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Dave's Garden Articles: By Sharon Brown

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

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Aunt Bett's Flowering Japanese Quince
By Sharon Brown (Sharran)

Aunt Bett liked flowers and plants that served a purpose. That didn't allow much room for a plant to simply be a plant. Trees were for shade, vegetables were for food, and flowers were for medicine. It had been that way for a long time until I buried a twig of the flowering Japanese quince in her yard. Little did I know that it would grow and grow and grow.

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Tuesday, April 19, 2011

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Wide Eyed Optimists, that's what we are!
By Sharon Brown (Sharran)

"Is it for sure going to bloom, Nana? Can it breathe with all that dirt over it? Do you think it will bloom red? How long do I have to wait? Is that a magic seed?" When my little four year old grandson planted his first seeds, he had no doubt they would grow and bloom. I don't think big gardeners have doubts either.

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Tuesday, April 12, 2011

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About Trees
By Sharon Brown (Sharran)

If there were no trees, what would I climb, what would I sit under, where would I go to find peace? This is a story about my affinity for trees.

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Tuesday, April 5, 2011

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Kinnikinnick (Bearberry)
By Sharon Brown (Sharran)

It was years before I knew the plant was called Bearberry. I always though it was named for a bird chirping: ka-nik ka-nik, ka-nik ka-nik, and went through half my life spelling it in just that way. It was another of my southeast Kentucky mountain language barriers that brings a smile to me now.

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Tuesday, March 29, 2011

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Aunt Bett, Poke Sallit, and the Asphidity Bag
By Sharon Brown (Sharran)

My Great Aunt Bett was known as the Medicine Woman in the mountains of eastern Kentucky where I grew up. She was indeed a formidable woman, even to me, since she could drape that stinking asphidity bag around my neck and get by with it. This is the story of our trek up the mountains on our search for the new shoots of poke, and of all the magic held secretly within the pokeweed plant.

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Tuesday, March 8, 2011

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Star of Bethlehem: Toxic, Invasive, or Lovely?
By Sharon Brown (Sharran)

What happens when the habits of history and the studies of scientists are completely at odds? Makes you wonder, doesn't it?

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Tuesday, February 22, 2011

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Wormseed
By Sharon Brown (Sharran)

There were very few plants that I disliked. Wormseed was one of them. It offered no real beauty with its blooms, and the worst thing about it was its terrible smell. I guess that's why my family called it Stinking Weed. That wasn't the only reason I hated it, you must read the rest of the story to understand.

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Tuesday, February 15, 2011

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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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Tuesday, February 8, 2011

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Wild Cherry
By Sharon Brown (Sharran)

Among the plants most endowed with nature's gifts are the cherry and plum trees. We didn't have plum trees where I grew up, but the lovely wild cherry tree could be found in several places in the mountains. I also called it the chokeberry tree.

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Tuesday, January 11, 2011

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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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Tuesday, January 4, 2011

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Carnivorous Sundew
By Sharon Brown (Sharran)

I love unusual plants, and I like most insects. But in this one instance, a lurking beauty, a tiny relatively unknown native North American carnivorous plant can shred unsuspecting insects into mush in just a matter of minutes. It might be survival of the fittest in the miniature kingdom of plants and insects.

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Tuesday, December 28, 2010

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The Catalpa Tree
By Sharon Brown (Sharran)

You either hate the catalpa or you love it, there is very little room for any other sentiment. No matter which side of the fence you lean toward, you might change your mind after reading this article.

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Tuesday, December 21, 2010

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Shepherd's-purse
By Sharon Brown (Sharran)

Solitary children create a world of their own. They figure things out based on their own experiences, and if left to their own imagination for very long, they believe their theories long before they accept those of others. Whew! Was I ever a solitary child.

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Tuesday, December 14, 2010

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Potpourri: Then and now
By Sharon Brown (Sharran)

I had homemade sachets and sprigs of lavender stuck in every pocket of every piece of clothing. My shirt pockets might smell of roses, and my jeans might carry the scent of sage and rosemary, but I sure did smell good wherever I went.

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Tuesday, December 7, 2010

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The Flower of Distinction: Cardinal flower
By Sharon Brown (Sharran)

Words of praise were hard to come by in my family. I was expected to do what I was told to do, and for the most part I did, never expecting a word of praise. Aunt Bett sure didn't give any flowery speeches, either, so it surprised me when she gave me a flower for a job well done.

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Tuesday, November 16, 2010

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Sacred Botany: the Ancients
By Sharon Brown (Sharran)

Long ago and far away, during a time we can only read about, the same plants that often grow in our gardens were held sacred by those who tended them. This is a journey back in time, and a look at the plants of a younger earth.

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Tuesday, November 9, 2010

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The Pineapple Plant
By Sharon Brown (Sharran)

Kentucky is about as far inland as one can get, and there is not a thing tropical about us. About a year ago, I decided I wanted a pineapple plant. In a land where pineapples won't grow, I don't know where I thought I was going to get one. It wasn't like I could run to the nearest nursery and check their prices.

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Tuesday, November 2, 2010

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Virgin's Bower
By Sharon Brown (Sharran)

There are some 250 known species of Clematis in the world, many of which have been hybridized and have become favorite plants of home gardeners. This is one that is a native of North America and for awhile had a place in the pharmacopeia of the continent.

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Tuesday, October 19, 2010

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Turmeric
By Sharon Brown (Sharran)

Recently I have been seeing the word "turmeric" in magazines or newspapers. When I saw it mentioned in an article about a wedding in India, my curiosity came alive, and I had to know all about it.

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Tuesday, October 5, 2010

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Aunt Bett's Alum Root: Wild Geranium
By Sharon Brown (Sharran)

The flower grew wild, and bloomed from early spring through all of summer. It was a pretty little thing, and most of the time it was a lavender or pink color. On one of my first trips up the side of the mountain to collect it, I threw a fit because Aunt Bett was gathering the root before the pretty little flower showed its first bloom. My fits were long and loud, and they lasted several hours.

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Tuesday, September 21, 2010

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The Quinine Tree
By Sharon Brown (Sharran)

If I cut a twig off the forsythia and planted it, very soon I would have two forsythia bushes. If I saved seeds of one of Mom's zinnias, the next summer I had more zinnias than I knew what to do with. And so, I really thought a quinine tree should grow from the powder that the doctor gave Dad to treat his malaria.

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Tuesday, September 14, 2010

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Star Thistle
By Sharon Brown (Sharran)

The star thistle is also known as caltrops, named for the metal traps with four spikes that were used in time of war. I can tell you truly, the star thistle is indeed a trap for bare feet.

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Tuesday, August 31, 2010

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Elecampane for Horses
By Sharon Brown (Sharran)

I spent several summers of my adult life searching for horseweed, only to find out now that I am as old as the hills I grew up in, horseweed is not its name at all.

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Tuesday, August 24, 2010

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Goldie and the Heal All Plant
By Sharon Brown (Sharran)

There was a little flowering plant that Aunt Bett used often for its medicinal properties, particularly when she was treating little old ladies who had multiple complaints. Take Goldie, for instance, if it wasn't a hangnail it was a dark spot wherever there shouldn't be one. Aunt Bett just said that Goldie liked attention.

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Tuesday, August 10, 2010

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About Pliny
By Sharon Brown (Sharran)

Hang on, my friends. We are about to take a fast journey back in time to revisit some ideas you might already know, about facts and fiction, fables and fantasies.

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Tuesday, August 3, 2010

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Castor oil, anyone?
By Sharon Brown (Sharran)

Sometimes beauty is deceiving. Roses come with thorns. Moonflowers are highly toxic. There is so much to remember about plants, is it worth it to have these hidden dangers in our gardens? Well, of course it is.

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Tuesday, July 27, 2010

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Goatsbeard
By Sharon Brown (Sharran)

It was never in my plans to get into trouble. Somehow, it just happened, much like the cartoon character of years ago who walked around with a dark cloud over his head. This is the story of a nondescript plant that is no longer known for much of anything, but when I was growing up, it was found often on our dinner table.

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Tuesday, July 20, 2010

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Aunt Bett and Aunt Mint: Wild Mint
By Sharon Brown (Sharran)

I thought I knew all my relatives until I heard the grown ups talking about Aunt Mint. They whispered when her name was mentioned, which only served to get my curiosity going full force. This is a story of whispers and sadness, and how even today it makes me smile. This might be a skeleton in my closet.

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Tuesday, July 13, 2010

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Aunt Bett, Aunt Elen and Headache Cures: Feverfew
By Sharon Brown (Sharran)

One might think that one great aunt is enough to add spice to your life, but I had another one who added nothing but vinegar. The trouble was, I worried more about her than I worried about Aunt Bett. I shouldn't have, she very nearly outlived me.

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Tuesday, June 22, 2010

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Dutchman's Breeches, A Comedy of Errors
By Sharon Brown (Sharran)

Dutchman's Breeches is such a pretty wildflower. It has a history as strange as its name, and Aunt Bett's use of it was nothing but hilarious. Years have passed since our days of searching for this flower during springtime, but the sight of them still makes me smile.

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Tuesday, June 15, 2010

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Aunt Bett's Pleurisy Root: Butterfly weed
By Sharon Brown (Sharran)

Seems to me that everybody got sick all at the same time back when I was Aunt Bett's young assistant. It wasn't unusual to have four or five folks huddled around the coal stove on a chilly winter's day in Aunt Bett's front room. Some were coughing, some were just sitting, and one was unbelievably handsome.

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Tuesday, June 8, 2010

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Aunt Bett and Gathering Cowslips
By Sharon Brown (Sharran)

I had a hard time understanding what Aunt Bett was going to do with cowslips the first time we climbed the mountain to gather them. I thought we were going to a pasture where cows grazed in the summer, and then I wondered what on earth cows would do without their lips. It was all a mystery to me.

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Tuesday, May 11, 2010

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Fumitory
By Sharon Brown (Sharran)

Fumitory was not supposed to grow in Kentucky, but without even a line between us, how would it know to stay in Virginia?

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Tuesday, April 27, 2010

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Trembling Aspen
By Sharon Brown (Sharran)

I grew up watching a stand of aspens trembling when there was no wind, their leaves softly chattering in the still air, like so many little yellow haired ladies at a quilting party. But Aunt Bett said the sound was whispers from above.

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Tuesday, April 20, 2010

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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, March 30, 2010

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Lovage
By Sharon Brown (Sharran)

With a name like lovage, it had to be a love potion, didn't it? I wasted one whole summer collecting and testing it on unsuspecting, good looking young men, and it didn't faze a one of them. Of course it could have been that they were only ten years old at the time.

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Tuesday, March 23, 2010

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Wild Pansy
By Sharon Brown (Sharran)

They told me if I slept with wild pansies on my eyelids, upon waking I would see the face of my true love.

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Tuesday, March 16, 2010

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Wild Senna
By Sharon Brown (Sharran)

Rarely have I met a plant that I didn't like. I am not known for digging up plants and throwing them out in the trash either. There comes a time in the life of a gardener when she simply has to stand firm: either she goes, or the plant goes, and in this case, I am not budging. I don't think the plant will budge either.

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Tuesday, March 2, 2010

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Hair Herbs
By Sharon Brown (Sharran)

Those years of streaking plant dyes through my hair have finally paid off. I can honestly tell you that my hair survived those years, and even now it thrives with all the herbs I can pour on it. I thought it was a story worth telling.

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Tuesday, February 16, 2010

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Apple Cider Vinegar
By Sharon Brown (Sharran)

Apple cider vinegar has quite a history as a medicinal plant, an antiseptic, and as a curative. But is it really? Let's take a look at the role it played in history. One thing I know for sure, it does not straighten curly hair.

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