Monday, May 23, 2016

My Herbalism Motto

I've been training in herbalism for a while now (I'm an RN and I go by "Nurse Mary") and I really love it. I prefer to go slow and really learn all I can about a plant, and grow it if I am able, before using it in herbal formulas. A few of my favorites are the Leaf of Life, Gynura procumbens, catnip, St. John's Wort, and good old thyme, oregano, and rosemary. Sitting around with friends is a great way to come up with a motto, so here's mine, came up with it yesterday on the beach:

Nurse Mary Says:

Nature Sows the Seed
So We Can Feed
On the Weeds
We Need.

Drink Herb Tea Every Day!

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Catching Up, and a River Report

Life is coming back to our river- Gaia wants life and creativity, despite political shenanigans and human ignorance....I'll get some photos soon. But some species, including the adorable pufferfish, have disappeared, and other species I've never seen before in the river have shown up in abundance. Buddhism 101- Lesson 1- Impermanence....
Incense Buddha of Impermanence, MRobb, 2015

I'm still working on my hundreds-strong cache of photos from Lago di Garda, Italy, and it's been more than half a year already! Plus, more photos from my sand dune. Here's a lovely dawn from my sand dune, and a suitable weekend photo of Rodin's Muse from the Heller Garden. Have a lovely gardening weekend!
Rodin Muse Bridge, MRobb, 2015, Lago di Garda, Italy

Sunday, May 8, 2016

The Amazing Wellesley Ravens

I just love corvids. I used to live in the Far North, where the ravens are the size of small aircraft. Now I live in the tropics, and we have Fish Crows, the smaller, cuter cousin of the American Crow.

Fish Crows, MRobb, 20014
I love them, but I do miss the ravens. So I was delighted to find a happy raven family on a webcam at Wellesley College. It's nesting season, and the happy pair (ravens are monogamous) are raising 4 lovely ravinettes...let's check it out!

The latest research shows that some crows, particularly the New Caledonian Crow, are as smart as chimpanzees! If you want to learn some amazing facts about just how much more intelligent corvids are than a lot of humans you know, read this right now:

Have a great weekend and Happy Gardening!

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Oh No, More Age of Lonely....

I truly don't like being a Debbie Downer. I'm generally described as "perky" or "bubbly". Heck, I'm even a blonde! Still, I manage to maintain my five senses, and I don't like what I'm sensing some days.....
I used to go free diving, SCUBA diving, and snorkeling in South Florida and the Florida Keys. This was back in the Jurassic, when there were reefs, and fish. It was amazing! It was mindblowing! Now we are heading toward the Neo-Eemian perhaps, and the ocean I loved so much is acidifying, more quickly than predicted. Here is the Then (when I was a snorkeling kid in these waters) and Now, in the Age of Lonely:
Photos courtesy of Chris Langdon, Climate Central
Acidification from too much carbon dioxide, higher temperatures, and possibly, too many nutrients in the water from too many people and agricultural corporations not cleaning up their *S&% before it hits the ocean. A magical environment dead and gone. I've heard the same thing is happening in Australia with that miraculous place, the Great Barrier Reef. I grieve for that amazing place that I've never seen, and maybe never will.
Will we learn how to care for our world in time to save what's left???

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Frostweed and Jamaican Leaf of Life

I grow a number of medicinal herbs in my outdoor garden. The two I'll show today are Frostweed (Verbesina virginica) and Jamaican Leaf of Life (Bryophyllum calycinum and pinnatum):
Frostweed is thusly named because it sends out water vapor when temperatures plummet, and creates some amazing natural frost sculptures along its stalk:
In traditional medicine, the leaves are smoked for a variety of ailments, including bereavement and grief in general. I have not tried this, so I have no comment! The Jamaican Leaf of Life is used for respiratory conditions, particularly asthma. I make a tincture or tea out of the leaves. The flavor is astringent and salty, and rather pleasant. Some people around here just chew the leaves, but I find that makes me pucker, like I do when I eat a persimmon.

The Leaf of Life propagates the way the Mother of Millions does- from nodes in the leaves themselves. Just throw a leaf on the ground and watch roots sprout and tiny plantlets grow. In tropical zones, the Leaf of Life is lively indeed! My herbalism teacher gave me one leaf a few years ago, and now I have over 20 plants! 

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Schwantesia borcherdsii blooms!

Yes, I really do still grow mesembs, and Schwantesia is one of my newer additions. Schwantesias are dwarf mesembs, just like Lithops. They have gone through an extreme form of evolution to become very small, compact, and highly stonelike in appearance. They did this because they live in some of the harshest corners of our planet. (Do planets have corners? I guess they do!)

Schwantesia herrei, by Fred Dortort
 According to Mesemb Expert Fred Dortort, Schwantesias don't turn their outermost leaves into dry, protective sheaths the way Lithops or Conophytums do. They live in cracks in boulders and other out of the way, rocky hideouts. The evolved along the Orange River. Their blooms are a startling yellow. They really don't like much water or soil. Here is mine, a Schwantesia borcherdsii:
Schwantesia borcherdsii in bloom, MRobb, 2016
I am thinking this little plant needs even less water than a Lithops, and perhaps it wants to be misted and splashed now and again, as it would along an arid river bank that flash floods every once in a while? Fred Dortort recommends soil devoid of organic matter, bright sun in the growing season, and a little water every 2 weeks during the growing season when light is longest. He says that if in doubt, don't water. So that's what I'm trying. So far, so good....

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Bloomin' Babytoes Meets...The Monster!

I'm supposed to be making ceramic dishes and pencil holders this weekend, you know, serious stuff. And they need to be finished by late next week. But I'm distracted by a bloomin' Babytoes, the first of spring 2016!
Babytoes Blooms in 2016, MRobb
There it sits, right in the window of my studio, distracting me with its cheerful beauty. So instead of making serious pots, I made...the Monster!
The Monster! Greenware MRobb 2016
Yes, yes, I know, I'll get to work now. Have a wonderful weekend and happy gardening!