Shawnee News-Star Weekender 30 November 2019 Becky Emerson Carlberg The Pilgrims on the Mayflower docked Dec. 16th 1620 at Plymouth Harbor.  The Plymouth colonists settled in Patuxet, an empty Wampanoag village whose people either died from the plague introduced by European traders in 1616 or had been taken as slaves by European explorers.  The winter […]

Shawnee News-Star Weekender 30 November 2019

Mountain Lemon Marigold in the greenhouse

Becky Emerson Carlberg

The Pilgrims on the Mayflower docked Dec. 16th1620 at Plymouth Harbor.  The Plymouth colonistssettled in Patuxet, an empty Wampanoag village whose people either died fromthe plague introduced by European traders in 1616 or had been taken as slavesby European explorers.  The winter of1620-1621 was brutal and over half the Pilgrim colony, many of them women,perished.

Because the Pilgrims had women and children, the indigenous Wampanoag looked upon the Pilgrims as peaceful people and the two cultures entered into a treaty of mutual protection.  That first Thanksgiving followed a good harvest.  Four Pilgrims went out bird hunting and the Wampanoag heard the gunfire.  Alarmed the Pilgrims were under attack, Chief Massasoit came with 90 warriors to give aid.  They were invited to eat but there was not enough food.  Massasoit's men killed five deer and presented them to the Chief of the English town, William Bradford, in a Wampanoag gift giving ceremony.  The three-day feast in November of 1621 was prepared by the surviving four women, children and servants.  Deer, wild turkey, cod, bass and Indian corn were probably on the menu.

My Thanksgiving centerpiece

Things continued amicably for several years, but Puritans camein droves and numbers of colonists continued to rise, forcing the Wampanoags offtheir lands. With an alliance of other tribes, Philip, Wampanoag leader and sonof Massasoit, chief who befriended the Pilgrims, went to war against thecolonists in 1675-1676.  He was killedalong with 40% of his tribe.  Other membersof the tribe were sold into slavery and sent to colonists in New England (includingPhilip's wife and kids), Bermuda or the West Indies. 

During the Civil War, the families who settled on the slopesof Rich Mountain just inside the Arkansas border also weren't so lucky. Theside of the mountain had poor soil, no water and often experienced strongwinds.  Why they settled there remains amystery.  One wicked winter storm blew infrom Oklahoma.  A mother of severalchildren (husband that had either died or was fighting in the Civil War) was runninga fever.  She sent her teenage daughterto get water at the spring down in the valley. It is said the girl was chased by starving wolves, shimmied up a treeand was found days later frozen stiff in the tree.  The winter continued to be brutal and somefamilies ran out of their meager food supplies before spring and starved.  

To temper these harsh bites of reality, look to the words in'Come, Ye Thankful People.'  Thisreligious song praises God and gives thanks for the harvest.  'Prayer of Thanksgiving' is anotherfaith-based song where 'We gather together to ask the Lord's blessing.'  Songs of thankfulness and thanksgiving.  Not heard as often in today's world.  Whatever your belief, don't take things forgranted and be thankful for what you have. 

Switch gears.  Could you be a Rockette?  My mother loved watching the synchronized high kicking Radio City Rockettes in front of Macy's during the Thanksgiving Day parade.  Each lady is under contract with the American Guild of Variety Artists from September to January.  She must be between 5'6'-5'10' and trained in tap dancing, jazz and ballet.  Each dancer is responsible for her own makeup, must be able to change costumes in less than 78 seconds and expected to kick up to 1,200 times per day.  For this a Rockette is paid about $1500/week (total $38,000), but it does come with benefits.  Thirty six are on stage during a performance with four understudies.  Counting both morning and evening shows, there are about eighty Rockettes all geared to liven the Christmas season by performing four times a day.  Powerful talent.

The marigold blooms!  Inthe greenhouse is a plant going crazy with yellow blossoms.  The Mountain Marigold, Tagetes lemmonii, (CopperCanyon Daisy, Mountain Lemon Marigold or Mexican bush marigold) is native tonorthwestern Mexico and Arizona.  Theperennial, wrapped in highly aromatic thin leaves, can reach 8 feet tall, butblooms in the fall.  My mountain lemonmarigold has exploded into full bloom inside the greenhouse.  When it goes outside next spring, thismarigold stops blooming and turns into a leafy shrub.  The plant was labeled French Marigold.  Wrong.

Mountain Lemon Marigold closeup

Someone stuck in the French tag and my plant has been underthe erroneous impression it is French.  I'llhave to break the news gently by saying Au revoir, wait a few minutes, thengreet the marigold in Spanish with Hola Amigo and all the Spanish I know:  taco, queso, and si.  

Botanist Sarah Plummer Lemmon saw these marigolds on her wayup a mountain 9,159 feet high.  She wasthe first white woman to ascend Babad Do'ag in the Catalina Mountains north ofTucson Arizona.  In the Tohono O'odhamlanguage, Babad Do'ag (pronounced Bob-ott doe-awk) means Frog Mountain.  The gutsy lady, her husband and a rancher madethe climb in 1881.  The mountain waslater named Mount Lemmon.

Mountain lemon marigolds are semi-evergreen.  In their native areas they bloom from August to November, grow along streams or moist grasslands or on cliffs of the Sonoran Desert Mountains beyond 9000 feet in altitude. The flowers, about one inch in diameter, look like bright cheerful yellow daisies.  Drought and heat tolerant, these odiferous marigolds can become quite leggy.  When stems land on ground, they will root and form new little marigolds.  My plant rooted and sprouted clones of itself in mulch.  This is one marigold extremely resistant to spider mites. Deer and rabbits find the plant offensive, along with my husband who exclaims 'it stinks' whenever he brushes against the marigold in the greenhouse.

The impressively Huge Crinum Lily bulb.

Crinum lilies anyone? Crinum lily bulbs appeared at the last Master Gardener meeting, waitingfor new homes. They were hidden in black plastic bags and paper sacks.  I opened up one sack and eyeballed the largestbulb I have ever seen.  How spectacularthat lily could be in the Japanese Peace Garden. 

What was I thinking? This gigantic food storage organ with the thick foot long stem was thesize of a cannon ball and probably weighed 40 pounds. The Japanese Peace Garden?Trying to dig a hole one foot deep in that soil would require an auger, thetool used to dig holes for other plants there. The dense wet clay refuses todrain and enshrouds shovels with pounds of pottery quality substrate.  

The subtropical Crinum lily, native to warm areas in America and Africa, thrives along streams, in swamps and marshes.  This cemetery plant found in southern plantations can grow to 6 feet, and operates best in moist, well-drained soil from spring through fall to facilitate the production of slender long leaves and masses of showy flowers.  Like the Oleander, all parts of the plant are poisonous.  

Crinum Lily in deep mulch.

Instead of being in the Japanese Peace Garden, a huge holewas excavated to the east of my house near the Compass plant.  The bulb was sunk deep into  sandy clay soil with a mountain of mulchheaped over the entire lily enterprise. If it survives, the two big perennials can become buds, or make buds, ordrink Buds, whatever.