Good Bye to Pokeberry Hill...


Friday, July 11, 2008

In Pokeberry This Morning

I've been so busy the past couple weeks--getting ready for a little vacation and taking one, having a medical test, getting back to work where it is BUSY because of summer reading etc, and having someone come to appraise the house we are renting--thus throwing me into a tizzy of 'picking up stuff'. My landlord is trying to refinance his pmi so he needed a good showing and I wanted to ensure that. He assures me he is NOT selling the house. Which is good, cuz for the first time in the past 4 years I do not want to move this year. So anyhoo I've been like a chicken with her head cut off around here, trying to get things done that never get done all the way. (almost normal)

Today I'm at home and washing my sheets and other laundry and won't be using the clothesline as I generally do for about half our laundry. We're in a rainy spell here, it has been rainy on and off for days and will continue a little while. I'm also planning to go out and pick beans and squash and eggplant and tomatoes and cukes--whatever is ready and 'deal with that'. I've been resorting to freezing more lately than canning cuz I'm so busy.

Something I've forgotten to mention about gardening is that you always have something good on hand to give away. I brought some of my tomatoes to work and they all found good homes. Folks are worried about the latest salmonella scare so they hadn't been buying tomatoes. I also promised a friend at work some of my eggplant tomorrow when I come in and she has promised to give me her recipe that uses them. I need more eggplant recipes cuz my eggplant plant has been too too generous. Whenever I walk out in the garden and see that japanese eggplant again fully loaded with long skinny purple things I say:

"oh no, you shouldn't have." and it just says, "oh but I did." and I reply again, "no, really, you can stop now!".

I had 2 eggplant recipes when summer began, I've since discovered three more, and my neighbors have also had some eggplant, so its only fair that my co-workers can try it too. ONE japanese eggplant is apparently sufficient.

Here in Pokeberry some wild things are growing nicely too. Right now the Poke Salet plant is in flower and beginning to form its berries. I will photograph one of those later when it is in its full glorious color. Poke Salet is a poisonous wild plant that grows here in North Carolina. You may have heard of Poke from an old song; "Poke Salet Annie the devil's got your granny." Anyhow although it is a poisonous plant, folks in the south have eaten the leaves for years. They only eat the early spring leaves and they pre-treat them first, I'm not all sure on the method but I believe it involves soaking, resoaking or cooking, draining and re-cooking in clean water. Its a 'spring tonic' green dish. As the season progresses the leaves get larger and tougher, the stems turn bright red and pretty clusters of white flowers appear followed by berries that go from pale green to dark juicy looking reddish black purple.

When I firt arrived in Charlotte there were a couple of poke plants on the property we were renting. It was fall and they had some berries on them and I observed that the Mocking birds had claimed those berries and would defend them from all comers. The next summer a wild poke came up in the middle of one of my flower beds and I encouraged it to stay as I loved the look of them. I researched the plant and found that the berries are very poisonous to people though the birds love them. I also found out that you need to soak the seeds in an acid for a few minutes to stratify them if you want to plant poke. You can't transplant poke very easily--unless it is very small, because it has a deep tap style of root. So I rely on birds to plant my poke. :)

I don't eat poke--just never had a hankering to try that. I love it however, its so pretty and I love to watch the birds in it. I used it to model a piece of jewelry I made a pin with those lovely colors in the shape of a cluster of poke berries. I also have used it in the house in vases when the berries are in various stages from flower to ripe. Last but not least I named Pokeberry --my garden, my 'personal world' and my blog, after Pokeberry.

So--when we came to look at this house before renting and I saw that there were some poke plants here and there along the fence, growing behind a neighbor's shrub where they escaped being cut out-- I was thrilled. Pokeberry the garden moved here last fall and though this may not be its permanent home in the long run--Pokeberry is quite content here.

Anyhow--the Poke is just getting going and will last well into fall and I just love it--you will see photos of it here in time.

Other things that are doing well now are my 4 o'clocks--though they don't seem to smell as heavily as the seed packets bragged. My big galvanized tub gardens from the thrift store tubs are gorgeous. I've moved one to the front yard and one is by the patio. The caladiums and elephant ears have taken off in them and in the one by the patio there is a cluster of bird planted sunflower and in the one out front there appears to be a 'volunteer' gourd or squash plant or maybe its a melon? Anyhow its doing well. Another volunteer I have is a tomato vine growing in one of my flower pots. The 'surprise' guests I think either came from birds here in Pokeberry or else maybe from my compost bin--as I did mix in some compost with my potting mix and it is possible it wasn't all the way 'cooked' so seeds got by there. No matter--it really looks very nice.

Anyhow, Pokeberry today is just nice. It is kind of dark out, but the birds don't mind. there are gold finches all over the thistle feeder hanging from the arch trellis and I see a poor humming bird is visiting--I really must clean out the hummer feeders! He/she will find nectar in flowers here too, but the sugar water feeders are sadly not in good shape as I have been too busy. I need to give that bird bath a good scrubbing too. I usually save 'old' well used green scrubby pads for wiping out my bird bath when it gets scummy. That will all need to be on the chore list today. Its my 'day off' ;) So I can get some work done. LOL.


  1. How do you do all that you do??? My goodness! I'm so glad you have Pokeberry, and hope you can stay where you are!

  2. Well... I haven't always gotten EVERY thing done I plan in a day, but I do get alot done usually. I have this thought that its best to 'do it' when it comes to most things. I feel better when I can look at something and see it done. Also I have a tendency to sit and when I do it makes me 'stiff' so always think its best to get moving around.