Friday, April 24, 2009

A Look at Sweet Annie; a prim crafter's best friend!


Several other names for Sweet Annie include Sweet Wormwood, Chinese Fragrant Fern and Artemisia Annua.

Sweet Annie has feathery green foliage and small yellow flowers which bloom Mid Summer, Late Summer/Early Fall. It holds its color very well when dried, and it seems to keep its scent much longer than any other herb.

It’s easily grown from seed. Just sow your seeds after any danger of frost is past. If left to go to seed in the fall, Sweet Annie will pop up in your garden year after year. Some might call this a noxious weed and it can become invasive, but Sweet Annie attracts bees, butterflies and birds. It self-sows freely; so deadhead if you do not want volunteer seedlings next season.

This will grow best in a sunny location, but does not need any special soil. Sweet Annie grows up to six feet in height, so be sure to plant near the back of a flower bed. It has average water needs, just water regularly but don’t over water.

To harvest Sweet Annie, just cut the stems off close to the ground.

To dry: Bunch the stems together, tying a group at the base, hang upside down in a dry, dark, open, airy place. To collect seed head/pods when flowers fade; allow seed heads to dry on plants; remove and collect seeds.

People with allergies may have trouble working with Sweet Annie. You can spray a little hair spray on the greens before handling or wear gloves. Sweet Annie is also an excellent deer deterrent!

The use of Sweet Annie in medicine dates back to ancient China, where it was used to treat fever. It has been used in connection with Malaria, Fever, Infectious Diarrhea and Intestinal Parasites. Artemisia-based drugs are not readily available in the United States or Europe and are still considered experimental.

Dried or fresh, Sweet Annie is a primitive artists dream to use in wreaths and so many other prim creations!

This article was contributed by Debbie of Barefoot Primitives. Debbie is a master gardener and is a wealth of knowledge to those of us here a wsoapp who love to garden!

Friday, April 3, 2009

The Romance of Flower Folklore

April Showers bring those May flowers! So here at Wsoapp, wet took a closer look at some of those very old, traditional garden favorites and discovered the folklore that contributed to their names.



The Legend of Black-eyed Susan and Sweet William

These two much-loved wildflowers have a romantic legend in common, told in an old English poem by John Gay: “All in the downs the fleet was moored, banners waving in the wind. When Black-eyed Susan came aboard, and eyed the burly men.
‘Tell me ye sailors, tell me true, if my Sweet William sails with you.’” This search for Sweet William is one of the all-time favorite wildflower legends, and good gardeners always note that these two species are both biennials, bloom at exactly the same time, and look lovely together.

How the Forget-me-not got its name.

This is a romantic and haunting legend indeed. It is said that a medieval German knight and his lady love were courting together beside a stream. Seeing the lovely sky blue flowers on the banks he began to gather them for his sweet. Without notice tragedy struck the young man when a flash flood descended and swept him into the rushing water. As he was pulled away he tossed the bouquet to his love and uttered the forever famous words. Forget Me Not.


The Daisy

Daisy chains should always have their ends joined when finished as they represent the sun, the earth, and the circle of life. It was once believed that dressing a child in a daisy chain would protect them from being stolen by the fairies.


Foxglove

In Scandinavia, they say that foxes were saved by the fairies from extinction when the fairies gave them the secret of how to ring the foxglove bells to warn other foxes of approaching hunters. The foxes were also known to wear these flower gloves so that they could walk more silently among the chicken roosts to capture an unsuspecting hen or rooster

Sweet pea
In the language of flowers sweet peas are used to say farewell. Sweet peas are said in European folklore to bring good luck, protect children from harm, and promote friendship. This would be an excellent plant for any cottage or child friendly garden.







Hollyhock

What cottage garden would be complete without the old fashioned hollyhock? In fact in the early days here in America, the Hollyhock was often planted around outhouses in order to "afford gentlewomen a tad bit more privacy". So when one of our Victorian ancestors needed to use the restroom, she would discretely ask her hosts where their Hollyhock garden was-a proper lady never mentioned an outhouse by name! In the language of the flowers, hollyhock means abundance, fertility, mother of the family, and in some versions, ambition, particularly female ambition.