Author Archives: Barbara

Green Goods – Curious Cashews, Desert Gems and Botany for Beginners

This week as we appreciate the exquisite and unique design qualities of the snowflake, we also dip out of season momentarily in search of the exotic, botanically speaking.

Cashews are a curious nut, a detailed and illuminating look at the wildly unusual morphology of the cashew.

The April 1938 issue of The Desert Magazine is available in a virtual archive. Published between 1937-1985, the periodical was written for desert folk of the south western USA, profiling natural and cultural history of the region, with such varied topics as desert breakfasts, prospecting and ethnobotany.

For gardeners inclined to learn the anatomical details of plants and the science behind their own terraces and backyard lots, RHS Botany for Gardeners provides a comprehensive introduction.

And finally, in keeping with the season, the winter garden requires an effort in imagination and becomes an ‘exercise in hoping’.


Green Goods

Welcome to our weekly round-up profiling a wide selection of plant-inspired goodness. From the research world to the daily musings of gardeners and a little bit of garden history, here is what you ought to know.

If you live in northern climes, already in the midst of stick season and beginning to feel the chill, Planting Art provides a beautiful, life-affirming and steamy destination. Austin-based horticulturist, William Niendorff owns a greenhouse that supplies endless forms of magic (and envy).

Below ground, some plants have nasty habits. A fascinating look at the parasitic plant Striga hermonthica, or purple witchweed. Be sure to watch the video clips showing seedlings infecting nearby rice roots and ones avoiding the roots of their own kind.

A stunning illustrated Treatise on Medicinal Plants compiled in Italy in 1440. The album has no descriptive accompanying text, the individual illustrations include all the vernacular names used in the 15th century.

For a remote, virtual getaway Trail Me Up offers on-the-ground tours of destinations accessible only by foot.

And finally, with bushels of apples, one needs to make a pie.


Herbs and all their Wonders

Soiled and Seeded is happy to announce a new feature to this blog. We’ve partnered with Heritage Line Herbs to bring you advice, recipes and stories, the curious and irreverent, from the aromatic treasure trove of culinary herbs. These brimming posts will be written by owner Deb Benner. Deb co-authored an article in Soiled and Seeded’s 8th Issue along with her son and daughter. The piece, “Three Ways to See a Garden” told the story of their farm in three distinct voices: one as owner, another as a farmer-in-training and the third as an admirer. So, stay tuned…the fragrant and flavorful is upcoming.


Photo: Melissa Benner

City Getaways and a Book Giveaway

In our 9th issue Marie Viljoen describes New York in September, an excerpt from her recent book 66 Square Feet – A Delicious Life, a book inspired by her garden terrace, foraging exploits, botanical excursions and living attune to the seasons – all in the “most famous city on the planet”.

In honor of proper picnics and plant-inspired travels across city limits, we are giving away a copy of her book.

For a chance to win tell us your city getaway, the unlikely green space at a street corner, the bit of wild space on the edge of town, your preferred picnic destination or urban park. Post your answers in the comments below and we will choose a winner at random in a week’s time.


An Artist’s Harvest, Weedy Invasives

Foragers have discovered the culinary appeal of many invasive species – Japanese knotweed (Fallopia japonica), garlic mustard (Alliaria petiolata), and lamb’s quarters (Chenopodium album) to name a few. Beyond incorporating creative cuisine in a plant’s management strategy, weedy imports are put to use in Patterson Clark’s versatile artwork. Clark harvests alien weeds in the Washington D.C. area to produce ink, paper, printing blocks, and brushes.

Rediscovering invasives as a resource.


One-weed note: English Ivy (Hedera helix)


Three-weed note: English Ivy paper, multiflora rose (Rosa multiflora) ink and white mulberry (Morus alba) wood block.


Bas relief: Panel made from Norway maple (Acer platanoides). Ink manufactured from the roots of wineberry (Rubus phoenicolasius), leatherleaf mahonia (Mahonia bealei), European stinging nettle (Urtica dioica) and Japanese Honeysuckle (Lonicera japonica).


Ink from Irish ivy (Hedera hibernica), multifora rose (Rosa multiflora), Oriental bittersweet (Celastrus orbiculatus), leatherleaf mahonia (Mahonia bealei), Amur honeysuckle (Loniceramaackii), white mulberry (Morus alba) and sycamore maple (Acer platanus) on paper from paper mulberry (Broussonetia papyrifera).

Images courtesy of Patterson Clark.