Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Green Swamp Preserve

Last week the weather was blessedly cooler than normal for mid-June, and my husband and I drove up to the Green Swamp Preserve from Ocean Isle Beach, just to see what we could see.

Brunswick County, North Carolina is home to more rare species (112) than any other county in the state, and a total of over 400 vascular plant species have been identified there.

The borrow pit pond you see here is ringed with our first exciting find...sundew!

See the reddish "grass?"  That is the sundew.  This is a spoonleaf type (Drosera intermedia?), but there are threadleaf sundews as well. (We missed those this time.)

Insects stick to the droplets on the "spoons" and then the plant rolls up around them.  Inside these Drosera death cocoons, their guts are dissolved and absorbed, helping the plant satiate its appetite for nitrogen.

Sundew was so thick in some areas, it was hard to avoid stepping on it.  Will they dissolve your toes?  I'll never tell.

Speaking of which, do not wear flip-flops to the Green Swamp. I don't need to tell you that, do I? I saw someone hiking around a waterfall in high heels at Yosemite last summer, so I thought I would mention it, just in case. It's not wet in the savannas where you will likely spend most of your time, but you need good coverage because of the brush and insects. And the sundews.


The Green Swamp Preserve, Wildlife South - An excellent article about visiting the swamp.  Wish I had read it before I went!

Friday, March 6, 2015

While we wait …

I hope today is the last blast of winter around here, but while we all wait for warmer temperatures and time in our gardens, we can take a look at The Herb Lover's Spa Book, and maybe use the time indoors to make something special for ourselves or someone else.

This little book by Sue Goetz is subtitled, "Create a Luxury Spa Experience at Home with Fragrant Herbs from Your Yard." It might inspire you to plant more herbs this spring in addition to giving you something to make right now.

The simplicity of the recipes is a plus. Few call for more than three or four ingredients, or as many steps. This makes it easy to personalize and adapt the recipes in any number of ways to suit yourself.

I'll be making the Lavender Heat Pillow (above left) first thing. I have a drug store equivalent which gets daily use, but which doesn't look as pretty or smell as nice. I love the idea of making my own. Rice, lavender buds, and a towel or bit of fabric, and I can have as many as I want for very little money. Just pop into the microwave for a minute to warm it and make it release its soothing fragrance.

There are also body splashes and bath soaks and teas, foot scrubs and hand cream and body oils. But recipes are only about half of the book.

I enjoyed Sue Goetz' thoughtful observations about the spa experience, garden design, defining herbs, and the history of natural cosmetics. There are tips on selecting plants, and a list of 19 favorites with culture and use notes. She has packed a lot into this 8 1/2 x 6 inch, 172 page book—it's herb growing and crafting made relevant for today. And it's pretty, too.


The Herb Lover's Spa Book by Sue Goetz, St. Lynn's Press (2015), 172 pages, $18.95

I was given a copy to review if I wanted to, which I did, because I like it and think you will, too.