Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Plants fit for a potion

Several days ago at our local park, I was taking some photos and felt a theme coming together. Something about the light at that time of evening and the unique plant names I saw made me feel like I was in a fairytale. The kind of fairytale where a witch lives in a forest and goes out to collect plants for her brew.

So after noticing a few unique plant names, I started looking for the most witch's brew-worthy ones I could find. If you're ready to use a little bit of imagination, you can take a fairytale tour of our local park and gardens with me.

Care to take a trip into the woods? Legend has it that there's a garden of magical plants on the other side of this forest. People say there is a witch who lives near these woods and collects the magical plants nearby for her secret potions. Let's see if we can find some of those plants...

Deeper and deeper into the forest we go...

There is a wise old tree gnome in this enchanted forest. Can you see him?

The tree gnome says "Just walk straight down this path and you will make it to the forest's clearing. You'll know you're in the right place, because you'll find a magic walking stick. Take it with you and you'll be sure to find all the magical plants you're looking for." Sure enough, at the forest's clearing it appears that someone has left you a walking stick for your journey:

And here is the herb garden!

What will we find here?

Our first find is The Wooly Woundwort:

Yes, this is as soft as it looks!


Sneezewort has some cool, patterned leaves:


I wanted to see the results of boiling the roots/leaves of this plant, so I looked up some videos. You can get some pretty good lather out of these flowers! I was surprised to also find tons of recipes and soapwort products for sale!

Sneezeweed (not to be confused with Sneezewort)

Rough Horsetail:

It looks a lot like bamboo and has these cool little pinecone things:

Snake's Head Fritillary:

I love the name of this one, but it turns out I didn't take a picture of it! I took photos of three other plants, not knowing which was the Snake's Head. Turns out, this is a spring flower. So that's why it wasn't there. I had to look up Snake's Head Fritillary to see what it actually looks like. It's beautiful:

The Snake's Head Fritillary - A Chequered History

I'm trying to figure out the "Snake's Head" name. Maybe the checks on the flowers look like a diamondback snake? Those snakes have check type shapes on them anyway.

Dark Vader Lungwort

How threatening does this sound? Even the "Lungwort" part. It's a cute little polka-dot plant, though.

Primal Scream Daylily:

Prince Tut Papyrus

This made me wonder if there's a King Tut Papyrus that's maybe larger. I took a look and yes there is: King Tut Papyrus And yeah, King Tut is pretty big. The King can grow 48-72 inches tall!

Bonefish Coleus:

These really do resemble fish skeletons, don't they?

Dark Towers Beardtongue:

Dark Towers is a foreboding name. It makes me think of Dark Shadows. And the "Beardtongue" part is pretty creepy too if you visualize it. I wonder where that came from? OK, I just looked that up and got a result that has nothing to do with this photo. Supposedly, some types of beardtongue have the appearance of a hairy tongue protruding from a mouth. Eww.

It has a fittingly Gothic look for a plant named "Dark Towers".

Last but not least, Elvis Lives:

Appropriately, it looks like "The King" of hostas. It's massive!

So here we have what sounds like the perfect ingredients for a Witch's brew:

Wooly Woundwort
Rough Horsetail
Snake's Head Fritillary
Dark Vader Lungwort
Primal Scream Daylily
Prince Tut Papyrus
Bonefish Coleus
Dark Towers Beardtongue
Elvis Lives

Wow, what do you think would happen if those were all mixed together?

Well, you have the chance to find out because guess whose house we've come across!

I think she'll be nice enough to cook us up some of our little finds from the garden. The kind old witch says we picked the winning combination for a lucky brew!

Well, after finding all these mysterious plants, and sampling some brew, it's time to head home. There are some curious creatures to see on the way back, like this friendly fish.

He looks so happy because he spotted that clover. The purple fish ate the clover right after I took this picture.

Another cool creature in the park was the hummingbird moth. If you've ever seen one of these, you know why they have that name. You'll see a large buzzing flying critter coming toward a flower and swear it's a hummingbird, but on closer inspection it's an insect.

I've seen orangish ones like in the first photo, but I'd never seen one with yellow stripes before. Their wings move incredibly fast, so they're a challenge to photograph.

Well, here's your entrance back to the woods. Hope you enjoyed this garden tour!

P.S. ~ A little piece of trivia: The word "wort" in a plant's name comes from the old English word "wyrt". "Wyrt" means "plant". You can go back further with the word and read a list of "wort" plants here: List of Worts