Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Morning and evening light

A Rudbeckia in the evening and morning glories in the morning.

Friday, August 11, 2017

The power of plants

A full day today of gardening talks, followed by a meeting with the organizer of a recently developed community garden downtown (on a year-by-year city gardening space) has me reeling, a bit.
Too many gardening threads to think about in the same day -- from ecological gardening, to the Lurie Garden's story, to a grounds-up community garden.

But the important message that came through from Thomas Rainer and Roy Diblik, in their presentations, and Clare Hanrahan, the community garden organizer, is about the power of plants to connect people to the environment, stop them in their tracks, and bring nature to the city.
It's a message I've embraced my entire life. I fell in love with plants in the natural world, but was also entranced by the "wild plants in the city" -- the survivors and colonizers -- as a young teenager, spending a summer near NYC.

I left academic research for outreach about a decade into my career life with plants, and embraced that since, whether it's been encouraging people to grow natives ("plants that work for a living") or growing vegetables year-round, another passion.

The power of plants -- humans need nature, and plants are the foundation of that. Whether it's a window box, a box full of edibles, a large-scale garden, or living in the forest, it's a path to the natural world.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Thinking about the future

I'm in an online class, facilitated by a wonderful writer and thinker in Ireland, Sharon Blackie. She posed a question this week about how we address our lives in the context of a changing climate. Her course is all about being inspired to rise up, and pay attention to the natural world, and our particular place in it.

Sharon's weekly missive was prompted by a piece by a NASA climate scientist here in the US, who is tracking human impact on oceans (they're the last sink for the CO2 that we're producing), and her take was not positive.

But, she (the scientist) also wrote that she wasn't willing to have her child live a life without carbon (that is, without modern conveniences and visiting the grandparents through travel). So the question really, that Sharon was asking us to consider, is how much are we willing to do individually to reduce our impact on the earth?

It was a compelling piece, and thought-provoking.

I've tried to do the best that I can over the last 4 decades (I was a teenager at the time of the first Earth Day here in the US, and studied environmental science and biology in college, and became a plant ecologist in graduate school.) This has been on my mind for a long time.

My major carbon use now is travel. But it's perhaps offset because we don't have children? As well as offsets? We live in a small house that's energy-efficient, we recycle everything, I buy clothes at the thrift store (eg. recycled), yada, yada, etc. - but that's really not enough on a planet with an expanding population.

I have no answers. But I'm thinking it's also the "tragedy of the commons," too, as we all put our heads down in the sand.

It was interesting to search my past posts for "stewardship" and read what came up.


Maypops below: host plant for Gulf Frillary butterflies

Sunday, August 6, 2017

River rock tales

Carefully placed river rock (stone by stone)
I've been too tired after placing river rock (in place of the mulch around my raised vegetable beds and in our front path) -- for the last 3 days (3-4 hours in the morning and an hour or so in the evening is about all I can do), to manage an new post about the garden or any nature observations.  Thank goodness, my gardening companion was doing the really heavy lifting, but I'm the rock placer.

I'm admiring the pocket meadow, which is glorious right now, but don't have the energy to write about how I'm going to change out the tomatoes and peppers in the deep bed for greens this fall. I'm pooped.

The river rock odyssey started early last week, when I suddenly had the energy to start raking out the mulch that had washed down into the small river stone path leading to the house over the years, covering at least half of it. Not particularly attractive.

I excavated and washed off the stones, and it looked great -- inspiring us to think about our several year intention to replace the mulch around the raised beds with something more permanent (and less allergenic).

A trip to the stone yard had us selecting more small river rocks, to be delivered last Friday.  But, we made a mistake in the sizing, I wasn't there, and LARGE river rocks (2-5") were delivered (my gardening companion had even upped the scoop size, un-beknowst to me)....

A partially done addition
So, we've made lemons out of lemonade, with excellent results.  The large river stones, especially after we seal them to be darker, will be lovely.

The drawback is that they needed to placed, one by one.  Yikes.

It's reminded me of the flagstone path that I put in down in the Piedmont (I felt like I had been pummeled by sticks after each weekend.)

Final results will be coming soon.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

An August rain

Thankfully, and unexpectedly, we've had a thunderstorm overhead for the last hour.  It's produced a welcome downpour, for a good 30 minutes or so, and now on and off.

Rain hadn't been predicted until Friday, but it's welcome now!

Monday, July 31, 2017

Milkweeds, monarchs, and Typha (cattails)

A loop around Beaver Lake this evening (in North Asheville) was full of wonderful views, as usual.

But I was particularly glad to see an inflorescence in the expanding common milkweed patch visited by a monarch, painted lady, and several bumblebees.

Common milkweed with monarch. etc.

The young Typha (cattails) along the path towards the Audubon sanctuary were lovely, too.

Cat-tail (Typha latifolia)

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Pocket meadow abundance

I've made a lot of posts about the pocket meadow over the years.  It's been a lot of fun.

This year, it's exploded, thanks to my over-planting in its center (there's Silphium perfoliatum, Coreopsis trifoliata, and a Heliopsis cultivar).  Yikes.

And the other side of the driveway --the Salvia guaranitica that was planted years ago (hmm, it's not supposed to be reliably hardy here) has engulfed its space (pruning was necessary last week), along with the Verbena 'Homestead,' Solidago 'Fireworks,' a Joe-Pye Weed, and a volunteer Rudbeckia triloba (an echo from a couple of years ago), make for a vibrant homecoming.
Coming home is nice.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

A pop-up community garden

There's a city-owned space in downtown Asheville that's been vacant for quite awhile.  Part of it was a mildew-ridden parking garage when we first came to Asheville (it's now removed); another bit was a building (provided for Sister Cities space) that became uninhabitable (also now removed).  And I think there is a bit of additional land as part of the parcel, too.

It's been the source of some discussion (an understatement) over the past years -- slated for development, promoted as a green space, called the "Pit of Despair," etc.

City Council is still pondering about the best use for this space, and has invested much time and dollars in surveying the community, etc. etc. -- tax benefits v. green space distills the ideas behind the pondering.  But in the interim, they called for short term ideas.

I was delighted to see a community garden pop up in the old Sister Cities site. Delightful.  The nearby residents at Battery Park Apartments have been gardening in the empty edges around this site for several years.

But to return from ~ about a month away, to a delightful community garden in this space.

How nice is that? Magic.

Looping through downtown on a walk this evening, I chatted with some of the gardeners. I'll be seeing how I can help in the future, as they have a year's commitment from the city, with possibilities of continuance down the road.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Stockholm's rock outcrops

It was remarkable to bumble across some quite nice rock outcrops, in Stockholm's protected green spaces.  Protected (presumably) by the difficulty of farming, building, etc., even over Stockholm's centuries, they're delightful.

These, on Långeholmen, were wonderful.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

An overgrown garden

It was lovely to come home to a lush, green garden, even if our resident woodchuck had nibbled on parsley, beans, and chard. S/he had rather nicely pruned the lower squash vines, actually, which otherwise would have been sprawling down into the woodland garden.

The pocket meadow has exploded; it definitely needs some serious editing. What was I thinking when I planted Silphium perfoliatum, Coreopsis trifoliata, and another Silphium, simply to replace a lost Coreopsis (which was a nice focal point). Uh, and the Vernonia spp. has seeded in everwhere, in addition to the parent plant, not to mention how big the Phlox has become, etc. etc.

These are quite dreadful photos, taken in bad light with my iPhone, but you get the idea.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Gardening for bees (in the UK)

I appreciated this piece via an e-newsletter feed that I receive re RHS' Wild about Gardens initiative.

Impressive to read that 24% of British adults had planted something pollinator-friendly in their garden or windowbox in 2016; I don't think we'd make that in the US. I liked the straight-forward suggestions about how to support bees!


Långholmen allotments and garden, Stockholm

Looping around a different side of the island, near Sodermalm, we came across a delightful vegetable garden, much larger than most we've seen so far, surrounded by allotment gardens of varying sizes.

Långholmen is a former prison island, now turned park, and the sign confirmed that this area had been the site of an original prison vegetable garden.

Some of the allotment gardens had perfectly kept small cottages, summer and weekend retreats for the plot-holders, and I can imagine how someone living in the high-rise condo units nearby would relish being in his or her garden on a sunny summer day.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Malarenstrand, Stockholm

Stockholm is a city of islands, surrounded by water, both fresh and salty.

An afternoon walk along Lake Malaren's edge (in Sodermalm) found flowers, on a boat and on top of a storage/recycling shed!

Friday, July 14, 2017

More Rosendal Tradgarden photos

The morning Fike (coffee and sweet) offering

Yay, seeds galore! Both vegetable and flowers, although not anything particularly unusual - but nice to see in a short summer climate. Warm season vegetables are largely in glasshouses; North American cool season veggies are outside right now- kale, broccoli, cabbage, fava beans, etc.

There's a cool breeze in the outside cafe as I write this - maybe it was 68 F this afternoon.

Rosendals Tradgarden, Stockholm

An organic garden/farm, restaurant, garden center and nursery, with perennial gardens and a heirloom fruit orchard - in the middle of Djursgarden, Stockholm City's green island (and Royal National City Park)- there's nothing not to like.

Wonderful plants and garden-related items, displayed delightfully, made it more than worth a return visit with my gardening companion, who had opted for a island ferry excursion for the morning of my previous visit.

Hmm, my iPhone-based post is exceeding Blogo's capacity. More photos to come- I'm a tired tourist using the ABBA Museum's free WiFi unexpectedly this afternoon!

Uppsala containers

Just a couple of the striking public containers in Uppsala, Sweden, perhaps part of the botanical theme of a town visit.

Linnaeus in Uppsala

A pilgrimage to see the house and gardens of Linneaus in Uppsala, a venerable university town north of Stockholm was rewarding for its beautiful cathedral and botanical gardens as well. The striking public container plantings in Uppsala perhaps reflect the botanical theme of the town, strongly focused on Carl Linnaeus and his legacy. The containers were an unusual mix of edibles (including tomatoes and corn) along with perennial flowering plants. Perhaps they were all made up of species that he described, displayed in his reconstructed research garden, here from his study window, where he did all of his writing.
It's an amazing experience, especially as a botanist/gardener, to reflect on all of the plants that he described, among them many from North America. In the garden, cup plant (among many other perennials) looked happy in the long days of a Swedish summer; mayapple and bloodroot looked wan, as if to reflect "I'm supposed to be dormant by now!

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

A Stockholm sunset

We're so fortunate to be able to experience Stockholm as quasi locals for several weeks.

This was the view from our Home Exchange flat this evening.

Monday, July 10, 2017

Familiar plants, but larger!

I've enjoyed the Geranium spp. here in Sweden - both cultivated and wild. Geranium "Roxanne" is huge here, presumably because of the longer days.

But the wild Geranium species are equally impressive!

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Feeding pigeons

Coming back to Liljeholmen in late afternoon, I saw older immigrant women sitting outside the McDonald's at the edge of the plaza.

It serves as a central center for what is really a metro station with a very high-end shopping mall attached (complete with a very nice grocery store).

A bit farther down, there were young men feeding the pigeons, apparently delighting in doing so.

Walking back to our Stockholm flat

A long walk back from Gamla Stan (historic downtown Stockholm) brought the usual spectacular views of summertime Stockholm. Wonderful. A brief shower steamed it up, briefly, but it turned cool and dry quite quickly.

My first mission (after enjoying a delicious lunch - smorgasbord - at the Grand Hotel) was returning to photograph the Amelanchier "trees" in containers near the Parliment building.

The fruits were getting ripe, and birds were harvesting them. I mentioned to interested tourists (American and Japanese) that we had serviceberries in North America, yada, yada (uh, they were taking pictures, so I thought they might be interested -- they were interested in their edibility and attractiveness, at least).

What struck me is that they were in containers. Hmm. They must have to bring them indoors somewhere in the winter -- perhaps the Saskatoon species would be hardy in Stockholm in a container in the winter, but I wouldn't think our SE US species would. But, plants are adaptable.
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