My Mind Is A Garden

Two Royal Empress TreesI have never been interested in gardening and always joked about having a “brown” thumb. I somehow managed to kill a cactus. Miraculously, all that has changed for me but it did not happen overnight. It has been a very long and difficult process. The last ten years have been extremely challenging ones for my family but in many ways they have been a blessing as well. The gardening has been the end result and has become one of my passions. I won’t get into the “issues” in my life that forced me to look at myself and change but I will talk a little about the journey.

I spent some time with my best friend Linda who is an avid gardener. She knew about my struggles and wanted me to have the peace and serenity she finds when she spends time in her garden. Linda told me to think of my mind as a garden. She said “you are the gardener”. Of course, I thought she was nuts at first, being that my life was crumbling, I decided to listen and try and follow her path. She told me that my mind was filled with negativity and the result of planting negative thoughts resulted in thorns. She promised me if I planted positive seeds my mind would produce a bountiful bouquet. Sound hokey? It did to me but I gave it my all as I always do and little by little, I began to blossom and my life changed in many ways. Whenever I feel my mind going back to the negativity, I quickly switch to the beautiful garden in my mind and immediately feel the stress start to dissipate.

I don’t know what I would do without my friend Linda. To thank her for her free psychotherapy, I sent her a King’s Ransom of Two Royal Empress Trees. Her garden is now filled with multiples of Two Royal Empress Trees which flower the most magnificent masses of lavender flowers. Besides the physical beauty of the trees, lavender scent has a calming effect which aids in the reduction of anxiety and stress. A natural relaxant! 

Think about what you are focusing on the majority of the time. Is it negative or positive? Let go of the negative and allow your mind to become of garden of peace and serenity! You deserve it! As Dr. Martin Luther King said: “The Time Is Always Right To Do What Is Right”. The time is now, my friends! Take care of yourselves and don’t forget to send me snap shots of your gardens.

Get the Results You Want With No Effort!

Two Italian Tomato PlantsNO EFFORT!!! Did I catch your attention? I bet I did… I would also guess that you think this is a diet gimmick. Am I right? Guess what? It is about diet but not about losing weight. It’s about getting the right nutrients in order to stay healthy. What better way to get vitamins than from Two Italian Tree Tomatoes from Rush Industries. Two Italian Tree Tomatoes contain lycopene, which is one of nature’s most powerful antioxidants. Lycopene is beneficial to fight different kind of diseases, most of all cancer. Tomatoes also contain fiber which prevents diabetes, asthma, colon cancer, and lowers the amount of cholesterol from the body. Tomatoes contain vitamin C and A, which fights aging, soothes skin and hair. It also contains vitamin K which helps build bones.

Enough about vitamins let’s discuss “No Effort”. I am definitely not known for my green thumb. In fact, I am embarrassed to say I have killed cacti. Last year on mother’s day, one of my children bought me Two Italian Tree Tomatoes and convinced me to try my hand at gardening, yet again. He promised me that they were easy to grow and required no trimming, no pruning and no effort. He told me his girlfriend’s mother had planted them and they produced over 50 pounds of tomatoes. Although I was a bit skeptical to say the least, I gave it a try. I did not believe that it truly required “no effort”. I am a very busy woman, who works, runs a household and never has a moment to herself. I am sure many of my female readers can relate to that.

Amazingly, we had the most delicious tomatoes last year and we are contemplating starting a tomato sauce business. We have a secret family recipe passed down from my great, great grandmother. My children have been asking me for years to package it and sell it. The problem has always been the tomatoes were never quite right. Well, these are the perfect tomatoes! They are mouth, watering delicious. I have never tasted a tomato like it in the United States. When I taste them, it reminds me so much of Italy, one of my favorite places to visit.

I still can’t believe I got the results I wanted with no effort! I am quite proud of myself. You may be seeing my name very soon on grocery shelves, so keep your eyes open. I may even send my readers free samples….. Good idea? Let me know what you think!

How To Overcome Fear With Visual Imagery

My advice for the day!
Take this great thought and dwell upon it: “We have nothing to fear in all the universe!” Did you know that you have the power of control through the wise use of your subconscious mind? Try sitting down quietly and think about a beautiful lake on top of a mountain; envision a still, quiet night. Imagine the surface of the quiet, placid lake and you will see the stars, moon and perhaps the nearby trees mirrored in the water. If there is a disturbance in the water, you won’t see the stars or the moon. Try to quiet your mind, relax and let go and think of peace and stillness

I lead a very busy life, work full time plus and am often filled with fear. When I get home at the end of a long day I often have a very difficult time quieting my mind and relaxing making my fears much more prominent. A friend of mine suggested I Buy Lavender Plants and plant them in my backyard. I took her advice and bought a Set of 10 For Only $44.98 from Rush Industries. I now have magnificent cascades of gorgeous richly French lavender that takes my breath away.

Back to the above great thought… I began doing some visual imagery with my lavender and I have finally achieved the peace and stillness I have always sought but was never able to obtain. In fact, there is a body of water adjacent to my backyard and I see the cascades of lavender in the stillness of the water when dusk arrives. In addition to the mirrored waters of my mind, I have the advantage of calming my mind through my beautiful garden. I have finally learned that if my mind is too busy or there is something that is bothering me, I won’t see the beauty of the world and will go back to a place of fear. My visual imagery is my saving grace thanks to my lavender…I no longer live in fear!

Did You Hear About The Relationship Between Bats & Cacti?

I know it is a bit early to think about Christmas but I got so tired of the traditional Poinsettias that we see everywhere and decided to do some research on something a bit different for next holiday season.

I did some digging on the famous Cactus:

The plural of cactus is cacti and cacti are desert succulents with thick, leathery green skin and sharp spines evolved to keep animals at bay. They are rugged plants found throughout the arid regions of the world, and often bear large, attractive, fragrant blossoms ranging in color from golden yellow to ivory to magenta and red. The plants are not only a refreshingly lush and lively sight in the desolate desert, they have many interesting attributes.

One compelling attribute of the cactus flower is its intimate relationship with bats believe it or not. In deserts of the southwestern United States and northern Mexico, bats are attracted to the sweet nectar produced by the flowers. A good deal of the luminous blooms open under the light of the moon when bats are most active. While the bats feast on the nectar, their furry heads become completely covered with powdery cactus pollen. When the bat moves on to another flower, it unwittingly deposits the pollen, thus becoming instrumental in the plant’s reproductive process. Both the cactus and bat gain something from their nocturnal interaction, making theirs a symbiotic relationship.

Did you know that the fruits of many cactus species are edible? The juicy, purplish-red fruit of the prickly pear cactus, is commonly found in grocery stores in Mexico and the southwestern United States. Few people are aware, however, that cactus flowers also make delicious meals and snacks. The flower buds of the barrel cactus are often boiled and eaten in a similar manner to vegetables such as cabbage by the native inhabitants of Arizona, where these thorny plants proliferate. Barrel cactus flowers manifest in a multitude of colors including red, orange and yellow making them beautiful decorative plants.

I have been trying my hand at gardening lately and have been quite successful. My husband used to brag that I kill Cacti but I am proud to say that is no longer the case. After researching Cacti I decided to plant Red Flowering Cactus to give my friends for Christmas this coming year. I like to march to a different beat and do something a bit different and meaningful. I bought a dozen Two Red Flowering Cactus from Rush Industries and they are thriving in my home. By the way, I am quite proud of my new planting abilities and will post pictures each month to show you the progress. I am sure you will be pleasantly surprised.

My Prescription For Resilience

Did you know that exposure to stress early in life can raise a child’s likelihood to suffer anxiety, depression or other stress-related disorders? Chances are good that a child will experience anxiety symptoms by the time he or she is a teenager when her mother experiences high levels of stress during her child’s infancy.

Unfortunately, I was one of those mothers who experienced extremely high levels of stress, especially during my last son’s infancy. Sadly, I lost a nephew tragically when my youngest son was 9 days old. My family went into a complete tailspin, rightfully so, from the sudden and tragic accident that took a very special young child’s life. I went into a postpartum depression and could hardly take care of my older children let alone a newborn who seemed to cry endlessly. Thank goodness with the support of my loving and devoted husband, I climbed out of my hole of despair within a short period of time and began a road to recovery. When my son, was about 2 years old, he began to show signs of anxiety and I knew instinctively that he was reacting to the trauma we had experienced when he was born. It was time for immediate action, as it is much easier to fix something at 2 than it is at 18, 20, 40 or 60 and older… My son loved playing outdoors and the fresh air seemed to help him relax so I decided to try and spend as much time as possible outdoors while the older boys were at school. Together we planted French lavender plants and even at 2 he learned to take care of the garden and nourish it with love and attention which miraculously led to a relaxed little boy. The look on his face when the plants started blooming was priceless. More importantly, he became a completely different toddler. I know in my heart that planting the garden was the key to his quick resilience. Today, my 17-year old son is a secure, happy go lucky teenager whose biggest stress is getting ready to leave his high school buddies as they embark on their next phase of life… College!

Btw, I’m not looking forward to the phase of ‘empty nester’ and am taking precautions not to go back into a depression… Thank God for my garden of serenity. It is the best prescription for resilience, at least for me it is! I hope in the face of adversity you can find the strength for your own resilience. I’m always here to help you through so please don’t forget that!

Meet Me Under The Tree…

I enjoy spending time with elderly people and listening to stories of their past. I often pop into a local nursing home and spend a couple of hours visiting some of the residents who have become surrogate grandparents to me.

Last week, a beautiful 97 year old woman told me a story that I wanted to share with you.
Rose: “I miss my late husband Edward so much. My heart aches every day that I am still alive but I try to have an optimistic attitude because that’s what he would have wanted.

We met when I was just 16 years old and he was 20. Obviously, my parents were concerned that I was hanging out with an older man and forbid me to see him. Believe it or not, I had a bit of a naughty streak in me and I had my eyes set on Edward and was not about to listen to my parents. Don’t forget, we didn’t even have telephones in those days. I managed to send him a note with a friend and told him to meet me under the tree in Central Park with the purple blossoms at a specific time on a specific date. My heart was beating so hard as I walked to the park, I thought people passing in the street heard it beating. Lo and behold, when I got there, he was waiting under the tree for me with a big smile on his face. We spent hours in the park that day and when we went home late in the afternoon, he asked my parents for their blessing to marry me. We were married two months later and had the privilege and blessing of 70 years of marriage. Hard to believe in today’s day and age. Shortly after we married, we moved to the suburbs and Edward secretly researched How To Grow Royal Empress Trees. He wanted to plant a tree just like the one we had met under in the park. The tree is still alive at that house and my last wish is to visit one more time. I know his spirit is floating in the blossoms and it would be the best medicine for me but my family hardly ever has time to visit me anymore let alone take me out for a couple of hours…”

My heart broke when I heard this and I went into action. After all, I love doing for others and I knew, taking Rose to visit her old home would benefit me as much as it would benefit her. We had the most wonderful day and took a magnificent picture under the tree which stands on her night table as a memento of our day together under the tree… Thank you Rose for sharing your story and an afternoon under the tree…

Enjoy The Ultimate Antioxidant Cactus Juice!

I visited my friend Cara last summer who has a magnificent talent for gardening and she combines a vast palette of colors and textures into a lush, living work of art. In fact, her landscaping is often featured in magazines. As Cara led us on a tour of her garden, her deliverance of information was comparable to that of a professional tour guide. She was a wealth of information and gave our little group an interesting and informative lesson on plants and gardening:

“Plants are essential to human existence. Plants provide food, clothing, shelter, medicine, and the raw materials to meet many other needs. I personally prefer planting useful plants. Useful plants are inherently linked to cultural diversity. I studied biodiversity based on traditional knowledge systems around the world and the often complex relationships that exist between plants, people and culture. People tend to forget that the well-being of humankind depends on our plants. In fact, chemical compounds and extracts derived from plants have been used for medicines for hundreds of years. Modern scientists focus their research and conservation efforts on discovering and understanding the diversity of plants used in all three of the plant-based systems for maintaining human health: traditional, herbal, and pharmaceutical.”

Cara’s impromptu tour piqued my interest and prompted me to dig for information on Yellow Flowered Cactus which is one of my favorite plants. I had no idea that a cactus would provide nutritional value to me. I was surprised to find that it is an antioxidant and can be used to improve my overall health in addition to possibly reduce my risk of cancer. My children were quite impressed that the juice from the cactus can reduce the severity of a hangover when and if they overindulge in alcohol… (Not my kids, NEVER!!! LOL) …

Here’s a quick recipe for a cup of cactus puree:
Use 7 to 10 medium cactus fruits
Strain he raw fruit pulp through a medium-fine wire strainer to remove the fibers and seeds
You can freeze the pulp and puree for future use as well.

By the way, it tastes absolutely delicious. I’m thinking of packaging it and selling it to local health food stores but before I do, I would like your opinions. Please send me your addresses and I will send you some free samples. Looking forward to your feedback on the Ultimate Antioxidant Cactus Juice!

The 5 Steps For Magnificent Interior Hawaiian Foliage!

I went to Hawaii on my honeymoon and fell in love with Hawaiian Peacock Jasmines. When I was pregnant with my third child we moved to the suburbs and all I wanted was to plant a garden full of my favorite plants. Unfortunately, I found out that Peacock Jasmines can only be grown outdoors in warm, tropical climates. I don’t think New York is a warm, tropical climate, do you??? Ha ha, far from it… I was so upset but in the scheme of things, this was not catastrophic, simply a small annoyance. I searched the web and found the plants at Rush Industries and discovered that they work very well as houseplants. I was so ecstatic – little things tend to make me happy. I couldn’t wait to bring them home and fill my home with masses of snow white flowers and the sweet scent that I fell in love with in Hawaii. My house looks so beautiful. In case you are interested in planting some yourself, follow these 5 easy steps:

Step 1
Place the plant where it will get plenty of bright light, but not directly in a window where it will get hot afternoon sunlight. Although the plant can grow in partial shade, it will produce fewer blooms with less light.

Step 2
Keep your peacock jasmine in a warm room. Temperatures ranging between 80 and 90 are best, with nighttime temperatures between 70 and 80. Keep the plants away from cold drafts. If the nighttime temperatures in your house drop below 60 degrees, the plant will temporarily stop blooming.

Step 3
Always allow the top of the soil to dry out, and then water it deeply and let the water run through the bottom of the pot. Remember to never allow the bottom of the pot to sit in water. Your plant will also benefit from a misting of room temperature water on dry winter days.

Step 4
Prune your peacock jasmines between November and January when the plant isn’t blooming. Clip off only enough to keep the plant the desired size and shape. Make sure to remove dead leaves as needed. Don’t forget to provide your plant with a wire hoop or trellis to climb on.

Step 5
Lastly, fertilize your peacocks after pruning, and again two to three times spread out evenly during the year. Always be sure to use a good quality liquid houseplant fertilizer.

I had a small dinner party a few weeks ago and decorated the table with beautiful leis I created from my plants. I was hoping to post some photos but had some issues with my camera. I will post them as soon as I can. By the way, I am also in the process of making perfume from the plants like they do in Hawaii. I will let you know how it turns out. I may have a new business in my future. One never knows. In the meantime happy planting and ALOHA!

The End Of Itchy Mosquito Bites!

My friend Nancy went on a wild goose chase to Buy Mosquito Plants… What? When I heard that I thought she totally lost her mind. After all, she is a bit bizarre sometimes and I never know when to believe her or not. I never heard of a mosquito plant, have you? It turns out that there is such a plant. Nancy is highly allergic to mosquito bites and so are her children. In fact, she almost wound up in the hospital last summer after a severe reaction. Thus, her search for Mosquito Plants.

Curious? I am, as always, so I did some research. Here are the facts I uncovered:
The Mosquito Plant is a geranium hybrid that is genetically engineered with a unique characteristic: it repels mosquitos! Mosquito plants are easily grown as a potted patio plant, and enjoyed for its attractive foliage and sweet lemony scent, as well as for its mosquito repelling powers. The plant produces a leafy, attractive, foot-tall plant during its first season. The plant was created by a Dutch botanist. He genetically incorporated traits of the Chinese citronella grass (citronella is an insect repellant) into a scented African geranium. The resulting cultivar had the growth and habit of the geranium and its sweet lemony citronella. In case you are worried about hurting the poor mosquitos who have no conscience about hurting us LOL, not to worry, it doesn’t harm them but they don’t like the citronella and avoid it. The plant is most effective as a repellent if you crush a few leaves and rub them on your skin. This releases the citronella and a sweet perfume that “bugs” the mosquitos.

During fall and winter the plants can be wintered-over indoors. In the warmer weather zones they can be grown outdoors year-round. The plants like full sun but do well in partial shade. During peak mosquito season it is best to put the plants on patio tables and near lounges to keep the nasty mosquitos at bay!

Nancy found Mosquito Plants at Rush Industries and bought a set of 10 for only $44.98. She is more than ready for the upcoming summer season and anticipates the end of mosquito bites for herself and her children. In fact, I think I will buy some myself. As I am writing this article I find myself unconsciously scratching in anticipation of the annoying little blood sucking creatures. OUCH!!!

A Garden Of Memories Brings Comfort

My friend David lost his beloved wife Caryn a few years ago after a long battle with cancer. He took such wonderful care of her while she was sick. I have never seen such a devoted, loving husband. They had an unbelievable relationship – they were true soulmates. Needless to say, he was a lost soul for a long time and I never thought I would see the sparkle in his eyes that he had before his Caryn’s illness.

I recently saw him at a school meeting. His youngest son is my son’s classmate. He looked wonderful and told me he is in a serious relationship with a widow who also lost her spouse to cancer. After the meeting, we went to his house for coffee. As we sat on his deck overlooking his beautiful garden he told me that he never thought he would ‘feel’ again. He said he had been walking around numb these last few years. I sat and listened as I realized he just needed to talk:

“Grief!” Grief is simply unexplicable while you are going through it. It often strikes suddenly, catching our heart by surprise. Often it may pound relentlessly and persistently for years, like ocean waves beating on the shore.

We may not even be conscious of what or whom we’re missing, but our heart knows. I discovered that we may never be happy about whom or what we have lost, but it is possible to be happy again.
In time I realized grief isn’t an abnormal condition. Grief is nature’s way of healing our heart.”

David said his heart is finally healing. He also showed me his beautiful garden which was Caryn’s sanctuary. She loved gardening and he promised her he would nourish her garden forever and ever. Her favorite plant was the Pink Flowering Cactus and he told me that he actually feels Caryn’s presence in that plant. He said: “As inexplicable as the grief, I can’t explain the feeling I have when I look at the cactus. My pain is lessening and I am finally finding comfort in my memories.” It was heartwarming to see the sparkle back in David’s eyes. I guess there is truth to the cliche “Time Heals All Wounds”. I’m so happy my friend’s David’s wounds are finally healing… Rest in peace Caryn…