30 July 2010

a fourth street zinnia parade.

in zinnia-speak (it is all about the speak !), i have been bugging my friend brian with the sly camera to join me on an escapade to photograph these gush-happy zinna on fourth street. but to no avail ! so despite my camera only doing such justice, i did snap some scenes at the strip.

i believe that the ever-showy annual known as zinnia has a sentimental heart. if you can tell, i've been listening to old she & him songs, before zooey lost her zeal. these blooms will hopefully never be heaps on any floor, or sidewalk.

see flowers every day. be happier then than you'd be without eye scoping them. we all need more pinches of the happy-happy in our lives.

with petals well worth glimpsing, these perking types are very easy to grow, i've noticed. so if you haven't tried them out yet, consider them for next late spring.

( a jokester haiku about this fruity-hued type of bloom )

 apricot prom dress
puffed from 1982--
your slip is showing.

29 July 2010

bamboula limited pushes the go green button.

Bamboula Limited pushes the go green button
By Jennifer Hetrick
Kutztown’s one-of-a-kind shop, Bamboula Limited, sells a stock of African hand-crafted fair trade home accessories and gifts, many of which are sustainably made in the vein of the now go green era.

Bamboula Limited president and owner Jasperdean Kobes served as a volunteer teacher in Ethiopia with the Peace Corp in the 1960s, always having felt curious about the continent of Africa as a child.

In 1989, Kobes bought Bamboula Limited from its previous owner, an American woman whose French husband wanted to retire to his home country.
Until 2000, the company operated out of New York City, but Kobes relocated the storefront to 164 West Walnut Street in Kutztown, as the move made sense due to her husband teaching psychology at Kutztown University.

Kobes explained that the woman who owned Bamboula Limited before her described the name of the company as a Bantu word for celebration, although she has also heard other possibilities for meanings, including an African drum or a big rain.

( These brightly colored toys are crafted out of recycled flip flops 
that wash up along the shore along Kenya's coastal line. )

 Bamboula Limited is geared toward wholesale buyers with its warehouse stock, but Kobes sells to a retail audience as well during the week.

In the early days of running Bamboula Limited, phone connections were not at their best, so Kobes placed her orders by telegram and then fax.

She estimates that she has traveled to Africa 35 to 40 times in the past two decades, visiting the artisans and their families to purchase their traditionally inspired utilitarian goods with the fair trade ethic in mind.

Many of the artisans Kobes buys from have no other means of income, which makes her support especially vital, then transferring the hand of global assistance to those who purchase what she sells at her Kutztown shop.

In her trips to Ghana, Kenya, Mali, Tanzania, and Uganda, Kobes sifts through masses of handmade goods until she finds ones she thinks will best suit the Bamboula style.

( Bamboula Limited's bags and totes are made from straw, sisal 
fiber, or bananafiber as sustainably used material. Recycled glass 
is used in bracelets as beads and in other home accessories. )

“Baskets are a really big category, and it’s because they’re all made out of natural fibers—they’re renewable, eco-friendly fibers,” Kobes said.  “There’s a lot more consciousness on the part of buyers to get products that are made out of sustainable materials.”

( Sisal fiber totes are sustainably constructed, very multi-purpose, 
and support artisansin one of five different African countries, 
 when purchased. Photo courtesy of Bamboula Limited. )

 Some of the sustainably made baskets she carries will be in Martha Stewart Living Magazine’s September issue.

“In Ghana, there's a tradition of making glass beads,” Kobes said. “They're used for jewelry, but we worked with the glassmakers and developed a line home accessories using recycled glass with metal.”


 ( Shown above is the process of making recycled glass - the glass comes from bottles, 
broken window panes, etc.  It is put into clay molds that are in the shape of the glass 
pieces being made.  The molds are then put into oven so that the glass pieces in the mold 
fuse together into the desired glass shape. Photos courtesy of Bamboula Limited. )

 "Our overall objective is to sell products that are contemporary and useful in people's homes,” Kobes added.

Ten years ago, Kobes sold many items made out of wood, such as candle holders, trays, and picture frames.

But today, she said Bamboula Limited carries hardly anything wooden, instead transitioning into filling her storefront and warehouse with artisans’ work made out of mostly sustainable and eco-friendly materials.

Handbags and totes are another popular green seller, as the movement to stop using plastic bags is leading to people taking reusable bags grocery shopping, to farmers’ markets, or as to use as purses.

“The green movement is very critical because of problems in the environment,” Kobes concluded. “People are becoming more conscious of not harming the environment by what they’re buying.”
( also published in the print and online editions of the kutztown area patriot.)

27 July 2010

orange cosmos and the cosmos.

this sky scene is from several weeks ago, above the parking lot of a shoe store and an office supply store in pottstown. but of course, i cropped those buildings out because the sky had enough to say on its own away from human constructions creeping along the ground.

and what a juxtposition.

this is an orange cosmos i planted from seed many months ago. it's the only one that popped up. maybe i didn't sow many of these seeds in the planter. it's hard to remember back then. but my neighbors also grew some from seed, and theirs are quiet boastful on their front porch, so i promised to snapperoo those up sometime because they are well deserving of some camera time.

i hope it's not coincidental that what's beyond our sky and the name of this flower share the same name.

26 July 2010

poetry & what keeps the doctor away.

a better perspiring

through sweeps of heat
the apple speaks

in sweat and green, as the student 
of gravity or the pull of clenched fingers

snapping a branch 
back with a pluck.

bending its way at light, singing through
the hardened lace of its stem--

the apple curves 
in the slow and unseen 

choreography of its own thin skin, knitting
a quiet phonetics into the memory 

and feel 
of the wood 
it left behind.


25 July 2010

raw milk dairy unique to rural berks county.

some notes. i probably should have posted this long ago. i wrote one story about wholesome dairy farms for bctv.org last fall, but the edits to the copy in its online version were ones i found very disappointing, with my voice leeched out of it. so to give it some life in its original form and to throw some education out there, here is my first and intended version of the story.


Raw milk dairy unique to rural Berks County
By Jennifer Hetrick

Raw milk is making a name for itself in today’s world as an increasingly consumed dairy product valued for its many benefits which are not always evident in the pasteurized, homogenized gallons of milk sold in chain grocery stores.

Berks County became the home of a raw milk dairy in the early months of 2008. In Douglassville, farmer Mark Lopez operates Wholesome Dairy Farms with the help of five employees. The first milking on the farm took place April 15 just two years ago.

Before moving back to Pennsylvania, Lopez ran a veterinary practice for dairy cows in Texas. He graduated from the University of Pennsylvania in 2003 with his degree in veterinary medicine.

Lopez’ Ayrshire cows and young stock graze on 90 of the farm’s acres, with ten of those acres new to the cows this year, Lopez said.

These Ayrshire cows, a breed from Scotland distinguished for their higher cheese yield, are grass-fed, with the original animals coming from farms in Berks and Montgomery Counties as well Central Pennsylvania.

The Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture places strict regulations on raw milk dairies, requiring a license and mandating that such farms have their milk tested bimonthly for bacteria. Raw milk dairy farmers must pay for this independent lab testing out of pocket, Lopez said. Each cow’s health must also be checked annually.

“By law, they allow me 10 coliforms (bacteria) per milliliter in the milk,” Lopez said. “My tests consistently come back with less than one—so none detectable.”

Lopez proudly acknowledged his raw milk’s absent bacteria count, while he said pasteurized milk usually has coliform levels per milliliter in the 100s; but such high levels are widely accepted in mass-produced milk because of the pasteurization process.

As stated in the 2008 PowerPoint Presentation ‘A Campaign for Real Milk’ by the Weston A. Price Foundation, “Milk’s anti-microbial properties have been detailed only recently, but the destruction of protective properties was recognized as early as 1938 in studies showing that raw milk did not support the growth of a wide range of pathogens.”

In accordance with the Price Foundation’s view, Rikki Caroll, who resides in New England and is a prominent figure in cheese making, said on her instructional website, “Unfortunately, one of the downsides to pasteurization is that fresh milk naturally contains healthy bacteria which inhibit the growth of undesirable and dangerous organisms.”

“Without these friendly bacteria, pasteurized milk is actually more susceptible to contamination,” Carroll stated.

“With [most] pasteurized milk, you’re getting milk that has cooked manure in it,” Lopez said. “Everything’s been killed, but it’s still cooked manure.”

“Now, if you have an irresponsible raw milk producer who is unscrupulous and isn’t meticulous, I think that can be dangerous—I’ll be the first to admit that,” Lopez said.

In many states, raw milk production is illegal, which makes Pennsylvania unique in allowing more choices for its residents with milk purchasing options.

Throughout the national health community, a serious resistance exists in supporting the idea of consuming raw milk.

Lopez said that the reason he thinks major health organizations are in opposition to raw milk consumption is because of a lacking safety net. “I do have a safety net—the relationship that I have with my customers.”

“They come in with their families,” Lopez said. “There’s a trust; there’s a relationship that’s established there, and that’s a safety net—what we have together.”

“They [major health entities against raw milk consumption] can have their perspective, but I’m grateful that they allow me to do what I’m doing,” Lopez said.

Lopez noted that since opening his dairy, he has never once heard of any instances of customers becoming sick from drinking his raw milk.

“A healthy cow on a good diet is going to make the highest quality milk,” Lopez said, elaborating that a comfortable cow that is not stressed out, in good overall health, and feels at ease in a clean environment is more likely to milk without difficulty.

The cows are milked twice per day, Lopez said, with the machines connected to them for no more than five minutes per milking.

Beforehand, the cows undergo udder prep. This is a process of cleaning the teats in an iodine-based teat dip which has detergent and skin conditioners in it, Lopez said.

“You want the teat skin to be supple, soft, and smooth,” Lopez said. “If you get overly dried teat skin, you can get flaking, and it’s uncomfortable for the cows.” Of course, cows in distress can lead to complications during the milking process, so comfort is essential.

Lopez uses a milking machine which sits under a regulated air vacuum. The milk travels into a stainless steel pipe and runs by gravity into a bulk tank where it is chilled to approximately 36 degrees Fahrenheit. It remains there until it is containerized and stocked in the milk store’s fridge.

The cows’ udders are then treated once more with the cleansing and moisturizing teat dip.

According to Denise Mullinax, Assistant Director of the California Dairy Quality Assurance Program at  the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences at UC Davis in ‘Evaluating Concentrated Teat Dip,’ “Teat dipping post-milking helps to decrease bacterial invasion of the teat-end as cows return to outside corrals and freestalls.”

“The opponents of raw milk say the safest thing is to get pasteurized milk,” Lopez said. “ It’s a shame that they take that view because I say the safest way to protect yourself from getting a foodborne disease from your milk, if you get your milk from a place where the cows are kept clean and they’re cared for, and they’re milked in a meticulously clean way—that’s the safest way.”

“Start with a clean cow, and then clean and healthy milk, as opposed to taking manure filled milk and then cooking the manure in the milk,” Lopez said. “You need to start with the source.”

With limited widespread research on the health and wellness advantages of raw milk from grass-fed cows, Lopez said that there is evidence suggesting that it maintains higher concentrations of linoleic acids (CLAs), which are thought to be anti-carcinogenic.

“I can’t tell you how many times I’ll get people who tell me, ‘I was lactose intolerant, but I can drink your milk,’ and I have to tell them, ‘Hey, there’s lactose in there,’” Lopez said.

“Customers tell me that it lasts two and even three weeks in their refrigerator,” Lopez said, “and that’s because of initial low bacteria counts.”

“I believe our society needs to take a large step toward knowing our farmers on a more personal level,” said one of Lopez’ regular customers, Dane Miller of Reading. “These people provide life, and their product quality is tremendous.”

“If consumers are educated and understand food production, they can make a sound decision on their food consumption,” Miller added.

Carol Wise of Birdsboro, who learned about Wholesome Dairy Farms from her neighbor, said she knew of a woman whose baby could not and would not drink regular milk. “When introduced to raw milk, the baby loved and consumed it regularly without ill effects,” Wise said.

“I found that raw whole milk (from grass-fed cows) contains more vitamins and minerals and is better absorbed by the human body,” said Jody Hulber who lives just outside of Macungie and has been buying raw milk from Lopez for about a year and a half. “Buying fresh raw milk from Wholesome Dairy Farms also reinforces my belief that it’s better to buy locally, get fresh healthy food, and support small, independent farmers.”

Tracey and Jeff Lightner of Zionsville commented, “Even though milk is pasteurized, it may come from sick, unhealthy cows that never chew a blade of grass.” The couple has a family member who is lactose intolerant but loves raw milk because he can drink it without any gastrointestinal difficulties.

“There is a dairy down the road from us that will sell us raw milk, but those cows aren’t grass-fed, and we believe they may receive rBGH,” said the Lightners who drive 35 minutes one way to pick up their milk at Wholesome Dairy Farms.

“Raw milk still contains an enzyme to help the body break down lactose,” Miller said, as the process of pasteurization kills many beneficial nutrients in milk, especially milk made from grass-fed cows.

“The ignorance about real [raw] milk is astounding, both from the fear of disease and the fear of fat,” said Jerry Silberman of Douglassville who initially started drinking raw milk years ago because he wanted milk from a healthy source, knowing it was sustainably handled.

“If we follow commonsense rules of cleanliness, we don’t need to worry about high-tech chemistry to keep our food safe and our bodies healthy,” Silberman said, adding that he hopes other farmers see Lopez’ example, then following it for themselves.

Lopez participates at the Farmers’ Market at Great Valley in Malvern and the Boyertown Farmers' Market.

His raw milk is also for sale at Echo Hill Country Store in Fleetwood and at the Douglassville location of Kimberton Whole Foods.

Lopez sells his raw milk for $5 per gallon and $3.50 per half gallon. Also for sale are Manatawny Mild Cheddar and Gouda, with a Monterey Jack soon in the works. These products, along with grass-fed beef, are available in the milk store at his farm, which is located at 136 Camp Road off of Route 562 in Yellow House.

24 July 2010

kopper is king ? a blushing and boastful hibiscus.

behold, a massively petaled kopper king hibiscus tucked into my garden. this is a hardy  (for our zone 6b region, i should note) hibiscus with a dark reddish brown nearly blood-veined set of leaves. it grows to about 3 or 4 feet tall. mine is around that point already.

but unfortunately, the puffy pink petals, with the flowers themselves probably spanning at least 5 or 6 inches across, are apparently considered scrumptious by critters, as evidenced by some holes in their patchwork.

this hibiscus is grown by new jersey's centerton nursery. the man who started the nursery  and began his agricultural escpades in illinois, donald mcallister, headed a top-secret production of marijuana to produce the fiber hemp for the u.s. navy during world war ii, as the government mandated its cultivation as a rotation crop since hemp played a role in making rope.

the day lily blooms i often post are also from centerton nursery in bridgeton. 

this hibiscus' thick stalks should be cut back to about a foot off the ground or less during or before winter. since it blooms later in the season, it often looks completely dead early on in spring. but have patience because it will eventually shoot up new red-gushing growth. the first year i had mine, i thought it died, but i realized that it's just slower to join its glamor into the growing season.

23 July 2010

some rain, baby mice, buddleia, and a worthy t-shirt.

in this harshly ungiving summer of almost no precipitation and many a heatwave, this blurred sight soothed my soul for at least 15 minutes. i love rain.

two days ago, i heard the tiniest squealing in the back of the shop, set away in the dark. i thought maybe it was baby pigeons or something along those lines. but it turned out to be two baby mice. i wondered if they fell through a crack in the floorboards in the upper level of the barn.

earlier in the week, i had seen two small corn snakes zipping around in the barn and somehow managed to not scream my head off (i generally scream bloody murder (so female, damn) when i see snakes). so maybe a slithering one ate the mother. i'm not sure. so i scooped the two little furballs  up onto a shrubs catalog and took them outside. they were wrapped in wears of the dusty crevices of the barn.

i called my co-worker terry, as he always knows what to do. he suggested i put them behind the barn near the potting area under the shade of some trees. so i did that, and i broke open sunflower seed shells, giving them the seeds, and also some dried cranberries and mushy pieces of banana. the one mouse ate the seeds like a fiend, while the other wandered off.

the next day, they were both gone from the area. i know they're just babies, so i hope they somehow make it. if a bird swooped down to gobble them up, i don't want to know it !

a butterfly bush (buddleia, as noted in the subject of this post) known as the closest to red as you can find in this shrub's family of blooms is called attraction red. but it still mostly looks purple. it's just a more mauve-y purple.

and after terry left for the morning, he came back to show me his new t-shirt. i've referenced terry quite a bit in past posts. and what a shirt ! i do believe he was quite proud of it, reasonably so.

i didn't know you could legally have the word ''ass'' in the name of a business. i experienced some brain wrinkling on that one !

22 July 2010

a brief spin of a tour of the garden center: part 7.

not yet shown here before now is at last a partial view of the barn at the garden center. it dates back to 1811 and has some beautiful, small stretch of stained glass at the front by the road, but this is the back view.

i believe this coneflower has been planted by now. good for it ! i love the prickly-soft way their middles feel. scope out that little antenna-ed one on the underside of the flower !

mountain fire pieris japonica needs a bit of shade but speak well of their familial seeming relation to the flame.

bumble bees were all a'buzz at the vitex last week.

tiger swallowtail butterflies always remind me of my mother.

liatris is such a pleasantly hairy perennial. it almost paints hairy as a positive adjective, briefly.

this chesapeake crablegs daylily looks so similar to a wild tiger lily that i'm almost surprised it was bred. its edges are a bit more scalloped though.

i believe i discussed duckweed in an earlier post. it's a surface-growing plant that spreads as a lime green wildfire in pond settings, creating surface vegetation very quickly, if that's your goal, or even if it's not.

i'm always surprised but delighted about how close these guys let me get to them for a good snapperoo before they hop their way into the nearby water.

and this is probably the last daylily i'll have the good fortune to show off, from our new jersey grown supply leftover since last year. it's called apache war dance.

until next time !

21 July 2010

sheron faye is growing up !

nestled in a sweep of hills in yellow house is wholesome dairy farms, which i've noted before. the farmer and his team of helpers raise ayrshire cows for raw milk and cheese production and also just because they love these social butterflies of creatures.

lopez kindly offered to name a newborn calf for me last fall after i wrote a story about his dairy. i requested sheron faye in memory of my incredibly missed momma. despite the way her parents took her for granted and wiped her good heart out of their life in the early 1970s before i was born, i'm glad, and i think she was too, that they chose to switch out the first vowel in her name with an 'e' for the usual 'a' the name involves.

i last saw sheron faye in october, and sadly, she was not doing well and barely clung to life, with the other cows bullying her and not letting her get to their food and water supply very easily or fairly. in a post about douglassville's kimberton whole foods last month or so, i included a picture of me with sheron faye from that time.

the pro-organics grocery store right down the street from the dairy carries lopez' raw milk in its refrigerated section. 

left, sheron faye is curious for the camera next to her buddy roxy, otherwise known as roxy star.

sheron faye has grown so much since i saw her last fall. what a sweet girl she is.

sometimes i wonder what my mom's response would be to learn that following her own time on earth, i had a cow named after her. her cousin peggy, a sprightly 80-something, quick-lipped former clemmer, let her words jump and bounce around across the phone line when i first told her about the then-calf. i guess she thought my mom would not be a fan of the name re-giving. but i have a feeling that it would instigate a smile out of her, and that's one thing i miss most about her-- the smiles she could offer to her children and the grand-kids. so the cow end of it is all good with me.

19 July 2010

a tomato-set of words from february, now with in season visuals.

Tomato Coveter, Nouveau 
by Jennifer Hetrick

For 23 years, I firmly avoided letting my tongue touch the taut, sun-kissed red skin and gush-filled bite that is a tomato.

I hesitated, my taste buds recoiling when my mother held a salted half-slice of the cherry variety in her fingers only inches away from my face.

We sat at the kitchen table, with her telling me, “Try it! Just try it.”

Although our picky eating habits often overlapped, she had an avid fondness for tomatoes while I simply did not. Once or twice, I licked the wet and soft-seeded layer of a cut piece of the quasi-fruit, the vined vegetable. But the flavor did not suit me as a child, and I felt helpless to keep my distance, never allowing one to grace my plate.

My mother’s main meal, while out to dinner, generally consisted of a cheeseburger and fries. No other toppings—no lettuce, onions, pickles, mustard, or sauces. But she would nod her head yes in asking for a tomato to take a seat between the bun and the rest of the business. No ketchup either.  I volunteered for the role of ketchup dipper when the fries needed eating.

Throughout her entire life, my mother also refused to eat pizza because her first episode with it involved a mean case of trickery. In the early 1940s, before pizza had taken the U.S. fully by storm, her neighbors invited her to their house for one of her favorite sweets—cherry pie. Little did she know that in fact, something called pizza was the culprit fooling her in that initial chomp. The neighbors buzzed with laughter while her young face squirmed in pure dislike.

Me, I do eat pizza, but only if the sauce is not too heavy or reminiscent of sugar.

In the past few years, I raised tomatoes in my modest townhome garden, outlined in a c-shaped paver wall with the soil sloping down at one side to meet the blotchy grass of my backyard. I’d stretch the hose as far as I could toward each wriggling stem, spraying water to the roots from a short distance.

Some days, I’d come home from work, noticing the wilting demeanor the leaves had taken on in my absence, and I knew I was a bad plant-mother. Water does much for a quick reprieve though in scenes of vanity and the green.

As the seasons passed, with each new summer greeting the market pack of nine tomatoes I’d bring home, and the stalks reaching skyward almost as tall as me, I began to envy the idea of what it must like to enjoy such an aesthetic, ripe vegetable. They looked as if they’d taste nothing short of phenomenal. With caution, I licked yet another slice of tomato again but felt nothing.

I wanted to be able to say what I’d grown was delicious. But instead, I tried to just be grateful that I was at least evolving toward admiring tomatoes somewhat from a previous perch of nadda.

At the age of 24, I tried again. It began with caprese at an Italian restaurant. I dared to absorb the mingling essences of my endeared mozzarella (the words “cheese” and “no” do not occur in my voiced sentences), cuts of basil, drizzles of olive oil or balsamic vinaigrette, and slice after slice of rounded tomatoes. But this time, my taste buds whirled.

Success—the flavor of something as basic as a tomato finally made sense to me with gratitude due to the taste-thick combination of that fresh, earthy dish.  This kind of relief is practically impossible to appreciate unless you can deem yourself a picky eater from birth.

Soon, it will be four years since my mother ate her last tomato. It will be four years since the earth pulled her away from us and into an imperfect powder form via a crematorium owned by Ruggiero Funeral Home on Collegeville’s main street.

I hate that they burned her.

I feel guilty when I look into a black kitchen pot on my stove, seeing that I’ve burned the skin of tomatoes in my attempts at crafting a basil-fresh soup during the crisp and chilled days of the last season she knew before she signed into the hospital, not making her final exit on foot.

But life is about burning sometimes, and if not that, then tomatoes.

I can’t tell her that I now eat the one vegetable she loved so much while she pinched facial expressions at most vitamin-rich greens. Nonetheless, I feel better knowing I do, with how much she craved them weekly despite the fussy nature of her palate. How ecstatic I become knowing my rarely devoured cheeseburgers will don cuts of a single tomato is something I can only hope she senses in the glee of my shifting palate, bite by new bite.

17 July 2010

what's that growing in your mulch ?

moldy mulch ? fungus ? mushrooms ? what ?!?

every few weeks, a customer calls the garden center to complain that we sold them faulty mulch. not so. less than a minute's investment in just thinking logically about what mulch is, and giving science some credit, leads to making sense of understanding how and why you might just have some spots of moldy or oddly growth-filled mulch.
mulch is aged, rotting wood. it's decaying material, if you think about it. so especially when we have sudden spells of moisture (by which i mean rain--wonderful rain !), and it gathers in flowerbed areas where the drainage isn't especially efficient, such episodes of higher ick factors are more likely.

these natural occurrences can make themselves known in any mulch from any supplier, keep in mind. i believe that certain types of recycled, shredded, and aged wood might be more susceptible to these growths than others, but i'm not well-learned about any specifics beyond that.

to teach people about the real deal behind mulch mold and more, i usually show them a copy of a brochure published by the penn state college of agricultural sciences cooperative extension.

the brochure identifies the main kinds of molds, mushrooms, and fungus that can spur into mulch beds, complemented with a few visuals, of course. people seem to calm down a bit in their huffing and puffing when they see this university-associated literature about the issues.

the only copy i had of the brochure, until recently, was one from 1997, very weathered and beaten. i contacted the university's publications department and learned that an updated version came out in 2009, so i ordered that. they will only send one free copy to a pennslyvania resident. after that, you pay per copy.

i don't believe this exact literature is online, and my cropped pages on display here may be a bit difficult to read. if you would like the originally scanned files, for easier reading, let me know and i can e-mail those to anyone who is interested.

but at least by the photographs, if you have these growths culturing in your landscape, you know they're common and can learn more about them.

the brochure's content mostly explains that the mold, fungus, and mushrooms are short-lived and will eventually decompose on their own. instead of finding them repulsive, you're supposed to appreciate the beauty in their existence, especially in that most of them are not harmful to your landscape. if you can't stand to look at them though, it's suggested that you scoop them up and dispose of them.

unfortunately, one damaging breed here is artillery fungus. they shoot of little spores that often stick to siding, cars, or any other objects around the mulch, and it's very difficult to remove them, especially without leaving a stain. the brochure's only remedy for dealing with this problem is prevention by adding mushroom soil to blend with your mulch.

if by chance you come across this and know anyone who has complained about these little sights popping up in their flowerbeds,  pass it on !

14 July 2010

three non-blind amphibian-types.

i swear-- they had this planned.


mother and daughter create sanctuary for reflection.

Mother and daughter create sanctuary for reflection
By Jennifer Hetrick

Tucked away in a rural sweep off of Detweiler Road in Upper Pottsgrove Township is Beaufort’s Run Sanctuary.

Five years ago, Barb Shontz decided to cultivate a portion of her property into a nature-oriented setting that could be appreciated by any members of the community who ventured to it.

Since 2001, after she lost her beloved standard poodle Beaufort to cancer very suddenly, she wanted to create something positive in his memory.
The idea finally came to her when she read about healing gardens in Birds & Blooms Magazine.

“We all suffer losses, whether human or animal, and our spirit is broken,” Shontz said. “We need a place to retreat where there is peace and solace—a place to go to have our questions answered.”

 ( A view of the a part of the trail at Beaufort's Run Sanctuary. Photograph by Sue Hughes. )

“We need to go into the woods where we can bond with nature and try to understand the meaning of it all,” Shontz said.

( Beaufort's Run Sanctuary is a certified wildlife habitat through 
the National Wildlife Federation. Photograph by Sue Hughes. )

 ( A small patch of Fern growing at Beaufort's Run Sanctuary. Photograph by Sue Hughes. )

A main component of the project Shontz said she hopes will benefit the community is inviting them to plant healing gardens for past loved ones or for dirt and earth healing efforts in general, especially for those who don’t have space for such meaningful landscapes outside of their own homes.

Shontz’ property sits on 10 acres, with the trail of Beaufort’s Run Sanctuary circling around her yard. 

 ( Beaufort's Run Sanctuary's trail is approximately half a mile long. Photograph by Sue Hughes. )

Much of the physical labor of developing the sanctuary has been accomplished by Shontz’ daughter Sue Hughes, an East Coventry Township resident.

In spring and fall, Hughes spends about five hours a day, three days a week, working on the trail and gardens.

“There has to be connection with a bigger picture,” Hughes said, “and I think nature provides that.”

( In fall, Beaufort's Run Sanctuary is ablaze in leaves turning colors 
before they drop from trees. Photograph by Sue Hughes. )

 The sanctuary is brimming with many native plants, including the recent addition of American Ginseng.

Eagle Scouts helped to build benches and birdhouses, and neighbors have donated plants.
“We’re planting meadows, and I want a pond eventually,” Shontz said, adding that they are always grateful for assistance from any individuals or groups who value what this type of setting has to offer to the community.

Shontz and Hughes are pursuing non-profit status for Beaufort’s Run Sanctuary so that it can be a more direct benefit to members of the community, especially children.

Hughes said she is largely interested in using the elements of the trail as a way to educate homeschooled children about ecology, the natural environment, and forest stewardship.

Mentioning a term first recognized in 2005, Nature Deficit Disorder, Hughes readily advocates getting children outside and away from the monotony of technology today.

Two years in a row, My Little Chickadee Bird Store in Douglassville sponsored a spring bird walk at the sanctuary, led by Vince Smith of the Valley Forge Audubon Society.

The bird walks were limited in how many could take the tours, as too many people on foot would discourage the winged ones from staying nearby.

( A White Breasted Nuthatch photographed by Sue Hughes' son Eric. ) 

 The woodchip-made trail has already become well traveled by people bringing their dogs for walks and others who are searching for the geocache, or a hidden container on the property.

According to www.geocaching.com, this hip new hobby “is a high-tech treasure hunting game played throughout the world by adventure seekers equipped with GPS devices.”

Hughes said when she placed the geocache along the trail in 2008, the number of visitors to the sanctuary multiplied, with several geocachers from surrounding states.

“I don’t know of anything else like it in our area,” Hughes said about the sanctuary, noting the personal nature of it as one of its unique attributes.

“Nature is beautiful, important, and relaxing,” Hughes said. “Sometimes you can turn off your cell phone or iPod and really experience peace.”

Visit Beaufort’s Run Sanctuary online at www.beaufortsrun.com.

( also online at the community connection and in its print edition. )

13 July 2010

canon rebel, i pine for you !

amidst some pounding rays of sunshine heavy with heat, my friend brian stopped in at the garden center (we call it the gahdens) yesterday to let me test out his canon rebel, a camera which he has known for months that i desperately want. but with its ouch-like price tag, i'm just not sure if it's in the cards for me to own it any time soon.

he also recently purchased a new lens which is specifically geared toward capturing effective close-ups.

when i am some percentage more wealthy, perhaps i'll have the luxury of this crave-worthy piece of equipment for scooping up the most alluring cuts of scenes on my days.

oh trucks.