By any sane person’s reckoning, we just endured the most poisonous, divisive, noisy and truly bizarre presidential election and inauguration in living memory. Thankfully, it is over, though we now must confront the results of the outcome. Because this is a blog about a Medicinal Herb Garden and not a blog about politics, I will say no more about politics.

If I have any wisdom to offer (that’s questionable), it’s based on my own experience. To wit, find a quiet place, inside or outside, but a dependably peaceful and quiet place you love. Go there (even in your mind; I still return to a favorite spot in the Pasayten Wilderness that I haven’t seen in a couple of decades) for a walk or to meditate, row your boat, climb a mountain, sip tea…or whatever, but when you’re feeling overwhelmed, remember that this place exists and is as real as the noise that surrounds you and will  endure much longer. Repeat as needed and return refreshed, ready to do what needs to be done. Much needs to be done.

I hope the Medicinal Herb Garden is somewhere on the list of peaceful and quiet places,

Paper birch (Betula papyrifera) in fall colors.
What a perfect place for a bench.

and this year I will make it a priority to install a couple more benches. One in section C, west of Bill Talley’s bench and  another by the paper birch tree in the woods north of Cascara Circle. That tree is truly great. This campus needs more paper birches.

Okay, some news from the garden. About twenty years ago I started two Aralia spinosa plants (devil’s walking stick, Hercule’s club) in the woods north of Cascara Circle. They’re now spindly (and unphotogenic) trees, about 20 feet tall. For years I’ve unintentionally ignored them because their branches are all near the top and I guess I don’t look up enough. In recent years, seedlings and root suckers have appeared nearby and this year I finally noticed fallen branches with fruit on them. So…next year there will be Aralia spinosa seeds offered in our Index Seminum…finally.

Black drupes of Aralia spinosa have many seeds.
One of the Australian tea trees (Melaleuca alternifolia). They all came through the worst of the winter (so far) without damage. It’s been cold a lot, but luckily it hasn’t gotten much below 25 F. The manuka (Leptospemum scoparium) is also in fine shape.
All of the Melianthus major shrubs (honey bush) are looking a bit ragged but they should snap back. The Melianthus comosus (honey flower) is completely fine.
No sooner had the birds eaten the last ripe fruit than the Vaccinium ovatum (evergreen huckleberry) began to flower.  Perhaps you will consider uprooting your bug-plagued Buxus sempervirens (boxwood) and replacing it with one of these.










This is the time to see Garrya elliptica (coast silk tassel) flowering in Cascara Circle. It’s one of the great broad-leaved evergreens native to the Pacific Northwest.
If there were no other reason to visit the Medicinal Herb Garden in winter, the chance to see and hear the returning flocks of Bombycilla cedrorum (cedar waxwings) is reason enough. These were shuttling between the Acer saccharum (sugar maple) and the Camellia japonica (Japanese camellia) by the garden shed last week.














through chill winter air

a sound to silence babble

faint call of waxwings




See you in the garden.


5 thoughts on “Quiet”

  1. The MHG is certainly one of my “special places.” Thanks for all your hard work Keith!

    In terms of benches, can we talk again about possible sponsorship? I’m still very interested in getting a plaque on a bench to remember Lynn Brady..

    1. Thanks, Charles. Yes, absolutely, we should have plaques for both Lynn Brady and Geraldine Brady who continued to generously support the Medicinal Herb Garden, long after Lynn’s death, until her own death in 2015.

  2. I have also been amazed by evergreen huckleberry this winter. The one in my yard had ripe fruit through most of the winter, up until the first good cold snap!

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