Archive for flowers

EARTH STARS

Posted in Nature Studies, Poems, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , on August 31, 2017 by Drogo

by Christine Maccabee

EARTH STARS

Right here on Earth there are probably as many ‘stars’

as there are in outer space. Not enough can be said as to

need for human-kind to focus more on these terrestrial stars,

preserving them and the wonder and goodness of their Earth

for generations to come.” C.M.

Ever since my early 20’s I have been fascinated by flowers of every variety and thus began seriously investigating them. At that time I was also reading literature about the ancient tradition of mandalas as a meditation tool in India. The mandala has a center which symbolizes the source of life be it Allah, God, the Great Spirit, or whatever one might call it. The center holds everything else together, like the spoke of a wheel and without it things would fall apart and there would be chaos. From that center radiates Creation, or life, in all its amazing diversity and beauty. Similarly, most flowers have this same feature with centers from which reproduction occurs in the form of seeds. That center of nectar, pollen and seeds serves the purpose of ongoing sustenance, thus enabling on-going life for myriad life forms, including of course, people.

Captivated by this reality, I created mandalas from various parts of flowers, using stamen, pistil, petals, leaves and bracts, basically dissecting the flowers carefully and pressing the various parts. Each design I made was unique, and many reminded people of snowflakes. If you look at a flower closely, especially those which radiate perfectly symmetrically from the center, then you will understand my fascination. In fact, there are people who seriously meditate on flowers, thus creating more of a sense of balance in their lives. For me, creating mandalas was a waking and a working meditation, keeping me centered and focused as I created each one ; I sold hundreds of framed pieces over a period of 20 years. Now I simply grow flowers…

This summer I had a newcomer to my gardens, the Morning Star Sedge, a native grass which I did not plant but which was brought here by a bird, no doubt. I discovered it quite by accident along a pathway down to my main garden and was astonished when I saw it. It is not a flower at all, but a type of native grass, used ornamentally by some people in their landscaping.. The seed head is beautiful, very star like (see photo) and perfectly symmetrical. You may be familiar with its graceful but sturdy grasses from which the stems of the seed heads emerge. The seed heads are a lovely green which turn chocolate brown by late summer. By early autumn I am sure the wild birds will be enjoying those seeds as well as the seeds of the chicory and woodland sunflowers which I also have here in my gardens as habitat.

As anyone who reads this column knows, I am passionate about preserving habitat for pollinators and birds. Here on my 11+ acreage I am purposely allowing close to 100 wild native plants to complete their entire life cycles, from flower to seed. Such diversity of plant life, no matter how tall and gangly, or small , sustains the health of a host of animals, insects and humans in this our rainforest. By August the final show will begin and I look forward to it. I look forward to witnessing thousands of tiny Aster flower stars and hearing the profound sound of untold number of wings whirring as the bees fuel up for the coming inevitable cold weather. The essential Golden Rod flowers will also begin blooming (Golden Rod is not a major pollen producer which creates allergies as some people mistakenly think) and I will watch as the Monarch butterflies feed on them before their long journeys south. Did you know there are, or were, 2,687 species of Aster and 16 species of Golden Rods in America. On my property I have about 5 species of each.

The beautiful earthly flower stars, besides providing food for a wide variety of pollinators and birds, are a source of inspiration to humans. Also, it is well known that some have important medicinal properties, such as the Cone flower. I will soon gather and dry the flowers and leaves of my Cone flowers which will be added to teas I make from other herbs I grow. Cone flowers provide Echinacea which is important as an immune system enhancing herb. The root is the most potent, so here and there I will pull some out for their roots.

Unfortunately there is an on-going war being conducted against Earth’s stars in the form of herbicides, pesticides and habitat loss. Next month I will continue speaking for the wildflowers and the health of our planet, our people, and all our relations. Meanwhile, I suggest you walk slowly and often in wild places where wild things grow ; and don’t forget to look to the stars !

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~ from ON THE WILD SIDE for July 2017

Christine is a Master Naturalist in Maryland and has developed a a Wildlife Habitat Sanctuary and Native Plant Preserve on her property , just 10 minutes north of Thurmont. You are welcome to visit by appointment. She can be reached at songbirdschant@gmail.com

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Misunderstood but Beautiful – Flowers as People

Posted in Organic Gardens, Poems with tags , , , , , , , , on September 12, 2015 by Drogo
Much of the beauty and value of the natural world will be missed,
and lost, if it is constantly condemned as unimportant, and destroyed.“
– from Garden Ramblings

In a very real way, flowers are a lot like people. Fragile, they are born vulnerable, and if fortunate to receive the proper care, will thrive and bear much goodness. However, many people, like flowers, are misunderstood. Some of us are late bloomers and get cut down while struggling to grow, while others of us may express ourselves in the wrong way, or the wrong place, and are criticized.

True, it is about the world of plants and flowers that I mostly write, but the connection between humans and the natural world being what it is – ever constant and essential—it is ofttimes impossible to separate the two. Many of our greatest writers and teachers refer to nature, recognizing the wisdom that is to be gained if we but open our hearts and our minds to it. Many of these people have been misunderstood as well.

Four of my very favorite wildflowers are the lavender bergamot, rarely seen anymore due to mowing, the shy blue chicory, the wild asters of which I have 4 species on my property, and the tall rarely seen white and yellow wild sweet clovers (which look nothing like clovers, but are in that family). Both chicory and bergamot are blooming profusely right now here at my Mystic Meadows and I can never see them enough. The wild bergamot has cross pollinated with its relative the gorgeous red monarda, creating two new shades of purple and maroon. I am blown away by their beauty and their usefulness. Standing very still by each large cluster of flowers which are shoulder high, the hundreds of flowers seem literally in motion with the activity of hummingbird moths, various butterflies, and bumble bees large and small. Of course, even a hummingbird cruises by for a nip on the way to its favorite mimosa tree. Sadly, I see very few honey bees this year.

Chicory is the most tenacious wildflower I know. It tends to grow right up against the country roads people drive down in their early morning rush to work or school, gracing our journeys with their joyful blue color, brightening our moods if we but see them. Even when mowed down, they grow right back, undeterred. If permitted, they will bloom right through the summer into fall, providing nectar for bees and later, essential seeds for small birds like finch. They usually close their blue petals during the heat of the day, and so are seen as ugly by most people as they have tiny leaves and look spindly when their petals are closed. But oh, when the day is cooler and the flowers are open, behold the powdery blue profusion !

Wild asters spend the entire summer growing slowly into tall, elegant plants full of elongated leaves. There are 4 varieties which I grow throughout my gardens, and the reward for my patience is a glorious, end-of -summer show of tiny, daisy-like flowers, a final bust of white and purple beauty which goes well into the fall. These plants, besides being a welcome source of inspiration for me before the long, cold days of winter, serve as essential nectar and pollen for our bees. Without these wildflowers the bees could easily starve in their hives. Goldenrod, which I will write about in a sequel to this article, is also significant for bees, and even butterflies, to stave off starvation. It is and has been mostly misunderstood as well.

Many years ago I was enjoying the beauty of my back road where, unfortunately, the white and yellow wild sweet clovers were growing embarrassingly close to the road. They are somewhat guilty of looking gangly, like some people I know, and were very tall. I knew they would eventually be mowed, so I decided to cut them with more care by myself. So, I went home and came back laden with an arsenal of cutting tools, only to loose my resolve when I put the blade to their stalks. I thought to myself “what is more important, the flowers or the road”. I had observed very few of these particular flowers being permitted to grow anywhere, so I put down my weapons and joined the ranks of the misunderstood. After that day, they moved themselves to a safer place. They now grow, undisturbed, in various spots on my property. Plants come to me that way, and I welcome them with open arms !

I love the late bloomers and the misunderstood ones, be they human or flower. Perhaps our biggest challenge in life is to embrace these ones, to accept them as amazing creations on this miraculous planet which is full to bursting with diversity. I leave you with an ancient Indian quotation I love which reflects the awesomeness of it all…” Flowers are the footprints of the dancing steps of God.”

Now off I go to enjoy the rest of this glorious summer !!

by Christine Schoenemann (Maccabee)

Christine is a Master Naturalist in the State of MD.. She welcomes any questions and feedback at songbirdschant@gmail.org

Velvet-leaf Indian-mallow Weed

Posted in Organic Gardens with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 15, 2012 by Drogo

Name:  Velvet-leaf, Abutilon theophrasti Medic.

Other Names:  Elephant ear, Indian-mallow, Butter-print, Abuliton, Pir-marker, abutilon feuille de velours

Family: Mallow Family (Malvaceae)

General Description: Annual, reproducing only by seed. Resembles a small Sunflower plant, with very similar fury serrated leaves, but distinguished by  tiny yellow flowers and rotund seedpods. This weed is targeted by industrial farmers for annihilation. It usually grows less than 3 feet tall in gardens, but on farms has been know to grow over 6 feet tall.

Uses:  Cord can be made from dried stem fibers

 

(Large indian mallow-weed growing among corn in a farm field)

 

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Garden Plants

Posted in Organic Gardens with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 8, 2011 by Drogo

Garden Plants

6 types: Flowers, Leafy Plants, Herbs, Vegetables, Fruits, Berries

Gardens can be made of many things. There are rock gardens, sculpture gardens, vegetable gardens, herb gardens, and flower gardens to name a few types. They can also range in size from a small patch to almost farm field size. Also the variety of combinations is endless.

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FLOWERS

Wild Flowers

Violets, Blue Chicory, Tansy, Dandelions

Dandelions….thats a big one for me, its so insane how people are brainwashed to hate them and seek to poison and kill all of them, like clovers, violets, wild spinaches etc etc; also the complexity of biodiversity studies to me is more important than how “neat and clean” the garden looks. To me the species of plants, their relationships with themselves, bugs, animals, and how self sustaining they are is much more important to me than conventional aesthetics. How we are taught to look at an “unweeded” garden in disgust, and say it needs work, even though while looking more natural, the weeding is done subtly and selectively for maximum efficiency of time and effort and to make it look less manicured and more independent.

Bees

Pollination

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LEAFY PLANTS (Green and Ornamental types)

grasses, weeds, bushes, dwarf trees, hostas, ferns, hemp

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HERBS

10 most common herbs:

mints, oregano,  frankincense, myrrh, lavender,  parsley, sage, rosemary, thyme, basil

other herbs (some are also considered flowers, spices or vegetables):

anise, artemisia, angelica, bay laurel, borage, burnet,   calendula, caraway, chamomile, chervil, chives, clove tree, coriander, cilantro, cinnamon, dill, ferns, fennel, feverfew, garlic, geranium, germander, hesperis, horehound, hyssop, lovage, licorice, lamb’s ear, mullein, marjoram, marijuana, nasturtium, nutmeg, perilla, santolina, sorrl, spices, pepper (black), rue, savory, tansy, tarragon, valerian, verbena, queen anne’s lace, woodruff, wormwood, yarrow

 

Peppermint

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VEGETABLES

Beans, potatoes, carrots, beets, squash, (to be continued…)

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FRUIT

Apples, Pears, Melons, Cherries, Plums, Pawpaw, Figs, Tropical fruits (not for outdoor areas that get snow)

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BERRIES (edible)

Raspberries, snake berries, strawberries, blackberries, mulberries, blueberries,

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*** THIS ARTICLE IS STILL UNDER CONSTRUCTION ***