I was super-stoked to hear recently the big news from my friend Professor Wes Michaels, LSU, that he has gotten a commitment from the most-amazing James Hitchmough to speak at L,S, and U this spring. Professor Hitchmough is Head of Department of Landscape- Horticulture Ecology, The University of Sheffield, Great Britain. He and his colleague Nigel Dunnett have done wonderful work, refining methods combining ecological processes and high horticulture to produce large-scale gardens that provoke deep and profound emotion. The Sheffield University work applies directly to the Urban Meadows class that Wes and I teach. We are looking for best natural practices and strategies for high-art urban meadows from seed for the central Gulf Coastal region and these folks seem to have succeeded in finely tuning that process for their geographic region.
I will announce the date of his talk here as soon as I am informed of it.
I saw Professor Hitchmough speak at the New Directions conference in New London, Connecticut last year. He was pleasantly outspoken and honest about horticulture and ecology in our world and in the U.S. He discussed his research with the process of selecting species and cultivars for his meadow designs and talked in pretty good detail about the several-year design and implementation of the gardens at the London Olympic Park. Super-cool third degree black-belt dude. click on the “watch on Vimeo” to see the video about the meadow at Oxford, England
I am looking forward to hearing him speak and hopefully meeting him again. Wes was asking where we should bring him to see sights. I was at a loss, honestly. That-there is a heck of a good question, my friend. Where do you bring someone who has seen everything? Ya’ll got any suggestions? No, seriously, anyone reading this who can suggest cool gardens of particular relevance in the Baton Rouge-New Orleans area, please do.
my Bee Meadow gets a hive
My friend Gail Barton calls her meadow area a bee meadow, mainly because it has a few bee hives on the edge of the meadow and because the bees obviously use the meadow for making honey. It was Gail, I think, who told me that the word meadow came from word mead, or visa versa. Mead, of course, is a honey and water concoction that turns to beer when hops and other beer flavorings are added. A potent concoction, mead is, ranging from 8 to 20% alcohol.
Anyway, I don’t know if I will make beer but will hope to harvest honey one day.
When I asked my buddy Jim Foret, he told me that I needed to build the box first and hope to get a rescued hive of bees come spring time, when bee rescues occur. I have a plan, man. The other way was just buying a swarm and rescuing a wild swarm sounded more enticing to me. He said I could find videos on constructing one on youtube. duh.
check it out, ya’ll. Took me about a day to do it. I had an old 12-foot 1 x 12 scrap Cedar board and some old heart Slash Pine Katrina-wood in the barn so I made the box of cedar and the comb supports of pine. the photo on right shows the entry point for the bees to come and go. cool thing is, the way I understand it, the bees use the comb supports to “hang” their combs and when you harvest, you just grab a comb and it comes right off from the rest and its the natural design that the bees make instead of a rigidly structured, more complicated hive. -simple. The hive will be located in the yard in Covington and then I will build one or two for the seed farm soon.
Here’s the video I used to build mine.
Took a ride in My son-in-law’s awesome boat and saw and followed two magnificent grey whales off Dana Point California for Christmas while visiting the daughter and the Gelpi side of the Fam. That’s Catalina Island in the distance (son Doug and grand-daughter Taylor)
and a cool Dolphin video (below) with ten year old Taylor the next afternoon. We could see hundreds and hundreds of dolphins in every direction. A huge pod. It was a really wonderful, totally unusual experience! Life is crazy, no?
Neil Diboll in New Orleans next week
Meeting up with my prairie friend Neil Diboll and his life partner Reen for a four full days in the Crescent City this coming week. Neil’s a pioneering prairie design and construction guy, he’s a prairie seed producer and nurseryman who owns Prairie Nursery in Westfield Wisconsin. He’s one of my prairie heroes. I was fortunate so far to visit Wisconsin three times and saw the Leopold and Green prairie and forest restorations each time and once got to see some of Neil’s projects. I met Neil by at least 2002 when a bunch of us Cajun Prairie folks went to the North American Prairie conference in Missouri. Over the years he and I have become well acquainted and really, friends. He’s been a big help with an occasional business question or two. He’s brilliant. A whiz-kid, as Gail Barton would say. Plus, I’ve seen him dance. He knows how to make it fun. Candi and I are looking forward to hanging out in south Louisiana with the two of them, he and Reen.
Neil and I both worked on the Mississippi River on tug boats for a short period of time as young men, we both work with prairies and he’s got relatives in Lafayette Cemetery in uptown area of New Orleans where my family owns the old Schloegel tomb, so we will go visit the family burial tombs, say hello to the folks-past and then walk across to Commander’s for a bite to eat. Ghastly, ghostly!
left to right, Me, Reen, Neil, and my my sweety Candi atop the Colorado Monument in August 2014
like I said, life is crazy. I am blessed.