I’m generally not a big-leaved tropicals person. It’s not that I don’t like them, it’s more that I like to see them rather than grow them.
As a city dweller, I’ve never had much garden space available to me. And, well, big-leaved plants are terribly GIGANTIC. They are also tropical, which means they need a warm and humid place to overwinter indoors. My living spaces are small and dry. As a result, I’ve simply opted out of growing these plants. I oooh and awe at them while visiting greenhouses or tropical locals, but I’ve always managed to keep a mental distance from them. These are plants for looking and looking only.
And then I went to Thailand.
A lush balcony garden in Bangkok.
From the glittery, tiled temples to the lush, statuesque plants, everything in Thailand is BIG and FABULOUS. Even in a congested metropolis like Bangkok, the Thai people still manage to find the space to go big. Now there is no excuse left and I want to go big, too.
On the bright side, none of the clothespins had been tampered with. The problem was that I had run out of foraged-from-the yard clothespins and figured I could just tuck the back in against the wall. I’m laughing at myself now as I write this. It’s as if I am new to this here gardening thing and didn’t just spend well over a decade trying to thwart the efforts of squirrels.
Tucking it in against the wall… PLEASE with that lazy, naive ridiculousness.
Lesson learned. Again. I’m now employing buffalo clips to hold down the remaining sides. Take THAT squirrels! I’m an adult human with opposable thumbs and even I have a difficult time operating buffalo clips. I’d like to see them work their way around that business.
Here in Canada, I’ve made a special five hour trip by train just to see lotus in bloom at the Montreal Botanical Garden, where they have a fantastic collection. In Thailand, lotus flowers and plants are so commonplace, you very nearly become unaffected by them.
They even grow in ditches off the side of the highway. When I travel, these are the sorts of observations I like to make. These are the places I want to see. These are the experiences that make me squeal with delight and the fondest memories that come back again and again decades after the fact. This is what I want to photograph and write stories about.
What is growing in the ditches, lots, and brown spaces? I genuinely want to know. One of the most frustrating aspects of being on a media tour in Thailand was the inability to stop the bus and get off to explore in the way that I would were I in control of my trip. Alas, many of these fantastic sights had to be enjoyed at a passing glance through the window of a fast moving tourist coach while on the way to another banal tourist attraction that I didn’t care to see, had no interest in writing about, and would come to resent for all of the time it took away from the possibility of seeing something real and truly inspiring.
Give me time to spend gleefully exploring your country’s ditches, dusty roadsides, and messy, tangled lots. Visits to ostentatious, over-the-top gardens and demonstrations of opulence are wasted on me. I will choose a tour of your city’s urban brown fields or the backroads well out in the middle of nowhere over five star luxury accommodations any day. No contest.
I’ve taken the message on the side of this recycling bin quite literally and am recycling it by turning it into a salad greens garden.
This house came chock-a-block full of junk, especially the backyard. Not that I’m complaining — we’ve found new uses for a great deal of the items and have saved some money in the process.
First up are the recycling bins: there were several, but we have no traditional use for them as living in a house means we are able to keep a large-sized recycling bin that suits most of our recycling needs. It was practically impossible to keep one recycling bin for any length of time while living in an apartment — someone was always stealing them off of the curb! And now, here, we have too many. Go figure.
Fortunately, recycling bins make great planters, if you can get past the ugly. We’re still in a yard renovation holding pattern as we now realize that a tiller is required if we’re going to manage the back breaking work of levelling it out. I originally thought we could do the work by hand because I’m not a big fan of tillers and may have also been overly optimistic when the snow was still on the ground, and the backyard garden was just a dream. Levelling out a bumpy, slopped garden requires time, something I don’t have right now as we are in a crunch to layout book #3 (due out in Spring 2012!). I also have some stray photos to take. As a result, I can’t get my raised beds in place, which means I can’t plant spring greens or peas. GAH! One of our big goals this year is to become completely self-sufficient in salad fixings. Starting next month (or so), I don’t want to buy a single head of lettuce ever again, if I can help it. This should be easy enough to achieve over the long term as I intend to dedicate a rather large bed to greens alone. So exciting! Obviously, this goal is unachievable if I can’t plant….
Remember months back when I wrote about lampascioni, the Italian wild onion bulbs that are really a muscari (Muscari comosum) that I purchased at my local greengrocer? Click here for a refresher and more details.
Well, here they are! Aren’t they fantastic? I love their feathery plumage (the tassel in their common name, Tassel Hyacinth) and the earthy-brown bells that flank the lower part of the stem.