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Native Witch Hazel

November 30th, 2009

The native witch hazel has been blooming for a while. It blooms much earlier and is less showy than it’s cultivated cousins. These photos were taken about a month ago.
Witch hazel is an understory tree, so it thrives in the woods or along the edges of the woods. It prefers the cool shady areas and with too much sun it will produce fewer blooms. These trees are located in the woods to side of our gardens. What a great plant it is since it blooms at this weird time. When the rest of the natural world is preparing for winter it bursts forth in radiant blooms, which will last into December.
Hamamelis virginiana was one of the first New World plants to be adopted for ornamental use by European horticulturists. As early as the mid-17th century, the plant was growing in private botanical collections in London. And it’s been a perennial favorite ever since. Witch-hazel has a rich history of use outside the garden setting. Traditionally, branches of H. virginiana were used as “divining rods” to locate underground sources of water. Also, extracts from the leaves, twigs, and bark were used to reduce inflammation, stop bleeding, and check secretions of the mucous membranes.
Since witch hazel usually blooms after most of the pollinators are gone, it doesn’t often produce seed. I think with the warm weather we’ve had this year, I may be able to find some seeds next year to plant along the edges of our woods.

What native shrubs or trees do you love?

Quote of the Day: Ralph Waldo Emmerson

November 29th, 2009

For each new morning with its light,
For rest and shelter of the night,
For health and food, for love and friends,
For everything Thy goodness sends.

~Ralph Waldo Emerson

I found myself in an appreciative mood last night, so I thought this quote was perfect.

What kind of mood do you find yourself in today?

Never Enough Stuffing

November 28th, 2009

We enjoyed a wonderful Thanksgiving meal with our friends Wednesday. The main dinner was Thursday with my family. This included the local pastured turkey from the farm, sweet potatoes from my mom’s garden, pumpkin pie made with Cinderella pumpkin, local cream and eggs, local corn, beans, potatoes and rolls made with local butter.
My favorite part of Thanksgiving is the stuffing, with lots of onions and celery (from my garden) and lots and lots of sage. This year I made a batch with homemade bread and a batch with store bought crumbs. I make the broth to moisten it with the turkey neck, gizzard and heart, along with some celery, onions, sage, salt and pepper. (I forgot to mention that this year I added diced apples to the stuffing and some cider along with the turkey broth, next year I think I’ll add some walnuts).
Stuffing is my favorite part of Thanksgiving, I could get rid of all other dishes. And none of that stuff from inside the bird, I like mine baked in a casserole dish so it’s moist & gooey on the inside and crispy and caramelized on the outside. I quickly grow tired of all holiday leftovers except stuffing, which seems like there isn’t ever enough.

What’s your favorite Thanksgiving dish?

Gifts for Gardeners 2009 Edition

November 27th, 2009

I’m sure most of you reading this blog are the gardeners in the family. In case you’re not, here are few great gift ideas for those gardeners in your life. Since today is Black Friday, the traditional kick-off for the holiday shopping season, I figured I’d talk about gifts for those gardeners in your life.

For the the gardener that loves houseplants and growing interesting things, how about a dwarf lemon tree from Four Winds Growers? I’m hoping to get one or two of these for Christmas. A Meyer lemon would be perfect as would a Mexican Lime.
A Seed Savers Exchange gift membership would be perfect for those in your life that are trying to focus on heirloom plants. This is a great gift for those activists in your life, even if they’re not gardeners. Seed Savers Exchange is the largest non-governmental seed bank in the United States. They ensure the safety of more than 25,000 endangered vegetable varieties.
How about a collection of seeds from a seed shop that tries to focus on heirloom & non-GMO seeds, like Bountiful Gardens, Freedom Seeds, Victory Seed Company, Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds, Botanical Interests, Renee’s Garden, Wild Garden Seed, Territorial Seed.
Of course I’m going to recommend a pair of Ethel Gloves for that special lady gardener in your life, or for that budding young gardener since they have children’s gloves now.
A mushroom growing kit would be a fabulous gift, especially for that young gardener in your life. I would have loved growing mushrooms as a kid. Most of the big gardening website have them, but I’d buy from a place like Cascadia Mushrooms (which I found on, Peaceful Valley, Territorial Seed, or Mushroom Adventures.
My mushroom kit in effect! courtesy of mtoasty

A membership or a day pass to a local horticultural center or botanical garden would be a fantastic gift for that gardener that has everything. If you live near Kennett Square PA, Longwood Gardens is superb. Here in NE Ohio, Stan Hywet is nice. Most large cities have botanical gardens that would be wonderful to tour throughout the year with a membership.
I can’t go without recommending a Chiot’s Run calendar, it makes a great gift (and not just for gardeners). Many of my friends and family will be getting one.
I won’t be leaving the house today, I don’t like the crowds and most of my gifts are homemade. I will browse a few on-line sales> to see if anything I’ve been looking for is on sale.

Do you have any great recommendations for gifts you’d like to receive or that you’re getting for those gardeners in your life?

Quote of the Day: Thanksgiving

November 26th, 2009

Thanksgiving is the holiday of peace,
the celebration of work and the simple life… a true folk-festival
that speaks the poetry of the turn of the seasons,
the beauty of seedtime and harvest,
the ripe product of the year
and the deep, deep connection of all these things with God.

~Ray Stannard Baker (David Grayson)
This year I’m particularly thankful for the changing seasons and the beauty and variety it brings to my life. I really appreciate the ebb and flow of the seasonal changes and I love being in tune with those through gardening and eating locally and seasonally.
Happy Thanksgiving from Chiot’s Run!

What are you thankful for this year?


This is a daily journal of my efforts to cultivate a more simple life, through local eating, gardening and so many other things. We used to live in a small suburban neighborhood Ohio but moved to 153 acres in Liberty, Maine in 2012.