Archive for 'Spirit'
waterlilies in bloom

Flowers, Fragrance and Fruit

Posted 28 December 2012 | By | Categories: Flowers, Food, Gardening, Plants, Seagarden, Spirit | Comments Off on Flowers, Fragrance and Fruit
waterlilies in bloom

waterlilies in bloom

Reclining Buddha enjoying the scent of jasmine.

Reclining Buddha enjoying the scent of jasmine.

meyer lemon and italian parsley

meyer lemon and italian parsley

 

Discovered the blackberries were starting to ripen this evening when neighbor girls asked if they could pick some from the bramble around my yard. Still a bit tart, but delightful. Happy to have an abundance of fruit to share.

Seeds of Enlightenment

Seeds of Enlightenment

Posted 25 April 2010 | By | Categories: Plants, Seagarden, Spirit | Comments

seeds of enlightenment One morning, the reclining Buddha’s ear appeared encrusted with tiny jade stones. I thought of the Emerald Buddha in Bangkok’s Grand Palace and the Jade Buddha Temple of Shanghai. Perhaps the stone was just a veneer, cracking open to reveal its true nature, like the clay-covered gold Buddha of Wat Trimitir.

But my mind was also full of hungry caterpillars, leaf hoppers and aphids, and I assumed they were propagating animals rather than plants. What’s about to be born here?

The pods dried, revealing themselves to be seeds rather than eggs. I only needed to look up to see what they came from… the exquisite Libertia grandiflora, aka Tukauki or New Zealand Iris. I had admired its flowers in bloom and appreciate the lush tufts of strappy green leaves year round but hardly noticed the distinctive seed pods at all. Happy to be awakened to the beauty of this native New Zealand plant in all its forms.

Lotus Lessons

Posted 08 January 2010 | By | Categories: Plants, Seagarden, Spirit | Comments Off on Lotus Lessons

Lotus by David Midgley, 2008, This work is licensed under a  Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 Unported License

When collating my dream plants for Seagarden, the lotus (Nelumbo nucifera) was high on my list. With roots in the mud, stems growing up through muddy water, and exquisite fragrant blossoms emerging high above the water untouched, the lotus exemplifies purity and freedom. Heliotropic and self-fertilizing, the lotus is a sacred symbol to Hindus, treasured as one of the eight auspicious symbols in Buddhism, and also revered by the ancient Egyptians, for whom it symbolized the sun, creation and rebirth. And its seeds make a delicious sweet soup I came to love while living in Taiwan, as well as a delectable paste used in many Chinese desserts.

The lotus has inspired significant scientific discovery as well as spiritual. Wilhelm Barthlott studied the Lotus Effect, resolving in an electron microscope the nanoroughness on the leaf surface that repels everything that tries to settle on it, including water, honey, glue, dirt and even fungal spores, leaving it always dry and clean. When a drop of water rolls around it, it picks up the debris and cleans the leaf surface. Today, dozens of self-cleaning products such as paint, glass, roofing tiles, and textiles incorporate the lotus effect. This same quality is now also being used to make solar cells that absorb more energy from the sun, increasing efficiency by up to 25%.

One of the most stunning lotus ponds I’ve encountered is at the Royal Botanic Gardens in Sydney, where the images above were taken. The one just above is by Tim Entwistle, Executive Director of the Royal Botanic Trust, who blogs at Talking Plants. The top one is by David Midgley, cc 2008, who also blogs about plants at kipili.com.

As the lotus symbolizes awakening to reality, it was a bit dispiriting to face the reality that lotus plants would be most unhappy in my Wellington water garden. For though they remain untouched by most things, they cannot abide wind and and prefer warm humid temperatures. But I was heartened to discover that water lilies (Nymphaeaceae) might do well.

Water Lily A. SiebertWater Lily George H. Pringwater lily St. Louis Gold

There are two main types of water lilies, hardy and tropical, and between them over 60 varieties. I saw a yellow “Nymphaea Ray Davies,” that I could imagine belting out “Thank you for the days,” but the healthiest plants on offer seemed to be the tropical lilies. So I brought home one each of A. Siebert (pink), Mrs. Geo H. Pring (white) and St Louis Gold (yellow) from Glenbogal, whose site has good information on keeping them happy (as does Nymphaea Fidelity).

  • In this video, Janine Benyus, co-founder of the Biomimicry Institute, talks about Lotusan, self-cleaning facade paint, as an example of the how designers can use biomimicry.
  • Sarah Fain has Starfish Envy is the compelling blog of a lovely lotus chronicling her adventures in self-fertilization.
Daily Om: Healing Gardens

Daily Om: Healing Gardens

Posted 08 January 2010 | By | Categories: Art, Health, Spirit | Comments Off on Daily Om: Healing Gardens

Ganesha, Saraswati, and Jallandharnath (detail), identified here as a copy of folio 1 from the Nath Purana, attributed to Amardas, c1825; opaque watercolour and gold on paper; 47 x 123 cm. Mehrangarh Museum Trust

There are very few email newsletters I remain subscribed to for long, but after many years, the DailyOm, continues to inspire me and often surprises me in addressing an issue or theme that’s top of mind. Today’s Om, Healing Gardens, particularly resonated:

Healing Gardens
Hand in Hand with Nature

Time spent in nature’s embrace is a soothing reminder of the fact that we also are products of the natural world’s ingenuity. We feel at home in a quiet forest and are comforted by the pounding surf of the seaside. In both the sunny meadow and the shaded waterfall’s grotto, stress and tension we have long retained melts away. Finding opportunities to reconnect with nature to enjoy its healing benefits can be difficult, however. Planting and tending a garden allows us to spend time with Mother Nature in a very personal and hands-on way. We work in tandem with nature while gardening—honoring the seasons, participating in the life cycle of various organisms, experiencing the unique biorhythms of our environments, and transcending all that divides us from the natural world. As we interact with the soil, we are free to be ourselves and reflect upon meditative topics. Fresh air invigorates us, while our visceral connection to the earth grounds us.

Though you may plant a garden to grow food or herbs, or for the pleasure of seeing fresh flowers in bloom, you will likely discover that the time you spend working in your plot feels somehow more significant than many of the seemingly more important tasks you perform each day. Whether your garden can be measured in feet or is a collection of plants in pots, tending it can be a highly spiritual experience. You, by necessity, develop a closer relationship with the soil, seeds, water, and sunlight. Nurturing just a single plant means cultivating a deeper understanding of the mechanisms that permit it to thrive. A true healing garden is simply one where you feel comfortable plunging your hands into the earth, lingering over seedlings and plants to observe their growth. And yes, even caressing and talking to plants. Creating beauty through the creative use of space, and giving yourself over to awe when you realize that you have worked hand in hand with nature to give birth to som! ething, is truly wonderful.

The partnership that is formed when you collaborate with Mother Nature through gardening is wonderful in that it provides you with so many opportunities to be outdoors. You will be reminded of not only your connection to the earth but also of your unique gifts that allow you to give back to the earth.

  • The image above is a detail from Ganesha, Saraswati, and Jallandharnath, identified here as a copy of folio 1 from the Nath Purana, attributed to Amardas, c1825; opaque watercolour and gold on paper; 47 x 123 cm, part of the “Garden and Cosmos” exhibition of the royal paintings of Jodhpur organised by the Arthur M Sackler Gallery, Smithsonian Institution, in collaboration with the Mehrangarh Museum Trust, Jodhpur, currently on at the Art Gallery NSW in Sydney, Australia through 26 January 2010.
  • The related Divine Landscape self-guided walk pairs paintings in the exhibition with locations in the Royal Botanic Gardens. Their lotus pond takes my breath away each time I visit — it’s one of my favorite heavens on Earth.
  • The Oberoi Rajvilas in Jaipur, India

  • A huge inspiration for my current Seagarden is the Oberoi Rajvilas (pictured above), also from the Indian state of Rajasthan, but in Jaipur. I especially loved the flowing water throughout the property, deep blue and turquoise ceramic tiles, scent of jasmine flowers permeating the air, private bathing gardens and harmonious combination of sacred temple and secular haveli.