Complementary Gardening – Gardening Without Borders

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“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…

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“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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Floating Sea of Green – Anonymous Mountains

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“Floating Sea Of Green” – Keystone State Park – Westmoreland County, PA – Trillium as far as the eye can see… Right here… On the side of this mountain… I am but a small part of this picture… Yet… When I am among the Trillium… I feel like a king… Exploring natures beauty…

Sitting on the side of an anonymous mountain…
Among jack-in-the-pulpit and white trillium fountains…
Spring beauty blossoms through last years leaves…
A garden is growing among the woodland trees…

A garden is bigger than the size of your yard…
Gods creation is more than just broccoli and chard…
Heaven is a garden… And here on Earth it’s blue…
A bee that visits my garden brings sweet gifts to you…

Among the trees I realize I am a part of this land…
It is my job to defend the places that I find so grand…
If it came to it I think I would be willing to kill…
Stand on top of my Trillium and I’ll do it for the thrill…

Morel

“Mountainside Morel” – Keystone State Park – Westmoreland County, PA – Among the treasures to be found in Keystone State Park… A single Morel Mushroom growing among the Club Moss… Trail side… Hidden by the leaves…

So while I slowly tiptoe across this sea of green…
Knee deep through Mayapples I guide my queen…
Carefully we navigate these Appalachian thickets…
Among the mason bees and the mountainside crickets…

I let go of my baggage and release my inner fears…
A garden is a state of mind and my mind is right here…
A garden has no borders… There are no class walls…
A plant doesn’t see us unless we get down and crawl…

Big degrees… Pedigrees… Even the smart and dumb…
A plant doesn’t give a damn about your annual income…
I garden… Because it requires nothing but the desire to learn…
I sow seeds because I realize it will soon be my turn…

plant petunias and question everything – chriscondello

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Keystone State Park – Between Rain Showers

This gallery contains 6 photos.

All photographs were shot at Keystone State Park in Westmoreland County, PA… They are all available for sale as prints… Please email me with any questions or requests at c.condello@hotmail.com… plant petunias and question everything – chriscondello This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

Weekly Photo Challenge – Good Morning!

The above photo was originally used in this poem – 5 AM and All is Well plant petunias and question everything – chriscondello This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

Mountain State of Mind

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“Standing Tall” – © chriscondello 2013 – Coppers Rock State Park – West Virginia – Saturday morning hike on Ravens Rock Trail… I almost skipped this photo as I thought it was of nothing… After a second look… I realized it summed the entire hike up perfectly… I can say I saw very little on the ground… As my head was in the trees the entire time…

Head in the trees… Mind is up high…
Sandstone cliffs and clear blue skies…
Old growth forest scent and smell…
Mountain laurels cast their magic spell…

Even the birds get it… The deer and the bees…
All are made possible thanks to the trees…
Only when we all learn to get along…
Natural harmony… Creates a natural song…

So today we put feet to a mountain…
Climbed to the top… A sandstone fountain…
Stood on the edge feeling powerful forces…
Yet power lines manage to cross these gorges…

You heard me… Wires through my view…
Unfortunately seen by only a few…
How did the power company afford this?..
Vista views… Surrounding are priceless…

And in the middle of a state park?..
Someone must have surely been in the dark…
At least they didn’t fence off this scenic spot…
Eliminate visitors… What city folks call hot…

Sometimes we simply live with the beast…
Money can buy a forest or a feast…
But somehow we all need to play nice…
Before the earth is covered in ice…

Global warming leads to global cooling…
Think about it… I’m not really fooling…
Heat makes the ice pour into the sea…
A deadly formula for you and me…

Well… I guess it’s more about you…
I’ll be dead and gone before that comes true…
I’ll probably be south of heaven…
Eternally working a ghetto 7-11…

Unless I put my money in the churches can…
Illegitimate… Extortionist… Son of man…
Wait a second… I went off track…
This is about trees… Let me bring it back…

Died on a cross… A cross is made of wood…
How is that supposed to make me be good?..
If god can’t stop destruction… Then man will…
But god will take credit… Like man just stood still…

He will ask for your money… 501-c3…
Then act like his services are totally free…
10 percent is the fee for a heavenly favor…
Ask for forgiveness from our lord and savior…

Because Eve made Adam eat the forbidden fruit…
Because if I designed a paradise…
I would include one fruit that would damn all of eternity…
And tell you not to eat it…
I call that a dick move…

But I get it…

An ode to the mountains of West Virginia… Proof that… When you meditate on something the size of a mountain… Though you may be able to keep your feet on the ground…

Like the mountain… Your head will be in the sky…

plant petunias and question everything – chriscondello

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