Monday, July 6, 2020

There Is Always The Garden

"When the world wearies and society ceases to satisfy, there is always the garden."
Minnie Aumonier

I added a bit of color to my tiny garden this week with the purchase of some New Guinea Impatiens. After giving it a day to acclimate itself to its new surroundings, I potted it in my very favorite pot and within a day she gifted me with her first flower. 

Another new addition to the garden - my water feature complete with frog:

Since every garden needs a bit of whimsy, allow me to introduce you to Mrs. Pots-a-lot and Rosealie (pardon the thumb):

Of course, every garden needs insects and wildlife to help it to thrive, so I brought in a bumble bee and a lady bug:

And of course, every garden needs a little zen-like atmosphere, so a Buddha and a bamboo are essential:

I haven't had this much fun making a garden in many years and there is no end in sight as far as I'm concerned. I still have two window sills that are begging for plants now that my sweet cat, Charlotte, who was the climber and jumper, is in kitty heaven, and her sister, Laura, has old legs that don't like to climb that high any more. She prefers spending whatever time she isn't sleeping enjoying videos of aquariums:

So my indoor gardening adventure continues. I'm thinking maybe some begonias, and maybe some petunias, and, and ....

And so it is!

Monday, June 29, 2020

Rain Is A Good Thing

We finally got a good dose of rain this past weekend after over a week of warm, sunny, beautiful weather with just a passing sprinkle in the late afternoons here and there. We certainly needed it, and the crops and gardens in the area really needed it. So after days and days of beautiful weather with only two of rain, why were some people complaining? I know we've all gotten beyond crazy being inside so much and hate to miss an opportunity to be outside, but it's not just about us, it's about "the big picture."

Growing up in the city we looked at rain as just one more thing to stress us out as we ran around like crazed rats in a maze. Since becoming a country girl, I always think of rain as part of Mother Nature's plan to cleanse and nourish the world. Everything gets a good drink, the dirt and dust get washed away, and the air after a good rain smells fresh and clean. How good do you feel when you step out of the shower after a work-out or at the tub at the end of a long day? Renewed, refreshed, and healthy, I'd guess. So why not extend that good feeling to the natural world? 

Let's face it - the folks that complained about the rain are the same ones that complain about the snow, the heat, and everything else. However, I'll bet when they sink their teeth into that yummy ear of corn dripping with butter, or bite into a fresh tomato, they won't be thinking that without the rain they complained about, those delights wouldn't be sitting on their plates. Rain is a good thing. Like Luke Bryan says in the song by the same name:

"Start washin' all our worries down the drain,
Rain is a good thing!"

And so it is.

Monday, June 22, 2020

The Most Important Thing

I've added a few decorative touches to my tiny garden. I wouldn't be known as Flower Bear to my friends and fans if I didn't invite my little furry friends into the garden, now would I? And, of course, a garden fairy is mandatory as far as I'm concerned. Still holding out hope for the lavender although I may be ready to accept defeat here and bring in something else. Still, being able to pick my own basil and mint to use this past week made me all kinds of happy. After all, isn't that what it's all about?

Last week as I was watching an episode of Gardener's World with Monty Don on BritBox, I heard him say something that he's said before only this time it really sunk in:

"The most important thing in the garden is the gardener. If your garden makes you happy, then it's exactly how it should be."

In thinking about that for a while I realized that the same would hold true for anything we do in life: if what we do makes us happy, then it's exactly how it should be. If you love to paint, then paint. Don't judge your work by the standards or styles of others. Does it make you happy? Then it's a masterpiece. Love to write? Do you lose track of time when you're writing because you love what you're doing? If it makes you happy, it doesn't have to be a best seller or an award winning piece. The same holds true for the work that you do, the cake that you bake, the fact that you actually sit down and meditate for 10 minutes even though you're not sure you're "doing it right." Are you happy when you do it? Then it - and you - are the most important things in the room. 

I gave up trying to be a House and Garden award winning gardener, or even a trendy small space garden expert. I just water my plants, talk to them, give them some tiny teddy bear friends to watch over them, and pull up a chair in the afternoon with my cup of tea in my hand to bask in the glow and happiness it all brings me. I am surrounded by green (my favorite color), and wonderful smells, and happy sights, and, the gardener in me is, truly happy. And that, my friends, is the way it's supposed to be.

And so it is. 

Monday, June 15, 2020

The Color of Happiness

I threw open my curtains this morning and was greeted with this beautiful sight. All the rain we had a few weeks ago, followed by cool nights and warm, sun-filled days had produced a lush pallet of greens for as far as the eye can see. The hues ranged from crisp green lawns, to the grey-blue spikes of a pine tree, to the variegated leaves on the various trees and shrubs in front of the houses up and down the block. I knew that I had to get out there and take it all in up-close and personal!

If someone were to ask me what color I associated with the word happy I would have to say green. Green reminds me of spring, and summer, and gardening, and all the things in nature that I love. It reminds me of picking fresh herbs from the pots on my windowsill when I'm cooking and how good that smells. It reminds me of walking barefoot in the grass. It reminds me of happy times digging in my garden and watching the bunny family out for a stroll and searching for breakfast. It just makes me smile.

Walking down the block there were people out cutting their lawns or doing other yard work. One young couple were actually chopping wood in the side yard for their fire pit. Another older couple were admiring the new fronts steps that were going in and wondering if they were going to like the railings they picked out. Stopping to chat with them for a minute (safe distance, of course), we came to the conclusion that change wasn't always a bad thing. Look at what it has done to the neighborhood, the lady said. Most of the neighbors were always friendly, but lately we're all outside sprucing up our homes and yards and calling to each other as if we were long lost friends that hadn't seen each other in ages. Maybe we are. All I can say is that all that green is making us all a lot happier these days.

As for my own little garden:

My herbs are doing very nicely and my Cabbage Patch garden fairy (her name is Rose) assures me that all is ready for picking! How happy can a girl get?

And so it is. 

Monday, June 8, 2020

Mother Knows Best

The other day I was day dreaming out of the window over my desk. It was a rainy and very damp day and I was sipping a hot cup of my favorite turmeric and ginger tea. The dampness was aggravating my arthritis and sciatica and this herbal blend always helped to ease the inflammation in my joints. As I felt the warmth start to work it's magic, I was struck by this thought: Not only is Mother Nature our #1 food provider, she is also the very first doctor - Mother Nature, MD!"

Everyone I know has an old, homemade remedy for what ails us, be it a cold, sore joints, a sore throat, or a banged-up knee. It's the one that's been passed down from grandmother, to mother, to child back to the beginning of time. Growing up the one I remember most is a concoction of honey, lemon, and a teaspoon of whisky for a cough. I've often wondered how these remedies originated. My research told me that every country around the world had indigenous people who passed their natural healing knowledge to those that came after. In our own country, the Europeans who migrated here got much of this knowledge that made use of local, native plants from the First Nations people they met. Years ago when I asked a Native American woman I met at a pow wow about where their people learned how to use herbs for healing, she said, "we watched the animals." For some reason, most animals in the wild knew which plants were beneficial and which weren't. I guess survival of the fittest included learning what not to eat which we humans could certainly do a better job of!

These days I've been giving more of my attention to herbal and natural choices when it comes to healing. Especially after my hip surgery and the long and sometimes painful recovery process, I've come to realize that I let myself fall into that "pop a pill" mindset whenever I'm in pain or discomfort. So I've decided to try and wean myself off the man-made stuff and increase the naturally made alternatives. I truly believe that our overuse of antibiotics for every little thing has made this pandemic and other illnesses possible to thrive. Did indigenous people have cancer, high blood pressure, diabetes, and the flu? Not until Europeans brought it to them. So if our tolerance for pharmaceuticals is so high that they no longer work, might it not be time to give natural remedies a chance? I'm willing to bet that we'd be surprised at the positive outcomes we'd get.

So I'll keep drinking my herbal teas, and eating organic, and get more exercise, and if I pop anything in my mouth it will be some nice, dark blueberries which I'm told have all kinds of healing properties. What's the worst that could happen? I might just get healthy!

And so it is. 

Monday, June 1, 2020

Faith In A Seed

"Though I do not believe a plant will spring up where no seed has been, I have great faith in a seed. Convince me that you have a seed there, and I am prepared to expect wonders."

Henry David Thoreau

It has taken the better part of a month, but my own faith in a seed has begun to pay off. While I have also added a few already grown seedlings, the rest are starting to emerge. There are still some that are having a hard time of it but I am holding fast to my belief that with the right amount of love and attention they will make it:

Today more than ever it's hard to have faith in anything.  I know that I have given up looking at the news more than once a day and then only in small bites by scrolling through the local news on my phone. The one thing I can count on, that I have complete faith in, is that when I wake up every day the sun will shine (even if it's hiding behind rain clouds), the seasons will change, the trees and plants will grow, and die, and grow again, and the natural world will go on. 

Sometimes having faith in a seed also extends to the seeds we plant withing ourselves. If we plant seeds of fear, hate, and greed, what grows will be ugly and certainly not fit to consume. If we plant seeds of love, compassion, and community, what we get can feed the world. It can certainly feed our souls.

So I will continue to have faith in a seed. I will water it, love it, and give it my best. I have no doubt that it will feed both my body and my soul. That's something I can have count on.

And so it is. 

Monday, May 18, 2020

If At First You Succeed ....

"Gardening is full of mistakes, almost all of them pleasant and some of them actually instructive."
Henry Mitchel, "One Man's Garden."

It's been over two weeks now and the only success I've had with my tiny table garden have been a very few tiny shoots of the chamomile seeds that I sowed ... and my carrot top which is sending out lovely little fern-like foliage. Everything else is a non-starter, including the avocado pit (I suspect they make them like that on purpose but I'm not assigning blame here). So this weekend I loosened the soil, condensed my little pots, and tried again. This time I covered them with see through plastic coverings to create a mini hothouse effect that, hopefully, will help the seeds to germinate better. Before this last week it's been so cold and windy outside that even with heat on and the grow light going, my apartment felt more like February than May - we even had snow for Mother's Day! It's been much warmer this past week so I hope that the better weather, and my few adjustments, will make a difference. If not, Memorial Day Weekend will find me at a nursery picking out already started herb plants. While I am ok with the concept of "try, try again," I'm not a gardening masochist - if seeds don't work, try plants!

It seems that this lesson was something I really needed to download this week. Another example was brought to me by a very tenacious male bird from next door. There is a flock of grackles that have taken up residence in the former home of my sweet little squirrels who were terrorized and driven off by this bunch of angry birds. Nest building has been going on rabidly at various locations under the roof line next door as if they were contestants for The Big Race. The reality is that mating season is in full bloom over there and nests will be needed post haste! One young male bird is probably the most dedicated example of "try, try again" that I have ever seen. Every morning he is out there on his favorite perch on the side arch of the building, waving his wings, shaking his tail, and singing his heart out. Occasionally a young lady will sit down next to him and, throwing introductions to the wind, he takes care of business in a matter of seconds, flying off and leaving the stunned young lady wondering if it was something she said? In minutes, our Romeo is back and singing his heart out again. Some ladies catch on to his lack of education in the ways of women and take off as soon as he makes a move, but that does not deter our guy. I have seen him sit out there all day, morning to night, rain or sunshine, singing and waving. What he lacks in technique he more than makes up in staying power. You have to admire him for that.

Try, try again. Nature gives us all kinds of examples, doesn't She? A tulip that dies back when Spring is over and Summer moves in comes back next Spring to delight us again. Autumn may take the leaves off the trees but come Spring the green is back. We suffer a loss but somehow, in the midst of it, we wake up one day and find a new reason to smile. Try, try again. Keep trying, folks. It will all make sense in the end.

And so it is.