Uncanny Fruits, Autumn Foraging & Chocolate Bundt Cake — Gather Victoria

From quince, medlar to barberry, I love to forage for the odd fruits which abound this time of year. The following recipe for this intensely moist almost pudding-like bundt, however,  is filled with two strange-looking fruits I’ve not cooked much with before. It’s adapted from the Chocolate Cherry Samhain Bundt I just posted on Gather…

Uncanny Fruits , Autumn Foraging & Chocolate Bundt Cake — Gather Victoria

To Squash Or Not To Squash: Musings On Invasive Species

Lanternfly
The devil was on one shoulder.  An angel on the other. Both were telling me how to proceed, but I couldn’t decipher which voice belonged to which entity. “Cut the bag open,” one voice instructed.” Leave it alone,” said the other. Apparently, my former sense of good and evil was blurred.  Who was the devil, and who was the angel? It all started when I was driving on a backcountry road in Pennsylvania.  I encountered a stand of tree-of-heaven (Ailanthus altissima) whose trunks were adorned with plastic contraptions. “Spotted lanternfly traps,” I thought to myself. Curious to see how effective the contraptions were, I pulled over.  The traps were constructed 5 feet from the bases of the trees.  Each trap was clearly occupied.  I decided to take a closer look. The first trap held dozens of spiders and beetles — some of them alive, many of them dead.  The number of spotted lanternflies within this trap equaled exactly zero. I then checked trap number two.  Like the first trap, this one also held dozens of spiders and beetles.  The number of spotted lanternflies within this trap also equaled exactly zero. Every trap was like this.  None contained a single spotted lanternfly.  All imprisoned spiders and beetles. Thinking what my role in all of this should be, I soon found myself accompanied by two supernatural advisors — one on each shoulder. Cut the bags open?  Or walk away?  Cutting them open — or at least permanently disabling the traps — would release the living insects and ensure that no more would perish.  Doing so, however, would benefit spotted lanternflies — insects that are deemed invasive and destructive in North America.  What was the right thing to do? Questions on the topic of invasive species weren’t new to me.  They had materialized before.  What was right?  What was wrong?  What was good?  What was bad?  Who belonged?  Who didn’t? After much pondering over the years, I’ve come to realize that questions will always be plentiful.  In a brand new video, I ask several questions on the fascinating topic of invasive species.  Few of these questions have simple answers, but all are deeply considered. If you are interested in hearing my thoughts, you can watch the video here. Thank you for your support.
— Adam Haritan

Dianthus – Herb of the Month – A Plant of Beauty and Meaning

The Herb Society of America Blog

By Maryann Readal

Photo of pinks, Dianthus caryophyllusDianthus is The Herb Society’s Herb of the Month for April. The timing is perfect as the weather is beginning to be spring-like, and these plants are now available in our garden shops. The Greek botanist, Theophrastus (371-287 BCE), is credited with giving these flowers their name. He combined the Greek word for dios, “divine,” with anthos, “flower” and came up with dianthus.Dianthus have been cultivated and bred for over 2,000 years, and many different colors and flower types have been developed along the way. With successive breeding, however, many of the cultivars have lost their native clove-like scent. 

The old-fashioned plant that our grandmothers called pinks, Dianthus plumarius, can be a perennial or an annual. It is a compact, evergreen, clove-scented, low-growing species of Dianthus. Like other Dianthus, it prefers an alkaline soil and plenty of sun. The perennial variety blooms later…

View original post 1,355 more words

National Herb Garden Announces Internship Opening for 2022-2023!

The Herb Society of America Blog

Whole View NHG 2006Are you interested in learning more about the herbal uses of plants from around the world? Are you ready to challenge your horticultural skills in a public garden setting? Are you enthusiastic about sharing that knowledge with people? Then, consider joining our team!

The National Herb Garden, located on the grounds of the U.S. National Arboretum in Washington, DC, is looking to hire an intern to assist with all gardening tasks, including plant propagation, record keeping, and educational programming. This internship runs from April/May 2022 through spring of 2023. It is full-time, but part-time may be considered on a case-by-case basis. Schedule includes one weekend day August through October; the rest of the year, it is Monday through Friday. The position is open to U.S. citizens and is paid by stipend through The Herb Society of America. Housing is not provided. If you, or someone you know, is…

View original post 52 more words

HSA Webinar: Tea Gardening with Camellia sinensis

The Herb Society of America Blog

by Christine Parks

White flower and 2 green leaves in a white tea cup with a blue border, on a dark blue tableclothMany gardeners are surprised to learn that Camellia sinensis is the most popular camellia in the world. And most tea drinkers in the U.S. have no idea that tea is made from the leaves of a camellia. Like them, I enjoyed tea for decades without giving a second thought to its origin. All I knew was that Golden-tips came from Assam, Genmaicha from Japan, and Red Rose Tea from the grocery store. I got my daily dose of caffeine from coffee and drank as much herbal tea (tisanes) as traditional caffeinated teas. Flash forward 25 years, I’ve given up on coffee and become intimately involved with tea – a relationship grown, both literally and figuratively, through gardening.

Much has been written about herbal tea gardening. I have several of these books, along with various texts on herbal medicines, and an older favorite from my grandmother’s bookshelf, The…

View original post 720 more words

Viola Species – Herb of the Month, Herb for the Heart

Putting the Garden to Sleep: End of Season Activities and Rituals

The Druid's Garden

Garden bed with scarecrow

The day before the first hard frost. Our garden is still bountiful as the Butzemann watches over all….As the darkness continues to grow deeper on the landscape, it is high time to consider how to put the garden to rest for the winter and honor the garden that has offered you so much bounty and joy for the season. I actually find this one of my favorite gardening activities of the year, both on a metaphysical and physical level. There’s something special about “tucking” your garden in after a productive growing season and knowing that the land will go fallow and rest as the cold and ice come. Here are both the physical activities and sacred activities that you can do to help put your garden to rest.

Do note that my timings are based on the temperate climate in Western Pennsylvania, USDA Zone 6A.  You can adapt appropriately based…

View original post 2,322 more words

Transitioning into Deeper Darkness: Seasonal Activities and the the Golden Hour

The Druid's Garden

Sun at sunset Sun at sunset

As the light grows dim this time of year, as the days grow short, many people find this particular season a difficult one.  Without the light, our thoughts can spiral into the darkness, our spirits long for the warmer days.  The cold and dark are barely here, and there is so much winter ahead.  Just this week, I had three separate conversations with friends about this exact issue: it is a hard time of year, particularly the time between Samhain and Yule, when we know there is much more darkness to come.  It is a hard time this year, in particular, when so many of us are beyond stressed and burned out due to the unfolding events of the last two years.  It also was a strange year, in that we had temperatures that stayed well above freezing, which kept the leaves green–and suddenly temperatures that plunged…

View original post 1,622 more words

The Other Quince

The Herb Society of America Blog

by Matt Millage

PXL_20210402_173312198After a brief email exchange with a colleague last fall around this same time, I set off to collect some fallen treasures from the forest floor from a tree I had never collected from before. The fruit was large and aromatic, but I was unfamiliar with its culinary use. Suddenly the sweet scent of ripening flesh let me know that the bounty was close, and true to smell, the six-inch long, bright yellow fruits of the Chinese quince (Pseudocydonia sinensis) were scattered beneath a tree. Much larger than its cousin, the common quince (Cydonia oblonga),which is used often in fruit production and tree grafting, the Chinese quince has a reputation for being rather astringent, and I had never thought of cooking with it. 

After informing my colleague that the harvest was complete, I inquired as to how he planned on using the crop. He explained…

View original post 1,192 more words

Nasty Plants and the Reasons to Love Them

The Herb Society of America Blog

by Erin Holden

Scrunched up faces. Tongues sticking out. Sounds of choking and disgust. Unfortunately this is the usual reaction when I’m finally able to coax someone into trying medicinal herbs. When we move past the more pleasant plants like lavender, chamomile, and peppermint and delve into the deeper waters of herbal medicine, not everything is so user-friendly. Many plants taste bitter, smell like old socks, or even feel slimy. But often, it’s these same nasty characteristics that provide the therapeutic benefits we’re looking for. Let’s take a look at a few plants and see what makes them so “nasty” as well as useful.

Valerian (Valeriana officinalis)
Many people may be familiar with the distinctive aroma of valerian root; old socks, wet dog, and horse manure are just a few things to which the odor has been affectionately compared. In fact, the constituent responsible for the smell, valeric…

View original post 960 more words