Sunday, June 30, 2019

Gardening and Art

What is art, this question may be more difficult to answer than it appears. I have seen work advertised as art that is pretty but has nothing to say; works that would work well in my living room but seem out of place in an art gallery. Is a piece of art because it hangs in a gallery or is it art because of what it took to create it.
The definition I like about art is simple, art is form and content. This translates into all art must consist of these two things.
When referring to form we are referring to:
- The elements of art,
- The principles of design
- The physical materials that the artist has used.
The form is thus concrete and can be readily described, regardless of the art work in question.
Content is based on a concept or idea. Concept means
- what the artist meant to portray,
- what the artist actually managed to portray
- How the viewers respond to the intended and actual messages.

Bob Ewing, photo.
The elements (society, religion, politics, for example) that influenced the artist are also part of the content.
Plants are the materials the gardener works with and how they are arranged or planted as well as the underlying reasons the garden was created help determine whether gardening itself is an artistic medium.
Does form play a role in garden design? The elements of art are space, colour, shape, texture and form, for example. A garden design includes all these, how the gardener makes use of these elements determines how the work is received.
The principals of design are balance, proportion, rhythm, emphasis and unity. The principals are used to organize the elements and give meaning to the work.
Meaning takes us to content and what the gardener was attempting to say and how that was received by the viewers.
The materials the gardener/artist uses are alive and will change over time. A gardener requires a clear vision of what the finished work will look like before he or she plants the first seed.
Unlike other art mediums, gardens are works in time and space, and are always a work in progress; works that can be changed by moving a plant or adding another one.
Gardening invites experimentation and participation. The garden may be collaboration in both design and implementation. In fact, even non-human partner can and indeed must share in the process if the plants are to thrive.
Gardening is a cooperative, challenging and rewarding medium that can engage the gardener/artist for a lifetime.

Monday, June 24, 2019

My Small Garden

The season began slow, wet and cool. However, the sun and some heat have arrived and things are growing. The two pumpkin plants made it through the cold as did the corn. I received a stevia plant the other day. This is the first time I have grown this natural sweetener.

Saturday, June 22, 2019

Kitchen Herb Garden

Supper time. the dish you are making calls for thyme. You reach up to the kitchen window and pick what you need. No muss, no fuss. Now, not all kitchens have a handy window sill. However, the closer to the cooking area the herbs you need are growing, the freshers they will be. 
Getting your windowsill kitchen herb garden started is fairly straightforward.
You can be creative with your choice of containers and enhance your kitchen décor at the same time as you grow herbs to enhance your food, just make sure the container you select has a means to drain the excess water and something to catch that water in.
You could use terra cotta pots that you decorate yourself to add that personal touch.
First, you plant your seeds in potting soil and keep moist until they sprout. You can place them on the top of your refrigerator as it will provide the needed warmth to get them sprouting.
Second, when the seeds have sprouted you move them to a sunny (5-6 hours of sunlight) windowsill and water them when they need it. As the herbs mature, cut back on the water as they prefer the soil to be slightly dry
Dill – A common kitchen herb that has many uses, both the seeds and leaves of dill have a sharp, slightly bitter taste. You can use the young branches are used to flavour salads, pickles, vinegar, sauces, soups, stews, and chicken, lamb and fish dishes.
Parsley – You will most commonly see parsley used as a garnish and it does work well but be sure to eat it and not toss it away. Parsley is very versatile and will look great on your windowsill I use parsley in salads, stews, omelettes and soups, for example.
Sweet Basil – Sweet basil will add a pleasant aroma to your and a deep and spicy flavour to your food. It is essential for Italian cooking and Thai dishes. You can use sweet basil in tomato sauce and in stir fries for example.
Chives - Chives are one of my favourites, chives are a relative of the onion and bring that extra zip to any dish that needs it. The purple flowers are quite attractive and edible. Chopped chives can be added to salads, egg and cheese dishes, cream cheese, mashed potatoes, and sauces.
If you have these four herbs growing in your kitchen you will be all set to add that fresh something extra to a wide variety of meals. Your kitchen plants will produce well enough that you will be able to dry and store them for future needs or give them as gifts.

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Seed Saving Talk

Last night, Tuesday, June 18, 2019, I gave the third in my gardening talk series, Gardening 101, at the Renfrew Public Library. The topic was saving seeds.  This is the first of two talks on this topic.  this is part of the handout I provided for the group.

During the millennia before modern plant breeding began, farmers were moving around with seeds and livestock, and because neither were uniform, they could gradually adapt to different climates, soils and uses. Whenever farmers settled, they continued to improve crops and livestock.
In the case of crops, the way they did it can still be seen today in a number of countries and consists of selecting the best plants, which give the seed to be used for the following season. This process was highly location-specific in the sense that each farmer did it independently from other farmers and for his/her conditions of soil, climate and uses.
The enormous diversity of what we call ancient, old, heirloom varieties originated through this process."
We talked about why saving seeds is important with a strong focus on the seed monopolies by companies such as Monsanto.  Also a few basic how-to tips.

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Seeds< Poverty, Climate Change, and more.

From a 2016 article in The Ecologist but still relevant.

"Five of the global issues most frequently debated today are the decline of biodiversity in general and of agrobiodiversity in particular, climate change, hunger and malnutrition, poverty and water.

Seed is central to all five issues. The way in which seed is produced has been arguably their major cause. But it can also be the solution to all these issues."

Sunday, June 9, 2019

Food Security

First a  reference, for further reference:

For a global perspective:

I will be providing more links in my upcoming Sunday posts about Food security, food production, local food and seeds and seed saving. If you have any questions, please email me at

Friday, June 7, 2019

Sunshine & Black-eyed Susans

Two days of sunshine, yes and thank you. This trend may continue through the weekend. I planted two (Rudbeckia hirta) black-eyed susans yesterday.

Tuesday, June 4, 2019

Another Cool, Grey Day.

Mostly Cloudy
101.3 kPa
Dew point:
WSW 19 gust 30 km/h
15 km

Very unseasonal weather. It is supposed to warm up by Friday, but right now I want to turn the heat on.

Saturday, June 1, 2019

Another Cool, Grey Day

The cool, grey weather continues. I don't know if this is a record cool, wet spring but will find out soon.  My basil is outside on rack getting acclimatized as are the hollyhocks.

Podcast Coming soon

I am working on a podcast, working title "We Are Nature Working" I will talk about the many issues facing us from climate catastro...