I’m currently in Northern California for the Blogher Conference. I’ve been to these parts once before but the massiveness of the plants, most especially the invasives really stand out this time.
I assumed this patch of renegade nasturtiums was a random fluke. Until I turned the corner. And the next one. And the next. And then I saw the hillside covered in nasturtium flowers of every colour with leaves the size of dinner plates. No one warned me that here in California nasturtiums will have you for breakfast.
This is what happens when radishes roam free — all plant no radish. At least the flowers are tasty.
I will admit that I did notice the fennel last time. It’s hard not to since the stuff is everywhere! First I came upon this fennel forest and then I noticed….
…BLACKBERRIES! I proceeded to gorge myself on the ripest of which there were many. And by many I mean enough to keep the multitudes bloated on blackberry pie. There have been past discussions on the forums describing the impenetrable invasiveness of blackberries in the North West. I want you all to know that I get it now. For real.
You have to see how jade grows in Southern Ontario to understand why this scene is such a marvel. Our sad little plants live in sad little pots on window ledges where they remain sad, and little for decades.
I have to admit that it was a 1997 trip to San Francisco that first inched geraniums off of my hit list. Until that point I was only familar with the pathetic little annuals peddled through school fundraisers and shotgun planted into every maple leaf motifed public garden across Ontario. These twisty, tangled sculptures are a whole lot more interesting.
The first thing I would do with a garden in this climate is grow a HUGE rosemary bush. Even the snails that eat the rosemary bushes are cool.
Aeoniums rate high on my list of favourite succulents so to find one this beautiful and in bloom no-less was a huge thrill.
I came across this low fence made of tree prunings while walking through Chicago’s Wicker Park neighborhood. It’s very simply constructed and relies on the v-shape where one branch joins another rather than fussing with string and wire. Mind you this wouldn’t survive five minutes on my block but seems like a viable design on a quiet side street.
Guest post by Renee Garner
Words like hyperaccumulator and phytoremediation sound like something straight out of a 1960s Sci-Fi movie and hardly verbs describing gardens. But when the conceptual, and socially minded artist Mel Chin creates a garden, you get these lengthy words among others.
Mel Chin is a Texas born artist now living in North Carolina; and when he plants, he plants for good. In 1990 Chin began working with the United Stated Department of Agriculture’s senior scientist, Rufus Chaney, to plan, sculpt and garden Pig’s Eye Landfill in Saint Paul, Minnesota. Together they assessed hyperaccumulator plants, which absorb heavy metals through their root systems and store them during the growth process. The heavy metals in this case are zinc and cadmium, and the project is called “Revival Field”, not “Revive James Hetfield.” The ultimate transformation occurs through phytoremediation, or the transference of the metal laden dirt to ore quality metals (harvested through the plants for reuse) and revived, healthy soil.
The Minnesota test site lasted 3 years, and while the trial run was productive, the soil was still somewhat polluted, and not yet reusable. A second garden was planted in Palmerton, Pennsylvania and another has been installed in Stuttgart, Germany. Ongoing tests are run for productivity, as other plants are researched for affective levels of metal accumulation.
Apparently, Chin always knew the plants were up to something.
I gave a workshop/demonstration today at Canada Blooms on growing herbs and other edibles in a strawberry pot but I ran out of handouts. I wasn’t expecting such a great turnout! Thanks to everyone who came.
As promised I have posted a printable version of the handout here for those who missed out.
Thanks to Richters for the herbs and to Collette Murphy of Urban Harvest who supplied her fantastic organic fertilizers: “Kelp Meal” and “Green Wisdom Herbal Plant Food.”
Updated: Some photos from today’s workshop. I’ll be giving a presentation this Friday on Guerilla Gardening. Fri. March 10 (11:30 am). Or see me afterwards at the Toronto Botanical Gardens booth (on the 700 level) for book signing.
The tiny human picture.
The stage was so far back from the audience I invited people to come up afterwards to look at the project and the plants. Because really herbs are all about smelling and touching.
The Youth aka my most excellent assistant for the day Jay (who also took most of the pictures) want to say that the fake graffiti wall is kinda dumb/lame.