Tag Archives: gardens

Mugwort Harvest!

Posted on by

Fall fell with a thunk today, as the air turned from summer-fog-wet to winter-is-coming-cold. You have to live here for a couple years at least to feel the shift, but California does have four seasons, and they change roughly at the cross-quarter days: May 1 for Summer, Aug 1 for Fall, Nov 1 for Winter, and Feb 1 for Spring.

We have been socked-in all summer here, with only occasional glimpses of sun. This has been fine with me, since I find the quality of light under cloud cover to be extremely conducive to creativity, and besides, all you need to do is travel 10 miles inland to be in the hot sun again.

As weather anomalies go, I think the California coast got the better part of the deal compared to the rest of the country this summer. It has been a prolific season in the garden; all the flowers and herbs are going out of their way to celebrate the cool greenhouse-like conditions, and the colors have been extravagant. Here is just one bouquet I picked last month.

Everybody warned me that planting mugwort was akin to saying I wanted my entire property covered in mugwort. With some extreme pruning and digging up of runners over the winter months, I am happy to say that so far it is staying put in its bed—but it has taken over the entire bed, crowding out the other artemisias planted there and providing me with a lifetime supply of mugwort in just one season.

Last summer I made the mistake of harvesting the mugwort too soon; only afterward did I read that you’re supposed to wait till it flowers to pick it. This year I have been much more patient, but even now, late in the summer, it is not quite ready to harvest. The cool weather has delayed its ripening, but it is the most amazing slow-motion transformation. As the buds develop, the stalks and leaves turn a burnished purple-red and the plant gets strongly fragrant, reminding me of another common psychoactive plant (one that is much more lucrative to grow, sadly for me).

My friend Corey came over and asked what I was going to do with all this bounty, but I haven’t quite gotten that far. After hanging it to dry, I will use some of it to make dream pillows, but that still leaves about 90% unspoken for.

Mugwort tincture seems excessive; it is such a strong plant already that putting it into tincture form could be more harmful than helpful. Mugwort oil sounds like a good choice, but I would love to hear from others on what works best. Are there any dreamers and/or herbalists out there with great suggestions to share? Meanwhile, here is another view of the garden, where Pacific mugwort, yarrow and rosemary all mingle and kvetch, overheard by a nosy strand of passion flower.

Meme: Passion Quilt

Posted on by

I was recently tagged for another blogging meme by Chas Clifton. This one I like, however. It has produced a lovely post by AD, another by Cat Chapin-Bishop, and undoubtedly more that I have yet to spot. And in spite of my crusty exterior and propensity of late to blog about cars, it has captured my imagination so here I go. The rules of the meme are thus:

  • Post a picture or make/take/create your own that captures what YOU are most passionate for students to learn about.
  • Give your picture a short title.
  • Title your blog post “Meme: Passion Quilt.”
  • Link back to this blog entry.
  • Include links to 5 (or more) educators.

After thinking about it for a few days, I realized that the assignment is harder than it looks. How do you say something that is true, and inspiring, and doesn’t end up sounding like a commencement address? MySage/Rosemary Garden choice of subjects was also limited by my photography skills. In the end, I settled for this close-up of the part of my herb garden that is in flower now. Here is what I have to say about life, learning, and things that grow in the night:

You will often feel that you are going through the hardest years of your life. It will always be true. Accepting that life involves lots of hard work allows you the opportunity to do it anyway, and find ways to enjoy it. This will put you at a tremendous advantage over nearly everyone else. It will make the rest of us happy too, because there is nothing more inspiring than seeing someone thrive.

Somewhere along the line things will start getting easier, but you’ll be enjoying life so much you will forget to notice. Don’t take the easy times for granted, and don’t assume that a life of leisure is your birthright. Cultivate friends who can call you on the carpet if you become hubristic. There is nothing quite so unattractive as the fall of the arrogant—and they do fall.

Finally, no matter how hard things get, beauty appears. It comes unexpectedly, with breathtaking color and clarity. You don’t have to earn these moments, or deserve them, or even pray for them; they happen all on their own. The lesson here: you don’t have to do everything yourself.

Work diligently, but don’t deprive yourself of a good night’s sleep. Slow down enough to notice the blooming things. And even though you may be planting teeny little starter plants, space them far enough apart so that they have plenty of room to grow. The same goes for you.

I tag Pandora, Donald, Thorn, Katrina, and Oak.