Staff Musings

Below you will find the staff musings from our 2019 catalog.

 

We asked our staff to tell you about a plant that is meaningful for them in some way. It's wide open - positive to negative, funny to serious.

Here is what they said.

Alex: This past year I absolutely fell in love with the brugmansia! Being fairly new to gardening I didn’t really know anything about these plants, but I was soon carried away, researching, learning and growing a big beautiful brugmansia of my own. I love the anticipation as each blossom grows larger, until finally opening in the cool evenings of the night. The scent is overwhelming, adding a soft, delicate, surprising sensation to summer evenings spent in the garden!

Amy: Roses are meaningful to me because that’s my middle name. I was born with rosy cheeks so presto – an easy and simple choice for my parents who grew up with complicated names, Marlys and Conrad. My family nickname is “Roses” or they also affectionally use my first and middle as a whole name “AmyRose” or “AmyRoses” with extra emphasis on the rose part. This is amusing to me - that I can’t just be called Amy. With that, I’ll bet they might also say that I am like a rose too – I can be sweet but I also have thorns! An interesting note is that the initials for the American Rose Society were my initials too growing up. Now they are ARK, as in Noah’s - which is funny too as I’ve been known to have interesting collections of animals. Anyway, I’ve enjoyed growing roses and got to know a lot more about them when I worked at a growing range that grew roses for cutting. I came away with some scars but also some favorite varieties: Hybrid Teas Kardinal, Fire & Ice, Pareo and the best smelling Sterling Silver along with the romantic spray rose Champagne. You’re probably wondering if there is a rose variety named Amy, right? I’ve always thought there should be! A recent search revealed that there is a mini named ‘Little Amy.’ I’m a fan because of my name but also because they are a fun challenge to grow, the blooms last cut or in the garden, are edible, fragrant and ornamental.

Annie: My plant is Poison Ivy. I grew up on the Big Sandy River in northern Minnesota. Our close neighbors tended the Corps of Engineers Dam on the river so I grew up with the Dam Tenders daughter. She was kind of a bully cuz her dad was “important.” At least she thought so since my dad was a “resort owner.” So on one particular day – I chased her home with a poison ivy because I never was allergic to it. But the lesson learned was a good case of poison ivy.

Babette: My first curiosity with plants came when my parents read Stalking the Wild Asparagus by Euell Gibbons. I recall tromping in our woods looking for fiddlehead ferns, not quite sure what we were looking for. Then the next thing I knew was the pleasure of the buttery, sautéed morsels. Salads became filled with mysterious seaweeds my father gathered on our beach, sometimes great and often a little scary. Garden weeds like chickweed, wood-sorrel and purslane made it into our meals as well. There was something magical about food being all around me and I never knew it. It brought out the living in the wild dream I loved in reading My Side of the Mountain (Jean Craighead George) about a boy living in the woods, taming a falcon, finding food. To this day it’s the giant bowl of spring nettles, the pine needle tea and healing plantain leaf poultices that thrill me. Foraging the land around me has been my entry into discovering the power of plants. It feels like a new relationship even though it began 50 years ago. But continuing to listen to this language of plants is a source of deep joy. The folks at Rush Creek Growers are incredible plant-people. I feel so blessed to be surrounded by so many plant mentors.

Becca: One of the first plants I learned to identify as a young child was Aquilegia canadensis but I knew it only as “Columbine.” It grew in a small raised flower bed in front of my childhood home. I had come to learn that you could pluck the nodding flowers from their spindly stems and nibble the nectar filled spurs protruding from the back of the blossom. Nature’s little “fruit snack.” Upon writing this blurb, I’ve discovered that parts of the plant are actually poisonous but it appears the flowers are OK, and have been used by historical people as a condiment to other fresh greens. I love seeing the variety of flower colors and shapes we grow here in the greenhouse, but the simple red and yellow flowers of Aquilegia canadensis will always hold a special place in my heart.

Dylan: The plant I’m most perplexed over is creeping charlie! A couple yards I work on have it starting or severe and one could call it job security. My family now calls it by a nickname as my niece thought it was Creepy Charlie, of course the proper name being glechoma hederacea. Ya It’s edible in the mint family and you can make tea high in vitamin C to help prevent scurvy but for most it is not desired near a nice landscaped garden and yard without chemicals - you have to use weed killers that include dicamba. And think about how it grows through all the other plants, you almost have to dig everything up, shake it down to the roots and start all over - IF you’re lucky it might not come back. I remember my old house with my pristine yard when I first moved in. We transplanted a lot of plants from other places, and about midway through I brought plants from my mom’s house. Her’s is one of the gardens I attend that has it bad, and so it creeped it’s way in and I tried but gave up and it continued creeping and every couple years I’d have to wrestle it back a bunch. I have to say I do kind of like the small purple flowers in the spring and it’s kind of neat seeing an old unkempt garden engulfed by it. But as we all know it’s take or leave it. Perhaps let some go way way way way off down a path away from the lawn and garden, but not where horses graze either as they’re affected by the toxins. Now can you see my puzzlement?!!

Eli: Although it’s very difficult not to choose chili peppers as an important plant in my life (because they are!!), I am going to go with Papaver orientale here. Yep, the classic grandma oriental poppy, as raised by the surrogate grandma of my childhood all along the east side of her house in small town Wisconsin. I love the mind blowing richness of their deeply saturated reds and oranges and how the black anthers contrast and make the color pop even more. I love the permanence of the plant – it can stick around for decades-- contrasted with the ephemerality of the bloom, as their glory lasts but a few days. If you’ve got a patch of oriental poppies, you have a home and have been there a while. Finally, I love the timing of the bloom as May turns to June; all the green growing life in our climate is still fresh and shiny, but the shy whites and lavenders of spring are making way for the punchy power of summer.

Gary: A plant that intrigued me this year was Senecio cephalophorus. Commonly called Orange Flame, Mountain Fire or Blazin’ Glory. It is a perennial succulent native to South Africa and we sold them in our annual foliage program this year. It grew in a Tera cotta pot to about a foot tall and consisted of very dense thick rubbery blue green foliage. It reminded me of Sigmund and the Sea monsters. It just hung out all summer never bothered by much of anything. It’s watering is minimal or not fussy. In September it began producing flower stems that stayed tight to the plant and the plump flower buds that all nodded down which is to form. I brought it in the house at the end of September to save it from frost and in October the flowers stretched up and out and opened to a brilliant orange, not dissimilar to a dandelion or marigold but a fancier petal form. It’s a keeper!

A plant that has become nothing but a problem for me and this year was out of hand were reseeding Morning Glories. I wished I would have never planted them 22 years ago. I have seen them ever since. This year was worse than ever and I am wondering if they may have shaded out my Clematis to death. I spent half the summer pulling seedlings but I could never get them all it seems. Be careful out there with what you plant!  

Genevieve: All plants inspire me and whatever plant I am working with is my favorite. I love the plants from RCG. They bring color, scent and foliage variations to my garden. Plants flavor my foods and provide me with medication. I am totally in love with Holy Basil as I just made an infused honey (super yummy) that I will use this cold season and the tincture helps me everyday adapt to the world. I love learning about new plants, their properties and how they can help us humans. I feel so grateful to have landed here at the greenhouse so I can deepen my knowledge of plants and because everyone here has been so lovely to work with.

Jan: For years I have had the goal of establishing a nice planting of Jack-in-the-Pulpit in my shade garden. The inspiration came to me one evening at the home of some dear friends who had Arisaema triphyllum growing everywhere in their yard. I was amazed. I have always loved this plant, and spotting one growing in the wild in spring, with its crazy, alien, hooded flower, always fills me with delight. I get downright giddy when I come across one that’s mature enough to come up to my knees in height. I have finally achieved my goal of Jacks sprouting up everywhere beneath my Silver Maple. I watch for them after the snow has melted and those early shoots begin to emerge. Arisaema triphyllum appear as thick, fleshy speckled protrusions that look more reptilian to me than plant-like. And this spring I began to spot them sprinkled everywhere amidst the Trillium and Bloodroot and Wild Ginger. Every day I would check on their progress and enjoy the gradual display of those wonderfully structured leaves and that oh-so special bloom. Some of my flowers, indeed, came up to my knees! While they become overshadowed through the summer by larger shade garden inhabitants, by fall they once again demand my attention with their striking bright red clusters of berries. This was one of my favorite plants to watch this past year. It does take several years to establish a nice patch, but the wait is well worth it.

Margy: I bought a Bay Laurel Tree for my herb garden in about 1990 in Minneapolis, probably at Bachman’s, and have moved it inside each year for the winter and put it in a West window. I unapt it and let it grow in the garden each summer. I still have that tree which is hard to move in and out now in its big tub even though I have trimmed it down so its crown can get sun inside it through the window. The Bay Laurel has wonderful shiny leaves, and its fresh bounty is readily at hand for cooking. I take the saddest leaves for cooking to keep its beauty in-tact. This tree has travelled in a trailer where it was battered and torn but it is still beautiful and thriving. Over the years I have grafted dozens of new plants to propagate its glory among friends. I love this plant because it has allowed my not very green thumb to look a bit more respectable.  

Melanie: My plant this year is Tulips! Tulips are a sign that winter is past and can look forward to warmer days and green grass. They offer array of colors to help brighten up your gardens and dull days. About 20 years ago my parents and I were in Holland. My mom bought some bags of tulips, still today those bulbs are still producing or their offspring is producing. I look forward to going back to Holland in the springtime to see all the tulips in full bloom!

Norma: I thought that maybe this year there wouldn’t be room in the catalogue for employee ramblings…I was wrong! Anyway, being that I grew up on Maple Grove Farm (Not Maple Grove, Minn) and now my herd prefix is Maple Gold Guernseys: of course the maple. The sugar maple has always been a part of my life. Right now their fall colors are at their peak of yellow and golds, leaves are blowing across the lawn and soon will be rakeable and then my houseplants will get more light and I will be able to see who drives by.

When I was growing up there were three maples in the yard, I could look out through my bedroom window and watch the robins build their nest and the squirrels explore and try to chase woodpeckers. Of course there was a swing and of course the three maples were very climbable (and still are) and of course we spent a lot of time under them.

Every spring we tapped the maples in one corner of our woods to make maple syrup. It was always an exciting time as spring was really here. The snow was melting and signs of new life were showing up. Despite all the work it was a family tradition and still is. We got used to watching the maples as they budded out, then leafed out so the woods were cool and shady. In the summer they blend in with the rest of the trees and become anonymous. But in a few short months they turn their glowing colors again and the cycle goes on.

Suzanne: I purchased this land in a September, so the following Spring, having grown up as a big fan of the woodland wildflowers, I was anxious to tromp through the woods to see who all lives here. I came upon a most magical small tree that was covered in demure yellow flowers that had opened before there were any leaves! They were covered by an amazing assortment of bees and flies. I had no idea who this tree was. Leatherwood, or Dirca palustris has become a special friend. I feel so lucky to live in this beautiful Rush River Valley where the Dirca thrives. I often walk through my little woods reconfirming in my mind the location of each individual and try to catch it at each turn, flowering, leaves, seeds. I love all kinds of plants. I admire the amazing array of niches and strategies and what they each offer to all the other beings. The super early flowers of the Dirca must be a special boon to all the insects who find their first fresh meal.

Tom: Lophospermum in hanging baskets have always been an amazing plant to me, in a good way, and a not so good way. There’s those very nice flowers, and those amazing long stems, which are very attractive, until you try to load a basket onto the carts we use to load onto the trucks and transport to customers. That’s when the Lophospermum is no longer a favor of mine.

Vicky: In the early 80’s, we bought a small farm in northern Wisconsin. Everything about it was beautiful and wondrous to me. The 4 square farm house was built in the 1890’s from timber on the land. A lovely fork of the Clam River meandered through the property. The owners were an elderly couple ready reluctantly to move to town. He had been born in that house. She had nurtured children, animals and plants on the land. One special plant to her was, of course, a bleeding heart that had come from her mother. Not only did I not kill the plant during our 13 years there but have been able to bring a piece of it with me to the next gardens in my life. Quite a traditional plant but one that holds a soft spot in my heart.

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