Garden Gnome Ecosystems

Creating a sustainable system for gnomes to play in.


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Grow Write Guild Post #4: Happy Mother’s Day to My Mentors

blue-eyed grass

Dear Grannie,

You always had something from the garden on the table when we came out to the farm for the weekend, and you always had some work for us in the gardens. It was you who paid me a measly $3 dollars/hour to pull weeds and harvest seeds in your native species plots (I was six, that was a fortune, and quite frankly, I’m sure I didn’t deserve a penny more, given the pace I worked at).

It now comes naturally to name and adore a wildflower or a species of grass discovered along a gravel road or in the prairie plantings at the museum and the university. Now I find myself enraptured in work when it involves growing things, and madly plotting a business that just might help to change the world, one garden at a time.

Of course, I can’t ignore the influence of my mom – but it was you who raised her to take so much joy in plants and nature.  It was you who raised her to pass that on to me. After a few years of city life she moved us out to a little town, because she believed that every child should grow up on a farm. She dragged me out to the garden to pull weeds for free all summer long.  She set me up with a view of the horizon, a scrub brush, a mountain of carrots, a few cardboard boxes, and a couple bales of peat on a late summer day and then drove off, confident that I could pack all the carrots for the winter.

She wandered the prairie with me, pointing out wildflowers and sedges.

She fed us pigweed, stinging nettles, and lamb’s quarters.

“It’s yummy, kids. Try some.”

*black stares*

“Hide it in a sandwich, like this.”

She took me out to watch the creek flood in the spring, and we hopped from crossing to crossing, driving through the water where it was spilling over the road. At one crossing we watched a couple quads drive through – well, one made it, and the other stalled when his air-intake filled with water, halfway across. At the last crossing we came to the water looked a little high, but we decided to give it a go. In we went in her little truck. The water kept rising, but stopping to put the truck in reverse wasn’t really an option. We would surely be swept off the slick concrete if we stopped. We watched in horror as the water started to roll up over the hood. For a few seconds, the truck seemed to slip downstream a little, and we wondered if we were about to go swimming.  Just in time, the tires gripped, the hood emerged from the creek again, and we drove out laughing and hoping we hadn’t hurt the truck.  We did.  It never ran quite right after that trip.

It still is my mother who receives my texts and phone calls when I can’t remember the name of a plant.

It was a grounding in growing plants that prepared me for a video, and then a workshop, and then a community garden job where my faith in humanity was restored; where I learned that you can change the world in a garden.  Because of you, I’m going to grow a garden.  Because of you, I’m going to do everything in my power to make edible landscapes a part of our cities, a staple in our backyards, and a part of a movement to change the world.
blue-eyed grass blossom

I found blue-eyed grass in my backyard (Sisyrinchium montanum) two years ago.  I never would have recognized it without the raising you both gave me. Such a tiny, discrete flower could not have brought me such peace. At that moment, I knew I was exactly where I needed to be: in a weedy back-yard desperately in need of some love.

Your garden-loving granddaughter,

Ruth

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Grow Write Guild Post #3: My garden, right now

This prompt cracked me up. First, the title – “Ch-ch-changes” – had me scooting on over to YouTube to put on some mood music.

Describe your garden right now. Well, 3 feet of snow, except just outside the back door where we shoveled a couple times last year. There it’s only about 2 feet deep, and packed down.

The whole garden: white, with boot prints (or boot holes?), because I gave up, and finally took the garbage out yesterday, and while I was doing that, I decided to take an adventure walk over to the fence, to see how deep the snow was. Up to my knees in the shallow spots, it is.

the stick and red spot are little bits of compost escaping from the pile beside my back door…also, bunny tracks!

Depressing, cold, and seemingly never changing. “Ch-ch-changes” in my garden – I’m not so sure.  But at least I’m going to be grooving to David Bowie all afternoon.


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Grow Write Guild Post #2: Dream Garden

Another Grow Write Guild post, as prompted by Gayla over at You Grow Girl.

Image

This one’s a challenge for me.  A professor recently recommended that I read The Other Side of Eden by Hugh Brody. Just previous to that, I stumbled on Toby Hemenway’s video, discussing the cultural impacts of agriculture.

Both have left me reeling.  I want, so desperately, to have a piece of land to call my home, my own.  I want control.  

These works have challenged me to look at the world as something that, perhaps, no one can own.  Damn it, I don’t want to share.  I want a room all to myself at home.  I want a garden all to myself in my front yard.  I’ll welcome visitors, but I want to the final say as to which plants go where.

But more than that, I want a society in which people are treated in an equitable manner.  I want respect for all nations, all genders, all ages.  I want to be part of the change.  And that might mean giving up the dream of owning land.  Owning the land means being able to sell it.  Who are we to trade in a resource that will last for all eternity?  What does this belief, that we can own the land, do for our interactions with other human beings?  With our partners, friends, and enemies?  As I pose these questions, I realize that I’ll probably never entirely know the answers.  If this intrigues you, go read Brody.  Watch Hemenway.  Enlighten me. I don’t know where to go from here.  I have so many questions.  More, every day.  I haven’t even started seeds, because I can’t decide if I want to grow on the sort-of-rented-but-not-really land I live on.  I’m feeling a little overwhelmed. (Disclaimer, I never made it through all of Hemenway’s video – he might have the answers, if I watched ’til the end).

‘Bout this dream garden though.

If, in fact, owning land can be part of an equitable society – even if it can’t, I suppose – I want a place to be, with a lush green canopy above a hammock.  I want a tiny back deck, right outside my kitchen door, with pots of herbs and rain barrels filling the space. I want a garden that pushes the limits of the climate, and welcomes nature in.  I want to grow hardy kiwi.  I want a garden that produces most of the food that my family needs.  I want a garden with an overwhelming harvest that demands I ask neighbours for help in processing it all.  I want a garden full of art.  Most of all, I want a garden that welcomes and strengthens the community, while providing a (very necessary) sanctuary for me.  It’s about nature, the planet, and the environment, yes.  But more than that, it’s about the people.

It should feel something like the picture at the top. Vivid, dense, and exploding with life.

It should be all the pictures and articles and learning I’ve collected here, somehow crafted into something whole.


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Grow Write Guild Post #1: My First Plant

The snow in my backyard is at least four feet tall in some places.  I’m having trouble bringing to mind images of plants that live outside, so I’ll stick with my first very-own plant, one that lived in a cheap green pot, and only flowered once.  Maybe.

I couldn’t remember what the plant was, except that it had tall leaves, and a white flower.

I asked Google what the plant was.  Then I texted to ask my mom what the plant was.  She’s my plant dictionary.

“Hey Mom, do you remember that plant with tall skinny leaves that only maybe flowered once?  The one where you suggested that I part with it a few months after it flowered, since it wasn’t likely to ever flower again, but I insisted on carting around the three tall leaves for a few years?  I might have just made that part up in my head.  It might not have ever flowered.”

“Indoors? Amaryllis? It’s hard to get them to flower more than once.”

“That’s it. Thanks Mom. And thanks for quelling my fears that I really am a terrible gardener, when it comes to indoor plants, even if I was 5 when I started trying to force a second flowering.”

Sorry Google, mom won this round.  You just showed me spider plants, and tiny white flowers.

I think the bulb was a birthday gift.  Perhaps it was a Christmas gift.  Maybe it was Easter.  I can’t remember.

I wasn’t unfamiliar with the wonder of a tiny green shoot poking up through the soil, but this one was mine, and I’m sure I checked it every day.  When it finally flowered, I’m sure I showed everyone.  Those flowers are stunning.

The flower eventually died, and then I started to stare at the leaves, talk really nicely to them, and otherwise attempt to will my pretty plant into flowering again. I might have even petted the leaves.

This is starting to move towards fiction; I can’t remember that much from my childhood.

It’s been four moves and three cats since I planted that bulb, and I’m not sure where it went missing. Most likely it didn’t survive long enough to even attempt the first move, but I haven’t a clue. Maybe one of the first two cats ate it. It definitely wasn’t around long enough for number 3 to eat it. He would have.

Sometimes I miss it.

My first plant was a white amaryllis; thank-you to Gayla at You Grow Girl for the push back into a wonderful memory.

I’ve since moved on to a jade plant, aloe vera (x2), dracena and a boston fern.  They’re all beautiful even if they don’t ever flower for me.  I’ll save the flowering plants for the outside garden.