The Plants of Thanksgiving
The Plants of Thanksgiving
Some years are better than others, but if you plant enough varieties, you’re bound to get something delicious in return. Apples. Pears. Peaches. Blueberries. Blackberries. Raspberries. Grapes. Pumpkin. Onions. Tomatoes. Leeks. It’s easy to make pies from many of the autumn harvests. Don’t be afraid to experiment with the mix, even try odd, but delicious combinations like pumpkin and grapes, or onion and apples; make it savory with some sauteed chicken with garlic, applesauce, a squeeze of lemon and a touch of whisky or pernod.
The Chrysanthemum is a classic autumn plant. And with such beautiful, long lasting and surprisingly varied blooms. Many have warm, fall colors like copper, deep brick red, pumpkin orange, fire glow, spiced chocolate chip cookies, apple pie, luxurious pillows… Well, you get the picture, Mums help warm up the house for Thanksgiving. Also be sure to bring in the Coleus plants you’ve been tending all summer in pots. They will keep their beauty for quite a while and their colors often mimic autumn themes.
Yarrow in the American Landscape
Believed to be both a plant foretelling the future and a medicine, the Yarrow plant falls into that strange category of ubiquitous or ‘common’ plants that brings centuries of migration and cohabitation to light. Yarrow lives all over the world, and has become a companion plant for countless cultures. Fifty-eight stalks are needed to ask a question of the ancient Chinese oracle, the I Ching. It is easy to harvest your Yarrow for this purpose and properly prepared bundles of fifty-eight stalks make great gifts.
In the Americas, different traditions portend and retell a time when the Yarrow stalks are drying in the foothill sun, giving us the color and feel of Thanksgiving and plenty seed for next year. During the gold rush, in this part of the country including the mineral rich rivers of the Sierra and Northern California’s Trinity and Klammath river canyons, Chinese workers and artisans would gather the yarrow each autumn for philosophical activities. With extremely strong cultural ties to ancient traditions of profound thought and artistic accomplishment, finding, gathering and using an ancient companion plant in a new land was one of the simple ways to help keep the community close even in times of strife and uncertainty.
The landscapes we live in are all too beautiful and we give thanks for each passing season. This time for harvest, these landscapes. This planet. Making us plan for the future, enough for winter — food, warmth and friendship — from the earth we receive everything to warm our bones.
We have everything to thank. And plants are so very much a part of what we give thanks for at Thanksgiving. More than we think, more than we know. Especially the editable ones; they bring us together for a time. A time of giving thanks to each other, to the harvest, and to everything good about the earth.
Don’t forget the apple pie.
Five edible colors of Thanksgiving – Orange, Yellow, Brown, Red, Green
Old Hopes Return Every Year – A toast for Thanksgiving:
May we keep our rooms warm this winter.
May the roots remain dry and sweet.
May the garden’s peat thicken a spade’s length.
May the trees get a good winter’s sleep.
Publishers Note: Portions of this column compliments of Dry Creek Garden Company. Please see their website at drycreekgarden.com