Tuesday, December 15, 2009

a tree grows in richmond

flowers & fruits
the garden

I am really proud to be a part of an amazing project at Verde school in Richmond. The docents of the UC Botanical Garden have been working with this school, to give our tours & programs in their amazingly diverse and thriving school garden. The school, has little money for field trips, but they are a culturally rich school and with parent and grandparent volunteers in the garden they have a wonderful array of edibles, medicinals and native plants. I was fortunate enough to come along with the docents to watch them present our "grocery store botany" program to the 1st graders at Verde. Here are a few images from their garden.

Friday, October 16, 2009

treasures from the spanish table

i recently went over to the spanish table in berkeley and was amazed by what treasures they have. it is brightly colored with everything from cookbooks to saffron, white wine to paella pans, this is definitely a goto place for the rare and special items you might need in your pantry.

i bought some TAZA organic guajillo chili chocolate-- perfect for baking, hot chocolate or for cooking. it comes in this pretty disc and is stoneground in small batches somerville, mass so i couldn't resist.

my second treasure was some marcona almonds in rosemary honey.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

hapazome = brilliant

i recently learned about something called "hapazome" or flower pounding. a couple of weekends ago, the ecological artist rebecca burgess came to the uc botanical garden to teach a wonderful day long workshop on native plant dyes. little did we know that we'd leave knowing all that and more! i was enchanted with hapazote. the amazing textile artist india flint apparently coined the term. it is a way of using fresh flowers and immediately extracting the pigments and sealing them into our clothes or other fabrics. it was so easy, so gratifying and so beautiful.

you begin by laying down your piece of fabric. we used t-shirt scraps. then you lay fresh flower petals on the cloth as you'd like. we used a few such as nasturtium, pansy, cosmos.

then you lay another piece of cloth over the flowers-- if your using a t-shirt or big piece of fabric you can simply fold over the cloth. we then sprayed the fabric with water and soda ash or wood ash mixed in a spray bottle. when the cloth is saturated you can begin pounding:

my favorite thing about it is this: the flowers fade, but then, once they do you can keep pounding new flowers into your cloths or sheets or any fabrics to create these beautiful collages of your history and the flowers you've come across. the fabrics become histories of our lives and beautiful stories of our natural world. i LOVE it! thank you rebecca for teaching me this beautiful art and to your wonderful brother michael who took this great photos.

Monday, September 21, 2009

go native!

ok, i know i haven't blogged in a while, it's all because my camera was kidnapped to halifax and without a camera i feel lost. words?! i'm not a good writer! my blog is about plants plants don't talk and i don't have to talk to them to enjoy them.

nonetheless. now that i am without a camera i will attempt to catch you up on some happenings... and borrow a photo from the botanical garden.

just yesterday i was at the botanical garden learning all about butterfly friendly plants. yes, it's true, many of the host plants for butterflies tend to be on the weedy and even invasive side. a perfect example is fennel. fennel came to california from asia and spread to become one of the more weedy of the weedy. fennel is now the favorite host plant of the anise swallowtail butterfly. well interestingly enough there is a california native host plant and it is called Yampah (Perideridia kellogii). Not only is Yampah an important food source for the anise swallowtail, but it was also an important food source for California Native Peoples.

And to make matters best, we do sell Perideridia sp. at the Botanical Garden-- it's a plant rarely found in nurseries.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

more from the green gala- these ones by david gilbert

OCELOT: hand dyed using itajime shibori technique in San Francisco
Jonathan David Baker's multi-directionally pleated dress made with seaweed and organic cotton, tux jacket made with recycled nylon and recycled tire rubber
TINC: designed by Savannah Knoop made with sea weed and wood pulp, peace silk, and organic cotton canvas
ashley helvey's d felted organic wool dress from a predator friendly farm
the moon: lace pillow lava dress: vintage slip, lace bits, silk and cotton handkerchiefs, napkins and doilies. annatto dyed silk shirts over dyed with black walnut hull
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painting with plant & earth pigments

gorgeous indigo paints. the lighter circles were tinted with titanium dioxide
adding yellow ochre to the dragon's blood
our materials
the muller- "if it's not mulled, it's not paint"

Last night was part 2 of a 3 part course i hosted at the uc botanical garden at berkeley. judi pettite, a local painter who uses only natural pigments, was our teacher. we experimented with reds, oranges blues and greens using plants such as : madder, dragon's blood (a resin from a number of trees), goldenrod, cosmos, woad, indido. we also used the precious lapis lazuli and ochre- a natural earth pigment. mixing these pigments with gum arabic and grinding them with a muller we made paints. it was such a satisfying and beautiful process.