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Yarb Tales


April 22, 2014

The Heritage Herb Garden at the Ozark Folk Center graces the park with visual colors and textures, sweet and pungent aromas, and helps us to interpret the history of the human use of plants.

Saturday, May 3, 2014, the Heritage Herb Garden crew and supporting friends will celebrate National Herb Day with the annual Heritage Herb Spring Extravaganza! The Committee of 100’s Herb Garden Committee, led by Jennifer Blankenship, will serve herbal refreshments in the Herb Cabin between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m.; The Herb Society of America’s Ozark Unit, headquartered at the Ozark Folk Center, will demonstrate the uses of Artemisia in the Folk Kids’ Mountain Garden. Tours of the garden will be conducted at 11 a.m. and 3 p.m.; they will begin at the Herb Shoppe. Craft Admission tickets are required for activities occurring inside the Craft Village.

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April 14, 2014

The Heritage Herb Garden at the Ozark Folk Center graces the park with visual colors and textures, sweet and pungent aromas, and helps us to interpret the history of the human use of plants.

Herb events at the Ozark Folk Center are experiential. A whole lot of the fun is participating, in person. We continue to cook up different foods and presentations every time, as we have for the past thirty years. Recipes are always provided. The healthy lunch, served during the Medicinal Herb Workshop on Saturday, April 5, was deliciously prepared by the Skillet Restaurant’s chefs from recipes created by our friend, Susan Belsinger.
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March 31, 2014

The Heritage Herb Garden at the Ozark Folk Center graces the park with visual colors and textures, sweet and pungent aromas, and helps us to interpret the history of the human use of plants.

This past Sunday, I went hunting for morel mushrooms. I did not find a single one. The mayapples were just sprouting. There were a few spring beauties and toothwort patches and maple branches in bloom on the bank of the pond. I sensed energy burgeoning underground in anticipation of warm rain and sunshine.

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March 24, 2014
The Heritage Herb Garden at the Ozark Folk Center graces the park with visual colors and textures, sweet and pungent aromas, and helps us to interpret the history of the human use of plants.

Within a few days, lilac flowers will be filling the air with the fragrance of spring. Old-fashioned lilacs, Syringa vulgaris, are pass-along shrubs in American gardens. They are native to Persia and mountainous regions of Eastern Europe. Lilacs were introduced to Great Britain during the time of Henry VIII. American colonists planted lilacs in the eighteenth century.

Lilacs need three years to become established and an occasional hard freeze, during the winter, to bloom. The plants like a slightly alkaline soil, and so benefit from lime or, better yet, soft rock phosphate. Soft rock phosphate contains lime for the health of the plant and phosphorous to encourage blooming. To feed the shrub, dig a trench, about a foot deep, around the drip-line (outer perimeter of the foliage). Be sure to push the spade blade straight down into the soil to sever the roots without disturbing or lifting the roots that will remain attached to the shrub. Sprinkle in a dusting of soft rock phosphate all the way around the shrub; water the trench, then backfill with the soil you have removed. This process is best done in January or February, before blooming. I like to feed lilacs in this way every three years or so.

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March 18, 2014
The Heritage Herb Garden at the Ozark Folk Center graces the park with visual colors and textures, sweet and pungent aromas, and helps us to interpret the history of the human use of plants. 

Every spring the Ozark Folk Center’s Heritage Herb Garden presents the Medicinal Herb Field Trip and Workshop. This year’s event falls on April 4 and 5. The Field Trip, on Friday, April 4, has already sold out, with all bus seats reserved.

Saturday’s workshop is still open. The Cabins at Dry Creek, located at the park, is offering a workshop special of only $65 per night plus tax. Each room has two queen-size beds, a small refrigerator, coffee maker, and beautiful scenery. Call the Cabins toll free at 800-264-3655 to make your reservation. Be sure to tell them that you are registering for the Medicinal Herb Workshop on April 5. Join herbal friends who make this workshop a tradition of practical learning and fellowship with kindred spirits.

March 11, 2014

The Heritage Herb Garden at the Ozark Folk Center graces the park with visual colors and textures, sweet and pungent aromas, and helps us to interpret the history of the human use of plants. 

“Wick” is a word of many meanings. Many of us lit candlewicks during power outages this past winter; come summer, we will be wicking perspiration from our faces with towels.

This spring, many of us gardeners in the South and South-Central U.S. will be checking our rosemary and other marginally-hardy shrubs to determine if they are wick. We don’t have to wait to see new growth to decide whether to dig up and replace the plants. The method for checking is described in literature. 

March 4, 2014

The Heritage Herb Garden at the Ozark Folk Center graces the park with visual colors and textures, sweet and pungent aromas, and helps us to interpret the history of the human use of plants.

Every year, around the last weekend of February, friends and crew members of the Ozark Folk Center State Park’s Heritage Herb Garden participate in the Arkansas Flower and Garden Show, at the State House Convention Center in Little Rock. This year, the theme of the show was “Gardening—That’s Entertainment”; We decided to create The Secret Garden, by Frances Hodgson Burnett to interpret the theme. Traditionally, we build an exhibition garden and set up a booth and offer crafts, plants, seeds, and books. Most importantly, we represent the Ozark Folk Center State Park; the Herb Society of America’s Ozark Unit and promote Stone County and Mountain View tourism.


February 10, 2014

The Heritage Herb Garden at the Ozark Folk Center graces the park with visual colors and textures, sweet and pungent aromas, and helps us to interpret the history of the human use of plants. 

At the risk of being pelted with snow balls by readers, it is time to point out the benefits of this winter’s precipitation. Gardens, fields, and timber woods benefit directly from a blanket of snow. Snow is called “poor man’s fertilizer”. The air we breathe contains about 78% nitrogen. As the flakes fall through the atmosphere, they collect this plant food and other particulates such as sulfur. According to several agricultural articles, snow can deposit between 2 and 10 pounds of nitrogen per acre. Most plants can’t take up large amounts of nitrogen during the short days and cool temperatures of winter; however, cool season crops benefit. As soon as we get a thaw, go out to the garden and nibble a piece of spinach, sorrel, cilantro or chickweed. Those little greens can take the cold; in fact, they become sweeter with a freeze. Gardeners with cold frames have been eating hardy greens all winter.

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February 3, 2014

The Heritage Herb Garden at the Ozark Folk Center graces the park with visual colors and textures, sweet and pungent aromas, and helps us to interpret the history of the human use of plants.

The Arkansas Flower and Garden Show at the State House Convention Center in Little Rock will take place on February 21 through 23 this year. The theme of the show is “Gardening, That’s Entertainment”.

The Ozark Folk Center State Park participates in the Arkansas Flower and Garden Show every year with a display garden and a booth. We will bring plants, seeds, books and information about the 2014 Ozark Folk Center season. The Ozark Unit of the Herb Society of America is headquartered at the park and participates in the creation and building of the display garden. The Village Apothecary, featuring handcrafted soaps and herbal products, and Laffing Horse Brooms, both Ozark Folk Center craft shops, will be with us at the show.

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January 27, 2014

The Heritage Herb Garden at the Ozark Folk Center graces the park with visual colors and textures, sweet and pungent aromas, and helps us to interpret the history of the human use of plants.

The Seventh Annual Ozark Seed Swap at the Ozark Folk Center will take place, February 8, 2014 between 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. at the Bois D’Arc Conference Center. You are invited to bring open-pollinated seeds and stories to swap with other Ozark seed savers. If you have no seeds to swap but want to get started, come along to mingle with gardeners and farmers who can help. 

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January 20, 2014
The Heritage Herb Garden at the Ozark Folk Center graces the park with visual colors and textures, sweet and pungent aromas, and helps us to interpret the history of the human use of plants.

At this writing, on Martin Luther King Day, the temperature is expected to rise into the upper 50s or even the lower 60s. With such a pretty day comes a rising in the spirit to play in the garden.

Onions can be sown inside this week. Sets and seedlings can be planted outdoors next month. Onions can be grown in just about any full sun garden, fenced or not, as they are not especially palatable to our garden competitors, deer, rabbit and groundhog. On the other hand, peas are in line, on the calendar, for February planting. As soon as they peek up above the ground, some mammal will run up and chomp them off. If you are going to grow food, you would be wise to erect a very good fence on warm days, while you are waiting for the soil to warm up.

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January 17, 2014
The Heritage Herb Garden at the Ozark Folk Center graces the park with visual colors and textures, sweet and pungent aromas, and helps us to interpret the history of the human use of plants.

Are you thinking about planting a garden this year? If so, it is already time to sow seeds, indoors that is. We are planting calendula and pansy for color, medicine and edible flowers and cilantro, chervil and dill for delightful, early spring, mixed salads and a host of tasty dishes. Some gardeners are even starting summer vegetables such as peppers.

Florescent lights, suspended on chain or other adjustable support, pasteurized growing medium and pots or flats are all that are needed to get growing. A cold frame, in full sun, can also serve as a nursery for germinating hardy, cool season plants. Seeds can be germinated on a window shelf; however, the plants will be weak because they have to stretch for light.

 
January 7, 2014

The Heritage Herb Garden at the Ozark Folk Center graces the park with visual colors and textures, sweet and pungent aromas, and helps us to interpret the history of the human use of plants.

Are you thinking about planting a kitchen garden this year? Seed catalogs are coming in. It is time to consider the kinds of greens we can order to sow during March and April. If you build a cold frame, you can plant and harvest vitamin-packed and tender collards, kale and mustard this early spring and all of next winter. These plants are very hardy and tasty during cold weather, in fact, starches in the leaves turn to sugar when temperatures fall below freezing.
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January 1, 2014
The Heritage Herb Garden at the Ozark Folk Center graces the park with visual colors and textures, sweet and pungent aromas, and helps us to interpret the history of the human use of plants.
This column has been exploring the inner working of perennial plants in winter. Dormancy is the process by which the above-ground parts of plants shed leaves (in the case of deciduous species), alter leaf tissues (in the case of evergreens), store nutrients and rid tissues of excess water. All this happens as temperatures fall and light hours decrease in preparation for below freezing temperatures and conditions are not conducive to growth.
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December 23, 2013

The Heritage Herb Garden at the Ozark Folk Center graces the park with visual colors and textures, sweet and pungent aromas, and helps us to interpret the history of the human use of plants.

Buying and planting live Christmas trees may be a good option for folks who celebrate Christmas with the O Tannenbaum. With planning and proper care, a living Christmas tree, can provide the home landscape with multiple layers of texture, color, meaning and value.

First, plan for the long term health of the tree and how it will look in your landscape. How large will it be? Does it require full or part sun? Does it need a sheltered location or will it thrive in the open? How much water does it need? Is it pest and disease resistant?
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December 16, 2013

The Heritage Herb Garden at the Ozark Folk Center graces the park with visual colors and textures, sweet and pungent aromas, and helps us to interpret the history of the human use of plants.

Last week, this column began a discussion of how evergreen plants survive the cold. To keep leaves year round, our rosemary, cedar and pine trees go through metabolic changes when light hours and temperatures decrease with the onset of winter. The dormancy process is marked by the production of ABA, also called AA, abscisic acid. This is the chemical that causes deciduous leaves to fall. It also aids both deciduous and evergreen plants to go into winter dormancy by suppressing cell growth.
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December 9, 2013

The Heritage Herb Garden at the Ozark Folk Center graces the park with visual colors and textures, sweet and pungent aromas, and helps us to interpret the history of the human use of plants.

Deciduous plants prepare for winter by dropping their leaves. This is necessary because the water in the tissues of the thin, broad leaves would freeze and burst, just like a water pipe, if they remained on the plants.
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December 3, 2013
The Heritage Herb Garden at the Ozark Folk Center graces the park with visual colors and textures, sweet and pungent aromas, and helps us to interpret the history of the human use of plants.
By now, in early December, most of the deciduous leaves have fallen, with the exception of some tenacious oak species. We rake and blow them from gutters, lawns and pathways. Leaf piles are considered refuse by many, who buy supersized plastic bags in which to send the waste away from the property.
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November 25, 2013
The Heritage Herb Garden at the Ozark Folk Center graces the park with visual colors and textures, sweet and pungent aromas, and helps us to interpret the history of the human use of plants.

It is an annual, seasonal tradition for the gardeners of the Heritage Herb Garden to save plants from freezing temperatures, beginning in October and continuing through the first hard freeze. Patchouli, coleus and other tropical plants are moved to safety first, as they dislike temperatures below 60° F. Pineapple sage and Confederate rose leaves are damaged with frost, as they prepare for winter dormancy. We moved these and other containers of herbs with similar hardiness in before the first frost. The only potted plants remaining outside are those plants that are extremely hardy. These will be the last to go to the cold frame next week, when the Craft Village is closed for the season.
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November 19, 2013
The Heritage Herb Garden at the Ozark Folk Center graces the park with visual colors and textures, sweet and pungent aromas, and helps us to interpret the history of the human use of plants.

We attribute our Thanksgiving celebration to the pilgrims at the Plymouth Colony and neighboring native American Indians, who joined together to celebrate a good harvest with a three day feast in the autumn of 1621. According to the accounts of Edward Winslow, who was there and wrote a journal of the pilgrims of Plymouth, they ate wild fowl such as geese, swans, ducks and maybe a gobbler. The English referred to all game birds as turkeys. The Wampanoag Indians killed five deer and brought them to share. The venison and fowl were the only foods documented in the journal.

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November 4, 2013
The Heritage Herb Garden at the Ozark Folk Center graces the park with visual colors and textures, sweet and pungent aromas, and helps us to interpret the history of the human use of plants.

During the past two weeks, I have been watching autumn colors in the landscape and writing about senescence, the chemical process taking place in the leaves. Deciduous plants prepare for winter in stages that slowly shuts down the flow of sap. Sap contains water, which will freeze and cause plant tissues to burst.

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October 29, 201
The Heritage Herb Garden at the Ozark Folk Center graces the park with visual colors and textures, sweet and pungent aromas, and helps us to interpret the history of the human use of plants.

This morning I am remembering back, just four months ago, when the forest and fields were verdant green. The color was caused a multitude of deciduous leaves. Each leaf was absorbing and processing light fourteen hours per day. Inside, within cells, microscopic organelles called plastids were manufacturing food and storing energy. To do this work, the plastids contain the dominant color pigments, green chlorophyll and the behind-the-scene yellow, orange and brown carotenoid pigments.
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October 22, 2013
The Heritage Herb Garden at the Ozark Folk Center graces the park with visual colors and textures, sweet and pungent aromas, and helps us to interpret the history of the human use of plants.

This morning, while sopping up the yellow yolk of a fried egg and the red juice of a vine-ripened tomato, I gazed out of the window at scarlet poison ivy and pinkish orange leaves on a silver maple. What caused all of that color I saw during breakfast?
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October 13, 2013

The Heritage Herb Garden at the Ozark Folk Center graces the park with visual colors and textures, sweet and pungent aromas, and helps us to interpret the history of the human use of plants.

Hospitality is a human phenomenon that is practiced by cultures all over the world. It is the generous and friendly treatment of visitors and guests. A special event, defined as a planned occasion or activity, and hospitality go hand in hand.

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September 30, 2013
The Heritage Herb Garden at the Ozark Folk Center graces the park with visual colors and textures, sweet and pungent aromas, and helps us to interpret the history of the human use of plants.

The annual Herb Harvest Fall Festival will be celebrated this week, starting on Thursday night, at the Ozark Folk Center State Park. This year the focus of the festival will be on the crops and the culinary, cosmetic, and medicinal herbs of coastal Africa which are also enjoyed in the Ozark Mountains.

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September 23, 2013

The Heritage Herb Garden at the Ozark Folk Center graces the park with visual colors and textures, sweet and pungent aromas, and helps us to interpret the history of the human use of plants.

The American Botanical Council (ABC) is the leading nonprofit education and research organization using science-based and traditional information to promote the responsible use of herbal medicine. Founded in 1988, the member-supported organization works to educate consumers, healthcare professionals, researchers, educators, industry and the media on the safe and effective use of medicinal plants. Herbalgram—The Journal of the American Botanical Council though not light reading, is the magazine for those interested in the world of medicinal herbs and the back story of herbal media hypes, both positive and negative.
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September 17, 2013

The Heritage Herb Garden at the Ozark Folk Center graces the park with visual colors and textures, sweet and pungent aromas, and helps us to interpret the history of the human use of plants.

Herbal writer and photographer, Deni Bown will be participating, through her slide show entitled, Herbs from the African Rainforest: Living and Working in the Yorubaland, SW Nigeria, during the Herb Harvest Fall Festival at the Ozark Folk Center on October 4, 2013. She has a lifelong passion for plants that started in her childhood with her grandfather’s lilies and tulips in the United Kingdom and has taken her all over the world. She is a self-taught botanist. Fiercely independent, she has always loved trekking about on her own, to find and identify unusual wild plants.

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September 10, 2013
The Heritage Herb Garden at the Ozark Folk Center graces the park with visual colors and textures, sweet and pungent aromas, and helps us to interpret the history of the human use of plants.

The past two years I have been studying and teaching about glycosides; these are important active constituents of many medicinal herbs. Sulfur-containing glycosides, such as garlic and cyanogenic glycosides, that are present in cherry bark and the berries of elder have been topics addressed in recent Yarb Tales. Cardiac glycosides are of interest because plants that contain these chemicals both have saved lives and have killed people. Persons with life-threatening conditions should seek the care of a qualified physician and inform them of any herbs, vitamins or other prescription medications that you are taking.

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September 3, 2013

The Heritage Herb Garden at the Ozark Folk Center graces the park with visual colors and textures, sweet and pungent aromas, and helps us to interpret the history of the human use of plants.

Okra was planted in two patches in the Heritage Herb Garden this past June. Now the harvest is well underway! These lady’s fingers, as they are known in other parts of the world, get very tough if left on the stalk too long. Our heirloom variety, ‘Gold Coast’, produces light yellow flowers with mahoghany centers which develop perfect pods for picking in two days after flowering. I wear long sleeves and gloves to cut the pods because the hairs on the plants irritate my skin.

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August 27, 2013

The Heritage Herb Garden at the Ozark Folk Center graces the park with visual colors and textures, sweet and pungent aromas, and helps us to interpret the history of the human use of plants.

Elder, Herb of the Year 2013™ is decorating the landscape with ripe, purple berries. Many of our locals are harvesting these healthful fruits and preserving them for winter. Questions should arise about hydrocyanic acid (also known as prussic acid), a toxin that is present in the seed, leaves and roots of elder. Our genus is Sambucus nigra ‘Canadensis’. Other varieties of elder occur in other parts of the world and some have more hydrocyanic acid than our native. Many useful plants contain this acid. I wanted to find more information about this substance to share with you.
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August 20, 2013
The Heritage Herb Garden at the Ozark Folk Center graces the park with visual colors and textures, sweet and pungent aromas, and helps us to interpret the history of the human use of plants.

Herbs are plants that contain chemical principles that are useful. Chemical compounds are complicated yet, are easy to utilize once we understand how to make them soluble. The flavor and scent of herbs comes from essential oils that are released from the leaves, buds and roots by breaking plant cells. The most common way of ingesting essential oils is by infusion in water. For example, mint leaves are placed in a cup, hot water is added and then the cup is covered. The hot water breaks the plant cells, releasing the volatile essential oils. The oils mix with the steam rising from the surface of the hot water, condenses on the lid, and then flows back down into the water, creating a mint infusion. Cooks know that some seasonings, such as thyme, oregano and sage, must be added to heated dishes towards the end of the cooking time in order to taste the herbs; otherwise, the flavor of the essential oils will be lost in the steam that rises from the hot food.

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August 13, 2013

The Heritage Herb Garden at the Ozark Folk Center graces the park with visual colors and textures, sweet and pungent aromas, and helps us to interpret the history of the human use of plants.

Gardeners and farmers in North Central Arkansas have enjoyed wet soil during the past two weeks, a 180° difference from last year at this time. Plants are responding with explosive growth, especially the weeds. Fungi, which include mushrooms, molds, mildews and yeasts, also make use of the moisture to increase growth and reproduction.

Mushrooms in your lawn and garden will not harm your plants. They are the fruiting bodies of certain kinds of fungi. These fungi are necessary to our environment because they help to decompose dead plant material, a process that releases nutrients back into the soil for living plants to use. If the mushrooms bother you, mow or weed them out of your sight. This action will not harm the micro-organisms that live in the soil.
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August 5, 2013
The Heritage Herb Garden at the Ozark Folk Center graces the park with colors and textures, sweet and pungent aromas, and helps us to interpret the history of the human use of plants.

Almost all of the low, moist places in the Heritage Herb Garden are inhabited by cinnamon vine, a.k.a., air potato and Chinese yam, or Dioscorea batatas, to be very specific. According to the Nature Conservancy’s Global Invasive Species Team, D. batatas is a synonym for D. oppositifolia and Green Dean, on his Website, “Eat the Weeds” calls it D. Bulbifera. Call it what you will, I learned to love it as a wild food and to fight with it in the landscape.

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July 23, 2013
The Heritage Herb Garden at the Ozark Folk Center graces the park with visual colors and textures, sweet and pungent aromas, and helps us to interpret the history of the human use of plants.

The hollyhocks in the Heritage Herb Garden have set ripe seeds, so ripe that they fall out of their schizocarp discs with the slightest disturbance. Plainly put, Mother Nature is planting hollyhock seeds right now! It is wise to follow her lead. The fresh seeds will germinate quickly if kept evenly moist. The seedlings will have the rest of the summer, the fall and even some mild days in winter to develop a deep, strong root system to support tall stalks of flowers next spring.

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July 16, 2013

The Heritage Herb Garden at the Ozark Folk Center graces the park with visual colors and textures, sweet and pungent aromas, and helps us to interpret the history of the human use of plants.

Maypop or passion flower, Passiflora incarnata, is a vine, just popping up in the hedgerows and fields of Northern Arkansas. The plants appear in summer, originating from perennial, underground stems. The leaves are alternate along the stem and have three lobes. The lobes have sharp tips and the leaf margins are serrated. A tendril is present at the base of each leaf stem. These tendrils are used to help the vines climb on other plants and structures. If there is nothing to attach to, the tendrils coil tightly into long spring-like shapes at the tip ends.
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July 9, 2013

The Heritage Herb Garden at the Ozark Folk Center graces the park with colors and textures, sweet and pungent aromas. With their natural display, they help us to interpret the history of the human use of plants.

This column was originally published in 2010. The information for cultivating iris is as appropriate now as it was then. The blooming rainbow of iris has subsided in the landscape this growing season. Did you know that iris is named after the Greek goddess of the rainbow? The three inner standards (petals) stand for faith, valor and wisdom. It is time to thank them for the show by giving the plants some tender loving care and, in some cases, some sweaty labor so that the iris will continue to bloom for years to come.
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July 1, 2013

The Heritage Herb Gardens at the Ozark Folk Center grace the park with visual colors and textures, sweet and pungent aromas, and help us to interpret the history of the human use of plants. 

This past weeks, the garden has been dry, a perfect condition for harvesting important herbal crops. Many kinds of seeds, everlasting flower heads and pods have matured, including milk thistle, (Silybum marianum) teasel, (Dipsacus spp.), coriander, (Coriandrum sativumum) and love-in-a-mist (Nigella). These are harvested by cutting the stems and inverting the seed heads into clean plastic buckets or paper sacks. The pods of teasel and love-in-a-mist are gently tapped on the sides of the buckets or sacks. The cilantro seeds (coriander) must be gently rubbed off of the top of the stems into the container.
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June 25, 2013
The Heritage Herb Gardens at the Ozark Folk Center grace the park with visual colors and textures, sweet and pungent aromas, and help us to interpret the history of the human use of plants.

This column, first published in 2009, contains information that may be of interest to new readers. Today I am eager to go to the Buffalo River and Ozark National Forest with fellow herbalist, Deni Bown. We will see the following native plants that show splendid color every June, one on the roadsides and the other, deep in the woods. Butterflyweed, Asclepias tuberosa stands out with gaudy (this is meant in the nicest way) umbels of orange flowers. Goldenseal, Hydrastis canadensis is topped with a single cluster of red berries. A word about conservation; it is best to collect seed from native plants rather than to attempt to transplant them. Purchase them from nurseries that promise that they grow native plants from seed.

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June 11, 2013

The Heritage Herb Garden at the Ozark Folk Center graces the park with visual colors and textures, sweet and pungent aromas, and helps us to interpret the history of the human use of plants.

Anybody and everybody can do this. Run outside and prepare to grow an okra garden. It is so easy; first,  remove the weeds, including the roots, from soil that is located in full sun. This can be done with your hands and a shovel, a tiller or a plough. Think about growing okra, in the normal way, as a vegetable; or jump right out of the box and plant okra as a very handy, ornamental annual.

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June 4, 2013
The Heritage Herb Garden at the Ozark Folk Center graces the park with visual colors and textures, sweet and pungent aromas, and helps us to interpret the history of the human use of plants.

It is nearly too late to plant goobers. Most folks today would wonder what goobers are, yet back in the day, this common food was called goober peas.

“… I saw a saw a placard in over a wooden bin in Dr. Wallis’s store that read, “Peanuts 5₵ a pint.” I was familiar with walnuts and hickory nuts and hazelnuts and chinquapins, but here was something new: I had never heard of peanuts, and my curiosity led me to invest five cents. The clerk, George Wallis, scooped out a pint and started to hand them over the counter to me when I caught sight of them. “Hold on,” I said; “them’s goobers; I don’t want no goobers, we raise ‘em by the bushel every year.” I was right: we grew a crop of goober-peas every year, but never before had I heard them call peanuts.”

--- Tate C. Page, Life in the Leatherwoods 

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May 28, 2013

The Heritage Herb Garden at the Ozark Folk Center graces the park with visual colors and textures, sweet and pungent aromas, and helps us to interpret the history of the human use of plants.

All the signs are right for planting sweet potato slips! Night temperatures are averaging above 55° F. and day temperatures are edging up into the 80s and 90s. The full moon is now waning and the sign today is in Capricorn, a perfect scenario for planting this tuberous crop. We started our own slips by planting whole sweet potatoes in moist sand in a cold frame. Several of the sweet potatoes rotted, likely because of too much daily water. Nonetheless, we have plenty of slips to plant on the top of the root cellar.
May 21, 2013

The Heritage Herb Garden at the Ozark Folk Center graces the park with visual colors and textures, sweet and pungent aromas, and helps us to interpret the history of the human use of plants.

Chives are decorating the Kitchen Garden with spheres of purple blossoms atop bright green, allium blades. They are among the most useful plants in the herb garden. It is just a matter of thinking to utilize them.

Use chives with sour cream, butter, eggs, soups, salads, and any food that would benefit from mild onion or garlic flavor. To harvest, simply gather a handful of the leaves and cut them with a sharp knife or scissors at ground level. Cull away the yellow sheaths and blooming stems before snipping small pieces directly onto food or add them to cooked dishes in the last couple of minutes of cooking time to preserve the delicate flavor. Sprinkle them on top before serving for a lively garnish.

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May 13, 2013
The Heritage Herb Garden at the Ozark Folk Center graces the park with visual colors and textures, sweet and pungent aromas, and helps us to interpret the history of the human use of plants.

Last week this column discussed the winter rye, cover crop project on the root cellar hill. Winter rye is an annual grass that grows on poor soils and is green all winter. The plants exude compounds from the massive root system, which suppresses weed seed germination and the thick top growth shades the ground, inhibiting other plant growth. Right now, the rye has set seed. The caveat is using correct timing to prevent the seeds from ripening so that the rye does not become another weed problem. The tops will be left on the hill as mulch, to continue to suppress weeds. The roots will die and remain in the soil to prevent erosion and to add tilth. After accessing the sheer bulk of growth of the grass, we decided not to use a string trimmer to mow it down. This would have created a terrible mess. Instead, the rye was bent down neatly and covered with a thick layer of wheat straw. So far, the project looks good and the wheat straw seems to be working to stop the rye from finishing its life cycle.

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May 6, 2013

The Heritage Herb Garden at the Ozark Folk Center graces the park with visual colors and textures, sweet and pungent aromas, and helps us to interpret the history of the human use of plants.

The root cellar, inside the Craft Village at the Ozark Folk Center State Park was built into a hillside above what is now the Shannon Cabin during the summer of 1984. River sand was used to cover the cellar, creating a slope on both sides for planting a part of the new Heritage Herb Garden. Unfortunately, the sand contained the roots of bindweed and vetch, along with seeds of most every weed that grows in Arkansas. The annual weeds have been more or less controlled by a combination of hand weeding and the application of mulch.

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April 30, 2013

The Heritage Herb Garden at the Ozark Folk Center graces the park with visual colors and textures, sweet and pungent aromas, and helps us to interpret the history of the human use of plants.

National Herb Day will be celebrated during the Heritage Herb Spring Extravaganza this Saturday, May 4, 2013. Jennifer Blankenship, chairman of the Committee of 100’s Herb Garden Committee, and other members of the Committee will be serving refreshments flavored with Elderberry, Herb of the Year 2013™ including Elderberry Thumb Print Cookies and Elderberry Punch. These ladies will entertain at the Herb Cabin in the Craft Village.

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April 22, 2013

The Heritage Herb Garden at the Ozark Folk Center graces the park with visual colors and textures, sweet and pungent aromas, and helps us to interpret the history of the human use of plants.

This week the Heritage Herb Garden is featuring feverfew, Tanacetum parthenium. This herb hails from the Balkan peninsula originally and has naturalized throughout Europe, North America and South America. It has been used for treating headaches for over two thousand years, according to Steven Foster, writing for the American Botanical Council’s Botanical Series, Feverfew, Tanacetum parthenium, and at his website, http://stevenfoster.com/education/monograph/feverfew1.html
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April 16, 2013
The Heritage Herb Garden at the Ozark Folk Center graces the park with visual colors and textures, sweet and pungent aromas, and helps us to interpret the history of the human use of plants.
On Sunday I took a hike out into my woods to look for morel mushrooms. I found one. I might have harvested many more had I not been startled by a “spreading adder” snake, Heterodon platirhinos that I almost tread upon. I knew it was a spreading adder because of the way it reared up, acting all fierce, looking like a cobra until I did the Arkansas two-step, backwards. I then perched on a boulder to see what my dogs and cat would do when they caught sight of it. I think my cat smelled it first because, though she was many yards away, she suddenly growled and raised her fur, doubling her size. My dogs were oblivious for several minutes until Snoop finally heard it rustle the leaves. He came to attention, snarled and barked but did not approach the snake. The cat snuck up on the reptile and stood guard over it until everyone finally lost interest and went separate ways.
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April 8, 2013
The Heritage Herb Garden at the Ozark Folk Center graces the park with visual colors and textures, sweet and pungent aromas, and helps us to interpret the history of the human use of plants.
Last week, the Ozark Folk Center’s Medicinal Herb Fieldtrip and Workshop happened. Rosemary Gladstar traveled from her home on Sage Mountain in East Barre, Vermont and arrived at the Bill and Hillary International Airport in Little Rock at 9:50 p.m. Susan Belsinger and I met her plane. We came prepared with good food from the Whole Foods Store in Little Rock knowing that she would need sustenance after flying all day. We talked together non-stop on the two and one-half hour drive from the airport to the Cabins at Dry Creek.
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