Tuesday, July 12, 2016

More Soul Windows

Here are a few more:
Soul Window: Blue Crystal, MRobb, 2016
Soul Window: Forest, MRobb, 2016
Soul Window: BlueGreen, MRobb, 2016
And some that aren't based on tiles, but gardens!
Soul Garden, MRobb, 2016

These last two are tiny, just a few cm square:
TinyArt, Gardeners' Hands, MRobb, 2016

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Paint a Window: Soul Windows

I haven't done a painting post for nearly a year, I think. If I weren't too lazy to look this up in my blog archive, I would know for sure, but my sandy memory tells me it's been about a year.

My new series has been going on for several months, and I call them Soul Windows. I suppose they could just as easily be called Soul Tiles, since they are based on tiles, but never mind that. They are designed to be portable and used for meditation. Here are a few:
Soul Window Purple, MRobb, 2016
Soul Window Yellow and Blue, MRobb, 2016
Soul Window Magenta, MRobb, 2016
Sometimes, I don't go with tiles, but with flowers or feathers:
Pink Feather, MRobb, 2016
They are painted on wood, Aquabord or Gessobord (though any gesso'd Masonite would work well) with layers of crackle paste, various glitters and pigments, watercolors, and acrylic interference paints. Pouring medium is used at the end to give a smooth, shiny, "surfboard finish". I learned this surfboard finish from the amazing acrylic artist Nancy Reyner (do give her a Google).

The tiles are usually studded with tiny Swarovski crystals or bits of gemstone. The end result is glowing color and toughness so they can be lugged around in...luggage. I've always liked portable shrines that are used in many religions, so I may try enclosing these in wooden boxes than can be opened and shut. Maybe I'll use old cigar boxes. Right now they are housed in silk bags. We'll see where it all goes!

Have a creative weekend!

Monday, July 4, 2016

Plants Share Their Food!

We've learned how plants can compete for sunshine and water and space. We know they can communicate with each other through the soil and the air. But now we've learned that plants, particularly trees, can also share their food! (Big thanks to Alert Gardener Jim for this news flash.)

Tropical Garden, MRobb
 "Competition between individual plants for resources is well known, but sharing of resources may also occur. Klein et al. observed tree-to-tree carbon shuttling between roots of tall trees in a mixed temperate forest in Switzerland (see the Perspective by van der Heijden). By applying stable carbon isotope labeling to individual tree canopies, they show that up to 40% of the carbon in the fine roots of one individual may be derived from photosynthetic products of a neighbor. Carbon transfer of this kind, mediated by plant-associated fungi, or mycorrhizae, in the soil, has been reported on a smaller scale in seedlings, but not before in trees. "
       Science, this issue p. 342; see also p. 290

Alpine Stream, MRobb

 Many gardeners, particularly gardeners of rare plants, have noted that the plants do better in groups, and outdoors in open soil if conditions allow. We know some of those reasons. What I call the Fungi-Net, which is basically a communications system built with soil fungi, allows plants to share data. Also the Formi-Net, which allows plants to communicate via their ant symbionts, helps some plants like Tillies to reach out to their world. Now we've found that the Fungi-Net does much more than facilitate communication- it allows plants to share their resources.
Railroad Vine, MRobb
Ethically speaking, should we be growing our plants in groups, and ensuring fungi are growing well in their soil? What do you all think, gardeners? Any ethicist botanists wish to comment?

Lithops, MRobb

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Weekend Walkabout: Poetry and Photos

Oh, the Brexit....

Anyone else ever felt this way?

Now it's so hard 
to forget
what I fought so hard
for so long
to remember....

Have a great gardening weekend, and don't forget to Walkabout!

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Weekend Walkabout: New Tillie Trays and a Pelican Dawn

I've been getting up earlier these days so that I can watch the sun rise. It's worth it. Really.

This new habit has become a reality because I have discovered a fabulous coffee roastery in my neighborhood. Their coffee is freakin' awesome and it wakes me up sooooo much better than the stale grocery store stuff. This morning, it was stormy and windy, and I was greeted by pelicans heading for a fishing trip on the beach:
Beach Dawn with Pelicans, June 2016, MRobb
Gorgeous clouds, too:
Cloudscape June 2016, MRobb
I haven't shown my newish terracotta Tillie trays yet, as I was having camera/computer interface problems that I only corrected this morning. These trays are made of Roja Linda clay with Amaco Bluebell and Aquamarine glaze. I love this combo soooo much!
Tillie Trays 2016, MRobb
Have a wonderful and creative weekend!

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Tillie of the Month: Tillandsia araujei

Tillie of the Month is back! Today's Tillie of the Future is T. araujei, a hard-to-spell and harder-to-pronounce (ahr-OO-zhay-ee), thin and spiky creature.
Tillandsia araujei, a tough, tall Tillie. (MRobb)
T. araujei grows south of the Rio de J area, on the coast, in Brazil. The leaves are thick and waxy and it reminds me a lot of rosemary, which is also a tough coastal plant. They are supposed to eventually grow into clumps, but I've had mine for several years and it just keeps getting longer. It's about doubled its length from the photo above. It's now about 30cm and shows no sign of either blooming or clumping.

Araujei is one of the toughest Tillies you can grow, and doesn't need as much tender care as some, such as T. argentea fineleaf or magnusiana, which are beautiful but high-maintenance creatures.

Tillandsia magnusiana, a showy diva Tillie. (MRobb)
 In its native environment, araujei grows sideways or upside-down. Maybe if I hang mine upside-down, it will start to bloom and clump? But I am lazy, and I like it just as it is.

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Update on the Wellesley Ravens

Pauline and Henry, Ravens-in-Residence at Wellesley, had a nest of five eggs, and four of those were viable and hatched. Three of the young ravens were very lively and robust, and one was a little...not so lively and robust. When it came time to fledge in late May, the first three were out of the nest lickety-split, while the one my family dubbed "Junior" sort of just sat there, looking glum and trying out his not-very-lively wings. But his family returned to him to make sure he had food and water, and slept near him at night, even though they should have been out roosting in trees or bushes. It was clear they cared, and that's amazing! Most bird species don't behave that way at all. Corvids are different.
I am pleased to announce that Pauline and Henry's four young ones have all successfully fledged- I'm sure viewers around the world were cheering when Junior finally, with coaxing from his siblings, made it out of the nest and into the wide world! I'm looking forward to seeing Pauline and Henry at nesting time next spring. (Ravens are monogamous and generally mate for life.)
Here is a splendid pair of Northern Ravens from India, courtesy of Wikipedia:
Indian Cousins of Pauline and Henry, wikipedia