Monday, August 26, 2013

Wild Garden

Near our chicken house is a beautiful garden full of color: oranges, deep royal purple and soft hazy pinks, lush greens and dark shadows. It's not a garden I planted. It planted itself. All we had to do was leave it alone and wait.

August rewarded our inattention and lack of care. When Michaela was visiting, she wore some of the Jewelweed, or Touch-Me-Not, in her hair. So pretty! Jewelweed, as you probably know, is a great antidote for poison ivy and other itchiness from plants. It's also good on burns, so if you're camping, make sure there is some Jewelweed close by.

This is Joe Pye Weed, but a friend recently referred to it as Queen of the Meadow, and I do like that name better. It's a lovely pink-lavender shade and often reaches heights of eight feet or more.

Joe Pye can be used for some medicinal purposes, but I admit I have never tried any remedies using it. You can find information about its uses at Mother Earth News and other sites.

There is sumac and ironweed in this patch as well, although the ironweed does not show well in the photos and the sumac had no heads on it this year. I have made sumac lemonade in the past--it's very tasty and citrus-y but it takes a little work to strain all the tiny hairs from the juice. You can read about how to make it in Countryside Magazine's online article.

Ironweed is common in poor soil and overgrazed pastures, and often a tall yellow daisy-like flower grows with it. The colors together are stunning, and prove that even something worn out can still produce beauty. Ironweed does not seem to have any current medicinal uses, although sites such as this one from Ohio State report that the Native Americans used it for various ailments. It is used today to make natural dyes. You can find 151 recipes for natural dye at another Ohio website.

I picked a little ironweed and picked up prunings from my gardening work this morning to make two arrangements for the house. It's always easy to decorate when you live in the country; the abundance of available materials is staggering, really. Why not take a quick walk with your scissors and snip a few things to brighten your table today?

Copyright Susanna Holstein. All rights reserved. No Republication or Redistribution Allowed without attribution to Susanna Holstein.


Quinn said...

So true! I often do exactly that - clip a few stems of this and that, and have a lovely posy to enjoy indoors :)
Thanks for the link to the dye info! Maybe this year I'll branch out from my favorite, black walnut.

Granny Sue said...

Quinn, I'd like to try some dying again myself. I did a little back in the 70's but not since. We have used black walnut for wood stain, just covering the hulls with turpentine or kerosene and then straining it off when we had the color we wanted, and that's always fun.

Michelle said...

I do the same and go picking in the pasture for everything that strikes my fancy!

Rowan said...

What pretty arrangements, the garden does seem to be full of oranges,yellows and purples at this time of year, I just have a single small stand of Joe Pyeweed but I think I might try and split it when it's finished flowering so I can have some more.

Jenny said...

I love making arrangements from what's growing in & around my yard. I used to make them about once a week but my family has developed such allergies I can't bring many thing into the house anymore. So, I make arrangements for my back porch or to give to friends.I've given three away in the last few weeks & I received lots of smiles in return.

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