Sunday, April 19, 2009

The Vandalia Garden Festival

It was a beautiful day in Charleston, and the Capitol grounds looked perfect for the Garden Festival. Larry, me and our friend Andrea drove down early to be sure we got there in time for a workshop both Andrea and I wanted to attend.

Melissa Dennison's booth was an active place. Sales of salves, soaps, lavender wands and herb plants were brisk. I was one of the lucky customers! Melissa's workshop on making salves has inspired me to give it a try. I learned a lot, was reminded of much that I already knew, and finally got a look at Goldenseal, a plant I have tried to find many times. Now I know exactly what I am looking for, perhaps I'll be successful.

Melissa is one busy woman. Her herb farm in Braxton County is pretty much a one-woman operation and her depth of knowledge about herbs and herbal lore is apparent. She shared recipes and information freely, passed around many samples and probably sold out at her booth after her workshop. It was that good. If you're interested in her products or plants, here is her contact information:

Garden Treasures Fresh & Dried Herbs, Shitake Mushrooms: Melissa Dennison, HC 69, Box 30, Clem, WV 26623
Phone: 304-364-5589

Larry and Andrea balance some of the bounty of the day. The plants for sale were vigorous and healthy, and we were pleased by the selections available.

Here's a close-up of some of our purchases: hardy sage (for me--I've not had good luck with sage over-wintering in recent years), lantana for me, rosemary and bluebells for both of us, purple sage for me, lavender for Andrea, golden thyme for me, and not visible: salves and soaps for both, and my lavender wand.

The tulip bed near the walkway entrance to the Capitol grounds was just stunning, with so many colors. What a sight!

I discovered that there is a WV Herb Association that hosts an annual conference and other workshops. Who knew? Although information on their website is limited, there are some contacts and events listed that might be interesting. And there will be a Fall Conference! But on the same weekend as the annual WV Book Festival. Bummer for me, since I'm obliged by my job to be at the Book Festival. But maybe some of you reading this might want to go. Contact the Herb Association for details.

I also learned that Mountain State University in Beckley, WV offers a degree in Medicinal Botanicals, and sponsors many events open to the public. When I checked out the website this evening, I found that there is an online newsletter available too.

My new plants are safely in the ground and I will be trying some salve-making this summer. I've always had an herb garden and those who have read this blog for a while know my interest in wild foods and herbal lore. I'm excited to know about these opportunities to learn more. It's one topic that will never become old to me.

Wish me luck in my hunt for goldenseal. Surely one day I will be lucky enough to find some!


Janet, said...

Love the tulip beds, Susanne! I used to work at the Capitol and I loved seeing the tulip beds. It's been a long time since I've seen them, thanks for the picture.

Rowan said...

This sounds absolutely my thing especially the herb workshop that you attended - wish I could have been there too.

Laura said...

How fun! I am jealous again--I'm getting the planting bug, but it is still to early to set out plants here. We checked the mesquite tree in our pasture and it is not even thinking about budding yet. Supposedly they won't come out until the danger of frost has passed.

mary said...

What a beautiful day! Your wistful comment about goldenseal led me to Google it, and there was an article from N.C. Dept. Agr.
Maybe you can get ideas for finding some from your Dept. of Agriculture?
I planted a few herbs a friends gave me, and there are sprouts beginning. . .

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