Namesake of the Dragon – Another Green Dragon Drawing

Here’s the second of the Green Dragon drawings I’ve been working on. I posted the first part of it last week. This part is called the spathe (the hood) and the spadix (the long ‘tongue’) and it is the namesake of the dragon. This part of the plant is what becomes the cluster of red berries after fertilization occurs. You’ll see it in spring, before the plant has finished unfurling the horseshoe-shaped umbrella of its leaves.

Namesake of the Dragon - the spathe and spadix
Namesake of the Dragon – the spathe and spadix. Prints available.

If you’d like to know more about this plant, I have a few posts here on the blog about it. This is one of my favorite woodland plants.

A Green Dragon Drawing

I’ve been working on a Green Dragon drawing for the cover of NANPS’s summer issue of Blazing Star. There will be another of the spathe and spadix to do next. That one will be used in the article.

Here’s the photograph I worked from. I used more than one photo because I didn’t have a single capture that showed the plant and all of its leaves AND the ripe fruit cluster.  I used this one because it at least showed all of the leaves.

Green Dragon in July
Green Dragon in July

Here’s the progression of the drawing in stages:

Green Dragon Drawing
Green Dragon Drawing. Prints available from the Wild Ozark shop.

 

Click here to see my drawing of the Namesake of the Dragon. If you’d like to know more about this plant, I have a few posts here on the blog about it. This is one of my favorite woodland plants.

Green Dragon with fruit cluster and Namesake of the Dragon, by Madison Woods

My Dragons are Hatching! Green Dragon (Arisaema dracontium)

Green Dragons, anyway!

They’re not really “hatching”, but they are sprouting.

Green dragon hatchling 2014
Green dragon hatchling 2014

Even the seedling looks like a cute little dragon head… if you have a good imagination. It also looks like a cobra with flared hood peering up over the lip of the pot.

The common name of this plant fascinates me as much as the plant itself. Even the latin binomial is a cool name:

Arisaema dracontium

Try saying it out loud. There’s no way you can say it without it sounding exotic, even if you can’t pronounce it correctly. I just like being able to say I have a dragon. Now I have LOTS of dragons. And a Green Dragon is probably a lot safer than the reptilian sort, anyway.

Ginseng Indicator Plant

Green Dragon grows on the lower levels of hills, and usually near a spring or other source of water that helps to keep the ground moist (not soggy). Ginseng will also grow in places that the Dragon chooses to inhabit, as long as the ground isn’t too wet.

Just don’t try to eat this plant. The whole plant contains calcium oxalate crystals, which from what I’ve heard described, feels like razor blades in your mouth if you chew it. Birds and small animals do eat the berries, but they can eat many things we can’t. The root is fairly tuberous and can be eaten if thoroughly cooked… but who’s going to try it to see if it’s well-done enough? I’m not willing to risk checking to see if still feels like chewing up ground glass.

It grows to about two feet high, with a single stem and a palmate leaf on the top. The leaf is divided into two main portions, each having several leaf-like parts that hang over the fruiting stem like a flattened umbrella. The flower comes up on the second stem. As a flower it’s not very showy except for the long tip on the spathe that curves and gives the plant its name (because it supposedly resembles a serpent’s tongue).

According to Wildflower.org, it was once used as a medicinal and ritual plant by the Menominee tribe in Wisconsin. The plant is fairly rare in some parts, but is commonly found in shady moist places in the Ozarks. I’ll have nursery plants available in spring if this batch survives winter. This is yet another slow-to-mature plant, like ginseng and goldenseal, so the flowering and fruiting won’t occur for two or three years.

Like ginseng, dragons rely on a specific habitat to thrive. This habitat is destroyed when we build roads and log the forest where they live. They’re rare in some places, and even here where they are not considered rare, I only find them in the specific places – and those places are becoming rare.

The dragon in this picture grows in a moist shady place on the side of my county road. Once there was also a huge raspberry bramble there and I looked forward to the harvest of those sticky sweet fruits every year. Last year someone (the land-owner) sprayed the entire stretch with an herbicide and killed everything, including the raspberry. I mourned the loss of that berry bramble, and for the others that perished with it. Some of the plants, like this Dragon, survived. The raspberries are just beginning to come back, which puts them at risk for being sprayed again by the landowner. I’ve transplanted some to Wild Ozark now, so at least if the original bramble dies out there are more alive and well inside our gates.

A giant green dragon plant that grows alongside our county road. It comes back in the same place each year.
A giant green dragon plant that grows alongside our county road. It comes back in the same place each year.
Green berries on the giant green dragon.
Green berries on the giant green dragon.
Mature green dragon with fruit.
Mature green dragon with fruit.

Please love and conserve the wild areas where plants like these grow.

You can get a poster with the Story of the Dragon on it!

I have three sizes to offer. Click the image below to head over to the Wild Ozark RedBubble Shop.

A poster showing the growth phases of a green dragon plant.
A poster showing the growth phases of a green dragon plant.

Here’s my drawing of the Green Dragon. Posters will be available for it eventually (once I get them uploaded to RedBubble), but prints are available now on fine art paper.

Green Dragon with fruit cluster and Namesake of the Dragon, by Madison Woods
Green Dragon with fruit cluster and Namesake of the Dragon, by Madison Woods

Go forth and enjoy the Wilds wherever you are!

Slugs and Dragons and Ginseng, Oh My! Wild Ozark Creations

I’ve been working on a few new Wild Ozark creations lately. This creative streak seems to have no end in sight, either, because ideas just keep coming and I keep feeling compelled to follow them through.

Slugs

This is the latest drawing I’ve done. The digital and print rights (for business branding, not art prints) and print #1/100 have been sold already, but there are still 99 prints available. I had so much fun doing this drawing, because it made me see poison ivy and slugs in an entirely new light. Whoever knew the two of them could be beautiful together?

Slug on Poison Ivy
Slug on Poison Ivy

Dragons

I’ve been photographing a particular green dragon (Arisaema dracontium) over the past few years, trying to get good photos of all the various phases. A couple of years ago, I even had seeds that I’d gathered from it sprout.

So I was finally able to complete a creative thing that’s been waiting a long time – The Dragon Life Storyboard:

A poster showing the growth phases of a green dragon plant.
A poster showing the growth phases of a green dragon plant.

You can get this poster at our Wild Ozark Redbubble shop: https://www.redbubble.com/people/wildozark/works/22836244-story-of-the-dragon. If you know any science teachers who might like to decorate a classroom, send them my way!

You can read more about Green Dragons on one of my earlier posts.

Ginseng

So then I thought, “Well, I can’t have a dragon storyboard without a ginseng one too!”

Story of Ginseng
Story of Ginseng

Pressed Leaves

And for ginseng I also have been making pressed leaves. Some of them are laminated so they’re durable enough to take to the woods. Some I’ll mount on fine art paper for framing. Only the laminated ones are posted to the shop so far. They’re $10.

Mature ginseng leaf prong

Fiction

I’ve been working on my novel and am getting excited by how it’s going. Here’s the story line for that:

Bounty Hunter is a rural adventure fantasy set in post-collapse northwest Arkansas. There’s a rift in the Universal fabric that the Feds aren’t telling anyone about, but it’s the main reason martial law is still in effect. Treya is training to be an assassin for ARSA, a covert government agency headquartered in Bentonville. Punishment isn’t that the criminals are put to death. It’s that they’re killed three times to force them into successively lower incarnations. Treya has to learn how to use her innate gifts that enable her to track a person throughout their incarnations, whether they’re human or not.

Your Turn!

So tell me what projects you’ve been working on? Send links if you have posts about them or Etsy listings or whatever and I’ll link to them. My email address is [email protected]

 

A Woodland Habitat – Dragons among the Nettles and Cohosh

There’s a particular woodland habitat at the far corner of our property that I love.

The variety of plants that grow there is amazing.

It’s the perfect place for American ginseng, but those plants have nearly been extirpated by diggers foraging the hillsides of our area. It’s too far from the house for me to be able to keep a close eye on it, so I likely won’t plant any more in that spot.

Instead, I visit and enjoy the company of the plants who do have a stronghold there.

Here’s the path. The phone company ran through here a few years ago but before that it was a logging trail. Now it isn’t used for anything except as a path for my visits.

carpet of nettles green dragons and cohosh and dolls eyes
A carpet of nettles green dragons and cohosh and dolls eyes.

It’s so lush and green I almost want to lie down, but nettles aren’t very forgiving. I wear long sleeves and socks with my shoes when I tread this path. Then I still have to be careful about my face when getting down close to the ground for photos.

Green Dragon (Arisaema dracontium)

From a distance all you can see is green, and most of that green is tall wood nettles – and they sting. But there’s a Green Dragon lurking.

Green dragon from above.
Green dragon from above.

When you look closer, you’ll notice there’s more than nettles (left of the dragon) to be found. There’s also a mayapple (just left of center, top) and either a Doll’s Eye or Black Cohosh (top, right), and some wild legume species (lower right) to be found in just this one photo frame.

There was very nearly a whole herd of dragons in the stretch of path in the first photo. One displayed the plant’s namesake.

dragon tongue
dragon tongue

I made some drawings of the green dragons based on these photos for the North American Native Plant Society. They’ll be published along with my article in summer 2018. Prints are available as a set, or separately.

Green Dragon with fruit cluster and Namesake of the Dragon, by Madison Woods
Green Dragon with fruit cluster and Namesake of the Dragon, by Madison Woods

Last year I collected seeds from a Green Dragon. Below is a pic of the dragon from last year. This year, I can’t find that particular dragon. Instead, there’s a giant Jack-in-the-Pulpit growing where the dragon was. Before I found this photo in my files, I couldn’t remember whether the cluster still had identifying leaves on it or not.

Mature green dragon with fruit.
Mature green dragon with fruit.

I was uncertain. Did the berries I gathered come from a dragon or a pulpit? So the photo shows it clearly was a dragon.

Sometimes there’s no plant left once the berries become red. Sometimes the leaves die back and only the stem and berries are standing in fall. The berry cluster of both plants, without leaves to identify, looks very similar to each other.

It’ll be two years before I have indisputable proof, once the additional leaves come on if it is indeed a Dragon and not the Pulpit.

I have a page where I’m keeping track of the seedlings. For the moment I’m calling them dragons. Here’s a link to the Dragon page.

Jack-in-the-Pulpit (Arisaema triphyllum)

Here’s a pic of the giant Pulpit that’s there now where the dragon used to be. I know that JIP’s can sometimes change sex when conditions are right for successfully producing offspring (proper nutrition, proper moisture levels, etc.), but I don’t believe they can swap species. Both are of the genus Arisaema and they do have a lot of similarities to each other.

Giant jack in the pulpit.
Giant jack in the pulpit.

This is the hugest Jack-in-the-Pulpit I’ve ever seen. Have you ever seen one this big?

Blue Cohosh

The blue cohosh was a little difficult to find. When it first comes up, not much else is bushy or fully leafed out. Blue green stems with fronds of similarly hued leaves unfurling on the rise of a small hill were easy to see. Now the Black Cohosh and Doll’s Eyes in the immediate area have grown up around it and nearly hidden it completely. But I remembered it was growing next to a certain pair of trees. When I pushed the greenery aside, there it was, just hanging out in the shade beneath the much taller Black Cohosh. Berries are formed and still green but it won’t be long before the fruits are ripe. Then the plant will probably die on back.

Blue Cohosh Berries
Blue Cohosh Berries

Goldenseal (Hydrastis canadensis)

goldenseal with green fruit goldenseal fruit

The goldenseal have green fruits on them now.

Wild Geranium (Geranium maculatum)

On the hill I spotted the purple flowers of a wild geranium. Look closely inside the flower and you’ll spot the little squatter.

wild geraniumAdam and Eve Orchid (Aplectrum hyemale)

I’ve always wondered what the flowers of this plant looks like. This was the first one I’ve ever seen, in all the years of traipsing through the woods. I see the leaves all around but apparently never timed my excursions just right to see the flowers. Either that or I’d always overlooked them.

Flowers of the Adam and Eve orchid

 

Just as the leaf is a single leaf and nothing else, the flower stalk is a single stalk and nothing else. No leaves to identify the plant, so it stumped me for a little while until I made a guess and verified it by looking it up on the internet.

Heading Back to the House

Well, that’s the end of the photographic journey into the habitat. I hope you enjoyed your virtual woodland walk. The sun was going down by this time and I’d run out of good light in the deep woods. We’ve had a lot of rain lately and the springs are still flowing hard, as you can see from the puddles in the photo below. Badger is our lead guardian dog and he usually goes out with me on all of my walks. The other two dogs are there, too, somewhere in the bushes chasing rabbits.

Wild Ozark's lead guardian dog, Badger.
Wild Ozark’s lead guardian dog, Badger.

 

 

photo of clematis blooming at wild ozark homestead

Dragons Hatching, Clematis Blooming, and Feeding Horses in the Rain

Dragons Hatching!

Last fall I collected seeds from a large Green Dragon. I put the berries directly into pots and kept them overwinter in the ginseng nursery. The other morning I noticed they were hatching – er, sprouting! The link in the first sentence will take you to a page about the plant. It’s also where I’ll be posting update pictures from the seedlings that sprouted.

green dragon hatchling 2014
green dragon hatchling 2014

Now, I’m pretty sure these are Green Dragons. Except for the problem that I can’t find the original plant again this year. There’s a gigantic Jack-in-the-Pulpit growing near where it was though, so that has me a little concerned that these may actually be pulpit’s instead. But I am absolutely positive that it was a Dragon in that same area last year. So we’ll see. As these little seedlings mature it’ll be easy to tell the difference.

My Clematis is Blooming!

Gorgeous purple clematis blooming at the Wild Ozark homestead.
Gorgeous purple clematis blooming at the Wild Ozark homestead.

Ordinarily I landscape with native plants. But I have a weakness for the bright blooms of clematis. This is a flower I could never grow while we lived in south Louisiana, and it took me several years to cough up the money (or rather I asked Rob to cough it up, lol) to buy one at a nursery last year. One reason I like natives so much is that they’re freely available. But after jealously eyeing all the other beautiful clematises I’d seen growing at other houses, I gave in to the envie’ and splurged. I was so happy it survived the winter and started climbing the fence this year again, and the blooms bring me joy every time I look at them.

Feeding in the Rain

Last night it rained hard and plenty. This morning a gentle patter fell and I went out to feed the critters. I love walking around outside when the rain is light and the air is balmy.

Shasta and Comanche eating breakfast.
Shasta and Comanche eating breakfast.

The horses aren’t too happy about the mud returning to the gate area, though. Seems like it had finally dried out yesterday, and then the rain mushed it all up again last night.

Have a Great Weekend

Hope you’re having a great start to the weekend. I’ll be at the Kingston Fair on the Square if thunderstorms don’t run us out. Come by if you can!

Today it's 108*F and feels like 118*F. I'm standing in the shade of a date palm here.

Year in Review- Wild Ozark 2018

Every year I like to make a review of the year at Wild Ozark. I didn’t think I’d get time to do it this year, but today I managed to carve out the space to get it done. At first I thought this one post might include the goals and aspirations I have for 2019, but it’s turned out to be long enough with just the 2018 Wild Ozark Year in Review. The next post will be about the 2019 outlook.

2018 Wild Ozark Review

January started out with the loss of one of our homestead dogs, Bobbie Sue. The remaining dog, Badger is just now seeming to overcome the grief of losing his companion. I didn’t post much in January, but shared a few product reviews and began a soon-to-falter series of posts on homesteading hacks.

Rob and I did some exploring of the bluffs on our property in February.

I posted some photos to RedBubble. This one was my favorite. It made really cool looking tote bags and tee-shirts.

Comanche's Lovely Eyes are on products at RedBubble.
Comanche’s Lovely Eyes

I turned in an article with accompanying art based on one of my old blogs post about a woodland habitat full of green dragons. That would be published later in the summer by North American Native Plant Society.

Changes on the Horizon

Already I had begun feeling the tremors that would eventually lead to a complete transformation of what it is I do here at Wild Ozark, as a business. I was feeling the need to take some of the irons out of my fire already and early in the year. In March, Rob built the beautiful wooden corner shelves for the market booth and I began getting ready to start the season on Easter weekend, for the first time in Fayetteville at the downtown farmer’s market.

Not long after that, Rob got a job offer and all of the wheels ground to a halt as we switched into preparation mode for his departure. That took a lot longer than expected because of passport issues, but he was finally cleared to go but it would be May before he actually left. I brought the Burnt Kettle Shagbark Hickory Syrup, fairy gardens in glass globes, and Forest Folk.

New Artsy Product and Less Blogging

I also began making the little Fairy Swing Mushrooms. The syrup sold the easiest, but I also sold a lot of the fairy gardens and a few of the Forest Folk and mushrooms. We went to the Arkansas Made Arkansas Proud festival in Little Rock in April. For the entire month of May, I only managed to make two blog posts.

The first time I’d ever seen a Baltimore Oriole (bird) in real life was this year in May. After I’d seen the first one, I found some oranges in the refrigerator and sliced one up for them.

A Baltimore Oriole in the Ozarks

For the most part of 2018, I let posting to the blog slip to the side lines. It just seemed like so much more *work* than it used to be. I think it’s because I tried to include too many photographs in my posts. And also the effort of practicing good SEO (search engine optimization). The rigors of trying to make everything perfect really detracted from the pleasure of blogging. I’m going to quit worrying about that so much in the future.

Handmade Watercolor Paints, An Entirely New Obsession

At the end of June, I made my very first handmade watercolors. They weren’t even dry yet when I gathered all I had made so far with me and brought them on my trip to Doha, Qatar, where Rob was working. At this point, I hadn’t even painted anything with them yet. Surprisingly, I got through customs with my assortment of powdered rocks and sticky half-set paints.

I used earth pigments for my first paintings.
These are the colors I used for my first paintings.

It was there, on the other side of the world in a foreign landscape that I made my very first painting with my very first paints. That was a life-changing way-point. I had no idea so much color could be wrestled out of rocks. I had no idea I could even paint.

Change of Plans

I returned from my trip at the end of July to nearly desert conditions at the nursery. My little fern nursery and fairy garden mossy supplies had gotten dried out and died. In June it had rained too much, and in July it didn’t rain enough. So I dropped out of the market for the remainder of summer. Instead, I focused on making more paint and paintings.

And now that’s pretty much all I do. Go out for walks, pick up rocks, then smash them to powders to see what colors I get. It’s fun and I don’t think I’ll ever tire of the art of making art.

Wrapping up the 2018 Wild Ozark Review

That’s pretty much where the business aspect of Wild Ozark stands now. I make paint, make paintings, and then make derivatives of the paintings. Recently I got the Etsy shop up and running again and have been making some sales through that venue. I also go to the Fayetteville (indoor) Farmers Market during the winter months, but not sure if I’ll go during summer. Instead I’ll be applying to the local juried art and craft shows. That will get more exposure for both the artwork and the paints.

My next post will highlight some of the plans going forward. Look for more paints, more paintings, and some workshops.

 

 

 

Kestrel No. 3, featuring all handmade watercolor paints made from local stone and clay sources. Panic stage navigated.

The “Panic Stage” in a Work of Nature Art

There’s a new work in progress sitting on my easel. By the time I’m done with this post, it’ll probably be a finished work. It’s another kestrel, and I’ve reached a reliable stage in the process. I call it the ‘Panic Stage’.

update 5/2/19: It was finished in August 2018 and is the image at the top of this post.

My Process

Kestrel photo by Terry Stanfill. Used with permission.
Kestrel photo by Terry Stanfill. Used with permission.

The photo above, by Terry Stanfill, is the one that served as the model for my painting. In the end, it didn’t look exactly like it, but I think it’s close enough and the differences are not necessarily bad ones.

When I first start a painting, I start out with a sense of excitement. I can’t wait to see the finished image. But usually there’s a whole lotta grief and misery to get through before I reach that point.

What is the Panic Stage?

I imagine there’s a point like this in the process of any kind of creative act. It’s when all seems lost, like you just cannot do the thing you set out to do and it feels pointless to continue.

There is most certainly a panic stage with natural childbirth – at least there was in my own three experiences and also with the the birth of my grandchildren. Any act of creation, whether it’s visual art, hand-crafted, or written is like a symbolic giving of birth. In the real act, the panic stage occurs just before it’s time to start the first real push. It’s when the mother in labor wants to quit the natural way and wishes she’d opted for the pain-killing epidural. Because it hurts. And it’s hard. And there seems to be no realistic way to achieve the birthing without dying in the process. That’s the panic stage.

Of course, it’s not so dramatic when it comes to creative birthings, but some of the emotions are pretty close, ha.

And when it comes to my kestrel paintings, it seems I have to push through a point where I want to throw it away in every one. Thankfully, I have a lot of encouragement from friends and family to talk me down from the ledge when I hit that point. I just hope this sort of thing eases some as I get more experience.

Progression Pics Help to Push through Panic Stage

I take photos of the various stages of my work because it helps me to look at it with a different perspective. What I hope is that one day I’ll see the problems soon enough during the creation of the work that I can fix them early on and avoid the panic stage all together.

Once the background is applied and the light sketch drawn in, the eye is the first thing I have to paint. If I can't get the eye right (position, size, expression), none of the rest of it will matter. I'll avoid the panic stage altogether if I can't get this part right, ha.
Once the background is applied and the light sketch drawn in, the eye is the first thing I have to paint. If I can’t get the eye right (position, size, expression), none of the rest of it will matter and I’ll avoid the panic stage at the end altogether, ha. It at least has to be set up to a point where I know I can make it work.

Sometimes something is wrong and I can’t figure out what it is. In the photo above, I know the eye and the nose are going to need some work, but it’s there well enough that I also know I can fix the problems. So this doesn’t bother me. They are at least done to a point where I am confident that going forward won’t be a waste of time.

Seeing the photo on Instagram or Facebook lets me see it as if I am looking at it for the first time.

What Could Go Wrong?

Lots of things aren’t always evident at the start. Sometimes it’s not until I start working on a certain part that I realize the off-thing in another part has thrown off this part too. Often I can tell right away when I see it in a photo I’ve posted what the problem is. It’s when I can’t see what the problem is that the panic stage really starts to set in.

An angle might be off. A line might be curved where it should be straight. Both of these issues occurred in this particular painting, and they often happen when I am drawing or painting anything. The key is to be able to see it and make the necessary changes. And that’s where the progress pictures come in really handy to me as the creator.

It is still looking good to me at this point. I haven't seen the problem yet. I'm definitely not at the panic stage. I'd say I'm still in the euphoric stage, lol. No panic stage yet.
It is still looking good to me at this point. I haven’t seen the problem yet.

Helping Others, Helping Myself

I like sharing them publicly so that if anyone else is out there trying to create something, they will see the agony another artist goes through during the process and not be so afraid when they encounter their own sense of dread halfway through it.

But I also like getting the feedback and encouragement my friends offer while I’m in the middle of a creation. It motivates me to continue. It’s also good for marketing. People love to see what went into something they might be interested in buying. I know I do.

The Awkward Stage

Right now, kestrel #3 is at that awkward stage. The spot where nothing looks right and I question whether or not I should just wad the page up and throw it in the garbage. It’s not the Panic Stage still, because I haven’t tried to fix anything and failed yet. I just know something’s wrong.

It's the tail. The tail is slightly off in the angle, making all of the other lines wrong on it when I try to add the feathers. Panic stage is starting to set in.
It’s the tail. The tail is slightly off in the angle, making all of the other lines wrong on it when I try to add the feathers.

Found the Problem

It’s the angle of the tail. So I erased the tail and started over on it. Three times! Finally, the tail looks like it should and I am happy and can move on. Panic stage eased somewhat.

He's ruffled in the wind, but there's something else wrong. I'm at the panic stage of this creation.
He’s ruffled in the wind, but there’s something else wrong.

But now I can see that there is a line issue with the wing tips. It needs to be straight, not curved. And I can fix this now that I recognize the problem. Until I saw the picture in another way, on the progress pic I posted, I didn’t see the problem but I had been fighting a disturbing sense that something was not right.

More Problems

Once the wings were fixed, I noticed the barring on the back was all wrong.The lines were traveling the wrong angles.

I’d also gotten too heavy handed with the black, and there was too much black. Everywhere. The average person might not have noticed the misguided bars or the fact that I used too much black, but if someone really loves kestrels, this is something they would have noticed. So I picked up all the color from the upper back. Then I had to pick up the color from the middle wing. And I had to remove some of the black around his eye.

Then I had to replace some of the black that made up his eye, lol. I was really entrenched in panic stage by this point, let me tell you.

When I finally got it all repainted, it was much better and worth all the effort.

Pushing Through

I’m past the panic stage now, but there are still issues to fix going forward. I know what I need to do, though, and that makes all the difference in the world.

When have you ever experienced this sort of dismay? When you hit a panic stage do you quit, or do you push through? How long does it take to overcome the feeling that you’ve just wasted your time and resources to get to that point? Thankfully, this phase is usually short-lived for me if I am able to keep working and I don’t quit.

Whew! Finished.

I’m quite pleased with it now that all the grief is over. I’m also glad I didn’t quit when the work of it got tough. Soon this little kestrel will be on her way to a new home on the west coast. Here’s the photo I used as a model.

Kestrel photo by Terry Stanfill. Used with permission.
Kestrel photo by Terry Stanfill. Used with permission.

Like seeing my process?

Here’s another of my other posts with progression photos. I’ll try to begin adding a progression post with every painting or work I do going forward.

Green Dragon (prismacolor pencil)

Too Many Irons in the Fire?

Too Many Irons in the Fire

This is a fiery sunset photo taken several years ago and it prompted my idea to write this post about having too many irons in the fire. Dense dark clouds hung low on the horizon, allowing the setting sun to illuminate so brightly as a backdrop giving the appearance of wildfires raging on the distant mountains.

If you’ve ever read any of my flash fiction based on photo prompts, you’ll understand why the image isn’t something you might immediately associate with the topic I’ve connected to today. Images stimulate my imagination in roundabout ways. The connections I make to them aren’t exactly direct, but I think this one is close.

And if you’ve been reading my blog for more than a year, you’ve probably seen this post. Every year I go through the same process at about this time. So to save some time, I took this post out of archives, updated it a little bit, and turned it back out.

Too Many Irons in the Fire

If you have the tendency, like me, to take on too many projects at once then you’ll know exactly why imagery of fire brings this saying to mind. “Too many irons in the fire”.

I’m not sure of the original meaning of this phrase, but when I hear it I think of cattlemen of a decade or so ago, rounding up cows. Branding irons in a fire.

If there’s too many irons piled on the fire, then none of them will heat evenly and the branding of the cattle will be more chaotic. The irons become tangled in that pile.

My Chaotic State of Mind

As it relates to my topic of musing for today, I have a tendency to get too many things going at once. And then all of the projects suffer because it’s not possible to allocate enough time to each all of the time. My tasks become jumbled like the piled on irons in the fire.

As it relates to nature, I think this is a uniquely human condition. I wonder how natural an occurrence among us it is? Does it only happen to a certain type of person, or is it random – afflicting everyone at some point?

I’ve taken a few irons out recently. It’s usually at this time of year when I notice just how many irons are in the fire. Because it’s tax time and tax time means I have to focus on ledgers and tax stuff.

Slipping through the Cracks

Although I’m still managing to get some writing done, other tasks as slipping. I have a piece of art work due by the end of this week and I’ve yet to start on it. It’s one to accompany the Green Dragon I finished last week. That must be remedied today. I’ve been reading up on the tax information for this year and trying to get an understanding of depreciation. That’s the one aspect of filing that keeps sending me to a CPA instead of doing them myself. I want to understand how to do this.

Taxes and art are not exactly occupying the same space in my brain, so switching back and forth from one to the other isn’t easy.

The process of figuring out what needed to be done, which forms needed to be filed, and what expenses could be deducted, and on and on ad nauseum keep me so occupied that very few of the other irons in my fire have received much attention lately.

I’m almost done with the tax headache and we may still end up needing to bring them to an accountant. But at least I have a better understanding of how to keep better records this year because of the struggle I’ve undergone over the past few weeks. (And I say this every year. But it does get better each year, so I’m not considering that a total failure.)

Clearing Out at Least One of the Irons in the Fire

Now that the most demanding iron is nearly out of the fire, I can add some of the other ones back in. And rekindle the flames. This fire of mine is a creative one and each iron is a desire to create. To create an art of the imagination, whether in the form of words in a story or photos arranged as visual art or seed-planting or business-growing.

What desires do you have burning and are you plagued with having too many irons in the fire?

 

A bucket full of nature farming produce.

What Does a Nature Farm Produce?

Today I took a little hike after feeding the horses. I was on a mission to collect moss and lichen-covered branches. These are just some of the things the Wild Ozark Nature Farm produces.

And that’s how a nature farm works. I didn’t plant seeds, or till, or do anything at all to grow these products, I just have to collect them.

Resource Management

Maybe nature does all the work of growing the produce, but, I do have to be aware of how much stress my harvest places on the the resources being gathered. I do sometimes propagate some things, like the ferns, to make sure more of them grow to replace the ones I took.

I also propagate the woodland medicinals, like the ginseng, goldenseal, bloodroot, and cohosh. With ginseng I use seeds, but for the others I use root division or seeds.

A bucket full of nature farm produce.
A bucket full of nature farm produce.

I make sure I don’t gather too many of the ferns from an area, even where they are plentiful. When there is a large fern, I’ll only take part of it and leave behind half of the root mass to continue growing.

If it is an unusual fern, or one that won’t do well transplanted, I leave it alone. Likewise, I am careful with the gathering of moss and lichens. Moss, in particular, takes a good bit of time to regrow in some areas. For this reason, I’ll gather from a different area each year. This gives the moss time to repopulate before I go to that area again in a year or two.

We follow the same practice of rotation with the bark from the shagbark hickory trees. The bark is what we use for Burnt Kettle’s Shagbark Hickory Syrup.

With some things, like gumballs and acorns, there is very little chance at all of over harvesting. The same goes for the groundfall items I collect, like the lichen or moss-covered bark pieces that have dropped to the ground.

Nature Farm Produce

Today’s harvest included:

  • moss
  • lichens
  • rocks
  • ferns

Value Added Products

So after I collect the botanicals, I can either sell them like they are, or make something else with them. Just like a traditional farmer does with, for example, strawberries. Some people want to buy the strawberries fresh and some might like some jam.

With the moss, some like to buy it fresh and ready to use in their own DIY projects, and some might like a Wild Ozark Fairy Garden.

A bag of moss.
A bag of moss.

How to Store Fresh Botanicals Like Moss

For the moss in that bag in the photo above, I’ll put it in the vegetable drawer in the refrigerator. When packaged like this in a cellophane bag, the moss stays green and alive for weeks. If it will be longer than that before I use or sell it, I’ll take it out to get some light every once in a while.

I use the botanicals for various things.

  • The moss, to store ginseng rootlets and seeds

Packing the rootlets or the seeds on a bed of fresh, living green moss keeps them fresh far longer than without.

  • Moss and ferns, in Bowl Terrarium/Fairy Gardens

Bowl Terrarium

  • Moss and ferns, in glass globe fairy gardens

Our Fairy Gardens are available in round or teardrop globes.
Our Fairy Gardens are available in round or teardrop globes.

  • Everything, dried or preserved for use on the Forest Folk

Sorceress, a product from the Wild Ozark Nature Farm

  • Dried for use on the Fairy Houses

A wee little fairy house made from Wild Ozark nature farm botanicals.
A wee little fairy house made from Wild Ozark nature farm botanicals.

  • To sell as is to other crafters

Natural Habitats

The Wild Ozark Nature Farm provides lots of perfect habitat for growing plants like American ginseng. This endangered medicinal herb has a very narrow set of requirements to grow and I take full advantage of all the spots here that support it.

I sell the seedlings and sometimes the older plants at the farmer’s markets and also ship them out by mail.

4-Prong Ginseng with Red Berries

Other Nature Farm Products

Aside from the physical items directly related to growing or harvesting, the Wild Ozark Nature Farm also provides inspiration. I’m an author and artist and my work depends on this close contact with nature. Even my fiction draws on my relationship with nature.

Here’s my latest work of nature art, drawn from a photo I took of a green dragon plant here at Wild Ozark.

Green Dragon Drawing
Green Dragon Drawing. Prints available.

Thanks for Visiting

I hope you enjoyed this little tour through the nature farm. Every square inch of this 160 acres opens up worlds of possibilities and I can’t think of any other life I’d rather have!

100-word Flash Fiction

Ever heard of 100-word flash fiction? I’m not sure how many of you were following this blog way back when I used to call it “Madison Woods” and used to write a lot more fiction.

Well, writing anything remotely resembling a complete thought, let alone a story, is difficult with only 100 words. It’s great exercise, though.

Here’s one of my favorites. This little snapshot of a scene will be used in one of my upcoming Bounty Hunter novels. As were most of my flash pieces, it was inspired by a photo/image that I took.


Sapphire Rhapsody

She rolled the pink sapphire from hand to hand, gauging the weight.

Placing it to her lips, she inhaled slowly.A few stray ions lingered.

Good.

She placed the stone into her mouth on her tongue, avoiding her teeth. Touching them would have grounded the little energy she’d managed to siphon off.

Raising a small box to her mouth, she deposited the reenergized jewel inside.

Fractured light burst through the sheer mica top, particle and wave both playing a rhapsody against the miniscule tiles lining the sides of the container.

“Hear it?” She smiled. “That’s where I got my name.”


Getting Back to Fiction

And now I think I’ll dip my toes into doing it a bit more often. I won’t blog about it here after today, though, so if you want to hear about my fiction life, follow me at my Rural Fantasy blog.

I’ve also been writing #vss365 tweets. This is even shorter than 100-words. You can find me there as @erthwitch, if you’d like to connect with my alter ego at Twitter sometimes.

The 100-word Flash Fiction group called Friday Fictioneers

I started a round-robin sort of group on my blog at some point near 2011 or 2010. I found some willing writers through Twitter, mostly, and we started a weekly thing. We’d share short stories, very short stories, based on whatever photo I’d pick for that week. Then we’d read and comment on each other’s work.

Those were fun times, but it grew and soon became a lot of work to maintain. I wanted to veer off into another direction for a while.

Fairy Blog Mother

That’s when Rochelle Wisoff-Fields, one of the Fictioneers, stepped up. She adopted my baby and gave it a new home at her blog about four years ago now, maybe five. Since that time it’s grown exponentially. I noticed today that she’s known as the Fairy Blog Mother now 🙂 She’s an excellent hostess and guide. Herding cats is one of her specialties, I know.

Current Iteration of Friday Fictioneers

If you like to read flash fiction of the 100-word sort, you’ll find a lot of it at Rochelle’s blog. Feel free to join in if you like, but first go read the introduction to how it works.

Not Abandoning the Non-Fiction

I’m not done with the nonfiction, though. Up next on the agenda is an article on Lobelia inflata for the North American Native Plant Society, which will also include one of my drawings. That will be published in summer, and another article on Green Dragon and Jack-in-the-Pulpit are on the docket for 2018.

Also on the to-do list is to revamp the DIY Ginseng Habitat and Site Assessment Guide. That’s my best selling title, and it’s in need of some cleanup.

Madison Woods, Driving the John Deere.

About Madison Woods

Click HERE to learn more about me as an artist. Read on below for more general information.

What kinds of things does a person who visits this page want to know? Age – over 50, married to the man of my dreams, mother to three incredible people, offspring of a couple of pretty interesting folks, and sister to another. I’m constantly walking around with one foot in the real world.

The other foot? Mired in the muck of some other plane of existence.

If you ask me, this makes me both practical and open to worlds that may not exist for other people who walk with both feet in what most consider to be reality.

I am fascinated with nature. Since I’ve passed through the age of menopause, it seems I have logarithmically increased my creativity. And so I spend my days creating – art and stories mostly … and LOTS of messes.

When I’m not simultaneously creating (my art) and destroying (my studio/office), I’m either helping Rob on our homestead chores, writing or wandering around outside with the camera or a set of watercolors, or in the woods working with the ginseng nursery.

My fiction and nonfiction are both deeply influenced by my life in the remote Ozark Mountains. My products are devoted to promoting a love for Nature and to providing escape into fantastical nature-influenced stories.

Nature Farmer

Everything I do and am is influenced by soul-strings tied to the wilderness. It’s not a secret – I am woo-woo and there’s no way around it. But like I said above, I’ve got one foot firmly planted in reality so it gives me a unique position and perspective. My career history is scientific. Most of my adult life has been spent in organic, inorganic, and environmental laboratories.

Author, Artist, Bark and Ginseng Grower

I write fiction and nonfiction. Recent articles include “Indian Tobacco”, August 2017, an article about Lobelia inflata featuring one of my drawings, and “Through the Seasons with American Ginseng & its Companions”, can’t remember publication date for this one, for the North American Native Plant Society (NANPS.org) newsletter “Blazing Star”.

My article on Green Dragons (Arisaema dracontium) and my drawings will be the cover and feature article for the summer issue (2018) of Blazing Star. You’ll be able to see my drawings when the post goes live (update: it’s live now) or you can follow along with my progress by following me on Instagram or Facebook.

An article was written about Wild Ozark and me by Layne Sleeth. It’s published in the Aug/Sept 2016 issue of Ozark Hills & Hollows.

 

Wild Ozark is the only licensed American ginseng nursery in Arkansas. It’s also the publisher for all of my creative work.

Workshops/Appearances

Upcoming workshops and appearances can be found on this page.

My Writing

All of my nonfiction books can be found at Amazon. My rural fantasy fiction, mostly set in the Ozarks, is published at Amazon under the pen name Ima Erthwitch.

Connect with Me on Social Media

You can easily find me on all social medias by searching for “Wild Ozark”. I’m the voice behind the social media, blog and website at www.WildOzark.com.

Ginseng Grower

Seeds go in the ground throughout the woods in fall through early spring and seedlings come up in late April. From April to September I sell them potted from the farm or farmer’s market. From October to March, I ship them bare-root anywhere in the United States.

Ginseng Habitat Demonstration Garden

Announcement: The garden will NOT be open during May 2019. It will be open during April, and from June through September.

The Wild Ozark Ginseng Garden

This is a restored habitat where you can see and learn about American ginseng in a natural environment.

The ginseng and companion plants are sleeping away the winter, awaiting the public in this "virtually wild" habitat at Wild Ozark.
The ginseng and companion plants are sleeping away the winter, awaiting the public in this “virtually wild” habitat at Wild Ozark.

A Re-Established Habitat

A few decades ago this land was logged but not clear-cut. Then it was unoccupied for a number of years. Between being unoccupied (which made the land a sort of “free for all”) and the ecosystem destruction that comes with logging, most of the wild ginseng was here was wiped out.

Still, some pockets survived. Microhabitats that provided the perfect environment for ginseng persisted because they existed in spots too difficult to reach for loggers.

The ethical diggers who frequented these hills protected patches they found by pulling off the leaves of plants they didn’t dig. They made a point to not dig all they found in a habitat. They did this so they could come back year after year to harvest without taking too large a toll on the population.

ginseng in summer with red berries
ginseng in summer with red berries

It helped that this all occurred and then we came along to occupy the land before the frenzy caused by the popular television shows romanticizing the pillage of American ginseng.

The Garden Habitat

In the area I’m using for the public garden there was no ginseng left and very few of the companions because of the logging that happened long ago. Now the trees have grown back and although the transition from pioneer cedars to mixed hardwood is still underway, the area is once again suitable for plants that enjoy the deep shade, like ginseng, goldenseal, ferns, bloodroot and cohoshes.

I’ve made trails, planted “virtually wild” ginseng, transplanted companion plants, and labeled or marked everything (this will be ongoing). Many thanks to my friend Layne Sleeth and her husband Brian for the help with labor and donation of maidenhair ferns!

Unique and Destination-worthy

I don’t know if there’s anything else like it in the country. If so, it hasn’t shown up in my internet searches to find one. If you know of any public ginseng gardens in natural habitats, please let me know so I can link to it here. We can create a “ginseng trail” for ginseng lovers like the wine trails from cellar to cellar enjoyed by wine lovers. It would be interesting to travel from habitat to habitat in other areas to note the differences between them all.

Details

Where is it?

CALL OR EMAIL AHEAD use the contact information (click here or see menu) to get in touch and I’ll mail the address and directions.

There is NO CELLPHONE SIGNAL in this area, so make sure to call before you leave Kingston or Huntsville to make sure I’m here if you haven’t emailed ahead of time to set an appointment. You will need a truck or car without low profile tires. If it has rained a lot recently, the bridges could be flooded. See below about “About the Road to get Here” for details about the drive here.

What are the Open Hours and Days?

Usually we’re open from May through September. For 2019 we will not be open during the month of May. It is by appointment only. If the response to this project is great, I’ll set regular hours and days. I’ll always make the best effort I can to accommodate visitors, especially those who are travelling from a distance and are on tight schedules. CALL OR EMAIL AHEAD use the contact information (click here or see menu) to get in touch and I’ll mail the address and directions.

How Much does it Cost?

Free. I will have a donation can handy for those who are willing and able to support the garden.

$20/car for the optional escorted “Herb Drive” (see below)

About the Road to get Here

  • A long dirt road– Wild Ozark is in a very remote location. It is six miles down a dirt road. There are 6 low-water bridges to cross, so if it rains more than an inch or two, the road could become impassable.
  • Lots of photo opportunity– beautiful scenery to see along the roadside. You will see beautiful fields, pastures, old barns, old homesteads, forests, and possibly wildlife. You’ll definitely see a lot of beauty and tremendous biodiversity in plants.
  • Herb Drive – For $20/car you can take an “Herb Drive”- there are lots of plants and herbs of interest down this road. I will conduct a driving herb walk by meeting you at the front end of the road and escorting you back here with lots of stops along the way to get out and see plants like black cohosh, blue cohosh, green dragon, jack-in-the-pulpit, wild hydrangea, giant solomon’s seal, trout lilies, etc. Here’s a post I have about the plants and sights I often see and photograph on the way here.

Nearby Lodging

  • There are no nearby hotels, and the nearest rental cabins are about an hour away or more. Your best bet for hotels would be Rogers, Springdale, or Fayetteville. The cabin rentals at Azalea Falls are gorgeous.
  • Canoe, hike, and stay at Cedarcrest lodge in Ponca. There are other cabins in the Ponca area, too. Just do a Google search for “lodge in Ponca, Arkansas”. It’s about an hour and a half away. You’ll find almost everywhere is about an hour or two away.

The Nearest Town is Kingston, AR

In the town of Kingston there are places to eat and other things to see. Kingston is only 12 miles away, but it takes about 40 minutes to get there from here if you drive slow on the dirt road. Driving fast gets you there faster, but increases the odds of punctured tires and developing new rattles in your vehicle 🙂

  • The town square is tiny but teeming with antiques.
  • You’ll want to visit The Place on the Square. Make sure to go all the way to the back to see The Artroom Gallery, too.
  • And don’t miss Grandpa’s Antique store.
  • Look through the window if the bank isn’t open and you’ll see the old safe on display.
  • It’s okay to be amused at our micro-library, but don’t diss it. It’s come a long ways since the first one!
  • Dining options include The Valley Cafe, The Kingston Station, and Sugar Boogers which is a little farther north on Hwy. 21 near the junction of 412.

Visit the Wild Ozark Ginseng Garden & Nursery

Eventually I want to have a little storefront here, but for now it’s just a little spot across the creek where ginseng and companions are growing. Here’s a little schematic of the plan:

Plans for the Wild Ozark Ginseng Garden, Boutique & Nursery
click to enlarge

Where else can you see ginseng?

You also can see American ginseng growing at the Compton Gardens in Bentonville, AR. Wild Ozark received a grant from United Plant Savers to install a sanctuary garden there. It’s still immature and will be for a few more years, but the little recreated habitat will fill out over the years. Each spring, we’ll bring new plants to replace the ones that don’t survive the squirrels or whatever other hazards might befall the plants in a tended garden.

There might also still be one specimen plant at the Ozark Folk Center’s Herb Garden in Mountainview, AR. It’s been many years since I’ve visited there, though, so can’t say for sure.

What’s the Difference between the Wild Ozark Ginseng Garden and those others?

The garden here is a natural setting, it’s not a park in an urban environment just growing a few ginseng plants. Wild Ozark’s Ginseng Garden is a true habitat and demonstration of the ecosystem that supports wild American ginseng.

Email today and set a date to visit the Wild Ozark Nature Boutique & Ginseng Garden!

Arkansas Native Plant Nursery

Ozark Native Plants

American Ginseng, Ginseng Companion Plants and Medicinal/Edible/Beautiful Arkansas Native Plants

Ethically Propagated

photo of wild gingerphoto of maidenhair fernginseng with red berriesphoto of ginseng companion plant christmas fernwild ozark photo of blue cohosh

Wild Ozark™ Nursery specializes in American ginseng and companion plants for ginseng habitat restoration and Arkansas native plants.

We also carry some non-native varieties, many of which are introduced and naturalized during the early settlement of our area, but I usually avoid those that have become invasive (like Japanese Honeysuckle, for example). And we have books and other information sources with lots of pictures of plants on our website free for the browsing (use the menu links above).

Location

Notice: the flash flood in June 2015 wiped out the nursery except for ginseng seedlings. We’ll have the native plants restocked (stocks will always be low) in spring 2018.

Find out More

 

To stay current with what I’m bringing to market or have on-hand, just send me an email or follow at our FB page:

We make deliveries to the Kingston town square or you can drive out to the end of our road by appointment. Email for more information to [email protected]

If you’re coming from a distance and won’t make it by noon on market days, I’m usually happy to loiter in town a bit longer so we can connect.

 

 

Seed storing tip: I have learned that you can’t keep the ginseng seeds in the refrigerator so long or else they will go dormant. It’s best to keep them in layers of sand outside in a cool and sheltered place if you can’t plant them right away. The seeds I have aren’t dead, they just might not sprout this year. (Thanks to Dennis at Ozark Mountain Ginseng for this information!) Next year they should all sprout on schedule. I’ll have some seedlings to sell at market this year, just not so many as I’d planned for.

Here’s what we should have on hand beginning in spring 2017:

  • American ginseng seedlings, in pots (all season) and bare-root (in fall)
  • Bloodroot, in pots (all season) and bare-root (in fall)
  • Goldenseal, in pots (all season) and bare-root (in fall)
  • Giant Solomon’s Seal
  • Spikenard seedlings in pots
  • Spicebush
  • PawPaw saplings
  • Beech saplings
  • Maple saplings
  • Doll’s Eyes
  • Black Cohosh
  • Blue Cohosh
  • All-heal (Prunella vulgaris)
  • Wild Hydrangea
  • Grape/Rattlesnake fern
  • Maidenhair ferns
  • Thimbleweed
  • Green Dragon
  • Jack-in-the-Pulpit
  • Echinacea
  • Beebalm
  • Devil’s Walking Stick
  • Wild Strawberry
  • Sessile-leaf Bellwort
  • Wild Red Raspberry

I’ll update this list periodically as I sell out or have new offerings. Shipping will not be available until September 2016 (bare-root only).

Where do we get the plants?

All of our plants are sustainably propagated from plants at Wild Ozark or from purchased seeds (it is illegal to harvest wild ginseng seeds for propagation). Those plants that live here and make viable seeds are propagated by seeds, and we always leave seeds/berries on the plants so the natural colony can reseed. Some plants, like goldenseal, black and blue cohosh, wild ginger, and bloodroot, do exceptionally well with divisions. We would never threaten the survival of any of our plants by over harvesting for the sake of selling plants. Because of this, and because 2015 will be our first year in business as a nursery, our supplies will be limited. If you want to make sure of what we will have on any given week at market, please email by the Sunday before. If you give assurances that you’ll be there to pick up your plant, I’ll hold your request so you won’t make a trip out for nothing.

 

Plant Rescue

We will be happy to go to logging/development sites to rescue any of the ginseng forest companions. If you have development activity planned in such areas, please let us know.

Photos

Here’s a few photos of ginseng habitat companions.

 

Wild Ozark, Who We are and What We Do. Welcome!

Wild Ozark is a nature farm. Crops include:

  • rocks
  • botanicals
  • trees
  • ginseng

Rocks?

Most definitely. Rocks are the mainstay here, lol. I use them for making handmade paints. The rocks (and clay, and other natural sources here) are the source for pigments I use in my paintings. I sell the paints themselves and also the paintings. You can see most of what I have available at my Etsy shop, and see it in person at the various venues in northwest Arkansas if you’re local.

Botanicals

I collect little bits and pieces of things like moss, ferns, lichens, seed heads, etc. Various things that look great for decorating my product packaging.

Trees

My husband creates fine woodworks, so there’s a need for lumber and we have plenty of trees. We don’t go cutting them whilly-nilly, though. To maintain a healthy forest sometimes we need to selectively remove trees for the good of the others.

I also use the gums from wild cherry, wild plum, and sweet gum for my paints.

There’s also the shagbark hickory syrup that we make using the bark of the shagbark hickory trees.

Ginseng

While the ginseng is no longer the main focus of Wild Ozark, we’re still the only nursery in Arkansas for ginseng. We grow it wild-simulated in the forests in its natural habitat. I sell the potted seedlings from the farm here in spring, and bare-root seedlings ship out in fall once the temperatures drop.

Putting the wild in Wild Ozark

It takes us thirty minutes to reach pavement from where we live in the wild Ozark Mountains of northwest Arkansas, where we work at scratching out a sustainable living off the hamster wheel of debt. Together we plan and act on ideas to make products, grow ginseng, and work on projects to help others enjoy and reconnect with Nature.

Current Projects

Our past projects include:

  • Wild Ozark installed an American Ginseng Habitat at the Peel-Compton Gardens in Bentonville. We were awarded a grant from United Plant Savers to cover a portion of the expenses for this. This installation provides a teaching/learning resource for ginseng enthusiasts. The garden has an excellent conference room for classes. We’re looking forward to doing this work. There are other places this sort of installation would do well and we hope to get ginseng habitats growing in all of the public gardens where the lay of the land and tree cover invites such plants.
  • We’re finished building Rob’s woodworking shop.
  • Wrote the first novel of my rural fantasy series called Bounty Hunter. It’s a post-collapse fantasy set in the Ozarks. Treya applies for a position with ARSA (Apprehension, Retribution, and Silencing Agency) of northwest Arkansas, a government agency that specializes in a certain type of silencing. The targets must be killed three times (to grub stage) because they reincarnate to lower forms with each life.
  • Fairy Garden Terrariums – currently sold out and not in production any longer
  • As soon as I find out about a show or appearance, I’ll post to my schedule calendar (click here to go to schedule).
  • Jan 13, 2018 – Speaking at the Carroll County Master Gardener’s meeting on Ginseng Habitat
  • By Jan 30, 2018- Article with drawings about Green Dragon for the North American Native Plants Society

Upcoming

  • I’d like to do more presentations and workshops going forward. If you or anyone you know is interested in creating nature art, nature journaling, or making or painting with handmade watercolors, let me know by emailing me at [email protected]

Our Goal: to bridge the gap between people and the natural world, to remind readers that we are part of a larger whole, and to celebrate that all we see is not always all there is. We do this through art, stories, photography, books and crafts inspired by the Ozarks, and with our nursery we offer plants to help re-establish American ginseng habitats.

photo of Wild Ozark team
Richard Kestrel and Madison Woods
“The Wild Ozark team”

 


The Duo Behind the Brand

Madison Woods

I’m the voice behind our social media and website. Read more here.


Robert B. Riedel

My life’s motto is a line from a Rush song: “It’s all about choices. If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice.”

I’m driven to get our household sustainable and off-grid so we can thrive in any circumstance. My 22 years of USAF service gives me a varied skillset for this purpose. I’m interested in solar power and look forward to a time when I can work on our solar array. I’m a woodworker and enjoy making decorative boxes with gemstone inlay (great for jewelry, tarot cards, etc.).

I have a lot of ideas for furniture, as well. I also love bonsai and plan to make bonsai planters. My role with Wild Ozark at this point is homestead infrastructure engineer. We have a lot of critical things that need to be taken care of with the homestead (like leveling the house) before I can focus on my own creative ideas for our online shop.

In the meantime I do some editing for Madison’s writing projects and come up with ideas, which we are writing down to draw upon later. All of the projects around here give Madison some photo ops and blog post topics, though. As soon as we get caught up with the house foundation and leveling I’ll be able to begin building my workshop. Then I’ll get to bring of my creative ideas to fruition.

 


Newsletter

Sign up to get our newsletter once a month by clicking here. I’ll update you on all the things going on at Wild Ozark as I’m able, but the newsletter has become sporadic.

The Business ‘Circle of Life’ at Wild Ozark

An older post, but still representative. Eventually I’ll update it but for now, I’ll leave it alone:


This is the second year since making Wild Ozark my full-time endeavor. Over the past year, I’ve noticed a life-cycle of sorts. It’s risen organically, and next year I hope to be more efficient at taking advantage of this circle of life, working with the flow of the seasons to bring products to life.

Winter is coming

It was a chilly 49* when I got up this morning and so I started the first fire of the season in our woodstove.

I love the cooler temps, but mostly I think it’s the more saturated colors caused by shadow and shifting light angles that I love most of all. And then there are the sounds. Those change with the seasons too. Crows and Jays often are the first sounds I hear at this time of year, aside from the roosters crowing at dawn.

The other thing I love about this time of year is the harvest. I went out gathering lobelia seeds, black cohosh and black snakeroot, and spicebush berries last week. This weekend I’m making ointments. Aside from writing, this activity is my favorite thing to do.

Wild Ozark Circle of Life: My fall root and berry harvest. I didn't gather much of any one thing, just took what I needed for a few of my recipes.
My fall root and berry harvest. I didn’t gather much of any one thing, just took what I needed for a few of my recipes. That’s why quantities will always be limited when I sell them.

Wild Ozark Circle of Life: Black snakeroot (Sanicula canadensis) are astringent and vulnerary. And they dry to become very stiff and pokey! I'll use these in a general purpose scratch & scrape balm.
Black snakeroot (Sanicula canadensis) are astringent and vulnerary. And they dry to become very stiff and pokey! I’ll use these in a general purpose scratch & scrape balm.

Wild Ozark Circle of Life: Ripe spicebush (Lindera benzoin) berries. We didn't have very many of these this year, so I only gathered a handful. I use these in the muscle & sore joint rub.
Ripe spicebush (Lindera benzoin) berries. We didn’t have very many of these this year, so I only gathered a handful. I use these in the muscle & sore joint rub.

Wild Ozark Circle of Life: Roots of wild comfrey (Cynogolossum virginianum). I'll use this in a burn salve.
Roots of wild comfrey (Cynogolossum virginianum). I’ll use this in a burn salve.

Wild Ozark Circle of Life: Possibly black cohosh (Actaea racemosa) but I'm holding this for positive i.d. when the plants flower again. I replanted several parts of this root mass.
Possibly black cohosh (Actaea racemosa) but I’m holding this for positive i.d. when the plants flower again. I replanted several parts of this root mass.

The Wild Ozark Circle of Life

Early Fall

This is when the berries are ripe on spicebush, which I use in one of my herbal formulas for muscle and joint pain. It’s also when it’s time to gather berries for propagation of doll’s eyes and spikenard. It’s also when I gather the ginseng berries to reseed them in places where I want more to grow if I don’t want to let them naturally fall from the plant.

It’s illegal to do this with the wild ginseng, by the way. Most of what we have here are wild-simulated. I began planting seeds here in 2005 but avoided planting in the areas I knew already had native colonies growing. With wild ginseng, you have to replant the seeds of any plants you dig in the same location as the mother.

When the tops of plants begin to die back, it’s the time to gather roots. Black cohosh, black snakeroot, bloodroot, goldenseal, and wild comfrey fall into this category along with ginseng. Many of these roots will be put to stores for herbal remedies but many are also divided and replanted to propagate plants for the nursery.

This time of year is a good time to begin making ointments and tinctures from the herbs I’ve gathered.

It’s also a good time of year for our homestead projects. Our “To-Do” list is a mile longer and grows by the minute, it seems. Firewood is something we never seem to have enough of, so we will cut and stack now and throughout the winter, too.

Herbal Remedies

We make a few things at home that we use often and I’ve started bringing these to the market with me. The most popular one is the Amazing Sting oil. I also make lip balms and ointments, and a medicinal tea blend. Then there’s the cold/flu syrup using various wildcrafted herbs as they come into season.

I’m working on making hard candies with the herbs, too. And there’s the Three Kings tincture we use for nail fungus, spider bites, and other difficult topical things.

Most of these are not listed on the shop, but I’ll add them as I can.

Later Fall

We order ginseng seeds with a delivery date somewhere around the beginning of October. For the weeks following the arrival of the seeds, my main task is to get them planted. I don’t want to leave them in the refrigerator too long because that’ll cause them to go dormant and then they won’t sprout the following spring. Did that last year, don’t want to do it again.

I’m still writing now, and we are still working on homestead projects during this time of year, too. And it’s a good time to stack more firewood.

Winter

This is the best time of year for making herbal remedies, writing my books and stories, taking photographs, and planning next year’s gardens.

We can’t do many outdoor projects, but once Rob has his shop built he’ll be able to work on his beautiful woodworking projects now.

It seems like we’re always needing more firewood, so cutting and stacking goes on even during snow and ice weather.

Spring

Photography is always on my mind in spring. I’m watching now for the ginseng to unfurl and delighting in the awakening of the land. The outdoor homestead projects will begin again.

In spring I sow seeds for both the garden and the nursery. The seeds that were gathered and sown from fall, like the spikenard, green dragons and jack-in-the-pulpit will be coming up along with the ginseng. All the goldenseal, and bloodroot that were divided in fall will now begin unfurling too.

The market begins in late April and I’ll start bringing plants and books and herbal remedies. My plant offerings start out with ginseng and ginseng habitat plants. Then as the weather becomes too warm for those I bring the medicinal and edible wild plants. Books and remedies are available throughout the market season.

Summer

I’ll still be at market with plants, books, and herbal remedies. When it’s not market days I’ll be helping Rob with homestead projects and in between it all I write and take photographs.

Full Circle

With early fall it all begins again. Throughout the entire year I write, photograph and create products. I try to keep the blog current with at least one post a week. I also write our monthly newsletter and in those I try to give my subscribers something they’re not getting at the blog -or at least give it to them before it goes to the blog.

I’m honored and pleased to get emails and comments from readers throughout the year. I don’t get many comments; more often it’s emails from readers with questions. Many have come here to learn about the habits of ginseng, want to know how to identify it or grow it, and I love the updates when you let me know how your efforts are going.

Thank you!

A Ginseng Sanctuary at the Compton Gardens in Bentonville

American Ginseng Sanctuary at Compton Gardens UPS signWild Ozark is honored and excited to be embarking on a long-term project in conjunction with Compton Gardens in Bentonville, Arkansas. This American Ginseng Sanctuary project is made possible, in part, by a grant from the United Plant Savers.

This is still under construction but you can see it anytime of the year. Ginseng will be visible only from late April through November, possibly early October.

You can email me at [email protected] if you have any questions about it.

Where is it:

Address: 312 N Main St, Bentonville, AR 72712

 Progress Updates

I’ll update this timeline each time we do work on the habitat and hyperlink it to the bottom of the page where more details and photos will be added. When I do that, I’ll revise the post date and it’ll cause this to show up as a new blog post each time.

 

Timeline


 

Origin Story

It all started near the end of November 2014 with an introduction made by a mutual friend, Terry Stanfill. Once he put me in contact with Corrin Troutman, a grand plan began to take root. Corrin is the Director of Operations for the gardens. Luke Davis is the Site Manager. I emailed them my proposal – to install plants that make up a ginseng habitat in a suitable spot in their garden. My desire to do this stems from my own experiences in learning to identify ginseng and the proper type of forests where it likes to grow:

“When I first started learning to identify ginseng I went to the Ozark Folk Center in Mountain View. They had specimen plants and also some Virginia creeper so I could see them nearly side-by side while I examined the difference. I know this sort of information may encourage people who seek ginseng for the roots. But it also inspires a love and appreciation for the very unique habitat these plants need to grow. It encourages others who have proper habitat to restore ginseng to it, and those who do intend to harvest can do so with a sustainable frame of mind.” – from my letter to Corrin proposing the project.

The excitement began to build shortly thereafter. Once I knew Compton gardens were on board, I sent a proposal to the United Plant Savers. To my surprise and delight, Dr. Susan Leopold, Executive Director of UPS wrote back and admitted to being excited too!

Why So Excited?

I can tell you why *I’m* so excited by this project. It means an outdoor “classroom” in a public and protected place where I can “show and tell” about ginseng and the habitat. It means that others having a hard time figuring out the difference between ginseng and virginia creeper will have a place to go and see them both, with labels, in real life. It means that I’ll be able to combine my efforts with those of others to encourage stewardship and foster love of something basic to our American heritage – a plant that’s been at the heart of a tradition that spans centuries.

Ginseng unfurling in spring
Ginseng unfurling in April

As with most natural resources, when there is a demand, the desire to provide a supply can cause a crisis. Digging by the traditionals isn’t the activity causing the concern. The traditionals have managed their plots for generations without depleting their supply.

Newcomers who may not understand the fragility of the ecosystem ginseng calls home, and those who aren’t considering the future or the impact of today’s behavior on tomorrow’s yield are only part of the challenges presented to the survival of this plant, but it’s a very large part.

Because it needs a specific environment to thrive, when the loss of even one tree can cause an imbalance, development and logging activity have a tremendous impact. And there are still yet other reasons ginseng’s status remains endangered.  Rising deer and turkey populations are a threat. Deer nibble the tops and turkey eat the seeds (which destroys it).

Private landowners can offer sanctuary and refuge to this species and Wild Ozark hopes that through this Ginseng Sanctuary Project at Compton we can encourage stewardship of American Ginseng.

 

“Compton Gardens and Conference Center are named after Dr. Neil Compton, a noted Bentonville physician, writer, photographer, founder of the Ozark Society, and savior of the Buffalo River.” – from the Compton Garden website

 

It is because of the spirit of this man I’ve never met that Compton Gardens were my first thought when considering where to embark upon this project. The Buffalo River valley offers many natural sanctuaries for ginseng. It seemed only fitting to re-create a sanctuary habitat in the place that once was the home of the man who rescued that river from man-made demise.


07 April 2015

We planted a few things finally! The weather has caused a bit of delay – winter wouldn’t go away and then spring brought copious rain. It was a small start, but I’ll go back in a week or so to bring some of the ginseng and some of the other plants on our wish-list. Today’s new sanctuary residents include grape fern, doll’s eyes, and goldenseal.

The ginseng sanctuary site
Not quite at ground-zero. A few companions already are here: Dutchman’s Breeches, Bloodroot, Giant Solomon’s Seal, and Wild Ginger.

luke and little davis
Luke Davis, Site Manager and Little Duke

me and corrin
Madison Woods of Wild Ozark (left) and Corrin Troutman, Director of Operations at Compton-Peel Gardens in Bentonville, Arkansas (right).
We were almost color-coordinated that day!

 

23 April 2015

I brought a starter colony of ginseng consisting of three plants. A seedling, a two-year old, and a three-year-old plant with the beginning of a flower bud. If the oldest one successfully sets fruits this year, then it will have begun establishing a “real” colony here at the gardens. When these fruit fall, they’ll sit under the leaf litter all winter and the berry will decompose, leaving behind the seeds. The seeds will wait until the spring of 2017 to sprout because it needs a full cycle of cold-warm-cold before it receives the cues to begin growing. In the meantime the plant that made the berries this year will again make berries next year and set up the next succession.

So we have the three plants this year. Hopefully we’ll still have the three plants next year, with at least three more waiting to join them. In 2017 we should have at least three new seedlings. The original seedling we planted today should be making berries in 2017, the two year old will be four and making berries and the original three-year old will be five and also making berries. From the three plants installed today, within a few years we should easily be able to see how a sustainable colony can be maintained. That’s assuming they all survive.

Luke had some plants to add, too. In addition to the three ginseng plants, we also planted Maidenhair Fern, Dutchman’s Breeches, Goldenseal, Black Cohosh, Wild Ginger, and Bloodroot.

The area we’re working with is approximately 500 square feet, with room to expand as this first colony fills out.

Here’s some pics from today:

02 June 2015

Copious rain and family duties kept me away from the garden for the entire month of May.  When I went back in June to bring a few more plants, all but one of the previously little transplanted ginseng plants had died back. Hopefully the roots are still there and just dormant and will return again in spring.

In the meantime, Luke said he’d planted some more companions. A backdrop of black cohosh will hopefully grace the habitat with tall spires of white flowers next year. The cohosh is performing well in other areas of the garden, so it should do just as well here in our little sanctuary spot.

A new person is on our sanctuary team now, Bennett Whitley. Bennett is working on his thesis and plans to include research on ginseng habitat in the paper. The guys installed the new plants while I worked on making a list of what we have in place already.

So far this is what we have:

  • Maidenhair fern*
  • Rattlesnake fern (pointer fern)
  • Giant Solomon’s Seal
  • Dutchman’s Breeches (very early spring flowering)
  • Alum Root
  • Witch Hazel
  • Jack-in-the-Pulpit*
  • Wild Ginger*
  • American Spikenard*
  • Green Dragon
  • Wild Hydrangea
  • Black Cohosh*
  • Blue Cohosh (Imperiled in the state of AR)*
  • Doll’s Eyes (Black Cohosh look-alike)*
  • Pawpaw Tree*
  • Redbud
  • Black Haw
  • Celandine Poppy
  • Goldenseal *
  • Bloodroot*
  • Common violet
  • Sugar Maple*
  • Sessile Bellwort
  • American Ginseng

* These are ginseng’s close companions, those plants that are very likely found in ginseng habitat.

Work day at compton

 

02 June 2016

Bennett Whitley is the new Garden Manager, taking Luke’s place. That’s him on the right in the photo above. Luke has moved on to new grounds in Tennessee and we’ll miss him but have been left in good hands with Bennett. Congratulations Bennett!

We checked on the seeds we planted in fall but only one sprouted so far. I didn’t have my camera with me the day we visited, so won’t have a picture until later. My own seeds sown in fall didn’t sprout either but the ones from year before last finally sprouted so I’m confident that our patch at Compton will grow new seedlings next year.

The weather has been odd this year and that may have had an effect on our plants. Only one of the mature plants we’d transplanted to the site reappeared this spring, but it is a 3-prong with a flower stalk. This will hopefully become the “mother” for the habitat. She should have some babies springing up around her two years from now.

This fall we’ll transplant a few more mature plants to the habitat, install some signage and print some information to get ready for a better unfurling in April 2017. Ginseng is a long-term investment when it comes to growing or re-establishing habitat. It’s not surprising that it is taking more than a year to get our sanctuary filled out with plants, both ginseng and companions.

I’ll update again when we check to see if the berries are forming later this month. And I’ll be sure to bring the camera so we’ll have pictures to share!

 

 

Ginseng Companion Plants

As I make posts or create pages about the habitat and companion plants, I’ll post a link to them here. You’ll find some of them are already linked in the list below.

These are plants that grow in the same habitat as ginseng. They’re called “Ginseng Companion Plants” and also sometimes “Ginseng Indicator Plants”. Most of them have a wider range of sunlight or other environmental tolerances than ginseng. Maidenhair and Christmas ferns can both tolerate more shade than ginseng. Two plants that I’ve only found in the ginseng habitat are Doll’s Eyes and Blue Cohosh.

We live in the Ozarks of northwest Arkansas, so there may be some different plants in other parts of the country where ginseng is native. If you noticed other plants or have found some that are always in the same habitat, please leave a comment to tell us about it and mention what part of the country you’re writing from.

Thanks in advance for your contributions to making this website more informative to readers!

The Plants That Make up a Ginseng Habitat

Plants with Strange Names

Devil’s Walking Stick. Strawberry Wahoo. Green Dragon. Jack-in-the-Pulpit. Fire-Pokers… All plants with strange names.

Sometimes my friends and family think I make these names up.

seeds from strawberry wahoo and devil's walking stick
Seeds from Devil’s Walking Stick (the nearly black ones) and Strawberry Wahoo (the red ones)

 

I remember coming home one day after running errands in town. I always drive really slow on the dirt road leading to Wild Ozark, and not just because the road is rough. The reason that motivates me to go slow most of all is so I can look on the sides of the road for interesting plants. Anyway, my mom was with me on one of these days and by the time I realized what I’d seen, we’d overshot the spot by a good distance. I shouted “Strawberry Wahoo!” and put the car in reverse. Poor mom probably thought I’d lost my mind.

But I backed up and found the bush. It’s actually a small tree sort of shrub. When she saw what I was talking about, she said “I think you just made that name up.”

“No, really,” I protested. “It’s really what it’s called.” My name for it combines a couple of the common names into one, but technically I think “strawberry bush” and “wahoo” work better together so we know exactly which plant I’m talking about. Euonymus atropurpurea is likely considered a more specific name, though, I admit. But I think I’d have sounded just as mad shouting that out as anything else.

photo of strawberry wahoos
Hanging wahoos

Similar words were exchanged when my husband and I passed what I’d mistakenly said were “Red Hot Pokers”. Actually, that’s a different flower than the one I saw, but “Fire Pinks“, which is what these were is just as odd a name because these flowers are nowhere near pink. They’re definitely red.

Then there’s the Devil’s Walking Stick. I spotted that one one day on our way off to somewhere once, and it too brought the raised eyebrows of “I think you made that name up”. I really like the Devil’s Walking Stick a lot because it’s one of the ginseng cousins, belonging to the Aralia family along with American ginseng, American Spikenard, and Sarsaparilla too. The only thing in common with any of these, though, is the way the flowers are arranged in a loose, airy, ball on the end of each flowering stem. All of the plants of this family flower in the same arrangement. The Devil’s Walking Stick I found looks more like a small, skinny tree than a shrub. Later in the year after the stem started sagging, I was able to pull it down so I could collect the seeds.

I’m not sure whether I’ll be able to sprout and grow the seeds of either the Devil’s Walking Stick or the Strawberry Wahoo, but if I can, I’ll have these to offer at the market too. So you can have some plants with strange names too. Both of these are native to the Ozarks and interesting conversation specimens even if you don’t find the medicinal uses of them interesting. I have some American Spikenard, Jack-in-the-Pulpit and Green Dragon seeds I’m hoping will germinate in spring, too.

What are your favorite plants with strange names?

A leaf underwater.

Madison Wood’s Blog

Welcome to the Madison Woods blog, where you can reconnect to Nature. This is where I share my experiences living a rural life while growing ginseng and hickory trees. I’m also busy smashing rocks and making watercolor paints from the pigments found here on our land. I’m a nature-lover, author, artist, and nature farmer. My husband Rob is a woodworker, syrup maker, and homestead engineer. Sometimes l blog about that, too.

Pull up a chair, grab a cup of coffee and enjoy the read!

One of my faults is that I can’t seem to stay focused on any one creative endeavor. Therefore, I dabble in many. My drawings range from realistic plant images, like this Green Dragon that I drew for the cover of The Blazing Star (North American Native Plant Society’s newsletter):

Green Dragon Drawing
Green Dragon Drawing

To fantasy art that shows my deep connection to the land and spirits of these hollers. Sometimes I’ll post things like this at my blog, but more often these sorts of things are posted at my fiction site (ruralfantasy.com):

"Water Priestess" by Madison Woods, rural fantasy artist.
The second drawing in my “Rural Fantasy” series is “Water Priestess”.

Lately I am doing good at staying focused on painting, though. I’m working on a large project that is likely to take me years to complete. Ozark Birds of Prey. Here’s one I recently finished:

"Rhapsody", Goshawk No. 2. 12" x 16", Ozark pigments on 300# Arches paper.
“Rhapsody”, Goshawk No. 2. 12″ x 16″, Ozark pigments on 300# Arches paper.

There is a special draw for me to the deep, dark forests that provide habitat for the likes of dragons and ginseng. So I write and photograph these sorts of places often. My eye for beauty hones in on shape, form, and texture with a leaning toward early morning light.

Typical photography at the Madison Woods Blog. My favorite photo of the early spring plants of the ginseng habitat this year.
Christmas fern new fronds unfurling. Polystichum acrostichoides

I love it when people interact with my posts to leave comments, and I welcome emails from visitors. If you want help figuring out what kind of plant you have, especially if it might be ginseng, feel free to get in touch with me via any of the methods posted on the “Contact” page.

To-Do – All the Various & Odd Things on the List for March

The To-Do list today started out pretty clear cut. The plan was to get an early start into town. I need more potting soil, a few groceries, and feed for the horses. That plan was nixed when I woke up and checked email and found a host of notices to alert me of the flurry of spammers that had been working hard linking to my website all night.

So “to-do”plans were rearranged to take care of that matter first. Then I’ll head to town, I thought, if it looks like I can get the errands run and make it home before more rain comes. (Update from later on in the day: of course it would rain before I got back home, and all the packages I had in the back of the truck and the feed too got wet.)

Working on March newsletter

I’m almost done with this and will try to get it posted before the end of the weekend. Maybe tonight if I’m lucky.

Still Writing on Bounty Hunter

This is my rural fantasy novel in progress. I’m at about 30,000 words on it now and approaching the main character’s first experience with making a hit on the character she and her co-protagonist are hunting.

Making business card and brochure card holders

Business Card Holder from Wild Ozark

I have other ideas for holders and things like this, using natural stone and wood and features from the land. Just haven’t had a chance yet to work on them. Maybe I will make a few and see if there’s a market for them at the booth this year. Pretty Wild Ozark things ought to hold cards on every business desk, at least in Huntsville.

Market and Nursery To-Do

roasting coffee

On the To-Do List! Our "Wild Roast Blend", Ginseng Coffee from Wild Ozark
Ahhhh! Fresh roasted artisan coffee. Nothing else compares.

Oh how I am loving our new coffee roaster. I can do a whole pound at a time now, instead of the puny 1/4 cup the Jiffy Popcorn Popper could do. Now I’m getting all creative with the coffee blends and have fallen in love with the ginseng leaf coffee. It’s for sale over at the shop now, if you’d like to try it. I’ll have some at the booth too, but this is easy enough to ship out by mail. I roast once a week now, and if sales pick up I’ll roast more often. Next blend on the list is going to have roasted ginseng root in it. And a third option will have roasted dandelion root. So far only the ginseng leaf roast is listed at the shop, but I’ll add the one without any additions soon. Ginseng and dandelion root roast will come online after that.

making balms

I have some more lobelia infusing in oil now and will make a ginseng & lobelia sore muscle & cramp rub with it soon. It won’t have all the same ingredients as the last batch because some of those herbs won’t be ready to harvest again until the end of summer. So we’ll see how the more austere ingredient list does. More lip balm is on the list, too.

ordering books

I can’t afford to order any more books right now so I hope this month is a good one for sales so I can order books before market opens in April.

starting seeds
  • chiltepin (tiny little pepper native to south Texas)
  • dragon blood tree
  • goji berry
  • beardtongue (certain bumble bees, and hummingbird)
  • still looking for the seeds I put up when organizing the office… they’re in there somewhere
looking for the return of last year’s starts so I can divide and pot up for market
  • beebalm
  • elderberry
  • mullein
  • wild hydrangea
  • raspberry
  • bloodroot
  • goldenseal
  • ginseng
  • black and blue cohosh
  • maidenhair fern
  • doll’s eyes

Sign up for my nursery brochure with the form at my nursery page. These will go out sometime in April, once I have a good idea of what I’ll be offering at the booth.

Upcoming Speaking Gigs To-Do

There’s one in May I haven’t heard back from about, so I need to contact the organizer to see if we’re still on for that one.  Also need to follow up on making sure I have a booth at Fair on the Square in May. Then in June there are two scheduled- A short ginseng workshop at the Fayetteville Public Library and a Nature Journaling workshop at The Place on the Square in Kingston.

website issues

  • spam galore, figure out alternative to paid Akismet. I’m trying the plugin AntiSpam Bee and so far it seems to be working well. When my budget rebounds a little I’ll make a donation to the creator of this one instead of renewing my Akismet since they were so kind as to make it available free of charge.
  • updating to make AMP compatible
  • trying to repair schema markup problems with the AMP pages

So there you have it.

That’s my to-do list I’m working on this month, not including the ever-present housework items that don’t get checked off nearly often enough. Rob will be home by the end of the month so I’ll have to step up my efforts on that end of things soon!