Wednesday Vignette – blessed?

About two weeks ago, while parking in the street outside our house, I noticed this dark texture – an odd knobby pattern – on something barely visible, hidden under a cluster of large leaves. The leaves belong to a ginormous variegated Fatsia that tends to stretch out over our sidewalk. My  husband, who is of a far more considerate sort than I, continuously tells me I should cut the Fatsia back, so it doesn’t impede the passage of pedestrians. Technically, he is right, although I like to think these sidewalk-encroaching features add to the experience of walking through an urban jungle. However, until I saw this thing the other week, I had actually planned on humoring him.

I lifted the leafy stem and peeked underneath. To my great astonishment, I found the calm features of the Buddha, peacefully sitting under my Fatsia, surrounded by fallen Magnolia leaves. The texture I had spotted  from behind the wheel, turned out to be the top of his head. I can’t say what I thought it might be, before I learned what it actually was – I can’t remember having any thoughts in particular about it. But seeing this peaceful appearance under my Fatsia was such a lovely surprise, I just stood there, smiling at him, trying to understand where in the world…  I mean, who could possibly have put him there???

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Over the next few days, I asked the few most obvious suspects, including several neighbors. Neither confessed to anything of the kind. I check on him almost daily. I wonder how long he’d been sitting there before I discovered him. Weeks? Months? Who knows… All I know is that now I can’t POSSIBLY cut the Fatsia back. I would blow his cover!!!! Seeing him that first time, it felt like having received a very special gift – a blessing of sorts. I keep expecting him to disappear – vanish as suddenly as he appeared, but so far he hasn’t. I’ve gotta tell you – I’m thrilled! And, if he were to suddenly disappear into the night, I would feel violated – even though I had no part in bringing him here, to live with us. Funny how that works… So, since I haven’t managed to figure out who brought this blessing upon me, so I can thank them, please consider this post my heartfelt thanks to the source of this gift – whomever that might be. Material things aside, it made me feel that there are still random good things stirring out there. And that, my friends, is priceless!

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Wednesday Vignette – do unto others

IMG_9483Ran across this slug on a fallen apple today. The slug was chomping away at a large void in the apple – probably not all by its own doing, but still…  I noticed that the slug, as well as the apple, also had a deep crater in its body.

As I watched, the thought occurred to me that inflicting damage to others inevitably results in damage to yourself. Maybe not a hole in one’s side, but definitely an erosion of the soul, and a hardening – or scarring – of one’s integrity.

I let it be, and let it munch in peace.

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Wednesday Vignette – blur

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Oh my – I forgot it’s Wednesday! I think the heat and the topsy turvy national events of the past week have turned my brain to mush… For lack of a better photo, here is something that’s more interesting compositionally than anything else; a shot of a Pinellia flower, that I discovered flowering in an out of the way pot. For some reason, I like how the light plays in the background. If nothing else, this overall blur can perhaps illustrate the smeared lines between fact and fiction so devastatingly prevalent these days. Stay sharp, people! 😉

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Wednesday Vignette – how the winds blow

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This week, I visited a client whose garden underwent an instant change over an afternoon, when two mature Sequoias in his and his neighbors’ back yards were struck by lighting. In addition to the complete alteration of the landscape, both houses were also damaged, when parts of the trees came crashing down. When we first moved to Oregon in 2005, local thunderstorms were such rare occurrences that they were featured on the news. Now, they seem to happen with some frequency, and at odd times in the year. But no; “What do you mean climate change??? That’s a hoax!” (Snark font used here.)

According to the NY Times (Dec 31, 2017): “Most people know climate change is happening, and a majority agrees it is harming people in the United States. But most don’t believe it will harm them.”  Think about that for a second…

Meanwhile, the Twittler administration has taken a virtual chainsaw to deconstructing decades worth of painstakingly implemented social and environmental policies, meant to protect and prevent our world as well as our democracy. The connection between the actions of the elected, and the will of the electorate is as rotten as one of the Sequoias proved to be when it came down. When the pillars of democracy finally come tumbling down, maybe then we will see. Or, maybe we will still think that it only happens to “others”. A lot is at stake this week, most visibly with SCOTUS, while the weekly environmental damage we extoll on our world goes on, week after week, and hardly gets any media attention. Still, they go hand in hand, so we’d better react – and do it quickly. Sorry to get political on you, folks, but I can’t help it. The patterns and signs are everywhere – we just have to see through the rot, and connect the solids. As for such things as world wide reports of prematurely dying Baobabs, and the massive Sequoia rot in front of me, I’m curious as to what causes this seemingly increasingly common deterioration in our trees. I know what my guess is… but, do you really think it will happen to me??

(Actually, I do.)

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Wednesday Vignette – be careful out there!

For days now, there have been firecrackers going off in our neighborhood – all in anticipation of July 4th. Call me a party pooper (I agree – I am), but this particular week always fills me with dread. This year, we had a very dry spring, and with last year’s Eagle Creek fire in fresh memory, hearing the popping sounds outside  isn’t exactly making me feel more confident about a bunch of amateur pyro yahoos blowing off rockets. Unless the fireworks in question are aimed at the river, you’re going to have a really hard time convincing me that we’re not playing with fire.

I know I’m editorializing, but please accept this week’s gentle reminder that there are other ways to appreciate light, that are nearly as breathtaking and dramatic as fireworks (although not quite as loud). This weeks vignette is from my friend Tamara’s (of Chickadee garden fame) and her husband David’s garden. Our stroll through their fabulous farm (if you don’t know it, check it out – it has been a quite stunning transformation at near break-neck speed, over the past 2-3 years), brought many oohs and aahs on my part.

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The first time I visited their property, Tamara (who is well aware of the severity of my plant addiction) kindly offered me a corner of their two acres, in which to put whatever lusty acquisitions that I have neither room, nor enough sun for in my shady haven. (I know, I know – a more reasonable gardener would not bring home things she couldn’t plant, but that’s beside the point.) Tamara, being the kind, generous friend she is, jokingly calls “my” corner “Anna’s Acres”. Gotta love that! 😀 The visit where I shot this photo was the first of my deliveries – I gave her two big plants that, quite honestly, I can’t WAIT to see planted within color-echo-shot of each other. More to come on that later… for now, my own husband is just happy that I cleared his driveway of several plants. Have a wonderful Independence Day, y’all!

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Wednesday Vignette – winter interest

It’s easy to forget, now that everything in the garden is in full, fabulous glory, but back in February, parts of my garden were completely devoid of anything worth seeing. Unless you enjoy studying the varying shades of wet soil, that is. In my defense, I don’t spend much time out there when it’s cold and wet, but still… this needed to be remedied. Of course I knew there was stuff in there – I even sort of remembered what it was, and that it looked decent all taken together. But, obviously, I couldn’t see anything, since it was all dormant, so planting anything else would have to wait until the established residents started to emerge.

Come March, I wandered into Lowe’s for something else but, as is customary, took a little detour through the garden section which was starting to fill up with plants. I discovered this nice, new (to me, at least) Euonymus from Monrovia called ‘Paloma Blanca’. I fell for its white new growth, and grabbed one. Since then, it has patiently sat waiting for me to figure out where it should go. I think I finally figured it out – it will hold year-round court in the naked mud bed I so lamented in February. This spring, I also added a Carex ‘Sparkler’ a double, green Hellebore, and at least one evergreen fern, so I will have something to look at next winter. I think Paloma will fit right in, don’t you?

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You can see Paloma in the lower left corner. She has an upright, narrow-ish demeanor, which makes her easy to fit in, even in a very cramscaped space. Other players in this scenario are the aforementioned Carex ‘Sparkler’, and an Arisaema fargesii, barely visible on the far left, followed by the somewhat thuggish Impatiens omeiana, Ghost fern, a recently planted Musa basjoo, and old fave Hakonechloa ‘Allgold’. All except ‘Sparkler’ turn to relative mush or disappear altogether when temperatures drop. The white tips on Paloma have a little more green in them than when I purchased it. I chalk that up to me giving it a little more shade than is ideal. No matter, so far, it still does what I want it to do – the shade in this particular spot is of a brighter variety. When that Banana grows up – well, then we’ll see… fingers crossed!

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Both the similar form and color of the ‘Sparkler’ and Impatiens are variations on a theme, so I think breaking it off with the altogether different texture of Paloma will work just dandy, and turn winter drab to dapper. Can’t get over the size of that Arisaema leaf – it is positively MASSIVE! 

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Wednesday Vignette – seeking heart

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The past few weeks have been heartstoppingly ugly – in so many different ways. Deaths, disease, and lastly, dismembering of families by our very own government. While the first two can be subject to excruciating heartache and sorrow, they are still perfectly natural occurrences, which most of us at some point will face. But that last one?? If this is what the United States of America has truly become, I will relinquish my citizenship. Because this is not what I am, nor do I even know anyone who believes this is what we should be. However, statistics broadcast on the news indicated that 17% (or was it 19%) of the US population thinks so – or at least agree with both execution and fallout of the “zero tolerance immigration policy”. That number – although an obvious minority – is still too high for my comfort. Really, folks – almost 20%????

Whatever happened to “Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.” ? Now that the tired, threatened, persecuted and poor cross over a different-facing border, is all that null and void now?Reclassified to meaningless, nostalgic drivel??? The same US that tears families apart at the border also left the United Nation’s Human Rights Council yesterday.  Granted, the UNHRC have indeed made some doozie decisions in recent memory, but STILL? This is a worrying trend on the train wreck we’re on. While I should be up there, fighting on the barricades defending human decency, and up my donation to the ACLU, my instincts in times like this is to either bury myself in the backyard, or hide my face in shame in the furry coat of my cat, to escape the ugliness. The two photos of today remind me that, at least in pets and plants, orange is not a bad color. That said, inaction = complacency. It’s time we all speak up – LOUDLY!!! At my core, as a society, I believe we ARE better than this. At least, we used to be.

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Manneman – looking like the very image of carefree complacency.

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