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December 2009

Holiday wrap.


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We celebrate Christmas here at Ledge and Gardens and the recent trip took away from the decorating time and made the holiday seem more of a mad dash than usual.  Christmas morning was clear, cool and crisp with icicles and, yes, it was white.  I know many of us receive garden gifts for the holiday and this year, No. 1 and only son used his creativity to replicate the octagon part of the house with this bird house.  DSC_0033
It remains to have the holes drilled for the birds as that requires a specific sized hole and he wanted to check with me as to what kind of birds would be the best tenants for this condo.  What do you think?  Hmmm...I am thinking just wrens but perhaps purple martins should be encouraged.  I do have a bird book with the hole specs so I just need to decide.  Most of you know the resident dog, Tucker and he received a Zhu Zhu pet for Christmas.  He is pretty cool isn't he? DSC_0024
He does love to chase and throw this when he isn't jumping out of it's way.  There is talk here of bringing a puppy into the fold as Tucker is reaching maturity and, old age, in fact.  he will be twelve in April and labs usually live to about fourteen.  Another question for all of you out there.  Do you think Tucker should get a puppy?


These will be ready in two weeks and they are related by kennel to Tucker.  All are black labs and while we love our yellow lab, Tucker is one of a kind.  Please vote and also suggest a name.  We need your help!

Phase I - Kathmandu, Nepal

 
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  Stupa - Eyes of Buddha

My recent adventure vacation to Nepal consisted of four phases.  The first was sightseeing in Kathmandu.  The second was three days of trekking from Pokhara up to Dhampus and around the mountain villages overlooking the Himalayas.  The third was white water rafting on the Seti River and the final phase of the trip included visiting the Chitwan National Forest and seeing the wildlife within.  I will spread this travel log over the next few weeks since this is a garden blog but the garden is now resting under a new layer of 15+ inches of snow acquired this past weekend and not much is stirring there as the shadows stand still for just a moment. 

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Welcome dinner at Rum Doodles in Kathmandu 

When one reaches a certain age, when there is less time looking forward than there is looking backward from that age, when good health is still a reality and when life lessons still include the urge to learn from traveling to vastly different cultures and locations, it is time to pack the bags and go.  An adventure vacation is not relaxing but there will be ample time to sit on the couch...later. IMG_0399
City Square in Kathmandu - Birds and Beasts

Our adventure choice was Nepal.   It is a long journey to Kathmandu, Nepal from Ledge and Gardens in Rhode Island.    I traveled with my husband, the Equipment Manager, and four of our close friends. We met up with eight others  which comprised our tour group.   Our group left Boston on December 1st, stayed overnight in New Delhi, India and then traveled on to Kathmandu.  The time is still a blur since Kathmandu time is eleven hours ahead of EST.  I think.  IMG_1087 

Not sure what this is but there are many on the road.

I would describe Kathmandu as a scrambling city of chaos.  There are people rushing to unknown destinations in and on every form of transportation available all with their hands on their horns creating a constant cacaphony of noise.  There are trucks, buses, cars, motorcycles, mopeds, bicycles, rickshawsIMG_0405
and cows all competing for the same road space.  The ancient architecture is beautiful IMG_0377
and often sits right next to the contemporary buildings which are not.IMG_0363
  The market places seems to blend into one another as one walks through the city streets.  There are many fresh vegetables, spices IMG_0370
and other wares IMG_0369
to purchaseIMG_0371
and there is always someone at your elbow trying to make a sale.  There were even seeds and sprayers for sale on the street.  IMG_0376

The Monkey Temple was one of our stops and it's official name, Swayambhunath means 'Sublime Trees'.  The monkeys there are holy although not all healthy.  IMG_0415
I found them quite intriguing with their human behavior and knowing eyes.  IMG_0418
This family was taking turns grooming each other.  The facade of the temple was under repair and covered with scaffolding. It is visible on the right of the picture below.   IMG_0417
There were many families and schoolchildren visiting the temple and rotating the prayer wheels.   This unusual sentinelIMG_0413
is barking out commands and surveying his competition from his high perch above the buildings. The temple and adjacent buildings are perched high on the hill overlooking the valley and the prayer flags are blowing in the breeze.  IMG_0427

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Patan Durban Square

We also visited the oldest city in the Kathmandu Valley, Patan.  There are striking carvings on all the buildingsIMG_0439
in this highly organized square and this center of fine arts is full of things to see from the very ornate IMG_0440
to the cleanly simple. IMG_0437
Our final  adventure in Kathmandu was to board a small plane and fly to see Mt. Everest. IMG_0451
Mt. Everest and the Himalayas are coldly beautiful and seeing them from the airplane was a thrill.IMG_0465
Here it is with the cloud floating behind it.  I am checking it off my list.   


Just a tease.

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It is so good to be home, jet lagged, bedraggled and not ready for the holiday.  I will post about the trip in the next couple of days but here is a picture of Annapurna South as seen from our three day home at  Basanta Lodge in Dhampus, Nepal.  Incredible beauty every morning as we ate at an outside table overlooking the Annapurna range in the Himalayas.  IMG_0707

Almost Wordless Wednesday - December 16, 2009


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Today I will be, hopefully, returning from an expedition to Nepal.  I say 'expedition'  because that is the correct term for a trip of this type.  I am hoping to have pictures of interesting people, plants and landscapes and I offer this as an explanation for my recent lack of comments to those who take the time to read this blog.

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I would also like to offer a sincere happy birthday to my baby brother who is turning fifty today.  Happy Birthday Pat.  Love, Layanee


Witch Hazel, Hamamelis virginiana

DSC_0052Hamamelis virginiana

Common witchhazel is a native plant which does have both medicinal and landscape value.  Growing in moist areas at the edge of the woodland it looks a bit forlorn and ragged.  But put this plant in the shrub border in full sun and you can grow it as a standard or as a nice, round shrub.  The extract of the witchhazel is pressed from the stems and bark of young wood and used as an astringent.  It is not quite as commonly used today as it was in previous decades but it is soothing and relieves burning and itching.  That said, I did not plant the common witchhazel.  I planted  'Arnold Promise' which is a hybrid between H. japonica and H. mollis.  It is grafted to H. virginiana rootstock and somewhere along the way in my garden, the graft failed and the rootstock grew to the present tree. DSC_0050

There are notable differences between these plants but the most obvious is the bloom time.  The common witchhazel blooms in the fall and the hybrids bloom in the spring.  The hybrids do have larger and more colorful flowers and they have an added advantage of blooming very early when the gardener's spirits are lagging and hope is all but lost for a bit of color in the garden.  I was initially disappointed to learn that my plant had reverted to the rootstock but the disappointment has faded with the pleasure of seeing these bitty flowers blooming now when all is thought to be done and finished.  DSC_0053 Nature offers surprises quite often and it is up to us to learn to fully appreciate her gifts.