Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Invite the Natives to Return to Your Garden

Posted in gardening, sustainability, useful information tagged , , , , , , at 7:58 pm by Elaine Petrowski

The hummingbirds, and I, love cardinal flowers (lobelia cardinalis) .

The hummingbirds, and I, love cardinal flowers (lobelia cardinalis) .

The native plants, that is.

” Invite nature and beauty into your landscape with native plants. Bowman’s Hill Wildflower Preserve Fall Native Plant Sale is filled with a premier selection of over 200 species of nursery-propagated native trees, shrubs, herbaceous perennials, vines and ferns native to Pennsylvania, New Jersey and the Delaware Valley Region. The Fall Native Plant Sale will be held at the Visitor Center area of the Preserve on Saturdays and Sundays, September 12 and 13, and September 19 and 20 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. each day.”

Natives, which here in the Northeast include azalea, viburnum, redbud, holly, river birch, dogwood, clethera, bearberry, pasture roses, honeysuckle, clematis, iris, bee balm, cardinal flower, black-eyed Susans and many, many more:

  1. are beautiful.
  2. survive on available water, once they are established.
  3. don’t usually run rampant.
  4. invite indigenous wildlife to your yard.
  5. nurture  the native birds, butterflies, moths and bees.

Talk about sustainability.

FYI: Bowman’s Hill runs this fundraiser twice a year, to support their efforts at education and propagation.  So if you live in the area, plan a trip for this weekend or next.

Black-eyes Susans are native to much of the United States.

Sunny and indomitable, Black-eyes Susans are native to much of the United States.

If you don’t live nearby, why not look up native plant sources for your area?  Here are a few I found:

Agrecol in the Midwest, sells $2 packets of native flowers and grasses.

There’s a big list of suppliers for a big state like Texas native plants.

Michigan natives abound.

Don’t be shy. Leave a note (see “comments”) or email a photo to write4@att.net  about a favorite native that grows in your garden. If you don’t have a garden, just tell us about a favorite native from your home state or country.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Four Great Reasons to Garden

Posted in gardening, Life, Pursuit of Happiness tagged , , , , , , , at 12:39 pm by Elaine Petrowski

While we were gone.

While we were gone.

” A garden is a thing of beauty… and a job forever. ” So proclaims  the pretty little needlepoint pillow one of my dearest friends crafted as a gift for me.

Sometimes … like after the pounding rains that washed my lettuce seeds far out into the Jersey Meadowlands somewhere; that insatiable  ground hog, who stretched to enormous heights to eat every last one of the moonflower buds; the endless mosquito bites and poison ivy; a tomato blight that splotched, and ultimately ruined,  all of the lovely green orbs… I wonder… why am I doing this?

But then comes a morning, like one just passed, when everywhere I look presents a natural wonder, a trick of light, some small delight.

Sometimes, especially in a garden, one picture is worth a thousand words.

And so I share with you four great reasons to keep at it.

Enjoy.

Please leave a note about your garden/gardening. Or send a picture of some garden delight to share here… write4@att.net.

Early morning visitor

Early morning visitor

I "heart" gardening.

I "heart" gardening.

All the zinnias are pink this year!

All the zinnias are pink this year!

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Redefining “Community Gardening”, the New Jersey way

Posted in Funny, gardening, Humor, Laughs, Life, Pursuit of Happiness, sustainability tagged , , , , , at 8:43 pm by Elaine Petrowski

We started planting our first-ever plot in our town’s community garden today.

What could be better? The community gardening season begins. www.freedigitalphoto.netGreat exercise, fresh air and fun visiting with all the other eager, new gardeners on this, the first day planting was “permitted.”

Much to my surprise, it turned out that of the six other gardeners we encountered, four were  also newbies.

As I “played in the mud” and mentally planned how to fit in all the sun-loving herbs, tomatoes, tomatillos and sunflowers  we can’t grow in our shady yard, I couldn’t help but wonder just why so many of these much-coveted, 10′ x 12′, already roto-tilled, mini-farms were suddenly  available this year.

As we finished our third hour of working  (3 x 2=6 hours*),  one of the more experienced gardeners showed up and regaled the newbies with this story:  Late last growing season a woman who was NOT a  participant, arrived at the garden with a basket on her arm and began happily picking tomatoes. “My son told me it was OK because this is a community garden, ” she said.

And so, the adventure begins.

As the old Irish saying goes , “May the rain fall softly on your fields and the wind be always at your back”…

*Just for the fun of it, I’m counting the person-hours we invest. (I’m afraid to add up the cost!) We’re now at 10,  including the garden committee meeting, shopping for plants, seed, fertilizer and the chicken wire to keep the rabbits out, setting up the fence (an engineering feat for two non-engineers) and then finally, actually planting some seedlings.)

Monday, April 13, 2009

Don’t Miss The WaPo Peeps Contest Winner

Posted in Humor, Laughs, Life, Pursuit of Happiness tagged , , , , , , , , , at 6:29 pm by Elaine Petrowski

For the last three years The Washington Post has sponsored a  “Peeps Diorama Contest” at Easter time, when the sugar-coated marshmallow candies have traditionally appeared. Each year the contest grows and this time there were more than 1000 entries. One rule prevails: All the characters in the dioramas must be Peeps, those gooey, colorful, chick and bunny (and now Christmas tree and jack-o-lantern, etc.) candies.

Click HERE for a peek at the top 40 entries, as selected by WaPo editors.

Sure to make you smile. And then to make you wonder where all these people found all that time to not only conjure up the ideas for the scenes, but then to actually implement them.

Maybe if I gave up knitting (and blogging) I’d have time to enter?

If you hurry out right now, you just might be able to pick up some discounted Easter Peeps to start on your entry for next year!

But be forewarned: Apparently Peeps were sold out in the D.C. area weeks before the holiday, so there may not be any left for a practice run.

And according to The Washington Post’s web site, this year’s winner is a pro — a graphic artist who spent 45 hours, spread over two weekends, perfecting her Edward Hopper-inspired entry entitled “Nightpeeps.”

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Knitting DOES Serve a Higher Purpose

Posted in Life, Pursuit of Happiness tagged , , , , at 7:09 pm by Elaine Petrowski

Recent addition to already huge stash of knitting supplies.

Recent addition to already huge stash of knitting supplies.

It was good news to  find out recently that knitting, a pastime of mine that I’m fairly obsessive about, which I’ve admitted to here before, has been given a new, higher purpose in the fabric of life.

Or so says the BBC.

In addition to providing usable garments (sometimes), cute baby gifts, a way to stay out of the potato chips and meditative, hands- on, creative “play” for many — not to mention the boost to the local economy that a successful yarn store produces –a Mayo clinic study, due to be presented at the American Academy of Neurology, shows that:

“Those who had during middle age been busy reading, playing games or engaging in craft hobbies like KNITTING were found to have a 40% reduced risk of memory impairment.”

Well, maybe.

And here’s why:

The problem with this research, reported the BBC article, is that the people who were surveyed already has some mild memory loss and thus might not be remembering correctly,  if, in fact, they did perform any of the memory-saving activities.

Question of the day: Ignoring the sheer lunacy of the study (which I so hope I did not pay for in some way.), does anyone else find it unusual that this report, from the world-famous, Minnesota-based Mayo Clinic and The American Academy of Neurology, came from the BBC network?

Or am I overworking my aging brain cells by thinking too much?

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

The Mason-Dixon knitters help answer a nagging question:Why knit?

Posted in Life, Pursuit of Happiness tagged , , at 11:50 pm by Elaine Petrowski

One part of the fun at the amazing NYS Sheep and Wool Festival www.sheepandwool.com last weekend was taking a  break with a cup of coffee (and in a much-welcomed chair, after several hours of walking) to listen to the Mason-Dixon knitters  www.masondixonknitting.com who were meeting their fans and talking up their new book Mason-Dixon Knitting, Outside the Lines.

The Mason-Dixon knitters - Ann Shayne (l) and Kay Gardiner

The Mason-Dixon knitters - Ann Shayne (l) and Kay Gardiner

These two funny, bright, personable, approachable women, Kay Gardiner and Ann Shayne, first met online, sharing info about their knitting projects. Kay lives in NYC and Ann in Nashville ( hence the Mason-Dixon)  and they became fast friends who eventually decided to write the knitting book they couldn’t find, and are now on ragingly successful book #2.

As a lifelong knitter, ( I don’t even remember who taught me. Seems I’ve just kind of always known how.) they helped me to clarify an answer to my knitter’s eternal existential question: Why do I knit ?

Because, they wisely point out, knitting:

  • is ongoing creativity
  • allows us to make things with our hands
  • allows us to play with color
  • is hypnotic
  • is meditative

So then, if you knit,  why is it that you do?

Monday, October 20, 2008

Yet another obsession?

Posted in Life tagged , , at 11:07 pm by Elaine Petrowski

Everyone, it is advised, should have a hobby or two they partake of when not doing things like “working” and “writing”, correct?  One of my hobbies is knitting. Or rather, collecting knitting “stuff” in preparation for knitting.

And there’s so much to collect.  All manner of soft, lush and rainbow-hued, hand-spun, hand-dyed, alpaca, cashmere, merino, Icelandic, silk, bamboo, ribbon, novelty and rayon yarns, along with the finest smooth and quiet knitting needles in materials that include space-age metals and plastics, exotic and sustainable woods, and even jewel-toned glass (!), not to mention buttons, knitting books, knitting patterns and knitting gadgets. Oh, and did I mention the yarn?

Those who share the obsession, go right ahead and snicker. But you know exactly what I’m talking about.  Those who don’t should know that a favorite slogan among the yarn obsessed is “The one who dies with the most yarn wins.”

Though I have been on a self-imposed “knitting probation” (perhaps more about this later?) for just over a year now, I did use this past weekend’s New York State Sheep and Wool Festival at the Dutchess County Fairgrounds in Rhinebeck, NY as an opportunity to joyfully wallow in the obsession with two like-minded friends.

Here’s a peek.