The winners of the Plant Identification Contest have been chosen.
Two commenters each won a hand tool
I know you want to know if you’ve won, so let’s get that out of the way first. I used a random number generator to pick the names for the two hand tools. The comments are numbered, and I “unapproved” my comments as well as that of the big prize winner (revealed below) so that they wouldn’t show up and be included. That left me with 28 comments, and numbers 24 and 23 were picked. Number 24 was Robin at Getting Grounded. Congratulations, Robin, you just won a pair of Fiskars hand pruners. Number 23 was Lynn. Lynn, you have a Planter’s Buddy coming your way. (Now that the winners are picked, I’ll re-approve the ineligible commenters, so the comment numbers will no longer match up.) Robin and Lynn, please send me your mailing address, so I can mail your prizes.
Who identified all the plants?
So many people got stuck on plant #3 that I was beginning to wonder if the two books would go unclaimed. Rick Edwards of Caerwyn Farm and Spirits allayed my fears, identifying each plant pretty precisely. Before we go over the answers, let me tell you a little about Rick. His blog had been unknown to me, and I found it pretty interesting. He’s not afraid to experiment with new growing techniques or new recipes, hence you will find his experience growing potatoes in barrels and a recipe for nocino, sweet walnut liqueur. He and his wife live on 4 acres in Minnesota, where they attempt to care for “a small orchard of 10 trees (4 Apples, 2 Plums, 2 Cherries, and 2 Apricots,” a large vegetable garden, and some chickens, in a sustainable fashion. Rick remarks, “So far it has been a process of relearning some of the old farm and kitchen ways. As you can see we are still relatively new to all these endeavors but it is already rewarding.” He may be new to farming, but he already knows his plants.
This is the plant most people got right. If you’ve grown potatoes it is pretty obvious, and if you haven’t, it’s pretty mysterious. But did you ever notice how pretty it was? A lot of vegetables have pretty flowers, and I often wonder what would happen if breeders selected vegetables for the best flowers instead of the highest yield.Yes, this is a poppy, a California poppy, specifically Eschscholzia californica ‘Buttercream’ from Renee’s Garden Seeds, who sent us a packet to trial.
These next two plants were the inspiration for this little quiz, because I had trouble identifying them when I came across them in the garden. They were growing next to each other in early spring. There was a lot of lemon balm growing in the general area, so I was pretty sure at least one of them was lemon balm–but were they both?I had to crush a leaf of this plant and sniff it before I was convinced it was not lemon balm. You, dear readers, did not have that opportunity. And then I had to let it grow a little longer before I was sure it was stinging nettles, Urtica dioica. You might never see stinging nettles looking like this, because this is a second year plant, newly emerged from dormancy. You might manage to pull all of yours in their first year, preferably as seedlings. Every year I am discouraged by how many weeds I have, but when I look at photos from past years, I realize every year I am doing better than the year before. This is a case in point: the photos of the nettles and lemon balm were taken last spring, in 2007, and I have no nettles in that bed this year. Progress, however slow, is being made. (That’s an emerging hosta on the right.)I already gave away that this is lemon balm, Melissa officinalis. Lemon balm has a nice lemony fragrance when the leaves are crushed. Funny, nettles are considered a weed by most people, but are also used as a medicinal herb. Lemon balm is considered a culinary herb, but many people who’ve grown it call it a weed. Let the grower beware. When I first started growing it, I almost lost it several times. Now established plants come back and there are several self-sown seedlings, and the only thing from keeping it from taking over is that it’s in a place with lots of foot traffic, a kind of no-man’s land where any halfway pretty or useful plant is welcome.
Thank you to everyone for playing along, and to our sponsors for the prizes. I hope that even if you didn’t win, you learned a bit more about plants.