Hello Fellow Readers,
What a rainy start we’ve had for the new year. Or, should I say continuum of the rainy growing season. It’s worrisome really; our ground is so saturated. And yes, I miss the snow. Though please freeze the ground, Mother Nature, before bringing it on for fear our beautiful trees will topple.
Last weekend I roamed the property looking for beauty amongst the dreary skies, muddy lawn, and lack of frosting. Along the Jacksonburg Creek, on which I am blessed to live, there’s a welcome swath of green – a carpet of moss I always admire. Sadly, we have downed trees on each side of the brook that fell during last winter’s trifecta. Some have moved “downriver” in the heavy rains; the brook has swollen to twenty-five feet wide.
As I crouched down to appreciate the many kinds of moss that have gathered to create a magnificent tapestry, I noticed a charming little red berry. Attached to it, dainty dark green leaves with veins in pale yellow. I’ve seen this little beauty before on hikes along the Appalachian Trail but had never noticed it creeping around the moss. Partridge Berry (Mitchella repens L.) is a native woody evergreen perennial which trails along forest floors and riverbanks in shady areas. It roots from the nodes (where branches and leaves sprout from the stems) and can form thick colonies making a delightful groundcover. Its vine-like, though it meanders not climbs, and does not propagate easily from seed. Rather, by cuttings. But please don’t pilfer unless you have permission. Native plant nurseries have them for sale. It looks quite festive, deep red and scarlet, which is why Partridge Berry is often used in holiday pots and terrariums.
Speaking of terrariums, as I took photos of this little cutie and the moss surrounding her it felt as though I were in a miniature forest, I a troll of sorts, lurking amongst a carpet of fur. It made me feel small in comparison to the world around me. Yet big amongst the moss.
Further research I learned native American women made the leaves and berries into a tea and drank it during childbirth. The little berries are edible too. They say they taste like sweetish-tart cucumbers, but I didn’t nibble. Let’s leave them for the wildlife and admire them amongst the moss and the trees. Garden Dilemmas? AskMaryStone@gmail.com