Are Sunflowers Nerdy?

Sunflowers are one of the species that originated in North America. They were probably one of the first cultivated crops by Native Americans around 1000 B.C.E. Europeans took the sunflowers around the world during 1500 C.E. Otherwise called helianthus, are adored for the bright and cheery disposition, also a food source to bees, squirrels, birds, and humans. They are the great inspiration to the impressionist painters, especially Vincent Van Gogh. Have spent hours staring at Philadelphia Museum of Art. Later bought a stained glass replica from the gift shop. In 2013, read that they are wilting and out of whim painted one.

Sunflowers Painting

Sunflowers Painting

I can never get enough of sunflowers. When this spring arrived, I sowed and it bloomed.

In My Garden

In My Garden

I finally understood why I’m fascinated with sunflowers. Did you know that sunflowers has a perfect geometry based on Fibonacci sequence? Golden Angle in geometry is the smaller of the angle created by sectioning the circumference of the circle according to the golden ratio – that is if their ratio is the same as the ratio of their sum to the larger of the two quantities:

a+b        a
—–   =  —
a            b

This theory plays a significant role in phyllotaxis – the arrangement of leaves on a stem. The most notable golden angle is the angle that separates the florets on a sunflower. They are just as nerdy as I can get.

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Native Gardening and Biodiversity

Biodiversity is not just reserved for national/state parks. Home gardens can enhance the much needed biodiversity in the cities and suburbs. Native plants are indigenous to a given area – developed or occurred naturally in the area and existed along with other life forms in the environment. Starting from European Settlers to every other country in the world has brought different species of plants that are now commonly referred as “exotics” or “ornamentals”. Some of these species may become invasive damaging the local habitat. These plants also do not support the local wildlife from bees, butterflies, caterpillars, to animals high up in food chain. Hence it could possibly undermine biodiversity. Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, PA states that about 106 are extinct and marked 228 as endangered plants in the commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

Home gardens that have manicured lawns and colorful ornamental shrubs and flowers may look lush and inviting, but they are do not have nutrition for insects and birds. Environmental studies have shown the positive impact of native plants on the biodiversity in suburban landscapes. Advantages of going native gardening is that since they evolved here, it is easy to take care of them once they are established. They easily adopt to local soil, requires less or no fertilizers, less watering, and help with pollination services.

Take charge and plant native. There are several resources to know more. First find the list of plants native to your region and then look out for nurseries that sell nursery propagated native plants. Do not collect the plants from wild as you would disrupt a very delicate ecosystem. We don’t have a big yard but wanted to do our part and got our plants from The Schuylkill Center last Saturday. Here are my favorites:

New York Ironweed

New England Aster

Poppy Mallows

Black-Eyed Susan

Poppy Mallow

Poppy Mallow

Black-Eyed Susan

Black-Eyed Susan

New England Aster

New England Aster

New York Ironweed

New York Ironweed

Looking forward for colorful summer and fall this year!

My Most Beautiful Masterpiece

One of the famous quotes from Claude Monet is “My garden is my most beautiful masterpiece”. Here is mine. My mother had a great garden while growing up in the most amazing mountains of Western Ghats, Kodaikanal in India. She had beans, carrots, tomatoes, spinach, cabbage, potatoes, and about a million rose plants. Life took us to the busiest cities in the world – Chennai, and Bangalore. My mother moved on to container gardening. I’m grateful for the small yard in the traditional row houses of Philly as I moved in with my husband after wedding. As much as I love snow, I was waiting for spring. I had my stock of indoor container plants long before that – Golden Pothos, Chinese Money Tree, Lucky Bamboo, succulents that I picked up in Philadelphia Flower Show 2015, and the Key Lime and Valencia Orange dwarf trees as a Valentine’s Day gift from my husband 😉

I started with the Garden Tenders training by PHS in March of this year as I really want to understand gardening from northeastern to tropical style. They also gave me some seeds to start – I picked up broccoli, spinach, onions – all organic ones. My style is organic and self-sustaining. It took me a while to start gardening as I got busy with the kitchen remodeling and started on first week of May, slowly digging working next to my husband. It was back breaking but at the same time loads of fun too. I bought the $1 stepping stones from Dollar Tree to mark the boundary for the garden. I also got some cute decoration as they say bright shiny objects ward off birds. Stuck plastic cutleries to shoo neighborhood cats. Planted the seeds from PHS Garden Tenders and added strawberry patch, blueberry bushes in containers. Moved my container trees out to bask in the bright sunlight and gentle spring showers. There are some valuable lessons learnt from internet too – citrus peels and moth ball in plastic containers with holes will deter cats from using my evergreen shrubs as their bathroom. I took the “shiny objects” lesson seriously – got the Slinky Wheels for $1, put some metallic streamers to avoid birds, later added balloons learning and improvising as I go – spending frugally at the same time ecofriendly measures to grow garden. Here is my masterpiece.

Garden

Garden

Vegetables

Vegetables

Fenugreek

Fenugreek and Green Chili

Containers

Key Lime, Valencia Orange, Bluberries

Bless

Bless this Garden

Couple

Cute Frog Couple

“Every day I discover more and more beautiful things. It’s enough to drive one mad. I have such a desire to do everything, my head is bursting with it.” ― Claude Monet