Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Absinthe - The Green Fairy

Our friend, Cheryl Lins, is an artisan absinthe distiller. She is located in the Catskills, as are we. She LOVES local. We grow many of the herbs she uses. Says she likes the quality of our herbs better than the Italian imported herbs she used to buy. Click on the link to see an article that the NY Times just wrote about her and Phoenix Distillery.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Autumn Drive

It was a productive few days in the garden. Planted out 200 garlic, transplanted lots of echinacea, valerian and roses. Cleaned up several of the raised garden beds. Dan dug up some horseradish and I hand grated about a quart of it. My sinuses are clear now! Went for a short drive on Sunday morning. Here are some photos.

The mushrooms growing out of this knot in the tree amused me greatly.

Is this a tree or an ent??

I'm sure fairy folk live here!

Monday, September 28, 2009

It's Autumn, Time to Move Tender Herbs Indoors

It's autumn and we have had a few light frosts. It's time to bring in the tender herbs that I grow in pots. They have been living on the porch and on the deck for the summer. I've trimmed, washed and moved them to their living quarters, in front of a set of southern-facing glass doors. Here's what I brought in:

Rootbeer plant - Piper auritum
Dream Herb - Calea zacatechichi
Tea - Camellia sinensis
Vanilla Bean orchid
Attar of Roses Scented Geranium
Black pepper - Piper nigrum
Vietnamese Celery
Cactus grandiflorus
Aztec Sweet Herb
Gotu kola
Salvia divinorum
Peppermint Scented Geranium
Coffee Plant
Rabbit's Foot Fern
Moujean Tea
Inebriating Mint
Vick's plant
Lemon Scented Geranium
Honeydew Melon Sage
Habek Mint
Lemon Verbena
Rock Rose
Balm of Gilead
Aloysia gratissima - Bee Brush
Vetiver grass
Polygonum multiflorum - He Shou Wu
Cuban Oregano
Helichrysum - curry plant
Aloe vera
Lemon Meringue Scented Geranium
Old-Fashioned Rose Scented Geranium
Christmas Cactus
Citronella Scented Geranium
Agapanthus - Lily of the Nile
Houyttunia variegata

There's still tons of work to do in the yard. Roots to be dug (burdock, echinacea, valerian, dock), beds to be thinned and a few plants to be moved. I'll plant garlic this weekend - if the rain holds off long enough.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Crazy Quilt News

This past weekend, my crazy quilt, "Crazy Diamonds" won two more ribbons. The Bennington VT Quilt Fest doesn't have a judged show, it's people's choice votes and vendor's choice votes. I won first in People's Choice and got a vendor's choice ribbon as well. Yay! And, another of my crazy quilts, "Homage to Ardelia" is in Washington State at a special exhibit at the La Conner Quilt and Textile Museum. At their Quilt Fest, they are having an exhibit of quilts which have won national awards (and the ribbons are to be displayed with the quilts). "Homage to Ardelia" has won Best Needlework at the Vermont Quilt Fest (and was on special exhibit at their Historymakers retrospective), Best Traditional Quilt at Threads of America, and ribbons at Road to California, Quilt Odyssey, NQA and something else I can't remember right now!

"Rose Song", the crazy quilt block I donated to the Alliance for American Quilts Museum will be displayed (along with the 83 other donations) at the Houston Quilt Festival in October. It will then be sold on eBay. Go to for more info.

And soon, "Birds of a Feather", my award-winning crazy quilt entered in last year's Hoffman Challenge should be coming home soon, after its year-long tour around the country in the traveling exhibit of award winners.

After herb harvesting is done for the year, it's back to planning the next crazy quilt. Actually, I have ideas already formed and tentatively started. On a couple new projects....

Tuesday, July 21, 2009


Woo hoo! My crazy quilt, "Crazy Diamonds", won first place in the Great American Embroidered Quilt contest at the American Quilters' Society show in Knoxville, TN. I am very pleased!

Here's the full shot of the quilt, which measures 59 x 77. It is completely hand done. All hand pieced, hand embroidered.

And a detail. The face is painted onto silk and the embroidery surrounding the face is silk thread. The bonnet is dimensional, it is stuffed to give it volume. The bodice of the dress is as well. The good news came during a tough week. Yay.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Upcoming Herb Classes

Drink to Your Good Health with Herbal Teas, Wednesday, July 15, from 6-8 pm, Green Spiral Herbs in Huntersland, New York. Taste and explore using herbs as teas. Learn the benefits and pleasures of drinking your herbs. Join Herbalist Betty Pillsbury in the extensive Green Spiral Herbs gardens. Cost $30. Email to register.

Herbal Home Cleaning Saturday, July 18, from 10 am - noon, Green Spiral Herbs in Huntersland, New York. Learn to make and use herbal cleaning products that are friendly to the environment, your house and family. Cost $30. Email to register.

It's Wise to Grow Sage Wednesday, July 22, from 6-8 pm, Green Spiral Herbs in Huntersland, New York. Sage is so much more than just an herb to use in Thanksgiving stuffing. Come to the gardens and we will discuss how sage can be used for various culinary and medicinal uses. We will also reflect on the adage, "Why should a man die when he has sage in the garden?" Cost $30. Email to register.

Herb Walk Saturday, July 25 from 11 am - 1 pm, Green Spiral Herbs in Huntersland, New York. Join Herbalist Betty Pillsbury in her extensive gardens, which are a certified Botanical Sanctuary. We'll look at what's blooming and talk about the various uses of plants. Cost $20. Email to register.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Crazy quilts!

This is the block I made and donated to the Alliance for the American Quilt. They asked people to make a 16" block and donate it. The blocks will be sold on eBay. Soon, they will have a gallery of the donated blocks on their web site. I'll let you know when the pics are up.

Also, my quilt, "Crazy Diamonds" was juried into the Knoxville AQS show in the Great American Embroidered Quilt Contest. I can't post a pic yet (shhhhhh, secret stuff), but keep your fingers crossed for me please.

June pictures of the garden

We have had a lot of rain in June. I think it has poured 22 of the 28 days thus far. However, the William Baffin rose seems to be happy. That's valerian just past the roses and it is quite happy too.

This photo is showing the porch bed with lupines still blooming and foxgloves and campanulas coming on.

This was earlier in the month. H. F. Young clematis is blooming nicely along side an Adirondack chair painted the lightest lavender.
More roses. I do enjoy them! I made rose petal syrup last week.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Happy May Day - and Quilt Show

Happy May Day. May Day always reminds me of my kindergarten teacher, Mrs. Malloy. She was a DEAR soul and taught me about May Day baskets. You make a basket (we did construction papers ones) and filled it with flowers (real or made of tissue paper) and left them anonymously on neighbor's doors. I hope the fairies have left you some flowers upon your doorstep.

Today and this weekend is "Quilters of the Valley" at the Middleburgh Library. It is a fundraiser for the library as well as being a showcase for the many talented quilters in the Schoharie Valley. My award-winning crazy quilt, "Homage to Ardelia" will be shown. At the Best House (a restored Victorian house), a collection of antique quilts will be displayed. I lent three of my antique crazy quilts for the display. Come on down to Middleburgh and see the gorgeous quilts. Hours are:

Friday, May 1, 10 am - 7 pm
Saturday and Sunday, May 2 & 3, 10 am - 4 pm

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Good Weekend

Yesterday, I gave a lecture as part of being the invited Guest Artist at the Q.U.I.L.T.. Inc quilt show in Ravena, NY. Standing in front of about 20 pieces of my crazy quilting, I babbled on about how I make my art and a little of the why. The guild was wonderful. The audience was very receptive. I do believe there were a few who were enticed to make their own crazy quilt.

It has been a nice stretch of weather for the garden as well. DH took a few days off from work to stretch out the weekend. Five new fruit trees went in: Dwarf varieties of McIntosh, Granny Smith and Winesap apples, a Belle of GA peach and a Bing cherry. We are waiting on an order of cider apples as well: Fameuse, Sops of Wine, Sheepnose and Calville Blanc. These are in addition to the white peaches, Medlar, Quince, Empire apple, Seckel pear, Asian pear, Montmorency cherry, Black Gold cherry, Roxbury Russet apple, Luscious Pear, Ashmead's Kernel apple, Cox's Orange Pippin apple, Black Oxford apple and two unknown apples which were here when we moved in.

We also ordered some boysenberries - although they are marginally hardy here. DH loves the jam so much, we had to take a chance and try to grow our own. We were very impressed with the plant quality from our order to Burnt Ridge Nursery. In addition to the 10 boysenberries, we ordered a goumi, Chinese Hawthorne, 2 more Schisandra (we have 2 already), 3 hazlenuts to add to our row of hazlenuts, a Korean nut pine, 2 more Oregon grapes and a tea plant. The tea isn't hardy here, but will join my coffee plant as a houseplant.

Sometime this year, I will put together a complete (?) list of plants we have growing. Who wants to volunteer for that particular project? :-)

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Herbs Popping Up In The Yard

It's April 9 and spring sure is slow in making its presence known. In fact yesterday and the day before, we had snow flurries. Today the temperature is reading warmer, but the howling winds still feel brisk! As I was walking around the garden, I noted several herbs that are emerging from their slumber. Here are a few of the many herbs:

Sweet Violet, not the common blue. Smells and tastes oh, so sweet!

Rhodiola. Looks pretty ugly now, but soon it will be filled with rosettes!
Ramps. Delicious wild food!

Angelica just coming up.

Celandine, with its bright orange sap. The appearance of celandine in the spring also harkens the arrival of tree swallows. Sure enough, I saw a pair today.

Coltsfoot, or Son-Before-the-Father, as the flowers show up before the leaves.
Maral Root unfurling.
Stinging Nettles - a power house of nutrients.
Sweet Cicely.
The joy of spring is that every day new life is shown.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Antique Crazy Quilt Motifs

I really love antique crazy quilts. I love to look at them, caress them (carefully of course), study them and admire them. I have a nice collection of not only antique quilts, but antique crazy quilt "smalls". Those are items that have been crazy quilted, but aren't quilts. Things like antique tea cozies, scrap album covers, wall pockets, etc. That's part of the reason I decided to host an Antique Crazy Quilt Study Day on May 9.

Part of the fascination lies in the ingenuity that Victorian needlewomen had when faced with a pattern. Very often, patterns were simply line drawings and it was left to the imagination of the stitcher to interpret the drawing. Here's an example:
This line drawing of a fan was taken from the 1886 Ingall's Pattern book. A lovely fan. Here are some stitched versions of this drawing which I have found on antique crazy quilts.

The fan above was stitched with a metallic thread for the surround. Note the painted flowers and butterflies on the velvet ground.

This exquisitely stitched fan is in the NY State Historical Society's collection and dates from 1884. The fan was in the border of a fabulous crazy quilt. The outer blue portion is a silk ribbon which has been tacked down and then stitched upon.
Here's the same pattern, this time as a block in the middle of a lovely antique crazy quilt. Some of the embroidery is chenille work.
And here is the pattern done in redwork. Okay, bluework. Just an stem stitch, but very effective.

Other options might have been to paint the fan onto fabric. Or to use stuffed, dimensional work for some of the flowers. It's lovely that each pattern was open to the imagination of the stitcher.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Desperately Seeking Herbs

Okay, I'm an herb fanatic. I never claimed otherwise. I have 6 types of comfrey. Dozens of thyme varieties. Several chives (regular, Grolau, garlic, mauve-flowered garlic, curly, dwarf, Profusion, Grande). I'm not obsessed, I'm thorough. Yeah, that's it. There are over 300 herbs in my gardens.

If anyone can tell me where to find or can actually supply me with two herb for which I have been searching, it would be greatly appreciated! The first is Chocolate Basil. Basil, not chocolate mint. The quest for this plant has been going for a couple years. It was mentioned in a forum that someone saw it in the Missouri Botanic Gardens. Emails to the MBG led to possibly they got it from Richter's. Richter's says, nope, not them.

The other herb I am searching for is Curly Sage. Salvia officinalis 'Curly'. Not clary sage. Apparently, it is offered by a wholesale nursery on the west coast. Emails to them as to which retail nursery carries it have gone unanswered. I have a friend in Washington state who is on the lookout for me. Again, if you definitely know of a place that has it, please let me know!

Many thanks.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Betty Pillsbury on Big Blend Magazine Radio!

Exciting news! I will be featured on Garden Gossip, a home and garden radio show, on Saturday, February 21. I'll be talking about attracting pollinators to your garden, especially through the use of herbs. Click on the link above.

You can also read the article I wrote for Garden Gossip by clicking here

Garden Gossip is part of Big Blend Magazine, a wonderfully comprehensive on-line presence where you can find information of all sorts! The number of topics covered is vast. You have to check it out.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

We have a winner!

Congratulations to VivLyn, the winner of the sheet of cigarette silk reproductions. For those of you who don't know about cigarette silks, I wrote an article about them for the Premier issue of Quilting Arts magazine.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Reproduction Cigarette Silks

Just a reminder that I sell these reproduction silks on my web site. Check it out!

One World One Heart

I am late coming to this party, but what a party it is! One World One Heart is the brainchild of Lisa Swifka. She wants bloggers to get to know each other and exchange knowledge, art and friendship. In support of that end, I am participating in the give away for the One World One Heart crusade. If you blog, leave me a message and a way to contact you should yours be the name drawn in the giveaway on February 12. I'll be giving away a sheet of cigarette silk images printed on fabric (my watermark won't be on the images you receive). I sell these reproduction cigarette silks on my website


Thursday, January 22, 2009

Arnica Oil

This morning on Good Morning America, Dr. Oz (who appears regularly on Oprah) was touting the virtues of arnica oil for back aches. He is absolutely right! Not only is it wonderful for muscle aches, it is the best thing we know of to lessen bruises. Just rub a small amount of the oil on the ache or the bruise and feel the relief. We grow arnica and make our own oil and salve from it. We grow organically, so we know our herb is good! We have so many repeat customers not only because of our high quality, but because our prices are about half of what other high-quality makers charge! Our St. John's wort oil for nerve pain and Calendula oil for skin rashes are also dynamic healers. And, if you have cracked, winter skin, consider our Healing Comfort Salve with comfrey and calendula. All these products are made with herbs from our gardens. So, check out our website at and click on the shopping link. You will find so much herbal goodness there!