Thursday, February 24, 2011

Fun Article from The New York Times

As someone who has been planting seeds and tuber from the pantry for much of his life, I really appreciate this new article from The New York Times:

Seeds Straight from the Fridge

At the moment I am nursing two date palm seedlings on my windowsill which were grown from the pits of dates bought at Trader Joe's last fall but past successes include avocado, different kinds of citrus fruit, lychee, various beans, wheat, rice, opium poppies, mustard, ginger, tumeric, taro, and pineapple. Does anyone else like to grow things from groceries? If yes, what has worked for you and what has not? Do you have any tricks for particular seeds, roots, or other plant parts?

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Spring Is Coming!

Today was a truly frigid day and yet there are more and more signs that spring is not far off. The witch hazels (Hamamelis x intermedia) just up the street from my building appear to have decided that regardless of the freezing temperatures, it is time for them to flower.

Yellow witch hazel (Hamamelis x intermedia)

Now I am just hoping that the temperatures will soon catch up with the spring enthusiasm of these lovely shrubs...

Friday, February 18, 2011

A Bit About My Thesis

I know I have not been particularly good about posting regularly in recent days. Part of the reason that I have been so busy is that I am working on my senior thesis, which is due in mid-March. Since it deals with gardens, it occurred to me - partly due to a suggestion by one of my advisors - that I should perhaps write about it here. My topic focuses on public green spaces - parks, roadside plantings, landscaped traffic islands - in India and Oman; those of you who have followed this blog for a while might remember my posts about my travels in the two countries last summer. There are multiple components to my argument; for now, I will focus on the first one and leave the others for future posts. Using the parks of the city of Chandigarh as a case study of sorts, I attempt to define the stylistic elements, horticultural practices, plant vocabulary, and uses of "typical" green spaces in urban areas in North India. I then try to dissect what influences have gone into the making of this "style" of public horticulture, what meanings it carries, and how it relates to people's expectations and ideals regarding gardens and parks.

Path in a park in Chandigarh, India

Now I know this might sound like a lot of stuff to consider with regard public greenery but I would really love some feedback. So in your opinion, what are the defining features of public green spaces? What do you think people expect from them? And particularly if you are in India or have experience of the country, what do you associate with public green spaces there? Is there something that you feel makes a park particularly "Indian"? What plants do you expect a garden or park to include? Do you see any historical or cultural references in the ways such spaces are laid out, maintained or used? I really would appreciate any and all input and will take it into consideration as I continue to write and revise my text.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Happy Valentine's Day!

Hybrid tea rose (Rosa sp.) photographed in Portland, Oregon

Monday, February 7, 2011

Snap Shot: Restaurant Window in Cambridge, Massachusetts

I recently tried out the new Life Alive restaurant in the Central Square area of Cambridge, Massachusetts. Organic and vegetarian, this informal eatery is actually the second location of the original Life Alive in the nearby town of Lowell. Full of potted plants and fresh food items, the place smelled a bit like a flower shop - a personal highlight for me, though I would imagine many people would rather not eat in quite so earthy an environment.The food was definitely not what I am used to but nonetheless quite yummy. If you want to know more about either restaurant, their website can be found here. The main reason for this post, however, is that this morning I walked past the place again and I was struck by their lush little window garden and the garden quote just below the window.

In case it is hard to read, the two lines below the window say "The only limits to your garden are the boundaries of your imagination" - in my opinion a great statement that expresses just how creative an activity gardening really is.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Interesting Article from The New York Times

Just as I mentioned that The New York Times only occasionally runs truly interesting articles on horticultural topics they publish this story about the historic camellias on Avery Island, Louisiana, home to Tabasco Hot Sauce:

A Camellia Preserve on an Island Known for Tabasco Peppers

The information given about camellias themselves is basic but I found the article interesting from a garden history perspective and was also happy to read that interest in camellias appears to be on the rise across the country. 

And on a slightly different note...

Happy Chinese New Year!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

The Gardening Section of The Telegraph

Those who have been reading this blog for a while know that I like to scour the websites - as well as the print versions - of newspapers and magazines for garden and plant-related articles. My usual hunting grounds, such as The New York Times or the German Die Zeit, yield perhaps one relevant piece every two months or so. Recently, however, I came across the Gardening Section of the British newspaper The Telegraph. Perhaps not surprisingly, considering the importance of horticulture in the United Kingdom, this is a whole different level of garden-related journalism, with regular articles on topics ranging from seasonal garden tasks to recent gardening book releases to the politics of public landscaping. I highly recommend checking it out every once in a while.