July is a good month for wandering in the Medicinal Herb Garden. Some plants haven’t flowered yet and some are long past, but there’s probably more flowering in July than any other month. For the first time since I started this plant a decade ago, the bush morning glory (Ipomoea leptophylla) is flowering. The bed where it lives has a problem with tree roots filling the space and sucking it dry. Until you’ve dug into an irrigated bed that has dense tree roots growing into it, you don’t know what dry is. Bone dry and powdery, that’s what the soil is like. Many trees are planted much too close to the garden’s borders and they know a good thing when they find it, so their roots wind up where the water is. It’s too late to change that. Instead, I remove as many roots as possible from as many of the problem beds as I can get to every spring, but it’s a stalemate at best.
This year I got around to clearing roots from the bed where the bush morning glory lives and I think the extra water getting down to its large taproot during the growing season did the trick. Either that or the taproot happened to store up enough energy over the decade to finally flower this year. Or maybe it was a combination of both factors. Who knows for sure? Learning to live without the comfort of surety is…hard…but necessary if my curious mind is to have any peace in this world.
Of course, as we all know, the bush morning glory is a close relative of the sweet potato (Ipomoea batatas), which is native to southern Mexico and naturalized throughout much of the tropical world. The bush morning glory has a native range from southern, central Canada, south to Texas and New Mexico, west of the Mississippi and east of the Rocky Mountains. It’s roots are said to be sweet and edible when young, but bitter, tough and quite large, supposedly up to 40 pounds or more when older. I wonder if anyone is working on a cross between the two species that might be hardy in temperate regions, sweeter and faster growing than the bush morning glory. Maybe the amazing and inspiring Wes Jackson will take it on at the Land Institute. http://landinstitute.org/
I’ve mentioned in the past on this blog, what a shining light of hope and determination we have in Wes Jackson and his colleagues at the Land Institute. Well, I’m doing so again and will surely find a way to do so in the future.
Bumblebees and honeybees are in the news a lot these days. Seems they’re not doing so well on this warming planet, constantly exposed to increasing heat and all sorts of environmental poisons like herbicides, pesticides and other residual toxins that are the result of our modern lifestyles. Alas, there’s only so much a gardener can do to help them, though I think most of us wish we could do more. But we can plant a wide array of flowering plants from a variety of families, so the bees have the nectar and pollen they need to survive. This year, I have to say that bumblebees seem to be everywhere. I’m not sure why, but they seem to be present in greater numbers than past years, though I have no data to support my observations.
Some perennials, like the above chuan dang, flower in their first year, while others, like the opopanax, which is flowering for the first time in this border area, take many years to flower.
There’s probably a hummingbird hovering nearby. Plant scarlet sage if you want to see hummingbirds.
Yes, that’s the extremely problematic, invasive weed, milk thistle, and it is growing in the Medicinal Herb Garden. Why?
Because milk thistle saves lives, that’s why. I remove the flowers before they produce seeds.
flowers open to
hummingbirds and bumblebees
closing the circle
See you in the garden.