They're HEEEeeeeerrrrrrrre! First of all, my little apple tree climbing buddy was born 19 minutes into the 4th of July. She's absolutely wonderful. Way cuter than my other arrivals.
That's right, there's more. I ordered 1500 ladybugs (smallest quantity available) about two weeks ago, and they came yesterday in the mail.
How cool is that? They were very eager to get out of the cup, and immediately went to work for me, crawling and flying to where the irritating and damaging bugs were making my garden a living hell. I'm pretty excited about them. I really hope they get all the bastards that have been obliterating my chamomile. It's too late for my cilantro, but . . . *sigh*
In other news, I've taken an increased interest in bonsai as of late. I actually went to a bonsai farm yesterday that I've seen many times from the road, but never stopped by before. The plants were beautiful, old, and very very expensive. To make matters more interesting, I was preached at (and even given a tract - of sorts) about Jueng San Do (an eastern religion) by the little old lady that owned and ran the farm. The religion sounded like a bunch of self-help, the end is near, my spirit is your spirit, and rather hopeless crap (to be perfectly blunt), but the experience was . . . interesting. I didn't buy anything.
I want to post a new picture of my bonsai (the one I bought a couple weeks ago), but it looks kind of silly right now. I have bread bag ties all over it, trying to train its growth. I'll post a new pic when it doesn't look so awkward. ;)
This is it: the final countdown has begun. My wife is being induced tomorrow morning, so hopefully, by tomorrow evening at the latest, I'll be a father. All of the preparations for the baby (whose name will be released to the world as soon as she's born) have reminded me repeatedly of the beautifully cyclical pattern of life. I have thought about how it must have been for my parents, back before I (their first-born) was born. The same feelings my wife and I are currently experiencing were no doubt also at work in them. I've thought about how it must have been for my grandparents - expecting my dad as their first. It's been amazing for me to think about the past with life itself as my vantage point. At some point in the lives of every biological parent, they have been in my shoes, and now I join the ranks.
The circular nature of life is one of the things I treasure about gardening too.
When I was a kid, we would go apple picking. I can remember with great detail one tree in particular. It's branches were ideal for climbing. Once I had managed to scramble up to the lowest of it's branches (which were probably only about four feet up, but you have to give me some credit. I was only about 7 at the time), the limbs that led to the summit of the tree were arranged in a perfect staircase. At the pinnacle of this 20-ish foot tree, I could perch comfortably and munch away a happy hour. I've thought a great deal about that tree as I've grown up. I've never forgotten the taste of the apples picked for the topmost branches, where I imagined only I could reach. I reminisce nearly every time I eat a particularly tasty apple.
About a month and-a-half ago, my wife had given me an apple with my sandwich for lunch. It was the best apple I had eaten in a long time. I saved the core in the ziploc baggie that had contained my pb&j, intending to plant it when I got home. I wasn't sure if anything was going to happen. After planting it, I began to wonder if maybe the growers of the apple had somehow engineered their apples to produce invalid seed as a way of guarding their product. Of course, I told myself, that was ridiculous. I continued to water the pot of dirt faithfully, and sure enough up came the tiniest of sprouts, Followed a couple of weeks later by another.
I am constantly amazed at the sureness with which plants come into being. So fragile, yet somehow, unafraid.
The taller of my apple seedlings is now about 2.5 inches tall and magnificent already. I know that the odds of these new trees' ancestry going back to the same tree I climbed as a child are stacked astronomically against me, but I'd like to think that they're at least distantly related. I hope that some day my children and grandchildren will enjoy climbing to the tallest bows of these trees, picking a perfect fruit and munching away many a happy hour.
So, the Mrs. and I went to the local gardening haven today. We had a bit of extra money, so we each picked out something we wanted. She got some baby's breath, celosia, lantana, and sedum for a hanging basket she's been meaning to to redo.
I got a Bonsai "Serissa Kyoto" that I intend to bonsai. Here's the thing: I've not done this. I don't know what to do really. Any pointers for care and/or trimming would be appreciated.
My bell peppers were doing amazing. They were growing, the leaves were all so very healthy, and the lovely white flowers had died and were followed by even lovelier deep green peppers. Tiny peppers covered my six plants and were growing into what promised to be wonderful-tasting vegetables for salads, fajitas, stuffed peppers, and so many other delectable meals.
I was at work on Wednesday when I got the call. My wife was on the other end of the line, speaking in hushed and hurried tones. At first I thought she had gone into labor (she's now less than two weeks away), but then her words registered in my mind: there was a crow in the garden. She had scared it away from its pilfered meal, but not until it had done its damage. Large jagged holes now gaped in the still tender flesh of the young peppers, revealing the barely formed seeds inside. She told me that if I wanted to save the rest of our growing vegetables, I should take measures to ensure their safety.
When I got home, I did the only thing I could think to do short of harming the would-be veggie thieves: I hired a superhero. That's right. I called upon the Guardian of Gardens. His powers of bird-ridding were given to him when he was stung by a magical jellyfish three years ago, and discovered when a crow tried to snatch him up to feed its young. (He's only 10 inches tall, after all)
He now stands guard over my garden. Since Wednesday, not a single crow or blackbird has dared enter the domain protected by this truly magnificent protector of the small garden. He allowed me to take these pictures of him. (I think he's hoping for some more gigs in the future.)
Ok, maybe YOU'RE not scared of him, but I assure you: the crows are.
and what's more, I think this is pretty good for my first attempt at doll making. I sewed him myself.
and of course, any real superhero needs a cape. Check out his emblem. I think that sends a pretty strong message to the unwanted crows.
OH YEAH! Check out that last picture - on the right is a raspberry plant a friend of ours gave us the other day. mmmmmm...raspberries.
This is my second full summer married to my wife. This is the
second full summer we'll have spent in our apartment. This is the
second garden we've had.
Living in an apartment, my wife and I are forced to use pots if
we wish to have any kind of a garden. This has not deterred us. Quite
the contrary in fact, as we are more likely to grow things in pots than
we would had we been in a house this whole time. For one thing, We'll
be moving (hopefully) within the next year, so this will allow us to
take our green children with us. For another, I can grow dandelions to
my heart's content without having to worry about them taking over
everything. (As long as I don't let it go to seed that is) Really,
the only bad part about our apartment garden is the lack of space. Our
deck is 10' x 10' - which is a great size for an apartment deck, but
not such a great size if you want to have a decent-sized garden, a
grill, an arbor, and still be able to have friends over for a glass of
wine on a cool summer's evening. We've managed well though I think.
My current fear is that the table on which we've placed the majority of
our plants could give out. It's horribly weather-beaten (it isn't an
outdoor table - it was actually our first kitchen table), and has begun
to sag in the middle.
I love spending time on my deck, watering
the various plants. It gives me time to think. Not only to think, but
also to recharge. Whether I'm watering, planting, potting, repotting, weeding, or spraying garlic/pepper water on the ants trying to eat all my cilantro, I feel . . . at home. That's what I love about gardening: it's so natural.
I paint cars for a living. Bumpers, panels, paint chips, clearcoat scratches, and interior repairs - I fix them all. The thing that really eats at my sense of pride in my occupation however, is the fact that all I do is cosmetic repairs. There's nothing natural about what I do. I use chemicals, man-made putties and fibers, and more chemicals to make a car look better. The only natural thing about cars in the first place is rust, and my job is to do paint repairs before rust has a chance to set in. I have a wonderful counter-balance though: my garden.
My garden is more than just a collection of miscellaneous potted plants. It is my sanctuary where I can simply be quiet and watch things grow. Aside from the physical rewards of food (from the edible plants anyway), being a part of something that has been going on since the Earth began - without mankind's assistance, gives me the feeling that I'm part of something much bigger, older, more important than anything any human ever thought up.