Showing posts with label plants. Show all posts
Showing posts with label plants. Show all posts

Friday, May 29, 2009

One Man's Meat...


Years ago when I was in junior high school my English teacher assigned me the book by E. B. White titled "One Man's Meat." I read it and I am pretty sure I got an A on the book report, but for the life of me cannot remember what the book was about! I am sure it was about something very intellectually compelling because I remember I had asked to read some other book for the assignment and was assigned this one. (The title is based on a quote with the meaning that one man's meat is another man's poison. A theme we can all understand.)

Anyway, this post is a variation on that theme. It could be titled one man's cabbage is sometimes another man's/woman's weed. This post is about Aralia spinosa or what is commonly called the devil's walking stick.


A blog that I have read regularly is Robert Brady's PureLand Mountain. This blog was noted as a 'blog of interest' back in the infancy days of blogging and was one of the first blogs I started reading. Bob lives on the side of a mountain in Japan and his very well written blog is about that life. In Japan they routinely use wild plants to add richness to their diet just as we do with our wild mushrooms and fiddle head ferns in the spring. I read about his early spring search for the rare and reclusive tara-no-mein in this post .
The Bradys have to go deep into the woods to their 'secret' place to harvest this delicacy.

After harvest they prepared the new spring shoots by frying them in a light batter like tempura. He followed the original post with another that discussed how he was surprised that the devil's walking stick can be found freely throughout the Eastern United States. It is not the exact same species but very close.

I was clearing some weeds around some young fruit trees my husband had planted along our driveway and I discovered that I have a whole grove of these plants growing at the edge of my forest. They have sprouted from a large devil's walking stick that I kept last year not knowing what it was.
The plant stalk is thorny and certainly the reason for the common name it was given. The tiny white clusters of summer flowers were so attractive to pollinators and the bouquets of hanging purple berries that appeared in early fall were so lovely, that I purposely kept the plant when I was clearing the weeds. The plant grows tall with a cape of fern-like leaves that are attractive on their own. I counted 25 of these plants along the hill falling away into the forest, yesterday. One is 8 feet high and the rest are three to four feet. Since the plant can grow to 30 feet...this grove will be interesting. I hope that I have not encouraged an invasive weed here...

Now next spring I have to read up on harvest of the young shoots, as Bob says they are as valuable as caviar in Japan.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Getting Ones Work Set Out for Them


My husband is off on a 'business' trip to Hawaii...something that is either winding down or winding up. Anyway, prior to his departure, he picked all of the above that are sitting in glasses of water on the kitchen counter. Various varieties of basil. He then encouraged me to begin the process of freezing this abundance for the winter months when their pungent goodness would be better appreciated. Licorice, cinnamon, lemon...whatevhah! So, tomorrow I head out to find ice cube trays, as I recently gave all of mine away. I also just added all of the pinion nuts to a dessert dish and those would have come in handy for a pesto. Planning is everything.

Friday, July 11, 2008

It is starting

We are now one for one as hubby has retrieved a tomato from the garden and today I get to harvest my patio tomato.


These photos should go on my other blog about the wonderful planet earth...but I am so excited that I have this little bit to share. Everyone from Earth Home Garden to East and West at Every Turn has been posting delicious photos of their bloomers far outshowing my humble efforts. My beginning perennial garden has been a struggle this year. I read somewhere that it takes between 30 and 50 years to get a decent perennial garden established and I do not have that much time! So I will enjoy what I can while I can! The photo above is a healthy achillea (maybe vista?) that adds nice warm color to the end of a flower bed. (The orange flag shows where a soaker hose lies.)

Yes, I am cheating, by including some annual container plants below.

Here is a small chaste bush/tree that seems to be deer resistant. When left in a clear space in full sun they become big and lovely like the butterfly bush and the bees love them.

These lantana are in a container on my deck where I had a lovely crowded cover of yellow pansies. These are now suffering from summer heat and therefore lantana will replace that.

This lovely fellow bloomed last week and the rabbit ate the stem and left it on the ground with about three other potential blooms! The plant now sits behind a wire cage and is allowed to bloom once again.

Moss Rose are always perfect on the south facing heat of the back deck as are the lovely purple petunias and sage below.

The guara, below, I planted last year and although it is now in the wrong place blocking the path,(covered with bumble bees which is not good for the insect phobic relatives) it will be moved and do very well in a few other places I have planned.

My tempermental hybrid tea rose gave me a lovely first bloom in the early spring. Later I battled with thousands of Japanese beetles in early summer and lost a half dozen other blooms (but now seem to have won the war this year with a beetle trap on the back of the house) and now it is giving a lovely full bloom.

Well, it isn't much but it does warm the cockles of my heart these days.




Thursday, May 08, 2008

And Thus Retirement Begins

I certainly thought that I would have more time and more motivation to blog after retirement. But that is certainly not the case. Blogging becomes one of the "I'll-get-to-it-later' activities.

Spring is planting time and I have spent a good part of my days starting the container plants on my deck. Since I am being lazy this year, they are all from purchased plants. In the future, I anticipate being more frugal and starting from seeds. I am an addict when entering the garden/landscape stores. It is as if I have been given a shot of some drug that suspends time and makes me need to see every planting table, pot and greenhouse section of the store at least three times. I wander and dream among all the treasures for sale . The trees are particularly enticing. Finances and deer that eat everything I plant are putting a healthy break on the purchases. Hubby and I have to figure out a fence system or see if the deer are being more tentative now that we are here full time.

Frugal YET!..we buy a water fountain that is so heavy it took four men to lift it into my husband's tiny trailer. There it sits until we figure out where in the back yard under the deck we want to put it. There it sits until we figure out how in the hell we are going to move it ourselves! It was 50% off since it was last year's fountain design. My mind boggles at the thought that even fountains have styles that come and go. The intricate pattern which may be over the top for some folks, reminded me of my days in Indonesia and the temples overgrown with jungle vines that we visited.

I also bought a number of herbs --- rosemary, sage, various basils...one patio tomato to compete with those hubby has in his garden

We also bought a calmondin orange tree. We had one of these many years ago in our other house. It produced wonderful flowers in February which filled the house with fragrance like the breath of an early spring. Then I harvested hundreds of tiny lemon-like oranges for drinks, baking, etc. The tree got to be about 6 feet tall and I had to give it away when we moved. Now I have a new one foot tall tree with blossoms on my deck waiting to re-establish the pattern.

I also bought a Kafir lime tree. I spend too much of my time hitting oriental markets looking for Kafir limes for my cooking. They are a rare and delicious treasure. And now I have a three foot tree filled with blossoms on my deck that has just been re-potted. Both trees will have to be moved inside next to the south facing window and pruned judiciously each year and re-potted every few years. AND moved back out onto the deck every spring. But, the rewards will be well worth the work involved. Thus the addiction begins once again.

(I will post pics on my other blog.)

Thursday, June 21, 2007

The Longest Day


I can remember a long time ago when the start of summer meant sleeping late and then moving to the hammock outside on the lawn, still in my pajamas, with the first book from the top of the pile that I brought home from the library in my hand. And then I was lost for the rest of the morning in another world until my mother's patience wore thin and she had me doing errands or ironing or cleaning.

I miss the fresh joy of youth. The kick-up-the-heels giggle at long warm days at the small town swimming pool. I miss the bookmobile that stopped at the end of the road and, like a metal wrapped present with smells of musty paper, offered adventure and travel and more laughter. I miss the energy of chasing after the ice cream truck and licking creamy hands as the ice cream in the cones melted faster than could be consumed.

Feet were always dusty and dirty no matter how much we swam or bathed. We never wore shoes. Bikes were for racing and getting a cool breeze going in your face and then hitting the top of the hill and putting your feet up on the handle bars and coasting down the long road on the other side.

If there was errand money, I could spend the afternoon in the cool darkness of the movie theater, and then after the movie ended and the credits rolled being totally disoriented emerging in the bright light and heat of the day feeling as if I had just landed on some alien planet.

Now I only notice the details of the season in passing. I spend most of my time in a climate controlled office and hear the complaints of others about the heat. Here it is the first day of summer and the crepe myrtles are starting to bloom! They used to be the late July flowers. They were what I planted for late summer color when all the other plants had wilted or dried under the intense heat. Is this global warming? Or just because I live in the micro-climate of the city. Or am I just being forgetful?

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Kinnikinnick for Mothers



The name sounds like a dance or a bird call or a rhythmic clicking of tongue and tooth when pronounced. Perhaps a dance done by Indians in Latin America using bamboo poles? According to the National Wildlife Federation the definition is not so romantic. It is an Indian word for many tobacco substitutes. The species name Arctostaphylos uva-ursi is broken out to mean "arctos=bear" and "staphyle=grape," and in Latin uva is "a bunch of grapes" and I am guessing that ursi also has something to do with bear--- thus the common name bear berry.

As a small child growing up in Colorado this little bush was everywhere in the lower mountains. I remember how strange its name sounded when my mother joyfully pointed it out each spring. I remember how much my mother loved the appearance of the little pink flowers hanging like gentle bells. I just recently learned that it is a cotoneaster...which I should have grasped if I had any observational skills.

At any rate, it was one of my mother's favorite plants. She always went for the quiet underdogs over the showy botanical specimens. My mother was a prickly and darkly mooded person in some ways, and that is why I don't write about her much. We had our lack of meeting of the minds as I grew up, and I really think the fault was mostly hers. I say that without anger or recrimination because I know the fault is mostly mine for many other things. Among her children I was the showy specimen, more attractive and louder than the others and moving boldly into others spaces like some crazy spreading wildflower with too strong a fragrance. This was just me and I couldn't change my personality for anyone. Therefore, mother favored my other sister who was the quieter one and certainly the more generous in spirit. Like the kinnikinnick both were the sturdy ones while I became emotionally vested and overwrought in stuff of little consequence. And yet, both have passed on, one certainly way before her gentle time.

Therefore, when selecting plants for my landscaping I came across this shrub and felt that I needed to purchase two for the bed by the front door, as homage to that woman who, in her own way, made me what I am today ---whatever that is.

And also I must remember the other important mother in my life...my daughter. And above is an image I created just for her that "madonna of all things small." (Hard to believe she is 6 months pregnant with that figure!)

I am off on another adventure with my daughter and son-in-law and husband, so may not be posting unless hubby has access with his laptop. BUT I wish all the mothers strength, love and understanding and command that all the kiddos be there for mom even though she is a pain in the butt sometimes!