Plant Chats with Val

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Duration:
4 minutes, 30 seconds

In this edition of Plant Chats With Val, we learn about the changing autumn leaves. What causes them to change colors? And how does that have anything to do with British successes during WWII? Watch to find out!

 
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Duration:
2 minutes, 45 seconds

Japanese Knotweed, considered the scourge of gardens, is a highly invasive perennial shrub that is now classified as a noxious weed. It grows up to 10 feet tall and spreads rapidly by underground rhizomes and by seed with a root system that can be up to 10 feet deep and over 20 feet wide, displacing other plant life and reducing wildlife habitats. How did it come to be in the U.S. and what can be done to stop it?

 
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Duration:
2 minutes, 58 seconds

White Snakeroot, Ageratina altissima, is a poisonous herb that can grow over 4 feet tall and is native to the eastern and central United States. “Ageratina” is derived from Greek and means “un-aging”, as the flowers stay in bloom for a very long time, well into the fall. In the 19th century, many people became sick after drinking milk. It was eventually discovered that the “milk sickness” was caused by drinking milk from cows who had eaten White Snakeroot, which contains the toxin tremetol.

 
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Duration:
2 minutes, 27 seconds

Val teaches us about Virginia Creeper and how to distinguish Virginia Creeper from Poison Ivy, which are often confused for one another. Both plants can change from green to red in the fall, however Virginia Creeper has teeth while Poison Ivy has lobes or is smooth edged. Virginia Creeper has five leaves, while Poison Ivy has three. Both have poisonous berries. The berries of Virginia Creeper are dark purplish blue while Poison Ivy has white berries.

 
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Duration:
1 minute, 43 seconds

Today, Val shares some fun facts about Common Buckthorn (Rhamnus cathartica), including its uses during medieval times.

 
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Duration:
3 minutes, 15 seconds

Let’s slip into the nightshade family of plants. This fascinating family includes everything from delicious potatoes and tomatoes to poisonous bittersweet nightshade and deadly nightshade. Volunteer extraordinaire Val Wilcox tells all!

 
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Duration:
2 minutes, 56 seconds

In this edition of Plant Chats With Val, we learn about the majestic Eastern Hemlock, Tsuga canadensis, which is the centerpiece of the carriage turn and the first thing guests may notice when entering Fairsted through the spruce pole archway. One of the things that landscape architects are mindful of is the effect that plantings will have in the future.

 
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Duration:
1 minute, 45 seconds

Today, Val is chatting with us about the Spotted Bellflower, Campanula punctata, a delicate white flower with a pink or purple spotted interior. It is located in the carriage turn under the great Eastern Hemlock. No one knows how it came to be there, but it is native to Korea and Japan.

 
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Duration:
1 minute, 33 seconds

Volunteer Val Wilcox chats with us about the Flowering Dogwood, Cornus florida, that lives in The Hollow at Fairsted, the home and historic design office of Frederick Law Olmsted in Brookline, Massachusetts. Dogwoods flower in pink or white and are known for their distinctive bark.

 
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Duration:
1 minute, 47 seconds

Val Wilcox shares with us the Cucumber Magnolia Tree, (Magnolia acuminata), at Fairsted, the home and offices of landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted. The tree was a gift from Charles Sprague Sargent, nearby neighbor, friend, and collaborator of Olmsted's.

 
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Duration:
1 minute, 24 seconds

Volunteer Val Wilcox chats with us about the old Shagbark Hickory, Carya ovata, tree at Fairsted in Brookline, Massachusetts. The first known photograph of it was taken by John Charles Olmsted in 1911, but the date it was planted remains unknown. It lives near the entrance to the historic Olmsted firm's offices and sometimes rains hickory nuts upon unsuspecting visitors. Was it placed there intentionally as a humorous greeting for guests to the Olmsted firm in times past? We may never know.

 
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Duration:
2 minutes, 7 seconds

As our thoughts turn to fall and apple picking season is soon upon us, here is some food for thought. Volunteer Val Wilcox shares with us the history of Fairsted's crabapple tree, as well as some spine-tingling apple history.

 
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Duration:
2 minutes

Former Park Ranger and Volunteer Extraordinaire Val Wilcox shares interesting facts and stories about plants associated with Frederick Law Olmsted National Historic Site. Here she teaches us about the history of the Olmsted Elm (an American Elm, Ulmus americana) as well as the Jefferson Elm (Ulmus americana jefferson). This video was filmed on the South Lawn at Fairsted, the historic home and offices of the Olmsted family in Brookline, Massachusetts.

Last updated: January 4, 2022

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