfully the fluids did seem to revive her each time.  Eventually Sally was able to eat small amounts of baby food and chicken, but I had to hand feed her because she had no strength and no appetite.  Finally after a couple of weeks, the chemo meds were out of her system and she began to eat and drink again.  We've decided not to do anymore chemo treatments.   We are hoping that this one chemo treatment was enough to rid her body of stray cancer cells.

But this is what we know:  Today we are happy and enjoying life!
For the past week, Sally has been gaining strength and gradually moving around more.   We both missed our walk together around the property feeding the animals, but she just didn't have the strength to do it.  So, I've been letting her rest just outside our house while I go around the farm to feed the critters and water the gardens.  I confess that it felt lonely without her and I longed for her to become strong again.  This past week I was watering the various gardens and I left Sally resting beside the grape arbors.  As I was watering in the cottage garden, Sally walk/hopped on her own through the gate!  She came around the corner with a huge smile on her face and happy wagging tail!  She was very proud of herself and I was so filled with joy and so thankful at seeing her full of spirit again.  C.C. the Cottage Cat was happy to see Sally back again too. 

 Today, Sally walk/hopped all the way around the property!  We still take it slow and the trip around the property takes about an hour or two.  With all that I have to do and feeling that I never will get it all done, I have a tendency to move fast and am always on the go - multi-tasking all the while.  But Sally has taught me that it's much better to move slowly and to just be in the moment - not easy for me to do, but with Sally as an excellent role model I'm trying.  

This Sunday morning we spent time in all the gardens and savored the rare and lovely cool weather and fresh rainfall.  The Cottage Cat (C.C.) went with us.  Sally rested while I harvested more Holy Tulsi Basil and Sweet Violet Leaves for her tea. The dear roses are blooming again!  Hummers are busy humming in Hummer Haven.  And all is right with the world! 

 Ginger Lily & Mandevilla

Holy Tulsi Basil near the Secret Garden gate 

Holy Tulsi Basil from last year reseeded and is now everywhere in all the gardens. 

 Maggie is almost always full of blooms!  She has a wonderful damask fragrance and frilly, hot pink flowers.

Monsieur Tillier forgave me for the severe pruning this spring and is covered with carmine pink flowers. 

 The waterfall pond

Sally is full of good, positive energy now!  

 And most importantly her sweet spirit is back!

 Love and all good wishes,
Angie & Sally

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Lessons I've Learned From My Dog

Sally - Queen of Stoney Hill Farm

The last few months have been full of changes and challenges. One thing after another so that I've hardly had a chance to catch my breath. Some good, some not so good or seemingly so. Fortunately the business is thriving and has not been affected adversely. Our Herbarie Team - Wanda, Bobby, Jean, Alden and I - work very hard to keep everything running smoothly for our customers. In fact, I believe our Team is working more efficiently and happily than ever before!

I truly believe challenges are opportunities for learning and growth. But the choice is up to us whether or not to go down that path or climb that mountain or navigate those white water rapids. So these past few months when I've been climbing my own personal Mt. Everest I know that I have become much stronger and have learned so much! I know there will be ups and downs, but I plan to continue to ride those waves.

I've learned so much from many wonderful sources.   I'll be happy to share these sources if anyone is interested.  But one of my best teachers is my dog Sally. First of all - DOG is GOD spelled backwards - and that is significant. I love and honor all of God's creatures, but dogs are special - a gift of love to humans.

Over the years, I've written about Sally, my Great Pyrenees. Sally was supposed to be the guardian for our goats, but she never spent even one night outside. The first night we put her to bed in the kennel and went to bed ourselves. In the middle of the night, I got up to check on her - looked outside - and she was gone from the kennel! I opened the front door to search for her and she was sitting right there. She didn't like staying outside by herself and wanted to be with us. So from that night, Sally has been a house/office guardian dog. Sally takes her job very seriously and is fiercely protective of her family. People who are threatening should be afraid of the Big White Dog. But to friends, Sally is super sweet and gentle and adores being petted. Our many cats love her and she loves them. The cats love to snuggle in her big fluffy tail and wind back and forth around her legs - claiming her as their own. Strong enough to be gentle - this was Lesson One.

Sally and I have become the best of friends. We've been through a lot together. I sometimes think she can read my mind. She certainly knows my habits and has adapted her schedule to mine. She watches my every move and knows when it's time for eating or bed. We enjoy each other's company whether it's going for long walks or just relaxing in the garden or watching for rabbits in the fields. Through the difficult times, Sally is always there to let me know I am loved and ok just being me. Her big smile and wagging tail bring me great joy. I've never boarded Sally and if she can't go, then I don't go either. Sally is part of my family. Dog people will understand what I am talking about. If you are not a dog person, then I highly recommend getting to know a dog. Love and Be Loved - this is Lesson Two.

In June 2010 Sally was diagnosed with a soft tissue sarcoma on her left elbow. We were devastated of course with the news, but with treatment the prognosis was good. The tumor was localized, but due to the lack of extra tissue, the surgeon could not get the clean margins that we wanted. So, we decided to follow the tumor removal with radiation treatment since the survival rate was excellent for this protocol. But radiation treatment meant 5 days a week for one month. An entire month - 20 treatments!  We took her up each morning and brought her home each evening. Each day Sally was anesthetized for the radiation treatments. She had to keep the IV catheter in her leg for the duration - rotating legs every few days or so. In spite of all this, Sally was up and ready to go every morning - excited to get in the car and excited to be going somewhere. When she came home she was happy to be here - weak and groggy from anesthesia, but nonetheless happy to be home. Every day, same thing, same attitude - same sweet spirit. Sally didn't bemoan the fact that she had cancer nor did she dread going for treatment or whine about the IV stuck in her legs. Sally never worried about yesterday or what might be coming tomorrow. She smiled and wagged her tail instead. Find Joy in The Moment - this was Lesson Three.

I wrote about this experience in my June 2010 blog and also have pictures of Sally and the veterinary staff. I must mention that Sally's radiation treatment was in Greenville, SC at Upstate Veterinary Specialty Clinic. The expertise and kindness and compassion that we found at Upstate is exceptional - truly extraordinary. Great thanks and blessings to Upstate for all you do!!

Sally is the Queen of Stoney Hill Farm, but shares her domain with the seven indoor cats, two outside cats, two bunnies, three goats, many wild creatures and me.

During our long walks a few months ago, I noticed that Sally seemed to be limping. Thinking it was likely arthritis since she was approaching 8 years, I took her to the vet for xrays. The xrays didn't show arthritis or any problems whatsoever. But the limping persisted and finally, about a month or so ago, I took Sally to a specialist who found a mass on her right shoulder. The CT scan revealed cancer once again. Again, this news was devasting to me. Surely my Sally couldn't have cancer again! It just didn't seem fair! I need Sally now more than ever! The mass was huge and aggressive and had to be removed or she would not live beyond a month or two. Removal of the mass meant amputation of her entire right shoulder and arm. Sally would be an amputee. Would this be the best thing for Sally? Could she have good quality of life as a three legged dog? Would she ever be able to walk again? What should I do? Lesson Four - This was a very hard lesson for me. Life is often not fair as we define it.  Things often happen in ways that we would not have chosen. This is the difficult stuff of life.  We can't see beyond the challenges while they are happening. We ask ourselves why?  But it's best to trust that good will ultimately come from our challenges.  We do our best and make the best of life, no matter what happens. After we give it our best, we surrender the rest.

I spoke with a number of experts and did my own research and prayed. Based on all of that, I scheduled surgery at Upstate with Dr. Allen on June 27. So the week before, Sally and I went on our long walk to the top of the hill. We have been walking the same route for years - usually about three miles or so. Sally is well known around our community as the Big White Dog. People look forward to seeing us and wave to us as folks do in the South. Honestly, Sally has always enjoyed sniffing about as much as walking and I used to tell Sally that it was a Walk, not a Sniff and would insist that we hurry on our way. Hurry, hurry, hurry! But that day I let her sniff and linger just as long as she wanted. We cherished each moment of that walk because it would likely be the last long walk for the two of us together. Lesson Five - Don't hurry! Be sure to take time to sniff - smell the roses!  The time is now!

On Wednesday, June 27 Sally had surgery and stayed in the clinic for two nights - her first two nights ever away from home or me. If I could have stayed in the clinic I would have, but human parents are not allowed. Dr. Allen and staff called me several times each day to let me know that Sally was doing well. May those doctors be blessed for their compassion and kindness! On Friday, we went to pick her up and we were so happy to see one another! As soon as I saw her, we hugged for a long time right there on the floor of the clinic. Best of all, Sally was able to walk/hop outside to the car! It was slow walk/hopping, but she made it just fine. Now it's been two and a half weeks since surgery and Sally is walk/hopping just about everywhere she wants to!  She reminds me of a ballerina as she tip toes around in a circle before lying down on her bed.  She is smiling and happy and wagging her tail. She is enjoying the special diet that I prepare for her. She can now hop/walk with me each morning to feed the goats and rabbits and cats - a circle around the property. I've adapted to Sally's habits and needs now.  As Wanda says, it's our "new normal".  We have a new normal almost daily.  We take it slow now, but that's the best part - taking time to look at those wild rabbits and birds and trees and blue sky. Taking time to be grateful that we are alive. Taking time to enjoy life and these gifts of nature.

The biopsy results came back last week. The oncologist tells me that Sally has Hemangiosarcoma which is typically a very aggressive cancer that attacks cells of the blood vessels. The CT scan did not reveal any spread of the cancer, but there is always the likelihood of microscopic cancer cells. Next week we will start chemotherapy. Sally will have 6-8 treatments over an 18 week period. The odds are in her favor for tolerating the chemo treatments. They say with chemo treatments we can extend her life for 10 months to one year or two or perhaps more. If she doesn't tolerate the treatments, we will stop treatment. It's important that Sally have quality of life. In addition to the chemo treatments we make sure we do yoga every morning and have massage therapy too. Sally also enjoys her herbal teas that I make for her. Sometimes we just sit together listening to the birds and watching the wild rabbits and squirrels. We are making the most of every moment of every day.

Ok, so I'll stop counting the lessons - there are too many. I'll just keep trying to learn ;-)

In 2010 when Sally completed her treatment successfully I wanted her to become a certified Therapy Dog. I knew that with her powerful sweet spirit she could help heal troubled souls. But the Greenville group didn't want us nor did the Columbia group. My human feelings were hurt and at the time I felt rejected. Just last week, the thought came to me that SALLY IS A THERAPY DOG! She was born that way and no certificate could make it more authentic. Our little community has been affected by Sally and her experiences and the way she has handled them. Sally smiles and waits at the driveway for pats as the local walking group goes by. Children notice how soft her fur feels and how sweetly she responds to petting. As a good dog should, Sally has demonstrated stellar qualities that all of us can learn from. I know she will continue to teach me.  Her job on this earth is not finished yet. 

Love and All Good Wishes from Angie and Sally!

Saturday, April 7, 2012

The Roses are Blooming!

April Showers bring April Flowers! The Roses are Blooming at Stoney Hill Farm!

Monsieur Tillier blooms beautifully near the warehouse!
Monsieur Tillier is a true Tea rose and a standout in the garden. This shrub is probably 8 feet by 10 feet and is covered in vermillion pink blooms from April until November.

Carefree Beauty - sometimes referred to as Katy Road Pink - is constantly in bloom all season. Carefree Beauty is aptly named since she requires no maintenance and is outstandingly beautiful all season!

Notice the wren house just above on the fence. Mama and Papa wren spent weeks and weeks making the house just right before building their nest. It will be exciting to see the baby birds!

Carefree Beauty stands in my Secret Garden which leads through the pergola to Hummer Haven.

Last year I planted the fragrant Noisette climber, Reve dOr, beside the pergola. Reve dOr - French for "dream of gold" - has already climbed to the top of the pergola in one season and is blooming now.

I am looking forward to seeing the entire pergola covered in gorgeous golden flowers in a year or two.

Last week I distilled the first 2012 Rose Hydrosol! We will be busy distilling for the remainder of April and into May.

Everything is blooming, including my collards as seen here. These beautiful, edible flowers are delicious and nutritious. They can be used in fresh salad or steamed or just munched fresh from the garden.

French Lavender (Lavandula stoechas) grows happily in my garden!

The bees LOVE this plant and I enjoy the scent and flavor too! French Lavender, Lemon Balm, Vervain, and Spearmint with Honey and fresh squeezed Lemon juice make a wonderful, relaxing tea!

This is Joy's Place where she spent much of the winter of 2009-2010. These are her favorite roses, Mrs. BR Cant and Monsieur Tillier. Mrs. BR Cant is in the foreground and the newly pruned with fresh growth Monsieur Tillier is in the background.

On April 3, I saw the first of the Ruby Throated Hummers! I enjoy sharing my garden with these amazing little birds!

Good Wishes to You and More to come as the Roses Continue to Bloom at Stoney Hill Farm!


Sunday, March 4, 2012

Early Spring

What happened to Winter?

Daffodils and hyacinths were blooming in January and February! What a contrast when compared to the last two years of snow and ice! Yes, winter is leaving us. The Root Children barely had time for a nap!

Yesterday I spent time outside in the gardens and around the waterfall pond. The frogs have resurfaced and are bigger now, but I don't see any of the mosquito fish that were in the pond last year. With the 70+ temperatures, the frogs have been sunning themselves on the rocks in the pond. I notice the pond needs cleaning and the surrounding beds need weeding and mulching. I have not yet planted my snow peas or sweet peas! I worry that it may be too late. I've not yet started any pepper or tomato seeds - yikes! Where did the time go?

I love Queen Anne's Lace and other plants that many people consider weeds. Dear Queen Anne diligently tossed her seeds last fall and now I have hundreds - maybe thousands - of tiny Queen Anne's Lace plants.........everywhere.

Tasty Chickweed and wild geranium are in every garden bed and are thriving.

Pretty little Dandelions are popping up and I welcome them to my garden too.

But enough is enough and too much is too much. Time for weeding!

The Redbuds are so pretty in pink! The sunny yellow Carolina Jessamine is blooming! I notice the pansies and the Johnny Jump Ups are turning their happy little faces to the sun.

Late last fall, I planted spinach, chard and Johnny Jump Ups (Viola cornuta, Viola tricolor) in the containers that are situated in the Secret Garden and Hummer Haven. I enjoy the combination of color and texture - rich shades of green, purple, chartreuse, lavender, and yellow. Plus, everything is edible!

Last Fall I also planted broccoli and collards as usual. Collards are a staple in the Southern garden! This winter I enjoyed steamed collards, collards in quiche, and collards with garlic sauteed in olive oil. My bunnies, Tinkerbell and Peter Pan, are true southern bunnies because collards are one of their favorite treats, but of course they don't want them cooked at all! I also like to munch on veggies and herbs fresh picked from the garden. Tender fresh-from-the-garden broccoli tips are delicious and nutritious! This week the broccoli and collard plants have all started to "go to seed". Energy is changing and moving from roots, to leaves, to flowers, to seeds! Spring is almost here!

Fortunately we set up the new bluebird houses in January. We now have a total of five bluebird houses and all have baffles that will hopefully keep the bluebirds safe from predators. Everyone - Bluebirds, Chickadees, Cardinals, Wrens, Goldfinch and others have all been scouting for nesting sites for weeks. The bluebird couples appear to have staked out their homes and their territory. We've observed the male sitting on top of the house while the female checks inside. The wrens have been working on their house for a few weeks to get it just right before moving in.

The enormous Monsieur Tillier tea rose has been the favorite nesting and roosting spot for our Cardinals. This is the same rose where my hummer Joy spent most of her time in the winter of 2009 and early 2010. Monsieur Tillier is beside the pergola where I would sit each morning at daybreak watching for Joy to come to the feeder. I was never certain where she would roost each night, but each morning she would magically appear at the feeder. After she had her "breakfast" she would perch in the Monsieur Tillier branches for a chit chat. We followed that routine from November through mid-March so we got to know each other very well. Needless to say, Monsieur Tillier has special meaning for me.

True tea shrub roses don't require the same severe annual pruning as hybrid tea roses and generally respond best to light shearing. But at some point they do need to be pruned rather severely for rejuvenation. Monsieur Tillier has never been pruned and has grown to be at least 12ftx12ft over the years. The Cardinals and other birds like to nest and roost in the thorny branches because they provide good protection from snakes and other predators. I've been reluctant to prune Monsieur Tillier for the past two years thinking Joy may come back for a visit. But just a few weeks ago I decided to rejuvenate! So, now Monsieur Tillier is sporting a stylish new cut! I'm hoping the Cardinals can still find a good secure nesting spot and that Monsieur Tillier will be happily leafing out and blooming this Spring! I'll keep you posted on how it turns out!

A few nights ago I dreamed of hummingbirds. In my dream, several new spring hummers were zooming around trying to find the sugar water feeders that are usually hung by my office door as well as other spots around the gardens. But the feeders weren't there and the nectar wasn't made! Oh dear! Then I woke up.

So, yesterday I made the sugar water, hung the feeders and now we are ready!

Good Wishes for Early Spring!