Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Heartache in OZ

Earlier this month I was filled with a mixture of emotions---excitement over having our Washington family visit for a week along with fearful concern for our Australian family. Wild fires were raging in Victoria, the state where the "Pagan Dancer" and most of my family reside. As I watched US news reports and combed the Internet for more up to date reports, I prayed the winds would not shift and the brave firefighters would be able to put out the fires before they got anywhere near my uncles, aunts, and cousins. The fires were so furious and numerous, that my concern grew with each passing day. I searched maps looking to see how close the fires were to the various towns where they lived,wanting everyone to remain out of harm's way.
Fires in background
I received a photo from "Pagan Dancer" of fires burning in near Doncaster a mile from my Uncle Laurie's house in Nunawading and thankfully that was as far as they got. In 2005 Uncle Laurie had taken John & me to Healesville Wildlife Sanctuary where his daughter and her husband worked and the flames threatened nearby but thankfully spared them. The sanctuary is presently treating the animals who escaped, but are in need of care.
Kangaroos at Healesville Wildlife Sanctuary

While taking part in the Great Backyard Bird Count with my grandson and granddaughter, I was also praying for the citizens of Marysville whose town was totally destroyed by fire. The town was located in the Dandenong's that John and I visited and where wild rosellas, cockatoos and gallahs literally ate from our hands in Sherbrooke Forest. Who would want to destroy such beauty? It's inconceivable, but some of the fires had been deliberately set and now the death toll is over 200 and expected to rise as additional bodies are discovered.

Sherbrooke Forest

Feeding cockatoos and rosellas

Another cousin sent word that a magical spot of whimsical beauty Bruno's Art and Sculpture Garden was totally wiped out. Take time to be awed by what had amazed generations of visitors by clicking on the following link. While looking at these stunning photos, please say a short prayer for the brave citizens of Victoria who have suffered so much.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

New Jersey Flower Show Kicks Off Today

Today is the opening day of the seventh annual New Jersey Flower and Garden Show at the New Jersey Convention Center in Edison. The Star-Ledger has been posting a lot of interesting Jerseyana videos including one from the setup of the New Jersey Flower and Garden Show. The show runs today through Sunday.

Workers prepare for NJ flower show

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Guerrilla Gardening Takes Root in California

A while ago we posted about Guerrilla Gardening, the act of beautifying public abandoned land through gardening. Today, Carol Miller in her weekly e-newsletter for Garden Center Magazine, highlighted an article from the Los Angeles Times about a couple newly-formed LA guerrilla gardening groups.

For some reason, the story struck a nerve with me. Amid headlines of on-going economic woes and the wildfires affecting our Aussie friends and family, it was uplifting to read a story where a few dedicated green-thumbers were trying to do their part to make the world a better place. We're not advocating that people run out with trowels in hand and start tearing up any abandoned piece of land that they like, but I think we all would be better off if we stopped once in a while and thought - how can I make the world a better place?

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Great Backyard Bird Count

Let it not be said that the romance has gone out of the Gulish marriage! After reading my last post, John immediately went out and bought a new snow shovel for me---a red one at that! Other wives should be so lucky. And I have already put it to good use as the 1-2" predicted snowfall turned out to be 4-5" here at Pittsgrove Farms.

After clearing the driveway, it was time to refill the bird feeders which reminded me that February 13-16, marks the date of the Great Backyard Bird Count. Details on the website explain how you can take part in helping in the effort to track bird populations throughout the USA. The count is made possible through a cooperative effort between Audubon and Cornell Lab of Ornithology. The web site will also direct you to other sites with fun activities for kids and for expanding your own bird knowledge.

I will happily have two of my very favorite assistants with me for the first half of the count since our grand son and grand daughter will be with us for a week. They are already great naturalists, attend the Point Defiance Zoo in Tacoma on an almost weekly basis, feed the birds, and keep their squirrel buddy, Linus, in constant peanut supply.

I have recently received phone calls and emails asking about iris and peony plants that we will have for sale in the spring, so I know all of you plant lovers are anxious for winter to be over to enable you to trade your snow shovels for garden trowels. Let the bird count distract you for a few days and who knows---you may even see a robin!

Get those pads and pencils ready, and binoculars if you have them, although they won't really be needed since the count is as simple as looking out the window from the cozy confines of your home. Oh, and don't forget to put out some bird seed!