6 Green-Roof Myths – Busted!

I’ve had a keen interest in Green-Roofs for over 20 years and with the current changes coming in my life it may be the perfect time to explore this passion in more detail!

Fate Foretold by A Fortune Cookie…

…at least as it pertains to the next few weeks.  Last night I was handed this fortune cookie, it could have gone to anyone else but it came to me:

DSC00059

Turns out I am travelling to “many exotic places” with the specific intent of looking within.  In less than a week I’ll be jetting my way to the island country of Sri Lanka, where I will spend a week in remote lodge in the mountains near Kandy.  It will take me close to 48 hrs to get to my destination, a very very long journey…to a place very very far away.  The lodge I chose comes very highly rated (by complete strangers on travelocity) but it’s not the Hilton (which is the point of choosing it).  I’m looking forward to getting to the know that family that runs the lodge, wandering around the nearby village, spotting monkeys and birds and visiting a nearby elephant orphanage.

This from the lodge’s website:

“The jungle is filled with wildlife that include 61 different species of birds of  which 16 are endemic. Monkeys, barking deer and  the giant squirrel roam about during the day while wildboar, owls, flying squirrels  and bats appear at night.”

I’m still sorting out what gadgets I will need to take.  After Sri Lanka I’ll be heading to India for work so I will be lugging along my laptop, but given the power situation at the lodge, I don’t expect I’ll have much use for it in Sri Lanka.  Which is fine, my plan is to go as electronic free as I can.  I will have my kindle so I can read some books, my new awesome DSLR camera (this will be its debut trip), and my phone for emergencies.  Otherwise, I want to disconnect.  I won’t pretend that this “disconnect” plan doesn’t make me a little anxious…I travel quite a bit for work…and do so alone…but this feels different.  When I travel for work I stay connected to the world, I have a clear focus on what I want to achieve and when, and even though I may do a tourist side-trip here and there, I never really get out of work mode or take any real time for myself.

But – This trip is about letting my mind completely unwind, to completely let go go of my routines, my obligations, and my expectations.  This trip is about waking up each day and allowing it unfold exactly as it will, without an agenda or anyone else’s influence.  This trip is about leaving large empty spaces (physical and mental) for new experiences.

Sri Lanka Animals

Does an Exact Copy of YOU Exist Someplace Else Right Now?

Maybe…at least that is what Brian Greene argues.

When I expanded the scope of my blog, I did so with the intent of including more posts like this.  I have an insatiable curiosity when it come to understanding how things work, how things hang together, and how we mere mortals fit into the bigger cosmic and spiritual picture. If you follow my blog for gardening tips, you probably won’t get much from this post unless you would like the idea of the “other you” tending the exact same garden in a parallel universe!

Back to Brian and “The Other You”…Brian Greene is a physics and mathematics professor and director of the Institute of Strings, Cosmology, and Astroparticle Physics at Columbia University.  His research uses superstring theory to suggest the idea of parallel universes that exist in what is called a multiverse, among many other theories he investigates…

Of course, this all hangs together on some basic assumptions that I’m going to go into deeper in other posts, like gravity, dark matter, and string theory, but for now, I just want to introduce this mind blowing concept.

Interested? Listen to this short and funny 5 minute Colbert Report Interview

Still Interested?  Watch this 21 min Ted talk:



Want to really “get your geek on”?  Listen to this RadioLab interview:

multi_tees

What do you think?

My learning process works best if I attempt to share what I learn…put the concepts into my own words and discuss with others.  That is what I’m going to do with some follow-on posts that will expand on some of these concepts…over time I’m going to weave all of this into some concepts about THE MEANING OF LIFE and GOD.  You know…the lighter topics.

Front Yard Makeover Progress

I’ve spent the last 5 years updating the inside of my house (new floors, new walls, new paint, new kitchen, upstairs master bath, etc…), building a garage, siding the house, and completely re-landscaping the backyard. Now it’s finally time to turn my attention to the wofully neglected front yard.  I’m starting with the left and right front patches between the side-walk and the house (parking strips will come later) and just starting with the basics.

Accomplished in the last 6 weeks:

  • Removed all the foundation plants from the front of the house
  • Replanted the foundation areas with size appropriate, local habitat supporting plantings
  • Carved out over 300 sq. ft. of planting beds & mulched
  • Planted a berry patch between my property and the neighbors (3 Blueberry and 2 Huckleberry bushes)
  • Planted pear trees across the front boundary as a living fence
  • Relocated the rain barrels

Now for some pictures!

Corner View Progress

Left Fondation View Progress

Right Front View Progress

Right Side Foundation Progress

Yard Boundary Progress

Pictures of the berry patch to come, it’s not quite finished, but as for the rest of the beds go now I just need to wait and watch it all grow!

Cheap Support

My body needed a break from sitting at my computer and my mind needed a distraction – which I took as signals it’s time to get outside and build something.  I rooted around in my garage and found the following:

  • String
  • Some left over nails
  • Some left over random pieces of wood

After about 20 minutes of tinkering I completed a much-needed pea trellis.  I think it turned out pretty good!  Not only do my peas now have something to climb up and support them, I feel revived and ready to get back to work – cheap support all around!

Pea Trellis Finished ProductPea Trellis Top DetailPea Trellis Bottom Detail

How My New “Living Fence” Has Connected Me to My Neighbors

My front yard “Living Fence” idea was inspired when I planted my backyard pears last year as a replacement for the bamboo I extracted.   I wanted a way to create the impression of a “fence” in the front yard without actually putting up a fence.  My front yard has been a pretty dismal place – overgrown and thorny foundation plants, weedy grass and no real habitat to support local birds, bees and animals.  I live on a highly visible corner lot with a significant amount of foot traffic, so the idea of an open type of fence would not only protect my yard from “short cutters” but also define the space and better tie the landscaping in with the other cosmetic improvements I’ve made recently.

Over the last month I’ve been whittling away at my “Living Fence” project and I’m almost finished (just need to stain the supports).  The results are better than I could have predicted.  Not only does it look fantastic, but folks that would normally stroll right by are stopping, taking pictures, reading the tags, chatting with me – I even had a cars stop!

Since I’ve been on working on this project in the evenings, when most people are out for their after dinner strolls, I’ve met at least a dozen of my neighbors in more than a just “friendly wave” kind of way.  They are compelled to stop and talk (in some cases invite me to their homes), and many have told me how excited they are to watch the new trees grow.  One evening last week I talked to 6 different people – and mind you I wear headphones when I’m working so it takes an effort to get my attention!

Interestingly, some have expressed concern that I’ll “lose fruit” to people stopping by and picking it.  My response has been “great”!  With the addition of these pear trees I now have strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, and huckleberries all in easily accessible places that anyone at anytime can pick and enjoy.  I have no desire to “protect” or “guard” the fruit that is produced – which is a very freeing feeling!

Ironically, my “fence” project (Do good fences really make good neighbors?) has connected me more to my neighborhood – what a curiously wonderful gift these trees have been both to me and my neighborhood!

My Orchard

As I mentioned in my Riddle:  How Do You Fit 12 Types of Fruit Trees on 1 Average City Lot? I have managed to plant 12 different types of fruit trees on my average city lot – see the list of currently planted fruit trees and pictures below:

Bryce Street Orchard

Front Yard Pears 1 April 2013

Backyard Pears 1 April 2013

Backyard Pears 2 April 2013

Backyard Applies April 2013

Stay tuned for an update on the rest of the front yard transformation!

Gratitude Moment: A Child’s First Seed

Just when I thought gardening could not bring me more pleasure…insert child!  Ok, maybe not ANY child, but it’s certainly true of gardening with my niece.  I had a little taste of this last year when my neighbor’s little girl “helped me” with the bamboo extraction project….which elevated the experience from pure drudgery to something more as she laughed with joy as she repeatedly climbed and slipped down a pile of dirt.

A few weeks ago I was lucky enough to introduce my niece to gardening.  I’m not sure how much she really understood but you could see the wonder and excitement in her eyes as we gathered our tools, seed packets, and pots and started playing the dirt.

SFS1The first project was to fill her pot with dirt. After she chose her seeds she soon realized she needed a bigger pot, which was even more exiting because she got to select another pot and move more dirt!

SFS2

Then she used her brownie pan as her square foot garden guide.  Given the size of the seeds she was actually placing 1 or 2 seeds per slot was impossible…which really wasn’t the point…it was fun just trying ( a perfect lesson of enjoying the process over results).

SFS3

With the seeds placed and the pot watered she chose the perfect spot and placed her label.  Then we put away our tools and started our clean-up (of course while singing the “clean-up” song).

SFS4

I can’t tell you how good it felt to introduce my niece to gardening and to show her how to plant her first seeds.  The gift for me was seeing life revealed through her new eyes.  Everything became magical…from picking the tools from the wonderous array of options hanging in the potting bench area, picking the seeds from the pile of colorful options in the seed box, to the amazement of just moving gravel with Aunt Cathy’s rake.

It can’t be said enough how much we can learn from children.  I am so lucky to be exposed to these lessons through my nieces.  When life becomes overwhelming, when work becomes stressful, when I start to “worry” about the future instead of “experiencing” the present moment – all I need to do is visit my nieces –  and pay attention.  If I do this with the open heart and mind of a child, I always come away with a different perspective and a renewed love of life.

“In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, but in the expert’s there are few.”

– Zen Master Shunryo Suzuki