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Archive for the ‘Gardening’ Category

What is There to See at the Chappell Hill Lavender Farm?

February 7th, 2016 by Pamela Murski



The Chappell Hill Lavender Farm in Brenham, Texas, opens for the season on March 4, but has a special gift shop debut exclusively for Valentine’s Day on Feb. 14. Take advantage of the blossoming purple oasis while finding that special something for your special someone. Fragrances, bath and body works, culinary creations, and even pet-friendly products are available for purchase.

If that’s too short of notice, schedule a trip in advance and book your stay just 15 minutes away at the Murski Homestead Bed and Breakfast, a delightful country retreat in Brenham, Texas. The bed and breakfast even has a specific Lavender Room, alongside its Sage, Rosemary, and Garden Rooms. An outdoor spa is also at your disposal, along with cooking classes. So, you might get to put that lavender to use in a culinary setting as well as a health resort setting!

Chappell Hill Lavender Festival

Before you book your stay, you should be aware of an annual festival that takes place near the end of each summer. Though lavender blooms throughout a significant portion of the year, August is the perfect time to enjoy the richly colored fields and some wine simultaneously. The Chappell Hill Lavender Festival recognizes that the beautiful and relaxing oasis, waving freely in the fresh country air, pairs well with a glass of wine. The Chappell Hill Lavender Fest joins together Chappell Hill Lavender Farm and Windy Winery, along with featuring vendors, crafts, music, and demonstrations for an outdoor celebration. Admission is free, but wine tastings have fees.

Lavender and Its Healing Qualities

Obviously, the best thing to see at the Chappell Hill Lavender Farm is the awe-inspiring lavender field, a floral sea in a breezy and rejuvenating country setting. The plant itself has been known for its many healing qualities. Typically used in soaps, sachets, and scents, lavender was a typical ingredient in baths to cleanse the body and spirit. It is also deemed a natural remedy for anxiety and insomnia, hence its use in candles, incense, and fragrances.

Chappell Hill Lavender Farm Gift Shop

Before leaving the Chappell Hill Lavender Farm, the gift shop is a must-stop. The Lavender Patch offers an impressive variety of lavender products ranging from body scrubs to jams. Some of the popular bath and body products include an aromatherapy travel kit, foaming lavender bath salts, and natural dried sea salts with lavender essential oil. Fragrances range from spiced lavender to rose lavender, and a handmade soothing lavender mint bar of soap will rejuvenate in the shower. For some scents to use throughout the home, sea lavender candles and lavender dryer bags will refresh a room or your laundry. The Chappell Hill Lavender Farm shop even includes shampoo for your pet. Then, for tasty treats, try the lavender berry jam or a variety of tea blends. These items make great gifts and, of course, wonderful ways to treat yourself as well.

For more information on things to do near Chappell Hill and Brenham, check out our more in-depth Vacation Guide.


Fall Basil Recipes

October 6th, 2014 by Pamela Murski

Now is the time to start harvesting the last of your Sweet Basil (and other annual herbs) as it is starting to slow down with the advent of cooler weather.  What to do with all  those beautiful herbs?   If you’ve got quite a lot of sweet basil  I recommend adding it to some jams or jellies. It works beautifully with strawberry jam (add a bit of cinnamon too) or you can just make the  beautiful Basil-Cranberry jelly below.  You might also try our Rosemary Jelly. You will find the recipe by clicking here.  You can substitute what your  favorite herbs are or what you may have growing where you live……explore your palate!

Just imagine the foccacia below with some great cheese, sweet tart herb jelly and glass of delicious red wine for supper or snack when getting home after a long day of work during the winter (or anytime for that matter).  Make the recipes below to store in your pantry, pick up a homemade loaf and bottle of wine from your favorite store on the way home and you are set to go anytime!



Basil Cranberry Jelly – 
(A wonderful balance of flavors and translucent color make this jelly a lovely  Christmas gift from your garden.)

Prep: 35 minutes. Process; 5 minutes
2½ cups cranberry juice
1½ cups fresh basil leaves
3½ cups sugar
½ teaspoon butter
½ of a 6-ounce package (1foil pouch) liquid fruit pectin

To make infused juice: In a medium saucepan, combine cranberry juice and basil. Bring to boiling; remove from heat. Cover and steep for 10 minutes. Strain out and discard basil. Measure 1¾ cups of the infused juice. Discard any remaining juice.

In a large heavy kettle, combine the 1¾ cups infused juice, sugar, and butter. Bring to a full rolling boil, stirring constantly. Quickly stir in pectin. Return to a full rolling boil; boil for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Skim off foam with a metal spoon.

Ladle into hot, sterilized half-pint canning jars, leaving a ¼ inch headspace. Wipe jar rims. Place hot, sterilized lids on jars immediately; adjust lids. Process in boiling-water canner for 5 minutes (start timing when water returns to a boil). Remove jars; cool on racks. (May take several days to set.) Makes about 5 half-pints. 

Herb butter is also a big hit year round and especially during the dreary winter days.  To make Basil Butter, simply chop fresh basil leaves and add 2 Tb. per pound of softened butter.  Mix thoroughly and put into pots or  small dishes that  are freezer safe.  You can also freeze in chocolate molds for small decorative pats.  Once frozen, pop out and store in freezer safe ziploc bags.

Add the basil butter or pesto to your favorite potato or chicken salad to give it that taste up spring!

Potato Salad

Potato Salad

We also make Pesto with  our basil as it freezes well too.  A basic recipe for Basil Pesto is

  • 1 cup basil leaves
  • 1/2 cup parsley
  • 2 Tb. pine nuts
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • squeeze of fresh lemon
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. pepper
  • 1/3 cup or more olive oil

Blend all ingredients in a food processor until desired consistency.  Add more oil as needed.  Pour pesto into freezer container, top with a layer of olive oil to seal out air and seal in moisture, put on container lid and freeze.  You can core  out the desired amount throughout the winter as desired without thawing!  Great as an addition to soups, stews, steamed vegetables, grilled meats, on cheese and bread.

You can also make an Basil oil paste with it so that you can add the fresh taste of basil to dishes in the deep of winter. To do this, harvest the leaves, making sure that they are clean and dry, then put them in a food processor and add a mildly flavored oil such as olive or canola and pulse the blades until you get a firm paste – not dry and not real oily. Add the oil slowly so that you don’t get too much – the oil should just act as a binder to keep the chopped Basil leaves together and protect them. Now you can freeze this Basil paste by putting it in a freezer safe container or by placing dollops of it onto waxed paper placed on a cookie sheet (you can also used an oiled ice cube tray), freezing, and then placing the frozen dollops in a freezer bag or container. You can also do this with other annual herbs,  such as basil, dill, and cilantro. Perennials such as oregano and sage are normally at hand year-round and  fresh herbs are always best.

These simple recipes to extend your precious crop of herbs throughout the winter months will keep you satisfied until  Spring when you can plant and harvest fresh Basil  and other annual herbs once again!   You can also book a cooking class with us and we’ll teach you how to make herbal jams,  jellies & condiments!

**Photos courtesy of Cooking Etc. & VeganFeast


Antique Rose Emporiums Fall Festival of Roses

October 15th, 2013 by Pamela Murski

Antique Rose Emporium Rose Fest

“Archduke Charles” in the B&B Gardens

Book your room now for the 25th Annual Fall Festival of Roses
November 1-3, 2013
Free Events

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Antique Roses and Gardening for Beauty

December 11th, 2012 by Pamela Murski

Roses at the Ranch

Best to start  at the beginning. The first roses were the species roses – those roses that were created in nature. The center of origin of all roses is considered to be China. From there the rose spread to what is now Asia, Europe, North Africa, and North America, but the rose never made it below the equator until the intervention of man. There are many wonderful species roses and for the most part they are spring-blooming only.

Here’s a list of some that do very well here at the ranch and B&B:

Belinda’s Dream Rose

Rosa laevigata – Cherokee Rose – Native to China

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Fall Gardening in Central Texas at the Ranch

October 2nd, 2012 by Pamela Murski


Fall Gardening

Here at the ranch we love the tips and advice we get from our specialist,  the Horticulturist at the Hill (aka: Henry Flowers at Festival Hill)  With Fall just around the corner and hopefully the Texas heat beginning to abate, it is a great time of year to plant the following:

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