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Photo by Kellen McCluskey

Thursday, September 22

STEP INTO THE LIGHT ON OUR TRIP TO LONGWOOD GARDENS!

Best known for immersive large-scale light installations, British artist Bruce Munro draws on experience, memory, dreams, and imagination to create works that spark joy and wonder. Since his U.S. debut 10 years ago at Longwood Gardens, he has wowed audiences the world over with his work.

Munro's current installation, Light, marks a triumphant return to Longwood. Ranging from whimsical to contemplative to utterly jaw dropping, these works are not to be missed!


Spots are still available on our Thursday, September 29 trip to Longwood Gardens. There will be plenty of time to explore the gardens, currently awash in blooming annuals and perennials, before Munro's installation is illuminated at dusk. 


The Conservatory is in full bloom, including the new Orchid House (pictured below). Explore behind the scenes of the renowned Longwood Organ, marvel at the Italian Water Garden, and wander the meandering paths of the fall Meadow Garden.

Food and drink are available at the Cafe and the outdoor Beer Garden, where there will be live music beginning at 5 p.m. Longwood's Festival of Fountains features fountain shows throughout the afternoon and evening, culminating in a spectacular illuminated show set to music before we depart for home. 


The bus leaves Easton at noon with stops near Wye Mills and Millington. We will leave the gardens at 9 p.m. We hope you'll join us for this amazing day! Register here.

Photos courtesy of Longwood Gardens

JOIN US FOR FALL EVENTS

REGISTER NOW FOR FAIRYFEST!


Fewer than 100 spots are left for Fairyfest on Saturday, October 1.


This most magical day of the year includes entertainment all day, fairy houses, magical games and crafts, and more! Food and unicorn rides are available for purchase.


Learn more and register here.


Fairyfest is generously sponsored in part by

Garden Treasures and Mason Farms.

BEER GARDEN

Saturday, October 22


Groove with local favorites Dell Foxx Company, play corn hole, or take a walk. Beer from Bull & Goat Brewery and Ten Eyck Brewing and deliciousness from Blue Monkey Tacos and So Coast Street Eats food trucks. Bring a blanket or chair and kick back for a fun afternoon!


Register here. 

PLEIN AIR ADKINS

Saturday, November 5


"En plein air," a French term that means "in the open air," refers to the practice of painting entire finished artworks out of doors. Plein Air Adkins is open to any artist who wishes to participate. Spectators are invited to explore the Arboretum and observe as artists paint their works. Live music by Fine Times; Pete's PeteZa and Blue Monkey Tacos food trucks on site. 

EXPLORE THE FALL PROGRAM CALENDAR

The Birds Eat This One But Not That One

I have two poisonous plants growing in my yard. One has killed thousands of people...the other has killed a few.


Berry-eating birds devour the fruit from the pokeweed plant. But wait! Does not everything you have ever read about the pokeweed plant say it is poisonous and to never ever never eat any part of it?


There is a way to eat the early shoots of pokeweed called poke salet, but you must follow very specific preparation methods or it can make you very sick or just kill you. Poke salet was once part of the 'spring tonic' of days gone by. In fact, until the year 2000, the Allens Canning Company canned Poke Salet but stopped because of the lack of people interested in buying the product.

Left: Poke Salet. Right: Bluebirds eating pokeberries. Both photos courtesy of The Nature Geek

Luscious-looking pokeberries. Photo by the author.

The juice and skin of pokeberries are not poisonous, but the seeds are. This is why birds can gobble up the berries and not die. The pokeberry seeds are difficult to digest, so they easily pass through the birds' intestines. Therefore, no dead birds lying everywhere. Therefore, pokeweed growing everywhere the birds defecate the seeds. Every pokeberry has 10 seeds. Because the pokeberries are not poisonous, our cemeteries are not filled with young kids who drew purple designs on anything and everything, including their own bodies.


Scientists did a study on the effects of feeding pokeberries to mice (no seeds). They discovered that it was difficult to kill them. Extrapolating the results to humans, they hypothesize that it would take 45 pounds of pokeberries to possibly kill us. They also added that ingesting 45 pounds of water would kill you.


I am not saying to go out and eat 44 pounds of pokeberries. Please tell your kids to not eat them because they may not spit out the seeds and our intestinal tract is longer than a bird's. Keep up the myth, but know the science!


The second poisonous plant in my yard is white snakeroot (Ageratina altissima), and it has been the reason for thousands of deaths. I have hundreds of white snakeroot plants growing in my yard, but only because I do not mow down the plants during the summer when they are just green. It is a perennial that grows 3 to 5 feet tall and likes shade. Their time to shine in my yard is right now, when they are covered with small white flowers that look like asters, but they do not belong to that family. At this time of year, white snakeroot is important to butterflies and other nectar lovers because it is one of the few plants that bloom now.

As American settlers moved west, they cleared the forest for farming and livestock. In normal years, when there was enough grass to sustain them, they thrived. In parched years, farmers let the horses and cows free range, including roaming into remaining woods where white snakeroot grew. The plant contains the poison tremetol, which is extremely toxic. Eaten in enough quantities, it could kill the horses and cows. Cows that ate it would pass the chemical into their milk and meat. People that drank the milk developed severe lethargy, tremors, vomiting, delirium, and eventually death. This is how the disease became known as "milk sickness." People had no idea of its cause. 

White snakeroot in bloom. Photo by the author.

In the early 1800s and earlier, milk sickness claimed thousands of lives. It wasn't uncommon for entire families to die of the disease. The most notable victim was Nancy Hanks Lincoln, Abraham Lincoln's mother. She is thought to have succumbed to milk sickness during the summer of 1818, leaving behind young Abe and his sister, Sarah. Tragically, Mrs. Lincoln was not alone, as many other people in Little Pigeon Creek, Indiana, died in the same outbreak of this disease.


The following is a quote from the online article "White Snakeroot—The Plant that Killed Abe Lincoln's Mother."


In the 1820s, "a frontier physician, Dr. Anna Pierce Hobbs Bixby, learned of the cause of milk sickness from a woman of the indigenous Shawnee people. The woman helped Dr. Anna (as she was called by her patients) identify the plant and warned her of its toxic properties. Dr. Anna then experimented by feeding the stems and leaves from white snakeroot plants to a calf. It wasn't long before it displayed the familiar symptoms of 'the trembles,' and the calf soon died. Following the results of her experiment, Dr. Anna led a campaign to remove white snakeroot from local grazing lands, and almost eliminated the disease from her village of Rock Creek, Illinois. Although others also obtained the same results, medical society largely ignored Dr. Anna's findings. Regrettably, milk sickness continued to claim lives until the early nineteen hundreds. After years of research, scientists finally confirmed [in 1928] that tremetol from white snakeroot was, indeed, the primary cause of milk sickness."


Good pasture management made milk sickness a thing of the past for commercial dairy farmers. If you raise animals that forage for food, it will benefit you to learn the white snakeroot plant.


Please contact me at wlsngang@verizon.net with any questions.


Jeobirdy Answer: Poke gets its name from this Indian word.


Jeobirdy Question: What is "pokan"? This means any plant used to produce a red or yellow dye. If any reader knew this answer, please contact me for a special prize!


Jeobirdy Answer: Ants are a favorite food of Northern Flickers and Pileated Woodpeckers. According to a recent study, this is the approximate number of ants int he world.


Jeobirdy Question: What is 20 quadrillion? Or a 2 with 16 zeroes behind it. Their weight is greater than the weight of all birds and land mammals.


Jim Wilson

Birder/Arboretum volunteer

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