Poke – Nutritious Food, or Deadly Poison?

Poke, it’s the sure sign that winter is over and hope is beginning again.  It’s usually the first harvestable green of spring, which makes it especially appreciated at our house.  Phytolacca americana, (poke, poke sallet, poke salad, poke berry, poke root, or pokeweed) has been an American staple as long as people who wrote things…

Hibiscus – Plant of the Week

I am not good at making plants live, although I have been improving over the past few years.  So when it comes to creating flower gardens I’m hesitant.  I don’t want to buy a plant that I will likely kill (like our impatiens this year), and I don’t want to dig up a perfectly happy…

Spotted Wintergreen – Plant of the Week

This is spotted wintergreen (Chimaphila maculata), also called striped prince’s pine, and spotted pipsissewa.  It’s a very small plant, usually only 6 inches tall when flowering.  It is an exciting little plant because its leaves are evergreen so it can be easily found through the winter.  Like many of our forest plants it enjoys acidic…

Rhododendron – Plant of the Week

Rhdodendron is one of our most pervasive forest plants, so much so that in my mind it fades into the background landscape much like the ground around it.  I admittedly have thought so little of it that when I went to look up the scientific name I did not expect to find more than one…

Mountain Stewartia – Plant of the Week

My favorite book is Cold Mountain, by Charles Frazier.  That probably shouldn’t be a woman’s favorite book, but it is mine.  I’ve actually never read it visually, but I listen to it several times a year as I fold laundry or work the garden.  The first time I listened to it I was working a…

7 Unusual Ways to Combat Summer Gnats That Actually Work a Little

Happy gnat season!  After mud season, and immediately following my least favorite season (blackberry winter), comes gnat season.  It’s horrible, they swarm your face, and though they rarely bite, just their presence can quickly lead to insanity.  When we first opened the bluegill pond we thought we should get rid of the gnats because, for…

Road Lily – Plant of the Week

The Road Lily is so common a flower that it’s largely ignored and like other wildflowers is frequently overlooked in gardens.  But actually, it’s not a wild flower, and it’s not a lily.  Road Lily, or Orange Day Lily, is originally from Asia and was brought over with some of the first European settlers.  It’s…

Bigleaf Magnolia – Plant of the Week

Bigleaf magnolia (Magnolia macrophylla) is one of our more beautiful flowering trees, though at times difficult to see as the flowers are typically so far above us.  So to find some flowers at more or less eye level I walked to one of our cliffs where from the edge you can see out across the…

Mountain Laurel – Plant of the Week

Mountain Laurel (Kalmia latifolia) is a common plant, but so rarely appreciated for just how ridiculous it is.  Its flowers, straight and intricately geometric, could have been drawn with a ruler and protractor; It’s branches and stems, by our three year old.  Its an extremely amusing plant. Mountain laurel grows throughout the forests here, both…

Pink Lady’s Slipper – Plant of the Week

This week we have a very special plant, Pink Lady’s Slipper (Cypripedium Acaule)!  This was the first time I have actually found this plant in the wild.  Now that I have found it flowering I realize of course that I have passed by it many times and wondered what those strange leaves were.   Pink…