Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Spring 2015 Sustainable Neighbors Garden Tour

Greetings Wild Indigo readers! April is nearly ca-put but with its plentiful rains it ushers in May's fragrant flowers and another epic event.  In case you've been living under a rock and haven't heard yet, for local dwellers, this Sunday marks the fourth annual Spring 2015 Sustainable Neighbors Garden Tour. We'll be meeting at Arsenal Bridge May 3rd at 2:00 pm until 3:00 pm. From there we'll disperse as each participant is free to tour the gardens of their choice at their leisure.  I'll be closing up shop at 5:30 to join the tour myself. Addresses for all of gardens will be provided at the Arsenal Bridge location so bring your GPS for a fun-filled afternoon of adventure! Not only is Sunday slated to be a glorious day weather wise but us sustainable Neighbors are tickled pink to have you be a part of the tour! As for myself, I personally want to thank everyone for opening up their Alice In Wonderland gardens. Lets see just how far down the rabbit hole goes! For more info the following link will quench your curiosity:

As you can tell, uber high gear is my current modus operandi in getting ready for this weekends event.  In fact the creative juices have been overflowing and the Wild Indigo plans slated for this year's  Celtic Garden are well under way. The wild indigo journey is spilling into the new work as a creative outlet and gateway for contemplative meditation.  Now to just live it out consistently with ever-present mindfulness .... ahhh, there's the rub!

Anyway, as I was tending the garden I unearthed a curious underground dweller.  At first look I thought it a worm but after closer observation (dorsal scales kinda gave it away) I deduced this was no worm Vern!  Here ~ have a look-see for yourself!

Eastern Worm Snake

The underside of this individual was pink which initially led me to believe it was just another squirmy wormy in my garden! Now at least for me rarely so I come across a snake in the garden, especially in the part of the garden this little one was found in. It was small.  The green leaf to the right was a wild violet leaf which might give you a vague idea of its size, well, at least the part of it I hadn't chopped to smithereens! I found the severed tail fragment after turning over more soil which squirmed around headless chicken style in my hand. Cool? Why yes, yes it was!

After some quick research I've determined that this little guy was a Eastern Worm snake.  Although they can grow to the tune of a foot in length, all told this one was barely seven inches. Its non-venomous and burrows using its pointed head (CONEHEAD!!) into cracks and crevices.  They consume worms and larvae and lumps and chunks preferring to dwell underground or in rotting logs. Unfortunately this guy's fossorial multi-pass has just been revoked.

Of course the best of the best of the Celtic Garden will not be pictured this week but to tantalize your visual cones and rods here's a few cursory snapshots.


Strawberries -N- Green

Dino Kale got wild -n- crazy with Eschscholzia Calfornica .....

Bastard Balm

Soap wort and Horehound

.... and these guys were all ears, Lamb's Ears, that is!

For more Celtic Garden mayhem be sure to join us for the tour this weekend and until then may happiness be a ray of sunshine in your heart, mind and soul!

Friday, April 24, 2015

History Still in the Making!

Greetings Wild Indigo readers! It's April 24th and the month is nearly over and done with but not before we celebrate National Arbor Day. To celebrate I plan on planting some "trees" today but more on that later. Interestingly enough the pictures I'd planned on posting this week turned out to be hilariously fitting images suitable to promote Thicke's "Blurred Lines," (yes including the landmark lawsuit victory for the Marvin Gaye family!) since that's exactly what they all are ~ blurred! But its all good since colorful dialogue and a little taste of local history might just be the perfect enticement to attend the 4th Annual Sustainable Neighbors Garden Tour. Its next Sunday May 3rd from 2 pm - 6 pm.  All told five gardens will be open for your perusing enjoyment this Spring, including mine. We plan on meeting at the Arsenal Bridge Garden then will disperse to free-tour the rest of the gardens. So this weeks blog will highlight all the gardens on the tour.

Arsenal Bridge located between the Museum of the Cape Fear at 801 Arsenal Avenue and Arsenal Park is the pedestrian bridge which spans highway 87 joining the two.  The bridge project was started by a former Sustainable Neighbor kimchee extraordinaire Bryan and is an amazing sustainable microclimate garden all of its own.  This area is of particular interest to both Fayetteville natives and Civil War buffs and is notably the first stop on The Spirit of America Trails. Much can be said about the NC Arsenal at Fayetteville because back in the day it was a big deal for the U.S. military. Its chief cornerstone was laid on April 9, 1838. The perimeter was constructed of both brick and stone its walls were massive in size. Where the four corners met to the Northeast was an octagonal tower. Here's a picture of the grounds as it stood in the 1800's to include the Poe House and the tower who's monument stands adjacent in today's Arsenal Park: 
Quite impressive! Not only was the famed Fayetteville Rifle produced here but over  900,000 rounds of small arms ammo and other combat items were assembled by women workers. These were sent directly to the front lines, proving to be a major contribution to the Confederate war effort. (And people say a women shouldn't be President! Phffft!) In March 1865, Union General William T. Sherman led his army into Fayetteville and ordered his chief engineer, Col. Orlando M. Poe, to "batter the arsenal building into piles of rubble and then burn and blow up the ruins." So when you meet us at the launching site for this years garden tour be sure to walk around the Historical Poe House grounds and Armory where history is still in the making!

Be sure to stop by my Fayetteville Celtic Gardens also on this Springs Urban Farm Tour. The write up for the Fayetteville Celtic Gardens can be seen here as they were the highlight for last week's blog:;postID=8538489624448544968;onPublishedMenu=allposts;onClosedMenu=allposts;postNum=1;src=postname

I must add that while time has not been on my side this Spring I'm extremely excited over newly accomplished projects including the placement of a new irrigation system and orchard. Its been wonderful to see which plants have returned from their winters sleep and observe the Spartan growth of newly planted items. Bragging rights abound and I'm so excited to share my treasures with you! As usual Sonshine Soaps will be available for purchase as well as new sundries up for sale. The Celtic Gardens are located at 920 McKimmon Road in the Cumberland Heights neighborhood. Look for the 920 yard sign and feel free to stop by up until 5:30 pm where afterwards I close up shop and go incognito on tour as a fellow garden fairy.

Now I was driving in the Suburban Hermits (a.k.a. James) neighborhood the other day and I've gotta say that he's made some huge changes in the front yard.  Being the polite Sustainable Neighbor that I am I didn't sneak peeks at the backyard but I can only imagine what unconventional urban gardening tactics have been employed back there. I'm green with envy and quite humbled at his achievements. Since spoilers are just that - spoils - I won't elaborate or disclose what he's done but needless to say its elaborate and outstanding! Its awesome that another fellow Sustainable Neighbor - who incidentally is on next weekend's tour - is valiantly representing and living the edible landscape dream to the tee! Check back for location details!

Second Harvest Food Bank located at 406 Deep Creek Road serves Bladen, Cumberland, Duplin, Harnett, Hoke, Robeson, and Sampson counties by providing nutritious food and other services. Ron Pringle is the head honcho and with his blessing allowed Sustainable Neighbors Marsha Howe to build a series of raised garden beds aimed to show kids and families where food comes from and how easy it is to grow! It's expanded substantially from its humble beginnings developing into quite the showpiece of Second Harvest! What I love in particular is its simplicity. Composting stations help recycle donated food so nothing on site is wasted. The composted soil goes into the raised beds becoming the enriching, living substrate, full of living micro-organisms and bacteria the seeds and plants thrive on. Out of the abundance the cultivation circle is completed when after harvest plant remains go back into the compost for soil amendment the following season. It's a true cycle of life in its simplest and truest form, working in perfect tandem with nature's design. You can read more about the non-profits efforts here:

A little known fact about Fayetteville: it has its fair share of secret gardens but none of the likes of the private test gardens by the artisan mastermind Thomas Clark. Grown for both pleasure and purpose he utilizes efficient xeriscaping design resulting in a wonderful garden masterpiece. I am particularly partial to his majestic white pines - a rarity in this region - whose perfumed resin waifs the air bringing a sense of enchantment to the grounds. Over the winter his test gardens sustained considerable snow and ice damage but I'm certain his uber recycling efforts will result in dope beds you won't want to miss! He's located at 1105 Martindale. Just look for the little red mailbox garden. His blog this week showcases a few rare individuals whose flowers might be spent by next week's tour so click and enjoy!

Looking forward to meeting you next weekend and as always may happiness be a ray of sunshine to your mind, body and soul!

Friday, April 17, 2015

4th Annual Sustainable Neighbors Garden Tour

Wisteria - quick bloom but oh so fragrant!
Welcome back Wild Indigo readers! This week will feature a quick glance around ye 'ol Celtic Garden but mainly serves as the vehicle to announce the 4th Annual Sustainable Neighbors Garden Tour. Mark your calendars for Sunday May 3rd. Time and further details TBA. So far four or five gardens will be on tour which will sure to inspire you for yours! Details will follow closer to the date and you can read more about the gardens on tour here or you can ask in person at the Fayetteville City Market located at the Transportation Museum Saturdays from 9:00 - 1:00 at the Sustainable Neighbors booth.

Oh the bliss of urban gardening, let me count the ways! Mind you, the Celtic Garden has always been a dream of mine. Everywhere I've ever lived I've utilized my green thumb, in flowers mainly up until recently.  Each dwelling or balcony became a garden canopy for my heart and soul to bloom which I then left behind for the next tenant to enjoy.   
Watching the movie "Food Inc" was life changing for me both personally and professionally.  Despite being in the medical field, I had no idea how broken America's food system was! After being a life-long renter, the Cumberland Heights property was purchased in 2011 with the sole purpose of attaining roots of botanical sovereignty!

I relinquished my Fayetteville Community Garden plot but not before gaining valuable experience in raising year-round Southern produce, thanks to the discipleship of green-thumbed gurus there. I set out to establish a sustainable garden of my dreams but this time in my own back yard! The dream continues. 

Our intention at Celtic Gardens is to grow seasonal organic plants for health and medicinal benefit just as Mother Nature intended it - void of pesticides and GMO seed. Filled with fragrant sweet bush, fruit of vine and tree, colorful perennials, unusual botanicals, medicinal herbs, lush green pathways and bursting with seasonal eats the Fayetteville Celtic Gardens will be open for public touring for the 4th Annual Fayetteville Urban Garden Tour. The ever popular Sonshine Soaps will offer herbal sundries and soaps for purchase. Cash and credit welcomed. Come experience the garden and find inspiration to grow yours. 

And as always may happiness be a ray of sunshine in your heart, body and soul!

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Well I never did THAT before! Wild Foraged SALAD!

Hey Wild Indigo readers! This is a *SPECIAL EDITION* blog entry of timely importance. I've been listening to a FOOD AS MEDICINE webinar online from Asheville, NC that's completely free! These workshops so far have been amazing, especially the vein of sharing experience and information regarding foraging for seasonal medicinal foods that are likely growing in your back yard as I type! This webinar, although free, is only available for listening for a VERY LIMITED time - in fact in some instances for only a few hours post posting of this blog.  So let's get to it!
After listening to "Marc Williams & Luke Cannon: The Power of Wild Salad & Pesto: Foraging for detoxifying wild greens & edible flowers (with Marc). Wild Tea Party: Infusing & imbibing wild herbs for energy, balance, digestion & immunity (with Luke)," I was TOTALLY inspired to kick off my shoes, walk out into the Celtic Garden to see what she's providing for me to knaw on! Now mind you not only are these foods in my garden organic (because I don't use any weed killers or ant killers, etc..) but since they're in season they're growing for a bifold reason: for nutrition and for medicinal value.  
Listen to the webinar or peruse the guest speakers websites for ideas on what plants are safe to forage, what parts are edible and how they benefit our bodies.  All plants pictured were freshly picked and eaten within 30 minutes of picking. 
 **IMPORTANT DISCLAIMER** I do NOT use any chemical treatments whatsoever on my property or garden which makes edible plants organic and safe for human consumption. If you use Roundup or any chemical fertilizer on your property do NOT eat your edible plants until you consult a landscaping professional. Call the 1-800 number on the bottle of your chemicals to determine if your plants would be safe to eat.
From left to right: apple mint, oregano, wild onion, flowers of dandelion blooming cabbage and wild violet, two types of dandelion, morris heading cabbage, dino kale, spinach, and another type of dandelion.  On the cutting board: freshly picked bronze fennel, carrot greens, tops of morris heading cabbage ready to bloom.
  So after washing the plants they marched willingly onto the cutting board.

Lookin good guys!
So how could I slather chemical laden salad dressing on this delectable food? I whipped up a quick dressing with the following ingredients.

 A little fresh lemon juice would've been a great addition

Not only was this by far the prettiest salad I've ever created but as I munched away, I'd forgotten how raw food - especially on this caliber - makes my body feel.  I had a surge of energy as if my cells said "ahh, finally some REAL food!" Seriously, I can literally FEEL more energy and sense that this food has been fully appreciated by my body.

Now I had expected this to taste really bitter but because the leaves were young this salad was far from bitter.  It tasted just like any other salad bar in town except I grew it hand in hand with Mother Nature who offers her finest in season plants in my very own back yard.

NOW REPEAT AFTER ME: Use COMMON sense!! Dandelion plants have jagged leaves.  Some are hairy and might actually be wild lettuce.  I am certainly NOT an expert which is why this link is far more informative to get started. 

I feel compelled to post this link and share my experience with you as time is of the essence.  Most of the discussions will be available to listen to up to Friday evening at 9:00 pm EST here in the States.

I hope you too are inspired to create a dish for yourself that is not only highly nutritious but medicinal! Our relationship with food has so changed over the years. What if we started thinking about food as medicine, not just something pleasurable to chew and swallow or nutritious? If we thought of food as medicine? How would our relationship with food change, evolve and become augmented with the needs of our bodies instead of just be something served out of a package choked down out of a unappetizing bag on the way to work.

Eat something WILD this week and enjoy the Asheville Webinar!

And as always may happiness be like rays of sunshine in your mind body and soul!


Monday, April 6, 2015

Will the Real Mr. Snowflake Please Stand Up?

Greetings and welcome back Wild Indigo readers! Hey, did you hear the news? The 4th Annual Sustainable Neighbors Garden Tour has tentatively announced the spring date so mark your calendars for Sunday May 3rd. In case you're new to the area (and even if you aren't) and would like more details click here. Help spread the news to locate more Fayetteville area secret gardens to explore!

After taking Easter week off I had more time to shoot pictures of what's in bloom at Celtic Gardens so let's get right to it!

Every year this mystery plant periscopes out of the ground but has yet to bloom before the lawnmower mulches it into oblivion. But not this year!  Behold the power of .....

So tell me who are you?
....... well I'm not exactly sure. Will the real Mr. Leucojum please stand up? Are you Leucojum Aestivum or would you prefer to be called Leucojum Vernum! Perhaps its some newfangled Army drone acting all commando incognito! Known as either the Spring Snowflake or the Summer Snowflake these cheeky plants are actually distant cousins to Amaryllis. Although similar to crocus they have taller stalks and much smaller flowers. Not pictured very well is the bulging seed pod just above the green spotted tepals. You the reader gets to decide which which is what.

Easter Sunday morning met us with a chill in the air but with a cup of hot Sumatra coffee in hand my view was simply serendipitous. The coral honeysuckle is nearly bustin a move with sick blooms and just in time too ~ hummingbirds have been spotted in the neighborhood!

In the picture below you'll notice the Kalanchoe, featured in February's blog, is outside enjoying a breath of fresh air. The bees seem to enjoy the bright orange flowers which are still in bloom. In the forefront purple violas smile for the camera. The pansy painted pot is a precious good-bye gift painted by a former co-worker whose Ground Hog Day birthday was always fun to celebrate! The adjacent four pack of flowers shall remain a nameless as I've got secret plans for them later so stay tuned! A sure herald of spring in this region are primrose flowers and for good reason. Their cheery color just shouts super happy spring gibberish! And way in the background a pot of chocolate mint awaits its new home.  


Remember the asparagus photos from a few weeks ago? Well here they are today. And they are giNORmous!!  In fact they've already reached last years height. I'm hoping they'll get even taller to provide some privacy screening for the deck. Admittedly I've nibbled off a teensy tiny piece and it was YUMMEA but they'll go unharvested yet again this year.  But watch out next year baby ~ you're gonna be wonderful dressed up with a little garlic, olive oil and lemon thyme!!!

Now in case you live under a rock or just really could care less about such things, there was a major astrological event Saturday morning April 4th. Star gazers from all over the world were lucky enough to glimpse April's lunar eclipse/pink full moon as the internet attests with scads of stunning images. As for our area, cloudy skies prevailed *SIGH* but a Friday night full moon shot is below. 

 Bark at the moon Ozzy!

That's it for this week. Now that evening temps will be consistently warmer you can bet mysterious germinating seeds will be the scoop for next week's entry.

Wild Indigo thought of the week: ruling over thoughts and emotions is better than them ruling over me.

And as always, may happiness be like rays of sunshine in your mind, body and soul.

P. S. Come get valuable sustainable gardening information, buy heirloom plants and wonderful hand crafted herbal Sonshine Soaps at the Fayetteville Downtown City market. Stop by the Sustainable Neighbors booth Saturday mornings from 9:00 am until noon and peruse. Grand season opening is April 18th!