Summer's fragrant lovelies preserved

"Sweet Annie," says Linda Shipley, inhaling its vanilla-like smell from a dry, green wisp. "This scent will last for years."

She's standing beneath barn rafters hung with hundreds of dried flowers she grew during the summer. A few herbs remain outdoors, covering "Sunswept Meadows," the acres of flowers surrounding the Shipley residence in Millers.


Once a year, she opens the barn for friends and customers, old and new.

The theme is autumnal this year, and Mrs. Shipley will welcome you around the wood-burning stove with cookies and cider or cocoa to sip Nov. 6 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.


Sunswept Meadows is at 4322 Miller Station Road, at the end of a multifamily driveway.

It's a floral open house. Displayed for sale will be bunches of flowers, potpourri, bouquets, baskets, wreaths and swags. Several friends will offer craft specialties, too, from sweat shirts to crochet.

Everlasting flowers are grown specifically to be picked and dried in their prime. They stay beautiful for months or years without water. They are the joy of home decorators and those who create with natural materials.

In the barn at Sunswept Meadows, plenty of flowers hang ready for seasonal crafts.

There's globe amaranth, looking like fistfuls of pink and white lollipops. Mexican ambrosia hangs as feathery and mysterious as Spanish moss. German statice, arches of tiny stiff stars, grew in profusion this year.

"It was a good year for statice, so we're having a special sale," said Mrs. Shipley. Nearby are lamb's ears, an herb that's woolly and white; Job's-tears, seeds of black and white falling from leaves of coarse grass; familiar favorites lavender, yarrow, strawflowers.

And plenty more.

Visitors are welcome any time, for free, to stroll the acres of colorful growth (but telephone ahead, of course). Mrs. Shipley's was featured as a small-scale agricultural enterprise during a free tour conducted by the University of Maryland College Park last summer. Tour groups have come from the Cattail River Garden Club (near Mount Airy) and the Northeast Tourist Bureau.


Mrs. Shipley sowed her first acres of flowers after crafting a dried-flower wreath several years ago.

"My friends loved it and asked me to make one for them," she said. "Then I bought flowers and went to all the craft shows." Creating wreaths and garlands at home meant she could watch daughter Stephanie, now 9, plus the family's horses, rabbits, cats and dogs.

But buying flowers wholesale, she discovered, usually called for a wholesale investment -- a minimum purchase of about $100, difficult for most home crafters. And a better variety could be grown at home.

"I decided to grow for small-scale crafters and sell with no minimum purchase," she said. She now grows about 50 different plants every summer. It's her third year.

She laughs, "I'm not going to make that million. We're not like those big places you hear about. It's just me. We only grow what we can sell."

For open house information, call Linda Shipley at 374-4758.



The first notes of holiday cheer in North Carroll begin with "Christmas at the Church," held by the congregation of St. John's United Methodist, 1205 Main St., Hampstead.

This year's event happens Friday from 3 p.m. to 8 p.m. and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

"We have some very unique and lovely things," said Gladys Miller, who's been active at St. John's for more than 60 years. "A lot of the crafts are trimmings for Victorian trees, little lace wreaths or Victorian balls, made of satin trimmed with lace and ribbons. Our crafts are beautiful and not all that expensive."

Mrs. Miller chairs the silent auction, which in some years has raised $700 for the church. This year the auction features heirloom-quality items. "We're emphasizing silver, chinaware, jewelry and artwork," said Mrs. Miller. "Our silent auction will be one of the showiest and best parts of the bazaar this year."

Items such as a silver service, fancy china plates, stained glass, crystal goblets, sterling silver and picture frames have been donated by members and friends of the congregation. Some exceptional handcrafts are included in the auction, too. Bids accumulate until 2 p.m. Saturday, when the highest bidder will be announced.


The luncheon of fancy platters served at 11:30 a.m., 12:30 p.m. and 1:30 p.m. in the lounge features a choice of chicken or seafood salad, and chips, deviled eggs, jello salad, peas with pimento, and dessert for $4.50. Reservations close today. Call Audrey Sauerhammer at 239-7978.