Nature Notes: Exploring the Great Sleep

Winter Landscape Copyright Jill Henderson-Show Me OzBy Jill Henderson – Show Me Oz

I like to refer to winter as The Great Sleep, because although life outside the window pane seems dull and lifeless, it is anything but. Yet to find that elusive bit of life, one must go in search of it. Even this self-avowed nature freak has to remind herself of this from time to time. So today, I took a stroll through the woods with my eyes – and my senses – wide open.

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Ozark History: The First Inhabitants

osageShow Me Oz – Excerpted from the Introduction to my book, A Journey of Seasons: A Year in the Ozarks High Country

The Ozark “Mountains” are an anomaly – an island in a sea of plains, a bump in an otherwise flat road. When viewed from the air the folds and contours of the Ozarks resemble a human brain; an interesting comparison, since the Ozarks also represent one of the most ancient and diverse landscapes in North America.  Among the unique and dizzying array of flora and fauna, caves, sinkholes, crystal clear springs and toe-numbing rivers is a rich and tangled history of human habitation.

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Black Cumin: The Blessed Seed

AndreHolz at English Wikipedia [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia CommonsShow Me Oz – As a gardener, cook and herbal enthusiast, I am always on the lookout for new and interesting plants. Because my garden is relatively small, every single plant that makes it through the front gate either has to look fantastic, taste great or have useful healing properties.  One plant that fits all of my criteria is Nigella sativa – also known as the Blessed Seed.

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Seeds of Significance – OP Seed Sources

Saving-Cherokee-Pony-Peas_thumb.jpgJill Henderson – Show Me Oz

Today is one of those cold blustery winter days that give me a good reason not to go outside.  Instead, I’m cuddled up near the  wood stove  dreaming about seeds – wonderful, open-pollinated seeds devoid of genetic modification and over-hybridization.  My seed dreams consist entirely of varieties that are either tried-and-true open-pollinated heirlooms or rare and unusual varieties of open-pollinated fruits and vegetables.  Thankfully, those kinds of seeds don’t have to live only in my dreams because thousands of varieties of unique open-pollinated seeds are readily available to the home gardener – if you know where to look. Continue reading

Nature Notes: Milkweed, Monarchs and You!

Close up of Purple Milkweed flowers. Copyright Jill Henderson ShowMeOz.wordpress.comShow Me Oz

As a gardener and lover of nature, I garden with butterflies and beneficial insects in mind.  Yet, for all my efforts, the one North American butterfly that I have failed to lure to my garden is the bright and beautiful Monarch.  For years I thought the failure was mine, but the truth is that these icons of the butterfly world are in dire straights and their numbers are spiraling dangerously downward.  The good news is that there is something we can all do to help them – and all their colorful kin – to flourish once again.

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Winter Wonder: The Lenten Rose

Hellebores - copyright Jill Henderson ShowMeOz.wordpress (5)Show Me Oz

I have been gardening nearly all my adult life and have had the pleasure of knowing and growing many lovely flowering plants and shrubs.  But it was by sheer luck that I became acquainted with the hardy evergreen, Hellebores orientalis, more commonly referred to as the Lenten Rose.  These unique flowering perennials not only sport durable evergreen foliage and are easy to grow and maintain, but the softly delicate flowers appear at a the most unlikely time of the year.

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Seed Saving Time: Testing Germination Rates

 Testing seed quality and germination rates. showmeoz.wordpress.comShow Me Oz

Last week, I received my first spring seed catalog.  And while it’s a bit early for me to even think about ordering seed for next year, it is an early reminder to test some of the seed stock I currently have on hand. Checking the quality of the seed you save is just as important as saving it. After all, there’s nothing more disappointing than spending hours planting seeds that either germinates slowly, patchy, unevenly, or (gasp) not at all.  So, whether you save your own seed or lean heavily towards “accumulating” seed, you should be testing at least a portion of your stash every winter. Continue reading

Healthful Ginger for the Holidays

A spoonful of ginger.The Holiday Season is in full swing and with it comes an almost insane schedule of shopping, entertaining, special events and, of course, dining out and cooking for friends and family.  And while the holidays sure can be fun, they aren’t always so good for our health in terms of stress, lack of sleep, colds and flu and the good old-fashioned belly ache from eating way too much “good stuff”.   Luckily, the holidays are naturally festooned with some of the most potent healing herbs and spices in the world including cinnamon, cloves, allspice, nutmeg, and ginger – one of my all time favorites.  Not only does ginger taste great in a dizzying array of holiday dishes, it can also make you feel better when the holidays get the best of you.

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