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Little Beauties ~ Nature Photography

It is always so remarkable to see bees in action. As I read about whole bee colonies being doused out by synthetic agricultural chemicals around the world, it is my hope that these images speak to the beauty of those most vulnerable and those we take for granted. Nature isn’t here for us to use and abuse. Vote with your dollar for ethical companies and local food producers as much as possible. Plant flowers that nourish your local ecosystem. Grow your own food.

All photographs are from our garden.

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~Grow~Share~Thrive~

 

All photography by Jane Grueber

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Free To Be ~ Nature Photography

“To the Wild Woman, being spiritual means whispering to the trees, laughing with flowers, falling in love with the sunset, consulting the waters and worshiping the stars at night. One hand to her heart and one hand toughing Mother Earth.” ~ Shikoba

These are recent photographs from our garden and our neighbourhood.

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~Grow~Share~Thrive~

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Growing Urban ~ Early July

The summer and the entire growing season is going by so quickly. The garden changes almost daily and we are fully enjoying our harvest. Lettuces and spinach make for simple, flavor-filled salads. We shuck peas for breakfast, snack on strawberries, radishes and broccoli. We infuse our drinks with fragrant herbs and patiently await the arrival of our tomatoes and cucumbers. There’s nothing like a fresh salsa or bruschetta on a hot summer day.

Here are some photographs from our garden and its progress. I am really loving the companion plants we put in this year. Not only are they distracting pests of all sorts from the crops, they are a joy to look at.

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It looks like a busy place but among all those companion plants, there are fruits and vegetables.

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Giant dill that is now taller than our scarecrow.

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Runaway cauliflower. If not harvested at the right time, it goes on to create little florets that are not very tasty.

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As someone who loves cakes, I have been thoroughly enjoying the edible flowers in the garden as well. Flowers add such a lovely touch to the top of any cake without the need to go heavy on the icing.

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These cake topping beauties attract bees. Borage flowers, the dashing blue stars, refill with nectar every two minutes and have a way of keeping the bees’ attention. I have been on a mission to capture a bee in action for some time. They flutter from flower to flower and are surprisingly difficult to capture.

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I am in the process of starting up a larger Urban Garden Farm. I want to focus on growing specific greens and herbs that are known to be especially powerful for healing, or helping to ameliorate symptoms of, chronic conditions.

So now I am on a mission to find a polytunnel that will be a good fit for our back yard and for growing food free of chemicals or any off-farm inputs.

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~Grow~Share~Thrive~

 

 

 

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Forest Charm ~ Nature Photography

“Notice how present a flower is, how surrendered to life.”

~Eckhart Tolle

My favorite way to find grounding and balance is to take to nature; to draw from its infinite well of universal energy. This provincial park in Central Vancouver Island is a treasure trove of inspiration and rejuvenation.

The pastoral property that surrounds the park is beautiful in the morning light.

Wild roses flouring along the trails.

Golden cattails bloom.

A secret lake.

Honeysuckle hidden among the horsetails and ferns.

A little stream speckled by the sunlight.

Returning to one of my favorite views of the park.

The smell of wild roses filled the fresh morning air. Their perfume is addictive. It was encouraging to see many busy bees working.

“We have forgotten what rocks, plants, and animals still know. We have forgotten how to be – to be still, to be ourselves, to be where life is: Here and Now.” 

~Eckhart Tolle

~Grow~Share~Thrive~

All photography by Jane Grueber

See my photo gallery here

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Front-Yard Urban Garden ~ May Update

Now that May is half over and all our garden beds have been filled with vegetables, fruit and herbs, it is time to pause and take stock of what is actually growing and to reflect on why we are growing our own and sharing it with others.

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Why a Front Yard Garden?

This is our front yard. We decided to trade our weed-filled front lawn for six 4′ by 8′ raised garden beds filled with organic soil and home-made compost.

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This is our experiment. We want to know how much food we can grow and whether this set up can provide enough for our family of five for a 22 week growing period and beyond.

My hope is that we grow enough produce for our family AND to share with our neighbours as well as those who face household food insecurity in our community.

Read more about our front yard urban garden project here.

What is Household Food Insecurity? 

Not enough nutritious food on the table even though paychecks are coming in? Yes, this does exist in Canada. It is worse in some parts, such as the Northern Territories where two-thirds of children have very limited access to nutritious foods.

On Vancouver Island, where we live, research shows that 25 per cent of families experience some form of household food insecurity and have difficulty putting nutritious meals on the table as their money runs out long before their next paycheck.

Malnutrition in children and adults leads to poor health and mental health outcomes. Developmental difficulties as well as chronic conditions are directly linked to household food insecurity and increased health care costs.

Read more about Household Food Insecurity here.

Nutritious foods sold in ‘Farm Stores’ and Farmers’ Markets are expensive and out of reach for many working families and individuals attempting to manage chronic conditions through better nutrition.

Read more about Household Food Insecurity here.

These challenges are real. They are also opportunities. Growing our own as a way to gain independence and create greater food security in our community is indeed a revolutionary act.  Thankfully, there are many people around the world engaged in such subversive grassroots action. Our family is on a mission to Grow, Share and Thrive.

This is our first year. Our total investment in this front yard urban garden was $1600 CND. This is two months worth of groceries for us.  I know that this seems like a large sum (we saved and used many creative shortcuts). But this is a one time investment. Next year, our own compost and saved seeds will decrease the cost significantly. I see this as an investment that will pay off in the long run and benefit many.

My hope is to help others set up similar operations in their front yards; to provide them with free seeds, free seedlings, free compost (or help them create their own compost), to help them put together garden beds the most cost-effective way possible as well as an easy drip watering system that saves time and money.

I am heartened that people are interested in what we are doing. This year, we were able to give our neighbours tomato and strawberry seedlings as well as unused seeds to help them start their own urban gardens. Naturally, the biggest barrier to growing one’s own is time.

We specifically set up our urban operation to be non-time consuming. Once seeds and plants are in place, it’s water tap on, water tap off. Done.

Want to start your own urban garden? Read more about how to get started here.

Get even more inspiration for growing your own here.

What’s Growing in the Garden?

Cauliflower, broccoli, carrots, radishes, peas, beans, spinach, lettuce, cucumber, squashes of all sorts, watermelon, strawberries, sorrel, garlic, cabbage as well as 32 different herbs and perennials.

Here are some pepper blossoms. They are so delicate. We started the seeds for these from an organic green pepper we purchased at a local store (one way to get seeds). We started the seeds in used organic coffee grounds on our kitchen counter.

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They start out so little.

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Here is some dwarf kale.

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Cauliflower which loved the cooler, damp weather that we had until yesterday when the sun found us.

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This is a Gala Apple Tree. We got the seed from an store bought apple and started it in used organic coffee grounds on our counter. It’s two feet tall now. We have three of these started and have high hopes for adding to our fruit forest in our backyard.

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These wonderful Cherry Belle Radishes are almost ready to be harvested.

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Our first strawberry. Small but sweet and juicy.

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My favorite flowers of all time with the fuzziest leaves ever are back. Borage has reseeded itself and is now growing wildly in all garden beds. The start-shaped flowers are wonderful for bees as they refill with nectar every 2 minutes. Another great nectar producer is Comfrey which refills every 45 minutes.

The fuzzy leaves of this plant are very edible and when I’m out of spinach, I substitute borage leaves when making palak paneer.

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~Grow~Share~Thrive~

 

All photography by Jane Grueber

 

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Grow with the Flow ~ Nature Photography

“When you possess great treasures within you and you try to tell others of them, seldom you are believed.” ~ Paulo Coelho 

I have been enjoying the escalation of colors in our backyard. It is mother earth imploring us, in her playful way, to give her our feet, our eyes, our noses and to take a picture.

These Gentlemen’s Buttons are a favorite of butterflies and bees which have been frequenting our yard a lot more now that these darlings appeared.

Even the ants can’t seem to get enough.

It is possible to understand the power of attraction.

Such great treasures.

            ~Grow~Share~Thrive~

All photography by Jane Grueber

See my photo gallery here

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Beauty All Around ~ Nature Photography

A Sufi holy man was asked, “What is forgiveness?” He said, “It is the fragrance that flowers give when they are crushed.”

It is a pleasure and privileged to revel in nature especially as the colors, fragrances and textures explode all around.

Borage has come back to life and once again graced us with its edible star-shaped flowers. Bees love these as they refill with nectar every two minutes.

Gorgeous Columbine grows in the community garden.

Over the last week, I took to nature to clear my head and let go of the old.

Wild flowers call to me.

The quiet solitude of the mossy forest is indescribable.

Slugs enjoy the soft carpet.

Mossy logs team with life and selflessly provide a home for countless creatures.

Dodds Narrows where the the water flows and whirlpools swirls. The seals frolic in the strong current.  It is also a passage way for Orca pods and other whales as they follow their food source.

Top Quote from The Renegade Press by Chris Nichols

All Photography by  Jane Grueber

See my photo gallery here

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Beach Time on Vancouver Island: Nature Photography

As summer approaches, the anticipation of hot sun, soft sand, barnacled rocks, lapping waves and cool ocean air washing over my mind and body gets me a little giddy. It’s never too early to head to the beach and take in all that its wonders.

Little treasures are found along the way when one is open to all possibilities.

Pausing to reflect on the immense force of nature that lies so tranquil on a sunny day.

The freedom to lose yourself in each moment. Playing. Pondering. Unhurried. Seeing anew with the curiosity and excitement of a child.

Observing tiny movers and shakers tending their lot.

Inhaling the salty air perfumed with the sweetest blossoms.

Restoring the wind in your sails. Harnessing the breeze.

All to remind us of our imperative to be stewards of this planet.

              ~Grow~Share~Thrive~

All photographs by Jane Grueber

See my photo gallery here.

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Wild Flowers of Vancouver Island ~ Nature Photography

The beauty of spring is in plain sight. On this particular hike in Central Vancouver Island, where ever we looked, there were burgundy, yellow, blue and purple flowers nestled among the soft, dewy greens.

We admired the unique shapes of the flowers and pondered whether the fairies used them as umbrellas, hats or cups to sip nectar.

We explored caves usually hidden completely in the winter months by the high tide.  Water is an incredible artist; creating slowly, silently and without resistance.

Just when we thought there could not possibly be any more purple flowers, there they were, imploring us to take their picture.

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Performing.
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Bowing.

Imagine what it would be like to live so freely as to lay here in the summer months on the softest moss, with the delicate scent of flowers swirling all around, lulling you into a day dream.

Happy hikers returning home. Hearts filled with infinite gratitude for what is.

         ~Grow~Share~Thrive~

All photographs by Jane Grueber.

See my photo gallery here.

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Wordsworth Dances with Daffodils

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Just as the daffodils are slowly fading away, replaced by colorful tulips, here is a poem by William Wordsworth to commemorate the beauty they bestow upon the waking planet each spring.

We planted about 40 daffodil bulbs in our front garden last fall. Amazingly, the sight of the yellow visage of a flower gladdens the heart and brightens the spirit.

“I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud” or “Daffodils”

I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o’er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.

Continuous as the stars that shine
And twinkle on the Milky Way,
They stretched in never-ending line
Along the margin of a bay:
Ten thousand saw I at a glance,
Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.

The waves beside them danced; but they
Out-did the sparkling waves in glee:
A poet could not but be gay,
In such a jocund company:
I gazed”and gazed ”but little thought What wealth the show to me had brought:

For oft, when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude;
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils.

 

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~Grow~Share~Thrive~

All photographs by Jane Grueber

Poem by William Wordsworth

See my photo gallery here.

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A Walk in the Garden ~ Nature Photography

All photography by Jane Grueber

Full Photo Gallery 

I watch out of the front window as a gentle spring rain soaks the garden beds filled with seeds and seedlings. My camera and I cannot resist nature in its infancy or at its most divine peak.

The seductive smells of rain and the nearby forest as I wade among plum and cherry blossoms, hyacinths and daffodils fill me with profound gratitude for the infinite abundance all around.
The sage that was discarded at the garden shop is soaking up the rain and thriving.

The hyacinths are trumpeting their beauty and scent signaling the beginning of a season of delicious feasts.

Snails are making themselves very comfortable in the garden among the herbs. This granddaddy has his eye on me as I come in for a close up.

These purple delights are one of the first flowers to stand up and get my attention.
Plants put in the ground late last year are making their debut.
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Woolly Thyme returns, much to the delight of the snails. Perhaps its soothing for their sore foot.
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As I walk, my connection to the Earth deepens. I am grounded. The planet provides us with all we need to not only survive, but thrive.  Photographs help remind me of this truth.

What could we do without it?

~Grow~Share~Thrive~