A trip from the High Plains to the Coastal Plains of South Carolina brought Skip lots of new gardening images and ideas. One of the most interesting botanical finds was Spanish moss, a wispy airplant with an unusual history. This week Growing on the High Plains will take a look at an area of the country that is as botanically different from the flatlands of Kansas as day is different from night.
The newscasts seem full of stories about the death of newsprint, and newsprint's replacement by technology. There seems to be fewer and fewer of us who carry the genes of string-savers of the Great Depression- those who love the way the paper feels between our fingers, and the way the pages sound as we turn them. There's a steady flow of the electronic version of the town crier- folks on little screens who type, text, or shout, gossip, advertising, facts, figures, and advertisements, even when we don't want them.
Controversy over the icons of the state of Oklahoma were not limited to the state tree. In 1893, fourteen years before statehood, Mistletoe was adopted as the territory's flower. Although, tiny and short-lived, the evergreen leaves and glossy white berries made it a favorite of settlers. The issue some folks couldn't seem to get around was that mistletoe is a parasite.
Sometime back I talked about our return to dryland farming. One of the things I will miss with this change is being surrounded by fields of gold. Some days, I would journey into the fields to be surrounded by eye-level orbs of sunlight. I would stand quietly waiting for the sound of munchkins following the yellow brick road. At the end of the growing season, I have been known to emerge with an arm full of heavy heads to hang in the evergreens to provide a feast for winter residents.
Let’s give the mailman something to laugh about and send one of those exaggerated postcards of giant insects or oversized rabbits. You can find them at the Finney County Historical Museum, along with information on their creator, a photographer named Frank ‘Pop’ Conard who found a way to make lemons into lemonade during the dark days of the Great Depression.
The Rocky Mountain Columbine was discovered by mountain climber, Edwin James, ascending Pike's Peak in 1820. It was officially names the state flower of Colorado in 1899. Rocky Mountain columbine (Columbine Aquilegia Caerulea) is a beautiful flower with a rich aroma that attracts bees, hummingbirds and butterflies to it's nectar.
Today we’ll visit the Texas Panhandle and stop by the Sherman County Depot Museum to hear the story of Sam Wohlford. We’ll take a look at a silver medal and a plaque that reads, “No greater love is there than for a man to risk his life for friend or stranger.” And we’ll learn about Sam’s refusal to give up in his quest to save lives during the Great Blizzard of 1948.
The history of the state of Texas is expansive and colorful. It's boundaries have fluctuated. It's flown six different flags. It's background is steeped in tales of battles and wars, including the war with Mexico, the Civil War, and many Indian battles that include the Red River War, but until recently, I was unaware of a battle that was waged for 70 years.
A trip along the history trail that tells of the settling of the west is littered with the remains of hundreds of ghost towns. The lives of many of these settlements were very brief, as they boomed when they bet on the tracks of the railroads and then busted as they watched from a distance as the trains pass them by. One of the largest communities was called Ivanhoe, and was developed between the Arkansas and Cimarron Rivers on what is now U.S. Highway 83. Today we’ll visit what remains of this once-bustling community – the cemetery.
Can you imagine walking across an endless sea of grass? Maybe your journey started along the Santa Fe Trail from a tree-lined river bank of the Ohio Valley, the forests of the Appalachian mountains, or the sugar maple groves of New England, and now you face a gale of hot, dry wind. You think you must be on the edge of hell.. until... up ahead you see a shimmer of hope... a cottonwood tree.
The saying ‘You can’t get there from here!’ must have been on the minds of many of the pioneers who tried to settle in far west portions of the HPPR broadcast area. For a long time, road making was an individual task which involved taking off in the direction you needed to go, and then hoping you would make it to your destination. Eventually trails became roads, which then became highways as travel vehicles evolved from wagons to buggies to new-fangled automobiles, but it could still be a bumpy ride at best.
One of the earliest trees to bloom in the spring is the redbud. This favorite ornamental rarely reaches heights of greater than 20 feet. The redbud comes in three color varieties: white, red, and purple. They are self-pollinating and a fast grower, but that also means they have a shorter lifespan. The redbud is a member of the legumes- their seed pods and flowers are edible. They are forgiving of soil types, growing best in moist, well-drained sites.
A list of the movers and shakers who helped develop the city of Amarillo would have to include Guy Anton Carlander. An architect who developed his own style by utilizing elements of design and decoration from the 1920s and 30s, his name is on the dedication plaques of many courthouses, hospitals and medical buildings, and office buildings throughout the Texas Panhandle.
The Colorado Blue Spruce was first discovered by botanist, CC Parry, in 1862, thriving on Pike's Peak. 30 years later, it was Colorado school children voted it the state tree. However, it was not officially designated until 1939 when a resolution was passed by the state general assembly. It has now become one of the most widely planted landscape trees in the U.S.
Though the town of Windthorst never really became a reality, the magnificent church that was the centerpiece of an entire community is very real and well worth a trip to Ford County in Southwestern Kansas. The Immaculate Heart of Mary Church features an interior filled with wonders, not the least of which is a series of hand-blown stained glass windows fashioned in the “Munich Pictorial Style”.
Perhaps no plant is more a part of my early childhood than a pecan tree. It brings to mind several family photos in my memory book. The first image is playing under a huge shade tree on a quilt pallet, while the older folks in my family shook the tree and picked up the nuts that fell. They were rewarded with a share of the harvest and a small wage. The second picture is of the whole family gathered around the kitchen table, the room lit by an oil lantern, and we all would work together to separate the meat from the shell. For me, it wasn't really work because we were entertained by stories and songs. The third picture is of an annual Christmas gift- a bag of shelled pecans sent by my cousin who still owns a native grove.
Today we’ll take you out to the ball game. Though we won’t buy you some peanuts and crackerjack, we’ll have another type of treat. We’ll tell you the story of a tiny town in Haskell County, Kansas that had a semi-pro baseball team in the 1950s, and of the top notch uniforms they wore. Sometimes when you think something is over and done with and gone for good, it will come roaring back, better than ever.
Let's get ready for the new Year by taking a drive to Lake Scott State Park. Maybe the weather will let us try our hand at some trout fishing, and we'll take a turn on the lake in a canoe. Afterwards, we can explore the ruins of El Quartelejo, the only Indian pueblo in Kansas. Keep an eye out for wild turkey and deer. No wonder Lake Scott made the recent list of Best Beaches in the USA!
During the holiday season a look toward the sky could catch a glimpse of a snowflake or two, or even a miniature sleigh and eight tiny reindeers. At construction sites it could also yield the sight of a Christmas tree high atop a roof beam. Today we'll look back in history and spend some time in the great north woods part of the world to find our Growing On The High Plains topic.
We’ll celebrate the Christmas holiday by recounting a Christmas blizzard of long ago, when Santa traveled across the open range of the Texas and Oklahoma panhandles. It seems that jolly old St. Nick joined some ranch hands in a snowstorm, and he left a special gift in the chuck wagon that he made himself.
Today we’ll travel north to see one of the world’s largest paintings. Located in Goodland in Northwest Kansas along Interstate 70, the Big Easel can’t be missed. Look for a vase of giant sunflowers, a tribute to Vincent Van Gogh and his signature series of seven sunflower paintings.
A major U.S. Highway that runs through Western Kansas began as a rough trail that connected various boomtowns who were waiting for the railroads that ultimately passed them by. Today we’ll travel in a classic coach on the Southern Stage Line and head south out of Garden City, stopping for a bite of lunch and then an overnight stay by the Cimarron River.
What began as an act of kindness to provide a final resting place for a pioneer child has become the Llano Cemetery in Amarillo, Texas. The 130 acres have been developed to include elements of historical architecture, impressive landscaping, and a sense of a beautiful public park for all who enter the gates.
After a visit to the Stauth Museum in Montezuma, Kansas, you'll feel like a world traveler. The museum is filled with art and artifacts from around the globe. Throughout the year it also showcases local art and culture and hosts numerous programs, lectures, or exhibits for area school children. Since the building is constructed to Smithsonian Institute regulations, is often hosts traveling exhibits from the Smithsonian in Washington DC.