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Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy New Year!

Yew (Taxus baccata)
( Click to enlarge)

This is the beautiful and majestic Yew tree that stands in the grounds of Saint Paul's church at Hunwick, a village about two miles from where I live now. My parents were married in this church, my brother and I were christened in it and many family funerals have taken place here. In fact, that was the reason for my visit today, to lay wreaths on the graves of family members.

It was bitterly cold but the church and the cemetery looked gorgeous amidst the swirling snow . In the older part of the cemetery, round the church, there are lots of very old trees and the blackbirds were poking about in the undergrowth for unsuspecting (probably sleeping) insects.

I'm smiling to myself as you'll probably wonder why I've put the heading, 'Happy New Year' with a photo of gravestones underneath! I wasn't taking a photo of the stones, interesting as they are, but of the Yew tree that stands sentinel to the church. To pagan civilisations, especially the Celts, Yew trees were (and still are) regarded as a sacred tree. To the Celts it's magical and a means of connecting to the otherworld, to ancestors gone before. It's no accident that churches stand next to a Yew tree and in many cases, a circle of Yew trees, a Druid grove. The trees often existed long before the church was built, planted there by members from ancient faiths.

The Yew is a tree symbolic of healing, transformation, death and rebirth ....... and so I find it an appropriate symbol for the beginning of a whole new year. Here is a beautiful passage written by Glennie Kindred:

"The knowledge we gain from the Yew makes it an extremely important tree for healing. It can help us overcome our fear of our own death and, by freeing us from this fear, bring us a greater stillness in our lives. Death heralds the end of something. It may be a physical death, or the death of our old selves, an old way of life or an old way of looking at things. Each end, each death, is a new beginning, hope, future and transformation. Sometimes things need to end or die before the new can begin, and understanding rebirth always requires seeing beyond our limitations."

To read more Glennie's words, click here.

The beautiful gates at the side entrance to Saint Paul's Church, Hunwick, County Durham
(Click to enlarge)

Wishing you Happiness, Health and Prosperity!

Monday, December 28, 2009

The Pit Bank

See the group of poplar trees just to the right of the centre of the photograph? Those trees are at the bottom of my garden. :) From the window of my 'computer room' (that's posh for spare room!), I can look out and see this hill. Up until about four years ago the farmer let his cattle feed here. I used to love looking over to see the gentle cows make their way back to the farm for milking and in the evenings for shelter. It was reassuring to see them back on the hillside early next morning.

Durham County Council acquired the land and, while I miss the cattle, the Woodland Trust worked with local schoolchildren to plant a number of young deciduous woodland trees on various sections of the bank so, in the near future, this will provide a good habitat for our wildlife and it will be nice to watch the trees as they grow.

The top of the 'pit bank', Willington, County Durham (click on photo to enlarge)

The farmer now keeps his cattle on land nearer the farm, just over the brow of the hill. I took a walk up there today to take a photograph of them but they weren't there. With the heavy snowfalls we've been having during the past couple of weeks, they're probably being kept in the barn for shelter and convenience of feeding. So I googled a picture from the internet instead!

A happy cow picture

"From my window I can see a field,

a pleasant pastoral picture.

I look again

and there they are,

beasts of stature.

I smile

as they concentrate intently on their meal of green.

It seems

they have no cares.....

so serene.

At dusk

when they've had their fill

I gaze after them

as, one by one,

they stroll over the brow of the hill......

and make their way home"

(by me ~ 2004, or thereabouts)

The pit heap at Willington, County Durham circa 1949

(photograph courtesy of Durham County Council)

This photograph shows the spoils from the coal mine in the town. It formed an enormous double-topped heap. The mine was closed in 1965 and was subsequently landscaped. It's amazing to think that this structure that overshadowed the town is now the gently sloping hill in the photograph at the top of the page. It's such a lovely place to be and very popular with people walking their dogs. I sometimes forget that under that turf and soil, men and young boys had their lives taken from them while at work, that the development and growth of our town was because of the coal found deep underground.

It's because of the pit heap that our town prospered during the 19th Century and it's due to thoughtful reclaimation that it provides a home for all sorts of wild mammals and birds....... and I'm not talking about those mammals who have evolved to grasp a tin of larger and take off up the pit bank for a bevy, though they too exist!

When the snow melts and the cows get back out into the fields, I'll take a walk up the pit bank and over the brow of the hill to take a photograph for you. :)

To see more stunning animal artwork by Sandy, click here.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Christmas greetings from ye merrye olde England

Christmas Greetings!

Happy Christmas to all you bloggers and thank you so much for the messages you sent while I've been a.w.o.l. I have no excuses for my absence except......

while being unnaturally busy,
got myself in a tizzy!
..... and then of course, my computer finally gave up the ghost after seven years of slooooooooow, but faithful service. Not to worry, I can use the daughter's..... and so I did..... for a few days, until hers decided to join mine in the spiritual world for decrepit computers! However, I'm now sitting here in front of a lovely brand new desktop and it's fantastic. Peace and contentment once more reigns in our little household!
All your messages gave me a lovely warm buzz....... and someone even wrote a special limerick for me. Mr Bennet, I hope you wont mind me reproducing it here. ;)

I once knew a lass name of Lesley
who blogged about blooms and wee beasties
we had become email chums
she has lovely green thumbs
she's missing north-south-east and westy!
That made me grin from ear to ear and I made a promise to write a blog post by the weekend...... it was at that point my old computer decided "no more." But here I am and I hope you're all having a lovely time this Christmas Eve, however you are spending it.

At the moment, the whole of the UK..... and our little garden is covered in a thick blanket of snow. Here are some photographs I took this morning from behind the patio window in the warmth of the sitting-room.

The birds are perched on the huge poplar trees, watching and waiting for me to put out more food for them

Using the zoom lens, here they are a bit closer

Who's watching who? Robin, posing on a snow covered table on the patio

Mr Jackdaw on the same table

"Ever felt like you're being watched?" he says, moving further away to the top of the arch

* Happy Christmas everyone, enjoy yourself and take care *

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Autumn Miscellany

Next to Spring, I love this time of year and I think our garden is looking prettier now than it's ever done. Sorry I haven't been around much for the past week or so, but I've just started yet another course with the Open University so I've been rather distracted. I've got a lot of reading up and commenting to do on everyone's blogs! Anyway, here are some photographs I was inspired to take today.

As other flowers are settling down for their Winter sleep ahead, the fuchsias are really coming into their own. This is Fuchsia 'Deep Purple'. For those of you who love huge showy blooms, this is the one! It flowers profusely and the double flowers really are the deepest of purple. Although I prefer the single-flowered fuchsias, I have to admit that 'Deep Purple' is a stunner. You can't go far wrong with fuchsias...... they're great value for money. Being inexpensive plants, they have a long flowering season and are amongst the easiest of plants to propagate from cuttings. There's a fuchsia for every situation in the garden..... you can grow them in the border, in hanging baskets and containers, there are shrub fuchsias and miniature fuchsias, double-flowered fuchsias and single-flowered fuchsias. The only fuchsia that's not available yet is a YELLOW one and if you happen to accidentally breed one, your life is about to change big style!

Our garden is a carpet of golden leaves just now, compliments of the Field Maple. If you look closely you'll see a tiny bloom of Herb Robert at the base of the tree stump.

Another fuchsia! This is Fuchsia 'Tom Thumb'. It's flowered non-stop throughout the Summer and still going strong. The photograph doesn't do it justice though, as it's tiny blooms are a richer purple. The plant itself only grows to about 8 inches high, but is the perfect choice to give shelter to the fairies.

This is a Rowan tree (Mountain Ash) that I've been training as a bonsai. It's in the same pot as the Tom Thumb fuchsia. When I say 'training', all I did was to confine it to a small flower-pot for a couple of years until I planted it in this container. Lucky for me, the trunk and roots took on this beautifully contorted shape and it looks quite authentic.

This last photo is just to show you what a beautiful corner of the Earth I live in. :D I took it today after my dental appointment, which was in the town next to ours. This is taken from the car park looking over towards our town, but it was drizzling with rain so you can't see it! In the middle of the photo you can just see the River Wear. Click on it to enlarge.

p.s. My teeth were fine and didn't need any treatment. :D

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

A Very Special Snail

Artwork by Charlotte when aged 8

I remembered and searched out this little essay that I wrote some years ago and wanted to share it. The writing is a bit corny and I haven't edited it, except for the odd comma here and there........ oh, and it's a true story. :)

A Very Special Snail

"Which creature has its eyes on stalks like a Dalek, is related to the octopus and has such a powerful muscle that it can retract its body inside a protective covering carried on its back? Of course, it's a snail! The colour, pattern and shape of its shell are dependent on the environment in which it lives. That is why we are blessed with such a wonderful variety of land and marine molluscs. There are even people who build up collections of shells, such is their fascination and beauty.

However, I am more interested in the creature that lives inside the shell. My first significant experience of snails was my reationship with Henry. It was shortly after my daughter was born and I was going through a period of post-natal depression, as well as living at the time in a claustrophobic house with only a backyard with very high brick walls that I couldn't see over. I felt thoroughly miserable and spent much of my time staring out of the window wishing those eight-foot high walls would fall down.

I had a window-box though and one day I noticed that there was a snail's shell partially buried in the soil. In the weeks to come I watched the snail. He would leave the box in the evening, just as dusk was falling, and would return in the morning. Whilst I looked after my baby daughter, nothing held my interest like that snail. I called him Henry. I don't really know why - he could quite as easily be a Henrietta, since snails are hermaphrodite. I began to put food in the window-box for him and he became thoroughly spoiled on tit-bits of banana, lettuce and apple.

On opening the curtains each morning, I'd look to see if Henry was 'home' and, if he wasn't, I'd return time and time again to the window to anxiously await his arrival! Many a morning I'd see him glide over the top of the box and make his way to the little dent he had made in the soil. But the Spring rains came and one morning Henry didn't return. I watched for him for days until I began to accept that he wasn't coming back. I didn't like to dwell too much on what had become of him but, to this day, Henry is still in our prayers!
In conclusion, I would like to say that Charlotte, my daughter who is now almost six years old, and I have a very close and loving relationship, but I will always be grateful to Henry for getting me through that difficult time......... and that is why snails have a very special place in my heart."

Charlotte is now twelve years old, approaching her teens...... think I might be looking for another Henry! :O)

Align Center
Align Center
Poetry and artwork by Charlotte

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Spot The Difference

Align Center

The top photograph was taken before I started work on Billy and Martin's garden. The one beneath it was taken a few days ago. I'm so pleased with how it's turning out and so are they. Billy can even walk down the garden and use the back gate to get to the local shops. It's quicker and easier for him and, at the age of 84 and having suffered two strokes, I think he's marvellous for doing all their shopping!

Their plot is turning into a proper market garden; their crops include potatoes, onions, garlic, tomatoes, chives and parsley as well as many flowers that will bloom next season. We're waiting for an order of bulbs to arrive so they will have some colour from as early as next January, beginning with snowdrops followed by daffodils and crocus, the Spring finale supplied by tulips. Of course, that wont really be the finale because then there will be all the Summer flowers to look forward to.

In my garden, we've been delighted with a cute visitor over the past couple of weeks..... a juvenile robin. That's one in the top photograph. This isn't 'our' baby; I've been too enthralled watching it to go looking for my camera! (This photo is from google as is the photo of the adult robin).

Although the baby doesn't have a red breast you can tell it's a robin by its shape (round and plump) and by its movement. Robins are quick and dart about, not staying in one place for long. On the first day that I spotted Baby Bobbin (our nickname for it. Cute, eh?) he was chased away by an adult robin..... probably one of its own parents. A couple of days later it chased the adult off! Robins are territorial and can be extremely fierce so it looks like there are going to be some family feuds as Winter approaches. What really amazed me was that, within days, his breast began to turn red. Aye, they're not babies for long! :)

The Summer has been good to our tomatoes and we've actually had some going ripe. Yay! I'm usually left with green ones. Well, we did have some ripe ones until they began to disappear...... the Tumbling Toms, cherry tomatoes, that we have growing in a half-barrell. As I was hanging the washing out I heard crunching behind me and there was Benji, one of our three dogs, helping himself!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

First Aid for Bees

Twice in the past week I've had to administer first-aid to bees! No I'm not joking. Luckily I had just been reading about this in last week's issue of Garden News. At this time of year in particular, with the onset of Autumn, bees are prone to exhaustion. It's not surprising as, in one day, they visit more than 5000 flowers to gather precious nectar, while pollinating the flower at the same time. As Summer is drawing to a close, the number of flowers are dwindling and bees are having to work extra hard to source food.

Why are bees so important?

* They pollinate a substantial percentage of the fruit and vegetables that we eat and feed to our livestock.

* They pollinate plants that we get our clothes from, e.g. cotton.

* They pollinate plants that line rivers and streams that control erosion.

* They pollinate many plants world-wide, plants that form forests, grasslands and jungles that provide habitat for animals everywhere.

So please, if you come across a bee lying, apparently lifeless, on the ground and you have sugar and water to hand, here is what you do:

Mix two tablespoons of sugar with one tablespoon of water. Put it in a shallow container and place it near your exhausted bee or transfer the bee (on a trowel or similar suitable object) to a plant and pour some of the sugar mixture on the plant next to it. The glucose mixture will provide a lifesaving fix and, when it has recovered, the bee will fly off on its way to continue its valuable work.

On both occasions, I was happy to witness 'my' bees recover after about an hour.

Here's a list of just some of the plants that bees pollinate:

Okra; Kiwi fruit; Onion; Cashew; Celery; Pawpaw; Starfruit; Brazil nut; Beet; Mustard; Rapeseed; Broccoli; Cauliflower; Cabbage; Brussel Sprouts; Turnip; Red & Green Pepper; Papaya; Safflower; Caraway; Chestnut; Watermelon; Tangerine; Coconut; Coriander; Hazlenut; Cantaloupe melon; Cucumber; Pumpkin, Marrow; Quince, Carrot, Buckwheat; Fig; Fennel; Strawberry; Soybean; Cotton; Sunflower; Walnut; Flax; Lychee; Apple; Mango; Alfalfa; Passion fruit; Avocado; Lima Bean; Kidney Bean; Runner Bean; Apricot; Cherry; Plum; Sloe; Almond; Peach; Nectarine; Pomegranate; Pear; Blackcurrant & Redcurrant; Rosehips; Raspberry; Elderberry; Sesame; Eggplant; Cocoa; Clover; Blueberry; Cranberry; Broadbean & Grape.

This list is by no means complete and contains crop plants only...... then there are all the wildflowers and garden flowers that our bees pollinate also. Working from dawn to dusk all Summer long, they deserve our utmost respect.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Gothic Gardening?

Greenfingers gave me the idea for this post when he said that he liked Dahlia Chat Noir (Black Cat) because it 'appeals to the ageing rocker in me'. It really is a striking looking flower with its dark and dramatic colours. Say hello to Greenfingers here. I've never grown dahlias before but I'm tempted to try this one.

Dahlia Chat Noir

In the last couple of years very dark coloured flowers have been highly fashionable such as this glorious Tulip.

Tulip 'Queen of the Night'

It looks fantastic either on its own or complimented with other varieties of tulips in paler colours. Can you imagine it teamed with a snow white tulip? Wow! I've grown Queen of the Night together with a pale pink tulip and it gave a lovely show.

This is Iris Chrysographes, the nearest variety to a black iris.

Iris Chrysographes

........ and here's a grass that would look just right in Count Dracula's garden!

Ophiopogon planiscapus nigrescens

..... how about this, the ultimate in gothic gardening?

Tacca chartrieri (Bat Flower)

I haven't tried this one yet but I do know that it was highly sought after on eBay this year. It looks stunning and would make a great talking point in the garden. Imagine sitting out for afternoon tea with granny and auntie discussing the finer points of this little beauty!

I like bats. We love to watch them flutter round the house at dusk. I'm going to have a go with this plant..... if there are any left to be got!

There are lots more exciting dark coloured flowers. Here's a list of others to look out for:

Helleborus orientalis (Hellebore) 'Black Beauty'.
Viola 'Black Jack'.
Viola 'Bowles Black'.
Viola 'Black Moon'.
Day Lily (Hemerocallis) 'Starling'.
Sweet William (Dianthus) 'Sooty'.
Hyacinth 'Midnight Mystique'.
Bearded Iris 'Superstition'.
Dahlia 'Arabian Night'.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

And the winner is........

This Summer I've grown lilies that have bowled me over, fuchsias that have taken my breath away and artichokes that have made me gaze in awe, but my favourite flower of the season is the little annual nemesia. Nemesia originally comes from South Africa and likes to grow in full sun. It's very easy to grow from seed and looks beautiful in the border and in containers. It reaches a height of about 12 inches (31 cm) and comes in a variety of pretty colours.

I've had to restrict it to this tub to prevent it from being flattened by the dogs! It makes a good combination with the nasturtium Alaska behind it. Nemesia is a pretty, dainty little flower with wispy leaves. It's not particularly dazzling..........

....... until you view it close-up and it begins to look like a mini orchid!

I wonder if the nemesia was named after Nemesis, the greek Goddess of justice and retribution? And, if so, I wonder who gave it this name and why? Looks like lots more googling for me!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

What is this life, if full of care.......


    What is this life if, full of care,
    We have no time to stand and stare.

    No time to stand beneath the boughs
    And stare as long as sheep or cows.

    No time to see, when woods we pass,
    Where squirrels hide their nuts in grass.

    No time to see, in broad daylight,
    Streams full of stars, like skies at night.

    No time to turn at Beauty's glance,
    And watch her feet, how they can dance.

    No time to wait till her mouth can
    Enrich that smile her eyes began.

    A poor life this if, full of care,
    We have no time to stand and stare.

    W.H. Davies

This is one of my favourite poems. Most mornings, weather permitting, I sit on the stone steps in the garden with my first cup of tea of the day. It's the best time of the day, before lawn mowers, hedge trimmers, car alarms and a host of other noises can be heard. If you sit quietly, within the space of about ten minutes, the creatures round about you come to accept you as part of the garden scenery. All at the same time my company included bees, a robin, a baby dunnock, a great-tit, a blue tit and several field mice, all almost within touching distance.

I seem to be the source of fascination for one of the adult mice (I'm assuming it's the same one who does it). He has a vantage point for viewing me, under the Geranium Johnson's Blue on the wall beside the steps where I sit. It's only about a foot away. He peers out at me for ages and only scampers away if I make a movement. Maybe he's wondering what kind of creature is this that appears at the same time as the crumbs of bread and seed!

As much as I appreciate the company of people, I'm so glad that the world is inhabited by other species, and the garden is a mini-world full of creatures with which we share a quiet acceptance.

Update on Billy and Martin's garden
The hedges are trimmed, there is now a lawn of sorts (though it's all lumps and bumps!), it's fenced off, a few flowers have been planted as well as about 100 onion sets and there is a well-dug patch ready for potatoes to go in. And the best bit is, Billy and Martin are now able to reach their washing line to peg out their long johns!

A little sadness.....
It occurred to me this Summer that I have lost my sense of smell. I'm unable to smell the Sweet Peas, the Lilies, the Roses and all the other scented flowers in the garden. I had a respiratory infection earlier in the year so that could be the cause, in which case (hopefully), the loss will be temporary. I'm hesitant in going to the doctor about it as I'm not keen on the idea of having a tube shoved up my nose (nasal endoscopy)! I know there are far, far worse disabilities in life, but for a gardener.......... well, I was so looking forward to enjoying the scent of those Sweet Peas.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Billy and Martin's Garden ~ Part Four

I'm still working hard in Billy and Martin's garden. Hubby's been helping out too, so we're making good headway. He's putting a fence up at the bottom of the garden as it's never been fenced in, and I'm still clearing away the overgrown greenery and disposing of the debris that's been uncovered...... an array of odd pans and lids, a bakelite light switch, an assortment of cutlery and even some old toothbrushes! I put everything in a pile near the door and old Billy said he'd have a look through it to see what they want to keep! :O)

Amazingly, they know the whereabouts of every plant and object in the garden, despite the plants, etc. having been shrouded in weeds for decades. Martin pointed to a spot in the garden and said there's a statue there. All I could see was dock weeds but sure enough, I found the grecian maiden exactly where Martin said she would be. That's her in the photo, along with the original chimney pot that was built on to the house in 1886. I also uncovered a beautiful porcelain Belfast sink.

And there are still gems of plants thriving...... roses, peony roses, mahonia shrubs, blackcurrant bushes and an apple tree that was totally covered in bindweed! It's amazing that they've still continued to grow. Maybe now that more light and air surrounds them, they will flourish and reach their full potential. Martin told me that the apple tree hadn't fruited since their mother died in the 1960s and assigned it to some supernatural reasoning. I think it's more likely that the tree being draped in bindweed prevented any bees from being able to pollinate it! However, I didn't want to shatter Martin's philosophy and, who knows, it could be a combination of both for all I know.

A lot of the clearing has been done now, a fence is being put up and the hedges on either side of the garden have had a trim. It wont be long before some planting will get done. It's satisfying to see good results after our hard work.

The grecian lady and 1886 chimney pot

This photo is from our own garden. I've been waiting for weeks for this artichoke to flower. It's maybe not the prettiest of blooms, but I love the purple florets which seem to be luminous. There are also some flower heads that are at the right stage for cooking...... but I feel queasy about chopping them off! I can't bring myself to do it!

This exotic looking flower is an Asiatic Lily. Despite its sultry appearance, it is such an easy plant to grow. It grows from a bulb and as long as it is placed in a sunny spot in well-drained soil, it will reward you with its sumpuous beauty.

And here it is in full splendour

The Lily by Mary Oliver
Night after night
enters the face
of the lily
which, lightly,
closes its five walls
around itself,
and its purse
of honey,
and its fragrance,
and is content
to stand there
in the garden,
not quite sleeping,
and, maybe,
saying in lily language
some small words
we can’t hear
even when there is no wind
its lips
are so secret,
its tongue
is so hidden –
or, maybe,
it says nothing at all
but just stands there
with the patience
of vegetables
and saints
until the whole earth has turned around
and the silver moon
becomes the golden sun –
as the lily absolutely knew it would,
which is itself, isn’t it,
the perfect prayer?

Friday, July 24, 2009

Frogs and........ haiku.

My seed trays come in very handy for making a comfortable resting place. When he left, there was a small frog-shaped indentation in the soil. :)

Speaking of frogs..... here's a beautiful haiku by Japanese haiku master, Basho:

old pond........
a frog leaps in
water's sound
(Basho ~ a long time ago)

Only a few words but it creates a scene vividly. So I wrote my own haiku about a frog......

a sudden movement
hops across my patio

a lovely fat frog

(Lesley ~ March 2005)

The syallabic count for haiku is fairly structured and I know mine doesn't quite fit perfectly but it's so enjoyable thinking up these 'picture poems' without worrying about strict form.

Here's one I wrote about one of my favourite creatures, the snail......

moving forward
by faith, one step at a time
quite fast for a snail
(Lesley ~ March 2005)

Near where I live there's a big old house surrounded by rusty iron railings. It's particularly pretty in early Spring when the grounds are covered in drifts of aconites.......

drifts of ochre
Spring's firstborn jewel

the Aconite

(Lesley ~ March 2005)

That year I was clearing a neglected garden for somone when I encountered a tiny flower thriving amongst the overgrown grass.......

amidst the debris
old rusty cans and brambles
one golden crocus

(Lesley ~ March 2005)

We had heavy falls of snow that March, hence this tanka about the little crocus........

it's lost now
in games of hide and seek
under the snow

syllables gone awry

brain numbed with the cold
turn a blind eye

(Lesley ~ March 2005)

(Haiku: Japanese short poetry of 17 syllables with the syllabic pattern of 5-7-5
Tanka: Japanese verse form of 31 syllables ~ five lines with a syllabic pattern 5-7-5-7-7)

I haven't kept any of my writing either before or after these, so I must have thought they were quite acceptable..... despite the undisciplined structure. :)

One of my favourite drawings by our daughter

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Garden Work ~ As Viewed From Heaven

I came across this on the internet a few years ago and wanted to share it.

Francis, you know all about gardens and nature; what in the world is going on down there in the U.K. What happened to the dandelions, violets, thistles and the stuff I started eons ago? I had a perfect no-maintenance garden plan. Those plants grow in any type of soil, withstand drought and multiply with abandon. The nectar from the long-lasting blossoms attracts butterflies, honeybees, and flocks of songbirds. I expected to see a vast garden of colour by now. All I see are patches of green.

St. Francis: It's the tribes that settled there, Lord. They are called the suburbanites. They started calling your flowers 'weeds' and went to great lengths to kill them and replace them with grass

God: Grass? But it is so boring. It's not colourful. It doesn't attract butterflies, bees or birds, only grubs and worms. It's temperamental with tempertures. Do these Suburbanites relly want grass growing there?

St. Francis: Apparantly not Lord. As soon as it has grown a little, they cut it.. sometimes two times a week.

God: They cut it? Do they bale it like hay?

St. Francis: Not exactly, Lord. Most of them rake it up and put it in bags.

They bag it? Why? Is it a cash crop? Do they sell it?

St. Francis: No sir, just the opposite. They pay to throw it away.

God: Now let me get this straight.... they fertilize it to make it grow and when it does grow, they cut it off and pay to throw it away?

St. Francis: Yes, sir.

God: These Suburbanites must be relieved in the Summer when we cut back on the rain and turn up the heat. That surely slows the growth and saves them a lot of work.

St. Francis:
You aren't going to believe this Lord, but when the grass stops growing so fast, they drag out hoses and pay more money to water it so they can continue to mow it and pay to get rid of it.

God: What nonsense! At least they kept some of the trees. That was a sheer stroke of genius, if I do say so myself. The trees grow leaves in the Spring to provide beauty and shade in the Summer. In the Autumn they fall to the ground and form a natural blanket to keep the moisture in the soil and protect the trees and bushes. Plus, as they rot, the leaves become compost to enhance the soil. It's a natural circle of life.

St. Francis: You'd better sit down, Lord. As soon as the leaves fall, the Suburbanites rake them into great piles and pay to have them hauled away.

God: No way! What do they do to protect the shrubs and tree roots in the Winter to keep the soil moist and loose?

St. Francis:
After throwing the leaves away, they go out and buy something called mulch. They haul it home and spread it around in place of the leaves.

And where do they get this mulch?

St. Francis: They cut down the trees and grind them up to make mulch.

God: Enough! I don't want to think about this anymore. Saint Catherine, you're in charge of the arts. What movie have you scheduled for us tonight?

St. Catherine: "Dumb and Dumber," Lord. It's a really stupid movie about......

God: Never mind - I think I just heard the whole story from Saint Francis!

(Author unknown)