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Growing on the High Plains: Spirea

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Today's episode celebrates an enchanting floral bush that always evokes a relaxing day playing on the porch of one's grandmother's house.

Tracing the journey of our early High Plains settlers, I thought we'd spend today celebrating a couple of "pretties" that were favored by the botanically-inclined families of yore. I'm talking about the flowering shrub, spirea. These flexible flora go way back, having been planted and used in ancient civilizations for everything from wedding adornments to horse whips. But when I see them towering up, flashing their intricate blooms like lace on a deep, green leafy canvas, I'm always transported to a tree-lined neighborhood full of spirea, fragrant and flowing in the the summer wind.

Years ago Skip Mancini left the rocky coast of Northern California to return to her roots in the heartland. Her San Francisco friends, concerned over her decision to live in a desolate flatland best known for a Hollywood tornado, were afraid she would wither and die on the vine. With pioneer spirit, Skip planted a garden. She began to learn about growing not only flowers and vegetables, but hearts and minds. If you agree that the prairie is a special place, we think you'll enjoy her weekly sojourns into Growing on the High Plains.