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.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

NJ Flower and Garden Show

This was the twelfth annual NJ Flower and Garden Show, and my second time attending the show. It always has displays of various types of garden designs, seminars, workshops, floral arrangement displays, photography-display and display of various other types all related to garden.

As you can see, most of the displays contain plants that are very common -- daffodils, tulips, irises, hyacinths -- the typical bulb or flowers that one sees in NJ home-gardens. It also had some other flowers and plants, on display, that are not commonly found in gardens here.

The pink flower is a Ranunculus. There were varieties of Ranunculus in different colors, though they are not hardy to NJ. They grow best in milder climates of Western or South-Western USA, as the root can tolerate temperature only as low as ten degree Fahrenheit and the growing plant can handle temperature as low as only twenty degree Fahrenheit. They are grown from bulbs. The blue flowers are that of Blue BaronRhododendron. These are small (only three feet by two feet in maturity) evergreen shrubs. The picture is not doing justice to the plant as it was looking spectacular covered with tiny blue flowers and glossy evergreen leaves. The third picture is that of a winterberry plant. Apparently, these plants are native to swampy areas of Eastern USA. This is a Red Sprite or Ilex Verticillata. The red berries attract birds. However, to get these red berries, which appears only on the female plants, one need a male plant for pollination. These are also small shrubs.
Various types of displays, all related to garden. The last picture is from a children's category entry where kids from schools enter and compete in some kind of competition. I go to the show not to enjoy all these displays, though they are creative and sometimes shows innovative way of using materials in designing gardens; my attraction is to the market place where all sorts of vendors come to sell garden-related stuff. One get to see unique products which one might not see in any stores around here, plants that are exotic and not usually sold by garden centers, at least in NJ, and gets to buy those at a much cheaper price.
This year, I have already gone overboard with the number of plants, bulbs, herb-seeds, flower-seeds and vegetable-seeds that I have ordered, and collected, details of which will come later in another post. So, I promised myself that I was just going to see and admire and not buy anything. But, promises are to be broken, right? If you tell me otherwise, then perhaps I need to join Obsessed Gardeners Support Group (NO! I didn't make it up; check it out here --

I ended up buying garden-related furniture, Deck-Planters, hanging-pots, a big sweet-bay plant, campanula (if I heard the name correctly though the flowers do not look like bell-flowers at at all. Rather they look like tiny roses. The plant is supposed to be a ground-cover), and two Blue-Zebra perennial Primula. But my prized possession has been the three roots of Foxtail Lily (Eremurus). They are supposed to be exotic plants and hardy to zone 5. They indeed looked exotic to me; even their fleshy roots look like a big blackish spider. These plants are supposed to attract butterflies.

The plant looks like a clump of showy-grass with slender bright-green foliage. The size of the foliage-plant is maximum one to one-and-a-half feet. But, from the midst of such a small plant, spikes of flowers, some even seven feet tall and looking like bushy-tails of squirrels, emerge. In the first year, there might not be any such spikes or perhaps just one or two. But with time, more and more spikes will emerge from just a single plant. Unlike any other lilies, these plants are not that invasive as they usually do not spread. And, if they spread, they take many, many years to do so. The plant cannot be grown in pots, and have to be grown in rich soil, in a sunny area. The soil needs to be well-drained and once-established, the plant does not need that much watering -- rains will be enough. The roots do not like to be disturbed. So, once planted, you have to make sure that that planting spot is their permanent home. Garden designers recommend that the flowers of this plant are so bright and showy that need to have a background of evergreen dark-greenish plants (like pines, I guess) to really create a contrast and bring out the beauty of the flowers. The above picture is not doing justice to the flowers that I saw in the show.

I know that none of the plants that I bought are native plants. I hope that native-plant proponents will not be angry with me and start judging me. I have immense number of native plants in my garden -- at least twenty or more varieties -- and I am going to buy and plant more this year. But, I also like non-native flower plants. One of my main reasons for gardening is to help nature and all the bees, butterflies, birds and wild-life. The non-native plants also help my feather and pollinator friends, tremendously, in that sense. Case in hands -- lavender, dill, parsley, coriander, mint, lemon-balm-herb, vegetables and pear-tree -- all non-native plants. The lavender plants, mint and lemon-balm herbs are buzzing with bees and butterflies, from spring till late frost. The parsley and coriander all the time hosts some kind of big (yellow and black striped, but I don't know they belong to what species of butterflies) caterpillars. Vegetables (corn, tomato, peas, etc) and pears are eaten by birds, squirrels and other wild-lives (raccoon, deer, ground-hog, Opossum and skunks). So, you see, the non-native plants also help our wild friends.

To all my Non-American readers, I have to tell you that NJ is known as the Garden State in the US because of the tremendous number of greeneries, woods, state-protected parks and forests, farms and public-gardens it has. So, the show provided me with the opportunity to connect with many of the local farms around here. All these farms are family-owned businesses who advocates natural, organic methods of growing plants and carry all the various kinds of plants that are available in any garden-catalogs from anywhere. So, I hope to visit, one-by-one, each of these farms this year.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

The Thief

Foreword: The Thief is a children's story based on drama that takes place in many backyards across the world. The story, based on pictures, is appropriate for children between the age of one and three years old. The idea of the story came to the author while she was experimenting with her rented telephoto lens. The book was first published on February 11, 2014, and got reprinted many times since then.
She comes over the fence, across the neighbor's yard, tip-toeing perilously on tree branches.
She peeks cautiously through the branches; stands up to see if the coast is clear. And waits patiently.
She then slowly climbs down. While climbing down, she carefully checks out some holes to see if the loot can be stacked there.
Victory at last -- the feeder is under my control now. Shoo! off you go...this does not belong to you birds now. THIS IS MINE -- EVERY TEENY-WEENY MORSEL OF SUNFLOWER SEED IS MINE.
But, victory does not last long. Protector of feather-friends and yard is near-at-hand. They come roaring out of the door, galloping fast on their feet, and barking the sweet songs of victory. They go round and round the yard, howling and growling, jumping up and down with the hope that one day such jumps will allow them to soar up into those darned high tree branches and get hold of the thief.
Run! run! run! scamper! scamper! scamper! Climb up the tree fast for dear life. Phew! that was close. Am I high enough from those two $#&****#!!? Yesss!! Good, that I grabbed some more seeds -- all those scampering and climbing surely makes this girl hungry. At least up here in the high I can sit peacefully and enjoy my booty.
Peace at last. All those food has made me sleepy. Let me take some rest for a while before I again walk all the way back to my home. Why do these humans have to cut up the trees and put them in a funny way on the ground! Walking on them is dangerous.
Disclaimer: Hehehe...No, I haven't published this as a book :-P. I have a dream of publishing books one day though. I am linking this with Michelle's wonderful meme -- Nature Notes which she holds every Tuesday. Are there any other meme that I can link with? If you know, please let me know. Thanks.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

My Experiment With Telephoto Lens

I rented a 500 mm Sigma telephoto lens. So, here are some pictures. Please click on each photo to see the larger version. The lens is so heavy, weighs as much as I am :-P, and the camera really shakes. Very fast shutter speed is the key if taking pictures without a tripod; however that can make the pictures appear dark. All these are taken without a tripod and the subjects are really far away, more than 200 feet away. My neck, hand and shoulder were aching from trying to hold the camera and steadily. All these pictures are taken of all the birds that appear in our backyard, bird-feeder. This post is linking with Rambling Wood's Nature Post. If anyone not seen her blog, please go and visit it -- her blog is a treat with beautiful pictures and information about nature. I am also linking it with Hootin Annie's I'd rather be birding .

The female and male cardinals. The male and female can be distinguished from the color of their feathers -- the males look gorgeous with beautiful orangish red feathers. The females do not have that color but grayish yellow with some reddish streak. The song of the male bird, at least to my ears, is absolutely beautiful. They sit perched on tree tops and sing, signalling the coming of spring.

Some kind of finch or sparrow in the first picture. Sparrows in the second and third picture. It seems that there are lots of different kinds of sparrows in the US. I do not know which kind these are.

The above three pictures are not taken with the telephoto lens. Thus, they are not that clear. All the various kinds of birds -- juncos, chickadees, sparrows, finch, titmouse, nuthatch, bluejays, cardinals, sterling and woodpeckers -- that come to our feeder throughout the day. In the second and third picture, one sees the Red-Bellied Woodpecker.

Nuthatch in the first and second picture. I think these birds spend upside-down throughout their lives. Whenever I have observed them in nature, they are always upside down. Tufted titmouse in the third picture in the first row. Chickadees in the first and second picture in the second row. Junco in the the last picture -- these are migratory birds. They are seen in NJ only during winter. They will go away with the coming of spring. Apparently they come from farther north in the US and Canada.