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2021-22 CJCA Calendar
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list of events
scheduled for 2021 and 2022.
Minnie’s Island – Restorative Recreation And Ecological Preservation
November 14, 2021
Members of the Minnie’s Island Community Conservancy (MICC) meeting with CJ residents Oct. 27 shared tales of their multifaceted efforts to restore Minnie’s Island’s natural habitat and refurbish the cabin on the property to comfortably host veterans, educational groups, and others looking to enjoy the beautiful surroundings. In addition to sharing photos of their work, Pascal Pittman, chairperson of the MICC board, explained that when they started it was impossible to walk the length of the island due to all the overgrown vegetation— now there is a new pathway. They also uncovered a well and hope to install a solar array to power a pump for the well. They plan to have a composting toilet and an overarching goal of a net-zero footprint. Pascal also stressed a goal of fun and noted that they have hauled a grill out to the cabin deck and already hosted a BBQ for volunteers. CJ resident Hanna Moerland, who chairs the group’s Natural Resources Committee, stressed that the group has “a mandate to figure out how to balance the community goals with the preservation of the Potomac Gorge’s unique biodiversity.” She noted that there are 1,400 different plant species in the Potomac Gorge and some 300 species are considered rare, endangered, or threatened. During one recent effort at removing invasive vines, they uncovered a rare Maryland goldenrod plant, which they will protect from island visitors. (See this month’s Nature column for more on the goldenrod.) Another CJ resident, Neil Shaut, heads up the Physical Facilities Committee, which he describes as the group responsible for safety, whether it has to do with transporting people to and from the island, securing the cabin, or keeping the first aid kit at the ready. This month, they have experts going out to the island to do a forensic survey of the cabin and its foundation to see what needs to be done to ensure its soundness. The goals are ambitious and the MICC welcomes anyone interested in volunteering or just curious about their work to check out their website, www.minniesisland.org. Susan Shipp, CJCA President ...
Restoration Underway At Gibson Grove Church
November 14, 2021
Restoration of the historic Gibson Grove Church on Seven Locks Rd. kicked off Oct. 20 with a groundbreaking ceremony to announce the effort and recognize the state officials who helped secure funding for this critical first step. More than 40 people, including a dozen CJ residents, attended the midday event. As explained by E.S Bankhead, Jr., chairman of the church’s board of trustees, phase one will actually see some of the structure torn down in order to stabilize the belfry and the front of the building, which must be kept intact to keep the church’s historic designation. Construction equipment was at the property as the newsletter went to press. Phase one is being funded by a $550,000 state bond awarded in April to stabilize and improve the Gibson Grove site. The bond initiative was first introduced by State Delegate Sara Love and strongly supported by Delegate Marc Korman of the Appropriations Committee. State Senator Susan Lee sponsored the initiative in the Senate. The total cost of the church rebuilding and expansion project is estimated at $3.2 million. The church property suffered significant structural damage in a 2004 fire, just a year after the First Agape AME Zion Church took over the church property and completed refurbishing it. As the church worked to raise funds and address the restoration requirements due to its historic designation, the property sustained further damage when a massive tree limb dropped on the structure in 2015. Additionally, poorly managed stormwater drainage from the Capital Beltway has caused extensive erosion to the site. The State Highway Administration recently pledged to mitigate stormwater damage to the church property and the church hopes that will include land improvements to allow for a parking lot on the site. To avoid further tree damage, the church is seeking a county permit to remove two trees, but will mill the wood and store it to use in the new building. Susan Shipp, CJCA President ...
Holiday Party: Celebrate the Season with Your Neighbors Dec. 12
November 14, 2021
With the mask mandate lifted and school-age children able to be vaccinated, the Cabin John Citizens Association wants to bring back the CJ Holiday Party. It’s a wonderful annual event that brings the community together to enjoy some holiday cheer. The free festivities include a sing-along, crafts, a selfie station, and a delicious assortment of food and drink as well as the ever-popular visit from Santa. A raffle, which raises money for SOME (So Others Might Eat) keeps getting bigger with more than a dozen prizes valued between $50 and $400. The community center is booked for Dec. 12 from 5:00 to 7:00 pm, but we need volunteers to make it happen. We need you to give a couple hours now to help solicit raffle prizes. Or you could volunteer to arrive two hours before the event to decorate and set up. We also need people to help out during the party to keep it running smoothly and to clean up afterwards. To volunteer, please contact Susan Shipp at jsjshipp3@ verizon.net or 301-320-5106. ...
Local Nature: A Golden Oldie
November 14, 2021
You don’t need an advanced degree in plant taxonomy to recognize goldenrod. From the passenger’s seat of a car speeding down the Clara Barton Parkway, there it is: golden fingers waving at you from tall green stalks. The splash of dazzling color in early August from this roadside fixture signals the approach of fall. Well into October, various species of goldenrod combine with asters, wingstem, boneset, and mistflower to make fall flowering a colorful passage into cooler weather. In fact, I used to think of goldenrod, when I was a budding naturalist living in Illinois, as the harbinger of autumn. I had no idea until I started my coursework in biology how much more goldenrod has to teach us about pattern and process in the natural world. Let’s start with the basics: goldenrod is in the aster family, one of the largest in the world with over 23,000 species. Those zinnias, marigolds, sunflowers, and chrysanthemums in your flower garden, or the artichokes, lettuce, and endive in your vegetable garden—all are relatives of goldenrod. The green liquor known as absinthe in the Henri Toulouse-Lautrec painting is also known as wormwood, another genus (Artemisia) in the aster family. And “Aachoo!!!,” the cause of hay fever and fall allergies? Over there, at the edge of an unmown lawn, is ragweed (Ambrosia). But don’t point the finger at goldenrod: it is pollinated by insects, unlike the wind- pollinated ragweed. Goldenrod does no harm, meaning it doesn’t trigger any allergic response. Goldenrod is one of the more diverse genera of the aster plants, with about 110-120 species in total, most of them found in central and eastern North America and a few in the United Kingdom. The name Solidago, goldenrod’s genus, comes from the Latin word “solida,” meaning “whole,” and “ago” meaning “to make.” The cultural aspects of goldenrod are as interesting as the ecological insights its study offers. Goldenrod is a heroic plant in American colonial history. The story goes that after the Boston Tea Party, finding an alternative to the imported tea, Camellia chinensis, became a colonist’s imperative. Enter Solidago, and soon goldenrod tea became known as “liberty tea” (like replacing the French with “freedom” in French fries, I suppose). Goldenrod tea became the only tea rebellious colonists would drink during their protests against British rule and its hated taxes, imposed without representation. Eventually, goldenrod tea became a much sought-after export tea to, of all places, China, the original home of Camellia! Most impressive of all, at the turn of the last century goldenrod made a short list for the ultimate accolade—national flower—in competition with the columbine, the daisy, and clover. There was drama surrounding the final choice and even fake news: In the 1940s while still a front-runner in the belated decision on a national flower, goldenrod was accused of being the cause of hay fever, no doubt because it shares the same flowering time as ragweed, the true culprit. Despite a later reprieve from plant science as the cause of allergies, goldenrod eventually lost out, but not until 1986 when the rose received the coveted honor of national flower, anointed so by President Ronald Reagan. A poor choice, in my view: one might say that if you have seen one cultivated rose, you have seen them all. More seriously, the national flower is not even native to the United States! Although there are many native species in the genus Rosa, this was not the type of rose Reagan had in mind. He favored ones more like the cultivated roses that have no native pollinators and don’t produce nectar. In contrast, goldenrod is a native and a staple for nectar feeders, as well as a sign of good luck and fortune in many cultures. But it is the ecologist who sings the loudest praises for goldenrods, because this wild native teaches us a basic lesson essential to understanding nature: that most species on Earth are rare. Among the 75 species of goldenrod in the United States and, in particular, the 23 species in our local flora, most goldenrods are uncommon—they have very narrow ranges, low population densities, or both. Sure, there is the ubiquitous Canada goldenrod along the highways and byways of the eastern United States, but in North America, these few goldenrod species that are widespread and common are the exceptions. Instead, many goldenrods are unique to rare soil types like calcareous rocks or sandstones. Perhaps the most impressive of these is an endangered goldenrod species that was recently encountered in our area along the Potomac and part of one of the rarest plant communities on Earth, called a scour community. I wrote about this phenomenon a few years back in this column. The Potomac, like other wild rivers, scours out riverbanks and eddies during flooding events. Left in the exposed soil and scattered on the river boulders are the seeds of plants adapted for the wild river ride. When the water level drops, the floating seeds settle into nooks and crannies, germinate, and take root. Do they ever take root! This rare goldenrod has a thick rhizome that not only helps it to cling tightly to the rocks during floods but to store a lot of nutrients. The nutrient reservoir and the lack of competitors in this narrow ecological niche grant this goldenrod species a fate many of us would like to have: a very long existence. It is likely that the goldenrods you almost stepped on will outlive you and even your children. But back to nature’s lesson: in any group of plants and animals with lots of similar species—a pattern repeated again and again, from deer mice to fence lizards to goldenrods—there are always a few species in the genus that are abundant and range widely, and a majority of species that are rare. It is this pattern of rarity that drivesus as scientists, and many others as well, to discern it, map it, and save these rarities, the precious gems of nature. By Eric Dinerstein, Contributing Writer Illustration by Trudy Nicholson, Contributing Artist ...
CJ Turkey Trot Ready to Roll Thanksgiving Morning
November 4, 2021
Once again, Cabin John residents and friends will have a chance to join their neighbors in a family-friendly run/walk at the 4th annual CJ Turkey Trot to be held Thanksgiving morning at 10 am. The free trot will start at Cabin John Local Park, by the one-lane bridge. Folks are asked to gather by the banner at the park. We’ll take a quick commemorative photo and send participants on their way. The 2.5 mile run/walk, organized by the Cabin John citizens Association, follows the bike path from the park, to 79th Street, down to the C&O Canal, along the canal to the path by the one-lane bridge and back to the park. There will be signs and course monitors along the route. Food Donations Encouraged In the spirit of Thanksgiving, we are asking all participants to bring non-perishable grocery items for Manna Food Center’s Smart Sack program. The Smart Sack Program provides backpacks of food each weekend to some 2,850 Montgomery County school kids. Popular food items include jars of peanut butter, boxes of granola bars, instant oatmeal, canned vegetables and fruits. Registration, Volunteering and T-Shirt Orders The trot is free, but we are asking every household who is thinking about coming out, to please register so that we can plan accordingly. When registering, you also will have the opportunity to purchase t-shirts. The 2021 version will be a long-sleeved smoke gray t-shirt with a masked turkey logo. Available in a range of sizes, the shirts sell for $18 for adult sizes and $16 for youth sizes. The deadline for t-shirt orders is COB Nov. 11. During the online registration process, you will also be asked if you are willing to volunteer to put up course signs before the event or to be a course monitor during the trot. Please consider helping to make this event safe and successful. Questions about registration, t-shirt orders or volunteering? Contact Kesha Leets at firstname.lastname@example.org....
MINNIE’S ISLAND ORGANIZATION MAKING HEADWAY ON MISSION
October 14, 2021
In March, Pascall Pittman and other founders of Minnie’s Island Community Conservancy (MICC) met with CJ residents to share a vision of an organization “dedicated to the preservation of the ecological, architectural, scientific and humanist legacy of Minnie’s Island.” Located in the Potomac River about 100 yards off-shore from Lockhouse 8 on the C&O Canal, Minnie’s Island is roughly eight acres of wild habitat with a dilapidated wooden lodge and large deck at one end. Thanks to the outpouring of support from the community and beyond, MICC has made great strides in the intervening seven months. Come to the Oct. 27 CJCA Zoom meeting for a comprehensive update on this exciting project. When MICC first started, all of the trails on Minnie’s were completely overgrown and totally concealed. The cabin was replete with debris left by previous occupants, including numerous vagrants. Now, the trails have been significantly cleared and the cabin has been pretty well cleaned of debris and secured. Two structured volunteer days are scheduled for October to continue clearing invasive species and to deliver a 350 lb. wood-burning stove to the cabin. Other progress includes: MICC has now been designated by the IRS as a 501(c)(3) charitable organization. The Potomac Conservancy has indicated that with this designation, they should be able to convey Minnie’s Island to the MICC by the end of October. The Natural Resources Committee, under the leadership of Hanna Moerland and technical guidance of Eric Dinerstein, is implementing an Invasive Species Eradication Program. This is a big effort and can really use volunteer assistance. SSL hours are available. Our Physical Facilities Committee, led by Neil Shaut, along with many volunteers, located the water well, cleaned the cabin, and delivered a propane BBQ grill to the island. The nationally recognized structural engineering firm, Robert Sillman Associates, with an expertise in historic preservation, is providing guidance on structural upgrades for the cabin. MICC is creating an Arts & Design Committee to ensure that everything we do, while respecting conservation and natural resource considerations, is of the highest aesthetic standards, providing for an enriching environment for our target users: veterans, frontline workers, first responders, and students from local schools. Conversations with the National Park Service continue regarding the use of Lockhouse No. 8. By Susan Shipp, CJCA President Juliet Rodman, MICC Development Committee Chair...
CJCA Moves to Respond to State’s Latest Study on Beltway Expansion
October 14, 2021
A supplemental study of the environmental impacts to the state’s Beltway expansion plan, released Oct. 1, paints a decidedly mixed picture of the traffic impacts on the 12-mile stretch of highway included in the project as well as with the River Road interchange and other local roads. It also details adverse impacts to treasured parkland abutting Cabin John. For example, the study calls for a temporary access road off the Clara Barton Parkway that would parallel the C&O Canal “for construction vehicles and materials to build the new American Legion Bridge” as well as for changes to access ramps. It also talks about impacts to Cabin John Valley Stream Park “to accommodate widening of I-495, replacement of the bridges across Seven Locks Road and Cabin John Parkway” and new interchange modifications at River Rd. While the study purports to have modified the initial plans to avoid impacts to Morningstar Moses Hall and Cemetery, there are still major issues with regard to the property as well as the historic Gibson Grove Church property. What all this means for Cabin John, especially with regard to traffic, is something we have to decipher and comment on prior to the Nov. 15th public comment deadline on the study, which is formally called the Supplemental Draft Environmental Impact Statement (SDEIS). To aid the Cabin John Citizens Association in its advocacy efforts, the community voted at the Sept. 29 CJCA meeting to approve up to $3,000 to, once again, engage the engineering consulting firm VHBMetroDC to review the SDEIS and provide technical points on traffic and other negative impacts. The goal is to have VHB provide its analysis by the end of October to give the CJCA time to share it with the community along with guidance on how to submit comments. By Susan Shipp, CJCA President ...
2021 Chicken and Crab Feast Brings Community Back Together
October 14, 2021
The challenges of Covid prompted some changes to this year’s Chicken and Crab Feast. But that didn’t stop hundreds of Cabin John residents and friends from coming out Sept. 18 to enjoy each other’s company, the delicious food, and the beautiful music of the Starlight Orchestra. It was the 10th year the crowd was serenaded by these talented musicians, who generously play only for their supper. Thank you CJ resident and band member Scott Lewis for hooking us up those many years ago! Safety tweaks to the 51-year-old tradition included moving ticket sales and the serving line outside. The table seating, also outside, was widely spaced and, in some cases, shaded by tents, thanks to community center director Barry Jones, who borrowed canopies from other rec centers. The center also provided all the tables and chairs and staff to help ensure the event ran smoothly and safely. The center is a much-valued partner in so many CJ traditions! All together some 525 meals were served and at least $5,000 raised through ticket sales and donations. While the final tally is still being calculated, the amount is on par with earlier feasts and will be used to support The Village News, MacArthur Blvd. Beautification, and the many CJCA-sponsored activities that we are looking to start holding again after a 17-month pandemic-induced hiatus. The Chicken and Crab Feast could not happen without the roughly 100 volunteers who step up to do everything from going door-to-door to sell tickets and preparing vegetables before the event to setting up tables, cooking all the incredible food, dishing up the dinners, serving the drinks, and cleaning up at the end of a very long day. For a couple of extremely dedicated volunteers the preparation for this beloved tradition starts more than a month before the big event. Since 2016, Allison and Patrick de Gravelles have coordinated this event, purchasing everything from paper goods and wooden mallets to cinnamon for the carrots and lemons for the lemonade. They deal with the permits and ensure that all of the cooking and food handling will pass muster with the county health inspector. This year they contended with the loss of some suppliers as well as the need to rethink how we handled aspects of the event. The tasks before and during the event are too numerous to count, yet Allison and Patrick handle every detail efficiently and without even breaking a sweat! A new duo of incredibly capable and unflappable volunteers appeared on the scene this year to handle ticket sales before and during the event. Despite being rookies, Stephanie Lai and Heather Tomlinson successfully coordinated the ticket selling efforts of more than 30 volunteers. All together some 577 tickets were sold, with 52 percent of purchasers opting for crab dinners and 48 percent for chicken. Another shout out goes to Robin Sidel, the CJ website editor, who made it possible for folks to buy tickets via the website, which accounted for 14 percent of ticket sales. It wouldn’t be a CJ Chicken and Crab Feast without Pete Cousté leading the crab cooking and Richard Hopkins manning the grill. Seriously, is there a better chicken rub to be found anywhere?! Heidi Lewis and Karen Melchar always seem to make a party out of prepping vegetables. The kitchen crew, headed by Kathleen Black, made sure there were plenty of tasty sides for meat eaters and vegetarians alike. Here are all of your neighbors who stepped up to keep this tradition going. Maybe next year you will consider joining them?! ADVANCE TICKET SELLERS – coordinated by Stephanie Lai and Heather Tomlinson Clare Amoruso, Lee Arbetman, Jessica Blake Hawke, Diana Carter, Deb Duffy, Amy Elsbree, Burr Gray, Linda Green, Helen Harris, Dallas Harrison, Marcy Harrison, Jim Heller, Elaine Hornauer, Virginia Ibarra, Dee Jennings, Courtney Krutoy, Charlotte Troup Leighton, Marget Maurer, Lorraine Minor, David Nester, Jenny Perry, Mandy and Tim Rehm, Lori Rieckelman, Susan Roberts, Juliet Rodman, Anne Rothman, Tim Shank, Robin Sidel, Jan Iris Smith, Sherri Stahl, Shannon Steward, Judy Welles, Lee Young VEGGIE PREP – headed by Heidi Lewis and Karen Melchar Sally Alain, Crista Gibbons, Marcy Harrison, Kerry, Sam and Clare Mustico, Yoshimi Nai, Lisa Norris, Wendy Rosensweig, Shannon Steward, Oona Stieglitz, Austin White, Barbara Wilmarth CHICKEN CREW – headed by Richard Hopkins Lynn Hopkins, Cole Hessman, Melih Karaca, Dennis Pillsbury CRAB CREW – headed by Pete Cousté Dan Berman, Joanne Carl, Michele Cousté, Anastasia Donnellan, Chris Enyart, Barry Hubscher, Dave Rosen KITCHEN CREW – headed by Kathleen Black Judith Bell, Reiko Berman, Anastasia Donnellan, Marcy Harrison, Sue Pierce, Shelly McKenzie, Andrew Strasfogel SET UP – coordinated by Burr Gray Dennis Bensen, Sarah Craven, Mark Gillespie, Greg Gurley, Emily Helmes, Jackie Hoglund, Melih Karaca, Scott Lewis, Anna McGuire, Bruce Meyers, Hanna Moerland, Dan Mustico, Pascal Pittman, Anne and Jeff Rothman, Ilene Rosen DAY-OF TICKET SALES AND CJCA TABLE – coordinated by Stephanie Lai and Heather Tomlinson Diana Carter, Amy Elsbree, Grace Lai, Heidi Lewis, Lori Rieckelman, Susan Roberts, Clara, Finn and Tatum Tomlinson BEVERAGES – headed by Florence Lehr Jackie Hoglund LEMONADE – headed by Anne Rothman My Lin Bui, Sydney Ishida, Andrea Williams SERVERS – coordinated by Susan Shipp Leslie Baldwin, Sarah Craven, Gail Davenport, Janet and Walt Dence, Emily Franklin, Lynn Gertzog, Linda Green, Meredith Griggs, Helen Harris, Lynn Hopkins, Dallas and Judy Harrison, Jim Ingraham, Dee Jennings, Anna McGuire, Karen Melchar, Leslie Meyers, Mark Posin, Jordan Rosenthal, Robin Sidel, Benno Schmidt, Jeff Shipp, Shannon Steward, Austin White, Barbara Wilmarth CLEAN UP – headed by Allison & Patrick de Gravelles and Burr Gray Leslie Baldwin, Kathleen Black, Michele and Pete Cousté, Rick Duffy, Amy Elsbree, Ken Eng, Clive and Helen Harris, Richard Hopkins, Marcy Harrison, Jackie Hoglund, Florence Lehr, Mike Liebman, Karen Melchar, David Pillsbury, Jordan Rosenthal, Benno Schmidt, Jeff and Susan Shipp, Shannon Steward, as well as others there at the end who kindly pitched in! PHOTOGRAPHER – Rick Hatch Apologies to anyone that we inadvertently left off this list. Please know that your assistance in the success of this event was greatly appreciated. By Susan Shipp, CJCA President ...
Back by Popular Demand: A Cabin John Halloween
October 14, 2021
The pandemic forced Cabin Johners to get creative for Halloween last year so that sweets could be doled out while keeping trick-or-treaters, their families, and treat givers safe. The resulting plan, pulled together by Robin Sidel and former CJ resident Nancy Russell, created an incredibly festive and fun atmosphere throughout the community. The Cabin John Citizens Association wants to encourage Cabin Johners to continuethis thoughtful and creative approach to the holiday. Here’s how to participate: FOR THOSE GIVING OUT CANDY – Make sure your treats are commercially wrapped. – Starting at 5 pm on Halloween, set the treats up outside your house in a way that makes it easy for trick-or-treaters to pick one. Some ideas: – Place treats on a table at the end of your driveway. – Use wood skewers to decorate your lawn with treat bags attached. – Hang treat bags from a tree in your yard with string or clothespins. – If you’d like to enjoy the festivities, set up a chair behind your table or elsewhere that provides safe space between you and the trick-or-treaters. – Masks are encouraged when unable to socially distance. – If you’d rather not participate, turn your lights off or put a sign on your dooror mailbox. FOR TRICK-OR-TREATERS AND PARENTS – At least one adult should supervise each group of trick-or-treaters. – Please respect those who don’t wish to participate and only approach houses with goodies set up outside. No ringing doorbells. – Avoid crowding ⎯ if there’s a group already at one house, move on to the next one and circle back once they’ve moved on. – Masks are encouraged when unable to socially distance. – Bring flashlights and wear reflective clothing, lights, or glow necklaces and bracelets to make yourselves visible once it gets dark. Please send any pictures you take to VNeditorial@ gmail.com by Nov. 1 for publication in the November issue of The Village News. Happy trick-or-treating! By Loretta Devery Ingalls, Village News Editor ...
Local Nature: Order in the Garden!
October 14, 2021
First year, sleep; second year, creep; third year, leap. That’s the advice of green-thumbs for those who decide to plant native species in their gardens. In other words, have patience with your new seedlings. There may be a less happy corollary to this timetable, though, at least when your focus shifts from introducing a single new plant to filling an entire garden with natives: first year, seeds; second year, weeds; third year, chaos. That was the progression of my backyard botanical garden composed of native species. It descended rapidly from orderly patches of flowering plants, each with their own marker, to a dense undifferentiated tangle along the margins and often around valuable but slow-growing natives, threatening to shade them out. I mistakenly assumed that just by planting natives, everyone would get along. They’d somehow keep to their assigned section and not eye their neighboring plant’s turf with longing. After all, I figured, these plants had tens of thousands of years of evolution to figure out competition and coexistence. Was I ever wrong! Just because plants are native, they can be as aggressive as any non-native in crowding out the less competitive—I prefer “more sensitive”— members of our local flora. The spillover of one flowering plant may be unwelcome and require the seemingly unnatural experience of weeding out natives and treating them a bit like invasive weeds. There is a great solution to this predicament, though: put the over-extenders in separate pots and share them with your friends. My wife and I, for example, currently have this problem with the magnificent blue passion flower vine, which produces the most spectacular flowers in our local flora. It took three years in a sunny spot for this species to rev up but now it volunteers everywhere. Now we have run out of friends or neighbors to whom to offer pots of this vine. So if you need blue passion flower vine for your trellises or sunny front porches, drop me an email at edinerstein@ resolve.ngo. The bumblebees will love you. Obedient plant (Physostegia virginiana) is one native that you think would behave given its name. A member of the mint family, the obedient plant sends up 3-foot stems at the end of summer and offers a delightful spray of lilac-to-magenta flowers along its stalks. The name is derived from the plant’s pliancy: if you bend the stem gently, rather than snap off, it will keep that bended shape as it continues to grow. If planted in the right conditions, however, in well-watered areas on fertile soil and in partial sun, the obedient plant can become rather disobedient and wander into the neighboring plant beds. I don’t mind this overreach because the obedient plant is such a wonderful wildflower to grow, attracting ruby-throated hummingbirds, butterflies, and bumblebees to its copious nectar. Also known as false dragonhead—it resembles snapdragons from childhood gardens—obedient plant ranges from eastern Canada to Mexico. Aside from prompting childhood memories, long flowering time is another great reason to add obedient plant to your garden. Long after the last aster flower has bid adieu in October, deep into November and early December will be the bright magenta flowers of obedient plant. We all like to be exceptions to the rule, and obedient plant is a prime example. It’s a member of the mint family, the Lamiaceae, which in general is one of the most odiferous families of plants out there. We value fragrant members of the family—basil, sage, lavender, rosemary, thyme, oregano, marjoram, and others we use as herbs—and then there is the stinky dead nettle. With more than 7,000 species in the family, the mint is one of the top 10 families of flowering plants. I would wager that you can tell almost every species, or at least genus, apart by its odor—at least a mint connoisseur could. But you can’t tell obedient plant by its odor. It has none. Like the coleus plant, another mint we use as an indoor decoration, obedient plant has to go by its luxurious flowering stalk to claim a place in our garden and hearts. But it is a noteworthy species to have. When the dark early days of December make spring and summer feel like a distant memory, there is the still-flowering obedient plant telling us to be patient. Winter will pass and there will be flowers again. By Eric Dinerstein, Contributing Writer Illustration By Trudy Nicholson, Contributing Artist ...
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