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Richard James collected bottles

Richard James' bottle collection

Often it is the discoveries one makes in between the final destinations that make a trip interesting. Transported from San Francisco to Point Reyes National Seashore we came across this display in a barnyard. These are giant bottle shapes sculpted out of chicken wire and filled with the litter of actual plastic water bottles. An accompanying photo reads:

In One year

One person collected these bottles

On the beaches of One national park: Point Reyes

Most plastic in the ocean breaks into particles that contaminate

The fish that eat them and us where we eat the fish.

Use One metal bottle.

Collected, created and photographed by Richard James copyright 2011.

If you follow through to “Coastodian’s” blog www.coastodian.org you’ll learn this:

Almost every day Richard walks for miles up and down Tomales Beach in Point Reyes National Seashore. Carrying a backpack, he collects 40 to 60 pounds of trash each trip.

Shows how just one person can make a difference, but a shame that one could spend a lifetime cleaning up after folks. Thanks, Richard, for making every day Earth Day.

Nancy R. Peck

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kids and watering can

March brings news of grant recipients especially for schools, expansion of community gardens and residents taking matters into their own hands despite city budget cuts (see Sacramento, CA). And some garden clubs have the fun of giving out grant monies as well.

Get some ideas for clever projects by clicking on the Groups + Grants News tab at the top of the page. Team work and collaboration make for lots of activity.

If your organization has made a difference with a community project in the past month, send a press release or published media url link, tosalonhostess@gmail.com and efforts will be made to include it.

Nancy R. Peck

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garden in Austria

See the garden gnomes lurking in the corners of this Austrian garden?

The recent Gnomeo & Juliet animated feature film inspired a dear friend-reader to suggest I get to know garden gnomes a little better. Great idea.

Now I know in some circles garden gnomes are considered déclassé (banned from the great Chelsea Flower Show, UK for one). The mass consumerism associated with garden gnome ornaments—and their bold colors—make for cautious use in today’s residential garden.

But regardless of where they stand in our individual taste-meters, it is interesting to note that these figurines actually originated in the 19th century in Germany, where they became known as Gartenzwerg (“garden dwarf”).

In addition, according to Wikipedia, Philip Griebel made these and “terracotta animals as decorations . . . based on local myths as a way for people to enjoy the stories of [their] willingness to help in the garden at night.” Popularity quickly spread across Germany and into France and were “first introduced to the United Kingdom in 1847 by Sir Charles Isham, when he brought 21 terracotta figures back from a trip to Germany and placed them as ornaments in the gardens of his home, Lamport Hall in Northamptonshire.”

Perhaps back in 1847 garden gnomes were smaller and of earthier tones. Can you imagine today’s gnomes here? http://www.lamporthall.co.uk/

My research seems to have hit a wall, but feel free to send in your gnome encounter stories.

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You’ve heard that exercise is good for your physical and mental health. You’ve also heard that being outdoors de-stresses and improves the mood—clears out the cobwebs. I know you’re already aware of how gardening is therapeutic.

Well, now there’s a new name for all of this. . . brought to you by the world of science + copywriting.

Green Exercise—when you combine exercise with nature—when you commune with the outdoors and move about a little bit. What will they think of next, you ask? Nature-deficit-disorder, attention- restoration theory, environmental psychology, biophilia, Green Gym and green prescription—that’s what.

At the University of Essex-UK, using meta-analysis and assessment of multiple studies involving 1252 participants, it was quantitatively implied that even short five-minute spurts of green exercise had long-term health benefits. All types of green exercise were beneficial—and the presence of water in the natural environment created even more positive effects.

Self-esteem especially increased for the youngest subjects. And the mentally ill showed the greatest rise in self-esteem improvements. As Jo Barton concludes about the results “we believe that there would be a large potential benefit to individuals, society and to the costs of the health service if all groups of people were to self-medicate with green exercise.”

In another study at Wageningen University & Research Centre in the Netherlands, gardeners over 60 were compared with non-gardeners over 60 in the same neighborhood. A significant increase in perceived health and decreased stress levels was found.

And in New Zealand, the Get Growing with NZ Gardener television show teamed with the Mental Health Foundation: “. . . gardening is a great way for people to incorporate the five winning ways to wellbeing into their lives—connect, learn, give, be active and take notice.” They add (what to us may seem obvious):

  • Joining a gardening club or community gardening project can help you connect with new people.
  • Gardening can inspire you to take notice of the natural world around you.
  • Learning about plants keeps you discovering new things.
  • Regular gardening can help bring structure to your life.
  • Gardening gets you out in the fresh air and is a good form of physical exercise.
  • It’s a good outlet for your creativity and it is fun.
  • Growing veggies and herbs can encourage healthy eating and save money.
  • You can give surplus veggies or cuttings to friends, family and neighbors as a gift, or trade them with produce from other people’s gardening successes.
  • Gardening is something the whole family can do together.

Hmm. Push-ups today or weeding?  Have you squeezed in your Gardening Green Exercise today?

Photo: Tom Adamson, Flickr Creative Commons

Nancy R. Peck

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blossoms

Fallen blossoms in Japan

In a given lifetime, there are just some instances when all the garden digging in the world will not provide the therapy, times in life when the gesture of bouquet just doesn’t cut it. Something bigger is required for something so monumental

 . . . yet we feel profoundly helpless.

The disaster in Japan is one of those times.

I offer moments of silence.

International Rescue Committee www.rescue.org

The International Rescue Committee responds to the world’s worst humanitarian crises and helps people to survive and rebuild their lives. Founded in 1933 at the request of Albert Einstein, the IRC offers lifesaving care and life-changing assistance to refugees forced to flee from war or disaster. They are at work in over 40 countries to restore safety, dignity and hope to millions who are uprooted and struggling to endure.

The American Red Cross www.redcross.org

Press release dated March 15, 2011: “The American Red Cross today announced an initial contribution of $10 million to the Japanese Red Cross Society to assist in its ongoing efforts to provide medical care and relief assistance to the people of Japan following the March 11 earthquake and tsunami.”

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A short month, February had fewer listings in our Group + Grants News tab. But we continue to see an incredible amount of support for community gardening across the nation. School programs and lots of youth-oriented projects are evident as well.

Arbor Day themes are getting into focus as we see ‘Tree Musketeers’ of El Segundo, CA—headed by wunderkinder—and the ‘Tree-mendous Tree Contest’ of Brunswick, GA among others.

The momentum is there. Click on the Groups + Grants News tab at the top of the page to view the latest organizational gardening, community education, beautification, and conservation creative—and creatively funded!—endeavors.

If your organization has made a difference with a community project in the past month, send a press release or published media url link, to salonhostess@gmail.com and efforts will be made to include it.

Nancy R. Peck

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I’ve no real facts to base this on. But it seems to me that, when I was growing up, there were many more opportunities to run into pussy-willows growing ‘wild’ in the northern woods of suburbia. They were the harbinger of spring and, since as a child I loved all things soft and furry, the glossy catkins were a favorite of mine.

Though easy to root and propagate, ‘Salix discolor’ are ‘dioecious’. If you see yellow catkins at the time of pollen release, it’s a male.

Gosh, this little rhyme brings back an innocent time.

I know a little pussy
Her coat is silver gray
She lives down in the meadow
Not very far away.
She’ll always be a pussy
She’ll never be a cat
‘Cause she’s a pussy willow
Now what do you think of that?

Sure, one can buy branches and shrubs today at random florists or online, but that’s not as much fun as finding them on a walk or getting a few cuttings from the odd lady down the street.

What childhood pussy willow stories can you pull from the backwoods of your mind?

Picture source: Wikimedia Commons

Nancy R. Peck

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