MLK Quote

MLK Quote

Nature's Inspiration Movie -- Nature's Inspiration Movie: The photographs in this short video are from award-winning photographer, Ken Jenkins, and they are breathtaking. However, this video is much more than beautiful photographs! Peggy Anderson has compiled beautiful quotations from the likes of Emerson, Thoreau, and many others that truly capture the beauty of nature and solitude. Absolute must watch for nature lovers.

Friday, May 31, 2013

Every Dark Cloud Has a Silver Lining

To me the dark cloud was the mini jungle that I created in one long stretch of the garden.
As you can see in the above pictures that the place is indeed a veritable forest taken over by overgrown grass, creeping ivy, violets, wild ginger, that unknown-bushy plant(tree) and Jerusalem Artichokes. But, now I am dancing on the moon. Because in my jungle, a snake has taken up residency :-). Twice I tried to take pictures, twice it slithered away so quickly that I could not take any. I can't even identify it. Online searches make me believe that it could be either of the following (eastern ribbon snake, queen snake or eastern garter snake though habitat-wise it cannot be queen or ribbon. But Who Knows? May be there is even a hidden water puddle somewhere there in that jungle):

All the three above pictures are taken from Wikipedia. I do not claim them as my pictures.

It looks shining black with whitish (yellowish or some light color)stripes running along its length. I could not count if it was two, three or more such stripes. It is about two feet (or could be more as it slithers into its hideout at lightening speed) in length. It basks in the sun in this asparagus patch:

Last year I found this snake slithering away from my garden to that of the neighbor.

I was sad to see it go to neighbor's garden. I wanted it to be in my garden. But, this year I am feeling so happy that I am feeling dancing and clapping around the garden (too bad that I can't do it; I will surely then be captured and taken to an asylum) for my friendly neighbor Snaky's presence. Also, there will be no chance that he will go back to neighbor's yard as this new neighbor has cut down and cleaned everything in his yard (only grasses left). All online research is also telling me that presence of snake signifies a very healthy ecosystem. I am so happy that at least I am being able to create such an habitat and contribute towards the health of Mother Earth. Not only snake but a sparrow and a sterling has made nest in our house this year. The sparrow has made the nest in our patio window slides, just above our head and within our reach. They must be crazy to make it so close that we can reach it by our hand! The sterling has made it in the roof (actually under the roof. There is this opening, I don't why, a small narrow one to the inside of the roof; they have made it there). Whenever I go out into the patio to tend my plants and seedlings, the Father-Sparrow comes out, sits on the patio railings, looks at me and chirps out loudly. I don't know what he is trying to say -- may be scolding me for being there and scaring the babies and asking me to leave; or perhaps giving out a danger signal; or may be begging for food as they all have seen me filling out the bird-feeders.

Lovely story and a video to go by with today's post. Careful, it can bring tears to your eyes. Here it is. Whatever knowledge you might have of snakes in garden, please share :-). By the way, dear bloggers, all these are non-venomous and very shy snakes. If these were poisonous, I was not going to have that wild dance :-).

Thursday, May 30, 2013

In Loving Memory.....

Peonies are blooming. I saw them opening up yesterday (5/29/2013).

My mother, who suddenly passed away in 2012 due to doctor's blunder, simply loved them. She visited me for six months in 2010. That year the peonies bloomed in July-August. She had arthritic knees but still she would limp out into the garden to enjoy the atmosphere, smell the peonies, enjoy their beauties and complain about the beautiful roses for not having any good smell. Here is she:

She looks so sad in this picture because it was the last day of her visit with us. Now she is gone forever from this material-world but remains alive in our mind and heart. I am not a religious person and thus does not find any comfort in such thoughts as that she is in heaven or that one day I will meet her in heaven. But I still wonder where she might be now? Is death the end of all? What is birth? What is death? Is birth the result of mere combination of male and female reproductive cells or something more? Is death just the destruction of those cells or something more? Is it similar to us picking out the weed and thus killing them? Who is picking us out then and why? Are we becoming like weeds at certain point in our life? What is that point then and who makes the decision? If I have to believe that God is making such decision, then I also have to declare myself a Goddess as the decision of life and death of all living organism in my garden is in my hand. So no, I can't believe in God/Goddess and make my life easier.

What is this vast universe? The size of the observable universe is about 14 billion light years, that is about 82.3x10^(21) miles. It's diameter is 546.7x10^(21) miles. Can you imagine the size? And who knows what's beyond that? I wish I could travel throughout space and time, observe the Big-Bang and the parallel universes, feel the higher dimensions and find answers to many questions.

But I do not have any such luck or perhaps even in hundred years. Now all I can do is become depressed for this unknown life or roam around in graveyards, thinking about all the people there. It is so strange to think that buried underneath are people who once had so much dreams and wishes and memories; spent their lives just like us -- thinking, reading, writing, gardening, gossiping, enjoying; they also felt pain and got scared. But, now nothing is left of them but some inanimate skulls and bones. Or maybe they have already become compost?

So, what's the use of gardening when I don't know what will happen to this life or to this garden with my death? Observe, learn, get awe-struck, spread the good vibes, share, struck-up friendship, help other creatures and enjoy the beauty till death snatches me.......

In loving memory all I can do now is whisper to the air that the peonies have bloomed. You have now become one with air as all the atoms and molecules that made you have disintegrated in it. Wherever you are roaming around now, I hope the air takes the message to you. Perhaps your molecules are now floating around in my garden. Whatever air particles you breathed in, perhaps I am breathing in them now...

Monday, May 27, 2013

Eternal Peace -- Is It That Much To Wish For...

Wishing you all of you a Happy Memorial Day. For those of you who kindly visit my humble blog from outside the USA, Memorial Day is a day for remembering the service and dedication of the armed forces. I hope a day will come in this world when no one will need the use of any kind of forces. So, in memory of all those men and women and in hope of eternal peace, I present these beautiful flowers. Why do we get moved by beauties of flowers? There is no evolutionary advantage in being mesmerized by the beauties of such tiny, insignificant flowers which you might not even notice while walking tall. Most of our habits, characteristics and senses have developed due to some kind of evolutionary-requirement reason. Do all of us get moved by such beauties? Or only few of us? If only few of us get affected so deeply by their beauties, then why? What do we have that we get affected and others don't? Such fleeting beauties can only be the apt symbols for eternal peace as enjoying their beauty we hopefully realize the insignificance of our short-lives, uselessness of wars and bickering, and that our lives should also radiate beauty.

I do not what these flowers are or where they have come from. They have suddenly appeared this year in my flower-bed, vegetable-bed, around the green-house and in lawns. In the first picture you can see how the buds look like. The buds and the flowers grow on tall stalk. They bloom in huge quantity as you can see in the last picture; the whole area/ground gets covered in their bloom. The blooms closes when the sun sets; with the sunrise and rise in temperature, the bloom opens. I am not sure if it is evident in the picture or not but the beauty of these tiny masses of flower is absolutely exquisite. It could be some kind of crocuses but I have never seen them blooming so late, and blooming profusely on the hottest days or in mid-day when the sun overhead is shining brightly. Also, I have never seen crocuses bloom on such long stalks. But, I might be wrong. Do any of you know what they might be? The long weekend was also spend in doing lots of garden-related works which will become another post.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

First Snap-Pea of the Season 2013

Yesterday (5/24/2013) we ate our first snap pea from the plants which I grew from seeds. My babies are now taking care of me. I took those that were at least two inches in length. Many more to come.

This is a bowl of salad that I created using peas and lettuce from the garden.

Do you know that you can eat the tender leaves, shoots, tendrils of pea-plants? They taste exactly like peas. Try it out if you have not already done so. In fact the baby pea-plants are full of micro-nutrients. That's why, in Europe especially, people grow peas as micro-greens. Snap peas themselves are full of vitamin C, flavonoids, folic acid, fiber, pantothenic acid, Vitamins A and K (though they have most other vitamins) and other minerals.

I am fascinated with these pea plants. They are easy to grow. Lots of plants can be crammed in small space. All they need is water; they don't have any fertilizer requirement; in fact, they make the soil, in which they are grown, fertile by fixing nitrogen. When the plant dies down, do not rip it off from the soil. Leave it there because as its root disintegrate, it gives out nitrogen to the soil. My fascination has lead me to buy five more packets of peas for fall cultivation.

I also took out some onion flower stalk, spinach-leaves and turnip-leaves from the garden (will I be please allowed to boast again and say that all these plants were grown by your truly from seeds:-D). I made a batter with chickpea flour. Dipped the leaves and finely chopped stalk, and fried them in very little oil. These are the fritters that one usually eats in Indian restaurants. The fritters can be made using almost every sorts of vegetables and leaves, stems and flowers.

Good time is here again when fresh foods from garden can be consumed. I wonder how people, especially in colder Europe, North-America where things cannot be grown during winter, survived the cold months? These people indeed have strength, stamina and spirit which we spoiled, twenty-first century humans have lost. Do any of you have any such ancestral stories to share? This reminded me of the latest news that scientist believe that the early pilgrims turned to cannibalism in Jamestown, Virginia during the harsh winters. The interesting article can be read here.

Thursday, May 23, 2013


If bees could pay in cash (or gold), then I was going to be a millionaire by now. We have the following evergreen rhododendron in our front lawn. This is the largest one. We have about three more on the side lawn.
Can you see one of the other rhododendron peeking out from the far-side in the top second picture. I can't have enough of their beauties; try to take the shots from every possible angle; in every possible mode at all times. The last picture in the second row is that of a night shot.

I have not planted these trees. I live in a house that is 103 years old and it has the still original shape, structure, design, foundation, basement, wooden floor, the door latches(knobs) and keys and all the door/windows' border/framework (whatever those things are called). It's fun to stay in this old house as all the floors all the time creeks; bathroom doors do not have any lock; the rule of the house is if the bathroom doors are closed, that means someone is inside and no one should barge in without knocking; the closet doors are such that if one gets locked inside, one will not be able to come out as there are no locks inside; no wood work can be done inside the house unless it's absolute emergency; anytime we ask any constructor to fix anything, he starts salivating over the wood and advices us that such chestnut, pine wood are no longer available!! Why am I rambling about our house instead of the garden? Well, what I am trying to say is that whoever stayed in this house took great care of the house and the yard. One person or perhaps many person, over the years, whoever stayed in this house planted all these azaleas, rhodendrons, dogwood, evergreens and other many flowering trees around the front, side and back yard of the house. They seemed to have much knowledge as varieties of such trees were planted; the locations provided the exact requirements of the trees in terms of light, shade and soil. I do not take care of them, but they are growing big and strong. I wonder when the trees were planted, what size they were then, if the person got to see and enjoy its beauty. My humble thank you and gratitude to them wherever they might be on this earth or mixed in air.

New growth appearing in the tree. The tree is a medium size in both height and width-wise. It's height must about ten feet; the width must about five feet or more. The second picture is that of a close-up of the bud; more blossoms soon going to boom in the third picture

Close-up shots of the flowers.

The tree is a magnet for bees; from tiny fly-like bees to these large bees (bumble bees??) buzz around it, flying from one flower to the next. How do they choose which flower to visit? Why are they, most of the time, hovering around the top-flowers instead of the flowers at the side and bottom branches? Are enough pollen left for many bees to visit the same flower? Many such questions would crowd together in my mind as I stand mesmerized watching their activities.
The pictures are hazy because the bees zoom around in sonic speed; difficult to catch a still-shot.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Pollinator Day

I came across this post through Donna of Gardens Eye View. The post says that Monsanto bought one of the leading Bee Research Firm. If you have had enough of juicy Monsanto, and can't take any more bite, then please do not leave the table and hang out a little bit for the cake. And here it is: 

EPA has sided with industry lobbyists over public health in approving a highly dangerous pesticide that the European Union recently decided to ban over fears of environmental devastation.Not only have neonicotinoid pesticides been linked repeatedly to mass bee deaths, also known as Colony Collapse Disorder, but the continued use of such pesticides threatens other aspects of nature (and humans) as well.

You can read the full article here. I talked about the effect of the neonicotinoid pesticide in my blog post located here.

Top up the cake with rich nice icing: For the first time in human history, concentrations of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere are expected to pass 400 parts per million across much of the Northern Hemisphere in May, according to scientists who study data from the Mauna Loa Observatory, the world's longest-running CO2 . The whole article can be found at this address.

So, on one hand we are already experiencing the devastating effects of climate change with drought, Sandy, tornadoes, heavy monsoon, freezing winter or warm winter; and, then on the other hand we are destroying our pollinators. This might sound as conspiracy theory, but I am sure that Monsanto is developing seeds and crops of all sorts of fruits and vegetables which does not need pollinators. When no more pollinators will be left on earth, we-the-gardeners will be forced to buy such Monsanto seeds. In history, we learned about about Genghis Khan, Caesar, Alexander the Great and other such domination by kings and queens. 21st century and beyond will see the domination of companies like Monsanto unless we civilians do something.

So, I was thinking of adopting a pollinator day. All of us gardeners and garden-bloggers will pledge to do something for our pollinators on that day. Perhaps, we can plant some native pollinator-loving plants; or we can swap plants and seeds with our friends/neighbors/bloggers; or discuss about some issue related to pollinators. Again Donna of Gardens Eye View
and her friend Susan of Life Change Compost gave away seeds, that attracts pollinators, to bloggers. We can adopt one such day for northern hemisphere and one such day for southern hemisphere. It should be a weekend and sometime in summer when planting activities are in full swing. What do you all think? Interested? Then, which day shall we choose? May be first Saturday of June when it is not too hot to stress the plants, neither too cold? Also, if you are interested, please spread the word around through your blog and any other related means. We desperately need to do something for mother earth, nature, climate, environment, our friendly pollinators and send a message that when we unite for a good cause, nothing can stand against our way.

On Saturday (May 18, 2013), I bought many native plants from one of the certified, authentic native plants grower and steward of New Jersey, the Wilde Ridge Plants:

Virginia Waterleaf; liatris spicata and monarda didyma. He and his wife has the permission to collect seeds from the wild and propagate. Thus, these are true wild flowers of New Jersey.

I also got from them tall coneflower (Rudbeckia Laciniata), wild strawberry (Fragiria Virginiana) and wild sunflowers. These are all summer bloomers. So, I will post pictures as they bloom.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day

This post is in honor of GBBD hosted by Carol of">May Dreams Garden. These are blooms on the bigger plants and trees in our garden. Last year, all these bloomed in early-April as 2011-2012 was one of the hottest year. This year, perhaps, everything is normal as this part of New Jersey continues to have frost until the late May. 

The dogwood in bloom; close-up of the blooms.

A small shrub of azalea; the blooms in close-up. This shrub remains a small shrub only about two feet tall with about three feet spread.

This is a big azalea tree. The whole tree is becoming like that. If you ask me about the size of the tree, I might have to say that it is 7 to 10 feet. Close-up of the blooms

A kind of rhododendron tree; close-up of one of the bloom on the tree.

Another kind of azalea tree. This is also a big tree. The blooms are of deep-red (or may be very dark pink). Close-up of the bloom.

Close-up of the bloom of Persian-Lilac tree. The whole tree gets covered with big clusters of bloom like this. And the fragrance is heavenly, out of this world. The whole yard, place around it for many, many feet will be drenched in this sweet aroma for everyone to drink it and lose sense. But, this is a very invasive species. You plant one tree, forget about it, and come back a year later; the whole place will be covered with this tree. The second picture is the blooms on one of my blueberry-plant. The third picture is the bloom on beach-plum, a native plant/bush/shrub. The plum can be eaten by humans. If left on the tree, they will become one of the essential food for many of the native songbirds.

I appreciate the blooms of these trees because their beauties are of such fleeting nature. They will bloom for a short period during the early spring; rest of the year, they will be standing in a jungle of trees, favorite place for all sorts of birds to hang around. Looking at them at such time no one will be able to tell about the ephemeral beauty pageant they put up during the early spring of every year. I think I have come to appreciate nature, enjoy all these beauties and savor in the harvest because I do not get these all year round. If I were living in a tropical climate where some kind of fruits, vegetables and flowers can be grown throughout the year, I might not have appreciated nature, observed and learned it or waited eagerly for spring. This is the best time of the year as I wait enthusiastically for all the bounties to come, for all the secrets that my garden is going to reveal. This waiting is the best experience because once it comes, it goes away pretty fast; just like waiting for any festival is all the fun because once it is there, it is over in a blink of an eye. What do you think?

I also could not lose this opportunity about this post on Wisteria garden in Japan. Apparently there is a garden in Japan where about 10,000 square feet is dedicated to all sorts of wisteria. Here is the link with the pictures and the video. Click on link or click here:

I have never been to that garden; so I don't know how it will feel when I see it face to face. But, seeing the pictures or the video, I am not feeling much interested; it's not appealing to me that much because it looks very artificial with all those artificial support; also, simply too many people. I like the look of everything natural with calm, quiteness around it; and not that many people. How about you?