Garden Lifestyle

Autumn Herbs in the Ozarks

On the road in the Ozarks.

Sassafras leaves are turning lovely shades of pink and coral. This plant is easily identified because of the three different leaf shapes on one plant: oval-shaped, mitten-shaped, and three-lobed. And then there is the aromatic rootbeer odor when the bark is rubbed or leaves are crumbled. Click on pix to enlarge and read captions.
Photo/Illustration: Susan Belsinger

On the road in the Ozarks… here are some photos of the Heritage Herb Gardens at the Ozark Folk Center, as well as some roadside natives, in Mountain View, Arkansas. Do you know these herbs?

The herb beds are gorgeous now and it is time to harvest and dry the herbs for culinary and medicinal use. /item/3759/video-how-to-dry-herbs While whole plants of annual herbs can be harvested back to the ground or pulled up completley, it is best to trim perennials back by about one-third to at most, one-half of their size. The plantings artemisias (herb of the year 2014) /item/14655/artemisia-herb-of-the-year-2014 and scented geraniums are huge and beautiful–perfect for making cuttings. /item/9784/rooting-herb-cuttings

The autumn weather has affected the flora of the Ozark Mountains causing leaves to change color and some have already started to fall. The sumacs, which grow in large masses along the roadside turned shades of red, purple and dark pink along with the poke, poison ivy and dogwoods. Scarlet berries of dogwood, spicebush and euonymous add splashes of color.

Besides the sumac, many of the persimmons have lost their leaves and as they say down here, boy howdy, are they ever loaded with fruit. Although some of the fruit is falling to the ground, one must wait until there is a frost to harvest and eat ripe persimmons. Another wild food, which is best after it has frosted, is the Jerusalem artichoke–even though their bright yellow blooms faded a few weeks ago and their foliage is fading–they are best dug after a frost. Shades of pink, gold, bronze and orange are displayed on the leaves of the sassafras, sycamore and gum trees, three-seeded Mercury and feathery blooms of goldenrod.

The mountain view is no longer verdant green–there are various shades of brown–and brilliant splashes of autumn hues. Here in the Ozarks, folks travel to see the color, which is equally as beautiful as New England, the roads are less crowded and the weather is warmer. Fall festivals abound and there are apples, cider, pumpkins, gourds and squash at roadside stands. At the Ozark Folk Center Heritage Herb Gardens, gardeneners and volunteers are busy harvesting herbs to dry, seeds to dry for next year, moving tender plants in to the greenhouses and coldframes and tidying up for winter. There are lots of visitors–besides the gardens, the craft village is a great place to visit with hands-on demos and first-person interpretation–and there is always local musicians playing music. 

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