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Saturday, August 27, 2011

Hurricane Irene. New York's Santa Ana?

My blog entry for today is being published much later in the day than usual; and for that, I sincerely apologize — especially because I do not appreciate it when I take the time to go to a blog where a scheduled posting has been promised —  only to find older entries and not the "promised"  post of the given day, one which I had been (in most cases) looking forward to reading. I find a blogger not posting during a committed schedule — unless vacation or hiatus plans have been announced — to be somewhat disrespectful of any readers or followers; and therefore, I do not want to make delayed postings a habit.

Some might say I am being somewhat narcissistic, because the world is not pausing, waiting for my new posting so that they can read my blog; nor is it pausing to learn of my follow-ups to any prior blog entries. I just believe it is courteous to keep your word (which, for me, in this case is sticking to a posting schedule that I laid out in January of 2011, which you may refer to by clicking here) to your valued readerships and followers, a community I truly am grateful to have. So without further ado, here's my post for today, August 27th, 2011.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

SIXTY WORDS (60), Yes, SIXTY, Create a Picture — Who said it had to be a thousand?

Sixty words,


'The mouse of Thought infests my head.
He knows my cupboard and the crumb.
     Vermin! I despise vermin. 
I have no trap, no skill with traps,
No bait, no hope, no cheese no bread — 
I fumble with the task to no avail.
I've seen him several times lately.
He is too quick for me, 
I see only his tail.'

Create a picture,

The writings of E.B. White, author of the poem posted above, are something that I have always enjoyed, as I have stated in previous entries on this blog which you may refer to by clicking here as well as here and here; and, for my readers who are writers that, like yours truly, suffer from time to time with a stubborn muse, the poem, Vermin, and the photograph of my writer's block pencil are for your consolation.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Mushroom Madness

This past Sunday, August 20th 2011, as I prepared my blog entry for this Tuesday's publication, rain — severe rain — with thunderstorms was predicted. That weather report caused me to think back to the prior Sunday's (August 14th) torrents of rain.

While Texas remained under a severe drought, on Sunday, August 14th of 2011, the amount of rainfall in New York City set a record. 

According to radio reports, newspapers, and countless Internet materials, including one found at this link, "New York's Kennedy Airport received 7.8" of rain, its soggiest day since records began in 1948. Its single-day rainfall output was about twice its average monthly total."  As a result of this immense rainfall, there were "scattered power outages and transit disruptions. Cars got caught in flash floods, and the Long Island Railroad reported localized flooding and trees on the tracks, delaying several dozen the subways, water flooded into the tunnels, knocking out seven lines of power . . . "

Besides the rhetoric, newspapers were, if you will excuse the pun, flooded with images of this occurrence, but the only photograph which I took of my terrace garden on that rain-filled day is one of a tiny watering can (obviously not one that I use to water my garden) that rests on the the second of three bamboo shelves which are attached to my terrace railing by copper-wire to provide me with an "urban hedge." 

The EXIF info on this photograph tells me it was taken at 16:57:13; which, from my military time conversion, means I took it a little after 4:57 P.M. — most likely the only small window of time on that Sunday in which rainfall was not occurring, as I am not camera savvy enough to shoot pictures in the rain.)

The first  bamboo shelf of of these "urban hedge" can be seen in the photograph below.

This photograph was not taken during the rainstorm, but has been included in this blog entry to give you an idea of what I mean by my "urban hedge" of bamboo shelving.

These shelves serve as one of my "urban hedges" — giving me privacy from voyeur neighbors as discussed in a few previous posts, including ones which you may refer to by clicking here and here. These particular bamboo shelves are located at the extreme southwest corner of my garden, which means they are to the immediate left of the door that leads from my apartment to my terrace garden, and therefore I did not have to venture very far into my garden to take either of the photographs of my bamboo shelving. An orange arrow has been added to the image directly above, to show you, dear reader, just how close the neighbor's window is to my urban garden.

However, the point of today's blog entry is not solely dedicated to "urban hedges" or to sensationalizing August 14th's rainfall, rather it is to shed light on the prevailing belief that the things which urban gardeners — or at least ones with container gardens — grow truly thrive as a result of such downpours. At times of heavy rainfall, many folks — as most of them know that I hand-water over sixty things that grow in my terrace garden — always say to me, "well at least you don't have to water . . . "

And with that assumption, I want to clarify something that I may have alluded to in a blog entry, in which I discussed hand-watering my terrace garden. First of all, rain does not always fall into the many containers that "house" the herbs, plants, flowers, vines, shrubs, and trees which I have in my terrace garden, so at times, even in heavy rainfall, I still have to water it. 

Secondly, if the rainfall is heavy enough to do damage to subway systems, think what it can do to the root systems of things living in garden containers. A number of years ago it rained every day in the month of June, and a few of my shrubs that I had successfully wintered over, and that had thrived beautifully for part of that spring season, succumbed to mold and mildew brought on by their roots being unable to dry out. Since mold and mildew can spread, I had to get rid of the afflicted shrubs, and replace them with other things.

Hence, the type of rain New York City experienced on Sunday, August 14th, because it was followed by heavy rain on Monday the 15th, Wednesday the 17th, Thursday the 18th, had the potential of endangering some of the things which I grow in my terrace garden; but as you can see by the photograph posted below (which was taken by Juan V on Thursday the 18th), fortunately that was not the case.

The things that grow in my terrace garden – so far — do not seem to be in danger of mold or mildew, which is a good sign, especially since it has continued to rain after Juan V took the photograph.

Unfortunately, another problem has come up in my urban terrace garden as a result of so much rainfall: Since the days following the time that Juan V took the aerial photograph of my urban garden, it has rained heavily again, and that rain, or rather my herbs, vines, flowers, plants, shrubs and tree's inability to dry out from that rain, has caused unsightly (in my humble opinion) mushrooms to make their home in the container which houses my Continus Coggygria (Smoke Bush) as seen in the photographs posted below.

I use the term "humble opinion" in conjunction with my observation that mushroom are "unsightly" because when I saw them on Sunday morning, August 21st, their sudden appearance nearly gagged me; and it sent me straight to Google for answers, where I came upon a mushroom lover's web-site by someone named Michael Kuo which you may refer to by clicking here.

Before I go any further, I will confess that this is not the first time I saw a mushroom in my urban garden, I did see a "lone" mushroom "hidden" beneath the delicate foliage of my Thom-Thumb shrub, but I dug it out immediately —  out of a reflex reaction — rather than photographing it. A few days later, I spotted a mushroom growing in my Creeping Phlox, and this time, I took a photograph, (posted below), and then I pulled the mushroom out!

Unlike Mr. Kuo, I do not appreciate their presence, and upon reading what he has to say about getting rid of them, I am quite discouraged. Here is what Kuo has to say about removal of mushrooms:"Mushrooms are roughly comparable to apples on apple trees; they are the fruiting body the organism creates when it wants to reproduce. The apple tree's "plan" (I know; I'm giving human thoughts to trees and mushrooms, but it's the easiest way to talk about this) is to put its seeds in a nice, plump morsel that will fall to the ground and attract a hungry animal who will then, um, pass the seeds to new territory for germination and a new apple tree."

Mr. Kuo continues, "Mushrooms have similar plans. Their seeds (microscopic things called spores) cover parts of the mushrooms; one of the best ways to understand mushrooms is to think of them as 'spore factories'. The entire structure is an excuse to get spores out into the world . . . the 'real' organism – the part that corresponds to the apple tree, rather than the apple — is called a mycelium (pronounced so it rhymes with 'my helium'), and is found in the mushroom's substrate: the ground, leaves, a log, woodchips, and so on. It is a mesh of tiny threadlike cells that plow through the substrate, consuming nutrients . . . "

"Now it should be obvious why you can't get rid of your mushrooms; you would have to get rid of the mycelium rather than the mushrooms. If you have been picking or stomping on your mushrooms to make them disappear, you might as well have picked every apple in an orchard , trying to make the trees go away."

"HUH?," says yours truly to the blinking monitor.

"You would need to remove all the soil and natural debris in your yard or garden, and replace it with something inorganic like concrete or plastic — in which case you would 'probably' be mushroom free. I say 'probably' because Pisolithus tinctorius, Scleroderma, and other mushrooms might still erupt through your concrete."

And I thought bamboo shelving would shield me from unsightly things! The blinking monitor hears me wince!

"What I haven't mentioned yet is your mushroom is an integral part of your yard or garden's ecosystem. Its mycelium is probably doing one of two things, either which is crucial to the health of your yard."

But, I have a container garden!

"  . . . mushrooms are involved in a symbiotic relationship with plants and trees. The plant's rootlets are surrounded and protected by the mushroom's mycelium which help the plant absorb water and nutrients . . . "

Not convinced that their value is worth the eye-sore!

I will concede that I am willing to consider Mr. Kuo's view, because, after all, anyone who presents their argument by "giving human thoughts to trees and mushrooms" has a way of winning my heart, for as you know, if you follow this blog, there have been a number of occasions when one of my plants, flowers, shrubs or trees have expressed themselves by authoring blog entries. My Paeonia Suffruiticosa's (Tree Peony) self-expression is here, my Tulips "two-cents" can be found here and here; my Physocarpus opulifolius (Coppertina) views are here, my Roses weighed in here; while my Helichrysum bracteatum (Strawflowers), took the helm here.

Moreover, my Actinida kolomikta and Actimida (Kiwi Vines) were cast — although my Actinida kolomikta did all the talking as narrators of my first garden movie, The Kiwi Speaks! Fifteen Minutes of Fame . . .  almost; which is now on Vimeo, and is accessible at this link.

And, not to be on done, my Hens and Chicks insisted on giving a thumbs up to a colleague of mine (which you can see at this link), while my Echinacea and Tropaelum majus (Nasturtium) insisted their placement in my Flickr Galleries be announced by them. They made their announcements in these respective links (here and here).

I am still not too pleased to have unsightly mushrooms invading my Continus Coggygria (Smokey Bush) and my Creeping Phlox, but if it doesn't bother them, I'll try to take the same attitude and let things take their course. Besides, once upon a time, I thought mushrooms were cute, well, at least ceramic ones, such as the variety yours truly is sitting on in the photograph posted below. The picture was taken on my fifth birthday, at Santa's Village, a place that was filled with amusement, and mushrooms (the purple double-sided  arrow on the photograph is pointing to two of the many) and now, as I celebrate my (ahem) birthday tomorrow, I will make a wish to be childlike and not childish about mushrooms.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

"Make New Friends, Keep the OLD; ONE is SILVER the OTHER is GOLD"

For me, and perhaps you as well, dear reader, there is nothing like nature to be reminded of the message indicated in the traditional Girl Scout song, "Make New Friends But Keep the Old; One is Silver; the Other is Gold."

If you would like to hear an instrumental rendition of this song, please click here.

Meanwhile as of today's blog entry, in my urban terrace garden my yellow roses are blooming again for the fourth time this season, and I am not complaining. The yellow roses are aways a joy to behold; and as you may recall, one of my yellow roses authored a post about itself; and told of its life experiences in my terrace garden in a blog entry this past May, which you may refer to by clicking here.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

"Trees are much like human beings and enjoy each other’s company. Only a few love to be alone." ~Jens Jensen, Siftings, 1939

According to Jens Jensen, "Trees are much like human beings and enjoy each other’s company. Only a few love to be alone." WhileI am not sure how much people enjoy each other's company (as much as they enjoy their own company) in the narcissistic world that we live in today; one thing appears certain: the tree (seen in the photograph posted above) seems like it might want to cozy up with anyone who sits on the steps.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Salve! Mihi nomen est _______________________ (OR The Name Tag Project Part One)

Salve! Mihi nomen est__________


You may have surmised, dear reader, that a few of the things which I grow in my urban terrace garden like to express their thoughts, since some of them have taken it upon themselves to author posts for this blog. As you may remember, this started back in April of 2010 when my Paeonia suffruiticosa (Tree Peony) took to the keyboard and made a short blog entry which  you may refer to by clicking here.

Then, as you may recall, this past April of 2011 — almost a year to the day of my Paeonia suffruitcosa's flower's post — one of my tulips posted entries about Sylvia Plath, when it thought her poetry was insulting and hurtful. You may review how the tulip weighed in on Ms. Plath's poetry by clicking here and here. 

And your memory is serving you well if you are thinking that not to be outdone by my poetry analyzing tulip, my Physocarpus opulifolius (Coppertina), Rose, and my Helichrysum bracteatum (Strawflowers) all put in their two cents about urban garden life in posts that you may find by clicking here and here as well as here respectively.

The latest one to join the cyber-world was my Echinacea Plant.

At this time, all of the herbs, plants, flowers, vines, shrubs and trees, which grow in my terrace garden have gotten together and informed me that life in my urban terrace garden has become a real social networking opportunity that is being hampered by the fact that it is difficult to remember everyone's name what with over eighty different things making their home in my garden.

They are imploring me to finish the name tags that I started a while ago. You may recall, dear reader, that in a previous post which you can read by clicking here, I stressed the importance of calling all things by the name that they wish to be called. In any event, the tags which I got for my plants are copper, as seen in the photograph of my "tagged" Juncus effsus (Unicorn Soft Rushplant posted at the top of this blog entry after the screenshot image of your average name tag for people to wear at events which are not so attractive, but the copper name tags are very attractive and unique, which I am sure the things that I grow in my garden will appreciate since they have such high standards even though they watch television and get their inspiration from Bud Light commercials!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

New Arrivals: The Coccinellidae novemnotatas aka THE LADYBUGS

Last week, at this very time, I was preparing for a hurricane who has ben named Hurricane Irene, which I discussed in this past Saturday's post, and in the conclusion of that entry, I reported that, in regards to Irene, I'd return to blogging with "hopefully little damage to report."

Thankfully, that was the case, as I've already indicated earlier this week. I am very grateful to God — though I don't express it nearly as much as I should. In fact, since I sleep on a foam pad — which is directly atop of my floor, I often don't kneel when I say prayers before going to sleep, although I did (as is the standard) kneel at mass yesterday, with thanksgiving that, in terms of Irene, I was unscathed; especially given the damage which Hurricane Irene did cause for many people, including those who live  on or near the Jersey Shore, a place, where I took the photograph (posted above) in late July, of a shore town's resident's garden fence with the affirmation, God Answers Knee-Mail. 

Since the place where I took this photograph is very near the ocean, I hope the folks who own the property as well as their surrounding neighbors did not sustain too much damage, but, whatever the case turned out to be, I am fairly certain they relied on their knee-mail to God to see them through the situation.

And speaking of God; are you, dear reader, familiar with the adage, If you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans" ?

Well, what has happened, dear reader, is that I've recently discovered this very same  thing that happens with a muse. If you want to amuse your muse, tell him/her what you intend to write about. 

For as you may recall, dear reader, last Saturday I confessed that I had planed to write about my "journey towards elegant garden lighting", but my preparation for Irene took precedence. I did promise to return to my garden lighting epiphany today, but I admit that (because I have now been writing this entry in my head for over a week) my insights do not seem as poignant as they did last week, and I am tempted to renege on my promise; not out of an unwillingness to fulfill a task — but out of a bit of pride — that I may not sound as prolific in cyberspace as I do in my head, when it comes to the insights which I thought the new lighting system in my urban garden had taught me.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

"Help one another is part of the religion of sisterhood." (Louisa May Alcott)

Back in the saddle leading to cyber-space, after a visit with my younger sister, who can be seen in the photograph posted above — to the left of yours truly — in a picture taken a few months after our younger sister was born. As you may recall, dear reader, in the last entry that I made to my blog, I referenced her visit, and while this blog is not about my comings and goings, the fact that her visit is where I left off, brings me to my starting point for today.

It is said that "sisters are different flowers from the same garden", and if you are familiar with this quote, dear reader, you might surmise (from knowing yours truly is a person who — among other things — maintains her urban terrace garden and dedicates a good portion of this blog to writing about gardening experiences) that I should run with this quote about sisterhood in this posting, and elaborate on it on my first day back to work. However, I am letting that quote run from this blog as I have some difficulty in citing quotes from unknown authors. Instead, I will focus part of today's entry on Louisa May Alcott's quote regarding sisters: "Help one another is part of the religion of sisterhood."