All posts tagged: Gardening

Content inspired by gardening.

Golden eyed Toad like Chrysoberyl gems

On Praise and Toads Revisited

I wrote a bit last year about my problems with handling praise. While that is still a work in progress, I’m thrilled to announce that one of my essays, Inspirations from a Toad, has won the 2013 Web of Life Foundation competition out of nearly 500 entries. WOLF runs the annual contest  seeking works with fresh thinking on political, social, and environmental issues.  2013’s theme was “an aspirational future”. The piece, part narrative and part personal meditation, combines ideas from Some Thoughts on the Common Toad, George Orwell’s essay I wrote about last year on Ekostories, with my experiences volunteering with The Lower Mainland Green Team, a local grassroots environmental group that boasts more than 1,800 members doing great stewardship work at parks and urban farms. I would especially like to thank my writing colleagues for their careful readings, thoughtful suggestions, and swift kicks to get me to put my work out there – You know who you are. Deep gratitude, as always, and thanks for the support. Read the essay here

Botany of Desire Wordle

A Plant’s View: Pollan’s Botany of Desire

Spring is in full bloom in my corner of the world; it is impossible not to notice the explosion of plant life all around. In the city, pink blossoms burst forth from ornamental cherries, enjoying brief moments of glory before cascading down as a silent snow of soft petals. In the suburbs, neighbourhood lawns and gardens are enlivened by vivid hues of yellows and violets from blooming daffodils and tulips. On nearby trails, star-shaped flowers from salmonberry bushes dot the flush of new growth, fuchsia markers intended to attract the eyes of hungry pollinators. In my small container garden, dainty green tendrils of scallions and sweet peas reach ever upwards, while planted pieces of potatoes seem content for the moment to slumber in the dark black soil. Perhaps it is this invigoration of growth that compelled me to reread Michael Pollan’s book, The Botany of Desire. Pollan’s work has played a significant role in my personal perceptions of the connections between nature and culture. Although he does on occasion go overboard with his metaphors, he has an …

Sunflower In a Food Garden

Food is the Problem and the Solution: TED Talk by Ron Finley

I really like TED talks. I not only enjoy being exposed to ideas worth spreading, but I am also rejuvenated by seeing the passion people have in their work. But it takes a lot of skill to do TED talks  well. It doesn’t matter how exciting the ideas themselves are: One has to convey them in a way that captures the imagination of the audience. The story is not enough; one needs to also be a good storyteller. Keeping with last week’s theme of urban renewal and gardening, I wanted to share a recent favourite TED talk of mine. It’s by Ron Finley, a guerilla gardener who is working to bring about a more hopeful, healthy and sustainable future for South Central LA: Receiving a standing ovation, Finley’s passion for and belief in food gardening as a force for societal transformation is evident and infectious.  Like other great TED Talks, his presentation worked for me because he is simply a fantastic storyteller with an inspirational tale to tell. His eleven minute talk has great energy, never drags, and is full …

A Boy and His Plants: The Curious Garden

There’s an art to writing for kids. Good children’s books aren’t simply dumbed down stories, written with smaller words and fitted with happy sappy endings. In reality, kids are quite discerning: Their faculties haven’t yet been dulled by the insecurities and neuroses accumulated during the process of growing up. They like what they like and are completely honest about it. It’s true that they happily consume works filled with tired clichés and moralistic messages, but lacking cynicism and regard for convention, they generally emerge none the worse for wear. The stories that stay with kids are ones that feel authentic and true, even if they can’t articulate why. These are stories that speak through the language of wonder, a native tongue we are all born knowing but can easily be forgotten through neglect and disuse. I think The Curious Garden by Peter Brown is a great children’s book. Inspired by the revitalization of the Highline railway on the west side of Manhattan, Brown fuses charming visuals with a narrative that is full of discovery and hope. …

Doing what I can: Revisiting the Hummingbird

Stumbling onto the animated  version of Flight of the Hummingbird, by Michael Nicoll Yahgulanaas. While writing my essay on The Flight of the Hummingbird several months ago, I had asked my partner to read over the piece and give her thoughts. She liked my interpretation that the ultimate outcome depends on the motivations of the hummingbird. She went further to provide another perspective: Is Dukdukdiya really doing all she can?

Botanicals: Environmental Expressions in Art

BOTANICALS: Environmental Expressions in Art, by ArtPlantae Today “Isaac Sutton believes in the importance of integrating a garden and art into daily life. They transport us from the rigors of an urban life and nurture us in body and spirit. Through observation, education, cultivation and practice, we learn to be more aware of the importance of a symbiotic relationship with the natural world, and we realize that we must value and protect it for future generations.” – Co-curator, Alice Marcus Krieg, Integrating the Garden and Art Collection I recently discovered a great website called ArtPlantae Today that seeks to connect artists, naturalists, and educators through the art of botanical drawings. Having little personal talent, I find myself consistently awed by the detailed intricacies of these illustrations and their ability to convey the ethereal and delicate beauty of the plant world. It is on this website that I came across Botanicals: Environmental Expressions in Art, an exhibition showcasing the largest private collection of contemporary botanical drawings in North America.  In his introductory essay titled A Passion …

Michael Pollan Second Nature: A Gardener's Education Word Cloud 2

Pollan’s Second Nature: A Gardener’s Education, Part 2

Welcome to part two of the analysis on Michael Pollan’s Second Nature: a Gardener’s Education. In this entry, I’ll focus on my two favourite chapters of the book: Planting a Tree and The Idea of a Garden. The Meaning of a Tree In Planting a Tree, Pollan explores the fascinating and ever-changing cultural significance of a tree. Once again, his reflections come out of his horticultural adventures; the chapter chronicles his thoughts as he decides on the right tree for his yard. The act of tree planting prompts Pollan to delve deep into American history to explore the meanings people have come to attach to the tree: The Divine Tree: Native Americans saw and treated trees as divine spirits, only to be cut down in need. The Tree of Evil: Puritans despised them as symbols for pantheism, danger, and darkness. The Tree as a Weed: New England subsistence farmers regarded them as obstacles to settlement. To them, the clear-cut landscape was viewed as a sign of progress and civilization. The Tree as a Commodity: The …