Walker Mountain Botanical Sanctuary (2018 update)

Ginseng in the fall

Deerfield, Virginia
Sanctuary Stewards: Shay and Kim Clanton and family

It is early February at Walker Mountain Botanical Sanctuary, close to the midpoint between the winter solstice and the spring equinox. This has been a cold winter, and it is comforting to think that we are headed towards spring and the emergence of the vibrant green world.

We are happy to write that, in 2016, we were able to purchase an additional 60 acres adjacent to the existing 40 acres of our land here at Walker Mountain Botanical Sanctuary in Deerfield, Virginia. The new land is mountain hardwood forest with an open field at the base of the mountain, and there is an old house that was the post office for this part of the valley long ago. The land, on the western edge, borders the George Washington National Forest, so we are connected to 1000s of acres of unbroken forest land. There is a rich north slope where mature ginseng (Panax quinquefolius), black cohosh (Actaea racemosa), blue cohosh (Caulophyllum thalictroides), bloodroot (Sanguinaria canadensis), and mayapple (Podophyllum peltatum) thrive. Last fall we planted more ginseng, both roots and seeds, as well as ramps (Allium tricoccum), trillium (Trillium spp.), and goldenseal (Hydrastis canadensis). We also carefully planted the berries of the mature ginseng already growing here in good places in the same general area as the mother plants. There is an old trail that winds up the mountain from a small spring, and here we have begun a medicine trail using old slate roof tiles for plant ID markers. We plan to continue to work on the trail throughout the spring and to add plants and seeds every year. We would love to soon be able to share with the public the woods and rich diversity of plants and the beautiful rushing mountain creek that flows from springs on Walker Mountain.

It is a dark time politically for those who love and honor the earth. The route of the proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline runs just a few miles from our home on the opposite side of Walker Mountain. The ACP is a huge fracked gas pipeline that will run 600 miles from the fracking fields of West Virginia through Virginia to North Carolina through 1000s of acres of National Forest (where steep mountain ridges will be flattened and forests permanently cleared the width of a six-lane highway) and across 1000s of streams, rivers, and private farms and land, including the base of the western side of Walker Mountain and through beautiful Deerfield Valley. We have fought for three years with citizens groups to stop it, but it is currently in the final stages of approval. Our work with United Plant Savers and Walker Mountain Botanical Sanctuary gives us perspective and balance in a difficult time. This place is truly a sanctuary for the plants and for all beings. We are grateful to live in this beautiful forest and to be a part of the work of United Plant Savers. In each UpS Botanical Sanctuary there is hope for the green world and trust in the ancient intelligence and resilience of the natural world.

“If we surrendered to the earth’s intelligence we could rise up rooted, like trees“
— Rainer Maria Rilke from his poem,
“As Surely Gravity’s Law“