On Sunday I went to the Useful Plants Nursery Summer Plant Sale and bought a marvelous assortment of trees and shrubs. While I was gone, Jay pulled up the old floor downstairs, which was a hodge-podge of hardwood flooring, parquet, linoleum, and tile. Now it is down to a bare slab. Later in the day when the Sun’s heat began to fade I went into the garden and picked five quarts of blueberries. The bushes were falling over themselves with blueberries. I ate a bunch, froze a bunch, and there’s still a bounty of blueberries to harvest. So begins the last week before our annual beach vacation.
There is much to do. I can’t think about the floor, and I won’t even try to put my new trees and shrubs in the ground until I get back, but I certainly can wax euphoric about my nursery purchases. I think I’m most excited about the Hybrid American Chestnut. The American Chestnut was the crown jewel of the Southern Appalachian forests, but a foreign blight wiped them out by the 1930’s. Well, not entirely. There are still chestnut stumps that produce shoots, but the shoots are killed off by the blight before they ever mature. The two chestnuts I purchased are American chestnuts crossed back with Japanese and Chinese Chestnuts to produce something close to the original tree.
I also purchased some American hazelnuts. If I had done more research before my purchase I might have bought the European hazelnut, which produces a larger nut more suitable for the home orchard, but now I’m excited that I will be able to produce nuts for our family, and for the wildlife. American hazelnuts are vigorous plants with a tendency to colonize an area, so I’ll have extra plants within a few years that I can plant back in the forest for the deer, bear, grouse, and squirrels on my mountain. By the way, it’s your mountain, too, as nearly all of it is National Forest Land.
There’s nine new blueberry bushes, which means I have now about twenty-five blueberry bushes, though not all are producing berries yet. To go along with the blueberries, I now have two Aronia bushes. These are a native berry extremely rich in athocyanins and antioxidants. Don’t even begin to think that’s enough berries for me! I purchased two female sea berry plants, which have slender silver leaves. When they are loaded down with their bright orange berries, they will be a marvelous sight.
And then there is my Vitex tree. I thought it was Vitex agnus-castus, of which I already have two small plants, but it’s actually something I’ve never heard of before: VItex negundo. Regardless, this small tree absolutely called to me. She has a supple, curvaceous trunk rising to nearly six feet with lacy leaves and delicate lavender flowers. She really does have a lovely shape. This is the information they had about her: A veritable medicine cabinet of a plant. The leaves are anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial, and analgesic and are applied externally for rheumatic conditions, bruises, injuries, sprains, sores, and skin infections. The seeds and leaves contain valuable medicinal compounds are used internally for chronic bronchitis, all emaciating conditions, to improve memory and eyesight, rejuvenate hair, alleviate loss of appetite, and to manage skin diseases and excessive bleeding during menstruation. The young stems are used for basketmaking. The leaves are insecticidal and used to repel insects in grain stores. The fresh leaves are burned with grass to repel mosquitoes.
While I dream about blueberry pie with a hazelnut crust , or chestnut stuffing for Thanksgiving in two or three years, right now I have Narrowleaf Echinacea, Golden Sage, Passionflower, Valerian, and Bloodflower that need to go in the garden, as in yesterday. Fortunately the hot and dry weather has broken with a thunderific rainstorm. I’ll pull my bolting lettuces and feed them to my rabbits tomorrow, making way for a bed of herbal delights. But for now, my soft bed of pillows calls, and I will answer, for I have much to do tomorrow—putting straw around the potatoes (and purchasing said straw), taking artwork to the frame shop, setting up a trellis for my poor beans, and some other things I’m quite certain I’ve forgotten about, but will remember at some juncture.