Complementary Gardening – A Manifesto

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

“Osteospermum on Heliopsis” – Whitney Avenue – Wilkinsburg, PA – A selection from my garden… Summer 2013…

The common goal of gardening is harmony… Harmony with the earth… Harmony with the plants… Harmony with the animals… Harmony with ourselves… And harmony with each other… This harmony is achieved through successful (and environmentally sound) gardening practices… A gardener that is in harmony with nature, will grow a healthy garden. This garden will flourish, and as a result it will grow the gardener… The purpose of complementary gardening is to bring all aspects of the gardening movement back where they belong… Together…

The methods used are not nearly as important as the frame of mind in which they are used… Even conventional agricultural practices can be picked from when practicing complementary gardening… It is essentially a blending of the aspects of gardening and life that are important to you… Regardless of your devotion or investment to the cause… Even a few pots on a windowsill are beneficial… Practicing any type of gardening… As long as it provides you with some semblance of joy… Should be considered beneficial… When you are happy… The environment around you is also happy… And that is what gardening is about…

A garden should complement its surroundings in a way that is beneficial to all the elements of the earth… Not just the gardener… Although a garden may have physical borders, the positive effects associated with plant life span well beyond them. A garden is a sentient collection of plants, capable of not only healing itself, but healing the environment (including us) that is around it. In order for a garden to truly be considered successful, it should heal in one form or another… Not just physically… Emotionally and spiritually…

Complementary gardening is not a specific style of gardening, it is a “way of thinking” achieved through the consciences completion of a garden. By consciences, I mean simply being aware that there are connections in nature for you to find. These connections will exist regardless of the size of your garden, and regardless of your devotion to the cause. One thing that turned me off about permaculture is the general feeling that if you don’t shit in a bucket to make compost for your front yard farm, you are not worthy of the cause… It’s like they expect everyone to replace their lawns with food forests… Believe everyone has time to operate a micro-farm… And believe no-one should eat anything that casts a shadow… My beliefs are very different from this… And my writing will now reflect it…

"Buddies" - © chriscondello 2013 - Frick Park - Pittsburgh, PA - Complimentary colors... Growing in the same patch... Yet... None of them were close enough together to photograph... So I put them together...

“Buddies” – Frick Park – Pittsburgh, PA – Complimentary colors… Growing in the same patch… Yet… None of them were close enough together to photograph… So I put them together…

The goal of gardening is to benefit nature. Although we are a part of this equation, we are not the only variable to consider. In my own personal experiences, the gardeners who only talk about how much “produce” was harvested, typically are the ones who don’t have a clue what is going on around them… Unless of course it is written in their little book… In order for gardening to be a complementary activity, it needs to complement all things. Although it is perfectly acceptable to include ourselves in this equation by growing food, it is important to remember we are not the only element worthy of consideration.

Food production, should be secondary to positive energy production. What I mean by this is food production (though perfectly fine), should not overshadow the fact that gardening is intended to be fun, good for you, and good for the environment. When all a gardener is interested in is squeezing as many tomatoes as humanly possible out of a 4’x12′ raised bed, the joy is very often lost. Success is fundamental to sustainability. Constant failure, which is often the result of taking on too much work, often leads to a loss of interest… and the eventual end of the garden all together. I aim to eliminate this sentiment by promoting the gradual and responsible implementation of environmentally sound practices, in all forms of gardening, through practical implementation and easy to understand writing.

A complementary garden, is one that balances the benefits of all the elements of nature with mankind. In the past, the focus of gardening has been on production in one form or another. Vegetables were planted, and the necessary steps were taken to achieve the largest yield possible. The downside of this was that often the environment came secondary to the vegetable yield, and as a result of this, past generations commonly used chemicals as a way to boost yield… Hell… We still do this… Ornamental gardeners are no different, often going to great lengths to pack the most blooms onto their plants while spending as little as possible… And doing as little work as possible…

Speaking from personal experience… Most of the fertilizers, pesticides, herbicide, and fungicides that are available today are very unnecessary… Adding to the equation is the ridiculous amounts of “miracle products and trends” that pop up in stores and on the internet… 99% of these products are worthless… Even more worthless are the application directions that come with them… Many of these chemical products will achieve the desired results when applied in relatively tiny amounts… It is the manufacturer that pushes heavy applications as the more we apply… The more we must purchase…

BigIris

“Yellow Iris in the Morning Sun” – Spring 2013 – The Garden Table – Wilkinsburg, PA

I really don’t agree with the use of chemicals in the garden… But I understand why people do… Instead of alienating anyone from reading my blog based on their choice of fertilizer… I have decided to instead simply suggest that one research any product before using them… Although my focus will remain on organic gardening… I’m not afraid to discuss the chemical world… And I am not afraid to admit that I use miracle grow in my garden… Though I will admit that my solution is about 1/16 of their recommended application…

I also think it is important to stress that is it ok to get pissed off from time to time… And it is ok to unload in a healthy manner… The purpose of this change is to address the fact that I don’t believe we will ever accomplish the perfect world some people believe is possible… I believe we each have the ability to make small changes… And when we all make small changes, they will eventually add up to much larger ones… Where many of these sub-cultures are constantly pushing you to do more and be more involved… I’m saying do what you can… Every little bit helps… And when you feel comfortable… If you feel comfortable… Add to your toolbox and try something new…

Complementary gardening should benefit you in a way that is not intrusive on your life… Your garden should be a positive complement to the negative aspects of your life, not one of the aspects contributing to the negativity in your life. A gardener, is a gardener, is a gardener… We are all worthy… There are no bad gardeners… Regardless of method… There are differing levels of experience… But in the eyes of a plant… We are all created equal…

plant petunias and question everything – chriscondello

This website and all of the information presented within is provided free by the author… Me… It is my sole opinion and is not representative of anyone other than myself… Although this website is free… I sell prints of my photography here – www.society6.com/chriscondello – or you can contact me directly with questions at – c.condello@hotmail.com – Although it isn’t a requirement… It helps…

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Practical Permaculture – Changing Spiritual Energy Through Gardening

moonflower

“Moonflower” – © chriscondello 2011 – Whitney Avenue – Wilkinsburg, PA – A night flowering plant… Highly hallucinogenic in the right quantity… Deadly poisonous in the wrong quantity… Can be very dangerous around children… Almost always resulting in fatal consequences… But I have to say the night blooming qualities of this plant… Coupled with the sweet scent… Makes it one of the more powerful plants as far as my garden is concerned…

Allow me to trip out on a topic for a moment here… Energy… Good energy… Bad energy… Natural energy… I believe it is all around us… We all can perceive these energy fields… But most of us are in such a damn big hurry every day that we simply don’t take the time out of our day to listen… Personally… I perceive them as waves… When those waves flow together… Harmony and peace are created… But when those waves work against each other… Dissonance and strife result…

I noticed this energy as a child… But having used heroin for the better part of my adult life I only recently started feeling the waves again… About a year ago I started to notice my perception of them was getting stronger… Almost hyper aware… Sometimes physically debilitating and rarely pleasant… I was actually pulling the weeds out of an old garden located in the backyard of a hundred year old house that is now apartments… I remember getting dizzy… And then physically ill… I had goose bumps… And was absolutely positive I was coming down with some horrible sickness… Interestingly… When I walked back into the alley… The feeling went away almost immediately… I smoked a cigarette… Drank some water… And went right back to work…

Now… I’m aware that this makes me seem like a crazy man… In retrospect… Everyone thinks I’m crazy already… But the moment I walked back into that particular backyard the sickening feelings came right back… As if they never left… I could feel waves of energy colliding into each other… They were coming from every direction without a rhyme or reason… Almost incoherently… The only thing that I could comprehend from my experience in that moment was that something really bad had happened on that property… Or something really bad was going to happen on the property… Either way… I left immediately…

The entire experience of that day left me searching for the energy again… Everywhere I went for the better part of two months all I did was search… Interestingly… I found what I was searching for everywhere I went… The problem was no longer finding the energy… But figuring out a way to stop feeling the energy so I could avoid going crazy… I soon realized now that the door was open… It could not be closed… So if I couldn’t get rid of the feelings… I would have to change the negative energy… To good energy… And the only way I could possibly comprehend doing this… Is with gardening… After all… Gardening is the only language I really speak well…

MissDaisy2

“Zion” – © chriscondello 2013 – Whitney Avenue – Wilkinsburg, PA – The type of flowers that you plant in a spiritual garden are not important… What is important is that the flowers you choose raise your spirit… If a flower makes you feel good… Than it is positively affecting your spiritual energy… Which in turn positively affects the energy around you… And that my friends… Is the sum of what a spiritual garden actually is…

So where does this energy come from?.. I personally believe it is created through the interactions of life and death… The physical and the metaphysical… Both posses the potential of good and evil… And both are present around us at all times… Although I believe we are intended to perceive these energy waves… I think most of us simply don’t take the time to learn how to perceive them… Yet alone understand them…

If a human being is murdered… Does that act of violence leave an impression in the energy fields surrounding the location?.. I believe it does… Furthermore… When an extreme act of kindness occurs… Does that leave an equally strong impression of a different type?.. And if it does… How do these energy fields react with each other?.. Beyond that… Can I change a bad energy field?.. And can I change it through gardening… Something I personally consider a highly spiritual activity… My answer is yes!.. Of course I can…

Humans are not the only living organism in our environment that give off energy… Plants and trees do as well… I have felt that energy for years… I had never even thought twice about it until I started to prepare to write this post… And for the most part… Plants all give off good energy… The only time I have noticed a plant giving off bad energy was when it was suffering from a problem… Only after I remediate the problem in the plant does the energy change back into a good field… Gardening sometimes makes me feel like a god in this sense… After all… I can fix just about anything nature throws at a plant or tree… It’s you pesky humans that are tough to figure out… Always talking back… Giving lip… My plants don’t do that…

Now… I’m not claiming to be able to change the future… But I am claiming to be able to change the energy of a particular location through the act of gardening… Not just the look of the space… But the energy of the space… I have no references… I have no degree… I simply have the ability to feel the waves of energy in a particular location… And change them when necessary… Which if you live in a community like Wilkinsburg… A community that has been plagued in violence for the better part of the last 25 years… Changing the metaphysical energy of the entire borough is of paramount concern…

The particular mood of a communities people can be directly related to the conditions of the environment that surrounds them… If a group of people are living in a neighborhood full of abandoned houses and blight… The energy they give off will typically be negative… If the cause of the negativity is remediated… Then the energy will begin to convert… One persons negative energy has an equal effect on the people surrounding them… I can walk up to someone… And immediately feel the energy coming off of them… I often am planning my greeting based on those intuitions alone… And to be completely honest… I’m spot on 9 out of 10 times…

PalePink

“Climbing Higher” – © chriscondello 2013 – Whitney Avenue – Wilkinsburg, PA – A spiritual plant for many people… And a visual aspect of many religions around the world… They just make me feel right… They remind me of the past…

As an interesting side note… When I was still using heroin… I was told more than once that I gave off dark energy… Often described as appearing brown or black… At the time… I thought they were the crazy ones… Now that I have had time to reflect… I now notice it on other people when walking in the street… Almost as if I can see someones intentions without ever actually speaking to them… Though I must say… I have to be careful judging people before I have had a chance to meet them… It is just not fair… And I am not sure these intuitions are even close to reality…

So I am going to go on ahead and just say that these energy fields are real… And I am not crazy… And it is absolutely possible to change an energy field through gardening… Obviously any garden will do… Often… Just cleaning an area is enough to begin to change the spiritual feeling an otherwise blighted area may give off…

Using my neighborhood as an example… This street used to be a rough stretch of houses… 24 total homes… 12 abandoned and boarded up… The kids were so bad that they regularly chased residents out of the neighborhood… Then an artist from Wilkinsburg spearheaded a project painting boards to be placed on the abandoned homes… This project happened to coincide with my girlfriend and I moving onto the street… The boards were painted by community members and hung on the abandoned houses by the DPW… I did the landscaping with the help of some of the neighborhood children… And a neighborhood that at one time was considered too dangerous to walk down… Had become a small front porch community that is still a great neighborhood for children… And still for the most part… gives off good vibes…

Although I believe that the simple act of cleaning up an area is enough to begin to change bad energy to good energy… I think some plants posses certain qualities that will benefit not only you as a person… But the energy fields that surround you as well… After all… As permaculturists… We do not just garden for the physical yields associated with our plants… But also for the metaphysical yield…

Any flowering plant has the ability to enhance a positive energy field… Bright colors… Especially white… draw the eye and lift the spirit… If a plant has a positive impact on your spirits… Then it can be thought of as changing your energy… For me this is all plants… But what about nighttime?.. After the sun goes down… This for me… Is when most of my demons come knocking… This is often when I notice the most negative energy in the air surrounding me… Well… At least until I started growing Datura… Or more commonly called… Moonflowers… Which bloom as the sun goes down… And emitting a wonderfully alien scented fragrance… When a moonflower is blooming in your yard… It is rather difficult to think of anything negative… Especially when you are cast under the magical spell that the scent of Datura can have on a human…

Aromatic herbs are another plant I would consider for altering energy fields… Basil… Oregano… Lavender… Chamomile… Thyme… All poses spiritual properties that have often been used in rituals for thousands of years… A book on the subject would probably be more specific… But to date as I am writing this… I have never researched this subject at all… Again… This post is simply off the top of my head… I have no resources here…

Off the top of my head… Some plants that are supposed to have magical properties… Monkshood, ash, aspen, beech, black walnut, cedar, cherry, chestnut, daisy, dogwood, elder, elm, ginger, hawthorn (My favorite tree), hazel, hellebores, holly, larch, laurel, lovage, mandrake, maple, nettle, pear, mint, pine, privet, pumpkin, rose, rue, sage, sneezewort, valerian, willow, wormwood and yew… If you want more details on any of these… Google them with the words “spiritual or magical properties… Though I would like to stress that this list is very short… I could very easily argue the spiritual properties of any plant I have ever come into contact with… After all… I do not just put plants in the ground… I thoroughly introduce myself to each one… And make sure I have given it a home… Not just a hut… Any properly planted plant will look healthy… And therefore… Give off good energy…

I’m sure if I had taken the time to research this post… I probably would of found a bunch of books and websites dedicated to the “actual design of a spiritual garden”… I’m sure these books have rules… And special plants… And that is all fine and dandy… I’m not trying to discount that in any way… But what I am saying is simply this… If a garden makes YOU feel good… If it raises your spirits… Or anyone around you for that matter… Then that garden is effectively changing energy fields… I think it is safe to assume that if a garden has the ability to lift your spirit… And alter your mood… Then that garden obviously is having an effect on the energy fields around you… Not just within you…

plant petunias and question everything – chriscondello

If  you found this website to be helpful, please consider purchasing one of my photographic prints available here – http://society6.com/chriscondello – The information available on my site is free… As it will always be… At one time I had considered asking for donations… But I just couldn’t do it… I thought at least this way I could make a product available… If you see a photograph in this site that you would like a print of… Please just ask – c.condello@hotmail.com – Thank you

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Garden Prayer #1

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Spring is in the process of waking up…
Welcome the warmth… Welcome the pain…
Welcome the meticulous cycles…
That bless us with the rain…

The sun makes our plants grow…
And the moon moves the oceans…
Tangible objects doing intangible things…
The type of miracle that only God brings…

I am a realist… I believe in science…
I believe that man needs to be kept in compliance…
Compliant to nature… Nature is life…
Nature can be a song about strife…

Our songs about nature don’t have to be blue…
Celebrate creation… Bask in the new…
Praise your creator… Science or Jew…
For another spring… Another year…

And another garden…

It doesn’t matter what you believe… Just believe…

peace – chriscondello

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