Plant Whisperer

Spring. I come alive this time of year. Garden centers and nurseries call out to me. I leisurely stroll through them while simultaneously making note of which plants I want to add to the Concrete Jungle. Through trial and error, I’ve made adjustments to what I can grow there though I’ll never stop experimenting. One corner gets only bright indirect light; in my mind’s eye I see a profusion of ferns. I’m also jonesing on a Angel’s Trumpet which will tower above them high enough to reach a bit of sun. It’ll be perfect in a pot and the hummingbirds will love their flowers. Speaking of flowers, I want to attract bees and butterflies but my choices of flowering plants is limited by the lack of full-sun the area receives. Am still researching.

Isn’t this Angel’s Trumpet GORGEOUS?

I don’t know where I got my love of plants. Neither of my parents had green thumbs; at least none to speak of. Mom never owned any houseplants and my Dad maintained that gardening constituted mowing the lawn – after which he’d listen to the baseball game while napping on a chaise lounge in the backyard. As a child I always loved being outside, so was it at an early age that I began my life as a Master Gardener “in-training”?

What’s in that cup? Perhaps I was going to water a thirsty plant – or maybe I had some seeds to plant.

Years later, when I wasn’t playing Cowboys and Indians with the boys in the neighborhood (I was the sole indian) or trading monster bubblegum cards with same, I happily spent hours in the backyard searching for cool bugs and climbing trees. (Always in a cute matching ensemble.) Although I remember having perpetually-scraped knees, I don’t recall ever getting DIRTY. To this day I don’t like getting on my hands and knees in the dirt. But I digress.

My earliest recollection of being a Plant Geek was when I was married. (Long before Rock Vixen was born.) We lived in a one bedroom, upstairs apartment complete with a balcony that received sun all day. No problem growing flowers there!

I became enthralled with herbs. Not only did I cook with them I experimented with sachets, potpourri, lavender wands, and was fascinated with their history as medicinal plants. There was one event we attended at a Victorian house/herb grower in Los Gatos. Attendees were treated to a buffet of finger foods and herbal teas and a talk by the growers. We were then free to wander the nursery part of the property where you could purchase plants. That was my first introduction to more “exotic” herbs like lemon balm, bee balm, horehound, lovage, and wormwood. At that time these items weren’t readily available at local nurseries and garden centers. (I was a Veggie and Herb buyer for a few years and brought in all the unique herbs the growers offered. I developed quite a following…) While my Mother-in-law liked to garden and grew the most beautiful orchids, my Ex did not appreciate my plant-centric enthusiasm. Needless to say, the marriage did not last long.

However, my unwavering relationship with plants has endured. I’m always eager to try new Outside the Pot projects; and I love sitting down with one of my (many) houseplant books, lusting over the most unusual specimens. (You should see my Black Jungle Terrarium Supply Wishlist!)

And my affair with “carnies”? Well, that’s a Love Story for all time.

Fellow Plant Whisperer and Sweet Pea devotee. I think of Ruthie every Spring and Fall when they are in season.

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Ode to Ostara

For Pagans, Ostara (celebrated March 20th or 21st, depending upon the year) marks the Spring Equinox – the beginning of Spring.

Around here, Nature is celebrating Spring with new shoots, flowers, and frisky doves!

Even my Sarracenia “Flava” erected a bloom in honor of Ostara!

Ostara is a time of renewal and regneration. What are you waiting for? Time to be the truest version of yourself. If you were a child of Nature (which you are) how would you herald Spring’s return? What would your rebirth look like?

Dharma’s “Dance to the Spring” (:43 seconds in).

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If not NOW – then When?

Each person comes to life at a time when they have something to give the world. [1]

I would amend that to say “Each LIFE comes at a time when it has something to give the world.” Every living thing on Earth is remarkable. Each plant, animal, and human is a unique creation born with a sense of purpose; and all life is valuable. Anyone who’s in tune with nature and our fellow creatures can easily discern differences between one red rose and another blooming beside it or between chickens busily scratching at the dirt looking for earthworms. Even identical twins are not really “identical” and perennials shooting up through the ground aren’t going to grow (or necessarily look) the same as they did the year before. Nature doesn’t “Photoshop”.

With animals, personalities become more of an indicator of the uniqueness of individuals than physical characteristics. For animal caretakers and pet owners this is easy to perceive. If you’ll allow me to digress for a moment, I’ll give you some examples:

In an episode of Animal Planet’s The Zoo, a female King Cobra was being treated for an infection. One of her keepers described her as being a “curious” snake – not something one would normally attribute to a reptile but when you work with INDIVIDUAL animals you begin to see the dis-similarities between them. They become as unique as fingerprints…or snowflakes.

Monikers have been given to the finches and sparrows that feast on the seed scattered in the Concrete Jungle – their personalities are THAT different. One female sparrow will sit on the fence for 5-10 minutes surveying the scene below until finally taking a meandering path through the various potted plants and such to join the others. How do we know it’s the same sparrow? Because it’s always just the one that exhibits that behavior. Then there’s the house finch with red on its head and breast, who goes to town in the bird bath. The only one that does that. Splashes all over everything. Flies off, then comes back for more. Hilarious.

More personally, in spite of the fact that they are both black cats, Ramses is as different from Diego as you can get – both in temperment and in their physical appearance.

So where the Hell am I going with all of this? I had an epiphany recently. An awakening, if you will. Many of us experience these at certain times in our lives. Perhaps some of us never do. I don’t know whether it’s because of the tremendous upheavals happening in the world right now or whether it’s because of the changes going on in my world. It really doesn’t matter, but I’ll bet many of you are feeling restless too. Like a piece of your puzzle is missing.

Our core task and true life journey involve recollecting and remembering parts of ourselves that have been repressed or forgotten. [2]

I’d been seeing myself as who I had been, not who I am today. I’ve changed, yet I haven’t. Let me explain. What’s that saying about God(dess) never giving us more than we can bear? I think she also gives us insight and “aha” moments when we are best able to grasp them. Who I used to be, or rather who I thought I was, doesn’t necessarily equate to who I am today. Sounds wacky, but it proved to be a turning point for me. I started seeing myself as myself again. I felt like I’d gone back to my roots as a child. This is what I wrote in my Book:

I am:
Spinner of Webs
She who runs with moggies
Plant whisperer
Hair Mëtal siren vamp
Queen of Wands
Rock Vixen
Independent Force of Nature

The greatest challenge has always been the risk of becoming ourselves in a world that is trying to turn us into everyone else. [3]

Tomorrow is the Spring Equinox, Ostara, and I’m challenging you to find your true self and set it free. Spend some alone time with yourself. Turn off the TV and shut-down your computer. Ditto your phone, ipod, tablet, etc. Light some candles and take a leisurely bath or go for a walk – sans music. Whatever activity you choose, the objective is to let your thoughts and feelings come and go as they will. Then write down words or phrases that encapsulate who you are. Put this list some place where you can see them every day.

KNOW who you are.
BE who you are.

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[1] Meade, Michael (2018). Awakening the Soul: A Deep Response to a Troubled World. Mosaic Multicultural Foundation. p. 74.
[2] Meade, Michael (2018). Awakening the Soul: A Deep Response to a Troubled World. Mosaic Multicultural Foundation. p. 120.
[3] Meade, Michael (2018). Awakening the Soul: A Deep Response to a Troubled World. Mosaic Multicultural Foundation. p. 164.

Happy Feast of St. Patrick Gertrude

Today is March 17th – normally a day on which we celebrate a certain saint by embracing the color green – especially green beer – and celebrating all things Irish. But being half Irish does not make up for the fact that I’ve no green clothing, I hate corned beef and cabbage, and prefer drinking beer in its original state (specifically Corona). But I digress…

As this is also HER day, I am honoring St. Gertrude of Nivelles – the Matron saint of cats (and cat lovers) and gardeners – which is especially fitting as March is also Women’s History Month. (Or as I prefer to call it, HERstory Month.) Being that St. Gertrude was Belgian, I’m sitting here drinking a delicious tea to which I’ve added a generous splash of GIN.

Virgin, and Abbess of the Benedictine monastery of Nivelles; born in 626; died 17 March, 659.

After the death of her father in 639, her mother Itta, following the advice of St. Amandus, Bishop of Maestricht, erected a double monastery, one for men, the other for women, at Nivelles. She appointed her daughter Gertrude as its first abbess…

She was venerated as a saint immediately after her death, and a church was erected in her honour by Agnes, the third Abbess of Nivelles. The towns of Geertruidenberg, Breda, and Bergen-op-Zoom in North Brabant honour her as patron…

The assignment of Gertrude as patron of cats and the designation of the cat as one of her attributes seems to date from the 1980s…A more superficial association of Gertrude with the cat as a mouse hunter goes further back. Her veneration as protector against rats and mice dates from the early 15th century during the Black Plague and spread from Southwestern Germany to the Netherlands and Catalonia…The first major English-language publication presenting her as patron of cats is a 1981 catalogue of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Happy St. Gertrude of Nivelles Day!

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