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Showing posts from 2015

Caribbean Inspiration

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I have a unique opportunity to work in the Caribbean this winter. I look forward to immersing myself in a different culture, but I am especially excited about learning and experiencing native plant species. I am so eager to create new scent profiles and other items from local species and ingredients! To my current knowledge, some plants/scents native to the Caribbean include allspice, bay and amyris-these are scents I will start to experiment with. However I am sure once I arrive, I will discover more ingredients and scents to work with.
I have visited the Virgin Islands several times and the last time I was there someone local held a guided native plant walk. Unfortunately it was bad timing for me and I could not participate. I am excited to not miss a thing now that I will be living there.


Allspice berries from the Pimenta diocia tree.


Bay leaves to be steam distilled into bay essential oil (West Indies Bay-Pimenta racemosa).


Amyris wood exuding resin that is then steam distilled in…

November Beauties

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The weather has been absolutely beautiful this fall. It has been sunny and unseasonably warm! Although we do need the rain, the sunny days are much appreciated in the face of a long winter.
Below are a few blossoms still flourishing in my garden. Enjoy!






Late Summer Blossoms

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Some of my favorite fragrant flowers bloom in late summer. Although the summer season goes by way too quickly, I often find myself thinking "I can't wait until my Sweet Autumn clematis blooms in September". It is a beautiful and delightful fragrance that reminds me of jasmine-only lighter. Clematis paniculata typically blooms end of August thru September. It is an aggressive vine that can grow up to 12' in one season! The blossoms are star-shaped and quarter-sized with a cream color. When finished blooming, the seed pods remain on the vine and are proliferic. They have sort of a whirly appearance and release cotton-like "fuzzies" in the air. Between the milkweed pod seeds and the clematis seeds, my backyard, at times, looks like a magical party complete with white confetti.


Lilacs

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On of the things that I look forward to in the spring is the blooming of my lilac bush. The lovely lavender-like color, the floral-honeyed scent that cannot be replicated and the sweet taste of the flowers...for me this truly marks the return of the warmth that the spring and summer seasons provide.

The story of the lilac, according to Greek mythology, goes something like this; there was a beautiful nymph by the name of Syringa (which, by the way, is the genus name for lilac). Pan, the horned god of the forest, fell in love with her and chased her throughout the forest. Out of fear and in an attempt to ditch Pan, Syringa disguised herself as a lilac bush. And that is the origin of the lilac.

Lilacs belong to the family Oleaceae-the same family as the olive tree. There are about 12 species and are native to Eastern Europe and temperate Asia. The beautiful clusters of flowers range in colors of white, pink, yellow and several shades of purple. They bloom for about 1-2 weeks once a year …

Comfrey

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Comfrey is one of those herbs that is gaining popularity these days, as it should. It was once referred to as "knitbone" in times past due to the traditional use of applying it to broken bones and fractures.
This herb has wonderful healing qualities and is extremely easy to grow! It is a perennial and once established in the garden, will spread without any problems.
Some valuable constituents (or medicinal qualities) include allantoin and mucilage. Allantoin stimulates bone and cartilage growth as well as easing sore muscles. Mucilage and allantoin both assist in repairing damaged skin and tissue, helping them heal quicker.
Typically the arial parts are used such as the leaves, stems and flowers. These should be harvested in late spring and early summer (in flowering stage). That is when allantoin and mucilage are most potent in the arial parts. It is very easy to make an infused oil that can be used topically or added to a healing salve.
To make an infused oil, you will nee…

Olive Oil - Liquid Gold

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Recently I met a woman by the name of Ama who originally was from the Milwaukee area but now resides on the island of Mytilini in Greece. She has her own olive grove of 300 trees where she hand-harvests her olives for olive oil. She personally takes her harvest to the mill where it is pressed into oil. This olive oil is fantastic! It is organic, unfiltered and single-farm (most commercial olive oils are blended from several different farms, sometimes even from several different countries!).

Not only is Ama a farmer and producer of olive oil, she is also a poet. Ama, along with her neighboring olive farmers, created an olive oil collective, known as "The Poet's Oil Collective". They wish to provide their high quality oil at a reasonable price; maintaining an environmentally respectful attitude.

Brew City Botanicals is very fortunate to have a limited amount of this oil. The Poet's Oil will soon be available and has a number of uses. Not only is it a culinary delight, it…

Waiting Out the Winter

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It's that time of year again-I am hunkered down indoors while the single-digit weather is beating at my door. I've been perusing through new plant and seed catalogues, deciding what I want to plant in my garden. This activity always brings me hope and excitement due to the long winters experienced here in Wisconsin.

About two summers ago I planted a blueberry bush that has yet to produce berries and never seems to look very healthy. I then realized that my soil is more alkaline than acidic. And that's what blueberries need-acidic soil. I plan on transplanting the bush into a large pot where I can control the pH of the soil and fertilize if needed.

I also found a gardenia variety that is hardy to 0 degrees Fahrenheit, the variety name is 'Summer Snow'. I am extremely excited about this possibility to grow gardenias in my garden! I absolutely love the scent of gardenias!

Last year I planted a hardy variety of rosemary called 'Madeline Hill' and am curious to …