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Friday, July 29, 2005

Photo Friday (Vol. XX*XVI) [black thumb edition]

I can hear you thinking: 'Black Thumb'...  doesn't he mean 'Green Thumb'?

No, actually I meant what I wrote.  Both Zahava and I seem to have a pretty poor track record for keeping things alive.  If the nurses in the maternity wards had seen our garden, I seriously doubt that they would have allowed us to bring our children home!

Never-the-less... our next door neighbors (the ones we like) have an incredible garden with flowers and herbs providing a lush border for a manicured lawn.  Granted they have a professional gardener come in once a week to primp and fuss over the already stunning arrangement of greenery, but still we end up looking like bad neighbors with our spotty lawn and poorly trimmed trees.

A few weeks ago I stopped and picked up some ceramic flower pots and planters that Zahava had been asking for.  I also picked up some soil to fill them.  But they sat and sat... poor things.  We just couldn't find an opportunity to go to the neighborhood mashtela (nursery) for plants and flowers to fill them.

Until this week. 

My father-in-law was nice enough to give us a gift earmarked specifically for stuff to plant in the yard (THANKS DAD!!!). Never ones to hesitate when it comes to putting a generous gift to use, we went right out and selected some likely victims lovely plants.

Zahava picked out a nice assortment of flowers and herbs for her planters... I'll try to provide the correct botanical names wherever possible with the close-ups:

Here are the well known yellow, purple and pink variety of flowers... the kind with green leaves:

These are some less common purple 'thingie' flowers... with different shaped leaves:

More of the Yellow and Purple flowers:


If you look on the left side of this next picture you can see the rare 'wagering flower'... so called because one can wager money on what color it will be if it lives long enough to actually blossom.  True story!


This next picture shows some of the more useful herbs Zahava picked out.  The tall one on the left is the very us useful 'Julep plant'... which gets its name from the popular Mint Julep to which it lends its minty flavor!  The two plants on the right are the versatile 'Pesto plant'... whose leaves will hopefully find their way into many a batch of my famous Pesto sauce  Yum!!! Oh... there are some purple and pink flowers in with the Julep.


For my choices I went with stuff you can actually eat, as opposed to stuff that simply adds flavor.  I chose a nice lemon tree (so I will be able to make my own Limoncello) This is a 4-year old tree that already has fruit on it!:

And here are some grape vines (I am going to plant those in west turdistan this afternoon) that will hopefully one day give us some nice green seedless table grapes:

All this digging, planting, carrying and other labor-intensive stuff was back-breaking work.  It was a hot day to do all this, but we didn't have much choice... it was the only day our slave laborer hired hand was available:

I'm afraid to make any predictions about the long-term health and welfare of this, the latest installment of doomed foliage beautiful plants in our lives.  But to improve the odds I'm installing some drip irrigation for all of the plants, trees and vines this week. This should at least make the watering relatively idiot-proof...  although there is always an idiot ready and willing to rise to any challenge.

Shabbat Shalom!

Posted by David Bogner on July 29, 2005 | Permalink


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Ah, how wonderful to get out in the garden and get some dirt under your fingernails. My in-laws' vines (in Yavne) give so many juicy grapes they don't know what to do with them, even after the kids come by to take bags of them home.
By the way, those nice flowers in the second and fourth pics, I think they are "Loa HaAri", you can press them (gently) and the "mouth" opens and you can make them talk... hours of fun for the whole family...

Posted by: Naomi | Jul 29, 2005 2:15:52 PM

::: yawn ::::: yard work, plants, different types of flowers...

More pics of the 'hired hand', please?!

Posted by: val | Jul 29, 2005 2:31:17 PM

Beautiful David, but try not to ‘victimize’ those lovely plants in that heat.
The ‘old’ chap reminds me of my days, I utilized the homemade drip bottle system and had to change the bottles every week for the WHOLE neighborhood, I was the neighborhood ‘gardener’ – in it for the quick buck, obviously.
In one of my flowerbed escapades, normally after school, we (I had a co-gardener) ran out of manure (cow dung) and since the dairy farm we got the manure from was miles away, my fellow ‘gardener’ suggested we get an alternative for this source of manure that had been used throughout the centuries, being the ‘ed edd n eddy’ of our time we resulted to using dog pooh – we figured the resultant effect would be the same. There were many dogs in the neighborhood and picking the dried up pooh wasn’t a big smelly hustle, after filling a couple of flowerbeds with this readily available source of ‘manure’ we put in the bottle drips, you can imagine what the neighborhood smelt like after sometime……the rest is History :-) …..Shabbat shalom.

Posted by: kakarizz | Jul 29, 2005 3:19:24 PM

That is one darn cute 'hired hand' you got there! Ditto to what Val said :-) I would describe the flowers in the exact same way. Love lookin' at 'em but no clue about botany at all. But how cool is it to grow actual shiv'at haminin in your own backyard! Aaaahh....yet another thing to look forward to...
Shabbat Shalom!

Posted by: Essie | Jul 29, 2005 3:39:46 PM

Thanks for the flowery language (what's a week without a "Pearl pun"?), and your botanical break-down.

I need a new gardening team -- when can the Bogner brigade sign on?

Shabbat Shalom to you all.

Posted by: Pearl | Jul 29, 2005 3:40:17 PM

I have the Thumb of Death as well. My mother only has to look in the plants' direction and they become lush and lovely. Here's hoping yours will make it, those poor things. Lucky you.

Shabbat shalom!

Posted by: Lioness | Jul 29, 2005 4:13:54 PM

Gil appears well fed and watered, so you've got that going for you. I think the purple thingy flowers are useful in basic potions class.

Shabbat shalom.

Posted by: Doctor Bean | Jul 29, 2005 4:18:08 PM

The American-ish name for the flowers that Naomi called "Loa HaAri" is snapdragon, which should go nicely with your Harry Potter phase.

Also, there is actually a species of flower called "pinks." So you'll have to rename yours something else, I'm afraid.

Posted by: Tanya | Jul 29, 2005 4:25:42 PM

Naomi... Given the number of Arab vineyards in the wadi behind our house I think the grapes will do quite well in the soil here. And yes, I know most of the real names for the plants... it just annoys my wife when I pretend not to. :-)

Val... The number for El Al reservations is in the phone book. Bring a camera. :-)

Kakarizz... You should write a book! Between your blind date story and this one I have to think it would be great!

Essie... Well, one of the 7 species anyway. The rest of the stuff growing back there are just weeds. :-)

Pearl... Other than providing repeat business to the nursery... I don't think we can come up with any references. Shabbat Shalom.

Lioness... Don't you hate that? I know people who's plants actually look happy when they walk into the room. How do they do that???

Doctor Bean... When Zahava was picking out the flowers she asked the woman working at the nursery if any of them were poisonous since we have a toddler at home. The woman said, "Oh, no... but I can't guarantee that." Nothing like covering all the bases.

Tanya... So you are a computer genius and an outdoors-y girl who knows her way around a garden? My respect for you continues to grow.

Posted by: David | Jul 29, 2005 5:02:53 PM

I know exactly how you feel David. I decided I would rather save a siginificant sum of money and mow my own lawn. It's good exercise for me. I too have a somewhat spotty lawn and I try to do my part with a spreader and fertalizer, watering it etc. You might want to consider trying to thatch your lawn next year. Good Luck, love the pics.

Posted by: Jewish Blogmiester | Jul 29, 2005 5:10:11 PM

We have a gardener but I still do a fair amount of yard work. Most of the time I enjoy it. One of the nice things about my area is that it is filled with fruit trees, such as lemons, oranges and Asian pears.

I used to have a grape vine but it did not live long and prosper. Soon I think we'll have to try it again.

Nice photos. Have a good Shabbos.

Posted by: Jack | Jul 29, 2005 6:06:38 PM

David -
I'm counting the days (oh, wait, I can't do that as I haven't been given a date as to when Ari's Bat Mitvah will be in 2006 - - HINT HINT HINT) til I can make my reservations and come on over to take my own pics, but more importantly, actually HUG & KISS those beautiful kids of yours!

Posted by: val | Jul 29, 2005 6:20:54 PM

less common purple 'thingie' flowers
that's a buddleja. Maybe it's buddleja davidii (no pun intended. there, how I always wanted to write this!)?

Yellow and Purple flowers
maybe Antirrhinum majus?

You may want to read up on buddlejas - these are bushes that grow into quite...uh, huge bushes. A plus: it attracts tons of butterflies!

Posted by: mademoiselle a. | Jul 29, 2005 6:21:22 PM

ha! I have also renamed our basil to the 'pesto' plant.
I am an Italian with a strong dislike of garlic...but oddly LOVE pesto.

Posted by: lisa | Jul 29, 2005 8:02:18 PM

If you don't have enough "work" already. Is there room on the side bar for another photo album that catalouges the slow eventual demise of the plants. Week by week we can watch the colors fade to brown. Can you be convicted of Herbicide? Are you in direct violation of "Baal Tashchit" (Biblical prohibition of 'needles waste') by interacting with G-d's green Earth.

I have personally committed plant-slaughter on almost every piece of foliage I interact with. The only htink I haven't killed is an Ivy growing im my bathroom.
Shabbat Shalom

Posted by: Daniel | Jul 29, 2005 8:06:29 PM

I knew it might happen someday. If only you'd left the gardening to Zahava and even the kids! But, no, you had to push the agricultural button and expose the ugliest aspect of the genetic heritage I have (sob) passed on to you.
As a teenager in Trumbull, you apparently were too absorbed in adolescent things to have noticed my attempts at gardening. (Actually, out of sheer laziness, I did manage to help the shrubbery around our house--by not raking the leaves from them and so providing winter mulch and springfertilization of sorts.)
I tried to blame the deer and the weeks abd the weather, but the reality of my own incompetence , though it took several years of trying, brought on the inevitable non-harvest and blight. A row of corn (in my first and best year), where 3 out of 10 stalks actually looked like corn, and which were supposed to bear 2 ears per stalk, gave me only 1 or none. The climbing green bean vines did yield a bowlful (from a row of 8 or 10 plants) (and a real gardener informed me later that you could drop bean seads on your lawn and get a few beans 8 weeks later without lifting a finger!). Carrots, that looked mammoth on the seed package, grew to 5" or less. But, I think it was the watermelon vines--with nearly a third of the whole garden to spread out in--yielding a few nasty softball-sized gourds.
No, the worst were my tomatoes. Every back yard in Trumbull had lush tomatoe vines, some near the top of their 6' and 7' stakes. From mid-August until the first frost in October, the air was frangrant with the aromas of tomato vines and their ripe fruit (these are smells to make one weep with pleasure, if they are yours). My thin, scraggly plants bore nothing, except a few green marbles in mid-September. Oh, to be honest, I did get three edible tomatoes in 5 years of trying.
When we moved to Westport, even after giving up the garden, I held on to the dream with several small barrels of good potting soil, each with its own dedicated tomato plant.
So, David, black thums are not the half of it. With the genees you inherited from me (Mom's family were all city folk who probably were never tested by the soil), the best advice I have for you, if you would avoid hopeless frustration in the garden, is simply to stand aside and watch. You remember the stories from elementary school how some kids are singers and some are listeners? You're a horticultural listener.
Good luck, plants!!!

Posted by: Delmar Bogner | Jul 29, 2005 11:54:01 PM

I know how it is. Our new house has a beautiful garden, with fig and walnut and mimosa trees, many herbs and a famous watering tree of some name or other, and I'm almost too scared to walk round it in case just looking at them makes them turn black and crispy. Luckily everything has carried on growing without my help. So far, anyway.

Posted by: Alice (in Texas) | Jul 30, 2005 12:03:13 AM

Jewish Blogmiester... 'Fertilizer... watering'? Did I mention we have a dog? :-)

Jack... Thanks... I had to chose a very sheltered spot for the Lemon tree because we are not in an area where fruit trees thrive. We have neighbors whose lemon tree seems to thrive, so we'll see. Shavuah Tov.

Val... You didn't get the invitation? I'll have to double check if you made the final cut. ;-)

Mademoiselle a. ... Huge Bushes = Bad... Butterflies + Good. Hmmmm, what to do?

Lisa... A nice pesto tip. Make a huge batch of the sauce and freeze them in ice cube trays (use trays only for this as the plastic trays will forever smell like pesto). Then whenever you want, just boil up the pasta... drain... and toss in a few pesto cubes. It seems like all my best tips lately involve ice cube trays! :-)

Daniel... I think I'll pass. But the management her at treppenwitz is always open to new suggestions, so keep those cards and letters coming!

Dad... Other than a flair for writing and an insane affinity for gadgets, is there anything useful to look forward to in my genetic inheritance? :-)

Alice in Texas... You are so lucky to have mimosa trees! I mean, how great is it to be able to go out and grab a refreshing glass of champagne and orange juice right off the tree whenever you want? :-)

Posted by: David | Jul 31, 2005 1:00:34 AM

One of my clients gave me a large black ceramic planter in a wrought iron stand as a going away gift last week. I'm sure it was not inexpensive, but such a waste on me! Heaven only knows why she thought this would be my kind of thing: my garden is a mass of weeds, and I have not a single indoor plant. There is good reason for this: I am a member of longstanding in the Black Thumb Brigade. The only things that survives my ministrations are weeds.

Anyway, I had a brainwave. We live in a semi. My neighhbour through the wall LOVES to garden, but must use all his front garden to park his car. Sooo... I gave him the planter, with the proviso that for the first year he had to fill it with something decorative and keep it on the front porch, just in case my former client were to wander by. Next year he can put it wherever he likes. He was thrilled and delighted.

Brilliant. I am brilliant.

Posted by: Mary | Jul 31, 2005 4:05:51 AM

Why "bad", David? You'll only have to replant the buddleja from the small vessel or it will die one day. Just, when the hot days are over, replant it, let's say, to somewhere at the fence, with some distance to the lemon tree. They would make good neighbours. Once the budldeija is a strong little bush [let's say another year or so], you can cut it into shape easily and keep it low and compact. Or...let it where it is and watch it die. Didn't they tell you at the nursery what plants you were buying?

p.b. once basil has blossoms, the leaves get somewhat bitter and are generally not adviced for eating [as with all herbs]. You can prolong the pre-blossom phase by clipping off all buds that start to grow. I usually force my basils to deliver tasty leaves until late summer. Evil me!

Posted by: mademoiselle a. | Jul 31, 2005 1:51:30 PM

Mary... That sounds like a perfect solution for both of you. Well done.

mademoiselle a. ... They probably did, but all I remember hearing was "lalalalalalalalal water lalalalalalala shade lalalalalalalal cash or credit?" I'm sure some of those 'lalas' were about size and placement but... [shrugs sheepishly]. Thanks for the tips... I'm much better at absorbing information when I can see it written down (and come back to it a few times to double check). :-)

Posted by: David | Jul 31, 2005 5:12:07 PM

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