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Pardon Me, Is This My Best Side?

The setting sun backlights the European praying mantis, Mantis religiosa, perched on a passionflower vine. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

She's easy to find. A European praying mantis, Mantis religiosa,  hangs out in our passionflower vine, Passiflora, the host plant of the Gulf...

Posted on Thursday, September 21, 2017 at 4:16 PM

The Book Corner: The Good Garden

There are so many vibrant and inspiring gardening books for children or the child in each of us.

One that captured my imagination is: “The Good Garden: How One Family Went from Hunger to Having Enough”.

“The Good Garden is written by Katie Smith Milway with  illustrations by Sylvie Daugneault.  Interestly, Ms. Smith first wrote a biography of Honduran farmer and trainer, Don Elias Sanchez.  Then, to hear her describe it, she “transplanted” his story into the wonderful children's book, “The Good Garden”.  Based on real-life happenings, Smith's inspiring book tells of a poor Honduran farm family and their young daughter, Maria.  The family is barely subsisting until one day a new teacher comes to Maria's school.  He shows her class how to develop sustainable farming practices that can give them good crop yields which can change their lives. Maria and her family employ these techniques and Maria even begins growing a cash crop, radishes—bringing in money for the family.

This is a wonderfully written book with sumptuous illustrations. It' s more than a children's book about gardening.  It's a book about showing children, (and all of us!), how we can take local action in our own communities to make a positive change while solving a universal problem.  It also is a powerful but gentle window on the world of world hunger and food scarcity that presents these realities without preaching to or alarming the elementary aged reader.

Another plus about this terrific volume is that it's published by “Kids Can Press” which is part of the CitizenKid Series.  This is an impressive series which simplifies global issues for elementary aged kids--giving concrete ideas for how to help and change big problems into viable, manageable  solutions.  This is a must read for all of us.

Posted on Thursday, September 21, 2017 at 11:25 AM

Bee-ing All You Can Be and See and Do

A native bee, Anthophora urbana, buzzes over a tropical milkweed. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

What a weekend for bee and gardening enthusiasts! It's a shame we all can't clone ourselves and be in two places at the same time! The 40th annual...

Selected Yellow Starthistle Treatment Options

Blooming stages

Temperatures are starting to cool down a bit, a nice reprieve from the consistently hot summer we've been having.  Maybe we'll get some rain in...

Posted on Wednesday, September 20, 2017 at 2:55 PM

Flower Power at the Asian Art Museum in San Francisco

If you're going to San Francisco 

Be sure to wear some flowers in your hair”– John Phillips (sung by Scott McKenzie)


A lovely spring night

suddenly vanished while we

viewed cherry blossoms” - Basho Matsuo


In celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Summer of Love in San Francisco, the Asian Art Museum is presenting “Flower Power,” an “original exhibition of pan-Asian artworks that reveals the powerful language of flowers across times and cultures.”  The exhibition runs through October 1, 2017, so hurry!

The Asian Art Museum describes “Flower Power” as an exhibition that “features historic and contemporary works of art from across Asia that explore the symbolic potency of botanical imagery to express universal human values.  From large-scale installations representing climate change concerns to interactive works of art promoting peace to sensory-igniting multimedia, Flower Power offers a sanctuary for contemplation and reflection.”

This all sounds so serious!  While the exhibition does indeed provide thought-provoking material and works for contemplation, the description above doesn't capture the whimsy, creativity, and beauty displayed by these works.  Creativity abounds in the contemporary installations before one even enters the main portion of the exhibition.  A visitor is invited into the museum by stepping along giant 1960's-style, Gerbera daisy-like flowers that trail along the sidewalk and inside the museum to the beginning of the exhibit.  An artist inspired by the book, “The Gift” by Lewis Hyde, focused on art as a gift by encouraging visitors to take fresh-cut Gerbera daisies to give to strangers upon departing the museum.  A fourth -generation printmaker worked with a team of volunteers to install thousands of woodblock-printed cherry blossoms on two-dimensional images of tree branches that inspires a visitor to contemplate what climate change may mean for these trees.  All this can be found in the main common areas of the museum.

Once entering into the exhibition rooms, one finds flowers gloriously depicted in all sorts of forms.  The exhibition delves in the symbolism of six significant blooms:  the lotus, plum blossom, cherry blossom, chrysanthemum, tulip, and rose.  The flowers are depicted through paintings, gilded screens, porcelains, sculptures, film, and cloth, including a fantastically embroidered kimono.  My companions and I had great fun trying to identify every type of flower found on rare porcelain bowls.  While I confess that I could not remember today which flower symbolizes what, I can remember being astonished by the beauty, variety, and cultural relevance of the flowers depicted. 

For information about the Asian Art Museum, please refer to the following website:


Posted on Wednesday, September 20, 2017 at 9:47 AM

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