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’.
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.
A primer on the history of plants and how flowers changed the world.
I have been asked many times what my favourite herb is and, although there are many I love, I always respond “Pineapple Sage” or Salvia elegans. This tender perennial is a member of the Salvia family, has a wonderful pineapple taste and scent, and beautiful spiky red flowers. Our sage garden is the favourite stomping grounds of our hummingbird friends. Last week, as I was picking the flowers to add to my pineapple sage pound cake, which we serve in our Tea Room, two of them swooped past my face, as close as they could comfortably get to let me know I was intruding on their territory.
It is easy to take a cutting in the fall to ensure you have a succession of pineapple sage plants for next spring. Simply cut a piece about 3 inches long above a node and carefully cut off the bottom leaves, leaving two or 3 of the top leaves. Put in a pot with soil and then water well, keeping wet until rooted. Watch as the cutting takes root and begins to flourish. Once established put in a bigger pot on a sunny window ledge and wait until spring to plant outside.
Enjoy the leaves and flowers in muffins, loaves or a tea. Reap the benefits of this sweet herb, but do watch for hummingbirds!
Most herbs do best if their flowers are picked off but pineapple sage flourishes with the flowers left on.
Prime time for fall promenades.
It was a lot of fun putting together this issue. Besides the cultural and historical pieces from near and far, it was the first time we really delved into some heady plant science with plant biologists Katherine Preston and Jeanne Osnas’ piece on the botanical details of figs and mulberries. Yes, mulberries are known for more than their concrete stained mark and the inner workings of figs are tangled. You can expect to see this type of instructive science in our upcoming issues. But for now, we can all revel in knowing much more about the ins and outs of the plump, curious fruits.
For all you growing enthusiasts who are yearning for your very first sun-kissed fig, here is a good place to start planning.
Soiled and Seeded returns.
We are excited to bring you the ninth issue of Soiled and Seeded. From the floricultural gems in Southeast Asia, to plant explorations in Kashmir and the pertinent lessons in botanical anatomy, we are pleased to present an assorted and unique collection of stories, offering up a garden culture that is thriving, diverse and experimental.
And in between our issues we will be here, on the new S&S blog, for all that is good, green and wild. We have a lot of plant-inspired abundance planned in the coming weeks.
Soiled and Seeded is always on the lookout for all kinds of spontaneous planting initiatives, urban agriculture projects and organizations transforming our cities into healthy and livable spaces. If you have a story idea, please get in touch. If you are interested in submitting a piece, you can find all the information and submission details here.