I'm constantly learning about the flora that grows along the paths, in the meadows, woods and gardens of Farm Dover. With nearly every plant that I come to know, a story comes with it.
I thought I'd share a few with you today...
Taller than the 6-foot purple Ironweed that grows next to it, Joe-Pye blossoms look to me like sunset cumulus clouds floating above the meadow garden.
Here's another story. Just next to the Joe-Pye weed in the garden is a white flowering plant. Its stem appears to grow straight through its paired leaves. Somewhere back in medicinal plant history, this odd form of leaf growth was believed to be a sign that the plant would cure broken bones. Leaves were wrapped around bone fractures in hopes that the bones would heal. The remedy didn't work, but the name for the plant stuck: Boneset. (An alternative story claims that the name comes from the Native American use of the plant to treat "break-bone fever," also known Dengue fever.)
And here's an easy one. Just now blooming in the bee garden are several 10-ft tall flowers that resemble wild sunflowers in size and shape. The plant has an enormous tap root that can extend 15 feet into the earth, allowing the plant to live for 100 years. Here's how it gets its name: Pioneers noted that the plant had an interesting tendency to align its leaves North-South, which allows it to avoid the intense direct sunlight of midday. They called it: Compass Plant.
At the top of the thorny stick is a giant puff of cream-colored blooms that attract a multitude of butterflies and bees. Now, the flowers have become green berries that will soon turn to purple-black. Native American healers and old-timey Southern herbalists use the inner bark and berries as anti-inflammatory pain relievers.
I get such a kick out of growing or discovering these plants, learning their stories, and medicinal uses. But that's enough of my garden lore for today. Until later....