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The Buttonbush ( Cephalanthus occidentalis) is an unusual shrub with curious white pincushion flowers. It is found in the wild all over the United States, usually in swamps and moist areas.  Growing up in rural Alabama, I remember seeing it in the woods behind our house.  It doesn't garner much attention until the blooms make their appearance.  Sources vary on the size of the plant. In the wild, it can get to 20 feet but in gardens, most likely under 12 ft. In my garden, it is about 4 feet tall after five years in the ground. It is located along the back fence in an area that doesn't get much supplemental water although I am working on the area and watering more often this year. The flowers have a slight honey-like fragrance. Bees love this plant! Text and photos by Phillip Oliver, Dirt Therapy

Driving the Trace

We always go to Grenada, Mississippi for Thanksgiving. It is a three hour drive and the majority of it takes place on the Natchez Trace Parkway. Michael hates the Trace because of the 50 mile-per-hour speed limit and the monotony of the landscape. I, on the other hand, love it. I think it is calming and relaxing as well as beautiful. The Natchez Trace is a 444 mile stretch that goes through Mississippi, Tennessee and a very small portion of Alabama. It commemorates a path that was used by Native Americans and early European explorers as both a trade and transit route in the late 1700s and early 1800s. There are all kinds of trails, historic sites and Indian mounds along the way. The above photo was taken at one of these sites, one of the few stops that has a public restroom. If you look closely, you can see three Indian Mounds in the distance.


  1. My sister-in-law keeps telling me I'd love the Natchez Trace, but the phrase "one of the few stops that has a public restroom" makes me not want to attempt it!

  2. Oh dear, Phillip - that was my first thought, too! We'd need a self-contained camper to see all those interesting roads like this one from your Thanksgiving trip.

    I can remember reading about the old Natchez trace and Natchez Under the Hill when I was a kid - think it was a series of novels about Davy Crockett written for 8-12 year olds.

    Annie at the Transplantable Rose

  3. Rurality, there is not too much distance between restrooms. I'd say if you can go 30 min. without one, you'd do fine.

    Annie, I've always wanted to take some time and stop at all the markers and take photos along the way but I've not done that yet.

  4. I have heard of the Natchez Trace but have never been on it. Sounds like something everyone should see.

  5. I get to drive the Trace quite a bit since I'm here in Clinton, Mississippi. Actually the Trace runs less than 1/4 mile from my house. I am most familiar with the Mississippi stretch, although I've been on the part that goes through Alabama and Tennessee and think it is more beautiful.

    It looks like you got some good photos. It is such a wonderful time of year down here.

  6. Nice photo, Phillip. My native state of Mississippi is poor, but very rich in history which is beautifully explained with markers all along the Natchez Trace. I always drive down the Trace when I go from Vicksburg to Natchez, just an hour south of here. I love visiting your blog!
    Happy Holidays to y'all. Jon at Mississippi Garden, on 12-8-07

  7. I went to see my daughter and her family at Thanksgiving in Fayetteville TN and we drove there by taking a part of the Natchez Trace from the intersection with US82 north to the intersection with US64.

    I would go that way again. The traffic is light and you can just put the car on cruise and really relax and enjoy the scenery. We pulled over to read half-dozen of the markers and stopped to get out and walk a piece of the "original" trace road at one place.

    On the return trip we took a different route instead of the Trace but we didn't save any time!

    - bill at prairie point

  8. Thanks to a friend I learned that I mistyped my link at the last comment. Let's try again

    bill at prairie point


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