Archive for garden

ON THE WILD SIDE

Posted in Organic Gardens, Poems with tags , , , , on October 24, 2015 by Drogo

ON THE WILD SIDE for September, 2015

by Christine Schoenemann (Maccabee)

Misunderstood but Beautiful (Part 2) : Tall Natives and Useful Pests

I just got in from collecting Japanese beetles from wild Evening Primrose flowers which are growing throughout my property. By 7 a.m. the bees are already busy on the yellow flowers, and the beetles are just waking up. Slowly I knock them into a container of water, careful not to interrupt the bees. Two things are accomplished by my doing this twice a day. First, I am saving the flowers from being devoured, and second, my chickens enthusiastically consume the crunchy bodies of these pests. Useful pests, I call them, providing extra protein and minerals for my birds.

The wild Evening Primrose used be seen in areas along roads which have not been mowed, in vacant fields and ditches if they are lucky, and in my gardens. Sadly I see very few of them this year, beyond my gardens, due to herbiciding and lots of mowing. I imagine most home owners would not like them since they grow much taller than the greenhouse cultivated primroses most gardeners buy. Perhaps this aversion is due to an over civilized fear of wild natives. Well, I have no fear, just curiosity. I have never seen my primroses grow as tall as they are this year which is most likely due to all the rain we had earlier this summer. My tallest plant towers above my head at a record breaking height of 9 feet. Now that’s tall !

For some reason I have a particular interest in tall, gangly, misunderstood plants. I suppose that is because I see their value for our pollinators, but mostly I believe it is because I admire them. In truth, I am blown away by the diversity of wild flora which are indigenous to this area, and have made it my mission to preserve as much as I can here on my property and elsewhere when possible, before they become extinct. I know my worry is legitimate since every year it seems many rare plants (see list at bottom of this article) have just disappeared from places I have seen them in the past. So, I am writing here to clear up misunderstandings about our interesting wild neighbors, and possibly to save them

Teasel, another plant which is normally not permitted to grow in typical gardens, can still be seen in areas along the highway and other unused places. It is not a thistle, though it looks like it. In my gardens I pamper it. It has multiple uses, primarily as a producer of beautiful lavender flowers which bees love. It is also an interesting component in dry plant arrangements which I make. Stately, but prickly, they are to be handled with care, preferably with a gloved hand. Presently I am cutting some of mine down now that they have flowered as I don’t want the seeds to scatter everywhere in my main garden where I also grow vegetables. I plan to scatter some of the seeds in the larger meadow before winter.

By far the most misunderstood wildflower of all is Golden Rod. I have learned through my reading that it is not the pollen producer that affects most people adversely. Ragweed is the culprit as it has very nondescript flowers and blooms at the same time as Golden Rod. Very sneaky of Ragweed, I would say. The pollen from Golden Rod is too heavy to be carried very far by the wind whereas ragweed pollen is very light. There are 16 species of Golden Rod throughout our country, and I happen to have about 4 or more species on my property. They are beginning to bloom, and I eagerly await the show ! All my various wild aster will bloom soon as well, so between the two of them my bees and butterflies will be well fed before the killing frost. Along with all these pollinators you can be sure I will be rejoicing as well !

The other day I nearly hit a Monarch butterfly which was caught between a road, parking lots, stores, and large grass deserts with no flowers in sight. It seemed confused and did not know where to go. This is a perfect example of a growing problem called “habitat fragmentation.”. Good-hearted people who plant flowers in their yards are doing a great service, but these same butterflies and bees we feed frequently must travel far and wide just to find other flowers to feed on or appropriate plants on which to lay their eggs. We all know the need of Monarchs for Milkweed, but there are many others, such as the larvae of the Fritillary butterfly for violets, the Checkerspot for Trutlehead flowers and the rare/endangered butterflies in the Blues Family for clovers and Lupine flowers.

Lately, and even over many years, I have been reading writings by prominent mystics and naturalists who all sing a similar theme song. This song is one of praise for creation and its awesome diversity which can aid us as humans to connect more intimately with ourselves and the Creator. This goes for everyone, even atheists and agnostics, for “things in nature are optimal teachers to help us discern how to be ourselves. We have been separated from the source of our identity and have to fall in love with it all over again “. Thus writes Belden Lane in his book Backpacking with the Saints, an amazing read full of wisdom.

And so, this Sunday morning the natural world is the temple in which I worship, today, and everyday. For me, and so many others, the amazing diversity of life forms on this planet are not only an expression of the infinite nature of their Creator, but also an expression of amazing love, without end, unless we humans choose to continue to destroy it. We always have a choice.

Some local natives which a rarely seen and loosing habitat: purple Swamp Milkweed, Goatsbeard, Moth Mullein, Bergamot, blue Lobelia, Vervain, Obedient plant, Deptford pinks, Cardinal flower, wild Columbine, Cinquefoils, St. Johnswort, Yarrow, Sweet Cicely, wild Sweet Clovers,etc..

BOG Peeps

Posted in Environmentalism, Organic Agriculture & Horticulture, Organic Architecture, Organic Development, Organic Gardens, Pagan, Psychology, Sustainability with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 31, 2013 by Drogo

Beautiful Organic Garden People

This art series advocates Organic Agriculture (Gardening / Farming / Foraging), Permaculture, and Sustainable Architecture. A series of ‘beautiful’ images of humans and animals, males and females, working or meditating or playing in the garden, farm field, barn, orchard, or wilderness…. poses not bound to traditional commercial or pinup surface objectification… in favor of equal-rights showing strength, intelligence, and skill. One idea being that people will see attractive or cute people and other sentient beings gardening, and more and more people will want to garden and feel or look like them; and by relating to them, they will want to garden; and vice versa. Based on “Organic Pinup Girls” project, expanded.

Plant Weed*

Pocahantas*

Mattock Hoes*

SCOD Hoveland*

flower cutngather*

women-planting-tree-outdoor*

Apollo on Apollo*

angel pixie apples*

Adevik*

Celtic Couple 2*

Grow Together*

Vegirl_1*

Cheri Tyvm*

Keith psyche

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* BOG PEEP Book – for sale on Amazon

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Savannah, Georgia

Posted in Alternative Architecture, Historic Architecture, Organic Architecture, Recommendations & Tributes, Sustainability with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 16, 2013 by Drogo

Historic Architecture, Environmental Landscape, and Urban Social Art

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Savannah has the historic integrity of an ivy-league campus, yet for the poor as well as rich. Yes, it is very much the old pirate ‘Port Royal’ still, but in some ways it also surpasses the nobility of elite university campuses. Even the SCAD (Savannah College of Art & Design) campus is spread throughout the city, and SCAD classes are held in renovated industrial buildings, often with Richardsonian strength; so that liberal education is fully-integrated with the city. As far as competing with modern industrial metropolitan cities, Savannah has plenty of modern and post-modern architecture, and SCAD teaches cutting-edge technology; but it has no desire to be as massively impersonal as New York, or any other major city.

Savannah urban design is overwhelmingly utopian, despite there being dystopian flavors as well. The main streets force cars to either park or drive around the eleven park squares (circuses), while pedestrians can go straight through on sidewalks and bike lanes. It is easy to find any place in the formal city because there are no diagonal streets, one tall building in the middle (DeSoto Hotel), and a few tall buildings downtown parallel with the Savannah River. The downtown main-streets (River Street) on Saint Patrick’s Day are celebrated on par with Mardi-Gras. There are so many unique aspects to Savannah, from its very origins. The basic ‘Roman encampment’ grid urban layout is flavored by multiple circuses with vegetation. Live-oaks, palms, and crepe-myrtle trees are naturally hung with Spanish moss. From sandy soil hedges, herbs, flowers and grasses are also publicly grown for the enjoyment of all.

I will find out more about the city founders, besides Oglethorpe; specifically the Native American chief of the local Creek Indians, because he seems to deserve the same level of respect as the English founder, Oglethorpe. The British and Indians were friends, and one of the largest monuments in a prominent park is dedicated to the Indian Chief’s grave. Southern hospitality is less surface courtesy in Savannah, and more a part of its essence; in regards to integration of whites and blacks, international representation, multi-culturalism, and willingness to welcome even enemies (like General Sherman during the Civil War).

There are several ways to consider the social types that comprise the ‘daily population’ of Savannah. There are five basic social types; the rich residents (white blue-blood aristocracy and new-money millionaires), the poor working-class (merchant and service residents and workers), the street beggars (homeless, hustlers, artists), SCAD students (artists, professors, staff), and tourists (pedestrian, trolley, horse-buggy).

According to Dr. Hsu-Jen Huang (SCAD Architecture Professor), Savannah has been growing, even during the recession. In ten years, the city population and SCAD enrollment have doubled. Some buildings still fall between the cracks, but for every loss two more renovations or new constructs emerge. After the 1994 book Midnight In the Garden of Good and Evil, Savannah has continued to blossom as one of the best cities in the World. Many of its qualities were always inherent in the original urban design, and it continues to grow because of accepted differences.

From the American Revolution, to the Civil War, and beyond; Savannah embraces its strange stories. It has an other-worldly, old world, old town feel. Ghost tours are quite at home with the lamp-lights, cobblestone streets, brick walkways, and French ironwork balconies. It is in fact a small city; one which favors pedestrian traffic more than automobiles. The whole downtown is walkable, and locals often easily commute with bicycles as well (as I did for 3 years).

There are so many fun things to do there, it might be hard to know were to begin; if Savannah were not an immediately immersible, hospitable environment. The whole city is a memory garden, which literally blooms because of all the flowers. There are less flowers and leaves in the Winter, but Fall, Winter, and Spring are best weather-wise; as there is rarely snow, and Summers are often walls of heat and humidity (which it is known for even during Fall and Spring).

Architecturally Savannah is truly unique, with historic world and southern romantic blends. Town-houses often have the side-porch design, as with nearby Charleston, SC. The cast-iron railings and french dormers have that New Orleans feel. Parks and trees really do make a huge difference for traffic. Even while continuing to grow, Savannah is still one of the most colorful and pedestrian friendly cities in America. I can say after living there, the magic is real; including the variety of character personalities that the famous book alludes to.

Midnight In the Garden of Good & Evil describes much of the architectural and social feel of the town. ‘Midnight’ the book has much more analysis of detail, while the film has literally has more visual images. I lived in three parts of town, and often passed by famous landmarks on daily commutes to classes. The main character’s house (Mercer Mansion) is on Bull Street along a square, towards the largest city park, Forsyth Park. Forsyth Park was my favorite park that I loved living on, because of the large open grass lawns, largest and most beautiful fountain, organic paths, and shady flora. There I was free to publicly practice Tai-Chi, hippy folk music, or jogging without much bother.

Most of this essay describes the utopian aspects of Savannah, but this paragraph should put some of the dystopian perspectives in context. The poor and the dead, out-number the rich and the living. Southern swamp-lands naturally have a salty entropic power that corrodes metals, moisture that promotes the decay of organic matter, and massive humidity that stifles productive activity, while encouraging roaches and gnats. The humane social ‘decadence’ of the town, allows for an ease of poverty. Kindness tolerates and sometimes falls prey to hustlers. Vandalism and theft are common crimes in Savannah, with the occasional mugging (typical of cities in general). Although crimes are committed by lower classes, the majority (which are poor) are respectful, lawful, and often generous. So you see despite the ‘scariness’, actual dangers are minimal for a city.

Savannah’s name appropriately indicates the climate heat, and the flat field look of the surrounding wetland marsh grasses. Old pirate maps referred to the lands inland along the River as ‘Savannah Land’. Google Street view is very impressive, with realism. It really helps get the feel for the freedom of moving through the town by photographic vista. In the 1990’s we were taking panoramic photos for architecture projects so it really feels appropriate. Day trips easily include the famous Bonaventure Cemetery, Oatland Island Wildlife Center, and Tybee Island Beach.

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Two Simple Spiral Gardens

Posted in Arts (Design & Performance), Organic Gardens with tags , , , , , , , , , , on May 6, 2012 by Drogo

Two basic plans for spiral gardens. The green represents vegetation (herbs, flowers, grasses, shrubs, hedges, veggies, etc), the brown is for tilled soil edging (regularly cleared using hoe, mattock, etc), and the grey is the path made using gravel, bricks, blocks, tiles, sand, or whatever you want. The center of the designs can also feature sculptures, bird baths, etc….

Free Your Mint, Let It Go Wild!!!

Posted in Organic Gardens with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on April 19, 2012 by Drogo

I suppose it is fair warning to tell people that Mints tend to want to take over a garden, just in case they do not want that. I however, am perfectly happy with my 7 types of mint taking over the whole lawn if they want; and they are welcome to leave my property and go visit other places if they so choose. Sure you can try to wall it in, or keep it in a pot, but I say let it go! Stop trying to control mint, when it is such a perfect plant, much better than lawn grass (or crab-grass). In fact it is my favorite type of plant because it is so independent, and edible, and gives us nice flowers to share with the bees and butterflies.

In the photos you can see how mint looks when it is given the freedom to explore a garden. The photo is taken after years of trying to control the mints. The year before the photos were taken, the entire garden was stacked with wood and burned in a bonfire. The mint regrew from their own roots. Years after the photos, trucks and bulldozers drove over the site crushing everything. However the mint is back…on its own!

You can clear areas of the mint to temporarily grow other things, like vegetables (see photos for a center crop of squash), and then when the veggies are done, the mint will close the gap again as only the strongest weeds can. Why fight such a beneficial and pleasant herb? I say, let the mint grow!!! Peppermint, Spearmint, Lemonbalm, Beebalm, and even the mighty Applemint. Let it grow, let it grow, let it grow. Go “mintal” and get “balmy”.

(photos taken at Odd Fellow Lodge Garden in Harpers Ferry, WV)

 

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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Organic Agriculture Pin-Up Girls

Posted in Arts (Design & Performance), Cooperatives / Communities / Networks / Travels, Environmentalism, Organic Gardens, Pagan with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 24, 2012 by Drogo

Main-stream America should be more aware of just how sexy organic farming and gardening can be! The fossil-fuel industry has had the market for pin-up girls for far too long, so now it is time to advertise for alternative and renewable livelihoods.

This is a neo-pagan attempt to advocate organic gardening / farming. A series of sexy modern-feminist styles related to paper-doll, cut-and-paste, cartoon tracery of women. Working in the garden or farm field or orchard…. poses not bound to traditional pinup surface objectification… in favor of equal-rights showing strength, intelligence and skill. One idea being that people will see sexy women gardening, and want to garden and look like them; and by looking like them, they will want to garden; and vice-versa.

This is the first collection of “Organic Farm and Garden Women”, and more will be added as the art is created, expressed, and captured.

This tryptic scene is collage from Knight’s paintings and other random models.

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Girl with fruit on stone steps

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Gathering wild plants

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Two women planting a Tree with a shovel

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Four women working the soil in a garden, and composting dead-fall

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*  Sun Goddess

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Girl gardening with a hoe

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Girl watering a garden using rain-water cistern pump-hose

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Pixie Harvesting Goblin Fruit from a Tree

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Girls planting plants

Plant Weed

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Girl gardening with a rake

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Girl with Basket of Veggies

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