Friday, June 26, 2015

Tales From The Scenic Byway

I went out for my now more than quarterly roadside trash pickup while I wait and wait for my truck's rear end to get reorganized. I always manage to get a full heavy sack of trash and that is after emptying the half drunk plastic bottles of pop and the brown liquid spit from many others.

I've been going a little bit further down the road of late and cover a good half mile, both sides of the byway. I want the scenic byway to look good for the coming holiday weekend. It is sure to be busy - and generate a ton of trash.

The convicts that used to pick up trash under armed guard got replaced by some private company that pays the homeless or temp labor to pick it up. They actually made it up here about a month ago. My full sack is only a one month supply from the short section of highway I tend.

Litter is just plain rude.

My special find today was an intact well used bong.

Head straight out of town.
It's opener there in the wide open air.

Out there things can happen
and frequently do

Caltrops and bongs, can happen for you.

I also spied quite a bit of the native astilbe which I always took to be Goat's Beard and a big fat Spikenard, Aralia racemosa. I should check the Aralia for seed later this year.

It's drawing them in like moths to the front porch light after dark. I was headed down the drive with my sack full of goodies when I saw the car slow down. They turned around, came back and drove down the drive.

"We saw all the flowers and the art and thought this would be a good place to ask. Do you have any stinging nettle?"

Do I have any stinging nettle! Park your car and let me show you. Really? Yes really. You can have all the stinging nettle you want.

So these two women from Knoxville out on a road trip and I wandered into the deep forest where the stinging nettle lives in abundance. We have acres and acres of stinging nettle. Are you sure you have enough?

I have been reading now and again about people using, eating, drinking stinging nettle and I think you can't possibly mean the species I have. It's mean. The nettle they use must be something different. Last year I took an invasive plant class for my credits for my license to kill bugs and a plant I ID'd as a pilea species they called a stinging nettle. No way. It does not look anything like mine. I picked it up with my bare hands and nothing happened. Common names are a pain.

The ladies filled a few plastic sacks with the tops of nettle. I dug them up some rhizomes explaining it was a perennial. Plant them and next spring you'll know if they lived.

When they left I did some stinging nettle research. It turns out there are two species used for the same medicinal/edible purposes. A third species Pilea pumila without the stinging hairs is said to look like them and confuse folks. To me they look nothing alike. The pilea is a major weed here.

I have the native Wood Nettle, Laportea canadensis, identified by the alternate leaf arrangement of the mid to lower leaves. Stinging Nettle is Urtica dioica, a long established European import with opposite leaves.

Boy, do I have some stinging nettle.

This heat has been too much for Miss Collar. It is almost too much for me and since I could, I took a nap. Naps are good.

I took the ladies from Knoxville for a quick stroll through the garden. They were asking about plants they did not recognize. Their main interest seemed to be wild edibles and medicinals. I bet they did not expect to stumble upon a man in the wilderness who knows his weeds while out on a road trip. It was a fun encounter.

With no real concerted intent, just an acknowledgement of what was happening, it seems I have indeed created a roadside attraction. All I was trying to do was make my section of roadside pretty.

It's that unexpected wild chaotic pretty that is drawing them in.


Sallysmom said...

How old is Ms. Collar?

Lisa at Greenbow said...

What fun to have an interesting party arrived. Hate those stinging nettles. The birds plant them in my garden from time to time. I don'tlike them here. No you aren't going to convince me that I need some for butterflies or anything else. No.

Rebecca said...

Phrases such as "unexpected wild chaotic pretty" are the reason I say (and I repeat myself) you ought to write a book. I volunteer to edit it! I suggest starting by compiling your posts.....

I'm going to go check if I have any stinging nettle popping up in our beds. The frequent and intense rains we've been experiencing up here have nurtured the growth of weeds I've never seen before!

Unknown said...

Are you still finding Caltrops up there? That harkens back to the 15th century with the crossbows and catapults! Makes me paranoid driving way out in the country.

Christopher C. NC said...

Sallysmom Miss Collar came out of the forest when she was about 6 to 8 weeks old in the fall of 2008. I figure she was born in late August. That makes her almost seven now.

Lisa I ignore the stinging nettles in the deep forest except when I take a hike back there. Then I carry a big stick and smash them down to clear a path. Rest assured they are not allowed in the garden. Any creature that needs them can use them elsewhere.

Thanks for the encouragement Rebecca. All I can say is I hope my mind still works enough when I retire to do that. Stinging Nettle is one of the few plants that I have a strong reaction to. I am very careful around them.

Dana so far there has only been the one caltrop incident. Coming home today I saw another motorcycle crash. That happens a lot.

Lola said...

Naps are good. I know. Lol.

Carol McKenzie said...

In Britain they stuff a bucket full of stinging nettles, cover with water, and then after it turns to a brown foul-smelling bucket of yuck in a couple weeks, they mix it 10 to 1 with water and feed it to the veggies in the spring.

Christopher C. NC said...

Lola I get more naps in the winter when they are less needed.

Carol what I read about the nettle is it has a very high mineral content which makes for good nutrition. I'll stick with the dung for the vegetable garden though and eat it when we have a famine.

Carol McKenzie said...

The Brits appear to be either impervious to the stings, or their nettle is a milder version. Or the Brits are just nuts. They pick it bare-handed...watching them makes me cringe.