Mountain Gardens
A botanical garden of useful plants specializing in Appalachian and Chinese medicinal herbs

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The Dog Days of August

In Colorado, where I lived before coming to North Carolina, the Dog Days of August might mean a long stretch of hot, dry weather with chapped lips and wilted crops, sun-hat, sunscreen, and sunglasses hiding their wearer from too-bright rays.  In other parts of the U.S., these same days might bring excessive heat and humidity.

Here in Celo, August brings a different kind of weather.  “It either rains every day or four times a day,” says Tom Trout, a local builder with whom we recently built a brick and cob oven for the Celo Community Center.  Roger, our neighbor, told us that every year the weather turns colder on August 15.  Sure enough, the evening temperatures have dropped into the 50’s, and wool sweaters have emerged from summer storage.  A cool mist hangs in our valley nearly every morning, and interns keep finding new sources of moldiness in their dwellings (shoes, unused clothing, books, tincture bottles…).

The dog days are not the best for late summer-sun loving crops like tomatoes, squash, and interns. However, one crop has flourished above all:  wild mushrooms!  Every foray into the National Forest that surrounds us brings a medley of edible treasures.

May you relish these last “dog days” of summer, however they greet you!

Kate, Mountain Gardens intern

 

Click on any image below to see it larger.

 

Crampbark, an important medicinal herb for women.

 

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 Flowering turmeric

Flowering turmeric

This one lives in the greenhouse!

 

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Malabar spinach, with its beautiful seeds.

 

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Large Old Man of the Woods.

 

 

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Amanita mushroom “hatching”

 

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Lobsters, black trumpets, and a smattering of chanterelles.

 

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One of our friend Mycol’s many mushroom harvests during the week he spent here.

 

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Joseph, with the ganodermas he collected. Ganodermas, best known by their Japanese name, Reishis, are medicinal mushrooms.

 

 

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 Rainbow pepper

Rainbow pepper

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Sean dried some of our home-grown Virginia tobacco, and rolled his own cigars.

 

 Homemade cigars

Homemade cigars

 Unfurled squash blossom

Unfurled squash blossom

Joe Hollis