What to do with your rose hips!

4th of July roses

For years now I have been pruning the roses without pulling off the rose hips, thinking vaguely of what I might be tossing away of value, but imagining myself too busy to explore and process, all the while ignoring old hippy wisdom that treasures rose hip tea. But not this year! I had researched sufficiently to know to harvest them “after the first frost” and conveniently there have been two mild frosts this month, so I had determined that Thanksgiving weekend might be an opportune time to finally get to the rose hips. Happily, the weather cooperated, by offering a before dawn sprinkle, and a mix of fog and gentle sun the rest of the morning.

rose hips

My 4th of July rosebush is quite mature now, and is an abundant source of hips without resorting to harvesting a single other rose in my garden (though I am thinking of adding a few from the heirloom arbor rose, simply for variety and the added experience). It was a simple enough task of cutting off the rose hips from the bush with a small pruner. What a joy to know they are organic and pesticide-free! I then brought them inside, washed them off thoroughly, and pulled off the “tails”.

Ideally the next step is a task you might want to do with someone else helping, while chatting over tea as this is the most time-consuming part. For you need to cut off the top and bottom of each hip on a cutting board.* Then cut each hip in half. This is the easy part. And then you need to remove the seeds and fuzz inside each seed. Fortunately my nails are long, strong and clean as I really did resort to digging out the seeds with my nails. It was very basic and I rather enjoyed it in a primitive kind of way. I knew I was reconnecting with a long valued human skill not often relied upon as in earlier times. And I must warn you that the fuzz on the inside of these seeds can be a teeny bit prickly to the skin. I can easily see why it’s recommended that you do remove it, as it can be “an irritant to the stomach.” So just be mindful of it. Scrape it away from you as it accumulates on your cutting board. Or wash it off periodically, to avoid contact with it. Also, be sure to toss any hips that are split, too dark or mushy, or, underripened. So out go the seeds and fuzz from each hip. And you are left with these wonderful treasures, rich in vitamins C and A, in iron, magnesium and calcium. My original harvest left me with just one cup.

“In ancient Anglo-Saxon tradition, rose hips were strung together and worn by the hopeful to attract love. Legend has it that raiding Vikings fortified themselves with these berry-like fruits while invading foreign lands. During World War II, British children took doses of rose hip syrup when fresh foods were scarce.” ~ Traditional Medicinals

And now it’s time to dry them. I set my dehydrator at 135°F., the fruit setting, and dried mine for six hours.

Final result:

dried rose hips

To make rose hip tea simply use 2 teaspoons dried hips per cup of boiling water and allow to steep for 15 minutes, then add a bit of honey. I intend to mix some of my hips with hibiscus, as is commonly done. It is a marvelous hot drink you will fully enjoy to help stave off the chill of this time of year. You can store the hips in a glass jar in a cool, dark place for months. Or seal tightly and freeze indefinitely.

I would love to hear of your rose hip adventures in your kitchen! Anyone ventured into rose hip jelly or syrup?

Love and gardening blessings,
Kathryn xoxo

*The British call this “topping and tailing”! 🙂

11/29/2017: Adding this tip, which I just discovered! It’s a good idea to do the topping and tailing of each hip on one day, and then dig out the seeds on the following day, when they’ve had a chance to air dry just a bit. #learning #refining

Book/blog News: So pleased that an excerpt from Plant Whatever Brings You Joy is included in the November issue of that beautiful publication out of North Carolina, one of my favorites, Western North Carolina Woman. It’s available online as well as stores in the deep South. Also, exciting that news of this blogger and blog was recently featured in Reader’s Digest, in a story on the value of being a horticulturist/gardener. Lastly, please watch for an upcoming book giveaway on this blog of copies of the new Bunny Mellon biography! Details soon!


How to Grow Hollyhocks

For the last month an elderly neighbor and I keep initiating the same conversation, apparently. She’s one of those folks who has totally transformed her front lawn into dozens of perennial flowers, patchworked into loveliness that everyone who passes admires. There are always multiple flowers in bloom, and the landscape is always changing. And I have asked her more than once, “What about hollyhocks?” which I grow randomly and generously around my garden–primarily because they are self-seeding and abundant. And she always says the same thing, “I think they don’t like much water.” To which I respond, “I water my hollyhocks every day.” And we have had this dialogue several times with no resolve, really. So I finally took the time to get my facts straight and now I will share with you. And her.

Hollyhocks actually do like water, though they need to drain properly. And she most likely has this impression as they don’t like to get their leaves wet as they are prone to rusting and this means it’s much better to water them early in the morning when there’s plenty of time for water to evaporate by day’s end, lessening the likelihood of rust problems. So I’ve inadvertently been caring for them according to their needs and they have responded accordingly and most beautifully.

I knew, as you might also know, that once the seeds have fallen on the soil (or planted just below the surface if you are doing it yourself, which I’m imagining you most likely are) they will sprout, grow foliage lower to the ground the first year, and then the second year they will emerge tall and their flowers will blossom. So it takes some patience.

Bees love hollyhocks, and one of the most enchanting experiences is to find a bumblebee tucked inside fast asleep until morning, when it will awaken to the warmth of the sun and resume where it left off. Is anything more charming? I think not. And then one day this happened:

Hollyhocks that are happy in the sun, away from strong winds and watered properly can grow very tall. I love planting them along a side fence, which offers some support should they need it as the season progresses.

At season’s end, in fall, the petals will have fallen and the seeds become very apparent inside drying pods, all stacked next to each other in a circle.

I personally collect some seeds, which I share with other hollyhock lovers, and then I simply cut the dry stocks off and toss them along some patch of earth that I think might well benefit from their beauty. There is a community alley I’ve chosen to be the primary beneficiary of these stalks and each year there are more emerging, which is a secret delight.

Have you had success with hollyhocks in your garden? They are a nostalgic choice that seems to kindle fond memories of family.

Love and garden blessings,
Kathryn xoxo
Oops! Meant to mention! If you do spot any leaves with rust (usually ones near the bottom that get wet when you water them), remove them and conventional teaching is, get rid of them, so they don’t spread their rusty selves around! 😉

Book News: Watch for upcoming excerpt from Plant Whatever Brings You Joy in Western North Carolina Woman‘s November issue! Note that copies of Plant Whatever Brings You Joy can be purchased on Amazon. Ebook versions are available Amazon, on Barnes and Noble, and, most recently, Kobo, making it available in many new countries with Kobo sites! This includes Porrúa in Mexico. Also GreenPrints magazine features Plant Whatever Brings You Joy in their online bookstore!


Aim for Beauty

After three years of traveling and living in Europe, my daughter and I returned home to the States and I began my fledgling publicity business. I took a couple of offices in the county seat of Marin Co. in Northern California and put up a sign
announcing my intentions. My two offices were at the back of a building
on the main drag of the downtown. There was a metal stairwell at the
back end of the hall, for fire safety primarily, that led into a small and bare
concrete courtyard, fenced in by hurricane fencing, and a small private
parking area lay outside the fence. I would look out through my back
window into this barren area and cringe when on occasion a local vagrant
person would find a place to sit outside the fence nursing something in a
paper bag. This situation was not savory or attractive. What could I do?

I descended the fire staircase into the courtyard and surveyed it
carefully. Weeds jutted randomly in cracks in the cement. Clearly there
was not much to work with, but surely I could do something. Right?
I stepped through the heavy metal gate into the small parking lot outside
and poked futilely with my finger in the narrow margin of dirt along
the fenceline that had somehow escaped being covered with blacktop
and a teeny spark of hope and imagination kindled. A little smile crept
across my lips as I began to think of seeds.

Inspired, I went to the nursery and purchased morning glory seeds. I
developed a deep and abiding fondness for blue morning glories which
used to climb up on my deck when I lived for many years in Sausalito,
facing the San Francisco Bay. Who would not appreciate their charming
beauty and abundance? Suddenly I was envisioning a wall of morning
glories covering that back fence, creating a screen from the commercial
lot into which I looked and thinking what a boon (and surprise!) it would
be for anyone whose steps crossed that area.

Excited, I brought the seeds home and soon was out there poking
around with a gardening tool on the outside of the fence, in that narrow
ridge of hope. I pushed in the trowel. Thump. What was that? You
might imagine the deflating impact it had on me when I realized that
just under a couple of inches of dirt was the extended dreaded blacktop.
I was crushed, and I cursed a society that covered up every inch of possibility
with asphalt.

The next morning I gazed dejectedly out the small office window at
the wretched fence and courtyard and relayed my story to a friend on
the phone.

“Yes. That’s right. Blacktop. Do you believe it? And I was so excited.
My morning glories would have been so pretty. And the only thing I
can think of is to find someone with a jackhammer to get through that
stuff, unlikely as that is. I can’t do it on my own.”

Just at that very moment my gaze moved a little further beyond the
fence to the opposite side of the private parking lot. Along the edge
of the lot were four men, four strong men doing some kind of repair
work — with jackhammers!

Immediately my spirits soared as I realized the opportunity that the
Universe was placing directly before me!
“Justine? I have to go. You won’t believe this, but there are a bunch
of guys out there working on the lot with jackhammers!”

I flung open the back door and rushed down the stairs, all smiles. I
knew without a doubt they were my heroes!

I approached one of the men, smiling.

“Hi! Is your boss here?”

“My boss?” the man answered, confused.

“Yeah, your boss. Is he here by any chance?”

The man indicated a man off to the side, whom I had not seen, and
I immediately moved toward him, grinning.

“Hi. I know this is going to sound crazy, but do you have a minute?
Can I show you something?”

Reluctantly the man followed me to the fence. I poured out my story
with all the passion I felt.

“See?” I concluded, poking my finger in the ground and looking up at
him imploringly. “Is there any possibility your men could open this up
for me? Just an inch here and there? Just enough to get in a seed? Please?”

The blessed man heard my plea. To my utter delight, without another
word to me he walked back to his crew and spoke with the men, pointing
in my direction. I was thrilled! I went back upstairs to ring Justine and tell
her of my good fortune, watching the men from the window with their
marvelous jackhammers, opening up the field of possibility and hope. I
was witnessing a miracle for which I gave hearty thanks and I ran back
down and beamed at the men with appreciation as they obligingly dug
my holes. Five minutes of work; a summer’s pleasure.

Over the next weeks my morning glories sprouted and wound their
faithful way up the cyclone fence, lending inch by inch the grace of their
steadfast beauty. I fussed over them daily, training their tendrils upward.
I took the greatest pleasure in beginning my workday out there within my
new and unexpected garden, taking note of any new growth, as I sprayed
a gentle stream of glistening water onto their lovely emerging faces.

Spring into summer I would grin and nod at passersby who witnessed
the slow and steady transformation, acknowledging with them “what a
difference it was going to make”. By summer’s end the sweet morning
glories bursting from their lovely green vines had fully covered the cyclone
fence from one end to the other. Their precious splendor spilled over
the top and back down again, filling in the vapid unimaginative space of
practicality with the blessing promised in a bit of creativity, determination
and the goodheartedness of a few good men willing to indulge in a vision.
Dear ones, regardless of your situation, aim for beauty.

This story is an excerpt from my book Plant Whatever Brings You Joy: Blessed Wisdom from the Garden. I hope you enjoyed reading it. The illustration by Linda Cook Devona is courtesy of GreenPrints magazine. I’m posting this favorite story in honor of this blog’s ten year anniversary. My first post was in September 2007! My deepest thanks to longtime loyal followers and the many subscribers of this blog, and to all those who have purchased copies of Plant Whatever Brings You Joy and a special kiss on the cheek to folks who have posted reviews of my book on Amazon! XOXO

Love and garden blessings,
Kathryn xoxo

Book News: The very beautiful Maine publication Still Points Arts Quarterly has included an excerpt from Plant Whatever Brings You Joy in their fall issue for which I am most grateful.

Note that copies of Plant Whatever Brings You Joy can be purchased on Amazon. Ebook versions are available Amazon, on Barnes and Noble, and, most recently, Kobo! Also GreenPrints magazine features Plant Whatever Brings You Joy in their online bookstore!

© 2008 - 2018 Kathryn Hall. All rights reserved.
For optimal viewing Mac users using IE should access via Safari.
Pixel Surgery by Site Mechanix