French Style Succotash
2 cups frozen
lima beans
2 cups frozen corn
5 slices bacon
1 cup onion, chopped
1 red bell pepper, diced
2 cloves garlic
4 green onions, chopped, white and pale green parts only
3 ribs celery, chopped
1 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons tarragon, chopped
1 tsp salt
½ tsp pepper

Cook bacon in a large skillet, set aside and dice. In bacon fat, saute onion, bell pepper, and celery until tender about 7 minutes.

Add bacon, cream, corn, beans, garlic, tarragon, salt and pepper to skillet and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and cook uncovered about 15 minutes. Serve warm.

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I Love Yew  
Yews (taxus spp.) are conifers and range from spreading ground covers to various-sized trees and shrubs. Taxus canadensis , T. floridana and T. brevifolia are native to this country. T. cuspidata, T. baccata and T. x media are non-native. The cultivar "Nana" has become a ubiquitous hedge and foundation plant because of its low spreading growth habit and hardiness.

Yew is the most ancient of trees with estimates of Scottish and English specimens over 1,000 years old. Despite this yews grow no more than 65 feet tall. They are fine with this and they don't strive to reach greater heights. Literature has it that Robin Hood made his longbow from the yew tree. I'm sure the sheriff of Nottingham was not too keen to be on the receiving end of such an accurate and powerful weapon.

Yews require fertile soil, sufficient moisture and excellent drainage. Anything less results in poor growth or death of yew. Yews do equally well in sun or shade but should be kept out of sweeping winter winds which can dry up and yellow foliage.

Yews are the epitome of frugality and patience. With the exception of yews, evergreens should never be pruned back to brown aged stems. Yews can be pruned to wood without leaves and still grow back quite nicely. This is because new foliage can grow from dormant buds on old wood, even wood that is 200 years old. To maintain size, prune once in early spring before new growth begins.

Yews are among the most toxic of plants. The name taxus comes from the Greek 'toxin.' In 2000, two orangutans died at the Como Zoo in St. Paul after eating recently trimmed yew foliage. The toxic compound is taxine. Foliage and bark, whether dry or green, are toxic to people and all classes of livestock. The fruit is a small bright red berry or aril (nontoxic) with a large seed (highly toxic). Yew berries are an important food for migrating birds and they help to disperse the resilient yew seeds far and wide.

Yews have received attention in recent years as a source of taxol, a chemical used to treat ovarian cancer. The takeaway here is that every plant, no matter how seemingly insignificant, may hold the cure for one of the world's worst diseases.

Although it is common practice to shear Taxus into green meatballs, footballs, cubes, rectangles and other odd shapes, more interesting results come from pruning to retain their natural habit and appearance.

Yews know how to specialize in the forest understory, happily growing in the shade.

The colorful red seed is an effective ornamental feature on some cultivars.

Mature yew at the Arnold Arboretum in Boston.

Japanese Upright Yew (Taxus cuspidate Capitata)
Atures Parrot
The following poem was sent to Alexander von Humboldt in a letter by Ernst Curtius in the mid-1800s. Humboldt was traveling along the Orinoco River in what is now Venezuela, when he happened upon the Guarequena Indians. There is a legend among the Indians that there lives an old parrot; the natives maintain that no one can understand him. The bird had belonged to the Atures people, a persecuted tribe driven to extinction. To Humboldt's amazement, the parrots were the last remaining speakers of the Atures language.
In the Orinoco forest
An old parrot sits alone,
Never stirring, like the poorest
Little statue carved in stone.
Its course through rock-dams laying
Foams the river's wild flow,
While above the palms are swaying
In the sun's quiescent glow.
How the waves strive on, all acting
Like their race may yet be won;
In the water's mist refracting,
Flash the colors of the sun.
Down below where swells are breaking,
There a tribe speaks nevermore;
As the foe their lands were taking,
Fled to cliffs along the shore.
And the bold Atures perished
As they lived, both free and brave;
And the last things that they cherished
Now lie hidden in a cave.
For the last, now absent members
Of the tribe the parrot grieves,
Hones his beak, and he remembers,
And his cry sounds through the leaves.
Oh, all the boys who trained him
In the phrases they thought best,
And the women who sustained him
With good food and cozy nest.
Now they all lie dead and broken,
Stretched out on the rocky shore;
Despite every word he's spoken
He can't wake them anymore.
And now no one comprehends him
When he calls; alone he is.
Hears the water but it sends him
Not a soul to comfort his.
And the savage who, unwilling,
Spies him, paddles fast to go;
All who see it find it chilling:
The Altures Parrot's Woe. 

Read about Alexander von Humboldt in The Invention of Nature by Andrea Wulf

Thanks for reading.  
Happy Planting!    


Faith Appelquist

President & Founder


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