I recently returned from a short trip to New York City. This was a purely personal trip so despite the cold I did what I love best, wandering the streets with my camera. My favourite part of the city is The Lower East Side, The East Village, and Alphabet City areas. This upper part of this area also happens to be the birthplace of the modern community and guerilla gardening here in North America. There are several imaginative and beautiful gardens scattered amongst the buildings that were born in the late 70′s and early 80′s out of the community’s desire to turn dangerous, abandoned waste spaces into safe and useful community spaces for the neighborhood. While locals and organizers have had to arduously fight against rising real estate value and gentrification to keep the gardens alive, a few have been granted park status by the city and remain in place. If you ever get a chance to visit New York I highly recommend getting a peek at some of the gardens. You can use this searchable map to locate and map out all of the gardens in the area.
This is the 6th and Ave B Garden [Note: This photo was taken in May 2005], a massive garden that takes up the entire corner of a city block. The garden’s website chronicles its history and shows what the block looked like when it was just a pile of rubble and debris.
Eddie’s Sculpture at the 6th and B Garden. This sculpture has created a lot of controversy. I was surprised to see it was still there just a few days ago.
Unfortunately, the gardens were all closed for the winter but I still managed to take a few pictures by poking my lens through fences.
I was also fortunate enough to visit many of these gardens as a part of my book launch back in May 2005. You can see more pictures from that trip here.
- From: May Day Magazine (Jan 2007)
By Sapphire Singh
I recently discovered that what I have been identifying as ‘Deadly Nightshade’ since childhood is actually ‘Bittersweet Nightshade’ or ‘Woody Nightshade’ (Solanum dulcamara). I can see where the mistake could be made in terms of similarities in their foliage but both the flowers and berries are completely different. Deadly Nightshade’s Latin name is Atropa belladonna.
I know this might not seem like a big deal to some, but the plant I now know to be ‘Bittersweet Nightshade’ grows fairly rampant in these parts and growing up we were consistently warned against eating the tantalizing berries. Everyone I know has referred to it as ‘Deadly Nightshade‘ for as long as I can remember!
Further proof that common names can lead to confusion. While it might seem too chi-chi or difficult, it really does help to learn the botanical name too. And if you’re extra geeky you can look into the Latin and find out what the name says about the plant. I purchased “Gardener’s Latin” by Bill Neal a few months back and it has proven to be a really terrific and easy-to-follow beginner’s guide to understanding botanical names. Unfortunately, the book disappointedly omits ‘solanum’, a popular genus, but did include ‘dulcamara’ which you can probably guess translates to ‘bittersweet.’ However, if you’ve been reading this far and are interested, according to Botanical.com:
…Solanum is derived from Solor (I ease), and testifies to the medicinal power of this group of plants.
A few posts back I mentioned phenology and how the study of dandelion bloom times can be used as a soil temperature indicator. However, at the time I could not find anything online relating to the actual study and recording of these observations on a larger scale.
Well, look what I found! Dandelion Watch, an Environment Canada initiative that is asking the public to watch, observe and record dandelion bloom times in their area. The collected data is then being used to track overall climate changes across Ontario. There are also a number of related Environment Canada watch initiatives to contribute to including: Plant Watch, and Worm Watch. Fascinating!
A friend pointed me to this interesting article about a group of indigenous farmers in South America who are taking the multinational corporation Syngenta to task against terminator potato technology that they fear will cause extensive harm to “their region’s biodiversity, culture and food sovereignty.”
“Peru and its Andean neighbours are the potato’s centre of diversity Ã¢â‚¬â€ with nearly 4,000 unique varieties that farmers have developed over generations. Before reaching its position, the coalition undertook a lengthy discussion with farmers across the region.
Farmers are concerned that terminator potatoes will enter the Andean production system and destroy their traditions of storing and exchanging potato tubers for future planting. This is central to the farmers’ culture and has contributed to the region’s immense diversity of potato varieties. They also fear that pollen from the modified potatoes could contaminate local varieties and prevent their tubers from sprouting.”