Buds and beans

The little tuberose begonia is so top-heavy I added plant supports to hold up its huge head which includes three blooms.  More blossoms are on the way as you can see from the buds in the photo above. 

Yesterday, my granddaughter Joy, here to say goodbye before she leaves for Virginia Tech, photographed the little plant as a remembrance.The photos contained here are my own, but its nice to know the blooms inspired her.  Everyone needs a little color in their lives.


 I like to think I influenced Joy.  I come from a long line of people in love with nature and concerned about the environment. Although my grandfather Francis  (born and died in Janesville WI) was not able to attend college, I once asked Aunt Marge,”What do you think Grandpa would have studied had he been able to go to college.” and she said, “Environmental science.”  Grandpa was the 14th of 15 children, and the economy when he was a young man was in a Depression (1890s).

My memory of Grandpa Schmidley was of a man who loved nature.  He visited us in October, when the fall weather had cooled our hot southern state and Wisconsin was beginning to grow cold.  Our house backed to a wooded area that surrounded a golf course, and he loved long walks along the edge of the woods.  We kids tagged along, and from him I learned many things.

Grandpa gave me a worn rosary  and a Saint Jude prayer card.  I have long suspected he understood how tough things were for me, with Mom addicted to prescription drugs, and Dad away most of each week. Strangely, even now I recall the life lessons he tried to teach in his kind and gentle way.  Years later, I look back and think he was truly well named, after Saint Francis of Assisi.  


When Joy was in sixth grade, she was president of the Ecology Club at her school.  As a club project, the children in her club planted native shrubs and other plants along a walkway on the banks of a steam that ran though the school grounds.

Because Joy also influenced me, I have introduced a number of local native plants in my yard (Fothergilla and Virginia Bluebells) and rooted out Butterfly Bush and Winged Euonymus, considered pests around here. 

Amazingly, many nurseries continue to sell destructive flora.  However, many of the more progressive states have placed proscriptions on the sale of plants considered invasive.  California is a leader in banning invasive plants, as is Hawaii. Check out any garden catalogue and you can see which plants can and cannot be shipped to your growing area.

This is a contentious topic because some nurserymen argue their right to engage in interstate commerce is infringed upon by state regulations, but most gardeners are environmentally sensitive and nurserymen who persist in this behavior run the risk of boycott if they sell items destructive to the environment. 

For example, I stopped buying, and later our local nursery stopped selling peat.  We discovered the sources for peat were ancient bogs in Europe, and the bogs were being destroyed by the  extraction of peat. (Peat is also very acidic, loaded with too much nitrogen, and a terrible additive to a perennial bed.)  

Shortly after I discovered the downside of peat, I began using cocoa bean shells from the chocolate plant in Pennsylvania on my perennial beds. Cocoa is a renewable resource, and its harvest insures tropical forests, as well as their inhabitants and the hopefully free traders who sell the product will survive. 

I use the cocoa shells on my front beds, as cocoa is poisonous to dogs (and humans in large amounts) owing to the theobromine in the bean. Dogs think the stuff smells like chocolate (it does) and eat it. 

Out back, we use our own compost.  Below, cocoa beans. 


6 thoughts on “Buds and beans

  1. I’m reading “The World Without Us” by Alan Weisman, exploring how the world would change if humans suddenly disappeared. Along the way he tells us how Englishman John Bennet Lawes commercialized fertilizer (not including peat.). I don’t know how begonia’s would fare without humans to tend them . . . but I’d hope there’d be more.


    • Lewis commercialized it but gardeners have known how to make their own compost since the Gitgo, and compost is much better. I suspect Lewis used the guano birds drop in Chile.
      My Tuberose Begonia is a human develped tuber and would probably perish.


  2. Learned a lesson or two from your post, thanks. Yes, Hawaii is very aware of invasive species of plants AND animals. There are laws against the importation of snakes, for instance. Every year, I read about this or that plant overrunning the forest and depriving smaller vegetation of light. But, because of budget cuts, not much is being done about it.


  3. I will have to look and see what invasive plants we’ve brought to our area. Once long ago, I landscaped with native plants as ground cover and everyone laughed. I wouldn’t think they would any more.

    Yes, David does sound as if he doesn’t want you to go. Do you have a neighbor who can stop in every morning? Somebody so he won’t feel so abandoned?


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