Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Ginkgo Biloba , Millennial Tree

picture with natural ginkgo biloba / maidenhair leaves
Canvas with Ginkgo leaves (artwork created by myself)
lyrics by Elena Martin Vivaldi (1907-1998)
translated Spanish into English by Cor Kwant

A tree. Good. Yellow
of autumn. It opens up
to the sky brilliantly, eager
for more light. Screams its splendour
into the garden. And natural,
free, it scatters its colour
straight into the blue. It grows
like a flame, blazes, illuminates
its ancient blood. Dominates
all the air branch by branch.

ginkgo biloba / maidenhair tree
Ginkgo Biloba / Maidenhair tree in November, Stanley Park

All the air, branch by branch,
aglow with the yellow abundance
of the tree. Shines
that, only blue, lights
with a golden fire: oriflamme.
Not flag. Joyful fountain
of colour: It knocks up
its golden pole towards the sky.
Its eagerness of many centuries
reaches us. Light from the East.

ginkgo biloba / maidenhair tree leaves
Ginkgo Biloba / Maidenhair Tree leaves in November

Yellow. The wind does not
imagine yet, the flight
of its leaves, its brightness
already subdued. The gloomy
evening approaches. Not even foretells
its loneliness, that sorrow
of its branches.It was certitude,
joy – autumn! - . Beacon
of open light. Helplessness
afterwards. Where is your beauty?

Friday, November 26, 2010

Stanley Park was hidden in the Snow

Robert Burns statue, Stanley Park, Vancouver
Robert Burns statue, Stanley Park, Vancouver

"I insist that you shall write whatever comes first, - what you see, what you read, what you hear, what you admire, what you dislike; trifles, bagatelles, nonsense, or, to fill up a corner, e'en put down a laugh at full length" - Robert Burns.

Stanley Park was hidden in the snow!
In pictures you can see how amazing are looking some of the tourist attractions and some statues from Stanley Park today, top-coated with snow and surrounded by the surreal whited landscape.   

In first image is Robert Burns statue, an identical copy of the statue realized by the George Lawson in 1891 in Ayr, located in Vancouver, at the Stanley Park main entrance (I'll tell you more about it later). Nearly, toward Georgia Street,   Lord Stanley's statue welcomes us to visit Stanley Park.

Lord Stanley statue, Stanley Park, Vancouver
Lord Stanley statue, Stanley Park, Vancouver

On the left, when walking in Shakespeare Garden throughout the untouched white carpet under Daybreak Cherries, Eastern White Pine and Black Walnut...

eastern white pine- Shakespeare gardenblack walnut- Shakespeare gardendaybreak cherries- Shakespeare garden

...the Shakespeare's statue looks enlighten by so many snowflakes around it.
Shakespeare Statue, Stanley Park, Vancouver
Shakespeare Statue, Stanley Park, Vancouver

I turned my eyes to see the Rose Garden and the Ginkgo Biloba tree and I had a nice surprise to find few Ginkgo leaves in  the snow. The images are so different - you can remember how was looking in summer from one of my previous posts  about Shakespeare Garden and Rose Garden.

Ginkgo biloba tree, Stanley Park, VancouverRose Garden, Stanley Park, Vancouver

Before the end of this post, I promised you to give some details about Robert Burns's statue... Well, you can find this statue near Stanley Park main entrance, when walking  across from the Vancouver Rowing Club, looking southward across Coal Harbour, towards Georgia Street. 

Robert Burns statue, Stanley Park, Vancouver

On its frontal plaque can be read:
"This statue of Robert Burns, Scotland's National Bard, was unveiled by J. Ramsay MacDonald , a Prime Minister of Britain, on 25th August, 1928.
Robert Burns's sincere desire for friendship and brotherhood among all peoples is clearly shown in his many poems and songs. 
His poetry and letters, both serious and humorous are worthy of study by those who value liberty and freedom.
This memorial was rededicated on the 200th Anniversary of the Bard's death by the Burns Club of Vancouver.
21 July 1996
"Then let us pray that come it may
(as come it will for a' that)...
That man to man, the world o'er
Shall brithers be for a' that"

 Robert Burns (1759 - 1796), the Scottish people's poet, named also "Bard of Ayrshire", wrote many poems which stands the test of time (was written more than 200 years ago) in his own "light" Scots (Ayrshire) dialect. His works were often based on his experiences as a farmer and included humour, pathos, horror, social comment and beautiful descriptions:
"But pleasures are like poppies spread,
You seize the flow'r, its bloom is shed;
Or like the snow falls in the river,
A moment white-then melts for ever;
Or like the Borealis race,
That flit ere you can point their place;
Or like the Rainbow's lovely form,
Evanishing amid the storm.

On the other 3 sides of the Robert Burns statue, somehow hidden by the snow blanket, I read few lyrics from his poems:

plaque with Tam o'shanter lyrics, Robert Burns  statue, Stanley Park, Vancouver"Tam O'Shanter ......    1790
Now, do thy speedy utmost, Meg,
And win the key-stane o' the brig;
There at them thou thy tail may toss,
A running stream they dare na cross.

plaque with The cotter's saturday night lyrics, Robert Burns  statue, Stanley Park, Vancouver "The cotter's saturday night .... 1785
From scenes like these, old Scotia's grandeur springs
That makes her lov'd at home, rever'd abroad:
Princes and lords are but the breath of kings,
'An honest man's the noblest work of God'

plaque with To a mountain Daisy lyrics, Robert Burns  statue, Stanley Park, Vancouver

"To a mountain Daisy  ....... 1786
On turning one down with the plough
WEE, modest, crimson-tipped flow'r,
Thou's met me in an evil hour;
For I maun crush amang the stoure
Thy slender stem:
To spare thee now is past my pow'r,
Thou bonie gem.

Hope you like how are looking tourist attractions from Stanley Park hidden in the snow... 

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Blue Heron catching lunch in Stanley Park

The Winter has been coming down suddenly in Vancouver, and nobody in Vancouver is prepared for snow or damn cold winter. Ever. Temperatures have plunged below the freezing mark across the whole province and the Saturday weather forecast prepared us for few days of flurries and snow (5-10 cm until Thursday afternoon).

rose covered by snow

I got over the arctic air discomfort and I went out in Stanley Park for a walk. It is snowing and the idyllic scenery with mushrooms,  roses, grass, accent plants and fall leaves still coloring the landscape inspired me to write this post.

First snow over grass and fall leaves

Mushroom in snow
The snow over lawn and walkways are still soft and the town began to cover with a fluffy snow blanket.

accent plants in snow

Lost Lagoon is getting pounded by ice and snow right now. Like me, the birds (geese, ducks, seagulls, Blue Heron) were surprised by this winter. They walk on getting their feet colder and colder, trying to find food, or dance with sparkling snowflakes in the air.

 Blue Herron and seagulls,  Lost Lagoon in winter

The water has frozen and fortunately the birds were fed by "Stanley Park" administrative staff.  The Great Blue Heron seems to be wildly busy catching lunch from the plastic bag...

The Great Blue Heron catching free lunch in Stanley ParkThe Great Blue Heron catching lunch in Stanley Park

... and the seagulls and ducks perform Ice Hockey and apply an offensive strategy  following lines when predict where the food will go  (seems particularly important to let the grains cross right in front of their bodies).
 Blue Herron and seagulls were fed when the Lost Lagoon was frozen

The glittering snow blurs the shape of the objects it coats, makes the paths unbearable and covers the town in a delicate veil of snowflakes.
Seagulls and snowflakes over frozen Lost Lagoon

Inspired by the scenery, I write this lyrics

"First Snow" 

``Announced two days ago by a whispering wind, white snowflakes are dancing up and down
And from the heaven are falling quiet, blurring the woodland around.

The fallen snow makes quite a show which slowly enlightens and turns the scenery white,
like a fluffy blanket that hides the garden and covers the mountains into a surreal light. `` 

snowflakes over grass and fall leaves

Monday, November 22, 2010

Ficus propagation from cuttings

Recently I've told you about my Ficus Wiandi bonsai. Today I would like to share with you my Ficus Propagating projects.

Ficus wiandi cuttings in perlite and small terracotta pots (3cm high)Two month ago I got several cuttings when I shortened the Ficus Wiandi branches off  (Ficus plants can be propagated from stem cuttings or air-layering - read about my Bay Laurel air-layering project).

Small Ficus wiandi  plants in Chinese mudman ceramic pot

I was happy that the branch has been rooted  and yesterday I planted one  rooted cutting in  a Chinese Mudman ceramic pot and I decorated the tray with blue decorative sand.

Chinese sleeping in the shadow  of ficus wiandi plant

Based on my successful experiment, I decided to cut another branches from my Ficus Wiandi plants. The new cuttings are about 10-15 cm in length and few millimeters thick.

"A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step" Confucius 

planting ficus wiandi cuttings in perlite

I've planted each branch /cutting in its own starter pot made out of terracotta (only 3 cm high). I filled up the pots with perlite and I inserted the bare end of the stem sprinkled with some rooting hormone into these very small pots . The cuttings have multiple branches and I would have to reduce them to 1 or 2 leaves, but they are looking sooo cool with their side branches, so... although I have not cut their leaves (yet ?!) , I hope to have success with my new plants.

"The first step, my son, which one makes in the world, is the one on which depends the rest of our days" Voltaire

Ficus wiandi cutting in terrapotta pot and perliteFicus wiandi cuttings in terrapotta pot and perlite

I have put the pots and cuttings inside of tight sealed, clear plastic bags - to keep the moisture in the inorganic "soil" and around the leaves. I placed them in a location where it gets lots of very bright but indirect light. I am currently waiting for the cuttings to root.

"Setting goals is the first step in turning the invisible into visible" Anthony Robbins

Ficus wiandi cutting in plastic bag

A newly plants will drop some leaves... but only because they are adjusting to the new environment so there is no need to worry about it.
Tips about watering routines during rooting period: Brown leaf tips / falling leaves indicate under-watering while yellow tips indicate over-watering.

Here is my plan:
I'll leave them for 4-6 weeks and once a week I'll open the bag to water and to allow some fresh air in.  After these weeks of patience I'll open gradually and remove the plastic bags - by then the cuttings should have roots and be able to survive on their owns. My small Ficus Wiandi plants have just taken the first step ...

"Have a bias toward action - let's see something happen now. You can break the big plan into small steps and take the first step right away." Indira Gandhi

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Accent Plants in Oyster Shells

Oyster and snail shells collecting becomes like rock collecting, there’s always one more coming into your collection once you start. There are lots of shells around, and I gathered many of them with pleasure in my walking on the beach. I like the jagged outline of the oyster shells and the spirals of snail shells, is fascinating to compare them... I never found two identical.

Accent plants in oyster shells

I'm using them in miniature gardens and small green eco-arrangements to bring into the viewer's soul a bit of serenity and the mirage of the ocean.

For special occasions (as Thanksgiving Day) I bought some giant shells, more specials, and I made nice centerpieces to decorate Thanksgiving's table.

Seashell with snail shell and accent plants on round rock
Last weekend I made some new arrangements to decorate our friend's office for a product presentation.

Seashells with accent plants on Grey rock
Seashell with accent plants on miniature mountain

 The tables were arranged in a circle and the space was quite limited, so we realized small eco-compositions with shells and rocks to transform the room into a  productive and inspiring space.

Seashell with accent plants

Oyster shell with accent plants on calcite rock

Oyster shell with accent plants on a piece of bark

In the Art of Kusamono usually a plant composition includes potted plants and flowers in unique ceramic pots or trays...
I did these arrangements with unique shells (natural trays) and accent plants combined with moss, grass, small rocks, kind of dreamy "micro-gardens" with succulent plants as Sedum Rubrotinctum, Sedum Angelina and Hens and Chicks: Sempervivum Tectorum / Sempervivum Macedonicum.

Oyster shell with succulent plants on calcite rock
Oyster shell with succulent plants on rock table display

To enhance their natural look, we used as display stands few of our rocks and pieces of wood / bark.

Oyster shell with succulent plants on crystalline calcite rock

Oyster shell with succulent plants on a piece of wood

 Hope you like them too.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Ficus Wiandi, air-purifying bonsai

Ficus or "Fig trees" or "figs" are native throughout the warmer parts of Asia, Africa, America and Australia. It is an evergreen genus of  hundreds of species of woody trees, shrubs and vines in the family Moraceae. Some better known species are the Common Fig (Ficus Carica); The Sycamore Fig (Ficus Sycomorus); the Weeping Fig (Ficus Benjamina); Indian Rubber Plant (Ficus Elastica);   the Creeping Fig (Ficus Pumila), the Indian Banyan (Ficus Bengalensis); the Chinese Banyan and the Sandpaper Fig from Australia.

 Ficus Wiandi bonsai - air-purifying bonsai

Fig trees have influenced human cultures through religious traditions:
  • In the Book of Genesis in the Bible, Adam and Eve clad themselves with fig leaves when they saw that they were naked,  after eating the "forbidden fruit" from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, his leaf being well-known in iconography.
  • Buddha sat under a Sacred Fig (Ficus Religiosa) when meditated and found enlightenment, so this tree is associated with Buddhism
  • The Indian fig tree, Ficus Bengalensis, is the National Tree of India,  named also "the "World Tree" of Hinduism.
 Ficus Wiandi semi-cascade bonsai

The fig has been grown also for food (some species of fig are edible) and for practical uses: fibres for ropes and cloth, bark for paper, and the wood for internal construction or to make mummy caskets in the Ancient Egipt (it contains the latex).

My excuse to buy some ficus trees and keep them indoor (they are definitely indoor plants for my area) is that I love bonsai, of course.

Ficus bonsai
Let me tell you how the things went...
The first one I bought was a Ficus Benjamina very suitable for my living room; in a spot with some shade, protected by cold.
After few weeks, after it has accustomed to the light, I started the process to transform the Ficus tree in a small bonsai following" Shakan" (slanting) style and for this, first I was drastically pruned it. Then I partially defoliated it (its leaves are still  big for a bonsai)  and I wired slightly 2 branches.
Between the two big rocks and with pebbles in the pot looks like a tree on a hill.

 Ficus Wiandi semi-cascade bonsai

Later I came across a Ficus Wiandi, which is a Ficus Benjamina cultivar with smaller leaves. It is a new cultivar and "brother" with Ficus Rianne (very popular in Europe), both of them having nice bonsai characteristics, with zig-zag branches between inter-nodes, with a free-form growth pattern, often turning at right angles.
‘Ficus Wiandi’ has very low light and humidity requirements as compared to those of other ficus cultivars and looks very decorative in any home or office.
Exotic Ficus Wiandi semi-cascade bonsai

Because the Ficus Wiandi is slightly horizontally dominant and with smaller leaves, I decide to train my plants in "Kengai / Cascade" and "Han-Kengai / Semi-cascade" bonsai styles.

 Ficus Wiandi cascade bonsaiI planted the smaller plant in a big pot in order to develop its roots (Nebari) and I hope to achieve a "Fukinagashi / windswept" bonsai. Very carefully I anchored its main branches ... believe me they snap off very easy ... without any warning.

 Ficus Wiandi windsept bonsai Ficus Wiandi windsept bonsai in training

I've also learned that they clean the air and help reducing the indoor toxins: Weeping Fig (Ficus Benjamina) and Indian Rubber Plant (Ficus Elastica) are identified as powerful air-cleaning plants in the NASA Clean Air Study, used to eliminate significant amounts of formaldehyde.

 Ficus Wiandi - exotic indoor bonsai

In one of my previous posts I wrote about my pelargoniums bonsai "Edible, fragrant, very useful, showy, flowering, drought resistant, little care and very forgiving... what else do you want from your bonsai ?!"

Well, I have to add a new feature to an indoor bonsai : Air Purifying  ... now I just need to figure out how to hybridize a Scented Pelargonium with a Ficus Wiandi ... perhaps THE PERFECT BONSAI ?!


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