Keeping current in wellness, in and out of the water
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Rain blessed the day with gentle showers and clean clear light
Scattered rays of sunshine breaking through clouds colored
The end of the morning, creating a mosaic on the wet grass
This momentary balance between storms is only a glimpse
Into the power of nature and the glory of timeless beauty
We have a special exhibit on loan from the New York Botanical Garden this winter. A tribute to the home, garden, and life of the famous Mexican artist, Frida Kahlo, works very well in Tucson, close to the Mexican border. I visited yesterday for the first time. The central display is a replica of a pyramid Frida had in her court yard for plants. The vibrant blue color of the walls contrasts very well with the marigolds in place for Day of the Dead. The exhibit includes a photography collection I did not see, an indoor collection detailing life in Mexico City during the lives of Diego and Frida, and the garden show. There will be educational opportunities offered for those who want to learn more about her life and times.
I have been her fan for many years, as much for her politics as for her art. I am happy to see her on tour. I met a lady at the garden with her two teen daughters from Phoenix who was visiting to teach her daughters about her. The girls were impressed with what they saw. Frida lives on as a cult figure. If you have a chance to see this very well curated exhibit I encourage you to do so. I know I will be a frequent visitor during this show.
Then Grow Down event is a competition held in the spring each year at the Tucson Botanical Gardens. This year the designers created spaces featuring native plants coordinated with metal, wood, stone, bamboo, brick, and glass. I liked all of them, but my favorite one was the most stark. The copper background wall sets off the large rain chain designed with metal bowls and colored glass sitting in the center of the garden. This installation won no prize, probably because there was no seating provided. The other two entries gave the visitor a feeling of private seating in an outdoor room. The winner has a wonderful water feature that circulates around the space creating a rushing liquid sound.
The third design used a theme of feng shui. The bamboo divider functions as a wind chime as well as a privacy veil. The seating is cozy around the artful floor with a stone compass made of rounded pebbles. This design felt the most personal to me. It won the people’s choice award.
These contests give gardeners ideas to try ourselves, and introduce us to local landscape designers we can hire when we want something special. The entries this year were less elaborate than in the past, but to my taste they were more artful. They all bring new ways to think about garden spaces that are easy to execute, and not too wildly expensive for a home gardener.
Basil is a culinary herb that has magical qualities. The different varieties add distinct flavors to dishes and drinks. You can purchase seeds for many varieties, but the most commonly used and grown is the Genovese. This very hardy herb does well in pots or in the ground. It is very tolerant of sun and thrives with minimal care. It is important to keep the flowers trimmed so the plant does not go to seed. The flowers have delicate flavor that can be used to flavor anything for which you would use the leaves. The blooms look good in cut flower arrangements, and will scent the room where they are displayed. A few common ways we see basil used are:
I love using basil in all of these traditional ways. When I find a really excellent tomato I always want to eat it with basil and fresh mozzarella. Pesto is used on everything in our house, not just for pasta. We put it on eggs, roasted veggies, potato dishes, rice, and sandwiches of all kinds. The bright green color and the bright flavor wake up any meal. I find that making a large batch with really good olive oil, roasted pine nuts, garlic and basil stores very well. I add the parmesan cheese at the time I am using it. This also allows a different proportion for each kind of use. The pesto is delicious without any cheese for those who prefer that. I have tried some really tasty cocktails that contain muddled basil for flavor. Here are some of my favorites:
That will give you some ideas to get started on your own basil concoctions to drink this summer. It is good with citrus, cucumber, and other herbs. Try a plain basil mojito to get yourself started. Basil is a prosperity herb, so you really can’t have too much of it in your food and drinks. Enjoy!
This summer the dog membership at the Tucson Botanical Gardens has been a great benefit to our family. Each Tuesday we enjoy walking early in the morning with other member dogs and their owners in a shady oasis in the middle of town.
Today is the last Tuesday of the dog membership. It rained last night, which is magical here. The garden was lovely and very fragrant for our last visit of the summer. Artemisia has always liked to eat sunflowers, which is verboten in a botanical garden, of course. As a treat and a little rule breaking on her last dog day I let her munch a couple of leaves on the bottom of a sunflower. She didn’t eat very much. She hopes to return next summer as a member dog.
The desert when it rains is a magical place full of excitement and drama. All of a sudden the sky opens; great thunder and roaring winds announce monsoon season. Color explodes while plants express gratitude for the long cool drink. We enjoy the vibrant blooming while it lasts, and pray for more rain.
Our relative freedom is under our control. We are sometimes the prisoners in our very own jail of procrastination, judgment, and something we call, running around. We often choose running around our decisions rather than making them, which, by default, makes them. If we can send armies to fight for freedom in harsh conditions what is stopping us from personally liberating ourselves to feel happy and free? Here are some places to look for or create more freedom in your life:
My garden grows more important to me all the time. Growing fruit trees and grape vines is satisfying and tricky too. We have to keep the birds and pests from consuming too many of the products. This year we are lucky with a big peach crop. They are tiny, cling peaches you can pop right into your mouth in one bite. Leaving them on the tree to ripen fully makes for a very full flavored peach. They are getting ripe this week, and I plan to get more than the birds. We are eating and sharing globe artichokes now, and starting to have ripe tomatoes. We make and drink lots of tea and flower essences. The herbs are used for baths, cooking, and tea mixtures. The Lakota squash might be a healthy crop, but it and the Jerusalem artichokes are new crops for us this season. So far, everything looks happy and healthy.