Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Guerrilla Gardening – Year 3

It’s been over two years since my last blog story about my ‘Guerrilla Gardening’ adventures. This is a link to my favourite story about this topic…

… so that you can become familiar with the inspiration behind this motivation.

The spring of 2011 was so wet – it seemed that it was raining almost every single day – that I got behind with my regular veggie patch and so I had no time to tend to my ditch peaceflowers throughout the city.

This spring was rather dry and after I had got ahead with my own veggie patch, I thought that it would be good to check on my ditch gardens to see how they had faired over the last two years.

I chose this location for a guerrilla gardening site cuz I thought that only tall grasses grew here and that our flowers would be able to dominate and thrive. I learned that this area filled in with Golden Rod and these plants absolutely smothered the Day Lilies that we had planted. If our Peaceflower garden was to survive a lot of work would have to go into continuously clearing away the existing plants and I just didn’t have the time so I decided to not put any more effort into this garden.

This was another location where we planted orange Day Lilies in the shape of a peace symbol and you can see that I had many helpers for this adventure. We all had a really great time!!!

A few weeks later, I did manage to revisit this site to do a little weeding, hoping that our Day Lilies would dominate and thrive.

Upon my inspection of this site, earlier this spring, I noticed that several plants had actually survived but most had perished. I thought about why this was. I concluded that because the soil was a heavy clay that the roots weren’t able to survive. I thought that if I was to revive this garden that a lot of work would have to go into mixing the existing clay with a sandier soil to create the proper growing conditions. This would have been too much work for me to accomplish alone, this year, but I am hoping that one day I may be able to do this.

It’s such a great site and thousands of travelers would be inspired! Hopefully… one day…

Well, I had just one site left to inspect. I had my fingers crossed for a good omen, as I was feeling a bit disappointed by my two other failures.

As I got closer, I could start to see a few brightly coloured green leaves and this put a smile on my face. I began to move some of the dead grasses away, from last year’s growth, and I kept finding more and more Day Lilies. Yeah!!!!

Soon, I had found that most of the flowers that had been planted here two years before had survived and a few of them had also reproduced other Day Lily tubers (roots)!!! I’ve added some small green dots to this image so that you can see the shape of the peace symbol more clearly.

I figured that these flowers had survived because the soil conditions are perfect and there are few other dominating plants – this ditch is mostly grass.

I decided to add more Day Lilies to this ‘Guerrilla Gardening Attack Site’ to make it even better. I went home, to my gardens, and began looking for flowers to add. Many patches of Day Lilies that I had planted around my house had reproduced in excess of what I wanted, so I dug these flowers up to add to my ditch art.

This was a patch of a different species of Day Lily. Instead of blooming with tall stems and orange flowers, this species has shorter stems with yellow flowers that actually bloom earlier in the season than the orange ones. I figured that by adding these flowers to my ditch art that the peace symbol would be in bloom for a longer period. First the yellow flowers would bloom and then the orange ones.

I chose to dig up this patch of yellow Day Lilies cuz they just weren’t getting enough sunlight where they were. By moving them I opened up this space in my garden to plant other flowers that were more suited for a shaded setting.

So… with a shovel in hand and a bag of Lily tubers, I set off to enhance my peaceflower ditch garden. When I first planted at this site, I simply cut an X into the ground and pushed the tubers under the folds of the ground. This time, I dug deeper and pulled out small plugs of earth. I broke the soil up in my hands and planted the tubers in these holes, filling them in with the loosened soil, hoping that they would reproduce and spread more easily.

As you can see, the flowers were already quite large when I planted them.

Several hours later, I was finished! About thirty additional flowers were planted at this site and I was very excited to see how it would all look once they had grown and bloomed.

I really wish that I had more photos to show you. I wanted to finish this story showing the peace symbol in full bloom, but I never had a chance to do this. Over the last several months I did manage to drive past this site a few times and I did see the flowers in bloom, but on these occasions I was working and I didn’t have my camera with me.

So… to conclude… I will have to ask each of you – my blog readers – to use your imagination and picture these Day Lilies in full bloom, adding inspiration into the lives of all the passing motorists who happened to catch a glimpse of something very lovely and purely peaceful!!!


Thursday, July 19, 2012

Truth In Comedy

I’m not one who spends a lot of time watching television – when I’m not working I like to spend my time playing with my son Devon, working in my gardens or relaxing with a book under the shade of a tree. But, I do like to keep tabs on what’s going on in the world, so instead of watching the News (which is controlled by big business), I’ll watch comedy shows like ‘This Hour Has 22 Minutes’ or ‘The Rick Mercer Report’.

It annoys me when I’m watching the local News and I see a report telling me that milk consumption is good for me – this is false and I quickly realize that the milk industry is probably behind this promotion… calling itself ‘news’.

To find out how the government is wasting tax dollars with outrageous military spending while doing nothing to protect our environment, tune in to your local comedy channel!!

I find it hard to realize that our global environments are in such a sad state of degradation and instead of focussing on issue of this nature, our media does its best to distract us by filling our time with mostly useless and one-sided stories that neither inspire or capture our imaginations.

I like to use comedy to share important environmental issues with the world. I find that these simple cartoons can bring light to any situation.

Viewers, at once, tend to agree with the message and although they may not be inspired to act in positive ways at that moment, the information has made its way into the viewer’s mind and that is the most important thing… at this stage of humanities growth.

I grew up reading Calvin and Hobbes comics and I know that – more often than not – they made me pause and think about our world in many different ways. This comic strip brings to light a very valuable observation. If everyone did spend their time thinking about all the issues of importance in this world, it would be very hard to focus on the affairs of our daily lives – that’s why these issues are pushed away and avoided.

This may be an accurate observation, but it is this observation that is harming the happiness for future generations. Instead of realizing the connections between what we consume in our day to day lives and how these economic choices are destroying our world, it’s easier and less complicated to ignore these problems so that we can finish eating our fast food that’s been served to us on styrofoam plates with plastic forks.

We may not find the solutions that we need to overcome our environmental issues in comedy, but I believe that they do hold a value for our societies as they continue to educate us.


Friday, July 6, 2012

Flowers and Berries and Veggies

I think that it’s been many years since I’ve worked as dedicatedly as I have these last several months on an art project. “I’m Not The Only One” (last two blog stories) took every spare instant of time that I had. I’m realizing now that it’s already July and I have yet to share any pictures or stories about my gardens. So, that’s what I’m going to do today…

For the last several years I’ve really enjoyed being able to share my garden photos with my friends from around the globe on Facebook. This pic was created as my album cover for this year. It looks nice, but it’s hard to see how much time went into creating this image… it took almost an hour – fiddling with sizes, art media effects and so on. Notice the size of the flowers in the immediate background? Very tiny…

This is what this garden looks like today! These are called Day Lilies and they got this name for a very simple reason – the flowers last for only one day. You may think that these flowers would complete their flowering rather quickly, but their flowering season lasts for almost an entire month!

In this photo you can see the many stems that grow so tall. Each stem is filled with many buds that take turns blooming.

Here’s a zoomed in crop shot of those same flowers. It’s now easy to see how these flowers continue to brighten our days with so many wonderful colours and shapes for so long during their flowering season.

Day Lillies also come in a variety of colours, shapes and sizes. I used my computer to help me create this interesting ‘arted’ image of a yellow Day Lily that grew near my Blueberry patch, several weeks ago.

Each species of Day Lily probably has its own unique name, but I don’t know what they are – I make up my own simple names for them. I call these ones my ‘Wine Day Lilies’ cuz their burgundy colouring reminds me of a glass of red wine.

During the springtime, my berrybush garden looks rather empty, so I’ve planted a few Daffodils and Tulips to brighten it up until the bushes and berry canes grow and fill the area in. These were my first flowers this year.

Even if an area only has one or two flowers you can still find ways to get in really close to take interesting photos. By fiddling with different computer effects a stimulating image can be created to please any eye.

I’ll often visit an area of photographic interest many times over the course of a day or two, to find the perfect light, shade, dryness or wetness from the rain to compliment my compositions. Sometimes, inspirational lyrics from songs get added to my photos to share simple ideas – simple ideas that may be a little more complicated than, at first, they may appear.

This fun series of pics shows how my Blackcap patch has filled in to produce a rather large amount of berries for my family to enjoy as well as my next door neighbours, who received several small bowls during the height of the season.

Like most fruits, Blackcaps taste best when eaten straight from the vine. I find that keeping them in a refrigerator changes their taste and texture, so I’ll often find myself picking these berries several times during a day so that their taste is the freshest!

This year’s berry harvest was so successful that I’ve even managed to freeze a nice sized bag to use in making jams – I’ll be adding these Blackcaps to my Black Currant and Wild Cherry recipes sometime very soon. They also blend with Maple Syrup very nicely to make a sauce for pancakes or French toast!!!

I’ve always found that having a garden – whether it’s a flower, fruit or veggie patch – is the simplest and most rewarding way to understand the importance of life’s miracles here on planet Earth! It boggles my mind to try to understand how a little seed can be filled with so much information and motivation to want to reach for its Creator – our sun! How does a plant know how to or where to put its leaves? Or branches? Have you ever watched the tiniest of buds – smaller than the head of a pin – grow to produce a colourful flower larger than your hand? How does that work?

Yeah! Yeah! We know enough to fill books on this subject and if I was interested to learn about all the strands of molecular growths and movements I’m not sure if I’d feel satisfied. To me, it’s a great mystery. A mystery that I have no desire to solve. A mystery that makes me feel content to leave as a mystery, so that I’ll forever be amazed by all the complexities that are life!

Now, I’m definitely not saying ‘Live life in ignorance’ cuz that’s a completely false appraisal of my attempt to define the word ‘mystery’.

My desire to learn about the things that grow in my garden is great - I’m learning new things about these plants all the time. My garden if forever being moved around as I learn about what a plant needs to flourish and I try to provide that personalized environment.

By reading a book about how to prune berry bushes and berry canes I was able to produce this beautiful arrangement of fruit. These are Red Currants and they’re always a little on the tart side. I grow them cuz they’re easy to grow and care for and the fruits are very useful.

I grew up with these berry bushes in my parents’ garden, but I’ve never known them quite as intimately as I do now. Because of their tart taste, we store these berries in our freezer. The freezing process seems to bring out a richer, sweeter taste in the berry. We’ll just use a ½ cup or so of the berries in our muffins and pancakes that we bake. Very nice!

When I eat a berry – especially one that I’ve just picked – I can’t help but to think of the sun! Because of the sun we have life on this third planet of nine, hurtling through space, simply spinning in infinite surround! There’s this great gaseous inferno blasting all of space with its energy and warmth and here… in my garden… a simple man touches the sun… and enjoys the freshest of berries!!!!

It’s been a really hot and dry summer… and then there was an accident of some kind that burst apart a major water pipeline that keeps London wet! We were under water rations for several days!!!

My veggies were just starting out and they were struggling because of the non-winter we had (creating no ‘snow-pack’) plus the lack of rain in the spring. Joanne came up with a great solution! We started using Devon’s bath water on our gardens. That – combined with the way I shape my gardens for water conservation – allowed my potatoes, carrots, eggplants and tomatoes to grow to their potential.

It’s good that humans have the great capacity to be able to adapt to ever-changing conditions. As each of us strives to live life more simply – cutting back on fast food dinners ( C’mon, now!! Let’s not just cut back – let’s stop supporting factory farm fed industries altogether!!!) – we’ll begin to appreciate, on a deeper level, the value of our food and water. Then a new kind of change will occur… humans will begin to work together in new ways, planning a future instead of merely adapting to a decaying present.

Normal, evolutionary adaptations have always been fine throughout the history of our species. This is because these changes occurred over thousands (even hundreds of thousands) of years. The last three hundred years (a sliver of time by comparison) have seen such a swift and massive change in humankind’s ability to dominate global natural environments that our ecological support systems has been threatened with extinction… simply affecting every living organism on this space marble of ours. This time, our greatest abilities to adapt could never be enough to overcome the obstacles we could soon face. The time to plan was 100 years ago… but the time to act is now!

Ohhh – the problems!!!!! Yet – all the glory as we reach our true instinctive potential to bring peace and balance for all life forces to this breathing Earth of ours!

Having a garden brings these ideals to life!

So… I should end this story on a lighter note and so I will share a few more lovely photos taken in my gardens this year…

These are my chives in flower. The density of the purples tingles the senses in my eyes. Not only do they look gorgeous but they add a nice tongue sensation to my bbq’d ‘taters!

I just love this photo. These Blueberries are soon going to fill out and change to the deepest blue hue – it’s so nice to seem them at this young stage in their lives. Some people may say that I really missed my shot by a week or so cuz all the baby blue Forget-Me-Nots have already flowered and have turned to seed – only a few flowers remain in bloom, but I think the timing of this photo was perfect. It captures the whole ‘cycles of life’ idea with the end of one species of flower and the birth of a new one. Also, if all the Forget-Me-Nots were in bloom then the background would have been a simple wash of only one colour and texture instead of the many presented here.

And finally, the other component of any great garden… the rain!!!! I just love rain storms… except when they are moving at such a rapid rate that the sneak up on you and send a blast of lightning that you are close enough to hear to your left side followed by the loudest thunder you could ever imagine deepening the distance between your ears – LOL!!! – making your heart miss a beat. That scared me to one step closer to death!!!

Ha! I’m alive to tell about it… so I guess it was all for the good.