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Friday, August 31, 2012

Festival oF Gardens

Associated Press

Ligularia stenocephala, with its tall wands packed loosely with small, yellow flowers, borders a vegetable garden.

Ligularia: 1 genus, 2 different flowers By LEE REICH For The Associated Press Ligularia sounds like some kind of pasta or seafood, but no, it’s a plant, a perennial flower that has captured my fancy. I should say “flowers,” because there are two species of ligularia that could captured one’s fancy. Despite some similarities, they differ in their effect on the garden scene. Big leaves and pretty flowers, to boot The aptly named bigleaf ligularia (Ligularia dentata) sports large, leathery, kidney-shaped leaves. With age, the plant billows over the ground like a green cumulus cloud 3 or 4 feet tall and wide. The leaves have some purple in them — quite a bit in the case of the variety Desdemona, whose leaves start out pure purple. As the leaves expand, their topsides turn green, but the purple color is retained below. Like hosta, big-leafed ligularia could earn a place in the garden just for its leafy show. And as with hosta, a floral show adds icing to this cake. Big-leafed ligularia’s flowers are 5-inch-diameter yellow daisy heads that snuggle just above the foliage in late summer. Flowers of the variety Sungold are a bit more prominent, hovering higher above the cloud of foliage. Graceful wands of small, yellow blossoms The other ligularia, Ligularia stenocephala, has no common name. The variety called The Rocket is what you usually see of this plant, and that name comes close to describing this ligularia’s Please see FLOWER on E3

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Barclay Friends horticultural program benefits from tour with tomatoes, asking for a bit of advice from Breen. Now in its third sumFor eight years, the gar- mer, the garden boasts 23 dens at Barclay Friends plots filled with tomatoes, retirement community in cabbage, beans, cantaWest Chester have benefit- loupes and peppers. Some ted from the gardens of the are planted and mainWest Chester community tained by families, others at large. by organizations. There On Sept. 8, from 10 a.m. are herbs and a fig tree for to 3 p.m., more than a doz- everyone to enjoy. There en gardens in the Everhart is also a gleaning garPark area of the borough den where all vegetables will be open for the eighth raised there are donated to annual Barclay Friends nonprofit food programs. Festival of Gardens tour. On the east wall of the Proceeds from the event garden, visitors will see benefit the retirement the creative efforts of community’s award-win- about 50 people who crening horticulture therapy ated a colorful mural feaprogram. turing what would be the One of the gardens on view of West Chester from the tour is the the top of the West End Comwater tower that munity Garden o n L I n E once occupied at the southwest V I d E o the spot. corner of New There is no and Gay streets. running water Jimmer Breen at the garden. has been involved To manage that with the garden problem, a large since its incepwater tank was donated and it tion. “It started as is filled with the an idea from the West runoff from a neighbor’s End Neighborhood Asso- roof. During dry spells, the ciation,” Breen said. “(The water is replenished by land) was just sitting here the First West Chester Fire with the remnants of the Company. As a thank-you, water tower.” After ap- the Neighborhood Assoproaching West Chester ciation holds a fundraiser officials with the idea of for the fire company every a community garden, the year. borough decided that it Visitors on the tour will would be a good use for get “a nice firsthand look the vacant land. at community gardening,” “Why wouldn’t they? said Breen. “It’s a concept It’s a win-win,” he said. “If that is really starting to you spend a chunk of time gain some ground.” He you get a sense of how said that people are bemuch people appreciate it, coming more infterested even if they’re not involved in sustainability and this is with the garden.” During a place where it is ongoing. the interview, a man from “People also get to see East Bradford stopped things in their element by the garden and talked and not in the produce about the trouble he and section.” He said that last his neighbors were having year one of the gardeners By PHYLLIS ROWAN

Staff photos By Vinny Tennis

At top, the West Chester Community Gardens at the corner of Gay and New streets in West Chester are pictured. This is one of the stops that will be on a garden tour to benefit Barclay Friends retirement community. Above, a butterfly lands on a tomato at the gardens. Below, a watering can is grown over by vines. grew artichokes. “I had never seen an artichoke in its natural setting before. It went to flower ... beautiful with purple petals.” He also said he was surprised to see how Brussels sprouts grew -- on a stalk. Tickets cost $20 in advance; $25 the day of the tour. Barclay Friends is at 700 N. Franklin St., West Chester. For information, call 610-696-5211 or visit

Tobacco provides unusual vista FRom thE GRound up

On Sunday evening I was driving on Route 10 north of Oxford, heading up to Route 30 and then home to Kimberton. I hadn’t been on Route 10 for years and was enjoying the “bucolic-ness” of it – late-summer fields of corn and other crops bathed in the last rays of the day’s sunlight. Here, it was evident that agriculture is still a big portion of Chester County’s economy. And how pleasant it is to admire agriculture when someone else is doing the work! pam As I drove Baxter I also enjoyed some bits of culture shock: first, sharing the road with several horse-drawn Amish buggies. Second, was driving by several small fields of giant-leaved plants, completely different from anything else in the area. Without even being aware that I’d identified the crop, I said to myself, “Oh yeah, that’s right. We grow tobacco in this country.” I so rarely see people smoking anymore that I’d almost forgotten what a big industry it still is! Somehow, in some part of my brain I thought we’d given up a practice that

is so harmful to our physical health. So there was some surprise in being faced, literally, with evidence that it’s still very much with it. My next thought was, “Oh yeah – and it’s legal to grow it.” About two miles farther up the road, I realized the plants were still on my mind. I pulled onto a side street, turned around, and went back for a few photographs. Plus, I’d never been up close and personal to tobacco and didn’t want to pass up the opportunity. What a jumble of thoughts crowded into my brain as I drove back. I thought of the history of tobacco in the Americas and its ceremonial use by shamans. I thought of millions of cigarette smokers addicted to nicotine, and my mother-inlaw (a heavy smoker for many years) dying of emphysema. I thought of how beautiful the plants are – tall and with what look like oversized potato leaves; not surprising, since tobacco and potatoes – along with tomatoes and peppers – are in the same plant family, Solanaceae. I tend to love plants unabashedly, including poison ivy despite my severe allergy to it. So even though I’m surprised that this plant – which, when smoked or chewed, has the potential to cause disease and death – hasn’t been outlawed, I can appreciate tobacco on its

Photo by Pam Baxter

Tobacco grows in a field along Route 10 in southern Chester County. own merits. And I can appreciate that smoking occasionally is not likely to kill someone. But seeing the tobacco fields got me thinking about the fact that in our country it’s legal to grow tobacco, but not industrial hemp. To make hemp products we have to import the raw material from other countries. This is a far cry from when it was considered patriotic to grow hemp, and when just next door to us Lancaster County was producing more hemp than any other region of the country.

Back home, I Googled tobacco and learned a whole bunch of things I didn’t know before. For instance, tobacco is grown around the world, with China first in production, followed by India, Brazil and then the United States. Second, of all the tobaccogrowing states in America, Pennsylvania is the only one that has seen an increase in tobacco acreage in recent years. Tobacco growing in the Please see BAXTER on E3


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