Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Tribute to horticulturist and teacher David Mclean

David Mclean passed away while I was on vacation.  It is a sad time for all horticulturists in South Florida.  He was a ubiquitous fixture in everything to do with plants.  Until recently was a guest speaker at most plant groups, library chats, park gardening series and more.  He sold plants at most plant shows all over the tri county area.



While teaching horticulture at Broward College for over 40 years, he created a monthly plant group opened to the public as well as college students.  There was always a great speaker, a plant auction and upon completion a dessert buffet supplied by the attendees.  The group met at the Broward County Extension Office for years and then later at the site of his nursery at Trinity Church in downtown Fort Lauderdale.


He was a brilliant horticulturist, who had a passion for teaching and sharing his everlasting curiosity of plants.  He had a sharp sense of humor, was opinionated and blunt.  Never boring.


Over the years I purchased plants from his nursery.  I had a wonderful potted allspice tree for years.  Upon returning from my vacation, the allspice tree was dead.  It had lasted for years on all my other vacations.

 Goodbye David and goodbye allspice tree.  You will be missed.

Penny Bullard, his wife still operates an amazing restaurant on the grounds of the church. David created the edible landscape at the restaurant and I wrote about it. Here is a link to the article.
11th Street Annex Restaurant

Here is a link to his obituary from the Fort Lauderdale Sun Sentinel.
Obituary for David Mclean

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Saturday, March 1, 2014

Fort Lauderdale Orchid Society Show and Sale 2014

Every year the Fort Lauderdale Orchid Society hosts an amazing show and sale. The displays are absolutely spectacular.  Orchid growers and orchid societies haul in a vast array of accoutrements to present their orchids.  Gigantic foliage plants, huge berms, lights, music, mulch, rock and so much more are artistically arranged to create mini paradises.  There are throngs of photographers taking selfies,  their friends, or just the displays.  The show is judged and there are many awarded orchids to view.




Having been going on and off for over thirty years, and feeling a bit under the weather, I was not planning on attending this year.  A receptionist and orchid enthusiast at one of the nursing homes I practice Horticultural Therapy at asked me if I was going this year.  I told her no, and she said, "It is going to be great and you are buying a ticket now."


None of my friends were interested in going for a multitude of reasons, so I attended myself.  I went to Holiday Park, where it was held and was surprised not not see crowds leaving the auditorium with shopping bags full of orchids.  At every show, no one leaves empty handed.  People walking in did not look happy or as well dressed as the orchid enthusiasts of years past.  There was a negative energy flowing. As I walked there was a sign stating it said if you buy a ticket to get in you get a free pass for another gun show.  Something seemed weird and sure enough, I had the wrong week, and it was a gun show.  No wonder no one was smiling.



I went back the next weekend and sure enough there was excitement in the air. People were smiling, carrying their beautiful orchids and looking refreshed and invigorated as they left the hall.  The show did not disappoint and I naturally had to buy some orchids.  I walked around, toured the show, chatted here and there with strangers, met a few acquaintances.  The president and board members of the show came up to me and said hello.  I hate going to events alone so it was nice to see some familiar faces.


I had a marvelous time at the show and was happy to attend as always.  I felt happy and refreshed leaving the event.  That day I came home and shot a video of the baby bare root orchids I bought and how to plant them in a container.  After the video a few weeks later I added some lava rocks to keep them in place so they would not fall out.




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Sunday, January 12, 2014

Healing herbs and old fashioned remedies

Many of my seniors at work remember old fashioned remedies their parents or grandparents gave them when they were children. Depending on where they were born and what plants were readily available determined what cures they remember. Here is a link about a special herbal tea.  http://robertstropicalparadisegarden.blogspot.com/2013/05/cerasee-tea-for-health.html



Many cultures reminisce of the curative powers of Aloe vera for wounds to the skin,  Others recall given aloe as a drink to aid digestion and a cleanse internal organs.  Eastern europeans recall camomile tea utilized for colds, stomach aches and as a hair rinse.  Seniors from the Caribbean Islands recall cerasee tea for cleansing the blood.  Here is a link to great island remedies. http://www.examiner.com/article/linette-s-herbal-remedy-garden

An epsom salt foot bath soothed tired, sore feet.  A hot tottie was given for a cold before bed.  A hot tottie could have been a whisky shot, or an elaborate concoction of warm milk, and egg and whisky.

Some seniors recall bonkes, or cupping.  Small glasses were used with a candle or match and applied to the back.  The suction would irritate the skin, bringing blood to the area.  This was used to heal a cough or a cold.  Here is a link to an article about how to make your own herbal teas.  http://www.examiner.com/article/how-to-create-herbal-teas-from-your-garden



The were astounded when a doctor prescribed garlic pills to lower blood pressure.  What is old is new again.  Old fashioned cures that were once considered old wives tales are now medically proven to be beneficial.  Many cures are now available at the local drug store, from pharmaceutical grade olive oil pills to herbal teas and epsom salts.

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Sunday, December 29, 2013

Christmas Holiday Winter Holiday Craft Ideas

Its the most wonderful time of the year, so the song goes.  Nature crafts sweeten our lives.  Here are some ideas to brighten your holidays, give you something fun to do with the family, and provide some gift ideas.  These activities can be done with people of all ages, although the ones I feature in photos are all conceived and executed by seniors I work with at nursing homes, assisted living and independent living facilities.  


The first are door hanger decorations.  My father cuts the shape out with recycled card board.  You can use a can or bottle to use as a template for the circle.  These collages can be created for many different holidays and seasons.  Cutting, pasting, gluing may be easy for you, but difficult for my seniors.  Diminished vision due to macular degeneration makes it hard to see the pictures.  Arthritic hands makes it painful to utilize scissors to cut pictures.  Alzheimers disease creates difficulty concentrating and focusing on completing tasks.  With my assistance they are able work through their impairments to create wonderful holiday treasures.  We utilized recycled magazines, advertisements and catalogues as a source of supplies.




Similar in concept but more difficult to do are the holiday wreaths.  These can be a theme of holiday greenery, holiday foods or specific Christmas or Chanukah colors.  I suggest the cutting around the inner circle and outer circle be after all the pictures are chosen and glued.  This saves a great deal of time since the activity must be completed within an hour.  The ones featured below are fall harvest vegetable wreaths.  Old seed catalogues, newspaper flyers and magazines were the source of materials for this project.




Well I hope this gave you some inspiration to create beautiful decorative art with recycled materials.  No two creations look alike, just as our thumb prints are all unique.

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Saturday, November 16, 2013

Touring Claude Monet's home and garden in Giverny, France.



I was surprised at the huge house Claude Monet had at Giverny.  It is opened for viewing and some of the rooms are exactly as he had them before he died.  His gardens were a great pleasure of his, as well as an inspiration for many of his later paintings.  He liked to entertain and had a large kitchen.  His artist studio was also a large room with a great deal of paintings on display.


The house and garden are on one side of the street while the water lily garden is across the street.  Visiting these gardens was a dream come true, since on my other visits, I did not have the opportunity to visit.




These arbors are full of roses during the height of rose season in June.  Since I was there in September, it gives me another reason to return in June at high rose time. Luckily there were some roses still in bloom.  Some were bushes, some were standards while others were clipped way back after they bloomed in June.


Monet took great pride in his garden and enjoyed planting many varieties of flowers which he then included in his paintings.  He liked to paint them at different times of the day.  As the light and shade varied, this was reflected in the color variations of his paintings.


Well I hope you enjoyed this abbreviated tour of the gardens.  I am still pinching myself to make sure it was not just a dream.  I waited so long to see Monet's garden. I am happy to have photographs and videos to relive the memories.     For more videos please visit and subscribe to my garden channel on YouTube.

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Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Create your own pine cone turkey decorations for the holidays

Here in Florida there are several native pine trees.  All are long needled pines and provide us with nice pine cones for craft projects.  We have the elliotii or slash pine, palstrus or long leaf pine, clausa or sand pine and taeda or loblolly.  None make good Christmas trees since they have long needles and do not grow compact. The largest is the loblolly which can grow up to 150 feet!
In South Florida, most of the native pineland areas have been bulldozed for development.  They are not protected.  I found these trees growing in back of a nursing home and senior living facility.

The trick to getting nice pine cones is to hunt before landscapers come and cut the grass.  The mowers shred the cones beyond recognition.  The next obstacle are squirrels.  They enjoy feasting on the pinecones.
The squirrels just leave the core.  It looks like an ear of corn after we eat them. Just the corn cob remains.   When I go pine cone picking, I need hundreds of them. I have to go to a couple of areas to get all I need for the holidays.  Often areas are picked clean before I get there from other crafty people.
I take a small cloth bag and fill it up.  Then I walk back to the car and fill up a big garbage back up with the booty.

To make your very own pine cone turkeys, you will need a glue gun, feathers, felt and pipe cleaners.  Cut the pipe cleaner into three pieces. This creates the head and neck.  Make a fish hook out of one end, about 1/4 an inch long.  Bend it into the pipe cleaner and roll it a bit down.  Bend the neck a bit and place the end into the pointed part of the pinecone.  Keep the pine cone horizontal.  Cut two small triangle shapes for the bird beak.  Place a few feathers at the flat end of the pine cone.  Make sure you do not place the turkey head into its bottom.  (That always gets a chuckle from one of my alert seniors.)  I let the seniors do all the work, and then I use the glue gun to finish it all off.


They love being creative and enjoy taking something back to their rooms after class.  They enjoy sharing their crafts with family.  Many take pride in telling me their turkey was a decoration at their Thanksgiving dinner.

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Thursday, October 10, 2013

Open letter to destroyed alzheimer horticultural therapy gardens


It has been a productive and joyous six years working with you,  the residents and staff at the nursing home.    As a recreation therapist you "get it" and understand the benefit of therapeutic engaging activities more than the average activity director at other facilities.  The nursing home is fortunate to have you there.  



We have nurtured along four butterfly gardens, four vegetable gardens and four herb gardens. They have matured into very beautiful healing gardens where there was cement, fencing and empty beds.



I was shocked to visit the facility today and see most everything thrown away, hundreds of dollars of valuable plants as well as man hours of work gone.  Residents and staff and family members at the units came up to me asking, what happened to the garden?  They have grown to enjoy the therapeutic healing environment.  When I suggested we can plant again, their response was a forlorn "What's the point?" 

The garden cuts down stress, it gives them pleasure, and keeps employees happy at work. The garden also provided a quick snack (cherry tomatoes),   healing herbal teas (rosemary, thyme and tarragon.  The papayas gave a healthy nutritious snack.  All of this is gone.  Luckily the aloe remains.  



Red poisonous mulch is in the  beds, which I had removed in the past. This is an inappropriate mulch for a health facility.  Often the recycled wood is used that is pressure treated with a copper arsenic solution. That is why it is banned from playgrounds.  The red dye stains sidewalks, your hands and may be toxic as well.  If the bad does not state "no recycled wood" it is dangerous.  

The mulch was piled onto the base of all the shrubs, which can kill the plants.  The agricultural extension office suggests keeping all mulch several inches from the base of plants.  

All our cherry tomato plants are gone, they must have sprayed a toxic herbicide on the garden beds. 

I know the administration would not intentionally do harm to the residents and staff and family members.  Why no one was informed before is a mystery to me.  It was a sad day at the nursing home this morning indeed.  

Robert Bornstein
www.robbornstein.com 

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