Friday, December 26, 2014

Wildcrafting

This is my attempt at "wildcrafting," or collecting, from the wilds of my garden, which contains a surprising number of interesting and colorful things for this time of year. You'd be amazed. I found a stray rosebud or two, some blooming lavender, a handful of hardy black-eyed susans, some climbing aster, a stalk or two of pineapple sage (with its outstanding red blooms), lots of sage, rosemary and something new I tried this year, curry plant. It looks like a bleached-out version of rosemary and it smells strongly of curry. I put it all together in a vase on my desk at work. It's wonderful, especially if your workplace is in bankruptcy! This idea of collecting out back isn't a new one, but I'm working on a story about "wildcrafting," a term that apparently came into being during the Depression in the 1930s (makes it even more relevant today) in Appalachia and refers to the practice of going up in the mountains and forests to collect mosses, greens and other plants to eat, make into medicine or crafts, for personal use or selling. This is illegal in many places, including Fairmount Park, so put your pruners away. But it's perfectly legal and lots of fun in the back yard, especially at holiday time. Story coming on 11/27, as you're digesting a load of Thanksgiving turkey and gearing up for Round 2 at Christmas.

Wildcrafting

Rosa 'All Ablaze' blazes cherry red in Burke Brothers' Tuscany exhibit, accenting classic Italian elements with bright flowers. (Ron Tarver / Staff photographer)
Rosa 'All Ablaze' blazes cherry red in Burke Brothers' Tuscany exhibit, accenting classic Italian elements with bright flowers. (Ron Tarver / Staff photographer)

This is my attempt at "wildcrafting," or collecting, from the wilds of my garden, which contains a surprising number of interesting and colorful things for this time of year. You'd be amazed. I found a stray rosebud or two, some blooming lavender, a handful of hardy black-eyed susans, some climbing aster, a stalk or two of pineapple sage (with its outstanding red blooms), lots of sage, rosemary and something new I tried this year, curry plant. It looks like a bleached-out version of rosemary and it smells strongly of curry. I put it all together in a vase on my desk at work. It's wonderful, especially if your workplace is in bankruptcy! This idea of collecting out back isn't a new one, but I'm working on a story about "wildcrafting," a term that apparently came into being during the Depression in the 1930s (makes it even more relevant today) in Appalachia and refers to the practice of going up in the mountains and forests to collect mosses, greens and other plants to eat, make into medicine or crafts, for personal use or selling. This is illegal in many places, including Fairmount Park, so put your pruners away. But it's perfectly legal and lots of fun in the back yard, especially at holiday time. Story coming on 11/27, as you're digesting a load of Thanksgiving turkey and gearing up for Round 2 at Christmas. 

About this blog
Ginny Smith, a Philadelphia native, joined the Inquirer at 1985. After stints as both reporter and editor in the city and suburbs, she’s been happily writing – and learning - about gardening full time since 2006. She’s won two silver medals of achievement from the national Garden Writers Association and in 2011, Bartram’s Garden honored her with its Green Exemplar award for her stories about “the region’s deeply rooted horticultural history, cultural attractions and bountiful gardens.” She plays in her own – mostly - bountiful garden in East Falls. Reach Virginia A. at vsmith@phillynews.com .

Virginia A. Smith Inquirer Staff Writer
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