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the daily gardener

the sleeping garden

I walk through the sleeping garden, footsteps muffled by the freshly fallen snow, watching the clean white reflect a rosy and baby blue watercolor sky. Everything is quieter  now, a natural silent chamber. There is a delicate softness and peace in this cool pastel surrounding, like a very old photograph, dulled by the passing of time, of things long gone.

Here and there an earthy seed head or a golden plume of grass moves gently with the breeze, and birds sift snow from the tree leaves above looking for shelter. There are no scents, just the unmistakable chill that fills the nostrils and makes them stick.

It almost seems like nature tries to make up for the cold by providing the most spectacular sky displays, the colder, the more colorful. Since today was not exceedingly cold, we are going with soft pastels. The really frigid days are the ones that sing bright orange, red and violet sunsets.

The sleeping stillness of the garden imposes a weird reverence, one almost feels like whispering for no reason. Snow keeps falling gently, quieting my thoughts.

the happiest place on earth

On 04, Jan 2011 | One Comment | In innovation | By All Year Garden

Greetings and best wishes for the new year from the happiest place on earth – Disney World.

What does that have to do with gardening, you ask? Have you ever seen plants growing and bearing fruit completely suspended in the air, roots and all, pumpkins and eggplants hanging from trellises, like grapes, tomatoes growing on trees, nine pound lemons?

If you are ever at Epcot, don’t forget to visit the wonderful exhibit “Living with the Land”, a research lab where Disney and the Department of Agriculture push horticulture to the limit. For those who enjoyed the floating islands of Pandora, you might want to take a look at this: aeroponic growing systems. Water and nutrients are sprayed directly on the roots, no dirt required.

Aeroponics provides great ecological advantages through conservation of water and energy. An aeroponic system consumes one tenth of the water otherwise required to grow the plant and this amount can be further reduced to one twentieth. Additional oxygenation of  roots stimulates plant growth and prevents attacks from pathogens.  The aeroponic system allows plants full access to all the carbon dioxide available for photosynthesis.

Next time I start grouching about the soil not being all that I’ll stick this picture to my refrigerator and look at it.

If you would like to see more photos from Disney and not only, please check out All Year Garden’s photostream on Flickr

welcome m.allyeargarden.com!

The Mobile Plant Catalog for All Year Garden has been in the works for a while now. Of course there is still a lot of work to be done, a lot of information to be added, a lot of additional features to be implemented, but this is the first functional version of it. Tadaa!

If you would like to give it a test run, please go to m.allyeargarden.com on your mobile phone (or even in your browser, it will work there too) and see it in action.

A little eye candy and some practical information for traveling gardeners. I hope you’ll enjoy it!

total lunar eclipse

Total lunar eclipses are not so rare, however a lunar eclipse during winter solstice has not occurred since 1638. The next one will happen in 2094.

This picture was taken around 3:00 AM on December 21, 2010 at the high point of the eclipse, when the moon was completely enveloped by earth’s shadow.

forcing paperwhites – part 2

After four weeks the cheerful fragrant blossoms will give the gardener a much needed boost for the long white winter months.

Having a winter garden of any size or complexity is a wonderful gift for the green thumbs who find themselves without much to do or enjoy outdoors for months on end. Of course it is nowhere near the exuberant display of color, texture and fragrance the warm seasons regale us with. Enjoy a subtle white on white overlay and dream about the joyous garden renewal in spring.

I’m half buried in gardening books, they have glorious pictures. I lift up my eyes and look out: still white, still cold. I guess the beautiful pictures of rose covered arbors and over abundant foundation wall plantings that overflow and slightly cover flagstone pathways will have to do for now.

Let me finish with something to look forward to: herb gardens, baked fragrances in the sun, rugosa roses in bloom, humming birds, large displays of colorful zinnias, flower baskets with fragrant mixed annuals, golden honeysuckle, old mossy stone garden paths, bees and butterflies, dangling bleeding hearts, huge ferns and elephant ears in the shade, white nicotiana at night, creeping phlox gracefully embellishing old retaining walls, cheerful laughter and jars with fireflies, colorful berries covered in morning dew, the list goes on and on. Please feel free to add your own.

gingerbread house

Families have old traditions. Families make new traditions. This is a new tradition for our family, instituted by my daughter. Every Christmas we need to have a gingerbread house next to the Christmas tree, whether we’re home or not.

This year we have the enhanced version that also features Santa, the reindeer and the sleigh. Some of the productions are better than others (this is not one of the best, since we were in a hurry to put it together, and kind of tired).

Ok, so it’s not exactly competition quality, for the gingerbread house masters out there, but I thought I’d share.

indian summer

Surreal orange-violet sunsets and a gentle warm breeze under cotton candy skies. Colorful rainbows and mellow hazy air enveloping you with the softness of a whisper. The calendar says mid-November and the thermometer says 71 degrees.

You bask in the warm mellow breeze slightly confused after the freezing night and look around at the turning leaves, most of which the trees already shed. It’s “Indian Summer”, please enjoy responsibly.

A phenomenon most common on the East Coast and Ohio Valley, Indian Summer is a period of unusually warm weather in mid November (November 11-20  to be precise, according to the Farmer’s Almanac).

It is normally  defined by the following characteristics:

Occurance: Mid-November

Temperatures: high sixties/low seventies during the day, close to or below freezing at night

Air movement: very mellow warm breeze or no air movement at all, hazy atmosphere, clear crisp nights

Duration: at least 3 days.

In order for an unusually warm period to be called Indian Summer, it must occur after at least one hard frost, after the leaves have turned.

It looks like we are going to enjoy it this year at least until Sunday November 14, according to the weather forecast.

I just wanted to share with you this picture (taken today) of my faithful and resilient pot marigolds:

indiansummer

winter is not coming everywhere

If the thought of the approaching three or four months of cold white blankness make you sad, just remember winter is not coming everywhere.

Take a look at a few fellow gardener sites around the world: for some the summer is just beginning, for others there is no winter at all.

Our back yards may look very different, but we all speak “garden” the same way. Please enjoy your visits and keep going back.

Strathalbyn, South Australia – Productive Garden

Noumea, Province Sud, New Caledonia – Pacific Seeds

Titirangi, Auckland, New Zealand – The Blooming Tales

Haenertsburg, Limpopo, South Africa – Sequoia Gardens

Kelantan, Malaysia – My Little Vegetable Garden

Central Florida, US – Garden Adventures

Equatorial Malaysia – My Nice Garden

Santa Cruz, California, US – Curbstone Valley Farm

Johannesburg, South Africa – Whatever

Mauritus, West African Archipelago – Learn Gardening

St Anns, Caribbean, Trinidad and Tobago – My Chutney Garden

Sao Paulo, Brazil – Colorindo a Paisagem

Ajman, United Arab Emirates – Mmad About the Garden

Osaka, Japan – Small vege garden in a suburb

autumn leaves

If only fall landscape weren’t so beautiful, one would be inclined to become very annoyed at the daunting task of getting the leaves off the lawn, patio, front porch, ground covers, driveway and flower beds, over and over, in ways that remind one of the myth of Sisyphus. Gratified by a job well done, one looks behind to see it completely undone by the wind. If one didn’t see the mound of already cleaned up fall wonder in front of them, one might be inclined to believe one lost one’s ever loving mind. There is a silver lining though: when all the leaves fall off the trees, you’re really done. Until then exercise patience and a peaceful mind, and try to enjoy the beauty of these colors.

fall equinox

The September mid-morning light is almost surreal, stronger than the eyes can bear, but tired and oblique at the same time. There are only two months of the year that can boast perfectly blue skies: April and September.

I feel the inherent melancholy of this harmonious symphony of colors: bright red maple trees projecting over the cloudless blue. There is a humid scent of fallen leaves in the air, graceful leaves blown back and forth by uncoordinated wind gusts, little rabbits and squirrels are instinctively hurried by the approach of winter.

I’m not going to lie, autumn makes me sad. If it weren’t for the pumpkins, candy, little colorful buckets and costumes, turkeys and cranberry sauce, I’d probably start languishing right now. The aforementioned items will postpone the solar deficiency syndrome til January, when alas, no pumpkins!

For now, though, the bright and cheery oranges, rusts and yellows smile from every rack in front of the grocery store and from every fall planting. While going for a morning walk I spy a whole patch of perennial mums in a garden (I know they are perennials, because I saw them last year), which strengthens me in the conviction that they really exist (one would be inclined to believe them to be mythical things like the white unicorn or the Dodo bird). If you managed to have them come back to life the following year, you are a better gardener than me and I salute you.

So, in order not to indulge in completely unjustified existential angst, I turn my sight to harvest. And that would make anybody feel better: bushels of apples and grapes, pumpkins and the most wonderfully fragrant butternut squash. Did you ever notice the heavenly honey scent of butternut squash harvested in season?

Very colorful dry beans (see “Vegetable art”), bright red corn-like kernels of the magnolia fruit (pictures coming soon), sweet intoxicating aroma of overripe grapes, shy crocuses piercing dried up dirt, translucent white currants in the sunlight, bright blue flowered ground cover. One morning you wake up and open the door and the harsh, unmistakable chill of winter burns your nostrils. Not yet, not yet…