Tree Peony Extraordinare – Guan Yin Mian

  • Post published:03/18/2014
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Guan Yin Mian is my favorite tree peony, a native Chinese plant.  Guan Yin is the bodhisattva of compassion, or in terms more familiar, the goddess of mercy. During our years in China I became familiar with Guan Yin who is much given to appearing in visions, giving women the babies they and long for,  and who laughs that  we can struggle so - as she helps us. She is often shown wearing a gown with a rice…

Ginkgo – The Ancient Maidenhair Tree

  • Post published:01/20/2014
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While we were living in Beijing we became fascinated with the ginkgo tree, sometimes called the maidenhair tree. This is an ancient tree and fossilized leaves dating back 270 MILLION years have been found. They saw the rise and fall of the dinosaur. Today it grows in many temperate and sub-tropical areas of the world because it is so unusual and beautiful and because it is so adaptable. It even tolerates pollution and is used in cities as…

Beauty Heart Radish

  • Post published:01/14/2011
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One of the New Plants for 2011 profiled in the new issue of The American Gardener published by the American Horticultural Society is a Watermelon Radish from Renee's Garden.  I am ashamed to say that when I first came across this beautiful vegetable in Beijing I insisted on calling it a turnip. Who ever heard of a radish as big as a baseball?  My Chinese colleagues insisted on calling it a radish, but in spite of the fact…

Three Lilies

  • Post published:07/27/2010
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Last fall I planted six lilies in the herb bed right in front of the house. Three Henryi lilies which are gold, and three white Henryi lilies, all from Old House Gardens, one of my favorite bulb suppliers.  White Henryi was the first to blossom, dazzling white with its golden throat. Then this lily bloomed. I've got a bit of a prop to hold up the blossom so I could photograph it. It is neither the white or…

A Valentine Radish

  • Post published:02/15/2010
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It seemed only appropriate to serve Beauty Heart radish at our Valentine’s dinner. We were introduced to the beautiful pinky red radishes when we were living in Beijing where it is very popular. Members of my Women of China work unit brought some pickled Xin  Li Mei radish to a picnic outing. They called it Beauty Heart which I much prefer to Red Meat, as it is sometimes  called in seed catalogs. It is also called Watermelon radish…

Calligraphy Lesson

  • Post published:08/06/2009
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Yesterday famed author and illustrator Ed Young made a presentation at the Childrens Literature Festival  for the young set at Buckland Shelburne Elementary School. He did everything the children asked, making a lion - and a chicken - according to their directions  while he stood behind the easel and making a horse paper cut. He also had the children hold a long long scroll with a poem he had written some 20 years ago to demonstrate Chinese characters.  In China,…

Three Friends of Winter

  • Post published:01/28/2009
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Since I have just posted about Spring Festival, the Chinese New Year, I thought I would continue with a mention of the Three Friends of Winter, the pine, bamboo and plum blossoms. These plants symbolize survival under adverse conditions.The pine is considered the chief of trees. Its trunk is straight and powerful (although I have to say that the pine that shows up commonly in Chinese art is less than tall and straight) like an upright man of…