Friday, July 19, 2019

WALNEY VISITOR CENTER AT ELLENOR C. LAWRENCE PARK - PART 2

The Walney Visitor Center is a converted 1780 farmhouse. 300,000 visitors a year go to the center, for its educational programs and exhibits.  We often see a group of young children under a shaded area outside, all having a lot of fun judging by the laughter and giggles.  I expect when it gets too hot they go to the classroom inside.
To the left of the visitor center there is a large open area, on one side a fenced off garden and on the other a beehive.  There is an electric fence around the beehive.  When we first started coming here, for many years there was no fence at all, but there were also two beehives.  Maybe the fence was put there to protect them from animals like the fox, raccoon, deer, and maybe bear.  All could be tempted by the honey I suppose.  Back then you could get as close as you wanted to those busy bees.  Using lots of common sense of course.  It is always prudent to keep a distance, but they never bothered us as we walked by, and we never bothered them.

Always fascinating to see all the activity.  I will be sharing more about the garden and the bees in another post eventually.  I took lots of photos on our second visit.  The garden was locked on this day, and as I knew we were coming back I left the bees to themselves.
I was surprised and yet very interested to see a small tobacco crop.  You can read all about it here.  
In part it said the plant is indigenous to the island of Hispaniola in the Caribbean, where the Arawak/Taino people were the first to use and cultivate.  In 1560 Jean Nicot de Villemain, then the French ambassador to Portugal, brought tobacco seeds and leaves as a 'wonder drug' to the French Court.  

In 1586 the botanist Jaques Dalechamps gave the plant the name of Herba nicotiana, which was also adopted by Linné.  It was considered a decorative plant at first, then a panacea, before it became a common snuff and tobacco plant.  

Tobacco arrived in Africa at the beginning of the 17th century.  The leaf extracted was a popular pest control method up to the beginning of the 20th century.  In 1851 the Belgian chemist Jean Stas documented the use of tobacco extracted as a murder poison.  A Belgian Count, Hippolyte Visart de Bocarmé, poisoned his brother-in-law with tobacco leaf extract.  This was in order to acquire some urgently needed money.  It was the first exact proof of alkaloids in forensic medicine.  

Fascinating and at the same time being well aware of all the health problems people suffer from because of it.  The dreaded weed my parents called it, both of whom were life-long smokers.  When I first got married and we took mini road trips, I remember seeing these very tall barns that looked odd to any other barn I had ever seen.  I was told that they were for hanging and drying tobacco leaves. If you go to this website called World Atlas, it will tell you all about it. I was interested to learn tobacco is also grown in China, India and Brazil.
New since we were here last is another fenced in area where apple trees have been planted, or maybe other fruit trees.  A little too far away to identify what was growing.  There was a yellow pumpkin that had grown outside the first fenced off garden, ready and waiting for any critter to have a treat.
If you go here it will tell you all about the flowers of the pumpkin.
We spotted critters around the garden but with just the cell phone it was hard to get any decent close-ups.  Gregg managed to get a photo of a rabbit.  We saw another on the other side of the garden half an hour later. I am always wary of walking over uneven grassy areas, since I put my foot down a rabbit hole years ago and had the worst ankle sprain of my life.  I saw a couple of rabbit holes but thankfully they were quite visible.  Earlier we saw a chipmunk scurrying across the path, and several birds were at the feeders.  Next time we won't forget our other camera. 
Always interesting to see fungi growing from a tree trunk.
From what I saw here, this looks like Bracket fungus.  They are of "the mushroom family and have been used in folk medicines for centuries.  Bracket fungus info tell us that their hard, woody bodies were ground to powder and used in teas.  Unlike many of their mushroom cousins, most are inedible and of the few that can be eaten, most are poisonous." 

You really have to know your mushrooms and as I don't, there is no way I would pick any without a serious expert along.  I do remember the field mushrooms when I was young, but Mother would buy them from the greengrocer.  They were delicious, as big as dinner plates some of them.
So, that is my post for today.  I hope you enjoyed it and thank you for visiting.  Enjoy your day.







38 comments:

  1. What a wonderful post today! We have seen fields and fields of tobacco, but never saw these pretty blooms! And I never knew any of this interesting history! Death by tobacco! Way back then, I wonder how they could prove that tobacco extract was the cause of death...

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    1. Thank you Ginny :) I have wondered that myself, how did they prove it all those years ago?

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  2. I was particularly taken with the funghi and the escapee pumpkin, but thoroughly enjoyed my visit. Thank you.

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    1. Obrigado por seus comentários gentis. Gostaria de lhe desejar um bom fim de semana também :)

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  4. The Arawak/Taino people have a lot to answer for! The male family members here always smoked pipes and it used to intrigue my to watch grandfather stuff tobacco into the pipe and then setting fire to it. As a youngster I failed to see the logic of the action...lol.

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    1. I remember the pipes Valerie :) My dad, his brother and their dad smoked a pipe. I remember enjoying the aroma of a pipe, but cigarettes not so much

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  5. I like such places and old houses. An interesting story about tobacco and mushrooms. We do not have rabbits living in the wild, I really like rabbits, although they are pests;)

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    1. Me too Lucyna, I love old houses. How interesting about your rabbits. I know they like to get into people's gardens here, but there are so many other animals who do the same, like the racoon and the deer.

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  6. Bees!

    They are so important and so few these days. Good to see someone helping them along. What is the right word? Farming? Cultivating? Keeping?

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    1. Yes indeed Sandi, and not sure what that word might be but all three are good :) I just looked it up and found 'apiculturist'.

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  7. Hello, what a wonderful place to visit. I love all the plants and the cute bunny. Enjoy your day! Have a happy weekend.

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    1. Thank you Eileen, it isn't as big as some places we have been to, but it is just as enjoyable. You have a great day and weekend also :)

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  8. This post took a lot of effort. I didn't know all these fats about tobacco.

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    1. Hi Red, I never know what is going to happen when I start a post. It just seems to evolve, and then sometimes it doesn't :)

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  9. I grew up seeing those tobacco fields and big drying barns. I did not know or did not remember that it gets flowers. I am amazed they have it there though. it is a beautiful place and I am thinking to have that gorgeous farm house they would have had to be rich which is what tobacco could do for them

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    1. How interesting Sandra. I would love to live in an old farmhouse. Ah well, in my next lifetime maybe :)

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  10. What a beautiful place to visit! A desert variety of tobacco grows in the wild around here but the leaves are much smaller than the ones you found. That pumpkin plant looks so good, maybe a rabbit would like to eat that flower if it can reach.

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    1. Thank you Diane, and how very interesting about your wild tobacco. I bet it would, the rabbit I mean :) I was interested to see online how those flowers can be used in cooking.

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  11. The rabbit is cute!

    There's a limited area in Ontario where tobacco is grown.

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    1. Yes he was and that is interesting about the tobacco in Ontario. Thanks William!

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  12. Looks like a great spot to meander around. Have a fab weekend Diane

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  13. Looks a wonderful place to visit.
    Many thanks for your photographs and information … appreciated.

    All the best Jan

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    1. You are very welcome Jan, so glad you enjoyed it. All the best to you too :)

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  14. Thanks for an interesting post. I didn't know tobacco had such a pretty flower but have long loved the pumpkin flower. We have wild rabbits here but they are far too wily to be photographed.

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    1. I didn't know it had those pretty flowers either Pauline :) I learned something new on this trip. Our rabbits are a bit skittish too, usually we don't have a chance photographing them.

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  15. Pretty purple blossoms from the tobacco plants

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  16. Hi Denise,
    Another interesting place to visit introduced to us, some fascinating facts on tobacco that I had never heard about.
    Also so good to see the bee hive and it appears to be a busy hive.
    Super post, have a good weekend.
    All the best,
    John

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    1. Hi John, glad you enjoyed it. It was a very busy hive. Thank you, and you have a good weekend also. All the best :)

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  17. Thank you, Denise! This was so interesting and I learned a bit about tobacco and its uses throughout history that I did not know before. Stay cool on this Sunday in your little corner of our nation! I know the temps are soaring there.

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    1. Hi Sara, so good to see you visiting. Thank you! Yes we were having 100 degree heat but have a respite now and are spending a week in the mountains. Much cooler up here. Hopefully, there are cooler temperatures elsewhere also :) Thank you for your well wishes, and I hope you are having a great week so far and the rest will be equally so :)

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  18. Just read An article in this mornings paper about volunteers working to preserve native Oregon bees, including educational efforts for adults and children. Really glad to see that happening here and in your area and it should happen everywhere! What a lovely and interesting place you found to walk here. I didn’t know that history about ‘the dreaded weed’ ...interesting it was once thought of as a medicine! (three of our four parents eventually paid the price for their addiction, so dreaded is a mild description to us.)

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    1. That's good to know Sallie, about the bees, and thank you for telling me. We are all trying our best. I know what you mean about your family paying the price. My own did too sad to say.

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  19. I love your posts like this. I grew up helping raise tobacco...ours was a lot bigger than this. And there is a LOT of work involved. LOL

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    1. That is so interesting Rose, I bet you have many interesting stories to tell. Thanks for sharing :)

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