From The Desk Of Bill Varga

Bearberry, it’s in the name, ‘Arctostaphylos uva-ursi’. Why it’s Greek of course! Actually some Greek, Arctos (bear) and Staphyle (bunch of grapes) and Latin uva (grape) and ursus (bear) to create the botanical name. And, (tired of the foreign language course yet?) although technically edible for humans, Meriwether Lewis on his cross country exploration 200 years ago, described the fruit to be ‘tasteless and insipid’. And yet, bears, birds and small animals are fond feeders of the drupe fruits which turn from green to red as the season progresses. This low growing (6”-12”) shrub is a Utah native, but is globally circumpolar in distribution. Most often this evergreen groundcover can be found at mid to higher elevations throughout the intermountain west. It prefers well drained soils and although a sun-lover, it will tolerate some shade. Once established, a good dose of conscientious neglect ensures its garden permanence. And, don’t forget the taller, larger green leaf Manzanita, ‘Arctostaphylos patula’ and its selections. The orange to red branches are a top draw to any landscape garden. And, that’s all folks! Look for one of our hardy selections for your Utah garden. (p.s.) There is a hybrid ‘A. patula x A. nevadensis’, occasionally available at your local nurseries. Give it a go if there’s room on your wish list!

Yesterday, I was at my local Target buying a large bag of Purina dog chow for my loyal pet, Sheriff, the Wonder Dog, and was in the checkout line when a woman behind me asked if I had a dog.

   What did she think I had, an elephant?  So since I’m retired and have little to do, on impulse I told her that no, I didn’t have a dog, I was starting the Purina diet again.  I added that I probably shouldn’t, because I ended up in the hospital last time, but that I’d lost 50 pounds before I awakened in an intensive care ward with tubes coming out of most of my orifices and IVs in both arms.

   I told her that is was essentially a perfect diet and that the way that it works is to load your pants pockets with Purina nuggets and simply eat one or two every time you feel hungry.  The food is nutritionally complete so it works well and I was going to try it again.  (I have to mention here that practically everyone in line was now enthralled with my story.)

   Horrified, she asked if I ended up in intensive care because the dog food poisoned me.  I told her no, I stepped off a curb to sniff an Irish Setter’s backside and a car hit us both.  I thought the guy behind her was going to have a heart attack he was laughing so hard.  Target won’t let me shop there anymore.

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