Archive for the ‘Garden’ Category

The Gardens @ 509


While the forsythia, quince and daffodils are in full bloom, the redbuds have only burst open within the past week; their purple flowers adding vibrant color to the landscape. Dogwoods are just opening their buds, with small flowers unfurled as the last days of the official winter season pass by. It was a great winter; cool and wet. The spring blooming Camellias are in full color now; their pink, red or white flowers speak the same majestic language as the Peonies of May; simply fabulous.

The iris bed is looking alive and well, though there are not yet any signs of blooms on the plants. These old fashioned giants will give the backyard a colorful, pastel display in just a few more weeks. This fall I think we should plant some daffodils bulbs around the iris plants, just about the time that they go dormant for winter.

Spring means that the vegetable garden gets turned. All the pine straw that had fallen through the winter is raked off, along with the remnants of last summer’s cherry tomatoes; their fiber skeletons a reminder of summertime deliciousness. There is something grand about turning over the garden soil, especially at an “old” family home.

The lady of the house is all that is left of the family, who has lived here for over 50 years. Her children have grown up and moved out, with families of their own now; her husband passed away 6 years ago. Still, the soil gets turned, seeds get sown and life goes on.


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Earth Angels III

Now, for the next installment provided by our generous contributor, David. He’s in Nicaragua, engaging in a (self-motivated) youth art-education undertaking that he calls The Angel Art Project.


“The Birthday Party,” by David Chatowsky

Yesterday, March 15th, I took the bus from Nagarote to La Paz Centro. There, I was met by good ol’ Jairo, his 6 year old son Alexander, and Jesus, a friend of Jairo. We went up the main street of La Paz Centro to the hotel where our friend Erica was staying, and sat down in the shade. Sitting in the shade, talking and eating while the wind cools you is a big Sunday past time. So there we sat, waiting for Erica to come out of the hotel and join us under a little canopy. Erica soon came outside to let us know she was feeling a little under the weather. “I think it was something I ate,” were her exact words. Jesus said she was hung over.

So we sat there for awhile talking about the local happenings. Then Erica said she was going to a birthday party for her uncle’s daughter, who had just turned one. “The Mayor of La Paz Centro will be there and you could meet her,” Erica said. I wanted to go and meet the Mayor, so off we went.

The Birthday party was a sight to behold. Never had I seen a bigger one. It took place in the shade of 300 mango trees. The trees belong to Erica´s grandmother and have been providing Erica´s family with Mangos for over three generations. They told me how that week alone they had collected over 12,000 mangos and were expecting at least 12,000 more in what the locals call a “charge,” when the fruit is all ready to be harvested. The trees have mutiple charges in a fruiting season, while the mangos are no bigger than the palm of my hand.

March is mango season in Nicaragua, and the ripe fruit is everywhere. At least two or three times a day I see someone eating a mango.

There were at least 60 adults at this birthday party and 50 children, give or take, all sitting around white plastic tables under the mango trees. Erica found our table, which Jairo and I picked up and moved closer to the trunk a mango tree. They wanted to be in the deepest part of the shade. “We are bored of the sun,” Jairo said. So there we sat under the mango tree, near a tent that housed the birthday cake, and an old trailor filled with gifts, and a stereo system blairing local music. In front of us lay all the people sitting around their own white tables.

Soon a liter of Coca-Cola was brought to the table along with a bowl of ice. Then a plate of food, beef in a chutney sauce with a small salad, and a piece of bread. All the cooking was done over a wood fire in a small building on the edge of the grove. The food and drink were brought to the tables by local women.

A clown appeared and performed tricks and games for the children, a large pinata, which looked like a Strawberry Shortcake doll, was lowered from a mango tree, and while the children were beating Strawberry Shortcake a band showed up in a white pick up truck. Just as Shortcake was giving up her ghost, the band started to blare and the children shouted with glee. “The Mayor is here,” Erica told me. I looked up and saw a tall women who was dressed in a muticolor blouse. After awhile Erica said, “Now is a good time to talk with her, because later she will be busy.” So talk to her we did. Well, actually, it was Jairo and Erica who did all the talking. They told her about my Angel Art Program, and how I wanted to help out the poorest schools in La Paz Centro. The mayor said she was interested in the program, and that we would meet later to discuss at what schools I could help out.

After we met the mayor, but before we left the mango farm, I did some video recording of the party, and then we went on our way. I recorded Jairo explaining about a few other native fruit trees. We got into a taxi and went back to the hotel in La Paz Centro. What a lovely, tasty, beautiful, productive party that was.

Find all of David’s reports from Nicaragua here at the index.

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The Gardens @ 103


The garden is coming to life again. The drought that we have experienced in North Carolina has really taken its toll on many plants, but there are a few hardy survivors that are looking great. It is early March and the two Winter Daphne are loaded with blooms; the front of our home smells sweet and inviting. They are both well over 10 years old and have really been fabulous plants, bringing cheer to winter time and rivaling the lilacs of spring with their heavenly perfume.

The goldfish pond has had its algae bloom; the thick green wispy hair has spread across the waters edge. I took advantage of two days of 80 degree weather and cleaned the filter out. The water was pleasant to work in but just last week it was hovering in the low 30’s and that task would have been out of the question! The Lenten Rose, hydrangea, beautyberry and Japanese Maples that live around the small pond are all doing well; they have loved being the recipients of all the composting that comes from the pond filter. I think I might move the filter cleaning to a new bed this summer. It is not much, perhaps I clean the filter 6 times during the growing season, but the extra 10 gallons of water and all the great nutrients that come off the filter pads have really made that bed fabulous.

I think the Cherry tree in the meadow will have a great spring bloom, providing there is not a hard frost at flower time. The buds are swollen and I finally have seen some bursting; tiny bits of white and purple fluff poking out on a few branches. The white quince is still a bit weak in flowering. Those plants seem to spread their blooms over a long period of time, but there are too few flowers! I think it is possible that the Cherry tree is robbing them blind in regards to nutrients. I want to bring in a few cubic yards of rotted manure to mulch all the plants with this spring. I will be sure to get Barbara to help with that!

I am going to make a new water feature in the meadow garden this spring. I know the birds will love it come summertime and that is more than enough reason to make that project happen. I just need a nice piece of cedar to bring it all together. Somewhere, out in the woods, is the perfect piece of cedar. A 5 to 6 foot piece, with twirling branches and nice form plus a couple sweet places to hang some small wind chimes and bells from. It will be great – can’t you hear the wind playing a melody on them already?

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