Saturday, May 01, 2010


"The month of May was come, when every lusty heart begineth to blossom, and to bring forth fruit."

~ Sir Thomas Malory

Sweet Woodruff

~ Once tasted, this simple pleasure will surely become a haunting spring ritual

2 bottles good Rhine or Moselle wine (Riesling)
a handful of sweet woodruff sprigs
fresh strawberries & sweet woodruff flowers for garnish

Rinse woodruff sprigs, and stuff into uncorked wine. Allow to steep several hours in refrigerator. Strain into wine glass & garnish with a fresh strawberry and pinched top of blooming sweet woodruff.



1 gallon good Riesling wine
handful of sweet woodruff sprigs
1-2 pints fresh strawberries
4 Tbsp. sugar
edible blossoms from the garden

Stuff sweet woodruff in wine bottle or in large bowl. Refrigerate several hours or overnight. Strain and pour into large glass punch bowl. Add sugar and mix well. Add an ice block (pretty with frozen flowers inside). Blend in champagne. Garnish with woodruff flowers and edible woodruff blossoms from the garden (Johnny-jump ups, pansies, rose petals borage, etc.) Place a strawberry in each glass and top with sweet woodruff flower.

* Try May Wine and May Wine Champagne Punch with 'Award-Winning' Michigan wines and sparkling wines (

Sweet Woodruff and Lady Fern

Gardener's note: Fragrant sweet woodruff, a low-growing perennial herb, is an ideal woodland or shade tolerant ground cover. Its sweet smell intensifies as the plant dries ... perfect for strewing throughout the house as a room freshener. When in bloom, like the Germans, greet the season and rejoice ... it's time for May wine!


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Dee @ Red Dirt Ramblings said...

Joey, that poetry could be taken in so many ways especially with the wine involved. Do you think that's what he meant? I agree, Sweet Woodruff is a beautiful shade plant. I had some of it, but eventually it died out in our heat. Glad you can grow it so well there.~~Dee

marmee said...


i just bought some of this and really didn't know much about it.thanks for the where to put this little beauty>?
i am excited to try this spring ritual.
happy may.

Gatsbys Gardens said...

I've got lots of Sweet Woodruff, who knew you could combine this with wine!


joey said...

Happy May, dear Dee :) Love this quote but wonder! This is my annual May 1st post including the recipe for May Wine for those who have never tasted! I have enough woodruff to share with the world ... wish you lived closer.

Good for you, Marmee. This is a great plant for a woodland garden ... mine is a huge groundcover, a sea of white blooms, and smells ... heavenly!

Go for it, Eileen. It's a delight, one you can only enjoy when woodruff is young, before it hardens. Cheers!

Monica the Garden Faerie said...

Hi Joey, I have sweet woodruff up the ying yang here, but it's not blooming yet. Looking forward to when it does!

lindalou said...

I love white flowers and always looking for something that grows well in shade.

I sure enjoyed the 80 degrees on Friday. How about you?

joey said...

Interesting, Monica ... my 'ying yang' woodruff is a wave of blooming white! I have ' a Jack' waiting for your arrival!

Woodruff is the best, Lindalou, you would love it! For me, 80s is not spring weather. Things that I wait all year in the garden for, fade too fast. And I'm much like my flowers when I work in the garden ... and wilt.

garden girl said...

I love sweet woodruff, didn't realize it could be used to flavor wine Joey. Happy May!

Anna said...

Enjoyed your post Joey. I inherited a patch of woodruff which has just been opening this last week. Now need to get the wine :) Sounds as if it would be a most refreshing . There are a few variations on this recipe in my herb books, some of which include brandy but I think that your version appeals most to me.

donna said...

Joey, this post comes at a perfect time for me. My neighbors have Sweet Woodruff that's about to bloom. Think they'll notice if any is missing? I've never heard of May Wine before. The SW and ferns together are so pretty.


joey said...

Only in May, Linda, when leaves are tender. As you know, it hardens later on. The herb imparts a distinct woodsy-flavor and the dried leaves make a lovely air-freshing potpourri.

Thanks, Anna. I think less is more too. This is so simple, it's hardly a recipe but certainly enjoyed by all those who taste it :)

I'm certain they won't mind, Donna. It doesn't take that much. Wish you lived near ... I have oceans to share! It blankets my entire wildflower/azalea beds and later compliments my sea of hosta!

Annie in Austin said...

When we lived in IL I grew sweet woodruff - remember friends asking for some to make May Wine. Enjoy the lusty month, Joey - loved your post from last May 1st with the lyrics from Camelot... I pull out the sheet music every spring and still love that musical ;-]

Annie at the Transplantable Rose

Chad said...

I haven't heard of sweet woodfuff,but will have to check it out at the garden nursery.Can always use the smell of fragrant flowers.

Kala said...

Lovely image Joey - I can almost smell the sweet scent.

Rick said...

I'll have to check and see if it will grow up here (zone 5b) - certainly looks and sounds like a wonderful plant to have. Great shots of it, and the fern, too>

joey said...

Thanks Annie ... I love the song too! Come May, it resonates in my head (what a great musical)!

Sweet woodruff has a heady woodsy fragrance, Chad, perfect for wildflower gardens. Wish you lived near ... I have oodles to share.

Thank you, Rick. It should be fine. Again, wish I could share some with you. I give several flats away each spring.

It's a heavenly scent, Kala, that should last for a few weeks, especially wonderful after a rain.

Roses and Lilacs said...

Beautiful photos, Joey. I have a nice patch of sweet woodruff which I love when it blooms.

An interesting addition to wine. I never realized it had any taste.

Meems said...

Dear Joey,
Not sure about sweet woodruff way down south ~ sounds delightful though ~~ always love a good groundcover and one with fragrance is a bonus. Except for the 90 degree humid weather we're having it is still hard for me to believe it is already May.
Happy days of gardening, dear friend.

joey said...

Don't think Sweet Woodruff would be happy in Florida, Meems, but you have so many other wonderful fill-ins that we can't grow here and why gardens, like gardeners, are so unique. The last few days have been unseasonably warm here also and the bulbs are blooming/fading way too fast for me :( Yes, happy May gardening, dear friend.

Rose said...

Love the combination of the lady fern and the sweet woodruff! I should add some woodruff to my shade garden.

I didn't celebrate May Day with any wine, but had lunch today with some fellow retired teachers at an old-fashioned soda fountain where they make candy by hand. I came home with a box of delicious chocolates, another great way to celebrate!

I don't know how I missed this post...a belated Happy May Day to you, Joey!

joey said...

Thank you, dear Rose. I so love May ... just can't get enough and hope it goes REAL SLOW although there is so much to do outside, I'll never catch up and a bit stiff after spending 6 hours, ripping, digging, dividing and revamping a section of my sun/semi-sun garden, prepping the soil for a row of Emerald Arborvitae. One of your chocolates sounds divine about now!