Archive for November 2008 | Monthly archive page

Winter is coming, and with it the monarch butterflies are flocking back into SLO County. We plant a wide variety of native species in our garden to attract local birds and butterflies, and we have several small milkweed bushes, which are the monarch’s primary source of sustenance. But here’s one feasting on a bouquet of semi-native, super-aromatic mexican marigold. Must be delicious!

For some reason, the monarchs take no interest in any of the several varieties of bamboo that are potted throughout the yard, but of course, bamboo isn’t native to California. And one of bamboo’s chief advantages is its total lack of enemies. Unlike cotton, which is extremely susceptible to pests like the bull weevil, bamboo appears nowhere on any insect’s menu. Perhaps this is part of why bamboo spreads so aggressively, because no insects have come forward to aid in the process of pollination.

super bamboo

It’s a grass, it’s a tree, it’s … super bamboo!

Bamboo has long been revered for its striking combination of properties: Strong, Flexible, Hollow. Bamboo deserves emulation for each of these characteristics.

Unsurpassed in strength, bamboo makes an excellent substitute for hardwoods like maple and oak, an ideal material for flooring and kitchen wares. This is not simply the raw strength of a muscle-bound weightlifter, but rather the indefatigable resilience of a tai chi master. Its unique ability to bend in the breeze and flex under extreme pressure makes bamboo a natural survivor. The best demonstration of strength includes a willingness to compromise rigidity without sacrificing integrity.

Beyond that, most bamboo grows hollow. While many top-ranked athletes suffer from over-developed egos and over-inflated opinions of themselves, the graceful victor remains empty inside, always ready to receive, learn and improve.

Be like the bamboo, let your roots run deep and wide, and you too will survive the harshest winds and the deadliest storms.

So the next time you’re in a bind, need some readily renewable resources, and aren’t quite sure what to do, just reach out and call for super bamboo!

New Orleans Botanical Gardens

No Hornaday family vacation (or solo vacation for that matter) would be complete without a trip to the Botanical Gardens. NOLA’s gardens were pleasant enough, and of course Louisiana has a very bamboo friendly climate, at least when the city’s not under water.

Next time you’re in Dixieland, be sure to swing through the New Orleans Botanical Gardens. Enjoy the lush surroundings, the prolific bamboo, and you might even start to believe that the South will rise again!

Yes, it is the official plant of Halloween, so we decided to go all out and celebrate the big spooky day in the Big Easy. I can now say that there’s no better place to spend Halloween than New Orleans. If we’d tried to have half as much fun with half as many costumed people right here in San Luis Obispo, there’s no doubt that the entire police force of the city would have descended on us with with tear gas and rubber bullets. If you can still remember the days of Mardi Gras in SLO, then you know I’m not exaggerating. Because more southerners serve in the military, it stands to reason that southerners should enjoy more freedom than Californians. The most common Halloween costume in New Orleans by far was Sarah Palin, in several incarnations, including Sarah Impaling, with a stuffed rabbit skewered on the end of a long stick. Also popular were Joe the Plumber, Senator Obama, and numerous allusions to the economy, the stock market and the $700B bailout. One person thought I was Osama bin Laden, and someone else thought I was Haile Selassie, which gave me a great idea for next year without even needing a new costume.As tourists from Coastal California visiting the Deep South, we were rather surprised to discover about a 10:1 ratio of Obama signs to McCain’s in New Orleans, in stark contrast to the strong prevalence of McCain signage (by about 15:1) in our own neighborhood. And as we drove into Grover Beach Sunday afternoon, we were greeted by an acrimonious gathering of Yes on 8ers crusading for hate. No wonder we felt like getting out of town for a spell.