February 2015
The Herb Lady

Baskets Are Herbs, Too

Here’s a suggestion for you gentlemen who are wondering what to give your sweetheart this Valentine’s Day. Consider a basket. Be sure that it is made from a natural material, of course. Baskets come in all sizes and shapes. Also, they can be filled with a variety of goodies such as chocolates, perfumes and even an engagement ring. We women just love baskets!

By now you know that my definition of an herb is "any plant that serves a useful purpose." That puts baskets and basket making in the proper category for this column. Of course, baskets are made from a large number of plants including pine needles, rattan, palmetto, willow and white oak. I’m writing about white oak.

When I was about 5 years old, my Father babysat me one beautiful day. We sat under a big oak tree. I made toad frog houses while he made a white oak split cotton basket. I remember well how he coiled those long white splits in a tub of water to make them pliable before weaving them into the proper size and shape.

Among my treasures there is a white oak basket constructed by Tommy Norris. My "sweetheart" took me on a special trip to make the purchase one long ago day. Tommy was a lifelong resident of "The Norris Settlement" which borders on the Little Oak community in Pike County. (My husband and I were natives of this area, also.) Tommy’s baskets have become collector’s items. Many women will read these words and say, "I have one also."

I have one large well-made basket which was purchased from a young man of the Opp area. If I were going to pick peas for canning, this would be the ideal basket to take to the pea patch. Well, I don’t pick peas any more, but I find many uses for this well-constructed treasure. I do wish the young man had autographed the basket.

About 30 years ago, Richard (my late husband) and I made the acquaintance of James Bogan of Greenville. Bogan is known to many as "The Basket Man." From him, I obtained a small cotton basket that is now being used at my son’s house as a toy container for some of my great-grandchildren. I also purchased a smaller basket that now makes a handy container for cleaning supplies.

I happen to own a low stool that my husband’s grandmother sat on to pick butterbeans in her last days. Bogan replaced its ragged seat with new white oak splits. This treasure will someday go to my younger son’s house.

For those who are interested, I’ll provide information from his business card: Bogan’s Wonderful World of Baskets, 434 W. Commerce Street, Greenville, AL 36037; 334-382-2451; cell, 334-303-7246.

You can also purchase white oak bark in capsule form from a health food shop. I have known a man who was plagued with hemorrhoids. He said that by taking one capsule of white oak bark daily he kept this health situation under control.

(Check with your physician before taking any alternative remedy.)

Nadine Johnson can be reached at PO Box 7425, Spanish Fort, AL 36577, by calling 866-570-7302, or by email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..