Excitement of a Purplish, Red, and Pink Radish

radish watercolor on white fence in front of garden structure
I was fiddling in my garden, and I saw the top of something purplish red. Behold! It was my first radish, in my new garden structure built by my friend Yosef Schmidt. I was so excited that I took a photo. It felt like the first “fruit” of my new garden: the other produce so far has been greens.

It turns out that there is a challenge called #studyfromlifechallenge on Instagram. You are supposed to paint from real life based on a weekly theme. So this week the theme was pink. When a painter looks at that radish, it is not just one shade of color. So I started my watercolor with opera pink. I later added some alizarin crimson and a tiny bit of cobalt blue.

Below is a photo of the garden structure when it was first built. It is 7 feet tall, and I commissioned Yosef to build it because the deer kept eating my plants. And we used to have a groundhog that lived on our garage that would eat all sorts of goodies in my garden. It has a door in the back, and a row for a human to walk into the structure and examine the three garden beds that are in a U shape.

So far, I have grown micro greens, french chervil, parsley, lettuce, and now radishes! Pea plants are growing, but no peas yet. Hopefully, basil, tomato, cucumber, and beans in the summer.
garden structure March 2022

Rutgers Plant Sale: Snapdragon, Petunia

Rutgers Plant Sale - Rutgers Gardens
Every year in early May there is a wonderful plant sale at Rutgers Gardens. I went with a friend on Friday and met another friend there. I bought: snapdragons, petunias, Rutgers tomato plants (I’ve been growing those for the past few years – not too big, not too small, and they are developed at Rutgers!), two kinds of rosemary and some broccoli plants. Here’s to praying that the broccoli plants do not get eaten by a ground hog or by deer. A friend sent a link to wolf urine packs – should I try those? Another idea was sticking garlic near them. We shall see. One friend bought swiss chard and eggplant; another friend purchased a variety of cilantro. All the plants at the sale are top quality. Last year I bought a hydrangea plant – the leaves got eaten by a deer before it flowered, but happily this year despite being only sticks in the winter it is now full of green leaves again.

snapdragon yellow in front of magenta
Here is one of the snapdragon plants now in front of my house. I got a mix of yellow and magenta/pink snapdragons.

My petunias are now planted in a sunny corner of my yard, at the edge of the sidewalk and the driveway.

This tulip is growing in front of my porch. No, I did not get at the Rutgers Plant Sale, nor did I plant it last fall. The tulips that are growing on my block seem to be the ones that survived being eaten up by deer.

strawberry plants
Finally, my strawberry plants (which I planted about ten years ago?) have those white flowers. Next step: juicy red strawberries! No more hunting for half decent organic strawberries in the store. For two weeks, we get a marvelous treat. Must make sure to pick them – last year we were too busy and neglected to pick the last bunch (they turned to mush on the plant).

Good news! I got my watercolor paints out again today (they’ve been away in the closet far too long). I did a quick painting of my garden using an exercise from One Watercolor a Day. Soon enough, I will have a watercolor that I will post on this blog. Stay tuned!

Flowers of Comfort

It was a very difficult week for the Jewish people – some say Tisha B’Av, the saddest day of the Jewish calendar came early this year. This is not a political blog; I could send you elsewhere to read some important posts, such as this one or this one. And here’s one that is quite thorough on a recent topic.

I will just mention the word nechama – comfort. What do you do or say or post when you need comfort? I’m posting flowers from my garden. Above are the columbines of spring – now gone, except for the seeds. You can sprinkle the seeds from the spring columbines in a different place in your yard, and if conditions are right, you get more columbines!

Mexican poppies
I grow these Mexican poppies instead of grass on my front lawn. Unfortunately, they are only in bloom for a short time in the spring. I have to be careful not to pull them up when the flowers are done – it is easy to mistake them later for weeds. Some of the poppies’ leaves are now turning a brilliant red.

summer rudbeckia
Rudbeckia or black-eyed susan: one of my favorite flowers! These I grow all over my yard, front and back. They seem to be happy here.

summer lilies
Finally, here are some bright summer lilies. My neighbor was admiring these, and I told her I grew them by mistake! I probably pulled a lily in a different spot by accident and threw it by the fence. It took hold right behind a pink rose bush. I think the two look a bit silly together, but whatever.

Do you have favorite flowers? Do flowers bring you comfort?

Sage Leaves Watercolor

sage leaves watercolor
I participate in an online Facebook group called One Watercolor a Day, based on the book by Veronica Lawlor. There are many exercises in the book, and every few weeks I do an exercise and share it in the group. Recently, I’ve been sharing the watercolor exercises on this Sketching Out blog as well. The most recent exercise was Do a Study of Nature, and it was fun to sit outside and paint:
sage watercolor with watercolor paints outside

This particular painting is a sage leaves watercolor: I took a look at my sage plant that has come back year after year and did a little painting study. I once tried to plant more sage in the back of my yard, and those sage plants unfortunately died. This sage plant, however, that is close to my kitchen back door, has managed to re-emerge after many a winter. Happy that today was such a nice day, so I had an excuse to sit outside and paint in between cleaning my house for Passover.

I find sketching from nature a great way to learn – you really need to observe to come up with a little watercolor painting quickly. I did two others before I decided to limit my color palette and limit my subject to the sage leaves.

It has been a while since I’ve participated in a Nature Notes, one of my favorite online memes run by my friend Michelle over at Rambling Woods. Here is a cardinal shot I had in my stash but never got a chance to share until now:
cardinal with cocked head in tree

Do you cook with sage? Do you have it in your yard? Have you ever painted outside?

For more Nature Notes:
Nature Notes

Nature in New Jersey and Maryland

Peace and Friendship Garden
Peace and Friendship Garden

We visited my eldest son this past weekend at University of Maryland. Because most of the events were at the Hillel, we walked back and forth numerous times between the Hillel and the hotel. On the way to the Hillel we saw this garden, and on Friday afternoon I had my camera with me so I took this photo. I was impressed by the “natural” looking sculpture that was part of the garden, and I love seeing well-cared for perennials. You can learn more about this Peace and Friendship garden. The sculpture is by Chinese artist Han Meilin and named The Peace Tree.

pond in Holmdel Park
Here is the pond in Holmdel Park in New Jersey (photographed two weeks ago). Nearby is a lovely arboretum (I was too tired to take my big camera, but there was some great hawthorn trees with berries and some interesting evergreens). I photographed the pond with my Samsung Galaxy 4. There was a London plane tree on the other side of the pond – its “fruit” or nuts look like tennis balls.

Longstreet Farm pig
Here’s a pig at Longstreet Farm (part of Holmdel Park in New Jersey). We also saw pigs at University of Maryland – there is a little farm on the campus for those studying animal science and also horses for the equestrian club. Both sets of pigs seemed to like to eat dirt. Explain that one to me. My daughter named the Longstreet Farm pig “Piggles.”

Jacaranda Trees with Purple Blooms

jacaranda tree in bloom in Nahariya, Israel

jacaranda tree in Naharia, Israel
When I was in Beit Shemesh, Israel, I saw some beautiful trees with purple blooms. I saw them again in Naharia, a northern beach town in the Galil. The jacaranda blooms above are in Naharia. Then I visited Ma’alot, and I was pleasantly surprised by yet more jacaranda blooms.

According to this Flowers in Israel post, jacaranda trees are originally from South America. Looks like the Hebrew name is סיגלון.

Derivation of the botanical name:
Jacaranda, a Brazilian vernacular name.
acutifolia, with pointed leaves.
mimosifolia, with leaves like genus Mimosa.

On the Wikipedia page for jacaranda it says: This article’s factual accuracy is disputed. I wonder why. See also: Jacaranda mimosifolia:

The Blue Jacaranda has been cultivated in almost every part of the world where there is no risk of frost; established trees can however tolerate brief spells of temperatures down to around −7°C (20°F). In the USA, 30 miles east of Los Angeles where winter temps can dip to 10 degrees F (-12 C) for short several-hour periods, the mature tree survives with little or no visible damage.

jacaranda tree blooms in Maalot Israel with Israeli flag below
This jacaranda tree (above and below) was photographed in Ma’alot, Israel. Ma’alot is about twenty minutes inland from Nahariya, Israel.

Blue Jacaranda in Maalot

The name may be Blue Jacaranda, but I think those blooms are purple. How about you? Do you think this is some botanist’s desire to see blue in nature?

Echinacea Flower – Coneflower

coneflower echinacea flower

I’ve wanted to grow echinacea flowers in my yard for a while. This season I’ve got a large one growing in my front yard. Years ago, I grew some in the back, but that area has become too shady. Supposedly, they reseed easily, so I shouldn’t deadhead too much. We shall see.

I couldn’t decide which photo to post, so here are two echinacea photos.

coneflower echinacea flower

Thursday Challenge theme is: FLOWERS (Colorful, Closeups, Gardens, Arrangements,…)

Notes on Lecture with Dandelion and Periwinkle

dandelion and periwinkle
Dandelion and Periwinkle as seen in April 2013

This past week I was more than a little distracted by the news in Boston. I grew up in the Boston area – I used to go to the Boston Marathon as a child when it passed through Newton, cheering on the runners. I lived in Cambridge, worked at MIT and spent time in Watertown. I have many friends who live there. Despite my intense interest in the details, I have no desire to become a political blogger. I will refer you to the blog of my friend Daled Amos – he writes well, explains political topics if you want more information and has a background as a teacher. He often quotes other political bloggers.

I have hopes to write a Nature Notes post this week and maybe a recipe for rice salad. If not, they will show up next week. Meanwhile, a few notes of interest:

  • I had the opportunity to attend a lecture at Rutgers by Professor Maud Mandel on
    Muslims and Jews in France: Genealogy of a Conflict. In a tiny nutshell, her premise was to “question past monocausal explanations” (I believe she meant she was suggesting more than one cause). Her book is coming out in January 2014; here are a few of the causes she mentioned:
    1. Jews from Algeria made citizens of France; Muslims were not. (1870)
    2. North African Jews had welcome from established Jewish community; Muslims had no one, initially.
    3. In 1968, Maoists (a group of Leftists) tried to convince Algerian Muslims to side with Palestine. The Maoists equated Palestine with Vietnam. At first, it didn’t work, but later it caught on.
    4. For two years Muslims and Jews worked together on racism (SOS Racisme), but then that fell apart. (1984)

    Rutgers Bildner Center for the Study of Jewish Life hosts free lectures like this one in the spring and fall; see Public Events.

  • On The Prosen People blog of Jewish Book Council you can read the April Jewish Book Carnival.
  • I published an interview with marketing director David Rekuc: Blog Interview on Marketing, eCommerce and Edison, NJ. Looking to interview other central New Jersey business people, especially those who make good use of social media, websites and/or blogs.

Note about the photo: I love the combination of dandelions with all the purples of this season. I purposely left a few in my front yard, to complement the grape hyacinths, creeping phlox and purple deadnettle. The periwinkle/dandelion photo is actually in a yard a block from my home.

Mrs. Cardinal and Kitchen Scallions

cardinal shows feathers in tree female
I got some nice shots of a female cardinal visiting in our backyard. You can even see her feathers.

close up of female cardinal feathers
This is a close-up detail of her feathers.

female cardinal in tree
Hello, Mrs. Cardinal! What a fine bright red beak you have.

female cardinal against the sky
Is this the same female cardinal? She looks a little different than the one shown above.

male cardinal
Mr. Cardinal was a bit further off, hiding in the lower branches of a neighbor’s bush.

scallions grow in water in a kitchen
On a different topic, I put some scallion ends in water in my kitchen. Truthfully, I forgot about them; oh, my, I see they really have grown! I did change the water at least once. I think you are supposed to change the water every other day.

For more Nature Notes, visit:
Nature Notes

Verbena and Cardinals

verbena in fall with autumn leaves
Little did I know early last summer when I purchased pink verbena because I wanted some color in my front yard that the verbena would survive frost, snow, a hurricane and live longer than the mums, the snap dragons or the nasturtium.

verbena among fall leaves like bald cypress leaves
The verbena looks handsome among the fall leaves – those orangey brown pine-like leaves are from our bald cypress tree.

verbena in our front yard
Truly the only pink in our front yard now is from the verbena – mostly brown, some green, and these dots of verbena pink.

cardinals female and male
In other nature in my yard news, I got a photo of a female and male cardinal together. They often travel together, but I don’t usually see them this close.

And I got a close shot of the cardinal – he looks like a proud guy, or maybe he has just eaten a lot of the black sunflower seeds in our bird feeder.

For more Nature Notes:
Nature Notes