All About Thyme
  A Weekly Calendar of Times & Seasonings

  Celebrating the Mysteries, Magic, and Myths of Herbs
Susan Wittig Albert  
Special Feature, February 4, 2019  

Happy Birthday, Laura!

The real things haven't changed. It is still best to be honest and truthful; to make the most of what we have; to be happy with simple pleasures and to be cheerful and have courage when things go wrong. —Laura Ingalls Wilder

A Garden of Used-to-Be
Laura Ingalls was born in Pepin, Wisconsin on February 7, 1867, and spent her girlhood moving with her family to Kansas, Minnesota, Iowa, and Dakota Territory, where they finally settled.

Laura's mother, Caroline, like so many other pioneer women, had the task of making a home wherever the family happened to settle. Pioneer women always took seeds and "starts" (plant divisions) from one home to another, for they could not expect to have what they needed where they settled. Gardens were vital to survival, producing not only vegetables for the table but the medicinal herbs that women used to treat the family's common ailments and sweeten their lives with fragrance and flavor.

A pioneer garden—a "Garden of Used-to-Be," as Laura once called it—can be an interesting theme garden. If you'd like to include a pioneer corner in your herb garden, consider these plants:

  • Medicinal herbs: thyme, lavender, yarrow, horehound, feverfew, echinacea, peppermint, wormwood, mullein, clover
  • Tea herbs: mint, beebalm, lemon balm, catnip, red clover
  • Culinary herbs: sage, thyme, dill, horseradish, mustard, rosemary
  • Housekeeping herbs: southernwood (to repel moths), tansy (to repel fleas)

Here's an easy herb project that Caroline Ingalls might have asked her daughters to make to freshen drawers and trunks and as simple gifts for friends and neighbors.

Drawer Freshener and Moth Repellent

Blend together some or all of the following dried herbs, in equal amounts: wormwood, tansy, lavender, thyme, rosemary, mint

Cut six-inch squares of loose-weave fabric. Lay wrong-side up and place 2-3 tablespoons of dried herbs in the center. Gather up the edges and tie securely with a pretty ribbon.

For more reading: A Wilder Rose, by Susan Wittig Albert: the story of Rose Wilder Lane's collaboration with her mother, Laura Ingalls Wilder, in the writing of the famous Little House books.

Susan's Nonfiction Books

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What Wildness
With Courage & Common Sense

Who's Susan Albert?

Susan Wittig Albert is the author of two recent memoirs: An Extraordinary Year of Ordinary Days and Together, Alone: A Memoir of Marriage and Place. Her fiction, which has appeared on the New York Times bestseller list, includes A Wilder Rose (a novel about Rose Wilder Lane's collaboration with Laura Ingalls Wilder in the writing of the Little House books); the China Bayles mysteries; the Darling Dahlias mysteries; the Cottage Tales of Beatrix Potter; and a series of Victorian-Edwardian mysteries written with her husband, Bill Albert, under the pseudonym of Robin Paige. She is founder and past president of the Story Circle Network, a member of the Texas Institute of Letters, and Honorary President (2012-2014) of the Herb Society of America. More

To find out what's going on in Susan Albert's life in the Texas Hill Country, read Susan's blog.

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Who's China Bayles?

She's the beloved fictional herbalist in Susan Wittig Albert's popular mystery series, set in Pecan Springs TX. For more about her books, visit

For more about herbs and the passing seasons, read China Bayles' Book of Days.

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