August 18, 2010

Don't Give Up.

A Ragged, Torn Monarch Butterfly in Minnesota fuels up on nectar before the big migration to Michoacan, Mexico.  

July 21, 2010

Pretty Garden Angels of Death

Datura and Brugmansia are both known as "Angel's Trumpet". These are tropical plants which have recently become popular here in Minnesota as a showy, fast growing garden annual. I've seen it in backyard gardens, but most disturbing is the increase in use of Datura in public and business plantings. For identification, I believe the Brugmansia flower hangs down, is often colored pink or peach, and grows as a woody shrub, getting 8 ft tall in warm climates. The Datura plant has pure white flowers which point up, and is a fast, low growing annual, flowering freely on new stems.
It's the Datura which I keep seeing in gardens around here.
Both of these plants are deadly hallucinogenics.
Datura, also known as Jimson Weed, Moon Flower, or Thorn Apple is native to Mexico and southern US.
Ingesting the plant has psychological effects lasting for days, and "people have been found wandering without knowing where they are or how they got there"... En Mexico, Brugmansia se llama 'Floripondio'. y Datura se llama 'Toloache'.

There's also a Moonflower Vine (Ipomoea alba) with large white flowers that open in the evening... That's not related to Angel's Trumpet, and is not as toxic. Ipomoea is the Morning Glory family. The small seeds are said to be toxic, and the plant is listed as harmful to cats & dogs. The very poisonous plants discussed above: Datura and Brugmansia, are not vines.
P.S. If you promise not to try anything stupid, here's an extensive article about the history of Datura and Brugmansia being used by native people in Central & South America:

Here's the link to the Poison Control Plant Guide:

June 4, 2010

From the Garden to the Greenroom...This Weekend in Minneapolis/ St. Paul

June hits, and that's it: Fast-Forward. Plants are going crazy, all the freaky larvae are slithering everywhere, I killed my first mosquito, and the local live music scene is in full bloom.

This weekend in the Twin Cities offers so many cool activities, I'm traumatized that I won't be able to be in 10 places at once.

Tonight, Friday:
Serious rock show: Frances Gumm, The Tisdales , Easy Baby and The Crossing Guards at the Turf Club in St. Paul, MN...and a very cool, last-chance-for-a-while to see visual Artist, El Perdido.

Saturday, June 5:
The Saint Anthony Park Arts Festival in St. Paul: Go early, and they have a PLANT SALE in the gas station parking lot, run by the neighborhood garden club. This plant sale is unique because it consists of mainly plants which the gardeners have divided from their yard, and potted up nicely for you. There are also some veggies grown from seed, and other random plants which have been acquired by various means.

Saturday Night:
Middle States, Al Grande, Garret McPhae and Jill Zimmerman at the St. Paul Eagles Club !

April 16, 2010

Chasing the Green Goblin

Saint Paul, Minnesota...
Emerald Ash Borer vs. Fraxinus.

I took these pictures of Ash trees located in a St. Paul city park. The EAB was only discovered for the first time in Minnesota in spring of 2009. This is a technique called girdling, to make "trap trees" for detection and survey of the Emerald Ash Borer. By cutting the bark so severely, the tree becomes stressed, thus attracting the beetles.
These cut trees will die within 2 years now, but in the meantime during their decline, they'll become more and more attractive to the beetles and serve as a way of monotoring the infestation.

From the City of St. Paul website:
"The Emerald Ash Borer (EAB) is an exotic beetle that was first discovered in Michigan in July 2002, probably having arrived on solid wood packing material shipped from its native Asia. Without any natural predators or controls in North America, it has spread into nearby states, Canada, and now into Minnesota, having killed millions of ash trees along the way.
Unfortunately, wherever it has been discovered, there has been no stopping its devastation, though millions of dollars have been spent on a variety of prevention methods. The economic impact on states, municipalities, property owners, nursery operators, and forest industries has been overwhelming. Minnesota’s estimated 930 million ash trees could be decimated in Saint Paul, the metro area and the entire state".

Click the following link to go to my 2009 post about the Emerald Ash Borer in St. Paul:

This site explains it well:

April 12, 2010

Pansies are Dramatic

Pansies and violas withstand freezing temps. They bloom until they burn out in the summer heat. It's the only annual worth planting early spring in our zone. Have you looked closely?

April 6, 2010

Look the other way, kids. I want a non-commercial garden.

I went to the garden center to look at seeds. Here in Minnesota, they're just starting to put out the very earliest pansies and violas. Our official last day of frost is May 15, which seems crazy to wait that long before planting anything outdoors. It's almost a joke here because the cold fall comes along so fast, that we never have enough time to realize our garden dreams.

Anyway, I was trying to buy some staple seeds like cilantro, radish, spinach, and marigold. Guess what my 4 year-old found on the shelf ?...vegetable seeds marketed to children, using the "Veggie Tales" show, which I can't stand because it contains a religious agenda without mentioning that anywhere on the label. They try to trick my children into buying their religious videos using cute talking they're moving in on my garden. And I love how they encourage kids to plant pumpkins and watermelon...Does anybody realize how much room those plants take??

And What's up with this Cactus Kit "Learning Garden"?? ...Children will "learn" about pain as soon as they touch those prickly thorns. OR, they will learn about failure when the seeds don't grow at all (most likely). There's no way my kids are going to be fooling around with cacti.

What's wrong with learning about seeds and gardening without all the marketing BS ? Plain 'ol bean seeds are very fun to plant, with a high success rate.

March 16, 2010

Shamrocks and Lava Rocks

on a bed of pine needles. I took this photo in Hawaii.

February 3, 2010

Ringo Digs Minneapolis Music

At the Grammy Awards in L.A. on Jan. 31st, Ringo Starr was wearing a T-shirt from our local record store here in Minneapolis, The Electric Fetus. This store has been here practically forever, and was recently hit by a tornado last summer, but continues to be an important center for local music when many other record stores are now gone. The Electric Fetus has tons of records & CD's, hip must-have items, In-store live performances...and a super cool celebrity staff who know everyone in Minneapolis music.
Apparently, Ringo's nephew lives in Minnesota, and gave him the shirt. We're used to having well-known music names in this town.

photo by: Adriana M. Barraza

January 17, 2010

Ignoring Winter

Outside in the garden right now in Minnesota is a frozen white death blanket, laying across all my beautiful plants. The snow banks are so high, you wouldn't dare to dream about planting or even seeing the black earth ever again. In the next couple weeks I may report on some winter activities...but in the meantime, I'm ignoring winter and posting some dreamy photos I took in Hawaii this past year.