Shades of Lavender

In my last post, I told you of our misadventure of driving more than a hundred miles just to be disappointed. The lavender field was just an illusion.

Today, a friend of ours took photos in our backyard. We don’t need to go that far after all.

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They may not be the real lavender flowers, but their shade of color is close enough.

(*photo credit cashQ, horticulturalist: missus)

Mysterious Weed

After being away for a few weeks, we came home and was pleasantly surprised that our garden was still in full bloom. We had lots of rain this summer, plus we asked our friend to water our plants if needed, while we were gone.

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Not just the flowers, but the vegetables as well were blossoming, like the tomatoes and the pepper.

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But besides the flowers and vegetables, the weeds have also grown tall. There are areas that the weeds are crowding the other plants, that it even started to look like a weed garden. No, I’m not talking about the illegal “weed.”

When we looked closely to a patch of our garden with overgrown weeds, a peculiar plant was among them. We thought it was just a tall weed, but it wasn’t.

It was corn!

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It’s kind of puzzling how those corn plants got there, for we definitely did not plant them.

We know that a corn field is not too far away, could the wind blew some seeds when the farmers were planting their crop? Or maybe a bird drop a corn kennel there? Or maybe the chipmunks? Or could it be the leprechaun that planted them? Who knows?

After clearing the weeds, we decided to keep the corn and not pull them out. After all, they have ears of corn on them already.

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Maybe next year, we’ll plant corn in our garden on purpose. This is Iowa anyway, the corn center of the entire USA, and perhaps the whole world.

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Not too long from now, we’ll be harvesting our own corn. Unless the leprechaun (lepre-corn?) get to them first.

 

A Perfect Day

I was on-call last weekend. It was not particularly busy that I was drowning in work, but enough to keep me occupied in the hospital most of the days during the weekend. I had more toxic calls before, so I really cannot complain.

I was making my rounds in the hospital and making headway on my long list of patients to see. I have seen all the ICU patients and working on the rest of the patients in the hospital. On my way to the other side of the hospital, I passed the crossway that overlooks the center garden of the hospital.

I stopped for a while and gazed longingly at the garden.

our hospital's central garden

our hospital’s central garden

It was already early in the afternoon. It was sunny, but the temperature outside was not hot, nor was it cold. It was just right. It was early September after all, when summer and autumn are in their crossroads.

It was a perfect day to be outside.

I could have been outside. I could have been sitting outside in that garden with the beautiful flowers in bloom. I could have been outside shooting hoops with my son. Or could have been outside having barbecue with my friends. Or could have been outside riding my bike on some engaging bike trail. Or could have been outside just lying on a hammock under a tree. I could have been outside……

Instead, I was inside the hospital walls. Working.

The next stop on my rounds was the Oncology floor. I entered the room of our patient who has history of rectal cancer and was treated several years ago. But now found to have his cancer come back with vengeance, spreading to his lungs. I was suddenly reminded of my mother who has the same circumstances.

My patient was having difficulty breathing. It was quite obvious that even with high flow oxygen he was struggling. Every movement was an effort. He has been hospitalized for some time now, with no clear indication of when he can go home. Or will he ever?

As I entered his room, he was looking at the window. He was looking at the same central garden that I was looking at, a little while ago. Perhaps he had the same thoughts that I had: I could have been outside enjoying this beautiful day.

But he can’t. And perhaps he never will.

That’s when a thought dawned on me. There’s a reason why I am not outside. I was placed here inside these hospital walls, for a sacred duty to care and give comfort for people who cannot enjoy a beautiful day outside, just like today.

It was a perfect day indeed.

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(*photo taken with an iPhone)

 

Under a Glass Ceiling

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somewhere in Manila

Even though it was only less than 3 months since we have visited the Philippines, I am already missing my native land. I miss walking beneath the swaying palm trees and wandering around a tropical garden.

But the other day, we visited something similar.IMG_3638

We walked in the midst of lush vegetation, typical of a rain forest.IMG_3613

Took shelter from the sun under the broad banana leaves.

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And was greeted by familiar tropical fruits, though we did not pick them. First of all, they were not ripe yet. Second, we are not allowed to.

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We also found cool water falls in the midst of the thick flora.

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It was indeed a beautiful tropical garden.

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No, I am not back in the Philippines. In fact, I am not even in a tropical place. All of these were inside a huge glass dome, right here in Des Moines, Iowa, where winter is cold and harsh.

But inside this big greenhouse, the temperature is controlled, where it is warm and balmy all year round, just like the tropics.

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There was even a patch of desert plants in one corner.

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And of course, there were lots of beautiful tropical flowers for us to admire. Here are a few of them.

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Spending some time in the garden was a cool (or should I say hot!) experience.

It does not matter what the weather outside. Whether it is spring, summer, fall or even if it is the dead of winter. I don’t care even if there is a blizzard outside. For under this glass ceiling, I felt right at home.

I wonder if they would let me set up a bahay kubo (nipa hut) in here.

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(*photos taken inside the Des Moines Botanical Center)

Tenacious Flowers

It’s May. And this month is known for flowers. Here are some that are found in and around our home.

There are flowers that are beautiful yet delicate, and we proudly display them for all to see.

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roses in the mantel shelf

There are flowers we have planted that we are excited to see as we wait for their yearly blooms.

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Alliums in our yard

Then there are flowers that are thought to be difficult to grow and bloom, as they need tender loving care.

orchid by the window

orchid by the window

But this time of year, there are also flowers in our yard that we neither like to display nor are we excited to see them bloom. In fact, we don’t want them to come out at all. They are not delicate, and in contrary they are tenacious and difficult to kill.

I am talking about these pesky dandelions.

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our front yard

Dandelions are considered weeds by most of us, and we hate to see them especially in our manicured lawns. Yet they thrive despite all the herbicides we use to try to eliminate them.

But do you know that there can be benefit of having dandelions in your yard? Really? Yes, really.

Dandelions can attract ladybugs who in turn can keep other pests population, like aphids, in check. Their long taproots can aerate the soil. They can also be eaten, as in salad, or drank, as in tea. Studies have shown that they are rich in vitamin B, C, D as well as iron, manganese, magnesium, zinc and phosphorus. Those chemicals I mentioned are not from the pesticides we spray them. Those are good elements.

Even though dandelions are mostly unwanted flowers, one can argue that they can be beautiful too. I remember when my daughter was still a little girl, she used to pick these yellow flowers and put them in a small cup and give it to her mom. Even a bouquet of “weed” flowers can be a precious gift.

But it’s not their natural beauty that necessarily inspires me. It is their tenacity. Their persistence. No matter how hard we try to squash them, poison them, suffocate them, kill them – they still find their way to live and grow year after year. Or at least in my yard.

If only we have the same tenacity for life as these lowly dandelions. No amount of opposition, challenges, and discouragement can tramp our will to survive and thrive. We will persist whatever the circumstances may be. A lesson we can learn from this oft maligned “pest.”

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our “dandelion garden”

I know I have already called the lawn “doctor” to get rid of them, but now I’m having second thoughts. Maybe I’ll be organic and let them grow. Maybe I can convince myself that I’m cultivating a dandelion garden. However they will spread rapidly and through their airborne seeds they can even spawn the nearby perfect lawns.

My neighbors will not be impressed.

(*photos taken with iPhone)