The Case for Sumac – Rhus typhina

I recently had a conversation with a coworker about the stand of staghorn sumac behind my home.  She asked if I used it in cooking.  I said no but  was aware that a cultivar of  sumac  was used generously in  Middle Eastern cooking. 

My primary reason for its continued cultivation was as a food source for those who share the gardens

Bluebird on sumac

Downy Woodpecker on sumac

American robin

and the visual appeal they provide for the human creatures who wander through.

Sumac Reflrctions

Sumac on the back slope

But if you’re wondering about sumac as a spice…

Sumac is a shrub which grows wild in the Mediterranean region, and this sumac is not toxic or poisonous. This non-poisonous variety also grows in other areas around the world and can be a colorful addition to home landscaping.Ground sumac is a dark red-burgundy color. As a dried berry, ground sumac has a nutty texture when used dry. It has a tart, sour lemon taste.

Using Sumac:

The use of sumac came to Greece from the Middle East where it is more widely used. In Greek cooking, sumac is used as a rub for grilled meats, and as a flavoring most notably on meats, in stews, and in pita wraps. It is also used in rice and vegetable dishes. Try adding a dash to the top of humus for a new taste treat.  from:
Oak leaf and Sumac berry

Sumac berry on pin oak leaf

The Honey Bee and The Snowdrop

Many gardeners know the plight of the European honey bee – Colony collapse disorder,  workers disappear and the hive soon dies out. Many theories have been suggested and studies have been undertaken to try to understand the dynamics of this disorder.

But what can the backyard gardener do short of taking up beekeeping?  A PBS article Nature gives many suggestions including planting flowers that bloom successively. Check out the article here Silence of the Bees.

Honey Bee and Snowdrop

So our heralds of spring not only help us recover from the Winter Blues they help our pollinators live on.

Honey Bee and Snow Drop - 2

Be sure to plant an array of nectar flowers that begin to bloom once Gaia is warmed by the rays of the sun until she pulls her white blanket tight around her body once again.

Snow Drop

Honey Bee and Snow Drop - 3

Stage Two – Caterpillars

In science class we learn about the transformative ability of the four winged flying insects that float and flit about our gardens.

Black Swallowtail Butterfly pupa

Black Swallowtail Butterfly pupa

Step One – The Egg

Black Swallowtail Butterfly laying egg on Dill plant

Black Swallowtail Butterfly laying egg on Dill plant

Step Two – The Caterpillar

Juvenile Black Swallowtail CaterpillarBlack swallow tail caterpillar

A somewhat uniform shape

But an array of color, texture and patterns

Spicebush Swallowtail Caterpillar

Spicebush Swallowtail Caterpillar

Milkweed Tussock moth Caterpillafs

Milkweed Tussock moth Caterpillars

Saddleback Caterpillar

Saddleback Caterpillar

Tussock Moth Caterpillar

Tussock Moth Caterpillar

Woolly Bear Caterpillar

Wooly Bear Caterpillar

Varagated Fritillary Caterpillar

Variegated Fritillary Caterpillar

Butternut Wooly Moth

Butternut Wooly Moth

Another Creative Endeavor – Interpreting the Natural World

Most posts on this blog focus on the world as I see it through the lens of a camera.


Yesterday I blogged how another blogger interpreted those photos.

Today I add yet another post on interpretation.

I love sculpture in the garden.  Unfortunately I, as many people, do not have the disposable income which allows one to purchase said sculptures.  So as many gardeners do, I scrap, salvage and create.

Cowslips and Hellebores in the lower garden

Cowslips and Helleborus punctuated by a discarded cement pipe with a bowling ball on top

With this is mind I have learned how to turn sand, cement and peat moss into leaves that adorn the garden year round.

Hypertufa leaves and pots curing

Hypertufa leaves and pots curing

Hypertufa leaf ready to be revealed

Hypertufa leaf ready to be revealed

Completed Hypertufa leaves and pots

Completed Hypertufa leaves and pots

Now into the gardens

Hypertufa Leaves creep up a Black Walnut tree

Hypertufa hosta

Hypertufa hosta in winter

Hypertufa leaf

Hypertufa leaf accent

What inspires you?

Calling Friends, Artists and All Onlookers

One quiet winter afternoon I was looking for one more thing to do as the ice and snow had continued to hold me captive inside.

Bank Barn in Winter

I had never googled my blog so I thought this might be an interesting activity.  Photos I had posted during the last three years filled the screen.  Then a painting appeared. I thought I recognized it.  Intrigued I clicked on the photo and discovered a post dated April 16, 2012 by Maria Zarif.  I was so honored that someone had chosen a photograph I had taken to use as a catalyst for her inspiration!

I share that photo, a link to her post and her painting.

Red Tulip 2

The Beat

And then I had an idea.  I want to ask friends, artists and all onlookers who stop by this blog to take a moment from their busy schedule to choose a photo and create!  Have fun, don’t get bogged down in the details, just create! I would like to ask you to please stop back and share your creation!

I might even give it a go!

As a post script watercolors I had created more than 3 decades ago I honored by taking photos of in their new incarnation.         As I shared earlier don’t worry about the details

Paintings and Portraits


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