Barbara’s Favorite Flowers: Water Iris & Duck Weed
Iris Pseudacorus – Water Iris – what a phenomenal bog plant to use in the water garden! This is one of the more robust Iris. The tall, thick leaves contrast well in the spring with tall spikes of bright yellow flowers. This plant grows up to 5 feet tall, with yellow flowers on stalks towering above. It’s best to place in the back of the bog with cattails, etc. This picture of the “swamp” at Willow Creek looks like it’s framed by the Black Willow branches. Water iris, is also instrumental in natural water purification systems. The roots then improve water quality by consuming nutrient pollutants, such as from agricultural runoff.
Duck Weed, Lemnoideae – Notice, the green plant floating on top of the water ? This is Duck Weed. Many people think that it is algae or something slimy but when you look at it closely you realize it is lots of tiny individual green platelet plants. Duck Weed Lemnoideae is wonderful and many faceted. Duck Weed is an important high-protein food source for waterfowl and is also eaten by humans in some parts of Southeast Asia. As it contains more protein than soybeans, it is sometimes cited as a significant potential food source. I scoop it from the swamp with a pool skimmer, and feed it to my chickens as a great green protein enriched snack. The chickens love it and return the favor with brilliant orange, super healthy yolks! The tiny plants provide cover for many aquatic species. The plants are used as shelter by pond water species such as turtles and frogs. They also provide shade and, although frequently confused with them, can reduce certain light-generated growths of photoautotrophic algae, which can cause overgrowth problems.
Duck Weed aids in nitrate removal, and are important in the process of biomediation, because they grow rapidly, absorbing excess mineral nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphates. Duck Weed is now touted as water purifiers of untapped value and also may be used for waste water treatment to capture toxins, and control odor.
If a mat of Duck Weed is maintained during harvesting for removal of the toxins captured thereby, it prevents the development of algae and controls the breeding of mosquitoes, our perennial pest in South Jersey!
A plant that is familiar to many is a favorite to Barbara, especially the ones at Willow Creek and Southern Mansion. Here’s why!
My Peony Patch at the Willow Creek Vineyard includes several hundred heirloom peonies, salvaged from a historical West Cape May peony garden on Landis Ave and mixed in with other fabulous hybrids. I remember seeing the “Peonies For Sale” sign off of Broadway for years and buying dozens of them from a delightful little lady in her 90’s. Her son maintained the Peonies for many years later, and finally he offered the plants for sale. Needless to say, I purchased the entire lot and established them in my Vineyard gardens. Now as these are old-fashioned peonies, they are more in the anemone, or semi-double style, as compared to the more outrageous, modern, hybridized varieties, but their delicious sweet scent and beauty are unforgettable.
These fleeting, over-blown, decadent blossoms are the stuff of dreams and bridal fantasy. These are flowers that are purely over-the-top. A huge bouquet of peonies in a crystal vase next to your bed or on a marble counter in front of your bathroom mirror is exquisite. Peony season is short-lived in early May; the Chinese, or tree peony, blooms first. Tree peonies originated in Asia and can live hundreds of years. Certain colors and varieties are in such high demand that they command millions of dollars. The herbaceous peony has a soft stem that comes up from the bare earth every year, but it shares the Asian ancestry and delicious blossoms. Peonies are also very popular motifs in classic Asian art and Museum quality tattoos. They are known as the King of Flowers in China.
Peony flower type varies tremendously as they become more complex in their arrangement of petals. The flower types include Single, Japanese, Anemone, Semi-Double, and Bomb-Double. Herbaceous peonies die back in the winter and regrow in the spring, while tree peonies lose their leaves in winter, but leave woody stems.
I hope you enjoy the gorgeous peonies at Southern Mansion and Willow Creek Winery as much I do!
Platycodon grandiflorus, is a great hardy perennial for your garden border. Here is why Barbara loves it:
She reproduces and reseeds well, which is always an added bonus (it produces lots of babies to gift your gardening aficionado friend’s with). In the family Campanulaceae (like several of my favorite waterfall and Canterbury bells), but she is the only member of the genus from the Greek meaning broad bells.
A Native of East Asia, she bears big, blue flowers, which start off in lovely swelling buds that for all the world resemble wonderful puffy balloons.
Medicinally, the root of this particular species is used as the base for many age-old natural, and commercially prepared remedies for colds and coughs. You can also use them in salads and soups!
I hope you enjoy this beauty Platycodon as much as I do!
Queen Anne’s Lace Daucus carota, a wild carrot, is a wonderful flowering biennial that is native to Europe, but naturalized all over North America. Here is what Barbara has to say about this wild carrot:
Related to carrot (Daucus Carrota) you can eat the root when young, (it tastes and smells like carrot) but it gets nasty and woody as it matures.
Women have used the seeds from Daucus carota for centuries as a contraceptive, the earliest written reference dates back to the late 5th or 4th century B.C. appearing in a work written by Hippocrates. “The seeds, harvested in the fall, are a strong contraceptive if taken orally immediately after coitus.” I can not speak to the efficiency but it certainly is interesting historically.
How long have you been working at Willow Creek? About 5 months
What is your position? Administrative Assistant
What is your favorite part of the Willow Creek family? How hard we all work, and how much we laugh and have fun together
What do you hope to accomplish within the company? To get more familiar with all departments and taste my way through the wine list
What is your favorite wine? Blackberry Merlot
If you could switch jobs with anyone at Willow Creek, who would it be an why? Any of the hostesses. Those ladies work so hard, but make it look so easy. I’d love a day in their shoes to see what they really deal with. Or Barbara so I could learn the business side of things.
What is your proudest moment so far at Willow Creek? Winning Best Non-Traditional Ugly Christmas Sweater at our 1st Annual Ugly Christmas Sweater Party.
What advice do you have for new hires? Be patient, be kind, be Wilde.
And last but not least, if Hollywood made a movie about your life, who would you like to see cast as you? My girl crush, Blake Lively.