Landscaping Revolution

Posted to Subscribers on 11 July 2010


Dear Subscribers,

This is a brief note to remind you of the upcoming eclipse, just a few hours away.

On a personal note, I want to speak to the environmental issues. They are, as most of you know, absolutely overwhelming. The gigantic issues such as the oil leak, chemtrails, fouling of the air and water, and so on and so forth require citizen action that brings pressure to bear on those who could put an end to non-sustainable, life-threatening, and unconscionable irresponsibility. However, on a personal level, we have some realistic options and a prayer that the hundredth monkey effect eventually kicks in so that others follow. I have not seen this yet in my neighborhood but a few friends are engaged in projects similar to my own. I have not written much about my landscaping efforts this year, partly out of mild depression. I live in the Pacific Northwest where it has been unseasonably cold. A few days ago, Gov. Gregoire sought a disaster declaration for 29 counties in Washington State.

Not being a commercial farmer, it is not apples or onions that contributed to my silence but rather deep, deep concern that we cannot play around with HAARP and other technologies without upsetting the balance of Nature. I have worked so hard to align and though I have not lost plants from last year's effort, germination was very poor this year, meaning lots of consequences when my experiences are multiplied many times over. I'm a hobbyist and not even an intense one at that. For instance, the corn I planted is for all intents and purposes doing nothing. The best of over 100 plants might be a straggly 3-4" tall, not really promising after months of watering. I bought a few plants at the farmer's market and they are maybe 14" tall, still not amazing given that fresh corn is available in the supermarket! My birds love the corn and so do I so this is a bit disappointing.

People are writing about global food shortages and runaway prices. Last Saturday, after the farmer's market, I bought 8 ears of organic corn for $5. Yesterday, it was 5 for $5. If one extrapolates data of this nature, the handwriting might already be on the wall, but what I am learning at this late age in life is that we must understand our environment and learn how to adapt to it. The notion that we rule over it is totally flawed and this is really my only message today . . . except that we ought not place ourselves in situations in which we are 100% dependent on others. In short, we must have a contingency plan that includes producing some of our own food.

I'm experimental and have little plots here and there. Later today, I will actually be harvesting some Scrophularia nodosa, the main ingredient in Seneca Elixir. This is a sort of emotional time for me because this elixir was the first historic re-creation based on the research I did for the Cancer Salves book. Dr. Eli Jones attributed 80% of his success to this formula and, while discussing the research with a marvelous herbalist, he decided to make a batch. From that moment to the first bottled products, quite a lot of time passed because he, like me years later, planted the figwort and waited for it to grow. He would call me to tell me how big the plants were and I would ask him to translate rainfall and inches to practical concerns such as, "Exactly what are you saying about our project?" The answer was always untranslatable, basically, "It depends on the weather and the growth."

This is Nature and though I have been moving into closer and closer relationship with Nature, I still have a long way to go. You recall, for instance, that I attached a little bee hotel to the side of my house. It happens to be very near the figwort and the bees have been busy on the tiny flowers for 6-7 weeks already. The truth is they haven't had many choices, but they ought to be very well nourished now and I have planted lots and lots for them even if the plants did not seem quite as practical for my personal use. It's called seva and I believe it is very important to show our appreciation to the bees in this way.

My yarrow is also doing extraordinarily well. I had many types planted, including the one usually used for medicinal purposes. It is a fascinating plant, elegant and nearly perfected on its path. What am I saying? Like people, plants have energetics. Yarrow seems to be the epitome of refined air energy so it's not surprising that it is lean, flexible, and sociable. What gives it mastery, however, is that it has longevity, resilience, and a very, very long flowering season. To get a feel for what I am trying to say in terms of the elements is that we can compare yarrow to irises or lilies or something else that grows tall and slender and flowers, but the flowers make a big showy splash and then wither, just like vata energy. Deranged vata is excitable and often colorful and stimulating but it blows its wad and fizzles. Yarrow, at least the yarrow in my garden, stayed green all winter, and now sports an amazing abundance of flowers that will last for months and months. Moreover, it transplants fairly well, meaning it is fragile but adaptable. I felt the yarrow complaining a bit about being moved around but once enough plants were grouped, the yarrow seemed happier and completely viable, not flowering yet, but I do not see any signs that survival is threatened.

For me, all these observations are important because the plants become my teachers. I will post some pictures later today. However, I need to explain a bit about what I tried to say about yarrow. Stress management requires that we are flexible enough to adjust to changes when they are chosen or seemingly imposed from without and then resilient enough to adapt to the new set of circumstances. If our roots are too deep, moving will be arduous. If we are inflexible, we might break when we try to bend. If we are curious but chaotic, we might not flourish in our new circumstances. If we love the razzle and dazzle but we can't sustain it, we burn out quickly and do not live long. What I am trying to say is that yarrow seems to be an archetypal model of the highest level of refinement combined with flexibility, beauty, and grace. The medicinal plant has flowers that are mainly white, but I have other colors growing, yellow by Tundra's grave, paprika near some statuary, and pink elsewhere. The Achillea millefolium is taller and showier but they all have the same elegant structures and flexibility.

For those who haven't studied Ayurveda, the vata energy is composed of the elements of air and ether. These have the finest molecular structure and are thus thought to be able to move through constricted channels, but there is another way of understanding this also. This is that the complexity is greater when the vibration is higher. Again, yarrow epitomizes this: the flowers are tiny but grouped, and the leafy part is as ethereal as dill but much sturdier.

The yard conversion process has taken me a long time. I really believe that young people should create "conversion" groups, 4-8 people, who can transform an entire yard in a weekend. I have been doing this without much help or time, but the front yard is two-thirds converted and the back might be nearly the same but very different. For those tuning in late, keep in mind that I was completely persuaded not just by permaculture but by Fukuoka-sensei in particular. Being "no dig", the beds are built on top of the lawn which means composting for years to make one's own soil or buying organic soil. My main help in this project is a chap named Dan. I've mentioned him before. He lives quite a distance and only manages to get here 3-4 times a year. Each time he comes, we convert a bit more, using 1-2 yards of soil in an afternoon. This has been slow but it works for me because I am learning more and more and watching the wild life. I have rabbits, squirrels, voles, moles, birds, a few snakes that have a terrifying effect on my cardiovascular system even though they are reputedly harmless. Occasionally, there are deer or a bears. More importantly, the soil has worms, lots of them, and this was never the case before. There have also been a few butterflies but I haven't managed to catch any pictures yet.

Happy eclipse!


Copyright by Ingrid Naiman 2010








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