Monday, June 16, 2008

Why do we do this?

Some times you wonder why you do things. I don't oftne wonder why we have gardendwellers FARM. At the FARM I can be anything - a child, a caretaker, a healer, a mother, an explorer, and adventurer or a teacher. In the garden I can be relaxed. I can be stressed, if I want to and I let the weeds get the better of me. I can be creative, imaginative, and knowledgable. I can even be stupid if I want to. There are times the garden teaches me things. Many things.

A week ago I was weeding (oh really, aren't I always weeding?) and as I weeded I was thinking about a particularly troublesome situation that I had been in . I was taking my anger out on the weeds, which in itself is good therapy, but it wasn't helping much. I felt myself getting more and more agitated the more I thought about the problem. Then, out of nowhere I was showered with light pink petals falling from the sky. I looked up just in time to see the flowering crab beside the garden send another shower of feather light petals my way. Just a breeze at the right time of senescence in a flowers life? Yes, most likely. But I got the message - let go. I had to let go of the problem and move on. I get it. The rest of the weeding was quite pleasurable.

Tonight as I was weeding - again - I was wondering why we are organic. It would be so much easier on me if we used chemicals to do the weeding for us. The beds would look much cleaner - not to mention my fingernails would too. As I weeded along the row of parsley filled with ash seedlings, grass, and lambsquarters, I noticed someone watching me.

This is what I saw. Mr. Toad had made his home right under the young parsley plants and was quite happy just waiting for his next meal. Maybe a tasty bug of fly.

Then I got the message again - we are organic because it is good for our gardendwellers. It is good for the toads, frogs, birds, bees and others that live here and share our garden with us. It is their home too and they don't want it contaminated. I got it.

These are only two of the lessons I've learned in the garden and if I just take the time to listen, my garden schools me on many things every time I enter it. I just need to 'get it'.

Come out and play with us in the garden -- see what lesson it has for you.

Monday, June 09, 2008

Places to go, People to see

This past weekend was a busy one for us. Barry and my mother stayed at the FARM and hosted the spouses of the ND Fire Fighters who were attending the annual convention in Devils Lake. They all had a great time even though it is early in our season and the weeds are still high and the crops just starting to poke through the ground. Just goes to show there's always something to do here. The ladies were a little short on time - so many things to do in this area - so Barry didn't even get to tell them about our 'You Learn' center, the vending machine where you can purchase self guided tour maps, projects, histories, and other great things to do on the farm.

While Barry and Mom led the tour at home, I was up at the International Peace Gardens helping with their Gardening Boot Camp. Since 1923, the International Peace Garden has been a unique tribute to the peace and friendship between the people of Canada and the USA. The Cairn in the Peace Garden states, "To G_d in his glory, we two nations dedicate this garden and pledge ourselves that as long as men shall live we will not take up arms against each other."

When I arrived Doug Hevenor, the Director there, was leading the group through the gardens explaining the many changes that are to come in the next couple years. I'd really like to commend all the folks at the gardens for the work they do. The upcoming seasons will be difficult ones. The maintenance at the gardens has been neglected for many years. The neglect came from a lack of funds, not a lack of caring. That's one thing I know about all of the workers up there, they care VERY deeply about the gardens. Time and the elements have taken their toll on the parts of the garden we all love the most - the formal gardens and pools. Doug is doing his best to find funding to make the major renovations and repairs necessary to bring the gardens back to its glory but finding money is no easy task. Once the funding is in place, the destruction and construction will begin and that's not easy either. The gardens will be under construction for a couple years at least. This means the view of the formal gardens will not be the same for a while - but that's a GOOD thing. It will be fun to watch the progress and being interpretive gardens, this gives the folks at the International Peace Gardens a chance to talk about renovation of a garden, how to fix what time and temp will do, what types of maintenance and preventative measures will be needed as they move forward and also preservation of some of the most valuable and important historic parts of the gardens. It will be a great time to tell the story of the gardens, the great people and plants that have come before and how it will be preserved for the future. I think it is very important for visitors to understand what is going on. If you do not understand you could go to the gardens and be disappointed because it doesn't have that finished regal look you are used to - but if you go understanding that they are trying to set the stage for the future and tell the story of what deer, moose, and mother nature can do to a garden you will be more appreciative of the work they do.

Speaking of work - all of the grounds and buildings get maintained by a very small staff on a limited budget. The young people I met this weekend that work at the gardens have no formal training in horticulture but they are doing a bang up job and working their little hearts out. Let's give them a big thanks when you visit.

With gas prices the way they are - and looks like they will stay that way - it's time to stay home - home in ND I mean - and visit some of our own treasures. The International Peace Gardens are one of America's finest spots. Even without the gardens, the Peace Chapel, the Peace Poles, the Peace Tower, the 9-11 Memorial Site, the Game Warden Museum, Masonic Auditorium, Historic Civilian Conservation Corps Lodge and the many other spots to see at the garden will make for a great vacation spot. If you haven't been there, GO NOW. If it's been a while since you've been there, you owe it to yourself to GO NOW. If you're not from ND and have never heard of the IPG - learn about it and plan it as part of your vacation. It's well worth the trip. Check it out at:

PS - you do need to show your credentials when coming back from the gardens so please remember to take your passport OR your drivers license and birth certificate with you.

Monday, June 02, 2008

History Lessons

History lessons come in all types. This past week we had to remove an old elm tree from the FARM. Since we did not have equipment large enough to remove the tree, we asked the Mayor, Paul Christensen, to use the city equipment to remove it for us. He gladly came and toppled the big old girl. It took a few words of encouragement (?) and some patience on his part but she fell with a mighty thud. By the time Barry and I got over to where the tree had fallen, Paul was counting the rings to guess the tree's age. The tree was about 107 years old.

This summer Churchs Ferry will celebrate its 125th Anniversary on June 27th and 28th. That means this elm had to have been one of the first inhabitants of the city. It's sad when you see something that has lived so long be taken out by such a little bug. Dutch Elm Disease has destroyed so many trees in North Dakota and has been devastating to many of our community forests. Unfortunately we are now facing the same with Ash trees as the Emerald Ash Borer works its way ever closer to our ND borders.

I'm sure this tree was home to many birds, had many children playing in and around its branches and gave shade for many picnics and outdoor activities. I like to imagine its history - and it will be fun to hear about the rest of Churchs Ferry history as we celebrate this month. Won't you come and join us in our celebration? Watch our web site for a posting of events. We'd love to share it with you.

See you June 27th and 28th!