Glory's Garden

All the world's a garden, you know, and we are mere flowers within it. Come, I'll show you!

Don't get any funny ideas!

©2018 Glory Lennon All Rights Reserved

My Peeps!

Monday, January 31, 2011

Fixing paradise

While in Puerto Plata, we stayed at a fancy five star resort. The place was immaculate. They even swept the sand at the beach. Really, they did! But that is how you expect to find paradise, isn't it? When you think tropical island don't you think pristine?
Playa Cofresi in Puerto Plata, DR
Yeah, well, not quite.

If you are not at the resorts, you'll see that paradise ain't so pretty. There is trash everywhere, on the streets, in front of homes, along the country roads. Broken glass, empty plastic bottles, wrappers of all sorts and even juice boxes were everywhere you looked....kind of marred the beauty of the country.

We saw an attempt, feeble as it was, of clearing up some of the garbage. There were piles, half burnt along the side streets and some in front of homes. Not a pleasant sight either.

So, Tom, who always sees solutions where he finds problems, decided then that when we win a zillion dollars in a lottery (fat chance, but I let him tell me his plan anyway) he'll come back to the Dominican and set up recycling centers here. Not only would this clean up the place but it would also provide some employment opportunities to the locals. 

Killing two birds with one stone may not sound nice but it works in theory and more importantly in real life. That alone would clean up a place that should be pristine and help a group of mostly very poor people.

My only question is, why doesn't someone who does have a zillion dollars do this?

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Coffee and where it comes from

I am one of the rare people. I hate coffee, the smell and the taste of it. It's true. But as I know so many people who simply could not live without this substance, I thought I'd give you my take on it. I saw it growing on my father's property and asked about it. Well, my parents had a lot to say about the coffee plant. They would as they grow all the coffee they consume--or should I say all the coffee my father and his guests consume. My mother is strictly a tea drinker now.

Coffee plant likes the shade.
So, I spotted this lovely plant with lustrous dark green leaves and asked my mother if this was the coffee plant and sure enough it was. I recognized it from the many times I had seen coffee plants sold as house plants through garden catalogs. Now I know why. Coffee plants are rather easy to grow in indoor conditions. It prefers the shade so a sunny window isn't required. All the Coffee plant needs is a shower to keep dust off those leaves and make them as glossy and pretty as can be. Yes, you can place the entire potted plant into the shower and spray it for a bit with slightly warm water.

Coffee plants are used to high humidity as you would find in the rain forests, but they also do well in bone dry conditions. Summers are brutal in the Dominican, hot and dry. In the house environment a Coffee plant would do fine just as long as you pamper them a bit with a quick shower every once in a while.  They love that! Most plants do. Also, placing the pot on a tray of pebbles full of water will help keep humidity levels up. Just do not allow the pot to sit in water.
The coffee beans before they are ripe enough to pick
I would have loved to have seen a coffee plant in flower so I could have taken a photo of it, but I'll have to get my parents to do that for me. It may be I'm never in the Dominican when it's flowering time. I did, however, get to see the beans on the plant in various stages of ripeness. My father had only just harvested a bunch too. I should say, Paolo did the picking. He's my father's hired hand and he pretty much does everything that needs to be done on the property from planting, weeding and picking fruit to tending to fences and feeding the chickens.
Coffee beans drying in the sun
A great deal of work goes into that cup-a-joe you have every morning. First you have to grow it in just the right conditions, then pick the beans when they are ripe, then they are set out in the sun to dry. Next they are put through a contraption that strips away the outer casing, the flaky, papery part of the bean. This leaves the nut-like part or seed and again this is washed and set out in the sun to dry. Then the beans are roasted. My father uses " El Fogon" for this purpose, which looks somewhat like a barbeque pit made out of a naturally occurring white stone. It's actually rather pretty.
El fogon for roasting coffee beans
So, I asked my father how much coffee this harvest would yield. He said, "Oh, very much!"

"What? Ten, twenty or a hundred cups?" I asked.

"More, maybe two hundred!" he replied.

Tom and I grinned at each other and Tom said, "So, a week's worth for you then."

Everybody burst out laughing...even my father, who can barely go thirty minutes without a cup of very good, very strong, organically home-grown Dominican coffee.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Common names vs Botanical names

By any other name this flower is still pretty
While touring my mother's garden, I came upon a very familiar annual flower. This flower is known by many common names but as usual for me, I call it by its botanical name which is rather pretty, Cleome. Some of the common names Cleome goes by are rather amusing, Spider flower, Spider legs and Grandpa's whiskers are the ones I know of, but my mother had another. This one gave me a laugh. Betana de burro is Cleome's name according to my mom. That roughly translates to Donkey's eyelashes. What a hoot!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

No such thing as a Banana tree

It may not seem very important to most, but I dislike it when people say Banana tree. Bananas don't grow on trees. They grow on plants. I know what you'll say. "Look at the size of them! That's a tree!" Alas, no, they are not. A tree is not determined by the size. It is not just a large plant. A tree has a distinct characteristic that makes it a tree. This is bark. Bark is a rough, hard covering which any person familiar with bananas can tell you, will never be found on a banana plant. Therefore, bananas grow on plants.

Banana plants grow wild (like in DR) but are also cultivated in the home garden.
Banana plants can grow as high as thirty feet tall. They have huge leaves reaching six feet long and up to three feet wide. What is little known about the banana plant is that once they produce a bunch of bananas they usually die. Oh, no! Worry not. Most times the banana plant will send out off-shoots. These grow from the roots to grow another plant and continue on. Just remember that when you buy those tiny ornamental banana plants and actually manage to get a few bananas from it. If it dies, don't despair! The root may very well still be alive and can, with proper care produce another baby banana plant. Cool, huh?

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Banana plants

My father has several acres on which he grows all sorts of fruits and vegetables. Some, like this banana plant, was already on the property when he bought it. He has several types and they all taste ever-so-slightly different. Some are fingerlings, some full size like the ones Americans are used to seeing in the produce department and others aren't bananas at all. Plantains is what I am referring to. They look so much like bananas they are difficult to distinguish except by the expert eye. Why is this important? Because you can readily eat a banana straight off the plant (Not tree, I'll tell you about that later on in another post) but eating a raw plantain isn't recommended. It could make you ill but it most certainly doesn't taste good!

So many bananas they don't know what to do with them!
My parents are never without a banana of some sort ready to eat. They usually have so many that they often give them away, to friends, neighbors, family, to their friend who owns the local bodega and even to the chickens and turkeys! Yes, Dominican poultry love to eat bananas. Go figure!

More often than not they have too many bananas and they actually go to waste--oh the horrors! So, when I told my mom I could give her a few recipes in which to use up some of her plentiful harvest of banana, she jumped on it. I'll have to look some up and send them to her. I may even share them with you.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Finding the one true love of your life

Tom and I like to talk... to each other I mean. Don't quite recall if I've mentioned this before but it's our thing. We talk all the time but especially on long road trips. The most recent trip, down to Florida was approximately  twenty-three hours driving time with few breaks, so guess what we did? Hmm, you're not so dumb!

Yes, we talked, this time about love and the sad fact that many folks find it virtually impossible to find their one true love. Now, I'm not here to argue that there is only one perfect person for each of us. I used to believe that, but now I think there could be many suitable mates for each person, each with varying degrees of  making"the perfect couple". It is, however, the finding of a suitable person that was the topic of our discussion.
Tommy and me mere moments after saying "I do"

"Why was it so easy for us?" Tom asked.

While I'm not too certain it was very easy (we wished to be married over a year before we actually did. Explaining that would mean another story, however), but he had a good point. We found each other early on in our lives, hooked on to each other and never let go. We were only just turned eighteen when we met the first time and not quite nineteen when we really met the second time. (There's a whole other rather amusing story about that, but this one too must wait for another time) It was love almost from the start and not just any love. I call it true love if only because it's still going strong.

Was it destiny that brought us together? I think it must have been. It's a miracle we ever even met. What were the chances without heavenly intervention? I'd say slim to none. Tom was born in Brooklyn, a city boy. I was born in the most rural of rural places, a tiny pueblo called San Jose, in a whole other third world country in the Caribbean, one of the most poverty stricken ones, too. I'd say it's a miracle I survived at all and that I made it to this country! In those days, immigration was very strictly done, so that part was miraculous as well.

But there we were, exactly like the Journey song Tommy always sings to me, a city boy and a small town girl and what happens? Love. Truly, it's a miracle. Perhaps that may be why it's so difficult for some folks to find their true love, or any real love. They may not believe in miracles.
My mom and dad on their wedding day more than 48 years ago
Could it be as simple as that? Many faithful folks may think so. Others would say I've overdosed on romance and they might be right. I find romance everywhere, after all. I write romantic stories, I read romance novels, I watch romantic movies. I find romance in every flower, every leaf, every sunset. Maybe that's my problem...or is it a problem at all?

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

All you could ever want to know about palms

Anyone  who has been to Glory's Garden may already know, I am a tropical girl. So, it should not come as a surprise that I like palm trees. I mean to say, who in the world doesn't? But it was a bit of a shock that I should be contacted by someone when I posted one of my articles about palms. This person was the developer of this new blog Growing Palm Trees. He said he liked Glory's Garden and asked if I might like to contribute something to his blog. Well, I did and so did several others.
One of my father's palm trees full to bursting with nuts
If you ever needed to know something about palms, this Growing Palm Trees blog would be the place to go. Give it a look-see, why don't you? Now, you'll forgive me while I go plant a few palm nuts with the hope of having one grow into a nice house palm.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Mom's needlepoint

Always doing something, if health permits.
My mother loves her needle crafts, especially needlepoint or as she calls it, Ponto en crux. She has quite a collection of intricate examples of her work which my father sets in frames and proudly hangs on the walls of their home. Here are just a  few.

Mom has really bad, painful arthritis now which makes this activity and other fine needle crafts, for when her health permits. At least she can find comfort in the words she already set on cloth.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Fun on the farm

At first glance you might think you're seeing twins, but that is not the case. The one standing was born just a day or two before this picture was taken. The other one is a few days older.

This cow (see photo below) gave birth to only one of these calves, the one by her neck. The other one is an orphan of sorts. That is to say, that the owner of his mother sold the baby in order to keep the milk all to himself. The baby, after all would have drunk most of the milk the cow could make and that meant less money for the owner. To top off the calf's lack of value, he was born male, which means less money all together. Bulls are not where the money lies, you see. They are a dime a dozen. In a country which prefers poultry, beef is simply not in great demand. Milk, on the other hand, is and you need a cow for that,  not a bull. Yes, sad but true. An "orphan" was made strictly for the money.

Paolo, the man in the picture, is my father's hired hand. He is the owner of this cow and of course the baby she just had. He paid $1,500 pesos for the newly born "orphaned" calf. That translates roughly to $45 USD. Now Paolo has two calves but only one mama cow. He keeps them on the pasture across the street from my father's property which makes caring for them most easy and convenient. He can pop on over anytime. My pop isn't a slave driver by any means! Paolo also promised my parents all the fresh milk they wanted. Well, who could argue with that?
Paolo tempts the calf with a taste of mother's milk

So, Paolo had to entice the little orphan to accept a different mama and also hope that the mama cow wouldn't balk at the introduction of a calf she had not birthed. She didn't seem too receptive to the notion at first. She gave the new calf a curious glance but seemed to merely shrug and say, "What's one more?" Perhaps that was a bit of imagination on my part. ;-) I'm no Doctor Dolittle, after all!  The baby would not latch onto the mama cow.  He seemed to know she wasn't his mother. Eventually though, he got hungry enough that he did accept the new mama as his own. Paolo reports they are all doing fine.
daddy bull.
All except for the daddy. He didn't seem happy at all. Perhaps he wasn't getting enough attention. Alas, it is always the mama that gets all the attention! As it should be!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Craft-y of me , don't you think?

Mom seems happy with her gift
No, not that kind of crafty. I'm not bright enough to be fiendishly clever, but I am good at needle crafts. I learned from my mom, who used to make me all sorts of wearable crocheted items. There were the usual scarves, hats, and mittens but she also made skirts, dresses and vests. When my kids came along, her only grandkids, she made all sorts of things for my babies. I've still got all the baby blankets and they will stay in my possession until someone gives me a grandkid of my own!

Being my mother took the time to make all these lovely things for me, I thought I would return the favor. As I didn't have this blog thing down until recently, I couldn't show you what I made for my mom for Christmas 2008. Well, here it is, a warm and cozy sweater for my chill-prone mom in her favorite colors.

At first she said it was too pretty to wear except for very special occasions. Then she put it on and said, "Aye, que caliante!" which roughly translates to, "Oh, but it's warm!" Silly Mom!

The only problem she had with it were the sleeves. They were about six inches too long! But no worries. I simply, took the sleeves off, shortened them and reattached them. Good thing Mom's got knitting needles ready there for me to do it all while I was still in the Dominican Republic, don't you think? After the adjustment the sweater was perfect and she was very pleased. What could be better than that?

Mom models her Christmas present

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

New Year resolutions or all year long resolutions?

It is a new year and I know so many folks feel the need to make those silly new year resolutions which promptly get tossed aside as soon as they exit our consciousness. For some thats a mere week later! So, really, what the heck is the use of it?

Well, it is if you make resolutions which you can continue throughout your life, all year long instead of just for the moment. How to do this? Yes, there lies the trick!
My mother with five of her siblings. She was so happy then as always.
Only you can know what you can stick with for the entire year. As for me, my new years resolution for 2011 is pretty much the same one Ive been unconsciously doing for years and years, all year long and I dont even have to think about it. I just do it.

What could this be? Its rather simple and yet some may find it endlessly impossible. I wish to be happy and gosh-darn-it I do it. Wanna know how? By making others happy. A smile to a stranger who seems to be having a bad day, a joke to make a friend forget her misfortune for a few minutes, a tickle for Tommy when he least expects it, baking a fresh batch of cookies for a neighbor for no reason at all. All these things make me happy because for a second of two I make another person happy.

It really, truly works, at least for me. Yes, there is untold misery in the world, much of which none of us can fix too readily, but there are some things we can do to improve a tiny little portion of the world, our own domain.

Jerry Seinfeld once asked, Are you master of your domain? and to that I reply, Yes! Yes, I am mistress of the manor.

I wish the same for you. Now, what, I wonder, can I do right now to make you happy? Ill think on that for a bit, but in the meantime, heres me cyber-tickling you under the chin. ~Giggle~ 

Sunday, January 9, 2011

An odd creature indeed.

This is an odd creature who follows us about while on vacation. We like to call Justin Poolitonicus. He's rather cute when in his natural environment but when out of water, he's thoroughly grumpy and even irascible. But like I said, he's cute and I think we'll keep him.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Where am I?

Oh, it could be anywhere! I know it was this summer June (possibly) 2010 and either in North or South Carolina. I'd ask Tommy, who always knows and remembers everything! But he's not home at the moment. All I recall is that it was blazing hot, the sun so bright I could barely keep my eyes open for this one picture and it was a lovely place to walk around.  This could be Cape Fear Botanical garden in Fayetteville NC, but don't hold me to it! I can't tell for certain. Ah, but to have the memory of an elephant...or a Tommy!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Crape Myrtles

Pay no attention to the girl making the funny face. It's the trees behind and above her you should look at. Aren't they lovely? Those are a staple of the southern landscape, Crape Myrtles. Hold on and I'll tell you all about them.

How to grow Crape Myrtle

Lagerstroemia,  is the botanical name for the tall shrub or small tree, native of Asia commonly called the Crape (or Crepe) Myrtle.  This plant gets its common name from the flowers which have the crinkled appearance of crepe paper but what makes this plant particularly  outstanding for the landscape is its year-round appeal and the fact that it blooms continuously for up to six months out of the year.

A very common occurrence especially in the southeastern United States, Crape Myrtle can be seen profusely planted along highways, around many commercial buildings, predominantly displayed at botanical gardens and in virtually every home garden. And with good reason. It is a lovely sight to behold whether in or out of bloom. Its flowers coming in all shades of pink, lavender, red and white can last an astonishing length of time and if that weren’t enough it has a lovely smooth gray bark which exfoliates to reveal striking colors of pink, orange and brown. The foliage is a bright green and in the warmest places, though it is technically deciduous, may never lose them.

The Crape Myrtle can be pruned into almost any shape desired and is particularly suited to the gardening arts of espalier and  Bonsai. When young it assumes a shrub like shape with long arching branches. If carefully pruned it can be maintained this way for foundation planting or even for a hedge but for the most part it does best as a single specimen in a sunny location and allowed to assume a very attractive V-shaped multi-stemmed tree form . Some Crape Myrtle can grow upwards of 30 feet but many modern cultivars sold today are considerably smaller, some only reaching 2 -3 feet tall, perfect for the small garden with limited space.

The Japanese Crape Myrtle, L. fauriei, is cold hardy in USDA zones 7-9. This forms an upright growing tree 20-30 feet tall with very graceful arching branching and white flowers growing in 2-4 inch long clusters. The 4 inch long, 2 inch wide leaves are a light green which turn a pretty yellow in autumn. The bark is smooth and gray but as it matures it flakes away to show the glossy cinnamon colored bark underneath. This one is also resistant to mildew.

L. indica is a much showier Crape Myrtle with large clusters of blossoms in a wide range of vibrant colors. The foliage is a dark green and about half the size than of those of  the Japanese Crape Myrtle, only 1-2  inches long and not as wide. They do have a rather lovely red first-spring color which can turn a bright orange or red in autumn. The flowers are 1-2 inches wide growing in dense clusters that cover the entire plant for months and months of endless color. If left on the tree these will become green capsules in which grow the tiny seeds. When the seed pods turn brown they erupt sending the seeds any-which-way. They do not, however, become invasive.

L. speciosa, the Queen Crape Myrtle, is called this for a very good reason. It can grow as tall as 80 feet high, the leaves are 8-12 inches long and 4 inches wide and the white to purple flowers grow in clusters a whopping 16 inches long. Not as cold hardy as the others but extremely impressive looking.

Monday, January 3, 2011

The Amazing Banyon Tree

This is my Tommy, but as cute as he is he's not the reason for posting this picture. He just so happens to be standing in front of the most amazing tree ever....that I know of anyway. This is the Banyan tree, Ficus benghalensis, and this one was growing in the Marie Selby Botanical garden in Sarasota, Florida. This tree is in the Ficus family which includes the Strangler fig, another fascinating tree. But first, let's talk up this Banyan tree.

What is particularly astonishing about this tree is its never-ending desire to ensure its life continues. Each tree in the plant world starts the same, from an ordinary seed, growing into a sapling and then, if conditions are just right, a good sized tree. Eventually it will produce flowers which in turn give fruit or nuts from which the seeds come to start the process all over again. These seeds will grow into other trees if allowed to settle on fertile soil.

Now, the Banyan doesn't stop there. It does produce the flowers and fruit and seeds but it goes a step further. It will also send out air roots. Long thin strings will sprout out all over this tree. These air roots grow down from outstretched, virtually horizontal branches until they reach soil. There these strings will actually take root and start to grow thicker until they become bark covered, hard and straight just like the original trunk of the tree. The trunk of this tree, in essence, keeps getting wider as the air roots off the tree continue to reach for ground, reach it and then grow. The out stretched branches, getting extra support from all theses "extra" trunks, keep growing outward.

The tree just continues to expand outward with more trunks growing all around the original center trunk. To top it all off, Banyan trees grow darn quick too. I'm always going on about invasive vines being the killers of the plant kingdom but the Banyan comes pretty much a close second. The only thing that keeps this tree in check is its need for a warm climate in which to grow. otherwise, we'd be hacking away at these trees just for a space enough to grow vegetables and put up a house. YIKES!

The largest tree recorded resides somewhere in south Asia and is several acres wide and yes, it is only one tree. Now do you agree with my assessment that this is one heck of a fascinating tree?

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Beauty where you find it

Those of you who live in or visit the tropics often will recognize this as the papaya plant. I don't like the taste of the fruit but the plant I find so pretty that I would grow this just to look at it...if I could. Alas, Papaya doesn't grow that easily in the Pocono Mountains, so I have to see it when I go down south. Good thing I go down south two to three times a year.  You may be wondering where I took this picture. At the Marie Selby Botanical Garden in Sarasota, Florida. In another post I'll tell you all about this really lovely tropical garden. But for now, don't you just love the papaya plant? Well, I do.