How to Make Your Own Fairy Garden Pool

Make a Fairy Pool Fairy Garden Accessory

I make fairy gardens and fairy garden accessories for my market booth at the Fayetteville Farmer’s Market. Want to make a fairy pool? Here’s how I do it. I sell kits to make these (bringing them to market for the first time this weekend), but you can make it yourself by following these instructions below without the kit.

Feel free to improvise at any point and make something unique! Here’s a short video tutorial… I need to practice making better videos! Lucky for you, the more detailed instructions are below.

Supplies You’ll Need to Make a Fairy Pool

The little glass pebbles sold wherever garden and or craft supplies are sold make perfect foundations for tiny fairy pools. They come in various colors but I like the green and blue ones.

If you plan to make yourself plenty of these you’ll want to buy the materials individually. But if you want to make just one or two fairy pool accessories, I have kits available for $10. They contain everything except the tools you’ll need. All of the other materials (pebbles, stones, twigs, herb for moss, and a little piece of parchment) are included.

Make Your Fairy Pool

Start with a small piece of parchment paper. This makes everything you do later much easier because it doesn’t stick to the hot glue.

Place your glass pebble flat side down on the parchment.

Step 1 for How to Make a Fairy Pool

Begin gluing small stones around it. Try to finish with a flat stone slightly higher than the others so there’s a good surface to attach the diving board or pool deck.

Once you have all the stones where you want them, use the paintbrush to add the liquid glue over all the places where the hot glue shows up on the outside of your pool assembly.

Pile the herbs so they're ready to use after you brush on the glue.
Pile the herbs so they’re ready to use after you brush on the glue.
If you plan to put your pool in a moist environment like a terrarium, use an exterior glue.
If you plan to put your pool in a moist environment like a terrarium, use an exterior glue.

Dab the pool so that the glue picks up the loos green powdered herb. Rubbed sage works, but I use powdered sassafras leaf (gumbo file’) because it retains a fairly green color a lot longer than some of the other green herbs and it’s a finer powder. The ones in the photos above are using rubbed sage. The one below is one I made with the powdered sassafras leaf.

Closer view of Fairy Pool #1
Fairy Pool using powdered sassafras leaf for the ‘moss’ on the rocks.

The herb resembles moss on your rocks and looks a lot better than the hot glue.

Step 8 Dabbing the Herb

Step 9 Let it Dry
Let it Dry

Once the wet glue and herbs are dry you can use canned air to blow out the loose bits. Or just use your breath and give it a good puff or three.

Now it’s time to add the ‘water’ to the pool. Use the hot glue gun to fill the pool to the surface. Too add color you can shave some crayons to dye the glue. In this one I did not use the crayons so you can see the color without it. The blue glass at the bottom gives a blue cast but it’s a stronger blue if you add the crayon shavings.

Fill the fairy pool with hot glue to make it appear full of water.
Fill the fairy pool with hot glue to make it appear full of water.

 

Add Accents

After the hot glue is dried, add your finishing details! Want a diving board? You can make one from tiny twigs. Same for a deck. The only limitation is your imagination. I like to use jewelry wire to make curls for accents and handrails.

You can use sand to make a little ‘beach’ area.

Diving Board

Here’s the steps using the kit to make a diving board. You can use twigs to make this at home without the kit. Even with the kit you might have access to better twigs to suit your purpose more to your liking.

Flatten a short piece of twig using heavy pliers or wire cutters.
Flatten a short piece of twig using heavy pliers or wire cutters.

You may have to glue another small rock to make a good spot for the diving board to rest. Glue the diving board onto the pool.

Now make the ladder using more small twigs. Lay out two longer pieces, then add twigs for the rungs. It’s easier to glue the rungs if you leave the twigs long and then cut them after it has dried/cooled.

Making a Ladder for the Fairy Pool diving board
Leave the twigs long for the rungs until after the glue dries.
Then cut them all to the same length with wire cutters or snips.
Then cut them all to the same length with wire cutters or snips.

Attach the ladder to the diving board.

Ladder for Diving Board

Finishing Touches

Pretty much all done now unless you want to add a guard rail. There is one included in the kit. It may need to be bent or shaped to fit your specific diving board but you can use it however you like.

Finished Fairy Garden Pool
Finished Fairy Garden Pool

You can use a little more of the herbs to cover the glue on the ladder if you want.

Finished pool using my Make a Fairy Pool Kit

Let me know if you try to make one!

Morning Birdsong Sounds at Wild Ozark

I’m working on a How-To post for making a Fairy Garden pool because I’ve made a cool little kit for folks who want to make it for themselves, but in the meantime here’s some lovely dawn-time birdsong sounds for you to enjoy 🙂

One of my favorite photos so far this year. Stormy skies, hay ready for mowing, and flowers blooming.
One of my favorite photos so far this year. Stormy skies, hay ready for mowing, and flowers blooming.
Closer view of Fairy Pool #1

Fairy Garden Accessories from Wild Ozark

Introducing my new line of Fairy Garden Accessories – all handmade and one-of-a-kind artwork to complement your fairy garden terrariums!

Market Mainstays

Fairy Gardens have been a mainstay for the Wild Ozark market booth this season. Now I’m starting to make accessories to go with fairy gardens for the people who like to create their own terrariums and fairy garden scenes.

Fairy Garden Accessories

All of my fairy garden accessories are one-of-a-kind. This means I’m making each one by hand and I’m not simply painting a resin mold-cast item.

I gather the rocks from the creek here at Wild Ozark. If there’s a water feature, that’s made with a combination of hot glue gun and crayon shavings. Where a mossy look is added, it is actually powdered dried sassafras leaf or other green-colored herbs.

Here’s the ones I’ll be bringing to market this week. These are ship-able, so I’ll add them to the online shop and Etsy if they don’t sell at market.

Fairy Pool

I’m also working on some kits for those who want to build their own pools. Let me know if this is something that interests you. If I’m quick about it, I might have some of the kits with me at the market tomorrow, but I still have a lot of other things I need to do. Might be next weekend before I can put them together.

Fairy Steps

Fairy Waterfalls

Here’s one of the waterfalls. I have another one made to bring to market too, but I’m out of time for editing photos and will just post this one for today:

OOAK Fairy Garden Accessories from Wild Ozark: Waterfall

Want to See Them Early?

Watch for more fairy garden accessories as I get them created. Usually I share progress pics on my Instagram and Facebook, if you’d like to follow me there.

See them in Person

If you’re in the northwest Arkansas area, you can see these at the market downtown on Saturdays and any I have left go with me for the day on Sunday at the Kingston Square Arts shop in Kingston, AR.

Share!

If you’ve bought one of my unique handmade items, send me a pic of your garden with it in there and I’ll share it to Instagram and FB!

A Week at Wild Ozark … No, I’m Not Lost

I’m just mired neck deep in a To-Do list of my own making, trying to get organized and into some sort of a groove now that market season has begun. Since I haven’t written in a while, I figured I’d write up a summary of a typical week at Wild Ozark.

This is my first year at the Fayetteville Farmer’s Market and it’s a true test of my ability to maintain production of my creative arts. I’ve never had to continously make new product before, and I’m definitely not complaining. But it is a new thing to figure out. I want to keep making new things, but need to continue making the things I know will sell, and I need to still have some sort of life aside from the act of trying to keep up.

The ‘some sort of life aside’ isn’t quite working out just yet, ha.

I’ve been doing a lot of things. I have not been blogging; that’s obvious. It’s been more than a week since my last post here and that is not a normal occurrence for me. My first website and blog post was in August of 2001. At the time my website was called ‘Ancient Earth Wisdom’. I wish I had kept that domain, but I let it go long ago. That was back in the day of hand coding with HTML. There was no such thing as a blogging platform like WordPress then. You can still see the old site at the Wayback Machine. Did you know that the internet has an archive like that?

Finally got the horses moved after weed-eating the fences for days.
Finally got the horses moved after weed-eating the fences for days.

Lately I’ve had to squeeze time in for playing catch-up around the house. Spring took off with a fury and the weeds and grass grew up around the electric fences for the horses. Finally got that cleared.

While out walking along the creek, I very nearly stepped on a rattlesnake. It’s been thirteen years since I moved here, and all those years I’m tromping around the woods and have never had such a near miss. Yesterday I ordered some snake boots for future tromping.

I haven’t been writing as much as I’d like to, but today I checked and saw that I sold 7 books! That’s more than I ordinarily sell in one day, ha, so it’s great news.

A Typical Week at Wild Ozark

Mondays

Once market season starts, the entire week has a predictable pattern. On Mondays if I’m proactive about it, I start building my stock for the following weekend. The main sellers are fairy gardens, and I’ve been making some new things to decorate them, like little waterfalls and stairs.

The Shagbark Hickory Syrup is also a good seller, but I still have to apply labels and shrink wrap, and pour up samples. So I try to get that done early in the week. On Monday if possible.

Tuesdays

Starting next week, Tuesdays are reserved for watching the grandkids. I’m looking forward to that, but I need to find a way to crunch everything else into the remaining days of the week. I’ve become a workaholic, so this break will be good for both me and the kids.

Wednesdays

Ordinarily I like to get the fairy gardens made on Wednesdays, and any ginseng seedlings that need to be potted done. This week, I went to the creek, watched better for snakes this time, and collected some gravel. I love the ones with red in them, but the Ozark creek gravel comes in all shapes and sizes and in lots of shades of colors. I’m using them to make the fairy garden accents.

Putting the Rocks to Use

We have a lot of rocks here, so I’m happy to find ways to use them. And here’s what I did with the rocks. The ‘moss’ is ground sassafras leaves. The ‘water’ is hot glue.

A 'moss-covered' waterfall for the fairy gardens.
A ‘moss-covered’ waterfall for the fairy gardens.
A set of 'moss-covered' steps for the fairy gardens.
A set of ‘moss-covered’ steps for the fairy gardens.

Here’s one of the finished fairy gardens with the steps added to it.

Fairy garden with moss-covered steps.
Fairy garden with moss-covered steps.

Potting up Seedlings

It’s the time of year when the ginseng seedlings are for sale, too. On Wednesday I try to get any seedlings that need to be potted done. They’re usually settled and ready to sell by Saturday, but the ones that are still not happy on Friday stay behind in the Recuperation Nursery Bed.

Thursdays

By Thursday I’m starting to panic because I’m not ready yet.

Fridays

On Friday it’s a mad rush trying to finish up and then before dusk, pack up the truck.

Saturdays

Saturday starts at 0300 when the alarm goes off and I moan and groan about getting up so early. By 0345-0400, I’m on the road to Fayetteville. On a good market day, I’m sold out of the fairy gardens by 11 am and most of the syrup samples are taken before then. For every two samples, I probably sell at least one bottle of syrup.

Sundays

On Sunday I work my shift at the new Kingston Square Arts shop. My Fairy Mushrooms and Forest Folk and books are there, so if you’re up for a nice day trip to the rural parts of our beautiful state, come to Kingston on a Sunday and say hello!

Starting all over again

Then it’s back to Monday again and the cycle starts all over. Notice I didn’t mention house or yard work much in my week. That has to be fitted in there somewhere, but it’s a struggle.

If anything unexpected arises during the week, it throws the entire schedule off kilter. My kids don’t seem to understand that I’m not ‘retired’, so when I need to watch the grandkids unexpectedly, it creates havoc with the ‘work week’. But I like to try and keep them on Tuesdays when I can. They like to help with things like gathering moss and rocks for the fairy gardens, and they love to make mushrooms from the clay with me.

So you might have a good idea of why I’m behind on blogging and newsletter writing now. Thank you for being out there, and thank you all who support me as an artist, writer, and person trying to make a living with my passions.

Yep this was a long post!

No telling when I’ll get a chance to write another post, so I figured I’d better make this one count. At least you can get an idea of what each day of the week is holding here at Wild Ozark, anyway. Fill me in on your doings!

Orioles at Orange Slices, Bird in the Chimney

Not the sports team, but the oriole birds have been daily visitors for about a week now. Orioles are a species that had been on my sighting wish list since we moved to the Ozarks. They migrate through our area on their way to Maryland (I suppose they’re going to Maryland-isn’t that where the team’s home is?).

Baltimore Orioles

These colorful song birds do spend their summers in more northern regions but I’d never gotten to see one until this year. We’ve had about five or six of them here. Some juveniles and some females and a couple of males.

They’re very shy. I couldn’t get a good photo of them because they wouldn’t come to eat while I was outside with the camera and tripod. So I had to sit inside and shoot through the screen door. This is the best image I got:

The orioles have been visiting Wild Ozark!

Some of my local friends tell me that they really love grape jelly, but I didn’t have any of that. So I sliced oranges for them and they loved that too.

Other birds we’ve spotted this spring include rose-breasted grosbeak, blue grosbeak, American goldfinch, and heard but not seen the tanagers. There’s also the usual birds like blue jays, cardinals, flickers, indigo buntings, and woodpeckers. The phoebe who builds a nest on the porch has been working on freshening it up.

Bird in the Stove

This afternoon when I came in from working in the ginseng habitat nursery and garden, I heard something fluttering around in the living-room. Turned out a bird had gone down the chimney and landed in the wood-stove. Good thing there was no fire going! I took it out, checked for injury and turned it loose on the front porch. It flew so hard and fast it was over the trees and up to the mountain on the other side of the creek in no time. Apparently it was glad to be free.

I opted not to torture the poor thing long enough to get my camera out to take a picture of it. I’m not sure what kind it was,  but it was blue with a rosy chest. I thought it might be a blue bird, but it was pretty soot-covered and I didn’t want to scare it to the point of having a heart attack by cleaning it up, so I just let it go. It would make more sense had it been a chimney swift. Seemed too small to be a blue bird, too, but then I’ve never held one in my hands before to know how they feel. The only other birds with blue on them here are the indigo buntings and grosbeaks, and I’m pretty sure it wasn’t either of those.

Ginseng looks a lot like buckeye saplings.

Learning the Difference: Ginseng or Buckeye?

Is it ginseng? No, it’s buckeye.

There are a few plants that grow here in the Ozarks that make it really difficult for newbies to identify ginseng. That’s because these look so much like ginseng to the inexperienced eye. These are called ginseng look-alikes. One of the look-alikes is Ohio buckeye (Aesculus flava).

This is a tree native to the Ozarks. It begins blooming in very early spring with pale yellow flower spires at the tip end of branches. The leaves are palmate, meaning it has five leaves or leaflets.

When the buckeyes are young, the saplings are only about a foot tall or sometimes even less. The little trees have a few branches on them already, spreading out to look a lot like the prongs of ginseng.

A common ginseng mis-identification culprit: Ohio buckeye
A common ginseng mis-identification culprit: Ohio buckeye

How to tell the difference

Although the leaves of buckeye are similar to ginseng, there’s some telling differences. At first glance they look alike. But look closer. American ginseng leaves are also palmate, but the two lower leaves are a lot smaller than the other three leaves. The ginseng in the photo is just finished unfurling so the leaves are still a little wrinkled. They’ll smooth out in a day or two.

On each palmate leaf, ginseng's lower two leaves are much smaller than the other three.
On each palmate leaf, ginseng’s lower two leaves are much smaller than the other three.

Aside from the size of the two lower leaves, the stems to each of ginseng’s prongs all meet up at the exact same spot on the stem. Not so with the buckeye. The branches (they’re not prongs) attach to the trunk (it’s not necessarily a stem, even if it is still small like one) at various points.

And a third way to tell is to examine the nature of the stem/trunk. Ginseng stems are not woody. Buckeye stems are. If you are careful, you could dig up both plants to take a look at the roots too. Buckeye roots resemble small tree roots (larger main roots with smaller roots attached) and they’re tough and covered with a sort of bark.

Ginseng roots have one main root, sometimes branched, but it does not have a bark sort of coating. The buckeye stem/trunk never dies back once it has begun growing. Ginseng stems die back every year and the root sends up a new one each spring. In fact, next year’s bud is already in place and waiting at the base of the ginseng stem. Buckeye will not have this bud.

Hands-on Get acquainted with Buckeye

Join me at the Nursery and Habitat Garden on May 6 if you’d like to get up close and personal to both ginseng and the look-alikes like buckeye. The “Pot 10 Keep 1” event will be going on and if you help me out by potting up ten ginseng seedlings for me, you’ll get to keep one to bring home. If you pot up a hundred, you’ll get to keep ten.

Or you can buy however many you want for $5/ea.

While you’re here you can walk the trails of my Ginseng Habitat Garden and learn to tell the difference between the look-alikes and the ginseng. The garden itself is not large and the trails are not long. It’s an accurate example of what the average habitat area looks like here, except this one has been restored. Years ago this land was logged, and this is one of the spots that is just now getting back close to habitable for the shade-loving plants like ginseng.

It’s not yet ideal, but close enough to work with.

You can get ideas for how to do the same thing on your own property and create a little sanctuary or lots of little sanctuaries as I’ve been doing.

How to Sign Up

Join the mailing list for this event so I can send you the address and update you on schedule changes. If it rains much the day before or the day of, we’ll have to reschedule. The garden is across the creek and if it’s high then it’s too hazardous to walk across it.

It’s completely free to participate! The garden is only open by appointment during spring, summer, and fall. During events like this one, I’ll be out there already, so no appointment necessary. All visitors are required to sign a hold-harmless liability waiver. Because nature is what it is. There are rocks, ticks, snakes, and treacherous footing all around and I can’t guarantee you won’t fall while crossing the creek or encounter some of our less friendly wildlife. But I can guarantee an experience hard to find elsewhere.

Sign up to join me on Potting Day




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Want to Read More?

Here on the website I have a lot of information about ginseng and the look-alikes. Here’s a good starting point: Ginseng Articles and Headlines.

Since so many people have a hard time telling the difference between ginseng and plants like buckeye, I wrote a small book dedicated to the main look-alikes. It’s purposefully short and sweet. You can pick it up from Amazon in both ebook or paperback:

A joyful splash of color from the purple phlox blooming right now in the Ozarks.

Enjoy Nature: Phlox and Fiddleheads

Here’s a little inspiration to get outside on this beautiful sunny day and enjoy nature.

Phlox is blooming and casting joyful purple splashes all around the Wild Ozark hills and woods, and the fiddleheads are unfurling.

Enjoy nature - take a walk in the woods and you'll find these fiddleheads of the Christmas fern unfurling in spring.
Christmas fern fiddleheads.
Lodging near Kingston, AR... not many nearby, but lots of beautiful scenery in between! What's Not to Love? On the way to Wild Ozark.

What’s Not to Love?

I titled this photo “What’s Not to Love?” because I love (almost) everything about living back here in the middle of nowhere.

Heading home is always a pleasure. Once I turn off the pavement, the half hour it takes to get to my house from there is pure sensory overload. I drive very slowly, looking at scenery, plants, and animals the whole six miles. It helped a lot when I worked full time, because the slow drive back in allowed me to adjust my mindset before I reached the house.

While that need to go slowly wears on a lot of people’s nerves, it’s one of the perks of living here to me

What’s NOT to Love?

Dirt roads means bumpy roads. That means I need to go slow so I don’t tear up the vehicle. There are some people who hate to slow down long enough to travel such roads.

That is not my problem. I love going slow because it gives me time to see things I wouldn’t see if I were going faster. Like which plants are blooming and when.

When it snows and I get to be the first one driving through it – that sort of thing carries a special sort of thrill hard to find elsewhere. But mostly it’s about the things I see.  Like the bobcat crossing the road and being lazy about it because I’m not moving too quickly, or the sight of turkeys strutting out in the fields.

If I’m really lucky I’ll get to see a bear… oh wait. I forgot. I’m supposed to be talking about what’s NOT to love.

Back to the point

Heading away from home isn’t always fun if I have to be somewhere at a certain time. To get anywhere on time means I can’t stop and enjoy the scenery as much as I might like. So that’s one thing not to love, I guess.

I have to leave plenty early to get anywhere at all, actually. For example, being a farmer’s market vendor means I have to get set up before the market opens. At the Fayetteville market, I have to have my tent all ready to go by 0700.

It takes me about an hour to put it all together. It takes about an hour and a half to get there IF nothing delays me along the way. So to get there by 0600 I absolutely have to have the truck rolling by 0430. Before that can happen, several other things have to happen. So it means my day on Saturdays start at 0300.

So I guess you could say having to get up way too early to get anywhere else early is one of the only things on the list of what’s not to love so much.

There are a couple of other things I could point out if hard-pressed. For one, if you have to work away from home, the drive to and from that job will eat up about 3 or 4 hours of each workday.

Another thing is the distance to a hospital if you become sick or injured.

So there are some drawbacks, but for me the pros outweigh the cons.

What About You?

What kinds of things would you list about what’s not to love if your daily drive meant a few miles of that road pictured above?

There’s another post of mine that you’ll like if you enjoyed this one. It’s called Why it Takes Me an Hour to Drive 12 Miles to the Post Office... or something like that.

Lousewort, Bumblebee Food and Medicinal Herb

Lousewort (Pedicularis canadensis) is an interesting plant. It’s a medicinal herb said to be effective at muscular pain relief. The bumblebees love it!

Rosy colored variety of Pedicularis
Rosy colored variety of Pedicularis, with a bumble bee visiting.
A pale yellow-colored lousewort.
A pale yellow-colored lousewort.
Some lousewort, showing whole plant. It gets larger and taller as the season progresses.
Some lousewort, showing whole plant. It gets larger and taller as the season progresses.

An interesting find

In May of 2014, I noticed an interesting plant. Well, I’m *always* noticing interesting plants, so it wasn’t the first time to notice an interesting plant, but the first time to notice lousewort.

It was growing in the cedar grove below the pond, in the same area as the rattlesnake plantain and twayblade orchids. Although I’ve walked around in there before I had never noticed the the greenish-gray ferny fronds.

At the time it wasn’t blooming, but I immediately recognized it from long ago when I studied with a Master Herbalist in Bay St. Louis, MS. It’s hard to believe that was nearly 25 years ago now. Her name was Amelia Plant and we’ve long since lost touch, but I often wonder what she’s been up to. She had brought me and a few of her other students on a gathering trip in MS and that was one we collected.

Lousewort is semi-parasitic

Its roots feed off of the roots of neighboring plants, but it doesn’t require a host to live. Because of the possibility that it’s feeding from neighboring plants, if you plan to use it as medicine, it’s important to make sure the neighbors aren’t poisonous plants. The variety of lousewort that grows at Wild Ozark is Pedicularis canadensis.

Some of them bloom with a bicolor rosy/white tubular flower and some have pale yellow, nearly white flowers. Medicinally, the above-ground parts are used for skeletal muscle pain. I haven’t tried it yet, but I did just harvest some yesterday to put up for later use. It’s not a narcotic, so the pain relief isn’t likely to be as effective as narcotic drugs.

This herb is reported to combine well with skullcap and black cohosh to make a pretty good muscle relaxer. Black cohosh affects female hormones, though, so be aware of that and perhaps use a different herb, like black haw or skunk cabbage as a substitute if you have a hormone-influenced issue.

  • Always consult your physician and do your own research before using herbs – the information I provide through my newsletters and website is only meant to be a starting point and is NOT intended to be taken as medical advice. I’m not a doctor, have no medical training, and am not offering medical advice.

Lobelia inflata is another local medicinal herb that would go well with this combination, but the seeds (the part most medicinal) are potent. Use caution in dosage.

Where to Find Lousewort

The lousewort plants I found are growing in a moist cedar grove under plenty of shade. I’ve also seen them growing in partly shady areas alongside our county road. This spring I’ll be trying to propagate some of the ones here. If I’m successful with that and you want to get some, let me know. If I’m able to get in, I’ll be at the Fayetteville Farmer’s Market this year. Otherwise you’ll have to make trip out to the Wild Ozark Nature Farm 🙂

References for my information and more on using lousewort at these sites:

  • http://7song.com/pedicularis-lousewort-monograph-pedicularis-as-a-skeletal-muscle-relaxant/ (sorry, can’t link directly because it’s not a secure website, but it is safe if you want to copy and paste the URL)
  • https://www.altnature.com/gallery/woodbetony.htm

Watching a Ginseng Habitat Mystery Plant Unfurl

I have a mystery plant to decipher. Last year I went to the woods and took a root division of a plant I wanted to grow in the Ginseng Habitat Demonstration Garden. I put that root cutting into a pot and placed it in a sheltered spot in one of my nursery terraces.

The summer faded away and fall came around. One day I went out to the nursery spot to check on the plants I’d tucked in for the season.

That plant I’d divided and potted was on the ground.

Just the roots.

I re-potted it. Checked on it again the next afternoon.

On the ground, bare roots. Again. Something – most likely a squirrel – did not want that plant in that pot.

By now I’d forgotten which plant it was. And of course I forgot to label the pot. I can’t even remember which plants I’d taken cuttings from during the year, but I have a few possibilities to choose a “most likely” candidate from. Now it had become a mystery plant.

I know it’s not ginseng and I know it’s not bloodroot or goldenseal. Those are three I can recognize on sight, with or without leaves. It could be doll’s eyes, black cohosh, or a fern of some sort. Or some other interesting plant I found while out taking a walkabout in the woods.

Anyway, I put it into the pot again, covered it up with soil and leaves, and brought it into the house. Foiled the squirrel, finally. But I still don’t know what the plant is.

It began to unfurl the other day. Soon I’ll have the answer to my mystery – unless it’s doll’s eyes or black cohosh. I still have a hard time telling those two apart until the plants are mature. But at least the choices will be narrowed down.

Here’s how it looks today. Watch this page if you want to watch the mystery plant unfold, too.

Madison's Mystery Plant
Madison’s Mystery Plant

Three days later…

 

 

 

Still watching my mystery plant unfurl.

Now it’s beginning to look like something, but I still don’t know what!

Here it is again, now 18 days later:

I still don't know what it is, but it's beginning to look more and more like perhaps a rattlesnake fern.
I still don’t know what it is, but it’s beginning to look more and more like perhaps a rattlesnake fern.

 

 

Fairy Swing Mushrooms- New Nature Art from Wild Ozark.

Fairy Swing Mushrooms – A New Nature Art from Wild Ozark

Update as of 112118- I’m not making these very often anymore but there are still some in stock at Kingston Square Arts in Kingston, AR.

These adorable little fairy swing mushrooms are the latest creations from the Wild Ozark studio!

Each of the Fairy Swing Mushrooms are handmade and one of a kind (OOAK).

Rather than painting the caps, this time I decided to use something natural to add the color.

The mushroom caps are polymer clay infused and dusted with powdered sassafras leaf (filet’ gumbo herb) and cinnamon. Follow me on Instagram (@wildozark) to see the new ones as I make them.

Powdered sassafras leaf on the cap of this mushroom.
Powdered sassafras leaf on the cap of this mushroom.

The stem is made from an elephant garlic stem.

The cap on this one is colored with powdered cinnamon.
The cap on this one is colored with powdered cinnamon.

The fairy swing mushrooms are mounted on a small slab of shagbark hickory. It’s decorated with moss, lichens, dried rabbit tobacco flowers. Two of them have a vine tendril. The swings themselves are made from beebalm flower stems and a bit of leaf or grass for the seat.

The caps are made from polymer clay mixed with and coated with cinnamon and gumbo file' (sassafras leaf).
The caps are made from polymer clay mixed with and coated with cinnamon and gumbo file’ (sassafras leaf).

Here’s more, colored with cumin and trimmed with sassafras leaf powder.

The ones I haven’t sold yet will be with me on Saturdays at the Fayetteville Farmer’s Market. If I still have them when I get home, I’ll list them at Etsy and put them in our online shop here on Sunday (or one day soon). They can be shipped. Bring a little Wild Ozark nature home with you!

Prices start at $30.

From @cmwhitson: I got mine today, and the photo doesn’t do it justice. This is the cutest little mushroom swing EVER and I truly love it! It’s so delicate and wonderful, and thanks for using biodegradable peanuts to pack it. What an incredible artist you are!! ?

Follow me on Instagram (@wildozark) or FB to see the new ones as I make them. New ones are added almost every week.

The horses heading toward the front gate now that the back gate was closed.

Finding the Horses on a Drizzly Easter Sunday Morning

On Sundays I generally sleep late. The alarm goes off every other day at 0500, but on Sundays I have no alarm at all and my body takes full advantage of that fact. I do not ordinarily wake up planning to go off on a walkabout mission finding the horses.

Finding the horses is never a planned event, but always something that I move to the top of a priority list and its usually a situation that presents itself in the most inconvenient times. Finding the dog was a first time occurrence earlier during the week, but finding the horses is a sporadically yet regularly enough thing that I have made more than one blog post about it here through the years.

This morning was one of those inconvenient times. I woke up with a headache, probably from sleeping too late. It rained and stormed last night, so the water is up. It’s not as up as it would have been if I had started looking for them earlier, though, so perhaps my late start was a good thing, after all.

I started out with the usual routine of feeding animals in the morning. First Badger. Bobbie Sue is no longer with us, so he’s the only dog. Ordinarily he’s waiting outside the back door to see when I start feeding, since he can no longer hear the sound of food hitting his bowl. He wasn’t there. Yesterday we left the shop door open for him and the light on, and the old house door open because we knew the rain was coming. I brought him in the old house to show him his food bowl and the hay on the floor, and Rob brought him in the shop to show him where his bed was. Badger inspected both with a sort of disinterested look.

So he wasn’t there when I put his food this morning and I had a dreadful feeling we’d be out in the rain today searching the backroads again. But I still had to feed the chickens and horses. By the time I’ve fed the chickens the horses are usually waiting at the gate, snickering at me to hurry up. Not this morning. But we just brought them a new bale of hay the other day, so I thought since I was late getting started this morning, they’d just gone back to the hay. They’d hear me when I opened the gate and come then.

Not so. Comanche didn’t snicker when the gate chain banged against the gate. If I don’t want them to come up, I’m quiet about that. But this morning I wanted them to hear it so I made extra sure it clattered good. The creek was high so the water was loud and I thought maybe they didn’t hear it. They almost always can hear me whistle even with the high water though, so I tried that. No answer.

I resigned myself to crossing the creek to see where they were and what they were doing. Headache and all. The creek turned out to at least not be over my boots, so another point for sleeping in. The extra hours gave it time to go down a lot. I crossed the creek and walked up the hill to the hay feeding spot. No horses. No immediate signs the fence was down, either. I called them again by whistling, but didn’t get a reply.

Walked to the back end of the field and that’s when I saw the back gate. Wide open. And two horses trotting up the path from the deep yonder toward their own field so they could come get second breakfasts. So that was good. They hadn’t gone any further than the wilds right beyond the gate. And the grass on that end wasn’t rich and green like the grass they would have encountered had they gone up the mountain and into the hunting club to the east.

Too much rich and green grass would have been bad for them. It can cause them to colic or founder because it’s a sudden and drastic diet change, so I try to be extra vigilant about fences and gates during spring.

When I made it over to the gate I saw that the latch ring dangled from the chain. It must have gotten loose and most likely Shasta noticed that and nudged it until it gave way. I rigged it to stay shut until I can get back out there to make a more permanent fix.

That’s our house on the hill in the distance. The creek is down at the bottom of the hill they’re on now. My morning feeding chores and then walkabout while finding the horses amounted to almost a half a mile’s walk this morning, so at least I got a little exercise on this muddy, drizzly day.

Photo from my post on finding the horses.
Zoomed in on the horses as they went ahead of me toward the front gate to get their second breakfasts.

They waited for me at the bottom of the hill, then sped past me at the creek. Because I was slow in crossing and they’re much better at it than me with my clumsy rubber boots and only two legs. If they wouldn’t have been soaking wet, I think I would have hitched a ride.

Oh, and by the way, by the time I got back from finding the horses, Badger had found me. He caught up with me in the field as I walked back to the house. So all is well again here on the Wild Ozark homestead. No lost pups or horses this day.

Happy Easter if you celebrate it that way, or Ostara if the seasons mark your passage of time more than the holidays. Either way, Spring is here, even if there is a chance of freezing rain this evening.

2018 Spring Awakening Watch – First Native Flowers of the Ozarks

It’s mid-March 2018 and I’m watching for the first native flowers of the Ozarks to start blooming. I particularly love the ephemeral blooms of early spring, like the bloodroot and Dutchmen’s breeches. Scroll down to see pictures and keep up with what’s blooming at Wild Ozark. If you’re looking specifically for the ginseng unfurling/blooming, you’ll find that on the Ginseng Unfurling Watch 2018 page.

Native Flowers of the Ozarks at Wild Ozark

3-26-18 The false rue anemone is blooming along the driveway. Farther from the house, down the road heading to pavement, I saw the bloodroot finally making an appearance. It’s not up yet here, but should be soon. Toothwort is abundant, corydalis still is blooming. The only photo I was able to get so far was of the false rue anemone, with my cell phone, and it didn’t come out well enough to bother posting it on the website. Once the rain clears out I’ll try to get down the driveway with the real camera.

3-20-18 Today I spotted one of my favorite spring flowers blooming along the roadside. So, while it’s not technically ‘at’ Wild Ozark, I consider it to be ‘Wild Ozark at-Large’, since it was only down the dirt roading leading here 🙂 Everything here is a week or two behind the surrounding area. We live in a little microclimate.

One of my favorite native flowers of the Ozarks, Pale Trout Lily (Erythronium albidum)
Pale Trout Lily (Erythronium albidum)

Not much else blooming yet at Wild Ozark proper, but I did find this Cutleaf Toothwort getting close.

Cutleaf Toothwort (Cardamine concatenate)
Cutleaf Toothwort (Cardamine concatenate)

3-18-18 Not a flower yet either, but the buds of the Redbud (Cercis canadensis) tree are swelling. The flowers are edible and make a colorful addition to salads. Here’s a  pic from this morning that I took while we were bringing hay to the horses. It’s a terrible pic, but the limbs were swaying and I didn’t have the good camera with me. I pulled a muscle in my back yesterday and moving around is a bit of a problem today, so it’s not likely I’ll be going back out there to get another photo before the flowers open, so this one is the best I’ll get for now. Next pic will be of flowers, not buds.

Redbud buds. The flowers bud out and bloom on this tree before the leaves even begin to swell.
Redbud buds. The flowers bud out and bloom on this tree before the leaves even begin to swell.

 

3-17-18 Not a flower, yet, but the first leaves of one of my favorite native flowers – Yellow Trout Lily (Erythronium americanum). When it blooms it too will be yellow. I’ll post the picture of it as soon as I see it.

Yellow Trout Lily (Erythronium americanum)
Yellow Trout Lily (Erythronium americanum)

3-15-18 Noticed that the Pale Corydalis (Corydalis flavula) is blooming along our morning mile hike route. Of course I didn’t have my camera with me to capture it. Today we have appointments in town and tomorrow is the first market day of the season. So unless I can get out there this afternoon before it’s too dark for a photo, it’ll be a few days before one shows up here! (update – got a pic, see below!) The flowers are small and yellow with foliage that looks a lot like Dutchmen’s Breeches (ferny and dissected). It’s a relatively small plant and is one of the first native flowers of the Ozarks to bloom. If not for the bright yellow color of the flowers, it would be easy to miss. Corydalis grows in the shady edges of the woods.

The one pictured below is growing in a bright sunny spot that opened up when we had more of the landslide come down this past winter. It’s not happy in full sun, though. I’ll probably move the ones located here to pots for the nursery.

Corydalis belongs to the same Family as poppies. Like poppies, Corydalis is full of alkaloids, compounds which usually mark a plant as being medicinally active. It was used by native Americans and early American doctors, however, the plant is toxic and even small doses can cause tremors and convulsions. This could be caused by incorrect preparations (i.e. water extract versus alcohol or oil), but it’s not one I’m inclined to experiment with and I can’t recommend it as a native medicinal option. According to the reports I’ve read, the way native Americans used it was to burn the plant on coals and fan themselves with the smoke. It was said to “clear the head“. I haven’t found any references to explain what that means or how it worked.

Yellow Corydalis (Corydalis flavula) is one of the first of the native flowers to bloom at Wild Ozark.
Yellow Corydalis (Corydalis flavula) is one of the first of the native flowers to bloom at Wild Ozark.

3-8-18 Usually the first plants to show signs of life with blooms here are the Vernal Witch Hazel (Hamamelis vernalis). These sometimes bloom as early as January and February. This year they bloomed in March.

Vernal Witch Hazel flowers
Vernal Witch Hazel flowers

American Hazelnut(Corylus americana) is blooming right now too:

Male flowers of the American hazelnut (Corylus americana)
Male flowers of the American hazelnut (Corylus americana)

I’m watching for bloodroot (Sanguinaria canadensis), cutleaf toothwort (Cardamine concatenata), and Dutchman’s Breeches (Dicentra cucullaria)
to show up soon. None yet when I checked yesterday, though (Mar 13). Add this page to your RSS feed or check back often to see what’s blooming next!

What’s your favorite flowers of the Ozarks?

What’s the Difference between Native and Ornamental?

Native flowers grow in the area naturally. They are plants that evolved with the local habitats. Ornamental plants are imported, hybridized or modified in some way to highlight the showy features of the plant. Unless you’re shopping specifically for a native plant, at a nursery you’ll most likely get something that originated elsewhere. Nurseries stock plants most likely to sell to the public and often that is a bright, showy flower. Some nurseries, like Wild Ozark, specializes in native plants. We specialize even further – native woodland plants of the American ginseng habitat. I’ll start bringing plants to the market in April, so keep an eye on the calendar if you want to know where to find the booth.

‘Naturalized’ plants are mostly foreign plants that found their way to new habitats here in the US a long time ago. Some were brought with the settlers, some purposefully and some accidentally. These plants adapted so well to the environment that they began out-competing the native plants. Japanese honeysuckle and Chinese privet are two examples of this type of plant. Autumn (or Russian) Olive is a third.

Ginseng in spring, a little more unfurled by the end of the day.

When Does Ginseng Come Up? 2018 Ginseng Unfurling Watch

When does ginseng come up?

It’s always around this time of year when people start wondering. When does ginseng come up? Usually that happens here at Wild Ozark from mid- to late-April. Today is March 14, 2018. This is the page where I’ll post the photos of our wild-simulated and true wild ginseng unfurling as it begins the growing season of 2018.

I’ll have ginseng seedlings with me at the farmer’s market as soon as they’re ready to be potted. Watch the schedule calendar to know when I’ll be where and with what.

Check back here in April for the ginseng unfurling, or add this page to your feed readers. In the meantime, I’ll be posting pictures of the other native plants of Wild Ozark as they start to bloom. Those will be posted on the 2018 Spring Awakening Watch page.

Seedlings Unfurling

042218 – The first year seedlings began sporadically unfurling over the past few days. None of the older plants are up yet.

The hazelnut and husk, straight from the tree.

Vernal Witch Hazel Flowers and Hazelnut too!

Today I went out to take cuttings from the Ozark Witch Hazel in the hopes of rooting them. I wasn’t looking for an American Hazelnut, but that’s what I found! I found the Witch Hazels, too. But I already knew those were there. New finds are always so exciting to me, but I think most people probably think I’m a little strange to be so thrilled over finding a  plant.

While I was scanning the creeksides for the witch hazel blooms, I happened to notice a small tree/large shrub on the uphill side of the road. On the opposite side of where I knew the witch hazels to be. From a distance, it looked a lot like it was covered with the American hazelnut male flowers that I saw on Steven Foster’s FB post the other day. My heart beat a little faster and I got out to take a closer look.

American Hazelnut (Corylus americana)

Sure enough, there were the ‘catkin’ male flowers.

Male flowers of the American hazelnut (Corylus americana)
Male flowers of the American hazelnut (Corylus americana)

And teeny tiny little fushia colored flowers at the ends of some of the branches. The flowers are very similar in appearance to the witch hazel, just a different color and a LOT smaller. I couldn’t get a good photo of them, but here’s what I have:

Male and female flower of the American hazelnut. The female is that tiny little frilly thing at the tip end of the branch.
Male and female flower of the American hazelnut. The female is that tiny little frilly thing at the tip end of the branch.

Now, to see MUCH better photos, take a look at Foster’s.

I poked around in the bushes for a bit and found one of the hazelnut shrubs that still had a leftover nut on it. The nut was tremendous in comparison to the small ones produced by the witch hazels, but it is still a fairly small nut compared to the ones you’d buy in the stores around Christmastime.

Smallish or not, I’d be willing to crack and shell them if I could gather enough. In fall, the new crop of nuts will be on the tree and you can bet I’ll be there trying to get them before the wildlife.

The hazelnut and husk, straight from the tree.
The hazelnut and husk, straight from the tree.

 

Surprise, Surprise

I’ve lived here 13 years now and never noticed this small tree. I know it’s been there longer than I’ve lived here.

It always surprises me when that happens. I just this year saw the biggest beech tree I’ve ever seen out here and it obviously has been there fifty years or more. Same thing happened with a deciduous magnolia. Found it, for the first time, last year right on the side of a trail I commonly use, and it too has been there probably fifty years.

Who knows how many more as-yet undiscovered plants are out there waiting on me?

Vernal Witch Hazel

The Vernal Witch Hazels are also known as Ozark Witch Hazels (Hamamelis vernalis). They bloom in late winter or very early spring (hence, the ‘vernal’ part of their common name). We have another variety called simply ‘Witch Hazel’ (H. virginiana) that blooms around October. Those have yellow flowers. The vernal ones have maroon and yellow flowers.

I think I almost missed the blooms on these this year. Or maybe they’re just getting started. I’ll have to check again in a day or two and see if the flowers are more developed, or completely withered.

Vernal Witch Hazel flowers
Vernal Witch Hazel flowers

I don’t really do anything with the Witch Hazel medicinally. They’re good for making an astringent wash to treat hemorrhoids and they make a good facial tonic. I just like the flowers and it’s one of my annual ritual photos I like to take to mark the passing of time. If in the future I need to use them for a remedy, I know where to find them.

When I finished getting my pictures, I took some cuttings and will try rooting them to see if I can make new plants from them. I tried this last year, but it didn’t work. Ever the optimist – that’s me. I’ll keep trying.

Have you ever tried eating the American Hazelnuts or using the Witch Hazel? Let me know how it went. When I was a teenager I used to use the Witch Hazel tonic for acne, but I’m not even sure they still sell it on the shelf like they used to do way back when.

More Information

Hazelnut: https://nature.mdc.mo.gov/discover-nature/field-guide/american-hazelnut

 

Products of Wild Ozark's nature farming.

What is Nature Farming? What does a Nature Farmer Grow?

What I mean by ‘Nature Farming’ is not the same as ‘natural farming’, ‘organic farming’, or ‘natural farming methods’. Explanations for all of these things come up when you do a search online for ‘nature farming’. But nothing turns up for true nature farming. Hopefully this post will show up in the search engine results list soon.

I am literally farming nature.

I’m not doing conventional farming using natural techniques, or practicing organic or permaculture farming (although where I do actually grow things on purpose, I do adhere to those principles).

The more people who interact with my blog, the more quickly it’ll turn up in searches online. Will you help me get it noticed by sharing this post?

Wild Ozark is a Nature Farm. They are literally farming nature. Click To Tweet

 

What I’m farming is already present there in nature.

For the most part, the plants I use in my business already grow here naturally. I encourage some of them to multiply by dividing or transplanting or seeding them in more areas, but the habitats to support them already exist here. No tilling involved, though sometimes I do make nursery beds by creating rock wall terraces on the hillsides.

The terraces are in the deep shade under trees with the kinds of leaves that make good mulch for ginseng. They keep the pots from washing away during rains and when the creek floods, provides easy access for seedlings when I need to fill orders, and is a staging/holding area for the items I bring with me to market.

Things I keep in my nature farming nursery beds. A ginseng habitat in a pot! This one includes a 3-year old American ginseng with a handful of companions for $75. Available only for local pickup at the nursery, or the Rogers Downtown Farmers Market on Saturdays or the Huntsville Farmers Market on Tuesdays. Reserve in advance to make sure I have one with me by emailing madison@wildozark.com.
A ginseng habitat in a pot! This one includes a 3-year old American ginseng with a handful of companions for $75. Available only for local pickup at the nursery, or the farmers market booth (check schedule). Reserve in advance to make sure I have one with me by emailing [email protected] Bare root collections can be shipped in fall.

American ginseng seedlings are the main things that use the terraced beds. I transplant the seedlings to the other habitats and I also put them in pots sell them at market. When it’s not growing season, I sell them as dormant, bare root plants. Wild Ozark is the only certified ginseng nursery in Arkansas. Wild ginseng lives here naturally, and I’ve purchased seeds to grow even more of it. I keep the wild populations separate from the wild-simulated.

When I say ‘wild-simulated’ that means I’m growing the ginseng in the same way it would grow in the wild. All I do is plant the seed in a space where it can flourish. I do have one small area set aside as a teaching environment. It’s my Ginseng Habitat Demonstration Garden. It’s not quite a natural area yet, because it is still recovering from being logged many years ago. As the trees get bigger it will return to a natural dense shade forested habitat.

In addition to the ginseng seedlings and habitat pots, I also keep many of the companions in propagation beds so I can easily transplant them to pots and sell them, or harvest bare root plants for dormant shipping. Those plants include goldenseal, bloodroot, black cohosh, blue cohosh, a variety of ferns, spicebush plants, pawpaw tree seedlings, and doll’s eyes. I also keep some of my other favorites like trillium, Dutchman’s breeches, and trout lilies, too.

Stewardship of Mother Nature versus Stewardship by Me

The Ginseng Habitat Demonstration Garden is not left completely to nature because I’m taking out things like honeysuckle and wild roses. I’m thinning some of the trees I don’t want there to favor some of the ones I do. The reason for that is to speed up the process that will make it a better habitat for the American ginseng and the companion plants that also grow in the same sort of environment. While the rest of Wild Ozark is pretty much left up to the stewardship of Mother Nature, this demonstration garden is being tended by me.

While the garden isn’t an ideal environment yet for the ginseng, it will eventually be so and the plants are doing well enough in the meantime. My process of doing this is helpful to others who want to do the same thing on their own property. Additionally, and the main reason I chose this spot, is because it is in a location close to the front gate and I don’t mind sharing that location with visitors.

Nature Farming means Harvesting Nature

I harvest things provided by nature. Things naturally growing, dropped to the ground, or dried on the stem. Wildcrafting is the gathering of wild plants. I’ll make ointments or extracts and teas from the medicinal plants. Some of them I’ll sell, and some of them I keep for our own household use. The parts I gather include fruits (persimmons, pawpaw), flowers (echinacea and beebalm), berries (elderberries, spicebush berries, raspberry, blackberry, etc.), seeds (lobelia), nuts (hickory, acorns), stems (witch hazel) or roots (ginseng, goldenseal).

 

Using Nature Farming Products to Create Art

So here’s where my nature farm departs from what most people normally think of when they think ‘farming’. The bulk of what Wild Ozark produces is botanical items most people barely notice. Usually it’s lying on the ground in the process of decomposing so it can return to the soil. Sticks, vines, leaves, bits of bark that fell from a tree… all treasures to me.

These harvests include things I use in my arts and crafts, like mosses and lichens and bark. These are things I simply pick up and put in my bucket during my morning walks.

A bucket full of nature farming produce. Some botanicals from the last gathering foray.

I use all of these things to create my Forest Folk, Fairy Houses, and Fairy Gardens. These are very popular and I even hold workshops on how to make these things so anyone can learn how a bit of nature farming can lead to beautiful Nature Art. I sell the small ferns for fairy gardens, bags of moss and preserved leaves, too. You can see where I’ve used twigs, acorns, leaves, dried grass, moss and small ferns in the following photos.

Bark from the Shagbark Hickory

One of our Nature Farm harvests is the bark of a certain tree. Burnt Kettle, my husband’s company, uses the bark from Shagbark hickories to make a delicious syrup. These trees grown naturally all around here.

Eventually we’ll harvest the wood from certain trees for my husband’s woodworking projects. He needs a bandsaw and sawmill to make boards from the abundant cedars that grow here.

Indirect Harvests from my Nature Farm

Art, photography, stories and workshops. Being around nature all of the time inspires me to write, draw, and take photos. I love sharing what I learn and enjoy with others, so I’m always happy to be contacted about doing workshops on topics like nature journaling, ginseng growing or habitat identification, and creating nature art. I’m not an expert on photography, so I’ll leave workshops on that to the ones that are. The outstanding photos from the ones I take are available for sale but I don’t have most of them listed at the shop yet.

Thanks for visiting with Wild Ozark website and taking the time to read about what I do here. Come by and visit the Ginseng Habitat Demonstration Garden if you’re in the area during spring and summer or come by the market booth to see the Forest Folk and Fairy Gardens! The market schedule will be kept current so you’ll know where I’ll be and when, but you can always email in advance if you like. Click here to get all of my contact information.

Day 14: Nature Journal Series – Sunlight on Distant Hills

Sunlight on distant hills always makes for a pretty picture. It’s just hard to capture, whether by camera or pencil. This time I tried with my Prismacolor pencils.
Nature Journal Day 14- Sunlight on the Hillsides

About this journal entry

Some autumn seasons bring vivid colors, while others are quick and or less spectacular. Always, though, the sunlight favors certain hillsides while leaving others in the shadows of the cloudy skies. When this happens, the favored spot fairly shines with brilliance. It’s always so hard to capture that with my camera and proved equally hard to capture with the pencils.

Most of the drawings from that first year with the pencils uses only spot color, while the rest is black and gray. This time, though I used the same technique, it was almost an accurate rendering of how the landscape really looked. Time of day was dusk, color everywhere had faded – except for the sunlight on distant hills.

About the Wild Ozark Nature Journal

Get the index to the other journal entries and read about my project at Wild Ozark Nature Journal.

If you keep a nature journal online, share the link to yours in the comments.

Virginia Creeper seedling

Virginia Creeper Seedling in my Ebony Spleenwort Fern

There’s a Virginia creeper  (Parthenocissus quinquefolia) seedling creeping up toward the light in my spleenwort fern (Asplenium platyneuron) container. I watched it for a few days with a suspicious eye as it unfurled, because I thought it might be a poison ivy.

Virginia Creeper

This isn’t one of my favorite plants. I’m only fascinated with it because I’ve never seen the creeper at this stage before. Actually, I did get online to make sure it wasn’t something else I suspected it could be, but the seedlings of that other plant look nothing like the seedling growing in my pot.

Virginia creeper seedling a little less zoomed. Virginia creeper seedling

Virginia creeper is the plant most often mistaken for ginseng. This seedling looks nothing at all like ginseng seedlings, though. Here’s what a ginseng seedling looks like on day 2:

Ginseng seedling day 2
A first year ginseng seedling the second day after unfurling.

I think I’ll keep my little seedling and bring it with me to my market booths for show and tell. But it’s going to have to get in its own pot soon.

Ebony Spleenwort

I need the little fern in its own pot, free of the creeper. These little ferns are called Ebony Spleenwort, and they adapt well to the fairy gardens in globes, bowls, and other containers. I do love these. They’re very plentiful here at Wild Ozark, but I’ll begin propagating them in woodland beds this year. That’s more sustainable than taking them from their wild homes.

Here's one of the Bowl Terrariums with a maturing Ebony Spleenwort growing in it.
Here’s one of the Bowl Terrariums with a maturing Ebony Spleenwort growing in it. I sell these as kits at my Etsy shop, and I’ll have them at the market booth this year.

Any plant with ‘wort’ in its name was once used for medicine. This fern was used for promoting menstruation and for chest congestion. The leaves are supposedly used as a tea. I have no plans to experiment with remedies using this plant. I like it for the fairy gardens mostly.

Vernal Witch Hazel

The other day I spotted some male flowers on the witch hazels down at the creek, but I didn’t have a camera on hand. I’ll try to get some pics of those before they disappear. That, too, is a new thing for me. Until Steven Foster posted his photo of one on FB the other day, I didn’t know witch hazel even had male and female flowers.

I think I may have missed the female witch hazel flowers on the vernal variety. I’m not sure how that happened, since I pass them everytime I go to town, but maybe I have been less attentive than usual in February. Or maybe they bloomed earlier and were knocked off by rain before I had a chance to see. No telling. I’ll try again next year.

Find us at the Fayetteville Farmers Market

I’m so excited! We just got the approval notification for our application to the Fayetteville Arkansas Farmer’s Market. This is a juried market. Last month we had an appointment with the review board. We brought our crafts for inspection – the fairy houses, fairy gardens, forest folk, and keepsake boxes. We have another review for the syrup and ginseng/woodland plants, but those are also fairly unique and so should be accepted as well.

The schedule? That I don’t know yet. Early in the season we’ll likely be there every Saturday starting March 31. Later in the season, they may boot us out to give space to the more tenured vendors with produce just coming in. Watch my schedule page or email me to inquire if you need to know whether we’ll be there on any given Saturday.

Day 13: Nature Journal Series

Signs of Life

Day 13-Signs of Life

About this journal entry

The signs of life during the coldest parts of winter always intrigue me. I love seeing the green grass shoots found under a layer of snow or peeking out from the shelter of tumbled rocks. I’m not sure why I left the chickweed uncolored in my drawing. I think I just wanted to focus on the grass. When I started drawing almost everything I did had a single focal point. Some techniques use blurring to achieve this, but I preferred to use color instead, leaving everything else in black and white.

Recent drawings are all color, but nature journal entries might always keep this method because it’s a lot quicker than trying to get the color right for all of the elements in a scene.

 

About the Wild Ozark Nature Journal

Get the index to the other journal entries and read about my project at Wild Ozark Nature Journal.

If you keep a nature journal online, share the link to yours in the comments.

Day 12 – Outline of an Ambitious Drawing

 

Day 12, The Outline of an Ambitious Drawing
I didn’t know how to capture the whole scene, so I just made an outline of the features. This is an old craggy maple tree on a bluff overhang by the creek.

About this journal entry

I started drawing (again) when my husband bought me a set of Prismacolor pencils for my birthday in 2015. Before that it had been decades since I last picked up an art utensil of any sort. I’ve yet to pick up a paintbrush again and probably won’t. There just isn’t enough time in a life to do all of the things I’d like to do.

Anyway, when I first started drawing again, and until this entry in the nature journal, I’d focused on single subjects- a tree, a leaf and rock, a patch of grass, etc. Something small in scope.

Well I wanted to capture a specific location, one I love. There’s an old maple tree growing on a short bluff with an overhang beneath it alongside the creek down our driveway. The tree isn’t large, but it’s craggy and has beautiful leaves in fall. Every year in May there is a patch of tiny orange mushrooms that spring up in the moss around her feet.

I didn’t have a clue how to draw the whole scene, so I just drew the outline. Coming back to this entry two and a half years later, I’m so glad I did at least get the outline. Now I think I can finish it. When I do, I’ll post the results as another day’s entry.

About the Wild Ozark Nature Journal

Get the index to the other journal entries and read about my project at Wild Ozark Nature Journal.

If you keep a nature journal online, share the link to yours in the comments.

Relics of seasons past - a wild hydrangea flower

Relics of Seasons Past

I went in search of harbingers of spring but found only sepia colored relics of seasons past.

Relics

Relics of seasons past.
Not sure what the flower is, but it makes a pretty relic.

 

Relics of seasons past - a wild hydrangea flower
This is one of my favorites – a dried wild hydrangea flower from last season.

 

What's left of the flowers from last season at Wild Ozark
Dried flower heads with a bit of Badger’s hair. He passes this way on his guard patrol.

 

Pretty dried grass seed head at Wild Ozark
Pretty dried grass seed head at Wild Ozark

 

Dried grasses at Wild Ozark
I love the color of dried grasses, and especially like the little bits of fluff in the junctions. I believe this is Little Bluestem, one of our native grasses.

The harbinger of spring is one of the earliest blooming native wildflowers here at Wild Ozark. Others of us plant-watchers have been reporting seeing them, so I thought just maybe I’d find one too. But I wasn’t disappointed in the day’s collection of pretty images. Even if they’re not harbingers.


This post was originally published in Feb 2016. I really liked this one, so decided to run it again this year.

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.

Frozen fog (hoar frost) on the distant mountaintop.

Frozen Fog in the Distance

We’re not getting snow this winter, but we’ve gotten a few glimpses of frozen fog, or hoar frost, at least.

Frozen fog (hoar frost) on the distant mountaintop.
Frozen fog (hoar frost) on the distant mountaintop. This was early morning, just before the sun made it over the top of the mountain covered with the frozen fog. The sky was edited to show you the fog, which I could see very well with my eyes but didn’t show up on the camera.
This photo was taken a few minutes later, after the sun had risen over the top. It's hard to see it in the photo, but the hoar frost is vaporizing and lifting off the mountaintop as steam.
This photo was taken a few minutes later, after the sun had risen over the top. It’s hard to see it in the photo, but the hoar frost is vaporizing and lifting off the mountaintop as steam.
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?

 

Armadillo Dilemma: To Kill or Not to Kill

Armadillo hide-out.
Armadillo hide-out.

So last summer I noticed an armadillo had moved into one of the ginseng nursery beds. It’s been a destructive force in the area since it arrived a couple of weeks ago. I wrote this post while trying to decide what to do the situation. I thought it would be a good time now to update and let everyone know the outcome.

What would you do? Kill the armadillo or let it live?

Why a dilemma to me?

First of all, I don’t like to kill anything unless we’re going to eat it. I’m not going to eat an armadillo.

But the armadillo is causing havoc. Wild Ozark grows wild-simulated American ginseng, which is indistinguishable from wild except on a genetic level– maybe. There are some who say all ginseng is the same, and some (like me) who believe there are local cultivars for each of the native regions… if those cultivars haven’t been diluted out of existence by genetic pollution from years of seeds being planted sourced from outside sources. Here’s a link for more reading on that: http://www.wildginsengconservation.com/GeneticPollution.html.

Anyway, back to the armadillo. The critter isn’t eating the ginseng, but the grubs and earthworms that live in the ginseng patch.

If I let this go and allow Nature to determine what happens next, the armadillo will continue to tear up ginseng rootlets as it hunts earthworms at night.

Armadillos are not native here. Neither are the earthworms. Am I native here? At least on a human-level, I think I am.

There is evidence that humans lived here many thousands of years ago. Not so for the cute little leprosy-hosting armored bandits. They migrated up from Texas, along with their road-runner friends.

At least the earthworms are beneficial and don’t harm the plant that is the  basis of our livelihood.

But the armadillo is also eating grubs, which are the larva of an insect (Japanese beetle) that also isn’t native. And the grubs do eat the roots of plants possibly including the ginseng.

So it could be doing me a service even if it is very destructive in the process.

Don’t fear the Armadillo-Leprosy connection

As a side-note, there’s no need to worry about the leprosy unless you’re cuddling armadillos. You can’t catch the disease just by inhabiting the same piece of ground. If you tend to eat armadillos, be sure to cook the meat thoroughly. There have been cases of it caught from undercooked armadillo meat.

What’s this about leprosy??

Our nine-banded Armadillos are the only mammal that can host the leprosy bacteria that has plagued humans for centuries. They’re used to study the disease in laboratories. I once turned down what might have been a very interesting lab job at Carville, Louisiana where leprosy is studied on the campus of what used to be the last remaining Leper’s Colony in the United States. The laboratory has since moved to nearby Baton Rouge.

If you do tend to play with wild animals, however, I’d leave the armadillo off of your list of critters to cuddle. Just in case. At least leprosy can be treated nowadays.

But that’s about as comforting to me as knowing that I can get rabies shots if I’m bitten by a rabid animal.  I’d just rather not.

Armadillo Decision

If I kill the armadillo, then I have interfered with Nature, right? If I don’t kill it, maybe it’ll help cut down on the Japanese beetle problem.

If I let the it live, then it will likely produce offspring, if it hasn’t already. Then those in turn will turn up even more of the nursery beds.

Even if it eats every last one of the grubs it’ll never run out of earthworms to devour. The grubs aren’t so much of an issue in our woods. The earthworms are doing a helpful job.

I feel that I myself am a natural part of Nature, and therefore have a right to defend territory I’ve marked as “mine”.

I’ll tell this to the invader later today. Then it can either leave or stay and face the consequences.

First I’ll try the live trap and relocation. If that doesn’t work, it’ll be on the hit list.

Update 2018: This past summer we had the largest invasion of japanese beetles I’ve ever seen here. I decided to leave the armadillo alone. Although many areas were uprooted and the ground was turned up, I did not notice a significant amount of loss of seedlings or mature plants. That armadillo probably ate more than its weight in japanese beetle grubs, though, and for that I am thankful. And willing to sacrifice a few plants.

Madison Woods is an author, artist, and Paleo Paint maker living
with her husband in northwest Arkansas far off the beaten path. She uses Ozark pigments to create her paintings.

To see her paintings click here.

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Email: [email protected]
Instagram: @wildozark
Facebook: @wildozark