Early Spring 2011!

After the snow and ice in January, we now have a beautiful early Spring! The hyacinths and daffodils have bloomed, the fresh green leaves of Plantain have emerged and the Roses will soon be blooming!

Our huge Lady Banks roses are in bud and ready to bloom in a week or so. The other roses will bloom in late April and early May. What a wonderful time of year!

I’ve been busy as usual this winter. So much to do, so little time! We have almost completed our Kiwi garden bed with the river rock pond and water fall. I’ve planted Camellia sasanquas everywhere! In between the rocks of the water garden, I’ve planted Thyme and Lavender and a few succulents and they smell so good! In April, I will finish this garden bed by planting small rose bushes among the Sasanquas and water plants in the pond. I’ll be sure to share pictures once it’s completed!

I’ve also reworked my Secret Garden to include pea gravel paths, paver designs, and a new pergola. The winter sun felt good as we sat under the pergola watching the birds at the feeders and listening to the water fall sounds from the Kiwi garden. The pergola was built for the new Reve d’Or rose that will be planted in a few weeks. I can imagine the sunrise colored Reve d’Or covering the pergola in a few years to provide us with shade in summer and a heavenly fragrance and beauty.

My next project is the new garden room behind my Secret Garden. In addition to the two new pergolas, I plan to create a small terraced bed with a small pond for water lilies. I’ll use more Camellia sasanquas and, of course, roses.

I’ve planted sugar peas and snow peas this week and am looking forward to our asparagus which will be sending up stalks very soon. Asparagus is so delicious when picked fresh from the garden. I should be starting seeds for tomato and pepper and eggplant inside, but just haven’t done it yet. Maybe next week I’ll get to it. I want these plants to be ready to put into the garden in April or early May.

We also need to complete the paperwork for our USDA NOP Organic Farm Certification. It’s a mountain of paperwork and record keeping, but hopefully we will be able to find the time very soon. We should be able to meet the criteria with no problem since we have been adhering to the practices for quite some time. It would be fun to be able to sell our rose products and other botanicals as NOP certified!

Spending time outside and in my garden brings joy to my heart and soul.

From The Herbarie Lab

As much as I love my garden and being outside, I also love working in my lab! Today I will be distilling chamomile hydrosol and look forward to the gentle sweet scent. While distilling, I will likely make myself some herbal tea – maybe dandelion with lemon balm and mint – perhaps some Rosemary? My Rosemary is blooming and very beautiful. Rosemary grows well here and I’ve planted it everywhere. Earlier this week, I distilled some of our aromatic Rosemary Hydrosol which is excellent for hair care or skin care. Soon, the Melissa will be lush and full and ready for harvest for our skin and hair care botanical extracts and hydrosol.

As anyone can tell from previous blogs, I am fascinated with microbiology in general and especially interested in using it to our advantage for cosmetics and toiletries. It’s such a pleasure to work with Active Micro Technology and be a part of their cutting edge technology. They have developed techniques to combine the performance of botanical extracts and fermentation products with the natural defense mechanisms employed by microorganisms. The Active Micro Technology line of natural antimicrobials offers cosmetic formulators excellent alternatives to older, traditional cosmetic preservatives.

At The Herbarie, we currently distribute Aspen Bark Extract, Aloe Advanced Leucidal, and Leucidal Liquid. I’ve worked extensively with Leucidal Liquid and have found it to have excellent antimicrobial efficacy in many of my formulations. The microbiology testing from Botanical Olive Natural Lotion May 2011 batch still look very good. Results have come back
with <1 APC and <10 yeast/mold. The 2009 Natramulsion formula sample still yields the same results. I typically use Leucidal Liquid as the primary antimicrobial, but also include Rosemary Antioxidant CO2 Extract as well as essential oils in my formulas. I'm considering a switch to Leucidal Liquid for some of our hydrosols and other botanical products. The Aloe Advanced Leucidal utilizes aloe vera and the fermentation process to offer traditonal skin care benefits and antimicrobial characteristics. The only drawback is incompatibility with some materials such as XanThix, Natramulse, Olivem 1000 and also Sugarmulse. Aloe Advanced Leucidal is compatible in Polawax or EmBlend CA 20 formulas as well as in BTMS Conditioning Emulsifier (cationic) formulas. Aloe Advanced Leucidal seems to disrupt the emulsion structure of Olivem 1000 and also Sugarmulse. Anionics (XanThix and Natramulse) also seem to be a problem. We recommend using regular Leucidal Liquid with these materials as there are no compatibility issues. I’ve used Aloe Advanced Leucidal in toner formulas and also in formulas with BTMS with great results. I’ve also been evaluating Bamboo Advanced Leucidal in the same formulas and will likely decide to offer it as well. For those who are interested, I’d be happy to discuss these products – just send me an email: ProductAssistance@theherbarie.com.

  • More New Products Coming Soon!

Avena Oat Extract is an aqueous product that is made from the green oat straw of Avena sativa. Green oat straw contains silicic acid, flavones, triterpenoid saponins, carotenoids and is soothing to dry, flaky, damaged, and itchy skin. Avena Oat Extract is recommended for use in creams and lotions for dry or itchy skin, baby products, and products for mature skin.

–Eyeseryl Solution B is an aqueous product from Lipotec with a proven efficacy in reducing puffy under eye bags. Eyeseryl® Solution B also enhances skin elasticity, skin smoothness and shows a decongesting effect. Eyeseryl® Solution B can be incorporated in cosmetic formulations such as emulsions, gels, serums, etc. where a reduction of puffiness under the eye is desired. I’ve been using Eyeseryl® Solution B for two weeks and have already noticed a reduction in my under eye puffiness. I am using it at 5% in a simple eye cream made with BTMS Conditioning Emulsifier and plan to continue.

–Melfade PF is an aqueous solution of purified Bearberry Leaf Extract (natural source of arbutin) and a stable Vitamin C derivative (magnesium ascorbyl phosphate). Melfade PF is a product from DSM that has demonstrated good efficacy for skin lightening. In one study, Melfade PF was used at 10% for 3 months and significant skin lightening was demonstrated. As with all skin lightening agents, use of a sunscreen is recommended.

************************************************************************************* Today I am remembering Joy, my little Rufous hummer, since it’s been exactly one year since she left my garden. She continues to be a great inspiration for me.

Last Fall, we had another unusual visitor to our garden – a white rabbit! We have no idea where he came from, but he seemed to want to stay close to Tinkerbell, our Dutch Belted bunny who lives under the shelter of the old smoke house. For several weeks, the white rabbit hopped all around the garden, going between Tinkerbell’s cage and the warehouse, but he would always spend the night near Tinkerbell. I began to fear for his safety since I knew he would be very easy prey for the many predators that live in the wild.

So after much deliberation, I decided that we would build a house for him. So, we named him Peter Pan and he now lives beside Tinkerbell and seems very happy.

Hippity Hoppity Happy Early Spring from me and the critters at Stoney Hill Farm!