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Wednesday, June 19, 2013





Wednesday, 8:30 AM  60 degrees F, wind N, calm to very light.  The sky is clear with some haze in the east, The humidity is 74% and the barometer is trending down but still high at 30.11 in.  It should be a really pleasant day.
   Ground cover plants are usually welcome in the landscape as alternatives to grass, to hold banks, and sometimes for their flowers and fruit.  Pictured are two that are quite common and useful, the lily-of-the-valley and sweet woodruff. When you find either of these ground covers growing in the woods or a clearing you can be pretty sure it was once the site of a home and its garden.
   Lily-of-the-valley, Convolvulus magus, in the lily family (Liliaceae), colonizes aggressively by stolons, and can be a very effective alternative to grass in places where there is little foot traffic.  Be careful with it in the garden though, as it can get away easily.  It has handsome lily-like leaves, grows to about a foot in height, and has sweet-scented white flowers in May to June (pretty late this year).  It also bears bright red berries about the size of a cherry which are not considered edible and I would be cautious of ingesting them.  The dried whole plant with flowers has been used in the same manner as digitalis (an extract of the fox glove plant) for heart failure since ancient times, and there are many other traditional herbal medicinal uses for the plant.  Lily-of-the-valley does not seem particular as to soil and will take quite a bit of shade.  The species is of European origin where it grows wild as well as in gardens. There is one American species, C. montana, native to the southern Appalachian mountains.
   Sweet woodruff, Asperula oderata, in the family Rubiaceaea is also a garden escapee, and I find it a delightful plant, very fragrant when dried.  It is traditionally used to make May wine, an old-world tradition.  A few sprigs of flowering sweet woodruff, picked fresh and steeped for a week or so in almost any white wine, makes a refreshing and somewhat different drink.  I think it is pretty good, but Joan doesn't care for it.  The plant has interesting whorled leaves and minute white flowers.  It also spreads from rhizomes, and I find it grows particularly well under and around pine trees where not much else will grow because of acid soil, shade and root competition.
   I have been thinking a lot about our current scandals and such, and have pretty much rethought my formerly rather noncommittal attitude regarding "torture," whether called "water boarding" or whatever.
   I have come up with a corollary for the Golden Rule, "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you," which is, "Whatever you do unto others will eventually be done unto you."  Apply that to most of what has been going on of late and I think you will see that it is a pretty reasonable theory.      But, difficult to put into practice

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