I took a plant walk this past March at Mountain Gardens located just outside of Burnsville, North Carolina. Mountain Gardens is the brainchild of Joe Hollis, a famed local root doctor and a classically trained herbalist in Chinese Medicine.
I visited in mid-March, which is quite early in this part of country given the elevation to see much in the way of plant life. In spite of this, Joe was able to point out (and sometimes uproot), plenty of plants to fill the whole time period.
The walk consisted of an examination of the various plants such as Trillium, Wild Ginger, and Bloodroot, that were growing at the time of my visit and an explanation of their medicinal properties. It was fascinating, and it also happily reminded me of my childhood. I grew up in south Mississippi with a horticulturist grandfather, who inspired my lifelong love of plants, and I used to walk with him in the woods and learn about our local plants.
Mountain Gardens accepts apprentices who live in a communal community while learning all aspects of how to create and manage ethnobotanical gardens. During my visit I met a young lady from British Columbia who was working as an apprentice there and she spoke highly of the program and what she was learning. If you are interested in becoming an apprentice, be aware that it’s off-the-grid living.
Upon arrival, they suggested an optional post-walk dinner for $45 where participants foraged and helped prepare dinner from plants shown during the tour. At the time, it was cash on-site only, so we couldn’t participate. Hopefully, they will mention this as option when you sign up and pay for tours going forward.
I loved the tour. Joe is a treasure of plant healing knowledge, plant lore, and practical gardening. Check it out future tours if you get a chance and support someone who has devoted their life to living the Green Path. He really deserves it!