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rakuconeflowerimage (c)2009 val webb

I love to draw (and carve) my favorite plant, purple coneflower. It grows easily from seed when the soil temperature is above 70 degrees — which is most of the year, where I garden.  This whimsical medicinal loves compost, moderately moist soil and lots of sunshine. The native people of the prairie states used it more than any other healing plant, using mainly the root to treat a litany of ills from snakebite to venereal disease. I’m sure it was a primary ingredient in my Tennessee great-granny’s annual “tonic” — the springtime infusion she used every year to purify her blood. She learned to cultivate, harvest and compound medicinal plants early in the last century, when summer was dreaded as a season of increase in disease — and deaths — among infants and young children. Families fled the cities during those months, and country people like my Granny Griff fortified themselves with a concoction of botanicals valued for its immune-boosting effect.

So where’s the hedgehog in all this? Well…