I’d rather feel the earth beneath my feet. Yes I would. If I only could, I surely would.

April 25th 2018

The veil of winter has finally lifted after its power struggle with spring forced a long endurance of raw cold, strong winds, rain, snow, and ice. Although the cacao plants (Theobroma cacao) in the greenhouse didn’t make it, hope springs eternal as the winter shabby Rosemary has come back to life with new flowers blooming – albeit after losing over 60% of growth from last fall. Rosemary is a hard one to keep alive during our Maryland winters.

Jim is gone but seems to be everywhere in the garden. As I walk around, I hear his stories and teachings. He loved his rosemary. We spread Jim’s ashes a couple weeks ago in the garden just after what would have been his 89th birthday. We spread them under the rosemary, in the ayahuasca shamanic plot, by the ginseng, and wherever folks were moved to go.

here’s what I had to say:

I have far too many stories of jim… and I’ve told this story far too many times of realizing a well-known botanist lived not far from my home. I learned of Jim back in my early 30’s after receiving a copy of a letter that he wrote to Seeds of Change in Arizona. I hesitantly called the phone number printed on his Herbal Vineyard Stationery and immediately reached Jim. He gave me his address on Murphy Road and told me to look for the driveway by the pine trees.  For over two years, I shyly drove past this driveway before I had the nerve to turn in… which I finally did… only after I saw an open gallery sign as my chance not to feel too intrusive. Although the sign was for Peggy’s art gallery, she was not home, and I found Jim back working in his basement office. He kindly got up, left his desk, and with his genteel nature walked me around the square garden (which preceded the Green Farmacy Garden), offered me some mints and nettles, and then took me on a stroll into the woods. Afterward, in the basement where John’s office is now, he played a beautiful instrumental rendition of El Condor Pasa, “The Condor Happens” a Peruvian piece written for a musical in 1913. In the early 70’s, an English version El Condor Pasa (If I could) was made famous by Simon and Garfunkle. Jim encouraged me to go to Peru that day. As a young mother, I knew I would go, but I also knew it wouldn’t be for a long while. I finally went to Peru in 2003 with Jim and Holly, and while there, I heard many, many renditions of El Condor Pasa.

While walking through the garden this late winter February reflecting on Jim and how much he hated winter, I was looking at the stubble dishevelment of plants and listening to the red-shouldered hawks squabble. I always think of Jim and Peggy when I hear the hawks squabble… but I also started thinking of that day I met Jim just barely less than 30 years ago. Although he played me an instrumental version of El Condor Pasa, The Simon and Gardunkle version and lyrics came to mind. Jim didn’t remind me of a sparrow, or a hammer, but I could imagine how he’d rather be a forest than a street…

And I certainly knew the last line pertained to Jim… I’d rather feel the earth beneath my feet, Yes I would. If I only could, I surely would.

Yes, Jim would rather feel the earth beneath his feet, yes, he would. This barefoot doctor was firmly grounded – he was rooted, focused, and fixated on plants and music.

I spent a lot of time in this garden with Jim. He had his favorite topics and plants. The yin/yang valley and the yin yang huo or the horny goat weed; the faba bean l-dopa and priapism; the evening primrose and alpha linolenic acid; sweet annie, artemisinin and malaria; his stinking rose garlic necklace, the spirit of the wintergreen; St. Johnswort and the FDA; dying his hippy beard yellow, nettles and the five or was it six neurotransmitters…acetylcholine, choline, histamine, leukotriene, and serotonin, and formic acid and occasionally he would say secretin, and I would wonder, “is that a neurotransmitter?”; he sang about how ginseng makes an older woman younger a younger woman hunger, an older man cocksure and an younger man endure; he talked about alcoholic hamsters and kudzu, and he taught about mayapple lemonade and genital warts.

At the beginning of his tours, he also talked about a less known plant Angelica dahurica, “Bai Zhi” – this plant was in his garden to represent Don Quai or Angelica sinensis. He liked to tell students that the plant is in the Apiaceae or Carrot family along with edibles and spices – parsnip, dill, anise, parsley, fennel but also in the same family as poison and water hemlock.

He taught that Angelica dahurica is a biennial as he dug up young roots to show how thick and fleshy they were (show roots). During its first year, the roots are edible and gathered energy from the sun and nutrients from the earth. He taught that the next year it bolted up 4 – 5 feet, put out thickly sheathed large parsley-like leaves, bore numerous flower inflorescences that attracted pollinators and how the flowers’s ovaries ripened to become seeds. Once the plants bolted he would tug at it gently and show how it easily came out from the earth (show dried stalk)…because at this point when the seeds were ripe that the roots, which had once been anchors, were basically non-existent. The next generation had been cast to the wind, seeded, and the adult plant no longer was necessary.

I began to think of how Jim represented Angelica dahurica during the time I knew him -with the earth beneath his feet acting like roots gathering, compiling, working, teaching, so he could…yes he would… spread his wisdom, knowledge and spirit to so many and most importantly – to the next generation. At some point in the last decade, the neuropathy set in and he longer could feel the earth beneath his feet. It took some time for Jim’s anchor to let go, but he did so under his own will. He let go knowing that his seeds, his teachings, would be carried on, and so he sailed away like a swan that’s here and gone.

All of us at the garden and his family will continue to maintain and realize his wish to do whatever is necessary to keep the garden a sanctuary to come, visit and learn – especially in bare feet. Yes we can, and we surely will.

IMG_4276 angelica dahurica rootsIMG_0993IMG_4278IMG_4282 angelica dahurica seeds and plant


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I Come to the Garden Alone


James A. Duke (4 April 1929 ~ 10 December 2017)

With sadness, we wish to inform readers of this Green Farmacy Garden blog site that Jim Duke peacefully passed in his home on December 10, 2017. He lived an amazing life filled with adventure, plants, people and music until his senectitude at age 88. Jim’s desire was for his medicinal plant sanctuary to continue for as long as possible to educate and inspire students. We, at the Green Farmacy Garden, are committed to Jim’s vision and will maintain the garden for tours and workshops. Look for a list our tours and workshops in the spring.

to read tributes of Jim, click on the following links:







Remembering Jim.


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Spicebush – Ethnobotany and division of the flower sexes

3 April 2017 ~ Jim’s ethnobotany of spicebush below Helen’s observations.

Traipsing through the lowland forest this past weekend and even on the cold dreary days of last week, it was impossible to miss hints lemon yellow glistening in the understory. Drawing nearer, it became detectable that the bright color standing out against the past winter’s worn out brown was from the small flowers of the spicebush shrub, Lindera benzoin. Spicebush is in the Lauraceae or Laurel family, which includes sassafras and avocado.

IMG_0003 Lindera benzoin spicebush

spicebush flowers dominating the color scheme of the understory 4/2/2017

For those of you also in the outdoors this week and near a spicebush, focus in close and look into the flowers. Do you see pollen laden anthers of the male staminate flowers?… or do you see a roundish central pistil overshadowing small non-functional stamens in the female pistillate flowers? There are only male flowers on some bushes and only female flowers on other bushes. This type of division of the flower sexes with separate male plants and separate female plants is indication that spicebush is dioecious. Dioecious means “two houses” and is a term used mostly to apply to species with separate female and male plants. The males produce viable stamen with pollen for cross pollination of the female plants. I noted on my walks that the majority of the spicebush shrubs were bearing male flowers. According to John Eastman in the Book of Forest and Thicket (1992). “the female plants will be pollinated from “early solitary bees, ladybug beetles and by bee flies.” The female flowers will eventually drop, and if pollinated, the ripening ovaries will become lipid rich small red drupes appearing toward the end of summer. Wood thrushes and veeries enjoy the ripened fruit as do an occasional songbird.


P1070404 *spicebush berries lindera benzoin

spicebush berries or drupes

Spicebush flowers before the leaves emerge in late winter to early spring. Many folks who frequent the outdoors in the mid-Atlantic know this native plant even in a deer nibbled wood. Deer avoid munching on this plant most likely due to the aromatic scent just beneath the outer bark ~ making it unappetizing for these four-legged herbaceous beings. Often spicebush is the most prolific understory plant where deer are in high populations. The scent is one of nature’s defense mechanisms. No matter the season, scratch the bark and the spicy citrusy scent is very apparent. The scent is also apparent in the flowers bark and berries.

male staminate flowers lindera benzoin spicebush

Spicebush male staminate flowers above and female pistillate flowers below (not quite opened) photo taken at the macrophotography studio of the USGS Bee Monitoring and Monitoring Lab

Lindera benzoin pistillate flower, 23 March 2017 spicebush, Howard County, MD, Helen Lowe Metzman_2017-03-24-16.44

Jim Duke, who turns 88 on 4/4/2017 on spicebush:

on the phytochemicals:

“thanks to the work of Tucker and associates (1994), we know that the leaf essential oil is dominated by beta-caryophyllene (~ 15-50%), 6-methyl-5-hepten-2-one (~2-35%), and (E)-nerolidol (~10-12%). The twig essential oil is dominated by 1,8-cineole (~45%), sabine (~7%), alpha-terpineol (~ 7%), and alpha-pinene (~6%). Fruits are dominated by alpha-phellandrene (~65%). (Tucker, Maciarello, Burbage and Sturtz, 1994).

That shows the chemical variation in different plant parts. If you were after a single phytochemcial, you would usually find more beta-caryophyllene in the leaf essential oil, more 1,8-cineole in the twigs, and more phellandrene in the fruits. Once we get our database integrated this might hint at which part of the plant might be better for a given indication. There are at least four antiyeast compounds in spicebush: borneol, cineole, limonene and beta-pinene. This suggests, but by no means proves, that you’d be better off with the twigs for a yeast infection. Coincidentally, I am suffering a yeast overgrowth now as a result of Doxicyclene. In addition to Lactobacillus, I am taking garlic and spice bush tea from the back yard to curb the yeast.”

SPICEBUSH by Jim Duke (Written before his retirement almost twenty years ago)

Approaching retirement from the federal government, I am getting a bit more uninhibited about sounding off on one of my favorite themes, giving the herbal alternative a fair shake. Today, I’ll just talk about spicebush (Lindera benzoin), its culinary and folk medicinal uses, and its potential as a remedy for yeast (candidiasis), an ailment widely mentioned on TV today..

Spicebush is one of the commonest undershrubs in the forest around my place. And it has quite a bit of folklore about it. Still I don’t find reports on the chemicals which no doubt contribute to its aromatic, culinary, essential oil, medicinal, and pesticidal properties. We and the Asians have studied their species of Lindera while ignoring ours. And some American scientists, while busy studying alien species of Cocos, Cuphea, and Umbellularia as sources of lauric acid, ignore this copious resource in our back yards.

Is spicebush a food? Facciola (Cornucopia, Kampong Publ. Vista Ca. 1990) says:

“Young leaves, twigs, and fruits contain an aromatic oil and make a very fragrant tea. The twigs are best gathered when in flower as the nectar adds considerably to the flavor. Dried and powdered fruits can be used as a substitute for allspice. The new bark is pleasant to chew.”

King’s American Dispensatory (Eclectic Institute, Reprint 1984) says:

“The dried berries were used during the American Revolution and in the South during the late Rebellion as a substitute for allspice … The bark, in decoction, is said to be refrigerant and exhilarating, and exceedingly useful in all kinds of fever, for allaying excessive heat and uneasiness; a warm decoction is employed to produce diaphoresis. The decoction may be drunk freely.”

I quote these directly so you, and the FDA, may see that they have served as tea and spice for years. That puts them in the category I abbreviate GRAF, generally recognized as food.

In my Handbook of Northeastern Indian Medicinal Plants (Quarterman Publ., Licoln Mass. 1986), I mention that the Cherokee Indians used spicebush for blood disorders, cold, cough, croup, dysmenorrhea, hives, phthisis and swellings. Cherokee drank spicebush tea as a spring tonic, and steeped the bark with wild cherry and dogwood in corn whiskey to break out measles. Creek Indians used the teas for pains of rheumatism, (anodyne antirheumatic), for purifying the blood (depurative) and making themselves puke and sweat. (emetic and diaphoretic). Wisely they added willow to spicebush tea for drinking and using in the sweat lodges for rheumatism. The drug of choice today is still usually based on salicylates derived from willows. Ojibwa took the tea for anemia and that “tired rundown feeling”. Rappahannock used the tea for menstrual pain or delayed periods.

To these Moerman (Medicinal Plants of Native America. Mus. Anthropol., Tech Rept. 19. 1986), in his more extensive survey adds that the Cherokee also took the tea for hives (sometimes associated with yeast, JAD). Iroquois used it for colds, fevers, gonorrhea, measles, and syphilis. Mohegans chewed the leaves or took the tea for worms.

In their Peterson Field Guide to Medicinal Plants (Houghton Miflin, Boston. 1990), Foster and Duke add that the settlers used the berries as a substitute for allspice. It’s not bad! Medicinally the berries were used as a carminative for flatulence and colic. The oil from the fruits was applied to bruises and muscles or joints for chronic rheumatism. The tea made from the twigs was popular with the settlers (and available all year) for colds, colic, fevers, gas, and worms. The bark tea was used for various fevers, including typhoid, and to expel worms.

In all that listing of applications, there’s not much folklore to anticipate that spicebush might be useful in yeast (candidiasis). But maybe the Indians didn’t have yeast. Apparently the yeast is a normal component of the flora of all human beings.

Maybe cadidiasis is mostly an iatrogenic ailment, induced by our medicines. Respected naturopaths, Murray and Pizzorno (Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine, Prima Publishing, Rocklin CA. 1991) say that when antibiotic use first became widespread, it was noted immediately that yeast infections increased. White man’s alcohol, anti-ulcer drugs, corticosteroids, increase in diabetes, oral contraceptives, tights insead or cotton undergarments, and too much sugar in the diet all may have contributed to the emergence of candidiasis as a major ailment, today afflicting half our womenfolk. The total incidence and relative frequency of vaginal candidiasis have increased more than two-fold since the late 1960’s.

There are a lot of synthetic alternatives for yeast, Nystatin, which is effective in mild cases. But Murray and Pizzorno suggest that garlic is more effective than Nystatin. I’d like to see the results of comparative heads-on trials between garlic, Nystatin and spicebush extracts. I’d like to see spicebush extracts compared also to Terazol, which reportedly leads to recovery of 95% of patients within three days. I’d like to see it compared with butacoconazole (Femstat), clotrimazole (Gyne-Lotrimin), ketoconazole (Nizoral) and miconazole (Monistat), all reportedly with an 80-90% cure rate. But the Graedons, after listing the latter four, reiterate the anecdote of the lady who had wasted $2,000 in office fees and medication, when a GP prescribed douching three times a day with 2 tablespoons vinegar in a quart of water (Graedons, 1991). That solved her $2,000 problem.

Studying 54 plant species for antimicrobial effects, Heisey and Gorham (1992; Letts. Appl. Microbiol. 14: 136-9.) found that extract of stem bark of Lindera benzoin (“spicebush”) strongly inhibited yeast (Candida albicans), much better than any of the other 53 species. (Walnut husks also showed some activity.). Now if vinegar could have saved that lady $2,000, might not a vinegar extract of spicebush bark and garlic be even better. Spicebush is best of the 54 studied. Garlic is reportedly better than Nystatin. I suspect that our mixture might be as safe and efficacious as any of the drugs names above, but we’ll never known.

You’ve seen the flurry of ads for expensive over-the-counter “remedies” for yeast. “See your doctor if you’re not sure. But if you’re sure you have yeast, use our brand.” Ten years ago, my doctor told me you couldn’t be sure without identification of the microorganisms involved. I doubt that has changed. Our FDA has become more relaxed in this regard. But if you started selling spicebush/garlic/vinegar for yeast, you’d be breaking the law, and the FDA might get you. But they won’t bother those OTC drugs because they have been proven safe and effective, to the FDA’s satisfaction, apparently. Are they more or less safe and efficacious than spicebush/garlic/vinegar? I don’t know. You don’t know. The FDA doesn’t know. The drug companies and physicians don’t know.

I want the best medicine for myself and my family. But nobody is going to invest $231 million to prove that spicebush/garlic/vinegar is safe and efficacious for vaginal candidiasis. Hence we’ll never know. Unless somehow, we convince some influential congressperson that no new drug for candidiasis should be permitted unless it is compared, not only to placebo, but to the best herbal alternative (s) as well. If the herbal alternative works safely, the world should know if. More than two-thirds of the world’s population and nearly a third of Americans can no longer afford the high-tech synthetic options. And their cost is going up at a much higher rate than other segments of our economy. So fewer and fewer of us can afford the modern pharmaceutical. And there’s no governmental or private incentive to investigate the cheap herbal alternatives, that may be as safe and efficacious.



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We’ve gotta get ourselves back to the garden

March 9, 2017

Maybe its the time of year or maybe its the time of man….but it’s definitely the time to get back to the garden. As the last third of winter descends on the Green Farmacy Garden, we are back pruning woody plants and removing the last year’s annuals and perennials stubble of dead growth wearing t-shirts one day and bundled up in our thick coats the next. Climate confusion with a fluctuating roller coaster of hot and cold temperatures seems to have become the norm the past several years. The early warmth last week of temperatures close to 80 degrees summoned new growth and buds to swell only to be followed by a sudden dip back to the freezing 20’s and unfortunately nipping the tender growth. Plants such as the coltsfoot and butterbur emerge yearly as the earliest bloomers and push up their flower inflorescences prior to their leaves. Slippery elm, horny goat weed, Chinese coptis, vinca minor, Christmas rose, shepherds purse and bitter cress are also amongst our early flowering arrivals.

It’s also the time of year that many folks still exhibit lingering coughs.  Possible relief for respiratory irritations from two of our early bloomers comes to mind.  Coltsfoot, Tussilago farfara, a member of the Aster family, with its sunny yellow flat topped ray flowers upon a scaly scape are easy to spot among the decaying leaves. Coltsfoot is indicated to reside in our asthma, bronchitis, cold and smoking plots – but currently is only in our asthma plot. The dried flowers and horseshoe shaped leaves are traditionally used for their mucilaginous, soothing, expectorant and antitussive qualities. While coltsfoot was used for centuries as a respiratory demulcent, there are now safety concerns with prolonged and large dose uses of this plant due to the pyrrolizidine alkaloids – specifically senkirkine -that are found in the plant. The pyrrolizidine alkaloids may have hepatotoxic (liver harming) properties, and for that reason, it is not recommended to take coltsfoot except for short periods of time and at low doses. Coltsfoot is taken as a tea of the dried flowers and leaves, but cautioned to use only in small doses and not by those who have a compromised liver, children, pregnant or nursing moms.

coltsfoot tussilago farfara

Tussilago farfara, Coltsfoot in flower

While there may be a risk with taking coltsfoot as an expectorant, slippery elm poses no apparent safety issues. Slippery elm, Ulmus rubra, is harvested for its slimy or mucilaginous inner bark. At the Green Farmacy Garden, we harvested small diameter twigs last week to keep our tree from getting too tall; but to get the best medicine, harvest when the sap is running on larger diameter branches or trunks. Slippery elm, like American elm, is susceptible to Dutch Elm disease spread from a fungus and an elm bark beetle. Slippery elm is also on the United Plant Savers “at risk*” list. Sustainable harvest is essential for this native plant. Only harvest from plants that may be subjected to Dutch elm before the inner bark is affected or only take branches or parts of the bark of healthy trees without girdling the tree. Girdling kills the tree by cutting off the food and water routes of the plant and could invite Dutch elm disease. Cut off the corky outer bark to find the slimy inner cambium layer that readily peels off. Dried slippery elm bark can be chewed as is, or made into powder for a delicious nutritive porridge or a tea.


Jared and Andrea harvesting from the just pruned slippery elm branches


Slippery elm flower in bloom

Here is the recipe for Nutritive Gruel of Slippery Elm from one of our beloved Appalachian teachers, Paul Strauss:

“To make a nourish gruel, bring 1 cup of milk to a simmer. Add 1-1/2 teaspoon of powdered slippery elm and 1 teaspoon of honey to the milk and stir until it reaches the boiling point. Remove from the heat. Stir the gruel a few seconds more, adding a pinch of cinnamon powder if desired. This is delicious and very good for young children.”

We adapted the recipe at the Green Farmacy to use about a half cup of  milk, water, or a milk substitute like almond, coconut or flax milk and a couple of tablespoons of slippery elm powdered bark, and spiced with cinnamon and honey to make thick delicious gruel.


harvested inner bark from pruned branches of slippery elm..typically larger branches are used to harvest the cambium layer


dried and powdered bark

slippery elm gruel_3621

nutritive gruel

IMG_3624 andrea thumbs up slippery elm

Andrea gives slippery elm gruel a thumbs up

slippery elm thayers

or… simply go to the store and buy slippery elm lozenges or a health food store to get powder.

The medicine from slippery elm bark is not only used for inflamed sore throats and coughs, but also excellent to coat the gut for irritable bowel, and as a poultice for wounds and dry chapped skin.

* The conservation of native medicinal at risk plants like slippery elm is of significant concern. It’s the time of year to please consider becoming a member of United Plant Savers during the March Membership Drive. Supporting United Plant Savers helps to ensure the renewal of native medicinal plants for future generations.

For more information about United Plant Savers and becoming a member please see https://www.unitedplantsavers.org/

For more info regarding tours and volunteering at the Green Farmacy Garden contact us at greenfarmacygarden@gmail.com


Sanguinaria canadensis, bloodroot, blooming March 7, 2017 almost a month before it typically blooms.


Helleborus niger, Lenten Rose blooms with snow dusting


Epimedium sagittatum, Horny Goat Weed in flower and buds


Wood frog, Rana sylvatica, down in the pond


Wood frog eggs laid the first week of March

gfg barn

the old barn on the edge of the valley

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Jim Duke Speaks for the Plants

An Interview with Jim in a video created by Jason Bryan in 2016:

Interview with Dr. James Duke 2013
In this interview with Dr. James Duke, he explains his inspirations for studying ethnobotany and talks about his time in the field. Videography: Charlie Weber | Editing: Courtney Adkisson for the Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage


as reprinted from



By Hannah Norris, Intern,
Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage

Dr. James Duke is a botanist known for his extensive study of plants and their medicinal properties. Curator Betty Belanus made two field visits to Dr. Duke’s garden, the first with intern Hannah McConnell and research associate Sita Reddy, and the second with intern Katie Fernandez, video producer Charlie Weber, and Karen Anne Malkin of the USDA. Ongoing research on traditional medicine may lead to a future Smithsonian Folklife Festival program, or at least help inform future presentations of traditional medicine practices of various groups to the Festival.

Dr. Duke believes that natural remedies from plants are much healthier for people than the synthetically produced medications often prescribed. This conviction is a result of his many years of plant research done both academically and professionally.

The practice of using plants as medicine is known as traditional medicine. Humans across the globe have been using plants to prevent and cure disease for at least five thousand years, with written references in the Old Testament and in Egyptian manuscripts like the Ebers Papyrus. Early in his career, Dr. Duke began conducting research in the forests of Latin America, including extensive field visits to Panama. He was convinced that plants can serve the body with far fewer and less dangerous side effects than man-made pharmaceuticals.

“There’s a process called homeostasis,” he says. “By this process, your body, more than your doctor, or your quack, or your shaman, or your herbalist, knows what your body needs. You’re not going to have so many side effects through this homeostatic process of your body grabbing the chemicals that it knows it needs.”

He is author of the book The Green Pharmacy, which offers recommendations on herbal remedies for 120 common diseases and conditions. Dr. Duke also has a “teaching garden” dedicated to the cultivation and research of various medicinal herbs which he readily shows to visitors.

In this online exhibition, the theme of traditional medicine is explored through the story and work of Dr. Duke. His years of research at home and abroad as well as experience recommending herbal remedies provide a vast sum of resources for anyone interested in traditional medicine.

A Visit to the Green Farmacy Garden, Fall 2013
Dr. Duke and gardener Helen Metzman lead an exploration through the Green Farmacy Garden, giving examples of how their plants can be used as medicine.



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87th Birthday Note from Jim Duke


Excuse my corny canned birthday note!  On April 2, I instrumentally backed Jared and John as we played some bluegrass in the sunshine on the patio for a garden tour, son John on guitar, gardener Jared on mandolin, me on the bass fiddle. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pry53UbSm5M

(As many of you know, I play standup  bass fiddle but neuropathologically I can no longer stand up). Unsolicited they also did Happy Birthday to me. I’m 87 today, April 4, 2016, two days later. Generates a bit of nostalgia about puppy love and bass fiddles. I fell in puppy love with lovely 14-year country bassist Carolyn Jean Saylor when I was 15 in Hugh Morson High School. She and her attractive older sister, Wanda, and mother (also Jean) constituted the Saylor Sisters lovely to look at AND hear, Jeannie played bass, Wanda accordion, and their mother, Jean, guitar, I conned my generous dad into paying half the cost of a used bass fiddle (50 bucks each) and that started my affair with the  bass fiddle. Within less than 2 years, I was recording (on the bass fiddle) Briarhopper Boogie (key of e) with Homer A, Briarhopper and the Dixies Dudes, in the Ernest Tubb’s Studio near the Grand Old Opry in Nashville. The 16 year old kid Jimmy Duke was pretty proud.. In college at UNC, and married to Jeannie, at 19.  I started UNC as a music major, with bass and bow. Not my cup of tea. I quickly switched to botany as a major, playing combo and big band bass, with Jeannie singing jazz in both big band and small combo j.. So I’ve been playing bass mediocrely 72 years. Jeannie left us all too soon. But she triggered my long time association with the bass fiddle.

Jim, John and Jared jam Paradise Lost to the students of Allegheny College

Jim, John and Jared jam “Paradise Lost” to the students of Allegany College of Maryland








Director’s Note: As Jim plays bass well into his golden years, the garden’s Goldenseal Hydrastis canadensis emerged a bit early glistening with staminate flowers:

Goldenseal, Hydrastis canadensis, emerging in early spring

Goldenseal, Hydrastis canadensis, emerging in early spring

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Green Farmacy Garden Greetings

28 March 2016

With the arrival of warmer than usual temperatures these last few weeks, the garden quickly awakened from its winter rest. Buds overwintering were hastily summoned to burst open and we were greeted by the flowers of:

butterbur, Petasites japonicusIMG_9225

coltsfoot, Tussilago farfara  IMG_9390

snowdrops, Galanthus nivalis  IMG_8949

slippery elm, Ulmus rubra IMG_9926lesser celandine, forsythia, Chinese coptis, yellowroot, rosemary, bloodroot and spicebush, Lindera benzoin IMG_9966 lindera benzoin spice bush  flowers.

Meanwhile, wood frogs, primed for mating delights, romped and “quacked” in the pond:IMG_9869and off in the distance, a chorus of spring peepers filled the airwaves. Phoebe, incessantly bobbing its tail and calling its name, returned and is building a nest under the Duke’s deck. The pair of red-shouldered hawks are seen circling overhead or gliding into the yin-yang valley also to tend their nest.


Year after year, these are our harbingers of another season of for The Green Farmacy Garden. 

To witness the stirring of winter into spring, to listen to the calls of amphibians and birds, to smell the organic chemistry of sweet birch, sweet Cicely and spicebush, to feel the cool earth warming, and to taste the wildness of nettles, chickweed, winter cress, and slippery elm bark marks yet another year. The patterns and rhythms of the flora and fauna, and even a fickle March, are all apart of the phenology – observing the seasonal changes of nature.  

With the change of weather and with this 2016 season, we have two new gardeners: 

Jared Gulliford (pruning sweet birch, Betula lenta, that was later made into tea and infused into oil)IMG_9911 and Elana Metzman (using a draw knife to remove slippery elm, Ulmus rubra, inner bark that she later dried and will grind for powders)IMG_9918Jim Duke, turning 87 in a week, continues to compile plant data and play stand up bass while sitting on his exercise bike. 

All of us – including the five-lined skink IMG_0059and Eastern mole IMG_0076.JPG

– are gearing up and getting down and dirty while preparing our medicinal plant garden for tours and workshops.

A listing of tours can be found on  https://thegreenfarmacygarden.com/tours-and-events/ Upcoming workshops will be listed ASAP.

If you are interested in receiving notices about volunteer times, tours, and workshops, please email greenfarmacygarden@gmail.com 

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