From The Desk Of Bill Varga

Balloon Flower, ‘Platycodon grandiflorus’, is a summer flowering relative of the Bellflowers, ‘Campanula’. Its common name developed from the flower, however willing to separate petals until they almost burst! Hence, a week or two of swelling before ‘BAM!’ the typical flower appearance appears. The common species is fresh blue growing to 18”-24” The Astra series in the Perennial Favorites catalog are 8”-10” tall plants with flowers up to 2” across, in blue, pink, white, lavender and semi-double. This plant is native to eastern Asia, i.e., China, Korea and in Korea is one of the most common ‘Namul’ vegetables. My Korean speaking son tells me the ‘Namul’ is generic for a radish-like culinary addition to foods. Additionally, it is used medicinally as an anti-inflammatory, analgesic, sedative and fever agent. Extracts and purified platycoside compounds (saponins) may exhibit anti-cancer, anti-allergy, anti-microbial and cholesterol lowering properties. We are considering adding the taller growing ‘Mariesii’ variety to our plant selections as well as ‘Fairy Snow’, a white, blue veined flowering type at 12”-15”. This plant, as a longer lived, summer flowering, edible and medicinal plant could and should be added to any well rounded, well thought-out perennial border.


A man comes into the ER and yells, “My wife’s going to have her baby in the cab!” I grabbed my stuff, rushed out to the cab, lifted the lady’s dress and began to take off her underwear.  Suddenly I noticed that there were several cabs – and I was in the wrong one.  Dr. MacDonald, San Antonio, TX

At the beginning of my shift I placed a stethoscope on an elderly and slightly deaf female patient’s anterior chest wall.  “Big breaths,” I instructed. “Yes, they used to be,” replied the patient.  Dr. Byrnes, Seattle, WA

One day I had to be the bearer of bad news when I told a wife that her husband had died of a massive myocardial infarct.  Not more than 5 minutes later, I heard her reporting to the rest of the family that he had died of a ‘massive internal fart.”  Dr. Steinbert, Manitoba, Canada

While acquainting myself with a new elderly patient, I asked, “How long have you been bedridden?” After a look of complete confusion she answered…”Why, not for about 20 years, when my husband was alive.”  Dr. Swanson, Corvallis, OR

A nurse was on duty in the ER, when a young woman with purple hair styled into a punk rocker Mohawk, sporting a variety of tattoos, and wearing strange clothing, entered.  It was quickly determined that the patient had acute appendicitis, so she was scheduled for immediate surgery.  When she was completely disrobed on the operating table, the staff noticed that her pubic hair had been dyed green and above it there was a tattoo that read, “Keep off the grass.”  Once the surgery was completed, the surgeon wrote a short note on the patient’s dressing, which said, “Sorry, had to mow the lawn.”     RN no name

As a new, young MD doing his residency in OB, I was quite embarrassed when performing female pelvic exams.  To cover my embarrassment, I had unconsciously formed a habit of whistling softly.  The middle-aged lady upon whom I was performing this exam suddenly burst out laughing and further embarrassing me.  I looked up from my work and sheepishly said, “I’m sorry. Was I tickling you?”  She replied, “No doctor, but the song you were whistling was “I wish I was an Oscar Meyer Wiener.”  The doctor wouldn’t submit his name

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