Alabama Gazette - The people's voice of reason

November Potpourri

 

BEAUTY BERRY- Callicarpa americana

We are now more than a month into Fall and one of the busiest times of the year. Fall reminds me of family and friends with loads of fellowship thrown in. Thanksgiving is right around the corner. It is a time that family gathers at my farm in Dallas County for a wonderful reunion with between 17 and 20 souls, and all ages represented from one year old to those retired. It is a cherished time for outdoor treasure hunts, croquet tournaments, and just sitting around a fire pit under twinkling stars, catching up on what has been and what is yet to come. It is true that the vibrant colored leaves of the sumac, oaks, popcorn trees, crepe myrtle and cedar appear more vivid. Hurrah for fall.

In the garden, I am cutting back spent perennials, pulling out the last of the annuals, and of course, weeding. The day time temperatures are warm enough whereby we can still use Round-up. I use this chemical very judicially and apply it mostly to grass that has slipped in under some annuals. When using any type chemical or spray, please cover your face with a mask. These can be bought in lots of 3 to 5 in a pack, and are not expensive. Even though I wear glasses, your eyes need extra protection. So I put on clear goggles over the glasses so that my eyes are protected in case a breeze comes along sending the spray in my direction. Be sure to wash your hands or other exposed skin which may have had contact with the chemical. Also I learned this reminder the hard way; spray in front of your body so that you do not step into the chemical. Otherwise, you will see dead grass in the shape of foot prints a week later.

I was reading in a gardening book published in the 1920's regarding easy propagation deciduous shrubs. I had had good luck over the years of rooting hydrangeas by taking a lower branch, mounding dirt over the stem, and then setting a brick on top of the stem. By spring, I had many rooted babies. The trick is to choose some newer growth which comes off of mature stems. Anyway, this type of multiplying works with forsythia, crabapple, flowering quince, figs, spirea, and other shrubs which loose their leaves in fall and winter.

PLANT OF THE MONTH --BEAUTY BERRY - Callicarpa americana

In the fall of the year, this old southern shrub puts on a show of a lifetime with clusters of golf ball size fushia-magenta berries. Sometimes they are referred to as French mulberry or Spanish mulberry. Being native to the South, they are abundant in woodlands and open fields where forests have been cut. These berry clusters form at the joints of their lime green leaves which make for a stunning sight. The time to prune the shrub is mid winter and pruning produces a much thicker shrub. Medium sized, or about 6 feet tall, it appears stately with long arching branches. Beauty Berry will thrive in any soil, and even does well in boggy areas. Butterflies and bees are attracted to this shrub for nectar and pollen. Although Beauty Berry are not readily available in most nursery outlets, one can go on line. Also, if you own this shrub, cuttings are easy to root. In reading about this plant, I found out that the Native Americans ate the berries, and used them in a recipe called "pemmican", which is a combination of berries, dried meat, nuts and melted fat. Perhaps this is a mystery addition to the Thanksgiving feast.

HAPPY THANKSGIVING AND GOOD GARDENING.

 

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