“Hen and chicks’’

Appalachian women loved to share rare plants such as “hen and chicks.’’ The Appalachian Women’s Museum is seeking heritage pass-along plants.

Appalachian Women don’t cotton to sharing their favorite recipes.

I believe we lock those recipes up, in part, because we do not want to give away a portion of what makes us special. After all, we like the adoration the younger generation bestows upon us, we enjoy them fawning over our banana pudding during the Christmas gathering and we want this appreciation to continue until we’re long in the tooth and tired of stirring the pudding. Then, and only then, will we pull aside a grandchild and whisper in her ear, “it is time. Time for you to know the secret recipe.”

But we sure do love splitting specimens from our flower garden and spreading them far and wide. With plants, Appalachian Woman puts old Johnny Appleseed to shame. Early in the spring and late in the fall, you’ll find a mountain woman out in the garden stepping on the spade, dividing clumps of lilies, separating Iris rhizomes, and yellow bells, daffodils and daisies.

With plants we want to send a message: I was here.

You find heirloom specimens in the Back of Beyond, clumps of daffodils, rows of yellow bells, the occasional snowball bush blooming bright through the forest canopy. The bloom triggers a hiker to ask the question, “How did this get here?”

Our people planted it there. Before the park. Before development. Before tourism and Target stores, our people enjoyed a little beauty way out back of beyond.

Finding those heirloom treasures is a difficult task, which is why I come to you for help. The Appalachian Women’s Museum seeks heritage pass-along plants from your garden to plant onsite. You have a unique opportunity to share a snowball bush, a lilac, “cat whiskers” and hollyhocks.

In addition to the previously mentioned perennials, we are also particularly interested in procuring those darling little “hen and chicks,” succulents that most women in our area grew. They planted them in rusty containers and worn out shoes. But I would like to use them to cover unsightly areas where nothing else tends to grow. The goal is to preserve and display flowers many call “old fashioned” while honoring Appalachian Women in your family.

Can you pass along a plant to the museum? If so, I would love to know the history of each plant, and who once grew it. If you know the history, kindly jot down that information on a sheet of paper or index card. Who once grew it, where it was grown and any memories of the plant you wish to share.

We cannot accept plants such as ivy that have a tendency to become invasive.

Feel free to drop off plants during the second Annual Airing of the Quilts, from 10 a.m. - 4 p.m. Saturday. Browse the grounds, enjoy the house, be a part of a living history we are celebrating. We would love to honor the memory of the Appalachian Women in your family by planting your pass-along-plant.

Renea Winchester is the author of Farming, Friends & Fried Bologna Sandwiches. a Sandwiches. Reach her at butterflycovenotes@gmail.com.