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Consumer Qs: Obedient plants, cheese rinds, miniature horses
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Obedient plant is a native wildflower that is a good cut flower and is easy to grow. - photo by ARTY SCHRONCE/special

Q: Do you eat the rind on cheese? I frequently encounter unfamiliar (at least to me) cheeses and do not know what to do.
    A: There are so many cheeses on the market now it is hard to keep track, let alone know how to use and eat them. As to eating the rind, it depends on if you like its taste and texture. You don't need to feel guilty or ill-bred if the rind of a particular cheese does not appeal to you. Some rinds are clearly too tough, pungent or strong to eat. Of course, you should not eat the exterior of cheeses covered in cloth, wax or paper. (Technically, these are not classified as true rinds, anyway.) 
    You may want to visit a Georgia cheesemaker or vendor to learn more about cheeses. Some offer classes and taste-tests.


    Q: Is it true there will be miniature horses in the Georgia Department of Agriculture's next auction of rehabilitated horses?
    A: Yes, there will be miniature mares and geldings in the auction, which will be held Saturday, Oct. 17, at the Mansfield Impound Barn (2834 Marben Farm Rd., Mansfield, Georgia 30055).
    The horses may be inspected that day at the facility beginning at 10 a.m. The sale will start at 11 a.m. For more information, contact the Georgia Department of Agriculture's Equine Health Office at (404) 656-3713.
    The exact number of horses to be auctioned will not be known until closer to the sale date, but at this time we estimate that 10 horses (Loretta, Luke, Dolly, Trisha, Bentley, Jenny, Taylor, Miranda, Dixie and Garth) will be available for new and loving homes.


    Q: Can you identify this plant? There is a patch of it blooming (Sept. 18) on my property. It is three to four feet tall with spikes of rosy purple flowers that look a little like a snapdragon. The stems are square and the leaves are dark green and in pairs opposite each other.
    A: It sounds like obedient plant (Physostegia virginiana). It's called "obedient plant" because you can move the individual flowers on a stalk and they will remain where they have been moved. Another common name is "false dragonhead." (I don't like calling any plant "false," though; it makes it sound like the plant is a liar!)
    Obedient plant is a native wildflower but has been incorporated into gardens for hundreds of years. In fact, you are probably more likely to encounter it in gardens than in the wild.
    There are several varieties of obedient plant on the market that vary in flower color (pure white to pinks and purples) and growth habit (height and spread). There is at least one with variegated leaves.
    Obedient plant prefers moist soil but is very tolerant of soil conditions and is easy to grow. It is a good companion for goldenrod, blue mist flower, garden phlox, monarda, great blue lobelia, cut-leaf coneflower, native asters, swamp milkweed and anise-scented salvia.
    It is also an excellent cut flower. The obedience of the individual flowers gives an enhanced dimension to the term "flower arranging."

  
    If you have questions about services or products regulated by the Georgia Department of Agriculture, write Arty Schronce (arty.schronce@agr.georgia.gov) or visit the department's website at www.agr.georgia.gov.

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