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Dave's Garden Articles: By Sharon Brown

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

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The two faces of Morning Glories
By Sharon Brown (Sharran)

Morning glories gaze down upon the faces of children and bring smiles of beauty. They also glare at us from their choking hold around the neck of our prized daylily and bring frowns of despair. And there is another even uglier hidden side to this pretty flower. Let me tell you about it.

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Saturday, September 6, 2014

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Snakeroot and Ol' Larrnce
By Sharon Brown (Sharran)

Ol' Larrnce wasn't anybody's fool. He grabbed that snake by the tail and twirled it a time or two over his head and slung it as far as he could sling it. And it just kept coming back.

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Wednesday, August 20, 2014

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Plants: Magic and Mystery
By Sharon Brown (Sharran)

Thousands of years ago magical and mystical powers were ascribed to certain plants. It is no wonder, since today we still turn to plants for food, shelter, clothing, weapons, and even healing. The magic and mystical beliefs came from the plant's display of vital energy during its growth and seasonal rebirth. We might understand such events today, but there will always be an element of mystery in the first bloom of spring.

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Thursday, August 14, 2014

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White Turtlehead
By Sharon Brown (Sharran)

With a name like "turtlehead" a plant must have something positive going for it. Here is the story about a little-known wildflower whose medicinal uses are much older than we are. It is the one plant that is almost exclusively relied upon by the caterpillars of the Baltimore Checkerspot butterfly.

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Tuesday, July 29, 2014

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Aunt Bett's Story about the Devil's Plant: Datura
By Sharon Brown (Sharran)

I asked Aunt Bett why we couldn't pick that beautiful white flower that bloomed in the evening and on into the night. She sat me down right then and there and told me the story of near death and destruction brought about by the misuse of the Devil's Plant. And she made me promise to never touch Devil's Plant no matter what, 'cause the devil got ahold of anybody who did.

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Tuesday, July 15, 2014

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Bugleweed: Ajuga
By Sharon Brown (Sharran)

Bugleweed is another plant that made its way around the mountainside in southeast KY. It was used as a medicinal plant, but it also served as a nice comfy mat for napping, or reading, or just watching the clouds roll by overhead. It also lined the floor of my hideout.

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Tuesday, July 1, 2014

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Planting a Garden in the Midnight Sun
By Sharon Brown (Sharran)

How on earth did someone from the mountains of Kentucky end up planting a garden on the Kenai Peninsula in Seward, Alaska? Well, there are some similarities: Alaska does have mountains, great glorious ones that are barren on top except for the goats and bears that live there. Here is the story of my incredible visit to Alaska, and what I found in that harshly beautiful land.

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Tuesday, June 24, 2014

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Sweet Violets
By Sharon Brown (Sharran)

Nature and I got along very well. I was taught to have a great deal of respect for all the freely given things of nature, and I did. My mother was a different story. I didn't think she would mind at all if I used her newly blooming sweet violets for my princess crown, but I was so wrong.

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Tuesday, June 3, 2014

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Jewelweed, Aunt Bett's Diamonds
By Sharon Brown (Sharran)

Aunt Bett had a subtle way of talking me into those early morning treks up the mountain. She peppered her words with enticing lures like diamonds, glittering jewels and flying emeralds. I was never disappointed when I arrived at wherever we were going, but sometimes her descriptions fell a little short of reality. Take her diamonds for example....

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Tuesday, May 27, 2014

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Sweet Clover
By Sharon Brown (Sharran)

A field of sweet clover is one of the prettiest sights and scents you will ever find. But don't ever walk through one, because the honey bees swirl crazily in the air and land happily on every blossom. They would land on you, too, but neither of you would be very happy about that..

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Thursday, May 15, 2014

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The Bug Assignment
By Sharon Brown (Sharran)

It was a simple elementary school science project and I refused to do it. Nobody was going to make me kill bugs and stick them on a board with pins. That was the year I was ready to become a fourth grade drop out.

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Tuesday, May 6, 2014

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Yellow Bedstraw
By Sharon Brown (Sharran)

Living off the land in southeast Kentucky meant simply that you made do with what you had, and most of the time that was enough. It is always good to remember the old days with pleasure and smiles, but sometimes there's fun in remembering the good, the bad, and the scary. This is such a story.

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Thursday, February 13, 2014

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Strawberries and Snow
By Sharon Brown (Sharran)

It wasn't the foot of snow that bothered me, it was the fact that I was craving strawberries in the dead of winter. I thought I'd help the strawberries grow sooner if I could rid them of their blanket of snow. This story is for the child who lurks within all of us.

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Tuesday, January 28, 2014

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Salad Burnet
By Sharon Brown (Sharran)

It was not customary to have salads in winter months because fresh vegetables were not available then. Salad dressings were only made in summer, too. The first time I ever had a salad during the cold of winter, I could not understand why neither it nor the dressing tasted like cucumber.

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Tuesday, December 17, 2013

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The Christmas Gift
By Sharon Brown (Sharran)

I had only asked for an angel for Christmas. Not a real angel, I knew better than that, but I really wanted an angel of my own. I had seen pictures of angels, I had read stories of angels, and I really needed an angel. Sometimes angels come in strange packages.

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Tuesday, November 26, 2013

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Aunt Bett, Porky, and Lye Soap
By Sharon Brown (Sharran)

Fall was a wonderful time. I loved the changing colors of the mountains as the trees got ready for winter. I loved the smell of wood smoke as it floated above my head. I loved the crackle of the dried leaves as I wandered around the mountains. I loved my birthday which always came just before Thanksgiving. But I did not love the day after Thanksgiving.

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Tuesday, November 5, 2013

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Witch Hazel and Aunt Bett
By Sharon Brown (Sharran)

When Aunt Bett helped me cut some branches of Witch Hazel to place in water on my bedside table, she didn't tell me the seed pods would explode and shower my bed with tiny black seeds. There is nothing like a loud POP! to bring you out of a dead sleep. Since my room was upstairs and the window was right beside my bed, I consider myself fortunate to have lived to tell the tale.

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Tuesday, October 1, 2013

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Aunt Bett's Unmentionables: Blue Cohosh
By Sharon Brown (Sharran)

There is nothing worse than being a little kid and knowing the adults are talking about something and don't want you to hear. It's like Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny. I hated all the whispers that went on at Christmastime. And whoever heard of bunnies laying eggs, for goodness' sakes! It truly aggravated me when Aunt Bett started whispering and leaving me out.

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Tuesday, September 10, 2013

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Bitter Dock
By Sharon Brown (Sharran)

Sometimes as we grow older, we find that the plants of our childhood have become invasive weeds. I remember making dyes from plants, and making sure that I didn't run out of bitter dock, because its roots made the very best yellow dye. I would stand guard over the patch of bitter dock when anybody was weeding our yard.

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Sunday, September 1, 2013

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The Cup Plant
By Sharon Brown (Sharran)

I never heard the word "boring" when I was a child. The word didn't exist for me. I followed the ants on their trails to see where they built their homes. I chased lightning bugs. I built leaf boats and with a ladybug at the helm, I sailed them down the creek to unknown destinations. And I fixed all the flowers in my mother's garden so that the birds could drink from them.

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Thursday, August 22, 2013

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Sweet Meadowsweet
By Sharon Brown (Sharran)

Every time you reach for aspirin, you can thank meadowsweet.

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Tuesday, August 13, 2013

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Chinese Lantern
By Sharon Brown (Sharran)

I thought the Chinese Lanterns should glow in the dark, just like the lightning bugs that flitted around them. I opened up the dried lantern and placed a glowing bug right inside. It was beautiful, and so I did it again, and again.

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Tuesday, August 6, 2013

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Silverweed
By Sharon Brown (Sharran)

How likely is it that someone from the mountains of southeast Kentucky would find a plant from her childhood growing in the mountainous beauty of Alaska? The name was different more than a thousand miles from Kentucky, but the plant looked just the same.

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Tuesday, July 30, 2013

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Dog Days of Summer
By Sharon Brown (Sharran)

It creeps upon us when we least expect it. One week we are weeding and deadheading from morning till night, then suddenly we are gasping and sweat is pouring down our faces. What happened, seemingly overnight? This is not an article about our weather changes, but what we can do about August.

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Tuesday, July 23, 2013

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Celandine
By Sharon Brown (Sharran)

I refused to open my mouth. I would not eat, I would not drink, and I would not talk. Strange things were happening behind my closed lips, and I didn't understand them. Nobody had ever told me I was ever going to lose a tooth.

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Tuesday, July 16, 2013

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Wild Strawberries and Minnehaha
By Sharon Brown (Sharran)

I was going to tell you that everything you ever wanted to know about Wild Strawberries and the Ojibway Indians would be in this article. Not really, but you know how things can be exaggerated in the mind of a child.

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Tuesday, July 2, 2013

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Pappy Joe and Wild Indigo
By Sharon Brown (Sharran)

Recently my friend Melody Rose wrote an article for Dave's Garden and its subject was indigo dye. When I read the article, I had one of those deja vu moments. Sometime in the past I had made an indigo blue dye from a plant in southeast Kentucky where I grew up. I knew it was not indigo, but it took an evening of searching through Aunt Bett's notes before I found it: Baptisia. She of course had a different name for it as well as a different use, but her Horsefly Weed sure did produce a fine blue dye for me!

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Tuesday, June 25, 2013

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Black-eyed Susan
By Sharon Brown (Sharran)

If you plant Black-eyed Susans beside your door, no ants will enter, but the butterflies.....oh, the butterflies, they will just come right on in.

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Tuesday, June 11, 2013

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My New Obsession: Alaskan Lupines
By Sharon Brown (Sharran)

It must be the legacy of Aunt Bett that creates an obsession within my soul for wildflowers. Recently I spent eight days in Seward, Alaska, and saw so many unbelievably beautiful wildflowers that were new to me, I am now living in the land of research even before unpacking my clothes. I guess if we have to have an addiction, it might as well be wildflowers. Those wildflowers that grew on the tundra were all my favorites, but the blue lupines......Oh My Goodness! I wonder if I could make a blue dye from the blooms?

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Tuesday, June 4, 2013

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Aunt Bett and the Divorce Dilemma: Lobelia
By Sharon Brown (Sharran)

Psychiatrists were unheard of, no one went to marriage counseling, and very few people were ever divorced in my little area of the mountains. I had heard the word and knew what it meant, but I was never more surprised than when a middle aged man knocked on Aunt Bett's door and asked for a cure for divorce.

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Tuesday, May 28, 2013

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Wild Yam
By Sharon Brown (Sharran)

The vining wild yam tripped me every time I tried to take a shortcut through my mother's flower bed. I thought I had fallen for the last time when I grew up and moved away. Little did I know that it would follow me wherever I went.

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Tuesday, May 14, 2013

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The 50 Cent Bald Cypress Seedling
By Sharon Brown (Sharran)

One of the few trees that did not live in my childhood environment in southeast Kentucky was the bald cypress. Now isnít that a strange name for such a lovely tree? This is the story of a tiny seedling that I knew nothing about, one that was guaranteed not to grow here in the flatlands of western Kentucky.

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Tuesday, April 30, 2013

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Comfrey, Aunt Bett, and Me
By Sharon Brown (Sharran)

I was as good as gold. I did everything the adults told me to do, particularly if the directive came from Aunt Bett. Somehow that little woman put the fear right into my soul. However, there was one day when I broke a rule, faced the wrath of Aunt Bett, and learned how to whistle all at the same time.

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Tuesday, April 16, 2013

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The Accidental Garden
By Sharon Brown (Sharran)

Did you ever have a dream in which you find yourself in an unknown place, explaining facts about something that you know absolutely nothing about to an audience you can't even see? Sometimes I feel that way about my garden, because until now, my garden was purely accidental.

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Tuesday, March 19, 2013

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The Big Mistake: Creeping Charlie
By Sharon Brown (Sharran)

I really hate to make mistakes that last for decades and simply cannot be corrected. I have made a few in my lifetime, and the one that I am going to relate to you might never be resolved. I guess I will just have to live with it.

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Tuesday, March 12, 2013

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Broom: The Controversy
By Sharon Brown (Sharran)

Writing about broom is like opening a hornet's nest. It is well liked in the east, and very much disliked in the west. But it has an interesting history, and therein lies this story.

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Tuesday, February 26, 2013

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Where the Flowers Grow
By Sharon Brown (Sharran)

I didn't mean to, Officer. But you see, I have these gardening friends and they talked me into buying roses...

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Tuesday, February 12, 2013

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Birds and Bears and the Beechnut Tree
By Sharon Brown (Sharran)

The kids at school said there was a bear on my side of the mountain. They said it was on the Virginia side but they reckoned that the Virginians had run it clear across the mountain and now they just knew it was on my side.

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Tuesday, February 5, 2013

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The Quilting Bee: Natural Dyes
By Sharon Brown (Sharran)

I grew up in a family of hand quilters. I didn't like to quilt but I surely did love to dye the bleached muslin that was pieced into the quilt. It went right along with all the discoveries that I made with my great Aunt Bett.

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Tuesday, January 22, 2013

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English Ivy: Beauty or Beast?
By Sharon Brown (Sharran)

It grew on the rock wall in front of my grandmother's yard. Behind it lived the mysterious faeries and gnomes who flavored my bedtime stories. I learned early that it was called Ivy, and my aunt had been named for it. I left treasures as gifts for the little people who lived there, the feather of a blue bird, a tiny marble of red glass, and an occasional cookie. I watched closely for any signs of movement.

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