Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Bugging out



No apologies and no excuses for my latest extended absence. No, it's far more important to share with you this breaking news about spiders and their not-so-tiny brains. A little something to mull over as you come across tiny arachnids amongst your houseplants, as I have been known to do.

That is all. See you in a few hours/days/weeks/months, same Spider-time, same Spider-channel.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Look who's back (sort of)


The last thing I want to do after a lengthy absence from here is end up here, so I'll spare you all excuses and apologies, as well as any promises that I will ever post more often. But I just included a link to this semi-comatose blog in a little mini-essay on WNY garden walks/tours I wrote for my day job, so I figure anyone who ends up here through that deserves to see something new.

When in fact all you're really going to find here that's new is ... this! Which is merely steering you right back here! It's an internet mobius strip as vexing as the original Planet of the Apes chronology.

Since you're here, and since we are here to discuss nocturnal gardening, allow me to put in yet another plug for the two nighttime garden walks in the greater Buffalo area: a new one in the Kenmore/Town of Tonawanda area on Saturday, July 23, 2011 and a fairly long-running one in Black Rock on Saturday, August 6. The latter I've been to before and can gladly vouch for; the Ken/Ton one sounds promising. I gather night walks are big in other parts of the country, and I'm all for 'em. (Got two words for ya, but keep 'em under your hat: Open bar!)

The hosta-riffic photo above is from the Parkside walk I wrote about in the Spree post that shamed me into writing this one; that's only a small part of a lush shade garden. For the record, I've got plenty of photos of the Black Rock night tour, and it would be mighty tempting to share some of them here ... but that would involve promising you to stay tuned, wouldn't it? The mobius strip twists yet again!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

If on a winter's night a traveler ...

OK, OK, so I'm not doing so well with that renewed vow to blog on a daily basis, although I'm kind of counting posts on Facebook and entries in my offline/private journal and doing fairly well in that regard. I certainly have an ever-growing backlog of things to write about here--

--and once again, they shall all wait in order that I may execute that laziest of all blog maneuvers, the reposting of someone else's YouTube videos. I found these two this evening after accidentally stumbling upon another one by the same media artist that I really liked, set to a song by a band (er, "electronic music duo" would be more accurate) I like. That one has nothing to do with gardening, but these two do.

First, a short but sweet hommage to winter:



From there, I found this surprisingly gorgeous look at critters we don't usually think of as gorgeous:



Think of it as a sequel to a similar video I posted in an earlier Lazy Blog Entry. Part of what I love about all of these is the way they depict natural cycles normally unseen by the human eye, devoid of the standard-issue Anthropomorphising Nature Documentary Narrator. In the two videos above, the electronic music--that most notoriously "cold" of sounds (at least to some people, not me so much)--heightens that sense that something is going on here which surpasseth human understanding or involvement.

PS. If you have somehow landed here in search of useful gardening information, check out this less glamorous but still impressive demonstration of how to deal with slugs whose careers as movie stars have ended.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Carl Jung, Boy Plant Geek


In my ongoing quest to read more and watch TV less, I've been hitting a lot of bases simultaneously. I've already mentioned my first year with Henry Mitchell, but another tome I've been slowly working through for a while now is Carl Jung's 1961 semi-autobiography, Memories, Dreams, Reflections. It's a truly eccentric approach to memoir, with no false advertising in its title. Hard facts are downplayed in favor of dreams about divine turds and such.

At the very end of "School Years," the chapter on Jung's boyhood, I came across this intriguing and characteristically wacky passage as our hero is pondering his future academic studies:

Plants interested me too, but not in a scientific sense. I was attracted to them for a reason I could not understand, and with a strong feeling that they ought not to be pulled up and dried. They were living beings which had meaning only so long as they were growing and flowering--a hidden, secret meaning, one of God's thoughts. They were to be regarded with awe and contemplated with philosophical wonderment. What the biologist had to say about them was interesting, but it was not the essential thing. ... How were plants related to the Christian religion or to the negation of the Will, for example? ... They obviously partook of the divine state of innocence which it was better not to disturb. By way of contrast, insects were denatured plants--flowers and fruits which had presumed to crawl about on legs or stilts and to fly around with wings like the petals of blossoms, and busied themselves preying on plants. Because of this unlawful activity they were condemned to mass executions, June bugs and caterpillars being the especial targets of such punitive expeditions. My "sympathy with all creatures" was strictly limited to warm-blooded animals. The only exceptions among the cold-blooded vertebrates were frogs and toads, because of their resemblance to human beings.

Wild! There's a lot in that paragraph to mull over. I admit I have never thought much about the role of plants in regard to the negation of the Will, for one, nor I have ever considered insects as winged flowers. Then again, I'm not a late-19th century Swiss kid with a preacher dad. On the other hand, I think he's on to something with that business about the "hidden, secret meaning" of plants. Hard to pin down--but then that's what makes it secret.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Hail and Farewell

I thought sure I had taken pictures of this poor dear during the two-plus years it was thriving. Alas, this stark snapshot of its dismal end is all I can find:



May not look like much now, but behold its humble origin story: I am pretty sure it was an impatiens (what's the singular? impatien?), but whatever it was, it was an extra seedling that I had no room for in the yard. Rather than toss it out, I potted it up. Thinking it was an annual, I assumed if I was lucky it might stick around for the summer of 2008, maybe a bit of the fall, and then croak. But no! It just kept going and going, blooming now and then throughout the winter of 08/09 and then the summer of 09. I forgot it for weeks at a time (despite the fact that one thing I have learned in my gardening phase is that the smaller the container, the more often you have to water) and still it soldiered on. Looks like I finally ignored it a wee bit too long. It's bounced back from the edge of extinction more often than I care to admit, but something tells me it's finally time to say goodbye.

At the risk of revealing myself as the hippie flake I am apparently evolving into, a part of my garden, way in the back where visitors seldom venture, is designated as a kind of cemetery for favorite plants. (Most just land in one of the more conventional compost piles.) I make up a little 20-second ceremony on the spot, then drop them onto the ground where I know they'll eventually either break down or be eaten by some undiscriminating critter.

So goodbye, Little Impatiens (Or Whatever You Were) That Could. You will be missed.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Attention, internet-savvy deer

Appearances to the contrary, this is NOT a delicious blueberry:



Please share this information with the rest of your herd.
Many thanks, and happy belated holidays,
Ron and Don

Friday, January 1, 2010

Brand new year, same old resolution


Hey, I never said I was a regular post-er. But the new year brings with it a renewed promise (to myself) to blog every day, at one site or another of the half dozen or so I have a hand (at this point, a pinky finger) in.

It's not like I haven't been accumulating months' worth of potential posts all this time. Case in point, I've spent the last year reading the appropriate month's chapter of Henry Mitchell essays, something I intend to keep doing for at least the next two years, since he has at least two more books organized by month. (Is that wording clear? The concept is, these wonderful, laugh-out-loud-funny collections of the late, legendary writer's "Earthman" columns for the Washington Post are organized into 12 chapters apiece, allowing the reader to experience them by season. "January" thus contains essays like "In Winter's Adversity, the Hardy Gardener Flourishes," while "December" wraps up with "In Gardening, Timing is Key," which anticipates the annual bloomtimes of snowdrops and other spring bulbs.) So there's plenty to read even when the action outside has slowed down. I love this as an organizing principle, and am beginning to wish more books were laid out according to the calendar. Perhaps I'd even read notoriously long ones if I had a plan to follow.

On New Year's Eve I finished On Gardening, and on New Year's Day I started One Man's Garden. They are every bit as entertaining (and sometimes actually informative) as I'd heard. In theory, I'd be sharing the many thoughts inspired by these marvelous columns as they occur to me, but no such luck, at least with book one.

Brutal honesty is best, is it not? That's one takeaway from Mitchell--he never hesitates to admit when some brilliant horticultural goal of his has failed miserably. So instead, I'll quote the last line of OG, which has a kind of New Years resolution feel to it:

The great trick, I am now sure, is to flow with the tide.

Which is exactly what I strive to do, in cyberspace, in the garden, in my library, and everywhere else. Happy 2010 to you and yours.