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Monday, October 31, 2011


Cheers! Here's wishing you a delightful Halloween, dear reader! This past Saturday's snow-slush-ice storm that hit New York City, where I live, could not even put a damper on this fun-loving day, although some of the Jack-O-Lanterns which are in my urban terrace garden, such as the little guy pictured above, as well as the little guy posted in the image directly below, were not too pleased at being caught without hats as they got doused with the slushy stuff!

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Today's the last Saturday of October 2011! Question: Will it be Halloween's Last Stand?

If you have been following my blog, then you are probably aware that some of the things which I grow in my urban (New York City) terrace garden have taken it upon themselves to express their thoughts and opinions by authoring blog entries and posting them within this blog.

This "hoopla" — which has caused one of the Halloween pumpkins that I currently have in my garden to be overcome with laughter as seen in the image to in the upper lefthand corner —  all started in April of 2010, when my blog was only a little over four months old, and one of the flowers from my Paeonia suffruiticosa (Tree Peony), posted a photograph of herself with a short narrative. (If you would like to refer to this, please click here.)

As time passed, word got out among the plants, vines, flowers, herbs, trees and shrubs — which totaled a little over eighty when I last took a census — that the flower from my Paeonia suffruiticosa had done this, and many of the things which I grow began authoring entries on my blog. (This fact has  caused another one of the Halloween pumpkins that I currently have in my garden to also be overcome with laughter as seen in the image at the right.)

Friday, October 28, 2011

Friday Follow-Up: bees in bonnets can be good (Follow ups on bees and SAINTS)

According to one source, when one has "a bee in their bonnet," it means that they are "being preoccupied or obsessed with an idea."

And when it comes to the "visiting bees" in my rooftop garden, I have been preoccupied, actually mesmerized, by the bees which have been feasting on my Hyssop plants. This is evident in the array of blog entries I have made on this blog regarding them, including ones that you may refer to by clicking here as well as here and here

Additionally I authored a post related to my "visiting bees" for nybg's (New 
York Botanical Gardens) tumblr that you may refer to by clicking here and then scrolling. 

Even though there are two "visiting" bees that are "captured" in the photograph directly above, the bees which have been coming to my terrace garden are now fewer in number and they appear to be much smaller.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

On Not Being "Eye-Candy" for Halloween

If you have followed this blog, then you have probably surmised from a number of my previous blog posts which you may refer to by clicking here as well as here and here, I am a MUTTS (the name of this comic strip) fan, and I highly encourage you to follow it regularly. If it is not available in your local newspaper, you can always catch it by clicking here.

Like a few of Mutt's characters, Earl and Mooch, a couple of the things which I grow in my urban (New York City) terrace garden, have been noticing happy faced Halloween pumpkins, and they too have been wondering, What's so funny? For example take my Rose, Tropaelum majus (Nasturtium), Hakanechola Macra (Japanese Forest Grass All Gold), and my Strawberry plants, all in close proximity of the Halloween pumpkins that are currently in my garden as seen in the photograph posted below:

One of them (ahem) my yellow rose, became disgruntled the other day when she realized that the New York Botanical Gardens  (NYBG) had posted a photograph of a pink rose with raindrop kissed petals and labeled it as one of their selections for "Morning Eye Candy" and she took it upon herself to post her response on their blog! (Please click here to read it, although you may have to scroll a bit, but you'll recognize her picture immediately as it looks very much like the one of her which is posted below):

In any event, my feisty yellow rose (who also posted on my blog this past May in an entry that you may refer to by clicking here), was taken aback that other roses have been referred to as "Morning Eye Candy" by NYBG, AND, that is why my pumpkins are laughing. 

If  there's one thing pumpkins know about (because of their presence at Halloween), it's candy, and evidently they do not perceive the term "Eye Candy" to be complimentary. But then my pumpkins are vey well read,and so they laughed and laughed when they told my yellow rose the definition of "Eye Candy"; and I'll quote what they told her (and you can check their source by clicking here) as I was nosey and eavesdropped.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

WEDNESDAY'S WISDOM: "If cats could talk, they probably wouldn't ."

Halloween is a mere six days away (including today) and while it is a favorite time of humans, "who excitedly plan their costumes of spooks, vampires and monsters, in anticipation of (it), cats, particularly black cats, have little cause for celebration this month,", says Franny Syufy (in her article, October: Black Cat Month: The Perils of Halloween, which you may read in full by clicking here).  

If indeed the fate of some black cats  on Halloween is as bleak the aforementioned article indicates, this may explain why the painted cat rock in the upper-right hand corner has such a pensive expression on his face. It seems one never knows what is going on in the minds of cats.

My friends who have cats seem to be in agreement with a quote that claims, "If cats could talk they probably wouldn't, " which is attributed to Nan Porter.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

"If it's Tuesday, it must be . . ." tumblr. Week Five

It's Tuesday again! And not only is it Tuesday, it is the last Tuesday of October 2011, meaning there are only seven (including today) days until Halloween. The New York Botanical Garden's tumblr (nybg) pages are full of news regarding events to honor this occasion, especially ones that center around the carving of world's fourth largest pumpkin (which weighs 1,693 pounds) that took place this past Friday (click here for the story) and whose seeds can fetch up to $1,000.00 a piece!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Monday's Musings: MEOW!! MEOW!! Painted Cat Rock Reacts to Charlie Brown's FAMOUS "I got a rock" Lament!

Hello! Please allow me to introduce myself, I am one of the new painted rocks created by Phyllis and represented by Helen (at Gifts by Helen).  

Last November, one of my "comrade" rocks made her media debut on this blog, The Last Leaf Gardener, when it was allowed to come into Blogger and let readers know that the world as the novelty Pet Rocks were once known has changed! If you'd like to refer to that blog post, please click here.  

This particular painted-rock-spokesperson received such notoriety from her November 2010 blog post that a priest's cat, (named Ignatius), noticed it, and he implored the priest to have a custom rock made for him!

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Raindrops on 'Grace' Leaves . . . .

The leaves of my Continus Coggygria AKA 'Smokey Bush,"Royal Purple' or 'Grace' have been glistening with the rain drops from the Autumn rain; as evidenced in the photographs within today's blog entry, which were taken between the second and third week of this October in my urban (New York City) terrace garden, where I have had my Continus Coggygria for at least five years.

'Grace's' leaves are always beautiful, but, I find them even more exquisite when they are playing host to raindrops, and allowing them to rest on their surface. This wonderful shrub not only produces amazing flowers in the springtime, but the colors of its leaves are constantly changing. 

For example, in the month of October, this shrub boasts an array of colors on its awesomely textured branches, and, with the rain-kissed leaves it is a very inspirational sight to behold.

Thankfully, seeing the rain on these leaves has not caused me to run around my garden singing, "Raindrops on Grace leaves" and providing a spin-off to the lyrics "Raindrops on Roses" from the song, My Favorite Things which was popularized in the 1965 movie, The Sound of Music, and I must confess, as un-American, as it may seem, is not one of my favorite things. However, my reasons for this, as they say, are another story!

Meanwhile, the spinning-off lyrics is what it's called when you put a "take" on well known lyrics by substituting your own words. For me, this is an easy habit to fall into, most likely because my father was prone to doing this (as I discussed in a previous post which you may refer to by clicking here). 

However, I never heard my father put a spin on the lyrics from My Favorite Things, but, if he had, it would've most likely been in "agreement" with the opinion of the actor, Christopher Plummer (who played the patriarch in the movie), when he feared the movie, The Sound of Music would be thought of as The Sound of Mucus, as he recently (2010) admitted, in an Oprah television segment, which you may read about by clicking here. 

Putting a spin on lyrics can be creative and fun but having a song or lyrics get stuck in your head can be annoying. The "condition" associated with this syndrome is known as ohrwurms (earworms). 

In an article by Stephanie Watson (which you may read in full by clicking here), the condition known as ohrwurms or earworms "is what can come about when we listen to a song, it triggers a part of the brain called the auditory cortex. Researchers at Dartmouth University found that when they played part of a familiar song to research subjects, the participants' auditory cortex automatically filled in the rest -- in other words, their brains kept "singing" long after the song had ended . . . the only way to 'scratch' brain itch is to repeat the song over and over in your mind. Unfortunately, like with mosquito bites, the more you scratch the more you itch, and so on until you're stuck in an unending song cycle."

Hopefully, my association with the lyrics,"raindrops on roses," will remain at bay, and I will not finding myself humming a tune associated with a movie that brings up bad memories when I notice the raindrops on 'Grace's' leaves, for I certainly have been blessed with the opportunity to capture many images thus far!

Friday, October 21, 2011

Friday Follow-Up: HERE'S THE BUZZ

As you may have noticed, dear reader, this past week, I have included two "extra" postings (Monday Musings on the 17th and Wednesday's Wisdom on the 19th), today (Follow Up Friday) will make it three extra postings outside of my Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday (an occasional special event posting) schedule — a "plan" which I laid out in a blog entry that I made this past January that you may refer to by clicking here.

Because the next several weeks will involve an array of Holidays and special events, and because gardening takes interesting turns at this time of year, and because these topics are often what I discuss in blog entries, I've been asked to include more postings at least until the end of the calendar year.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

OK, Where's the hive?

Even at this time of year — mid October — I still have bees visiting my urban terrace garden

This past July, as you may recall, dear reader, prior to my planting the Hyssop plants, some bees were feasting on my Echinacea plants, and if you'd like to refer to my blog entry on this "event", please click here. 

I am not sure if the bees that were here in July are the same ones that have been indulging in my Hyssop plants for the past month, or if this "current group of bees" just heard the buzz from their "comrades" on good places to "graze".

In any event, I have mentioned the visiting of these bees in previous blog entries which you may refer to by clicking here  as well as here and here and here, where you can read about them and where you may also see photographs of how much they enjoy my Hyssop plants! They still to continue to bring me joy and to amaze me, but I am bit surprised about their "addiction" to Hyssop, given that I have so many other "taste treats" in my garden including Lavandula angustifolia (English Lavender), Lavandula dentata (French Lavender) and a number of other herbs such as Echinacea as well as three types of roses, but the Hyssop seems to win every time, as evidenced by the image posted below, where one of the bees is indulging in the Hyssop, neglecting the rose which is right next to it.

Not sure what Hyssop is, dear reader? You are not alone, but what I can tell you is this, according to an article (about Hyssop) that I happened upon by Barbara Lardinais, "In 'the old days' before grocery store shelves were lined with cleaning products for every conceivable need, people used nature's products. Hyssop was readily available especially in the Middle East. Because it had detergent properties, it was widely used to clean sacred places such as temples."

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

WEDNESDAY'S WISDOM for the indoor gardener (and other interested parties) . . .

In my past few blog posts, I have mentioned Halloween and I realize that I am beginning to sound a bit like Linus Van Pelt (Charlie Brown's buddy) and his constant talk of Halloween as he anticipated a visit from The Great Pumpkin! In my case, of course, I want my readers to take advantage of an opportunity to send Halloween cards that fold out into a picture which is suitable for framing designed by yours truly (to view them. please click here), but I have also wanted to share with you (using whatever wisdom I have left in me these days) my ideas on decorating your garden for this unique time of year before we roll over into the "W" word known as winter. If you'd like to refer to one of my posts regarding garden decor for Halloween, please click here.

However, since I am aware of the fact that some of my readers do not have outdoor space to use for gardens, and I don't want them to feel left out, today I will weigh in with ideas on how you might like to decorate any indoor succulent garden that you might have, such as Tony has. To read about his garden and to see related images please click here for the link to the post in which I wrote about his indoor succulent garden earlier this year.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

"If this is how you treat your friends, it's no wonder you have so few!" (Who said it? And to Whom?)

Are you able, dear reader, to recall who is associated with the quote, "If this is how you treat your friends,it's no wonder you have so few," and to whom they were speaking? I'll give you a hint:Today, October the 15th is the day that honors the individual who said it, and it was said to God.

The story goes that when this quote was spoken to God by this person, she (ok that's two hints October 15th and female saint) was on a mission to serve Him via a certain ministry. Part of her journey involved traveling by horse across a raging stream, and, in her endeavors to reach her destination, she was thrown from the horse in such a manner that she was not only in the throes of this raging stream, but, if she moved, the horse would likely kick her. Upon her ultimate escape from this freak accident, she reportedly yelled to God, "If this is how you treat your friends, it's no wonder you have so few!" Still not sure who said it, 'eh? I'll give you a few more hints:

She was a mystic. She wrote Interior Castle, and, though she is known for many quotations, her bookmark says it all:

Let nothing disturb you;
Let nothing frighten you.
All things are passing.
God never changes.
Patience obtains all things.
Nothing is wanting to him who possesses God.
God alone suffices.

The name of the woman associated with the quote mentioned in the first paragraph is Saint Teresa of Ávila, the great Sixteenth Century Spanish Carmelite nun. I recently learned more about her because I discovered that she used the tending of gardens as her metaphor for prayer.

According to Sr. Margaret Dorgan, DCM, in her article, I AM SO FOND OF THIS ELEMENT, an article which gets its title from another one of Saint Teresa's quotes (she reportedly was referring to water as an "element"), Saint Teresa of Ávila was known to have said that, "Beginners in prayer are starting to cultivate a garden on very barren soil, full of weeds." Dorgan writes, "God helps us pull the weeds and God plants good seeds", and she reminds her readers that Teresa stated that "we must take pains to water them so they don't wither but bud and flower."

As an urban gardener, I go to great lengths to make sure that my rooftop garden is always properly watered, and because I now have an array of herbs, plants, flowers, vines, shrubs and trees that total a little over eighty in number, and because I water them by hand — twice a day in "normal weather"  but more than that in heat waves —  traipsing back and forth from my terrace to my kitchen sink, it is very time consuming. This is something which I wrote about in one of my blog entries this past summer, and, if you'd like, you may refer to it by clicking here

However, as time consuming as they may seem, my  garden-tending efforts are usually rewarded, as evident in the "aerial view" of it seen in the photograph posted below, which was taken by Juan V this past Thursday.


As you can see, everything is thriving, and undoubtedly you will conclude that great care has gone into tending my garden for it to wind up with such a beautiful result.  However, if someone were to take an aerial view — or any view for that matter — of my prayer life, I am afraid they might not have such an exquisite result as Juan V did in photographing my urban garden.

Today, as I honor Saint Teresa's feast day, her metaphor of gardening as a way to teach one about prayer is on my mind.

In, I AM SO FOND OF THIS ELEMENT, Dorgan also shares that in relation to the teaching of prayer, Teresa stated, "Let us see how the garden must be watered so that we may understand what we have to do, [the watering is a joint effort by God and ourselves. The labor on our part is initially hard.] You may draw water from a well which for us is a lot of work . . . and later you may get it by means of a water wheel and aqueducts by turning the crank of the water wheel. The method involves less work." [Dorgan cites this quote as being from Collected Works The Book of Her Life, Chapter Eleven — and, no dear reader, not the "well-known" Chapter Eleven, although, I will admit, prayer can sometimes feel like being on the brink of bankruptcy!]

Dorgan suggests "beginners find themselves at a well with a bucket, like the Samaritan woman . . .  a scene especially dear to Teresa. Those who are eager to deepen awareness of God in their lives take on a demanding task in drawing water for their interior garden. Hitherto they may have given most of their attention to worldly concerns. However a change has taken place in their motivation, and they want to occupy their minds with divine realities. Teresa calls this endeavor 'recollection.' It is not a memory exercise. She means collecting our thoughts and reining in our desires. 'Since these people are accustomed to being distracted, this recollection requires much effort,” she points out. (ibid) We have to take a bucket, go to the well, lower it, fill it with water, and use our muscles to lift it back up. Then we pour the water over our arid ground.'"

"We are dealing here with prayer in a meditation format," Dorgan concludes,"Our mental processes are engaged in examining our life and where it is at this moment. . . . In order to focus upon the true meaning of existence, it is necessary to move our thoughts away from their too-great involvement with secular goals. The dry soil within us is lacking true growth."

"We need water," Dorgan emphasizes with her bold-faced type,"Getting it requires exertion. Going to the well with an empty bucket symbolizes withdrawal from the other concerns that until now have absorbed us."

The "empty bucket" is valuable, and making the time to pray is crucial, but, as is the case in most things, balance is crucial. Saint Teresa certainly knew this and lived this way. I've been told, by a few Teresa devotees that one day while she was having a pheasant dinner (that had been donated to the convent), Teresa gobbled her food voraciously. The other nuns looked at her  in horror as she gulped down her food. Teresa's response, "When I pray, I pray, and when I pheasant, I pheasant!"


Tuesday, October 11, 2011

"If it's Tuesday, it must be . . ." tumblr. Week Three

My Halloween decorations continue to add a festive spirit to my urban garden as evidenced in the photographic collage posted above this entry. If you'd like to further information, please remember, dear reader, since today its Tuesday, it must be tumblr! For the link to read more, please, visit me there, by clicking here.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

On the Advice of Bobby McFerrin: "BEE Happy!"

I still continue to be mesmerized by the bees that have been enjoying the Hyssop which is planted in my urban terrace garden. While this image shows a single bee, I have many bees, busy at doing what they do, and they are a thrill to behold. However, I must confess that sometimes I feel like a voyeur when I am watching them, even if it is from behind the barrier of a view-finder.

I have joked with friends that I have "religious bees" because their primary focus seems to be my Hyssop plants as evidenced in the photograph posted in the right-hand corner.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Steve Jobs (2005) "If you live each day as if it was your last, someday you'll most certainly be right." (From his speech to a graduating class at Stanford — using a quote taken from Saint Bruno)

Rest in peace, Steve Jobs, you have fought the good fight as many of my readers and colleagues will surely agree.

I was sad to hear of the death of Steve Jobs last evening and so today's post is designed to serve as a moment for my readers and colleagues to remember his great spirit and contribution. Anything that I can say on this mournful morning after Steve Jobs' passing, I have said on my blog in previous posts, which can be found by clicking here as well as here and here

With heartfelt appreciation for what Steve Jobs' vision has brought to my life, 
Patricia Youngquist, The Last Leaf Gardener (And also a self-proclaimed dot connector long before I heard Steve Jobs refer to himself in this manner)

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

"If it's Tuesday, it must be . . ." tumblr. Week Two

My Lavandula dentata and Sweet Autumn Clematis are having fun playing with my Halloween decorations. If you'd like to read more, remember since today its Tuesday, it must be tumblr! For the link to read more, please, visit me there, by clicking here.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

It's St. Thérèse de Lisieux's Feast Day!

Happy October! It's the month when the leaves on the trees will be changing colors (at least in the northeastern part of the United States where I live), the month featuring Oktoberfests, and the month that ends with Halloween, a holiday for which I have a designed unusual greeting cards. 

My cards for this occasion are very unique as they are a petite wrap-around variety, which means that they fold out into a picture which is suitable for framing.

Today is also the feast day of St. Thérèse de Lisieux. She is the saint who is often referred to as "The Little Flower." 

I thought of her this morning, as I was in my rooftop garden, where I was reflecting on the fact that I had moved into my apartment eighteen years ago today, and what a blessing it is for me to have a garden (especially since I live in NYC)!

Standing outside in my garden, in the wee hours of this Saturday morning, when most of New York City is sleeping (even though it claims to be a city where no one sleeps), I noticed one of my Helichrysum bracteatum (Strawflowers), striking an odd pose —  just as it was beginning to awaken for the day — and it was an almost prayerful "pose" at that, as evidenced in the photograph which I took of it and posted below.

This prompted me to think of one of St. Thérèse de Lisieux's quotes which is this: "I had wondered for a long time why God had preferences and why all souls did not receive an equal amount of grace […] Jesus saw fit to enlighten me about this mystery. He set the book of nature before me and I saw that all the flowers He has created are lovely. The splendour of the rose and whiteness of the lily do not rob the little violet of its scent nor the daisy of its simple charm. I realised that if every tiny flower wanted to be a rose, spring would lose its loveliness and there would be no wild flowers to make the meadows gay."

I am sorry to say that I barely have even a fraction of the faith that St. Thérèse de Lisieux was known to possess. Her picture (seen below) hangs above my desk as a reminder.

This picture is of a framed photo of  St. Thérèse de Lisieux.
St. Thérèse de Lisieux


I no longer actively produce event program covers, invitations and the types of greeting cards described here or on my website but arrangements might be able to be made under certain circumstances. My focus is on the Words In Our Beak book series, pictured below...


...whose stories are told from the point of view of Cam, a female cardinal, whose photo is on the cover of each book. Words In Our Beak’s goal is to open readers to a simple understanding of the winged world and their environment. Set in my rooftop urban garden in New York City. Words In Our Beak is directed to children and adults who are curious about birds, and want to learn about them from a unique perspective. The books include hundreds of images of flora and fauna, links to movies, as well as to informative narratives that have been created by the author.

Please click here to go to my blog post that provides details as to where you can get these books.

Additionally,  I have rendered some images from these books into other formats and they are available via Fine Art America (FAA). Some of my other photographs (Black & White Collection, Kaleidoscopic Images and the famous Mandarin duck who visited NYC) can also be found on my FAA pages.