From simple expressions of everyday social interactions to health-giving and healing substances that make life itself and its enjoyment possible, plants of all kinds enrich and sustain the human experience.
For example, do you know what flower the socially conscious friends of Julius Caesar absolutely had to have planted in the gardens of their Roman villas?
How did the rugged and visionary pioneers of the American West cope with problems caused by the lack of modern food refrigeration in their new wilderness home?
If a mental patient in ancient Egypt had gone to his physician for help with a serious condition, the doctor would likely have treated him with a concoction containing what common herb?
What delicacy might an Inca chieftain in pre-Colombian South America have expected to see on his dinner plate? What herb would an ancient Chinese doctor, and maybe even some modern-day Chinese ones, use to treat a bleeding wound?
A hardy pioneer woman of the American West frontier would have prized what common flower as a complement to her bath and grooming necessities?
An herb that is commonly used today is named in the Bible's Book of Ruth. Do you know what herb it is? This member of the mint family gives your marinara sauce a unique flavor you recognize and love. Do you know the name of this mint-family herb?
If you are letting the summer slip away by without learning the fun and interesting answers to these and other questions, then you'll want to schedule a visit soon to Fort Uncompahgre.
There, director Ken Reyher has planted the answers to the above questions and more in the Fort Garden - a blooming history lesson on the plants and herbs that have been useful to mankind in its earthbound odyssey since the beginning.
Ken has tended a vegetable garden at the Fort in past years. But while browsing seed catalogs he hit upon the idea of an herb garden filled with plants that the local pioneers would have known about and valued for their various uses.
The result this year is a Fort Garden containing over 33 varieties of flowering plants and herbs that helped your great-great grandparents make it through another day in paradise on the Western frontier.
A visitor to the garden will find varieties of mint: lemon, pepper, spear, and the one that flavors your spaghetti sauce.
Along with Julius Caesar's favorite flower you'll find Roman carrots, a little orange root that is a far cry from the comparative delicacy we enjoy today.
There are lots of plants you won't expect to see in the local garden club tour. There are African daisies, Chinese salacious, horehound used today as 200 years ago as a cough suppressant, yarrow, huckleberry, amaranth, Aztec Spinach, flax, soapwort, sunflower, balsam, Chinese noodle beans, asparagus beans and other plants humans have found useful for centuries.
You'll also be able to see an example of the one-time king of the healing herb universe - Virginia tobacco. If you decide to go, call Ken Reyher at the Fort to schedule a tour, 874-8349.
And when you arrive don't be alarmed by the swarms of leaf cutter bees. They are another historical artifact of the local area, Ken explains.
The don't sting, but they are prodigious pollinators that were brought to this area in the last century as an aid to the county's agricultural industry.
They live in "bee boards" - chunks of hardwood with drilled-out cubbies that the individual bees build their nests in using cuttings taken from the Fort Garden's own plants.
And, don't forget to sign the guest book, it helps keep Fort Uncompahgre going.blog comments powered by Disqus