my green vermont

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Drying Mania Begins

Welcome to My Green Vermont - A Blog by Eulalia Benejam Cobb.
By Eulalia Benejam Cobb

It happens every year.  In June the garden goes crazy with sap surging and shoots shooting and bees buzzing and everything blooming and smelling heavenly.  And I want to bring all that glory into the house and hold on to it.  Not very Zen of me, I know. 

I gather armfuls of mints and artemisia and chamomile, basketfuls of roses, buckets of thyme and oregano.  I pick lavender until my back gives out.  The things with stems I tie in bunches and hang from the curtain rods in the dining room and living room–I think my  herbs perfuming the air as we pass by make a far more
interesting \”window treatment\” than some boring curtain.  The rose petals and the thyme I dry on basketweave trays on the dining room table.  When a storm is threatening, as it did  today, the scent of roses fills the room.  After the herbs dry, I strip the leaves and flowers from the stems, and store them in glass jars that I line up proudly on the dry sink in the kitchen.  And there they sit until next summer. 

But while I pick my herbs, I have all kinds of plans for them–potpourris, sachets, sleep pillows, cordials, liqueurs, colognes.  Unfortunately, I only manage to bring a couple of these into fruition.  In the summer and early fall, I\’m too busy gardening and harvesting and preserving vegetables, and by the time that is over, it\’s Thanksgiving, and next thing I know Christmas is upon us and it\’s too late to start the potpourris and liqueurs, which need weeks to \”ripen,\” to give as gifts.

As I write, I must have six or seven jars full of last year\’s mint, chamomile, and lavender.  And yet this morning, before the storms broke, I ran out and gathered lavender (trying to keep out of the bees\’ way), bergamot and chamomile, and hung them up in bunches from the curtain rod on the front door.

It gives me a thrilling kind of medieval herbalist feeling, to see those bunches hanging inside the house, and I practically salivate thinking of all the things I can do with them.  The bergamot will look sensational in a glass potpourri jar, and I just found a recipe on the internet for chamomile wine (it\’s more like chamomile-flavored wine, since the recipe starts with a bottle of white wine).  And the roses this year are so fabulous that I\’m thinking of sending off for some perfumer\’s alcohol so I can make my own rose cologne….

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