Abstract Portrait – A Child’s Breath

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“A Child’s Breath” – Wilkinsburg, PA – Children are playing in my front yard… Blowing bubbles and laughing… As I stood there with my camera… I suddenly realized that inside of each of those bubbles was the breath of the child that created it… Set free to float across the neighborhood… Waiting for a place to settle down… I had to capture the moment… An abstract portrait of the neighborhood children… A child is a seedling… A grownup is a tree…
A seed that is planted will eventually grow free…

plant petunias and question everything – chriscondello

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Four Photographs of June – Beautiful Invaders

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Field of Gold – The Fog will Follow

InAField

“Field of Gold” – Keystone State Park – Westmoreland County, PA – A collaboration with nature…

Sitting in a flowering meadow… Myself and the swallows…
When this wind stops blowing the evening fog follows…
Sunset… Magic in nature… Magic in our short little lives…
Like these tiny swallows our energy rises and dives…

Water droplets from the relentless rains… Clinging to the trees…
A warblers song suddenly brings me to my knees…
Persistent decrescendo… Thunder rolling in the distance…
Between sunshine I imagine cooperative coexistence…

Existence with nature is simpler than existence with each other…
It’s easy to hug a tree but impossible to hug your brother…
Community is common unity… Unity is a social experiment…
The idea we can all get along is somewhat of an embarrassment…

We all have best friends… And we will all make enemies…
Value both… Learning experience taken from the centuries…
Unconditional love is thicker than water… Like a raging flood…
After the clouds comes the sun… Then the rain becomes mud…

plant petunias and question everything – chriscondello

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Urban Gardens to Urban Forests

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Complementary Gardening – Gardening Without Borders

PurpliWhiteTip

“Tulip Behind Borders” – The Garden Table – Wilkinsburg, PA – This garden is a vacant lot that happens to be located in a rather high traffic location… I am actually planning on installing a fence and gate this summer… Something I said I would never do…

It is a long-standing practice in gardening to use a border to define the edges of our gardens. My preferred border material is bricks, they are plentiful in my neighborhood, have historical value, and help me keep my personal gardens neat and orderly. Borders are basically a line used to define where the lawn maintenance ends, and where the meticulous garden maintenance begins. Without borders, the neighborhood children would not know where my garden started… They also wouldn’t know the point at which I start yelling… Though… The kids are very good about not stepping in my garden…

As a garden installer, I spend a great deal of time thinking about garden borders… But as an artist/environmentalist… I also spend a great deal of time thinking outside my garden borders… To start this article off, I want to answer a simple question… What is a garden? A garden is typically defined as a collection of plants… In most cultures… To dream of paradise… Equates to dreaming of a garden… Or a lush landscape at the very least… This collection is typically contained within the confines of ones own yard… It just makes sense… Plants cost money… Why would you put them someplace you don’t own?

As my journey through the gardening world has progressed… I have found myself constantly looking to nature for inspiration… Over the last few years, I have left the borders of my garden… And gone in search of other gardens… My search has taken me into the forest in search of spring ephemerals… Into the fields to look for Echinacea… And up into the mountains to look for ginseng…

I have spent a great deal of time seeking out, and observing plants in their natural settings. Over time, my hobby has blossomed into an obsession. Now that I have been doing this for a few years, I have developed a bond with many of the plant patches I find… I have actually developed an emotional attachment to them… Oddly… I recently realized that I feel the same way about the woodland wildflowers I regularly seek out, as I feel about the plants in my garden…

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“300 Acre Garden” – Keystone State Park – Westmoreland County, PA – Can an entire state park be considered a garden… I believe it can be… A sunset photo of my newest garden…

Walking through trillium along the side of a mountain… I stopped to pick up some litter… It was at this exact moment that I realized my garden no longer had a border… Standing on the side of this mountain… I realized I was the only person who would ever pick up these plastic bottles… The Trillium certainly couldn’t do it… Not the jack-in-the-pulpit’s… Not the tasty Morels… Without me stopping to pick up those bottles… They would have been there for a really long time…

In order to garden, an individual must have an affection for plants… In my own experience, this rarely dies, in most cases it blossoms into an addiction and before you know it… You have more plants than you know what to do with… Some see this as a bad thing… But I personally see it as a good thing… It is at this point most people start looking outside of their own garden to scratch the gardening itch… When a gardeners mind finally steps outside of their own property… Only then does nature truly see a benefit… This is when the journey really begins…

Our gardens are a direct connection between ourselves, and the environment that surrounds us. Bees for example, collect pollen from the flowers blooming in your garden, although this pollen is then transferred among the other plants in your own garden, it is also spread to the plants surrounding your garden. This everyday transfer of genetic material is just one way plants communicate… The plants you plant in your own garden, affect the next generation of plants that will grow in your surroundings…

TroutLily

“Trout Lily” – Frick Park – Pittsburgh, PA – Frick Park is a place I have been spending a lot of time in… I consider it an urban garden… And I will care for it as such…

Although we will go to great lengths to keep animals and birds out of our gardens, nature always wins. Many seeds have evolved to survive digestion, after consumption, these seeds are then spread through “natural processes”. I have followed plant-covered deer trails through the woods, these trails can be hotspots for finding early spring wildflowers… I have followed trillium trails for miles… Likewise… The old ginseng hunters used to follow deer trails when foraging for medicine…

Humans have been pushing nature away for hundreds of years… We cap the earth in cement… Trap and kill anything we consider “wild”… We eliminate ecosystems… Then replace them ad-hoc in the places we deem suitable… We create gardens full of food in the middle of exotic monocultures of chemically dependent monocots… Organic vegetables growing among a sea of garbage… Food labeled as organic… Hiding behind a ten-foot fence… Taunting the deer… Torturing the rabbits… But in desperation… Will not stop a single one of them…

Man and nature can live in harmony… In fact… Nature only requires a small amount of compensation… I laugh when I hear stories of people living in these new plans of McMansions… Entire ecosystems have been destroyed to put these plans in… Yet the inhabitants still cry foul when their cheap landscaping shrubs get devoured almost immediately… If you tore my hundred-year old house down… And built a fire-hazard on top of it… You better believe… I am going to do more than eat your shrubs…

Living in western Pennsylvania, I am asked more questions regarding deer… Than any other garden pest you can think of… Everybody wants a magic bullet… When I answer by saying feed them… Most people scoff… But I stand by my word… The goal to keeping nature from eating your share… Is to compensate… More simply put… You need to make other food sources easier to acquire than your own… Depending on your situation… This is often as easy as a simple fence around your vegetables… And a feeder and salt block somewhere else… This isn’t really a secret either… Any old-time farmer will tell you this…

I guess what I am trying to say is this… Gardening is a skill that requires us to learn how to work with nature… In order to do this properly… We must think outside the borders of our gardens… We must allow our minds to seek out answers beyond the confines of our own property… The insects and animals surrounding you have no respect for the borders in your gardens… They do not see property lines… They do not know where nature ends… And where the garden begins… And that is my point… Nature doesn’t see where the wild ends… Animals don’t know where the garden begins… And neither should we… The entire earth is a garden… A paradise… Every square inch of it deserves protection… As gardeners… Our gardens have no borders… And Nature… Well that Is in fact… What we do…

plant petunias and question everything – chriscondello

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Photographic Confessions – Observation and Spring

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Garden Prayer #5 – Spring Awakens

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“Cuckooflower” – Hamnett Way – Wilkinsburg, PA – My girlfriend likes this photo because it reminds her of the movie “Fern Gully”… I like it because it captures the early spring sunshine perfectly…

Early spring sprinkles flying…
Sunshine liven Robins crying…
The Earths eyes slowly awaken…
Showing scars from frost forsaken…

April dreams have finally arrived…
Winter starved and snow deprived…
Early season beauty present…
Cool breeze sunshine pleasant…

Sweet alyssum under the sun…
hands buried we become one…
Eyes glued the baby blue sky…
Heart ascends to heavens high…

Sunshine turns to pouring rain…
A morning lost is natures gain…
Green is a requirement of grey…
Spring is but a sprinkle away…

plant petunias and question everything – chriscondello

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A Plant A Day Till Spring – First Day of Spring – Snowdrops

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“First Flower – First Photo” – Whitney Avenue – Wilkinsburg, PA – So here it is… The first Snowdrop I found blooming this year… In fact… This is the first flower of 2013… At least in my neck of the woods… This is also the first flower photograph with my new camera…
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I took a bunch of photographs of this patch of Snowdrops… But none of them compared to the first shot… None of the other shots could touch the way I feel about this single photograph…

A Plant a Day till Spring” will highlight one plant a day, starting on the winter solstice (December 21, 2013)… And ending on the vernal equinox (March 20, 2014)… If all goes to plan I will be starting with old Snowdrop photos from 2013… And ending with new photos of Snowdrops in 2014…

Today is the first day of spring!

There’s something about the warmth of the spring sun… Coupled with the chill of the fleeting winter winds… To me… This is the first sign of spring… This is the first sign of life…

Spring calls to me… Another cold snap away… Yet… She is right beneath my feet… Right before my eyes… The sun emanates… Spiritual solar display… Warm radiating glow… Melting snow flows…

The spring sun shines on my face… Cold winter winds on my back… Searching for color… Searching… Searching for signs of another season… Another reason…

Another reason to get out of bed… A reason to rationalize why I’m not dead… When we have nothing… We have everything… When we have everything… We have nothing…

Essentially… None of this matters… Who cares what we can buy… It’s all garbage… It’s all fake… What really matters is what you can make…

Or what makes you…

Are you nothing more than a cause?.. Or are you the effect?.. Are you the building blocks that they use to erect?..

I personally… I am the builder… I can tear them down… And I can build them up… Give me a vineyard and I’ll put wine in your cup… I’ll put life in your cup…

I have come across another spring… Another day… Another moment on this earth… Another heartbeat… With you…

Today we celebrate… Celebrate the sun… Celebrate the land… Celebrate life… Celebrate the simple little fact that today… We as gardeners get another shot… Another opportunity to sculpt life… Another opportunity to turn our garden dreams into reality…

It all starts today… March 20… 12:57 PM Today… We all have something in common… Today… We all dream of gardens… We all dream of spring…

plant petunias and question everything – chriscondello

This is the end of the series… From this point forward I will return to my regular random format… A big thank you to everyone who has been following along throughout the winter… Without your regular comments I never could have finished this series… So thank you…

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… You can contact me directly with questions at – c.condello@hotmail.com

Remember to tip… My Bitcoin digital wallet address- 1JsKwa3vYgy4LZjNk4YmPEHFJNjPt2wDJj
PayPal – Email me for details

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A Plant A Day Till Spring – Day 90 – Heuchera

Heuchera

“Heuchera and Snowdrops” – Spring 2013 – Whitney Avenue – Wilkinsburg, PA

A Plant a Day till Spring” will highlight one plant a day, starting on the winter solstice (December 21, 2013)… And ending on the vernal equinox (March 20, 2014)… If all goes to plan I will be starting with old Snowdrop photos from 2013… And ending with new photos of Snowdrops in 2014…

Today is the last day of Winter! Tomorrow will be the last post…

I made it all the way to the end of winter… I wasn’t sure if I would be able to stay focused through all 90 posts… But I did it… And I learned so much while doing this series that I would suggest doing something similar to any gardener looking to boost their knowledge of plants…

I have already started planning for next year… Except next time I am going to invite people to join me… I took some inspiration from WordPress and tagged each post with #postaday… I also added my own #plantaday to make searching for my posts easy… May I suggest you start taking photographs now if you have any interest at all in participating next winter… The way I see it… If enough people participate we could create a pretty massive wealth of plant-based knowledge…

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“Heucherella” – Summer 2013 – Whitney Avenue – Wilkinsburg, PA

Heuchera happens to be my favorite ornamental perennial… My girlfriend and I have created quite the collection… I like it because it comes in every color imaginable… Plus it will survive in a wide variety of conditions…

Heuchera is often labeled as a full-sun plant… In my experiences I find that it is equally at home in the shade… As you can tell from the photographs above… These plants are in full-shade… I have also noticed only the plants with light-colored leaves can handle extreme sunlight… The purple and red-leaved varieties absorb too much sunlight…

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Tomorrow will be my last post of this series… I thought the first day of spring would be a perfect ending… Plus… The Snowdrops are in full bloom right now and the photographs taken with my new camera are top-notch… Today the temperature is supposed to near 60F… I will be outside from the moment I finish this post till the afternoon thunder showers arrive… Until tomorrow…

plant petunias and question everything – chriscondello

If you want some science – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Symplocarpus_foetidus

These “Plant a Day Till Spring” posts are simply intended to kill time until spring when I start writing more… My source (where applicable) is Wikipedia.org… The photography is all my own… And I am adding my own information…

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… You can contact me directly with questions at – c.condello@hotmail.com

Remember to tip… My Bitcoin digital wallet address is…1JsKwa3vYgy4LZjNk4YmPEHFJNjPt2wDJj

Get your own wallet at CoinBase.com

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A Plant A Day Till Spring – Day 89 – Skunk Cabbage

SkunkCabbage

“Symplocarpus foetidus – Skunk Cabbage” – Spring 2013 – Frick Park – Pittsburgh, PA – Blooming right now in my neck of the woods…

A Plant a Day till Spring” will highlight one plant a day, starting on the winter solstice (December 21, 2013)… And ending on the vernal equinox (March 20, 2014)… If all goes to plan I will be starting with old Snowdrop photos from 2013… And ending with new photos of Snowdrops in 2014…

Tomorrow is the last day of Winter!

I know what your thinking… Skunk Cabbage? Not exactly a plant you would expect with only two posts left in this series… Symplocarpus foetidus is not exactly what most people would consider an interesting plant… Well… I intend to change that with this post…

Symplocarpus foetidus… Commonly known as “Eastern Skunk Cabbage”… Or simply “Skunk Cabbage” is one of the nastiest smelling plants I have ever come in contact with… The leaves when broken emit a foul smell similar to the smell of rotting meat… A few years back I decided to test this… I stomped a clump with my shoe and put my nose near it… It burnt so bad I had to go home… It was probably 4 hours before my sense of smell came back…

Skunk Cabbage is one of the first plants to bloom in the spring… Its flowers are produced on a long spadix contained within a spathe… 4-6″ tall and purple in color… The nasty odor of this plant is used to attract pollinating flies that are also active this early in the season…

Skunk Cabbage is one of the few plants that exhibits thermogenesis… Because this plant blooms so early in the year it is not uncommon for this blooming period to occur when the ground is still frozen solid… SC has developed the ability to generate heat… Often reaching temperatures 95 degrees F above air temperature… This helps melt the ground around the rhizome and allows the plant to flower whenever it is ready… It is also thought that this area of warmth also helps attract pollinators…

Believe it or not… Skunk Cabbage is also edible… Kinda… The leaves can be dried and then cooked… Raw they will apparently burn your mouth… SC was commonly used in medicine in the 19th century… Today it is common in water gardens… Though I have to caution… The rhizomes often attain a thickness of 12″ or more… Removal can be difficult…

plant petunias and question everything – chriscondello

If you want some science – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Symplocarpus_foetidus

These “Plant a Day Till Spring” posts are simply intended to kill time until spring when I start writing more… My source (where applicable) is Wikipedia.org… The photography is all my own… And I am adding my own information…

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… You can contact me directly with questions at – c.condello@hotmail.com

Remember to tip… My Bitcoin digital wallet address is…1JsKwa3vYgy4LZjNk4YmPEHFJNjPt2wDJj

Get your own wallet at CoinBase.com

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