Thursday, November 5, 2009

Natural wonders...

As I look out my window and see bare trees or, worse, nearly bare trees - kinda like that friend you have who refuses to admit he's bald and just shave the rest already - I thought I would take today to remind myself (and anyone else who needs the help) that even though winter is fast approaching, nature is not always so bleak.

There is no place better to start in triumphing over bleakness than Iraq. The New York Times posted an article last week on the elaborate gardens emerging in the war-torn state as peace creeps forward. Prior to the war, the citizens were fond of topiary gardens and beautiful plants and flowers. When war came, people were unable to expand those gardens but still took refuge there for some normalcy. Now they are venturing back out to the nurseries again to turn their brown and blasted neighborhoods green.

The Times' City Room blog had a post late last month on rooftop gardens and vertical farms in US cities. In places like Chicago and Detroit, there are plenty of vacant lots and spaces for urban farms and community gardens, but in New York City space is at a premium. Buildings like churches and schools are employing architecture and landscaping firms to develop these new green spaces. An environmental group is quoted in the article saying there has been a 35 percent increase of green roofs in the US, around six to 10 million square feet total.

Not to be outdone, the NYT political blog also has gotten into the sustainable act with a post on the homemade honey on the South Lawn of the White House. For the first time in the history of the United States (which I find hard to believe as there was a large amount of time people who inhabited the WH "ate local" because there wasn't a choice about it), a hive of bees is being kept at the Executive Mansion. The inaugural harvest amounted to 134 pounds of fresh honey - far outstripping the beekeeper's original estimate of 30 pounds. The honey even made it into the shortbread cookies that were part of the Halloween giveaways to the trick-or-treaters last weekend.

(Image courtesy of the New York Times)

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