Thursday, March 28, 2013

Tree Thursday - Black Ironwood

Black Ironwood  
Krugiodendron ferreum 
Black Ironwood is an excellent small to medium native tree for South Florida rarely growing up to near 30 feet perfect for almost any yard.  The bark is gray and the leaves are a glossy green.  The tree keeps a compact shape so it needs very little pruning.  While the flowers are not really noticeable to humans, they are a great source of nectar for local pollinators.  Black Ironwood bears a small black fruit that is edible and loved by birds. 

The wood of the Black Ironwood is extremely hard.  It may be the densest, heaviest wood of any native tree in the United States.  It’s definitely a tree we need to see more of in South Florida!

Growth Rate – Slow
Salt Tolerance – Medium
Drought Tolerance – High


Wednesday, March 27, 2013

First time I had seen this product

Found at Publix Supermarket

5 Basic Steps You Can Take to Green Your Scene and be More Personally Sustainable

5 Basic Steps You Can Take to Green Your Scene and be More Personally Sustainable

A crash course in green for the timidly eco-challenged.

By Marye Audet
Lancaster, TX, USA | Aug 05 2009
A lot of people seem to think that going green is time consuming, difficult, or sacrificial. The funny thing about it is, for the most part, it offers a lifestyle that is rich and full. I wouldn't have it otherwise. So, if you are afraid that you will turn into a compulsive eater of organic seaweed and tofu, live in a yurt in the midst of Wyoming, or be forced to ride a bike thirty miles to work every day, well you just lose that thought right now. Everyone can make tiny changes to be more personally sustainable.
I like that phrase, personally sustainable. It is sort of like self sufficient but not so much of a commitment.
You know, many of our parents and grandparents were green without really realizing it. I mean, they did not live in the throwaway society we live in, they bought things and used them forever. Food was stored in glass jars which were reusable and made to last. Do you know that I have a Mason jar that was my moms and I just found out has been in use since 1942? Do the math! That jar has been preserving my favorite bread and butter pickles for 67 years.

Five Baby Steps to Going Green

So, you are willing to at least try a few things? Great. Here are some ideas to get you started. You will almost certainly think of more. To tempt you over to the green side I have given the positive and the negative aspects of each.

1. Make It Yourself

This is a lot easier than you think. Those convenience foods that look so appealing in the package are full of chemicals and flavor enhancers. It isn't real food, you know, any more than silk flowers are real flowers.
Many of the things you use because they are time savers are not saving you that much time. Here are some things you are probably buying that you can make at home, easily and cheaply. You can find recipes all over the Internet for these items. Just substitute organic ingredients for non-organic ones.
  • Catsup – use organic tomato paste as a base. It takes about 3 minutes or less.
  • Syrup- 2 cups sugar to 1 cup water and boil for one minute. Add 2 teaspoons of organic maple flavor. It takes about 2 minutes total.
  • Mayo- you can do this in a blender. Time commitment? Less than 5 minutes.
  • Bread- if you have not read Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day you must close the computer down and go to the library immediately. It really does only take five minutes a day and it is easy.
I could go on but you get the idea, right? You can make almost anything that you can buy in the store and that includes cleaning supplies.
  • Why This Is Green: Making things yourself is green because you are using organic products, less packaging, and fewer manufacturing processes.
  • Personal Benefits: Personal satisfaction is at the top of the list with better flavor and higher quality food coming in a close second.
  • Downside?: You do have to learn to anticipate your needs, be a little organized and think ahead. There is a little effort involved.

2. Get Out of Debt

Work on getting out of debt and then stay out. Learn to live on your income and pay off your credit card balances every month if you choose to use credit.
  • Why This Is Green: Some people use lack of money as an excuse not to buy healthy foods or Fair Trade items and yet they are paying several hundred dollars in interest payments every month. Not having to pay interest frees up money that you can use to support your favorite cause, buy higher quality foods, and live a more relaxed lifestyle.
  • Personal Benefits: You will be healthier, feel more confident and in control, and you will be doing much more for the economy that buying in credit will. A strong national economy grows out of a strong personal economy.
  • Downside?: You may have to change your lifestyle as well as your perspective.

3. Stay Home

Too many people eat fast food as they are driving here and there. Our society is unhealthily mobile. You get off work, come home, change clothes, and then head back out to run errands or visit friends. Learn to enjoy being home by making your environment a sanctuary
  • Why This Is Green: You won't be using gasoline as you drive from here to there. You won't be putting that wear and tear on your car either.
  • Personal Benefits: You will be less likely to buy things on a whim so you will save money. By slowing your pace you will feel more relaxed and less stressed.
  • Downside?: You will be forced to spend time with someone you may not know too well, yourself. It may take a while to change habits and you might feel bored.

4. Shop Local

O.k. So if you are one of those people that is addicted to bananas then you might be afraid to read further. It's o.k., trust me.
Shopping local does not have to be extreme. It just means to try to seek out the small farmer, the independent business owner, and the other businesses that are close to you. You don't have to give up anything, just be more aware of buying local products. As a first step just ask at the closest livestock feed store (and you will surely have one in your area unless you are centered in a huge city) if anyone local has yard eggs for sale. There is nothing like fresh eggs and they likely will be less expensive than the eggs at the grocery.
  • Why This Is Green: You are supporting the local economy, for one thing. For another you can be pretty sure of how ethical the farmer or business is if you are visiting it regularly.
  • Personal Benefits: You will gain fresher food, higher quality products, stronger social network. You can even make an adventure of visiting the farm.
  • Downside?: Depending on how compulsive you get about this you may have to go without certain products at certain time of the year. It is not always totally convenient.

5. Read Your Favorite Magazine Online

Many magazines are now online and even more are on electronic readers like Amazon's Kindle. These devices are great to take anywhere because they are small and easy to transport. They can hold thousands of pages of magazines, books, and newspapers all ready for you to read anytime you like.
  • Why This Is Green: The technical aspects take less of a chunk out of the environment that manufacturing millions of magazines does. Trees are not needed for paper, gasoline is not needed for delivery and it doesn't end up in a landfill when you are done reading.
  • Personal Benefits: You will be saving money.
  • Downside?: It is really, really hard to cut coupons. If you are tactile and need to touch the pages (like I am) it takes a bit of getting used to.

You Can Do It!

It isn't that difficult. Choose one item a month and practice it every day. It takes three weeks to develop a new habit. If you choose one thing to do from the list, or use one of your own ideas every month you will be living a much more self sufficient, much more eco-friendly, much more prosperous lifestyle in less than half a year.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

24 Blogs with the Best Ideas for Recycling (or reusing and upcycling) Plastic Easter Eggs

If you are like many families, after Easter you have tons of plastic eggs that you don’t want to throw away, but you have no idea what to do with them.  There are many things you can use these little plastic treasures for, such as making your own toys, creating learning games, using them as mini storage containers and implementing them into craft projects.  Don’t be like others and throw these plastic Easter gems into the landfill.  These 24 blog entries will describe how to go about transforming your ‘Easter’ eggs into something that can be used all year long.
By using some household craft supplies and your basket full of plastic eggs, you can transform your eggs into bugs or animals.  You may also want to play your egg musical instrument while you sip some tea from your egg shell tea cup.  The kids will enjoy playing with these egg creatures and you will get more bang for your buck by recycling these former eggs into toys.  These six blog posts will show you how it can be done.
Learning Games
There are many learning games that you can create using leftover plastic Easter eggs.  If you have the type of eggs that come completely apart, you can work on matching the colors of egg shells.  When your child has mastered that skill, you can write capital and lower case letters on the egg halves for another matching game.  These little plastic beauties will even help you teach a science lesson.  Take a look at these six blog articles for more ideas on how to use eggs as a learning tool.
Mini Containers
Plastic eggs come in various sizes and shapes these days, making them perfect for being reused as mini containers.  You can paint the eggs if you’d like or just leave them bright and colorful.  The kids will enjoy the bright colors if you pack their bento-style lunch in plastic eggs.  You might have fun hiding the kids’ afternoon snack in the yard.  These projects don’t have to be just for the kids, how about making a stylish holder for tea light candles that would be great for mom or using the eggs to store extra buttons in.  Take a look at these six blog articles and see if you can figure out even more ideas on how to recycle plastic Easter eggs.
Craft Projects
Give those plastic eggs a new life as resurrection eggs for next year or Easter eggs with a new sophisticated look to decorate your home. There are many craft projects to do with your leftover eggs, such as filling them with dirt and growing grass in them to create an egg character with funny hair.  Here are six blog entries that you can look at to see if any of the craft projects inspire you.
Now that you have some ingenious recycling (reusing) ideas what are you waiting for?  Grab those eggs and start giving them new life.

Monday, March 25, 2013

The 3 most important questions to help you live smaller

The 3 most important questions to help you live smaller

It all begins with a simple question: Do I really need this? Once you start down that road, you'll want to keep going.

By yerdle (edited by me)

Tue, Feb 26 2013 at 6:07 PM

The majority of us are acquisitive people. We like things; we need things. We enjoy getting new purchases; we take pleasure in showing them off, using them, and sometimes even just looking at them. And this is all before the advertising backbone of consumer culture even comes into play, telling us what things we really want, even though we never thought we wanted them. 

Even those of us, like myself, who try to be very conscious of the goods we purchase and their environmental and social impact, can be pretty acquisitive.

Left unchecked, it can result in impulse purchases filling closets and drawers, the contents left languishing seldom used, and, in extreme cases, rental of that public shrine to overconsumption, the self-storage unit. 

So, what to do? 

If you want to really start living small, here are three questions to ask before getting anything new and when evaluating those items you already have for potentially sharing.

1. Do I really need this?
Before bringing anything new into our lives, seriously contemplating the degree to which the item in question (or experience) will fill a role in enriching our lives in a meaningful, lasting way, ought to be the first question — one that gets asked often ...whether the internal debate lasts mere moments or several weeks. 

Perhaps it's super basic, but if you are reading this, you likely have everything you need, at least on an existential level. So, the majority of your purchases fall into a category of wants rather than needs anyway. 
2. If I've lived without this until now, can I continue to do so?
That's for something totally new, but if can also be asked of anything you already own and are contemplating parting with, phrased slightly differently: If I'm not using this item now, do I really need to keep it around

In either case, this question is an important check on yourself. It's one where the answer may well surprise you. 

Every situation and item is different, with the answer easily going either way, but just pausing and asking it is very important.

If you've answered in the affirmative, that yes indeed, I need this item and yessiree I can't live without it any longer, ask yourself the following question.

3. Is this item the most long-lasting (physically and stylistically) and greenest option available?
That's really a long version of asking yourself if the thing you're about to get is a just piece of disposable trendy gadgety tchotchke-ness — a horrifying amount of stuff out there is, after all.

This gets at the deeper basis of living small, which to my mind, is really not just about making the most out of small spaces, or minimalism in life, but also about living small on the planet and in our communities. It's about going through life like trying to walk across a puddle without making ripples. 

Those things you do acquire ought to be beautiful, well-made, styled in a such a way that after years of ownership, they never look dated (even if your personal style may have changed). They ought to made of durable materials, as environmentally safe as possible; and ideally, produced by someone making a fair wage for doing so, in healthy working conditions. 

Unfortunately, the facts of contemporary civilization are such that even for items that you do actually need, you may not be able to check off all those criteria in the previous paragraph. In which case, check off as many as you can and feel like you made a good decision in less-than-perfect circumstances. 

Mat McDermott lives in New York City, where he writes about all things green and dharmic, as well as working with the Bhumi Project to reduce the environmental impact of Hindu temples. He wrote this post for sharing site yerdle.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Tree Thursday

South Florida Slash Pine
Pinus elliottii var. densa

The South Florida Slash Pine or Dade County Pine as it’s known by some, only grows south of Orlando.  It is one of only two native pines in South Florida, the other being the Sand Pine.  The South Florida Slash doesn’t grow quite as tall as its North Florida relative.  Typical mature height is around 50 to 55 feet but does have a wider, spreading crown.  One of the favorite sites for the South Florida Slash Pine to grow was the Dade County Rocklands.   Unfortunately, most of those stands of pines were destroyed by Hurricane Andrew. 

The wood on the old growth South Florida Slash Pine is very dense, hence “var. densa.”  It is so dense in fact that I’ve heard you can’t drive a nail in it and must drill a hole first.  The wood is also touted as being termite proof.  Most of the historical homes in South Florida were made from this wood. 

The South Florida Slash Pine is better adapted to frequent fires than the North Florida variety.  The South Florida Slash Pine seedling goes through what is called a “grass stage” where it looks more like a tuft of grass and can stay this way for years.  In this stage the bud is insulated by all the needles from fire damage. 

South Florida Slash Pines are very sensitive to disturbance and soil compaction so they don’t handle development well.  Due to hurricanes and development, South Florid Slash Pines are becoming rarer and rarer.  You can see some great specimens in Fort Lauderdale’s Holiday Park. 

Drought Tolerance:      High
Salt Tolerance:            High
Growth Rate:              Medium to fast (once out of grass stage)


Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Earth Hour

Earth Hour (THIS SATURDAY!) is your opportunity to show your commitment to change as part of a global interconnected community. Our Earth Hour community already has some inspiring stories of how they are truly going Beyond the Hour with sustainable steps, big and small, towards a better planet.
We have teams all over the world helping us organise Earth Hour. If your country is not listed on our map and you’d like to help us spread the word in your country, then become an Earth Hour Organiser!
And don’t forget to spread the word to help the community grow

FRIDAY 15 MARCH 2013, SINGAPORE: From Sydney to Brasilia, San Francisco to Kuala Lumpur, Brussels to Boston, mayors and governors are showing political leadership and making sweeping changes to encourage citizens to address the critical environmental issues facing the planet.
CEO and Co-Founder of Earth Hour, Andy Ridley, says mayors are one of the most important figures in helping to create a sustainable future for the planet.
“With more than 70% of the world’s carbon emissions coming from cities, mayors play one of the most crucial roles in helping to create healthier, cleaner and more livable cities. The steps that mayors are taking through I Will If You Will and the Earth Hour City Challenge shows just how impactful our actions beyond the hour can be.”
An initiative that mayors have been instrumental in championing is the Earth Hour City Challenge, which aims to mobilize action and support from cities in the global transition towards a climate-friendly future.
Six finalists were selected among the 66 participating cities from Canada, India, Italy, Norway, Sweden and the USA. Cities were asked to present climate commitments, performance and actions for evaluation by the jury who were asked to pay particular attention to cities with holistic, inspiring and credible plans for low-carbon development.
“Combined, these cities have reported over a thousand mitigation actions, a large proportion of which include measures to increase the share of renewable energy. Through this initiative we hope to support and award more bold decisions by city leaders in combatting climate change and securing both attractive and sustainable lifestyles for the rapidly growing number of urban inhabitants on our planet,” said Carina Borgström Hansson, Lead of WWF’s Earth Hour City Challenge.  (the rest of the release)

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Fix a leak week! Leaky toilet!

As promised…
Have a Leaking Toilet?
<![if !vml]><![endif]>Leaking or running toilets are a common cause of high water use in your home. A toilet leak can be detected by placing a drop of food coloring or leak detection dye tablet in the tank at the back of your toilet. If any color shows up in the bowl within 10 minutes without flushing, you have a leak. Don’t forget to flush the toilet after this leak test to avoid staining the tank.
NOTE: Leak detection dye tablets are available at no charge in the City’s Utility Billing Office on the first floor of Fort Lauderdale City Hall, located at 100 N. Andrews Avenue.
If your toilet is leaking, you can replace it with a new, high efficiency one through Conservation Pay$, the Broward Water Partnership’s incentive rebate program. As a member of the Broward Water Partnership, the City of Fort Lauderdale is offering rebates of up to $200 ($100 per toilet) for installing new, high efficiency toilets. 
Get Involved in Fix a Leak Week
Remember, fixing household leaks saves water and reduces utility bills. So grab a wrench or contact your favorite handy person, plumber, or WaterSense irrigation partner and silence those leaks during Fix a Leak Week March 18 through March 24, 2013.  You’ll save money, but more importantly you’ll save water, an irreplaceable resource, for future generations.
Fun Educational Materials and Resources
As a WaterSense partner concerned with preserving our nation’s water supply, the City of Fort Lauderdale can help you learn more. Check out these fun materials and resources and learn more today:
About EPA’s WaterSense Program
WaterSense is a partnership program sponsored by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Its mission is to protect the future of our nation’s water supply by promoting and enhancing the market for water-efficient products and services. Currently, there are more than 250 WaterSense labeled toilets, 700 labeled faucets and faucet accessories, and more than 600 certified irrigation partners. WaterSense labeled products must achieve independent, third-party testing and certification to prove they meet EPA’s rigorous criteria for efficiency and performance. For more information, visit

Monday, March 18, 2013

Fix a Leak Week! March 18-24

More than one trillion gallons of water are wasted in U.S. homes each year from easy-to-fix leaks. That’s why the City of Fort Lauderdale is participating in Fix a Leak Week March 18 through March 24, 2013 and we encourage you to join us.
Sponsored by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) WaterSense® program, Fix a Leak Week is an opportunity to improve the water efficiency of your home by finding and fixing leaks. In the average home, household leaks waste more than 10,000 gallons of water each year. That’s the amount of water needed to wash 270 loads of laundry!

Are You for Water?  Take the Pledge!
In celebration of Fix a Leak Week, take the EPA’s “I’m for Water Pledge” and commit to checking your home for leaks, twisting and tightening connections, and replacing broken fixtures.  After taking the pledge, it’s time to start looking for leaks around your home that may be wasting gallons of water every day. Here’s how to identify leaks around your home:

  • Read your water meter before and after a two-hour period when no water is being used. If the meter changes at all, you probably have a leak.
You should check for leaks in key areas inside and outside of your home. Here’s how:
  • Check for leaks. Look for dripping faucets, showerheads, sprinklers, and other fixtures. Don’t forget to check irrigation systems and spigots too. If you’ve identified any leaks in your home, they should be repaired as soon as possible. However, before attempting to fix them yourself, it’s important to know where the main water shut off valve to your house is located, especially if there is ever an emergency. (NOTE: Leak detection dye tablets are available at no charge in the City’s Utility Billing Office on the first floor of Fort Lauderdale City Hall, located at 100 N. Andrews Avenue.)
  • Twist and tighten hose and pipe connections. Fixing a leak may involve simple tasks such as tightening connections or applying pipe tape to a fixture.  If at any time you’re not comfortable with fixing a leak or you’re unsure about how to do it, it’s always best to seek the help of an experienced professional.
  • Replace the fixture if necessary. Look for WaterSense-labeled models that are independently certified to use 20 percent less water and perform as well as or better than standard models.
More tomorrow on leaky toilets!  (I’m sure you can’t wait!)

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Next week is National Wildlife Week and they are celebrating trees!

From the canopy to the roots, trees are critical for thousands of wildlife species—from woodpeckers that drill on the trunks of mature trees, to beavers felling trees to build their homes, and huge moose eating tree leaves and sprouts in the forest.
Not only do trees benefit wildlife at all stages of their lives—by providing shelter, nesting places, food, and hiding places for predators and prey—trees are also the lungs of the Earth, because they renew our air supply by absorbing carbon dioxide and producing oxygen for us to breathe.
For these, and many more reasons—during this year's National Wildlife Week™—we're celebrating trees!
Help us kick-off this year's National Wildlife Week "Branching out for Wildlife" celebration of trees by sharing your photos of critters in trees on NWF’s Facebook Timeline or by email!
Each year, we recognize National Wildlife Week in the third week of March as a celebration of wildlife, nature and our need to protect wildlife for our children’s future. This year's National Wildlife Week, March 18-23, explores the roles of trees for wildlife, us and our communities. In honor of the week, we'll be planting tens of thousands of trees in over 200 communities across the country—bringing children and adults together to provide crucial habitat for wildlife.
Please join us to kick-start the celebration of National Wildlife Week by sharing a photo or drawing of wildlife in trees.
Birds such as woodpeckers use trees as places to roost and find shelter, sources of food, and places to raise their young. Bears and other mammals may make dens in trees or under trees, or like beavers, use tree branches for making their homes. Amphibians, reptiles and even fish depend on trees for habitat, to keep the banks of streams stable and for clean water.
You can upload your photo or a drawing to our Facebook timeline today to show off how wildlife use trees in your community. If you don't have a Facebook account, then send us an email and attach your top photo.
Thanks in advance for joining us in this nationwide celebration of trees for wildlife!

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

10 Money-Saving, Eco-Friendly Things You Can Do with Salt

10 Money-Saving, Eco-Friendly Things You Can Do with Salt

Get Salty and Savvy.

By Sophie Uliano
Los Angeles, CA, USA | Mar 04 2009
 I'm continuing my budget-friendly series here with suggesting the myriad uses for common household items. Since green is all about saving money, your health and the planet, it makes sense to consider 10 things you can do with a jar of eco-friendly, common salt.
  1. Freshen your waste disposal: Pour 1 cup of salt into the unit, run cold water and start the motor. The salt will dislodge grimy deposits.
  2. Prevent grease from splashing: If you throw a few pinches of salt into the frying pan before frying fatty foods such a bacon, you’ll prevent having to clean all the that grease off the hob.
  3. Washing your Greens: It can be tough to wash greens such as chard, Kale and even spinach because of the little curly crevices. Wash the leaves in a sink half full of cold water and 1/2 cup of salt.
  4. Mold prevention: In these tough economic times, we can't afford to let anything go to waste, especially an expensive piece of cheese. Prevent a hunk from going moldy by wrapping it in a napkin that has been soaking in salt-water prior.
  5. Ditch the stain remover: Many stain removing sticks can be toxic. Instead make a solution with 4 tbsp of salt in 2 cups of hot water. This is especially good on yellow perspiration stains. Simply sponge the solution onto the stain and rub until the yellow disappears. Wash as normal.
  6. Mouthwash: Most drugstore mouthwashes are expensive and contain dye, alcohol and sweeteners. Do it the old-fashioned way by mixing 1tsp salt and 1 tsp of baking soda in 8ounces of warm water. You can also add 5 drops of tea tree oil if you like the taste.
  7. Salt Rub: Forego the expensive body scrubs and give yourself a homemade salt rub at home. Just dip your mitts into a large tub of sea salt and massage while your skin is wet and then shower off.
  8. Pick up broken eggs: Have you ever tried to scoop up an uncooked egg that has smashed onto the floor? Extremely difficult—however if you use salt, easy! Cover the spill with salt as it will draw the egg together and wipe up with a recycled paper towel.
  9. Remove baked-on food: When you are facing the awful task of scrubbing out a roasting pan, dampen the pan and sprinkle salt all over. The salt will lift off the baked on food.
  10. Spruce up your mop: To prevent you having to run out and buy a replacement mop head (not my favorite activity), soak your mop in bucket of water with 1 cup of salt overnight.

Monday, March 11, 2013

EcoScraps Potting Soil

Pretty cool!

EcoScraps Potting Soil, Made from Grocers' Produce Waste, Now Available Nationwide Through Target
by Jennifer Elks                                    February 26, 2013

EcoScraps, a provider of organic, chemical- and manure-free lawn and garden products, today announced that its 100 percent organic potting soil is now available at more than 1,700 Target stores nationwide. This marks the first time that EcoScraps will appear on the shelves of a major retailer at the national level.
The move is a significant expansion for EcoScraps, as it enters just its third year of operations. The company’s unique process enables retailers to recycle produce waste from their grocery department and resell it as an organic lawn and garden soil supplement. Selling EcoScraps’ potting soil is in alignment with Target’s mission of integrating environmental sustainability into every facet of its business, and its commitment to expanding its selection of sustainable product choices that effectively balance price, performance and convenience.
“There is no national brand that is bringing organic, sustainable lawn and garden products to consumers like EcoScraps is,” said Nancy Pfund, managing partner at DBL Investors. “The growth that this company has seen in just a few short years validates that EcoScraps answers a large consumer need that has not been met until now. As awareness about EcoScraps’ products continues to grow, I anticipate that other major retailers will follow Target’s lead.”
EcoScraps’ products are held to the highest eco-friendly standards while maintaining the industry’s highest levels of lawn and garden performance. Safe for children, pets and the planet, EcoScraps recycles produce waste that would otherwise be hauled into the nation's landfills to create methane — a greenhouse gas emission more harmful than CO2.
“There is no way to overstate what a big milestone this is for us,” said EcoScraps CEO and co-founder, Dan Blake. “This partnership with Target underscores the drive for consumers to find simple, easy ways to use sustainable, high-quality products and we are excited to be a part of that.”

Jennifer Elks is Managing Editor of Sustainable Brands. She is a writer, editor and foodie who is passionate about improving food systems, closing loops and creating more livable cities. She loves cooking, wine, cooking with wine, correcting spelling errors in… [Read more about Jennifer Elks]

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Tree Thursday

This was sent to me from a friend and thought you all would enjoy!


Trees, the longest-living organisms on earth, beautify and protect our environment by providing color, shelter, and shade. They renew our air supply by soaking up carbon dioxide and producing oxygen.

10. Cherry Blossom Tunnel , Germany

Photo — Link

Each spring, a peaceful street, located in the German city of Bonn , transforms into an enchanting cherry blossom tunnel. Photographer Marcel Bednarz captured this stunning sight of cherry blossoms in full bloom. He explained to me that there are actually two streets in Bonn where cherry trees are planted. The one you see in the above picture is called Heerstraße. As you may know, the average cherry blossom lasts only between 7 and 10 days, depending on weather conditions.

09. Rua Gonçalo de Carvalho, Brasil

Number nine goes to Brazil ’s green tunnel from Porto Alegre , Rua Gonçalo de Carvalho. According to a decree signed in 2006 by former mayor Joseph Fogaça, this beautiful street is part of the country’s historical, cultural, ecological and environmental heritage.

There are more than one hundred towering Tipuana (Rosewood) trees along Rua Gonçalo de Carvalho. The great shade trees stretch over three city blocks, which is a good thing for the city’s overall health. Did you know that trees, properly planted around buildings, can reduce air conditioning demands by up to 30%?

08. Autumn Tree Tunnel , USA

Photographed in glorious autumn colors by Kevin McNeal, this tree tunnel is simply astonishing! The picture was taken on the way up to Smuggler’s Notch, a Vermont state park.

The eye-catching foliage starts changing its color in the northern region, in response to many environmental factors, and spreads south as the fall season advances.

07. Ginkgo Tree Tunnel , Japan

Gingko biloba is a highly venerated tree in Japanese culture. Six ginkgo trees survived the Hiroshima bombing, continuing to grow despite facing so many challenges, and are still alive today. Therefore, the Japanese regard the gingko as “the bearer of hope”. It is also known as “the survivor” or “the living fossil.”

Around 65,000 ginkgoes grace Tokyo ’s streets, gardens and parks today. According to some people who visited Tokyo , the tunnel you see in the above picture is located in the outer garden of Meiji Shrine .

06. Yew Tree Tunnel , UK

The medieval Aberglasney House features one of the most beautiful gardens in Wales , UK . They have been an inspiration to writers since 1470. The Yew Tunnel is a popular tourist attraction in this area. Believe it or not, it took nine years of pruning to restore this unique archway. “Years of neglect had left it unsafe and with a perilous future, as the once formally clipped structure had grown even higher than the top of the mansion itself It is so nice to see it looking invigorated and healthy again. I had every confidence that with careful restoration it would help its future longevity, but I have to confess that it did look drastic at the time,” declared Graham Rankin, one of Aberglasney’s directors.

The Yew Tunnel is thought to have been planted by the Dyer family of Aberglasney, during the 18th century.

05. The Dark Hedges, Northern Ireland
Photo — Link

Tucked away in the county of Antrim , these beautiful beech trees are thought to be around 300 years old. According to local records, James Stuart planted the 150 beech trees in the 18th century in order to impress guests as they approached his splendid property, Gracehill House.

Legend tells that the spirit of a maid, who lived in a neighboring mansion and died in mysterious circumstances hundreds of years ago, haunts the country road. “Grey Lady” silently floats along the road and quickly disappears as she reaches the last beech tree.

04. Bamboo Path , Japan

The Sagano Bamboo Forest is located in Arashiyama, a nationally-designated historic site. The pathway you see in the above picture is 500 meters long and runs through one of Japan ’s most beautiful bamboo forests. No wonder the Agency for Cultural Affairs declared Arashiyama a “Place of Scenic Beauty”. This forest is close to many famous temple and shrines, including the Adashino Nenbutsu-ji Temple .

The sound the wind makes, as it blows through the tall bamboo trees, has been voted by the Japanese authorities as one of 100 must-preserve sounds of Japan .

03. Tunnel of Love , Ukraine

The Ukrainian Tunnel of Love is actually a two-mile sector of private railway that serves a woodworking plant near Klevan, a small city located in western Ukraine . I read somewhere that couples pass through this romantic tunnel to make a wish. The myth goes that, if their love is strong and pure, the wish will come true.

May all of your wishes come true, but watch out for the train! It runs three times a day through the leafy tunnel.

02. Jacarandas Walk, South Africa

Over 10 million trees keep South Africa ’s largest city green. According to several unofficial sources, Johannesburg is home to the world’s largest man-made forest.

There are at least 49 species of Jacaranda, most of them native to South America (particularly in Uruguay , Brazil , Peru & Argentina ), and the Caribbean basin. The tropical trees were imported to South Africa more than one hundred years ago.

October is the month when the flowers of thousands of Jacaranda trees are in full blossom. This spectacular tree tunnel is located either in Johannesburg or Pretoria , the Jacaranda City where 70,000+ Jacarandas add vivid splashes of purple-blue to the urban landscape.

01. Wisteria Tunnel , Japan

As soon as the cherry blossom season ends, the gorgeous Wisteria flowers that hang in grape-like clusters, take their turn on the Japanese floral calendar. The Fuji Matsuri, or Wisteria Festival, is celebrated each spring in Tokyo , Shizuoka , and Okazaki .

The Ashikaga Flower Park is one of the best places to admire different varieties of wisteria, including double-petaled wisteria, giant wisteria and yellow, white, light pink or purple variants of wisteria.