Tag Archives: A Journey of Seasons

Fall Leaves: Good for the Garden

2013 11-22 Fall MosaicBy Jill Henderson ~ Show Me Oz ~

The clear, cool days of fall are perfect for wrapping up last-minute garden chores, such as winterizing perennial herbs, flowers and shrubs.  It’s also a good time to cultivate existing garden beds or create new beds for spring planting.  But there’s one chore in the fall that not everyone looks forward to – raking leaves.  Sometimes there are so many leaves that homeowners spend weeks trying to get rid of the deepening piles.  But instead of raking and burning, or bagging leaves for the garbage, consider putting your fall leaves to use in the garden as a protective, nutrient-rich mulch.

How to Clean and Crack Black Walnuts

Black walnuts on the tree. Image copyright Jill Henderson showmeoz.wordpress.comJill Henderson ~ Show Me Oz ~

The Ozarks are blessed with an abundance of wild food, including the oh-so-delectable black walnut.  Each fall, the huge green fruits come crashing down into parks, yards, and a multitude of public spaces, making them easy game for any wild or urban forager.  Indeed, why pay $5 for a 4 ounce bag of nutmeats when you’ve got black walnut trees around?  That’s just nuts!  The problem most people face isn’t acquiring enough nuts to make it worth their while, it’s the cleaning, cracking and picking that really gets them.  So, if you’ve never done it before because you’ve heard how hard they are to deal with, I hope this post will make the cleaning, cracking and picking of black walnuts just a little bit easier.

Continue reading

Flycatchers: The Gardener’s Friend

By Peter Wilton (Eastern Phoebe  Uploaded by Magnus Manske) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia CommonsShow Me Oz – People sometimes laugh when I tell them that I always know when spring is about to dawn on our Ozark homestead – even if it’s freezing outside.  It’s not the weather, or the slight budding of plants that clue me in.  And it’s not the warmth of the sun or my local weatherman, either.  No, the way I know that spring is on it’s way is when I hear the first shrill song of the Eastern Phoebe (Sayornis phoebe).  This slim, mousy-grey flycatcher with a creamy-colored belly and a big voice has a penchant for perching on low, leafless branches and compulsively wagging its long tail up and down.  And it’s one bird that every gardener should hope for.

Continue reading

Wild Walk: Wild Blueberries

Wild Blueberry (Vaccinium stamineum) 2013 5-5 (9)Show Me Oz – The Ozarks are blessed with an abundance of wild food including delectable black walnuts, savory hickory nuts, sticky-sweet persimmons, juicy paw paws, tart wild black cherries, tart wild plums and serviceberries, nutritious black berries, wild grapes and delicate black raspberries. If you’ve spent much time here in Oz, you are almost certainly familiar with one or all of these wild foods and have probably spent your fair share of summer and fall afternoons gathering them by the bucketful. But there is one more wild Ozark delicacy that often escapes the notice (and the baskets) of many a wild forager: the wild blueberry. Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

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.

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.

Continue reading