Monthly Archives: January 2012

Essential Herbs: Lemon Balm

Lemon Balm_cropBy Jill Henderson

Lemon balm is one of my favorite herbs for many reasons.  To start, it is by far one of the easiest herbs to grow and it’s beautiful to look at, as well.  I particularly like the way lemon balm attracts beneficial insects and butterflies  to my garden.  Occasionally, even the hummingbirds find it intriguing.  I am also partial to lemon balm tea, especially on a cold winter night.  It’s deep earthy lemony flavor brings back a touch of summer sunshine and its soothing and calming properties make it a valuable medicinal herb.

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America’s Native Bamboo: Identification & Culture

Arundinaria By Jill Henderson – Show Me Oz

In last week’s article, America’s Native Bamboo: History and Ecology, we learned that America was once home to massive colonies of native bamboo, better known as canebrakes. These lush cane forests played a critical role in the ecology of the regions they inhabited by filtering sediments, controlling erosion and providing food and shelter for many native animal and bird species. Cane also played an important role in the lives of the earliest inhabitants who valued it as a nutritional food plant and an important material used to fashion tools, weapons and lodging. In the early days of settlement, America’s native cane fields were first used to fatten cattle and then cleared for farmland. Today, a whopping 98% of America’s once-abundant native bamboo has been extirpated from the landscape. This week, I will discuss the ways in which native bamboos are being used in restoration projects and how we can help return them to their rightful place in nature and beautify the home landscape, all at the same time. Continue reading

Winter Landscapes in the Ozarks

We’ve been offline all week as we waited for our new computer.  Since I was not able to finish the second installment of America’s Native Bamboo in time for this week’s post, I thought I would share with you some of my favorite winter scenes.

I’ll be back next week with a healthy article entitled: America’s Native Bamboo: Identification & Culture.  I hope to see you then. Continue reading

America’s Native Bamboo: History and Ecology

By Jill Henderson

Mention the word bamboo and most people in the Western world naturally think of panda bears, China and steamy exotic jungles. In fact, the majority of the 1,450 species of bamboo in the world do originate in countries located in South and Southeastern Asia, with a few scattered species in Saharan Africa and the very farthest regions of South America. In these places, native bamboo species can grow as dense as the thickest forest you can imagine and produce giant canes as big around as small trees, while others are as diminutive and slender as a clump of our native Big Bluestem.  In fact, bamboo is actually a grass belonging to the Poaceae or True Grass family. With over 10,000 recognized species, true grasses represent the fifth largest plant family on earth. Knowing this, it shouldn’t come as a surprise to find out that the United States has three very distinct native species of bamboo, known collectively as river cane. Continue reading