So we were supposed to be in Cuba last week over the Holidays however our plane left without us, 11 hours prior to the originally scheduled departure time. Who has ever heard of such a thing? I certainly haven’t but can tell you that it will never happen to me again. We started checking and rechecking flight plans over a day ago. So far so good. And so we have spent the week here trying not to mope around in anticipation of getting on that plane and heading out this week. Admittedly I am finding it difficult to get back the level of sheer excitement I was experiencing last week but hopefully that will return once we are safely on the plane and on our way.
Sort of like this except in real trees rather than in a greenhouse.
From a plant-lovers perspective alone our trip should be nothing short of fantastic. We are staying in a UNESCO Biosphere nestled within the Sierra Maestra mountains and located just outside the city of Santiago de Cuba where there are a reported 138 endemic plant species in addition to all sorts of tree ferns, cacti, and epiphytic plants. I’ve still not decided exactly which film cameras I will be bringing but I have stocked up on extra digital camera cards to avoid any situations that would require deleting images in order to make room. I can’t wait to make all kinds of amazing discoveries and I can’t wait to come back and share those here with you (okay maybe I can wait to come back).
All-in-all not a bad way to start the year.
Like this but 20,000 times better. And with tarantulas. (At the Montreal Botanical Gardens. Oct 07)
Until then, I want to wish you all a very relaxing and enjoyable New Year. See you in 2008!
I watched “Everything’s Cool” yesterday afternoon, hot on the heels of the UN conference on climate change held in Bali last week where my country was globally humiliated ONCE AGAIN by our Prime Minister’s refusal to support a new climate change agreement — an action supported by the rest of the planet, excluding our neighbours to the south. As 2007 comes to a close it is hard to believe that any nation would continue to deny that global warming needs to be addressed seriously let alone deny that it exists at all. It is this massive example of it-ain’t-real-until-I-say-it-is psychology that is at the heart of what the film makers attempt to expose and challenge in this documentary.
The movie begins in 2004 as the filmmakers cross America in a giant biodiesel-powered public service announcement delivery system talking to Americans about their views on climate change and conducting talking-heads-style interviews with well-known global warming “messengers” like Ross Gelbspan, one of the first investigative journalists to take the topic on, and Bill McKibben, acclaimed environmental writer and the author of several books including “The End of Nature” (in addition to my personal favourite, “The Age of Missing Information“).
The film goes on to address the controversy surrounding global warming and trace the roots of this controversy laying blame in the politicization of what is essentially a scientific matter, positioning global warming as a postulated theory rather than fact. The filmmakers explain that it is the uncertainty created by this never-ending “debate” that feeds indifference and inaction.
I am not a journalist with a need to present an unbiased opinion so I can say here that I believe global warming exists. I believe it is not a theory but a reality. My beliefs are based on the information I have read and on my own experiences as a human who has lived in this area long enough to see the changes that have occurred and as a gardener who experiences the climate and the seasons with all of my senses. Unfortunately as a believer this film felt a bit too simplistic and out-of-date, however I will say that I don’t think I am the intended audience. I don’t think it was made to convince the already convinced or speak to the choir but was instead meant to tip fence sitters over from the “wondering” side to the “believing” side. Because once we’re all on the same side of the fence we can actually start to get some shit done.
- American Horticultural Society (November/December 2007 – Volume 86, Number 6)
I was interviewed a few month back for an article on gardening blogs entitled, “Virtual Gardening in the Blogosphere” by Doug Green. I will admit that it’s been only about eight months since I began to tentatively tiptoe my way towards even remotely considering this site a “blog” making it kind of strange to talk about it publicly in those terms. Since this interview I have done a few more in which the interviewee has referred to this site as a “blog.” Despite the transitions this site has taken over the years I can’t say I will ever feel comfortable with the word. Can’t we all just agree to call it an “Internet Website”?
A brief history: I started this site as an “online magazine” (the popular term of the time) back before the word “blog” existed. About a year or so in I started a “journals” section on the site but it wasn’t quite a blog given that I hand coded each and every entry including editing text, and resizing and colour correcting photos for submitting writers. Back then I designed and hand-coded each and every article myself (often with a unique design) except the forums. Sometimes I look back at that time and can’t believe how much time and work I put into this project in addition to my regular work and other personal projects. It wasn’t until last year when I finally resolved that after seven plus years an online magazine was not the best place to put my energy anymore that I finally began to identify this site as a psuedo-blog, a website that among other things happens to contain a blog within it. That was a very hard decision to come to and an even harder one to announce publicly. It is out of that history that I still struggle with the term and am now resolving to secretly substitute under my breath the phrase, “Gayla’s Very Special Place for People Who Like Plants and Gardening on the World Wide Web” anytime the word “blog” is used.
As an aside Hanna at This Garden is Illegal has an interesting conversation going about gardening and age. This question comes up a lot for me in interviews… people want to know what the demographic is of this site and whether young people garden. Through my own personal experiences with social gardening and activism networks, meeting members of this site, selling products at events, and traveling to various locations around North America to speak, I can say for certain that young people do garden and that readers of my book and this site are of all ages. I am learning more and more that what we are bound by is a shared passion for plants and gardening that isn’t so much about age, or the kind of space we inhabit but about perspective and a common approach.
p.s. Hanna, I collect stamps AND have brought the odd air sickness bag home from travels.
p.s.s. Would anyone happen to have a copy they are done reading and can send me? I can’t get a copy here and would like to see it in context of the mag. Thanks!
Just a reminder that the deadline for the 2007 Warm Winter Wear Drive is approaching this week. Be sure to get your stuff in the mail before the deadline. I will wait a few days for any stragglers but please let me know if you have sent something so I can look out for it.
Details: Please mail your items by Dec 10, 2007. Email me at gaylaatyougrowgirldotcom for the address.
I have completed two scarves and started on a third last night. My goal is to finish 4 by the due date and maybe even five if I really hustle.
The Curious Gardener’s Almanac: Centuries of Practical Garden Wisdom
By Nial Edworthy
When I first sat down to review The Curious Gardener’s Almanac by Nial Edworthy I began in the most logical place, the introduction. I was immediately smitten. I found the author’s slightly dramatic, yet also dry and mildly self-effacing sense of humour to be immediately charming and easily relatable. Even more delightful was Mr. Edworthy suggestion to install the book in the bathroom where the reader can dip into it from time-to-time rather than reading in long sittings. By the time I got to his use of the phrase “sweet bugger-all” I was captivated.
Now, I realize these are all rather shallow ways to review a book — there is more to my assessment, I promise! Mr. Edworthy goes on to deliver a very hopeful and optimistic view of gardening as an act that has the potential to create positive change for the environment and in turn change the gardener. He writes about his early days as a gardener, discovering that there is no end to how much there is to learn about gardening and also discovering that the learning comes primarily from the doing, from getting down into the dirt and getting your hands dirty. By the end of the introduction I was more than ready to leap into the actual book itself, eagerly anticipating another 100 plus pages of charming, wittily told stories.
Unfortunately the rest of the book lacks the wit, sharp bite, and personal anecdotes found in the introduction. Which is not to say that the rest of the book is not good or interesting, rather it just isn’t what I had anticipated. For the purposes of description I would label the book a fairly traditional almanac in that it is comprised of quotes about gardening by all the famous gardeners, interesting historical facts, bits of wisdom, and chunks of gardening knowledge. The design is very much in keeping with the style of other well-known almanacs including vintage woodcuts and lithographs of plants, tools, and other gardening imagery. I particularly enjoyed the herbs section picking up a few new tips including using hops (Humulus lupulus) in herb pillows as a natural tranquilizer to help with insomnia. While I am highly allergic and do not have the space to indulge in an entire lawn of chamomile, the idea is not one I had thought or heard of. This book is loaded with great facts, tid bits, and inspiring ideas.
Unfortunately, what the book lacks is what sold me in the introduction, Nial Edworthy’s clever and very relatable voice. Instead the book takes on the slightly formal tone more closely associated with traditional almanacs. While I find these sorts of books interesting to read, I would prefer to read an entire book that takes off where the introduction ended. I want to hear more about Nial Edworthy the gardener and his exploits as a former city dweller who moved to the country and found himself drawn into the crazy world of gardening.