Tuesday, November 11, 2008



Poppies, the symbol of remembrance for fallen soldiers, were very rare in Flanders prior to World War I.
However the anguished earth of Flanders flowed suddenly red with the blood coloured poppy ‘popaver rhoeas’ among the bodies of slain soldiers of World War I .

During the tremendous bombardments of the war the chalk soils of Flanders became very rich in lime from rubble, allowing ‘popaver rhoeas’ to thrive.

Then, when the fields lay quiet and the death and destruction was over, the earth stopped bleeding its red poppies for the dead. The disturbed lime had been quickly absorbed, and so the poppies had disappeared again.

In Flanders Fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved, and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch, be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields

This poem was written by a Canadian - John McCrae, a doctor and teacher, who served in WW1.

One of McCrae's closest friends was killed in the fighting and buried in a makeshift grave with a simple wooden cross. Wild poppies were already beginning to bloom between the crosses marking the many graves. Unable to help his friend or any of the others who had died, John McCrae gave them a voice through his poem. It was the second last poem he was to write.

One of the things I find endearing about McCrae is that he sent his young nieces and nephews letters supposedly written by his horse Bonfire that he took to war and he signed those letters with a hoof print.

In part because of the poem's popularity, the poppy was adopted as the Flower of Remembrance for the war dead of Britain, France, the United States, Canada and other Commonwealth countries.

The Poppy Pin Designed for
The Royal Canadian Legion
Date: November, 1921

According to the Royal Canadian Legion, “The centre of the Lapel Poppy was originally black but was changed to green more than twenty years ago to represent the green fields of France. In 2002, the centre was changed back to black to reflect the actual colours of the Poppies in Flanders a red flower with a black centre. It is intended that the black centre will remain as the standard for the production of all future Poppy material.”


"Each November, millions of poppies blossom in Canada. They blossom on the jackets, dresses and hats of nearly half the Canadian population and they have blossomed over 80 years, since 1921. The poppy is the symbol that individuals use to show that they remember those who were killed in the wars and peacekeeping operations that Canada has been involved"

-The Royal Canadian Legion

Monday, November 3, 2008

Obama To Be President of Canada

Barack Obama wants to be President of Canada?

Barack Obama wants to be President of Canada or Canada wants Barack Obama for its own President and forget the Prime Minister? Or Canada wants Barack Obama for President of the USA (very presumptious of us)? Or Barack Obama wants Vancouver Island to be part of America? I have no idea why we have this billboard in Victoria - maybe someone is just all very excited about the election - I know I am.

Obama & Madonna & Shauna

I know our island dips its toe south of the 49th parallel and I am bully for Obama (I bought the T-Shirt) but what is with the Obama for President Billboard on our town's Canadian highway?

The Annexation Movement of November (but it was in 1864)

We have strict anti billboard signs and there is only one small area where billboards are permitted. And for over 8 months there has been the Obama for President billboard, in fact there were actually 2 Obama billboards up in that limited piece of billboard real estate.

Not since 1864 has Victoria considered a US President for its leader. That was when US Consul Allen Francis, hmmm spied is perhaps too strong a word for it, but he secretively took notes in Victoria and reported back to President Ulyses S. Grant we (Victorians) were ripe for annexation to America. In November 1869 he gathered a petition signed by ...
"...40 prominent businessmen"...The petition is very strongly worded, setting forth with much force and cognency of reason, the isolated and helpless condition of the colony." It seemed a folly to remain united to distant England, when British Columbia is sandwiched between Washington Territory and Alaska (purchased from Russia 2 years earlier).
Annexation of Victoria British Columbia to the USA?

Needless to say Allen Frances miss-read the mood of the Vancouver Island folks and no action was taken by Grant who said that he had "considered the petition with great interest." I think President Grant was just being polite about giving dullsville pretty little Victoria any thought , because after the dizzy Gold Rush days, Victoria had settled back into being the fuddy duddy dull place that it pretty much has always been - hence its nickname "the town of newly wed and the nearly dead".

My Beautiful Neice -The Future President Maizy with President Clinton

We do get a lot of American visitors and a lot of Canadians love Obama (not like the "Bush Is A Moron" blurted out by Canadian politicians years ago) so maybe the billboards are to remind US visitors to elect Obama? I do know it is all very exciting and I look forward to watching the election November 4th. America always seems so much more exciting like Marsha Brady to the Jan Brady of Canada. I mean please let me know, America, if you have any Stephen Dion for Prime Minister billboards in your home town.

* * *

PS. Laurel thanks for your kind comment and interest in seeing the peektures of pumpkin.
nefaeria of http://nefaeriaofetsy.blogspot.com/said...That crow pumpkin turned out NICE! It would be awesome if you posted some peektures of it ;)
Laurel - October 30, 2008 4:59 AM
Here they are...

Monday, October 20, 2008

Michael and Susan Free Sexy Tree - The Bodice Ripper

The Bodice Ripper

If you see your name, the words "sex" or "free" you are compelled to stay and read a blog. This is according to a study about Internet readers' eye movements I read in a magazine at the Dentist's office. I guess it worked because it caught my eye (but only after the "Eat Chocolate To Lose 20lbs by Christmas" headline).

Scorched Beauty

I don't know about you, BUT, if I saw my name with the words free sex printed anywhere I would be alarmed; change my name to Mary; RUN not walk to hide at the nearest nunnery (which is actually within convenient running distance from The Garden Brae). However, it got me to thinking about the adage 'sex sells" and if that concept is applied to the garden business?

Early Garden Brae Header Prototype

To that end I created a titillating innuendo banner for The Garden Brae, but it made me uncomfortable .
..Right, said Fred, "My [banner 's] too sexy for my [blog] too sexy for my [blog] So sexy it hurts "...
So, instead, I went with the I'm- a -fairy -in -my -garden tongue in cheek thing instead, which I am still not completely comfortable with. I really wanted a banner of sophisticated, minimalist chic - but the frou-frou kept creeping back in to it. Just couldn't make the sleek and chic happen for some reason.

Arbutus are beautiful, sensual, trees. Inflamed, fiery red curves jutting out of smooth pale skin

Flowing, abundant auburn curls that coil away to reveal beautiful, cool skin begging to be touched

Oberon in the Arbutus Grove

Mysterious bulges and crevices. Contours covered in rough and ragged bark that peels to reveal a softly curved limb (Diana Gabaldon eat your heart out)

Arbutus shed their leaves in summer and their bark in autumn

Some people don't like having to rake up after the Arbutus. Too bad for them because in many districts the trees and saplings are protected by law from being cut down. Arbutus is the only native broadleaved evergreen tree in Canada. It is restricted to a narrow band along the south coast near the ocean. They are often found on exposed rocky bluffs overlooking the ocean. The Pacific Madrone (Arbutus menziesii), is a species of arbutus found on the west coast of North America and primarily in British Columbia on Vancouver Island.

Arbutus menziesii

Oh yeah who are Michael and Susan? Maybe they are you right now because they are amongst the most popular baby-boomer names in North America and you saw your names and read this post? Then, hey, that magazine article was right after all! If so, where did my husband hide the Halloween chocolate ... I am on my way to losing 20lbs by Christmas.

ETA (Edited To Add) 22OCT2008: Bred from the bosom of a demure mamma I posted this blog with a blush and a hesitant finger. It is reassuringly wonderous fine to receive such great comments of smarts, fun and wit including that of Kanak Hagjer of Assam India aka Terra Farmer who wrote...

"Ooo...the Bodice Ripper--the Stripper!
Methinks that I shall never see,
An image as sexy as your bodilicious tree!

Loved the various stages of undress--shedding, peeling, revealing...What a naughty, delightful post!"
October 21, 2008 4:39 AM

Monday, October 13, 2008

Roamin' In The Gloamin'

Oberon is a Roamin' in the Gloamin'

Roamin' in the gloamin' wi' ma lassie by ma side,
When the sun has gone to rest, that's the time that I like best,
O, it's lovely roamin' in the gloamin'!
Lauder, Sir Harry (Hugh MacLennan)

are at a discount But there is still that awkward question What is the gloaming And what is there in the gloaming that distinguishes it from that which is twilight merely To answer that with any hope of conveying

"...The stillness and freshness of the air the mysterious blackness of the hills the startling white flashes of the little pools looking as though they had absorbed light from somewhere and were loath to part with it.."

..."faded Gradually was darkness spreading over everything and as the darkness spread the stillness and sweetness of the gloaming made itself felt.

faded Gradually was darkness spreading over everything and as the darkness spread the stillness and sweetness of the gloaming made itself felt The stillness and freshness of the air the mysterious blackness of the hills the startling white flashes of the little pools in the moors looking as though they had absorbed light from somewhere and were loth to part with it the faintly reflected colours of the fading sky given back by the burns and streamlets which crossed my path the whispering of the reeds and long grass the great grey boulders looming here and there through the dark heather and bracken boulders behind which at that hour one could not help believing that Kelpies and Pixies were hiding and might dart out at any moment for some Tam o

Oh, to be out roamin' in the gloamin'

Happy Thanksgiving Canada!

Amongst the hundredfold things to be thankful for this Thanksgiving is that my lassie Oberon is on the mend and in 3 more months, after being on limited off-leash exercise, she will be finally back to her full activity metal plates, pins, screws and all.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

The Under Sea Worldness of Chihuly-like Pumpkinery

Cucurbita Female Pumpkin Flower

The strange, fluid, other-worldliness of the pumpkin patch looks far more like it belongs under the sea than under my kitchen window

Sea Anemone or Landlubber Flower?

The flowing openess of the flowers. The languid look of the large petals. The coiling tendrils. It is all very, very fluid.

Ready to Swirl and Sway In the Ocean?

These are more like plants I would see on a scuba dive - ready to swirl and sway in an ocean current - than plants exposed on a dry, rocky outcrop.

No Elvis Here, Just Ringo

Some people see Elvis; others see fractals; I see sea anemones. The garden sets off free association imagery like dominoes knocking one image down against another image of experiences and pop culture, (and now add to it blogs,) in my head. In the days of hodden grey, the church and nature provided imagery stimulus so folks saw the Madonna in the tree bark. Nowadays of mass media culture people see Elvis in a gherkin or an Octopus's garden in a pumpkin patch.

...Or , how about Chihuly...

Picture of Chihuly's Persians - Photo credit unknown

Dale Chihuly is an artist whose glass sculptures - the Persians series - drift through the other-world of my pumpkin crevasse. No, I haven't eaten Datura, but I have blown glass .

Pumpkin Visions Come From My Blowing Glass...Not From My Eating Datura

Every time I look at the pumpkins I am stunned with images of Chihuly's Persians I have seen in Victoria, Seattle, Las Vegas, galleries and museums. See fer yerself - thar ain't no denyin' it...


Godly Gourd - The Good Pumpkin - Served At The First Thanksgiving
Canada we have Thanksgiving in October Whilst Our American Neighbours in November

The Garden Brae pumpkin patch is actually more of a pumpkin crevasse. Pumpkins need a sunny, well-drained site. I planted mine in a crevasse on a hot, rocky outcrop and left them to fend for themselves. Nope, I didn't get involved in their sex life either. I left the male and female flowers to co-mingle with whatever bee - go- betweens that happened upon them.

And yet, with this neglect, they still graciously rewarded me with the beauty of their special world! Because of their location up on the rock and the sun shining through them I had a wonderful vantage of being below them looking up into their pumpkin realm, almost like I was floating through them. I feel kinda guilty though ....

Terry and Lisa (my sisters) Portraits in Pumpkin

The pumpkin abuse isn't over yet...in a couple of weeks they will go under the knife for pies and for my pumpkin art!

* * *
Genius Loci thought: Pumpkins are kin to the spirit of the place. They thrived against the odds and settled in to the natural beauty of the landscape. Next year they get care, attention, and a wee bit of coaxing in their sex life.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Infamous Datura: The Plant of Zombies and Angels

Datura metel

Fragrant, beautiful and deadly the Datura sits in a pot on my porch. I don't trust it. I am suspicious about a plant known as Devil's Trumpet or Zombie Cucumber. Then again, would garden nurseries sell it if it really is the magic potion of evil it is trumpeted to be?

Datura in a pot with a gargoyle statue
Datura sits in a pot on my porch. I don't trust it.

datura in a pot with a gargoyle
Datura also known as Angels Trumpet

A waft of my Datura's fragrance is both beautiful and disgusting. Sometimes I like its heavy, mysterious scent hanging in the air. Other times I find the scent cloying, smothering and nauseating.

Datura also known as Thorn Apple

True, the Datura is beautiful with its unusual "thorn apple" fruits and its trumpet flowers of swirls and ruffles. But, frankly, I am often repulsed by its morbid weirdness and avoid looking at it.

The Sinister History of The Datura

The history of the Datura as
deadly narcotic,
zombie food,
shaman's potion,
witches brew,
are well documented.

One of its many common names,
Jimson weed
is because of its recorded crazy effect
on British soldiers in Jamestown, Virginia in 1676.

A plant that can both compel and repel me - very interesting - gotta love it. But I still don't trust it. So the Datura sits on the porch in a pot guarded by a gargoyle where I can keep my eye on it.

Solanaceae Datura metel - BEWARE