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Jamba Juice

Jamba JuicesI think this store is going to change my life.

Although I have run across a Jamba Juice store or two while traveling, I never paid much attention. But this week, I got the opportunity to stop by the newest Charlotte store in Piper Glen for some samples and demos, and now I’m feeling positively evangelical!

It really stood out to me because all the juices are freshly squeezed from fresh fruits and vegetables, nothing frozen, and no added sugars. Nothing they serve has trans fats. There is a creative selection of juices and smoothies but also breakfast wraps, steel cut oatmeal and some sandwiches. The menu changes with the seasons and availability of produce, or when good new ideas come their way…keeps it interesting.

My favorite juice is the Citrus Kick which is a blend of orange, apple, pineapple, and gingerroot. So unbelievably delicious, and so healthy! The spinach egg white wrap was really good, too, but so was everything else I tried. It’s incredible how different fresh apple juice is from what we typically think of as apple juice. Same with everything else!

I have found the staff friendly, patient, and especially helpful with brand new customers trying to decide what to order. And the atmosphere is cheerful and upbeat.

jamba juice energy bowlThe Piper Glen store (in the Trader Joe’s shopping complex) is right next to the McAlpine Greenway, which makes it a nice reward stop after you’ve done your exercise. Child-friendly items and sizes make it a perfect after school stop as well. And given the price of juicers and produce to make your own, this place is a reasonably priced alternative.

If you have never been to Jamba Juice, check out the menu and locations: There are four stores in Charlotte, but there are over 800 stores in the US and around the world. Sign up for their Jamba Insider Rewards Program and get $3 off your first purchase. You can order online if you prefer to just pick it up when you get there without waiting in line.

For a jumpstart, I have a $10 gift certificate for one of you (good anywhere in the USA). If you would like to have it, leave a comment here or on A Charlotte Garden’s Facebook page. If you’re shy, you can just “like” the post and I’ll count that. Winner will be randomly chosen on Sunday, November 22, 2015. I will drop it in the mail to you the next day. Only US addresses, please.

Do try Jamba Juice if you haven’t already and tell me what you think. I seriously loved it! (And went back the next day.)


Photos courtesy of Jamba Juice Company.

UPDATE November 22, 2015: The gift card goes to Terri Wilburn! I hope you enjoy Jamba Juice as much as I do, Terri. :)

Schlumbergera truncata ‘Caribbean Dancer’

Schlumbergera truncata Carribean Dancer

Scientific name: Schlumbergera truncata ‘Caribbean Dancer’

Common names: Thanksgiving cactus, Christmas cactus, false Christmas cactus, holiday cactus, crab cactus

Family: Cactaceae

Nativity: Eastern Brazil

Location: Houseplant at Oakleaf Woods

Date: November 16, 2015

Notes: ‘Caribbean Dancer’ is one of my earliest-blooming Schlumbergera. This year it was in bud by the beginning of October and in bloom by the beginning of the second week of November. The bicolor flowers are also some of the brightest, most intensely colored.

If you call these cacti that bloom in November “Christmas cactus,” you may be corrected with the explanation that Christmas cactus is a different plant altogether—the hybrid Schlumbergera x buckleyi which blooms laterand that Schlumbergera truncata is correctly called, “Thanksgiving cactus.” My feeling is that common names don’t mean much, they aren’t standardized, and really you can call a plant anything you want to. In fact, Schlumbergera truncata is called Christmas cactus more often than not. Using scientific names is the way to avoid misunderstanding. Both of these plants conveniently bloom during our long holiday season in the USA.

Mr. Subjective’s article about Schlumbergera at Plants are the Strangest People is the best, most detailed I’ve seen:

Antsy Acorns

Live Oak Acorns on Tree

I learned something on my walk today. Sometimes southern live oak acorns sprout while still on the tree!

live oak acorns

Don’t they look like worms crawling out? Live oak acorns aren’t viable for very long after they fall from the tree, and sometimes they get  a head start.

Root Tip of Sprouting Live Oak Acorn

That jelly-like glob at the end will help keep the root tip from drying out until it gets good soil contact, and then adhere it to the ground once it lands.

Southern live oaks (Quercus virginiana) are host plants for Horace’s Duskywing, White M Hairstreak, and Northern Hairstreak butterflies, and the Consular Oakworm moth. Hopefully the caterpillars of one of these is the reason for so many ragged leaves!

[EDITED 11.08.15 to add:

Acorns sprouting on the tree is called vivipary and is most likely to occur during warm, wet fall weather. It is common in southern live oaks and sometimes occurs in other oak species as well.

Collection and Care of Acorns PDF

“A New Method of Germinating Acorns for Forest Planting” by John W. Harshberger, 1916

The Importance of Root-cap Mucilage for Plant and Soil
Root cap mucilage can serve several purposes. It might also keep excess water out of the acorn.

Southern Live Oak

Thanks to members of the NCNPS Facebook page for prompting me to dig a little deeper! ;)]

Beyond the Parking Lot

Flooded field in the Coastal Plain of North Carolina

You never really have to go far to botanize. Spending a day in the mountains or in a state park is nice, but sometimes all you need to do is walk to the edge of the parking lot!

Ocean Isle Beach Agalinis

This field beside a Lowe’s Foods near Ocean Isle Beach, North Carolina, is a textural sweep of fall color and wildflowers. Beach false foxglove (Agalinis fasciculata) bobs in the breeze at the edge of the muck.

Agalinis fasciculata Beach False Foxglove

I think my thumb is clearer in this picture than the inside of the flower is, but it’s pretty in there, dotted and luminous.

Ocean Isle Beach Field

Fresh succulence dots the sandy path and relieves the melancholic tug of waning light and fading plants.

Ocean Isle Beach Field

Grasses and young loblolly pines dominate higher and drier expanses of the field.

Rustweed (Polypremum procumbens)

Was this poor plant victim of a worker using spray paint to mark something? In his field guide Wildflowers of the Sandhills Region, Bruce Sorrie says that everyone has probably seen this plant, but I had either not seen it or never noticed. It is rustweed (Polypremum procumbens), and that crazy orange is its natural fall color!

Ocean Isle Beach Turkey Tails

A turkeytail fungus (Trametes versicolor) grows on the remnants of a woody stem covered with sand.

Ocean Isle Beach Field

Thoroughworts (Eupatorium spp.) and other asteraceous plants have bloomed out, but their fluffy seedheads still provide food for wildlife.

Ocean Isle Beach Field Flora

Further along, the plant cover is more dense and shrubby.

Ocean Isle Beach Field

That row of palms in the background above is the entrance to a new neighborhood.

Ocean Isle Beach Development

Here’s the view of the field from the neighborhood entrance. Plants under the palms leave a little to be desired if you’ve gotten to know the field even a little bit.

Ocean Isle Beach Development

Native pink muhly grass (Muhlenbergia capillaris) is much better than pruned-to-death (quite literally!) loropetalum, but even that is far less compelling than the wild and wonderful just beyond. Let’s backtrack a little and see what else we can find there.

Ocean Isle Beach Baccharis

Sea myrtle (Baccharis halimifolia) opens its foamy white blooms.

Ocean Isle Beach Sea Myrtle

Come in close for a view of sea myrtle’s female flowers.

Ocean Isle Beach Shrub

Inkberry holly (Ilex glabra) doles out its black berries to birds all winter long.

Ocean Isle Beach Shrub

A titi (Cyrilla racemiflora)! Dangling strings of beads make pretty plant jewelry, don’t they?

Ocean Isle Beach Plants

Seedbox (Ludwigia sp.) is more interesting in fruit than in bloom. Those square-topped capsules are worth marveling.

Ocean Isle Beach Fall Color

Just look at the incredible diversity in this small field! Is that sumac beside the sea myrtle? And the goldenrods are fabulous. I hope you enjoy the lush view as much as I do. Take a look beyond a parking lot near you soon and see what you can find.

Ocean Isle Beach Field

There are hours and hours of happy discoveries here.

Happy botanizing, friends!

Glowing Maple

sugar maple through the window

I was out of town for a couple of days earlier this week and when I got home, my sugar maple was doing its fall thing. It only lasts for a few days each year, but when it’s at its peak, it is something!

Sugar Maple Leaves

Once its leaves start to fall, they go quickly; my neighbor swears they only last a day. I think it’s slightly more than that, but not much. They’ve covered the path already.

Geranium with Maple Mulch

Geranium maculatum gets tucked in for winter with a maple blanket.

Beautyberry and Sugar Maple

Beautyberry turns a pretty chartreuse and fades to yellow. It’s a nice contrast to the berries, which the birds have already picked, and to the maple, too.

sugar maple overhead

There is so much to look at on the ground, but I should still remember to look up more often. Sometimes it looks like this up there!

Cuphea llavea

Bat-face Cuphea (Cuphea llavea)

Scientific name: Cuphea llavea

Common names: Bat-face (or bat-faced) cuphea, Mexican heather, mouse ears

Family: Lythraceae

Nativity: Mexico

Location: McMillan Greenhouses courtyard, UNC Charlotte Botanical Gardens, Charlotte, NC

Date: October 12, 2014

Notes: Small subshrub for sunny area. Can be grown quickly from seed; some cultivars look less like bats than the species. Hardy in zones 9 or warmer, usually grown as a container annual north of that. Blooms profusely for months. Hummingbirds and butterflies are frequent visitors.

Phyteuma ovatum

Dark Rampion (Phyteuma ovatum)
Phyteuma ovatum” by User:TigerenteOwn work.
Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

Dark Rampion

Scientific name: Phyteuma ovatum, syn. P. halleri

Common names: Dark Rampion, Hallers Teufelskralle (German), Raponzolo (Italian)

Family: Campanulaceae

Nativity: The mountains of central and southern Europe

If you were to take a hike through Transylvania (carefully avoiding the castle of Count Dracula), you might encounter the wildflower known as dark rampion.

High intensity light in that particular environment (or is it the vampiric influence?) increases the concentration of pigments in the flowers, making what might appear purple look downright black.

Rampions of several types are common in Europe, and although I’m fairly sure of the genus, I can’t say for sure that these pictures are correctly identified to species. Information on Phyteuma is hard to come by in my part of the world, and it is sparse on the web as well.

But, I know that the root of at least one species has been used as food (and still is in some parts of rural Europe).

The fairy tale Rapunzel begins with a pregnant woman craving rampion, which is growing in the garden of a witch. The woman’s husband eventually steals it for her, and she makes a salad with it and gobbles it up.

When the husband goes back to steal more, he is caught by the witch. He has to make a horrific deal with her in order to escape and take the rampion home: The baby will be hers.

So the baby is born and the witch takes her and names her after the plant her mother craved — Rapunzel (in English, Rampion).

You probably remember what’s next. The witch imprisons Rapunzel in a tower and makes her let down her long hair so she can climb up there occasionally.

Eventually, a prince comes on the scene, and charmed by Rapunzel’s singing voice, figures out how to get up to her by spying on the witch to see how she does it.

The prince then climbs up, scares Rapunzel half to death since she was expecting the witch, and after soothing her, asks her to marry him. She agrees, but how to get down from the tower? Hmm. It comes to her to weave a ladder from her hair. But in the meantime, the prince will visit every night.

Everything is going along swimmingly when the naive Rapunzel ruins a great gig by asking the witch, “Why are you so much harder to pull up here than my young prince?” Good grief, Rapunzel, Sneaky Dating 101.

The witch calls Rapunzel’s boy-hiding trick “ungodly,” and the next time the prince comes by, pretends to be the long-haired beauty herself. When the witch gives him “poisonous and evil looks,” the prince realizes what has happened, and dives out of the tower.

Young prince survives the fall, but is blinded by thorns at the bottom, where he wanders around in black grief, eating grass for a few years.

Finally, he makes it to a part of the forest where he hears a familiar sweet voice. Yes, it is Rapunzel, who apparently had left the tower pregnant with a double memento of all those “visits” (twins). It was noted that she had “lived miserably” in the woods since their traumatic separation.

She is so happy to see the prince again that she cries, and two of her tears fall into his eyes. His blindness is cured.

Now that he can see who she is, they joyfully reunite and live happily — if not ever after — for “a long time.”

Pre-Disneyfied fairy tales are fascinating, and this one has deep roots (heh), perhaps going all the way back to the 10th century.

Of course the plants go back even further.

Phyteuma ovatum (Eikopf-Teufelskralle) IMG 0443 Phyteuma ovatum in its natural habitat, southern Austria.
By HermannSchachner (Own work) [CC0], via Wikimedia Commons XXX

Salvia microphylla ‘Wild Watermelon’

Salvia Wild Watermelon

I bought this plant from Colonial Creek Farm a couple of years ago, along with several other fragrant sages. Most were tropical or semi-tropicals, but this was reported to be hardy to zone 8. My garden straddles zone 7b/8a, so I wasn’t sure about it. It did return, though, even with a couple of serious cold snaps last winter.

Leaves are fragrant and there is a resinous taste, like a hint of pine mixed with mint and fruit. Salvia microphylla is reported to be edible, but some salvias are quite poisonous (Salvia divinorum and Salvia coccinea are two), so I err on the side of caution. I might use the pretty flowers to decorate something, but I wouldn’t eat many.

I learned from the Plant Delights website that Wild Watermelon was introduced in 1996 after being discovered as a seedling at the Strybing Arboretum (now known as the San Francisco Botanical Garden). Plant Delights notes that it is hardy to at least zone 7a, which makes me a little less worried about it surviving here over the long term.

My plant grows in part sun to a little over two feet by two feet. No doubt it would flower more with more sun, but the fragrant leaves are abundant in this situation. I consider the bright pink dots that bloom occasionally a bonus.

Scientific nameSalvia microphylla ‘Wild Watermelon’

Common names: Wild Watermelon Sage

Family: Lamiaceae

Nativity: S. microphylla, Southwestern United States and Mexico; ‘Wild Watermelon’ selection, Strybing Arboretum

Not the Goldenrod!


Every year at the end of summer when the gold blooms appear, you’ll hear complaints about it. “Goldenrod makes me sneeze!,” or, “That plant makes my nose run,” etc. But actually goldenrod is not the culprit, ragweed is. They bloom at the same time, but their pollen is different. While goldenrod has large, heavy grains that the bees love, ragweed’s is dusty-fine, bountiful, and drifts on the wind — until it finds your nose!

YardMap posted this cool graphic (©Dan Mullen) on Twitter about it. It reads:


  • Does not cause hay fever!
  • Provides pollen in Fall!
  • A major food source for migrating Monarchs!
  • Attracts insects for birds!
  • Is Native and Beautiful!

Check out the link in the tweet for a PDF with tips for identifying goldenrod and ragweed.

And take a look at, too. YardMap is a citizen science project at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. You map your yard or garden (there are instructions) and then learn how to create a sustainable landscape that is attractive habitat for birds. Click the learn tab for helpful information presented in an eye-catching way.

If you’ve ever participated in the Great Backyard Bird Count, you already have an account. Just sign in to get started!

An Object at Rest

Another great video from Seth Boyden, who, you might remember, is responsible for the  Carnivorous Plants animation, as well. This one follows the history of the earth through the “life” of a rock. It’s a little longer at 5 minutes, but completely charming. Neat story and fabulous watercolor backgrounds. Enjoy!

Phlox paniculata

Garden Phlox (Phlox paniculata)

Scientific name: Phlox paniculata Linnaeus

Common names: Garden phlox

Family: Polemoniaceae

Nativity: Eastern United States

Location: Oakleaf Woods, Charlotte, NC, USA

Date: September 15, 2014

Notes: For over 20 years these purple-y pink flowers have been blooming in our garden. They became “birthday phlox” when our daughter was born since they’re gorgeous just in time for her July birthday. I use them in the birthday table arrangement along with Mrs. Burns basil, Shasta daisies and a daylily or two.

Although Phlox of all kinds have a reputation for getting powdery mildew, some cultivars are more resistant than others, and mine rarely have it. Deer are much more problematic around here; they love garden phlox. This year they kept it mowed down to about 6 inches tall the entire season. I didn’t spray … that would have definitely helped keep them away … but between the deer and the drought that set in,  it never bloomed at all. First year that has ever happened.

It is a perennial, so you can divide the clumps in Spring, but it will also reseed.

Garden phlox likes moist soil and light shade. It is fragrant and edible.

xSinocalycalycanthus raulstonii ‘Hartlage Wine’


Raulston allspice has less floral fragrance than the native sweetshrub, Calycanthus floridus, but larger leaves and white-edged red blooms make you forget about it. A sweet cinnamon-like scent is delightfully noticeable if you crush a leaf or scrape a twig.

Raulston allspice is a wonderful medium-sized shrub for the woodland garden, being showy but not overly so, and easy to grow. It tolerates very dry shade once established, but prefers dappled light and a little moisture.

The officially published name for this plant is xSinocalycalycanthus raulstonii ‘Hartlage Wine’, but due to disagreement among taxonomists concerning the proper genus for the Chinese plant in the cross, and also I suspect because it’s a little easier to remember, you will often see it listed as Calycanthus x raulstonii ‘Hartlage Wine’.

The plant is named for the late J. C. Raulston, and a student of his, Richard Hartlage, who was responsible for creating the hybrid.

Chlorophyll in His Veins, is Bobby Ward’s biography of J. C. Raulston, whom he dubs “Horticultural Ambassador.” Ward goes on to describe Raulston as “the most important and influential figure in American horticulture in the latter part of the twentieth century.” Raulston was a professor at N. C. State University in Raleigh, N. C., and is responsible for the establishment there of the arboretum that bears his name.

Scientific name: xSinocalycalycanthus raulstonii ‘Hartlage Wine’, syn. Calycanthus x raulstonii ‘Hartlage Wine’

Common names: Raulston Allspice

Family: Calycanthaceae

Nativity: Raulson allspice is a hybrid cross between Calycanthus floridus, a native of the  eastern United States, and Sinocalycanthus chinensis (or Calycanthus chinensis, depending on which taxonomist you side with), a native of eastern China.

Bobby Ward, ed. Roy C. Dicks, Chlorophyll in His Veins: J.C. Raulston, Horticultural Ambassador, BJW Books, 2009.

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