Okra is still blooming [November 11, 2022 -- Planted April 15, 2022


In part of my front yard I have a modified woodland garden with several peach trees serving to provide the forest canopy.  This year, because of our extreme heat, it has served well for the herbs, squash, peppers, lettuce and even tomatoes.  In the full sun of my front yard I have 10 buckets, each with an okra plant.  I planted  the seeds on April 15 and the plants have been producing okra since the last week of May--7 months now.

Two weeks ago I left on vacation and expected to return to  a spent garden but that did not happen. After returning today I toured my garden and as you can see from the photos, it is still producing!  I feel about my garden  in many ways the same way I felt about pets--those nurturing, protective, caring feelings   I was delighted to see it still thriving.  To celebrate, I harvested Okra and Jalapeno peppers for Charlie's and my dinner tonight.

Okra and jalapeno peppers harvested from my garden.

Many of the okra pods I harvested late this afternoon were too large for eating, but their seeds can be saved and planted next year.  Four of the pods measured 8 inches long and one inch in diameter--much too fibrous for easy digestion by a human.  In my opinion, the most delectable pods are 4 inches long and not more than 1/2 inch in diameter.

For dinner tonight  I made stuffed (with cream cheese) jalapeno peppers and bacon; roasted okra; and green peas.

The two smaller roasted Okra pods were delicious.  The two larger ones were not edible because they were too tough but I thought they deserved a try.  Beneath each slice of bacon is a roasted jalapeno pepper stuffed with cream cheese.  Peas in the center finishes off the meal that was 50% from the garden.


Thai and Dill, nestled together. (I'll dry them soon and save their seed.). I like fresh dill in salads.


Oregano is still healthy and is also nestled with the Thai Basil and Dill.  I may bring this one into the house.

My Italian basil went nuts in my absence.  It smells so good!


The roman lettuce really surprised me.  I had twelve of them growing and before leaving for my vacation, I pulled all but two up and donated them to the Good Samaritan's food bank of Garland because I didn't think any would survive.  The two I left did quite well.  Tomorrow  I'll harvest some for a salad.

I have about 25 tomatoes in my garden and I will continue to spin the roulette wheel of first frost with them.  In my opinion a frost ruins the tomato--even one night of if.  So I let them vine ripen up to the last moment.

The asters are still blooming but they are beginning to look a bit ragged.

Cannas are a great and showy flower.  So amazing!  They require little care and bloom from May until the first frost AND being rhizome producers, they come back faithfully year after year!



New Resident in the Garland Community Garden--a female fashionista Scarecrow.


Many Gardens have a scarecrow and now the Garland Community Garden has one of its own.  We really don't have that much of an issue with crows, but when it comes to bugs--Bingo!  Perhaps a Scarebug instead of a Scarecrow.

Scarecrows are scary and creepy--Well, DUH! They should be, and the creepier the better. After all, they are designed for the practical use to frighten off crows in particular, and we all know how smart crows are. Ours isn’t so scary because we love little children who come to our garden and we want them to have fun--not be afraid.  They can read the newspaper for that.

Scarecrows are used around the world by farmers, and are a notable symbol of farms and the countryside in popular culture. Scarecrows have been with us for a long time.

In Kojiki, the oldest surviving book in Japan (compiled in the year 712), a scarecrow known as Kuebiko appears as a deity who cannot walk, yet knows everything about the world. He is sometimes referred to as the “God of Agriculture”

The Scarecrow is featured early on in American literature as well.  Nathaniel Hawthorne's short story "Feathertop" is a scarecrow made and brought to life in 17th-century Salem, Massachusetts, by a witch in league with the devil. Isn’t it interesting how some of us are afraid of witches but not afraid of those who kill them, or who want to kill them? Did you ever think about that?  We seem to have things backwards.


Our scarecrow is a gardener herself.  You can tell by her dirty hands and feet [made from the roots of discarded broccoli plants].

So, if you don’t like what is happening in the world today, just blame the scarecrow. In fact, you can even blame our friendly Garland scarecrow.  She won’t mind. In fact, that’s why she is here--to be a scapegoat. Blame her for all your problems and then walk away but not before you take a halloween photo with her.  [We recommend that you don't hold her dirty hand. ]


NEARCATION - Like a vacation only near to home, shorter, and much less expensive

 Yesterday Charlie and I took a nearcation. We went to the Texas State Fair.  It was a wonderful adventure that lasted from 1 PM until 8 PM when we got home.  We took the Dart train.  It was easy, relaxing and fun. From Garland, there is only one transfer at Pearl Station and voila! We were delivered to the world of Big Tex--and also our world for the next almost six hours.  Big Tex is a 55-foot (17 m) tall figure and marketing icon of the annual State Fair of Texas.  As we learned from a sign at the Fair, Big Tex was born in 1952, ten years after the Corn Dog was invented.

The Texas State Fair is unique for a number of reasons.  First of all, it is the biggest state fair in the USA.  Second of all, it is located on a historical site--the grounds of the 1936 Centennial built to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Texas independence from Mexico.  As it was built in the middle of the Great Depression, these grounds are a monument to hope and a tribute to human achievement.  You don’t have to visit these grounds only once a year, Fair Park is open throughout the year and it includes the Children’s Aquarium, The Women’s Building, Texas Discovery Gardens, and more.  Fair Park was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1986. It is home to the nation's largest collection of publicly owned Art Deco buildings in the U.S. and one of the largest collections of 1930s art.

The six female figures that flank the entrance to the Hall of State building at Dallas’ Fair Park are the work of Raoul Josset and Lawrence Tenney Stevens. The 20-foot statues (on 12-foot pedestals) face each other and represent the five nations (and one would-be nation) that are more frequently represented by the “six flags” of Texas.

  It was a wonderful, magical day filled with too many adventures to post here--the great Mexican food we ate, the fancy electric cars we saw,  the John Deere zero turn mowers, the sheep, the baby pigs, etc.  I look forward to another nearcation soon.



SHE WAS BORN ["eclosed"]

Solomon Grundy,
Born on a Monday,
Christened on Tuesday,
Married on Wednesday,
Took ill on Thursday,
Grew worse on Friday,
Died on Saturday,
Buried on Sunday,
That was the end,
Of Solomon Grundy.

Here is her story told the short Solomon Grundy style (although we hope that she will make it to Mexico to overwinter and lay a few eggs in the spring of 2023 on her return through Texas, headed north) :

This is what the butterfly looks like just before emerging.  We didn't get to see this one in that stage, but I'm sure this is also how she appeared.  The chrysalis is transparent.After the chrysalis has been softened and often become transparent the butterfly will push through first with its legs also removing the triangular piece covering its eyes and proboscis. The butterfly then crawls the rest of the way out of the chrysalis, exposing the abdomen and wings.

When Charlie and I came home from an afternoon of volunteering at Good Samaritans, one of our local food banks, we found a healthy female butterfly in the Jar.



According to most sources such as "Journey North", it is estimated that 95% of Monarch caterpillars do not survive to adulthood in the wild. The converse is true for Monarch caterpillars that are rescued as 95% of them are said to survive and be released as butterflies.  As of July, 2022, the Monarch Butterfly has been on the endangered species list.


Garland Community Garden- Garland Texas October 8, 2022 1PM

This afternoon I  counted 25 Monarch butterflies in a Zinnia patch near our Monarch wings sign. 

All of the Monarchs I saw were female.  You can tell the males from the females because the veins in the female's wings are thicker and the hind wings of the male have a black spot on the top of either side.  It was a thrill for me as I have been disappointed at the lack of Monarchs.  Usually they start drifting toward the middle of August.

Savoring the nectar.  They were so busy eating they didn't even notice me.  However the bumblebees did.  I also saw several of them but they got away before I could snap a photo of them.

They are  so beautiful and fun to watch. Tomorrow would be a great day to come down to the garden to see them and take your photo in front of the wings.  Also we have packets of Common Milkweed seeds to give away that are hanging from the back of the sign.


Now we are going to have to check the milkweed in the garden carefully for eggs and caterpillars.  Monarch caterpillars in the wild have a 5% chance of making it to adulthood as they are a delicious snack for birds.  Rescued caterpillars have a   95% chance of surviving.  

The photo above is from this year. I painted them and we installed on October 1, 2022. Honoring Monarch butterflies is part of the tradition of Loving Garland Green and the Community Garden.  Below is a photo of me and my two granddaughters from four years ago.  I also designed this participatory art as well.



Digital Address (Plus Code)

X93F+C7 Garland, TX, USA

Google Map Location

32.9536063, -96.6268189



                 St. Joseph's Cathedral in the Cotton Patch near Munday, Texas


In 2000, when I still lived by the beach in Southern California my mom called me as she often did, waking me at 4 or 5 AM because living out in North West Texas she never remembered the two-hour time difference.

“I’ve always wanted to see the church in the cotton patch,” she began.

“What hell are you talking about?”

“Don’t curse. It’s so unladylike. Yes, there is this Catholic Church out in a cotton patch near Munday [Texas]. I’ve always wanted to see it and your father would never take me there. Can you come home and take me there?”

My mom was always dreaming up some excuse to get me to drive 1,100 miles to see her.  On average, I made 5 trips back home every year--often only for a few days.

At the time I worked as a free-lance technical writer and was between projects. My next project was not due to start for 10 days so I agreed to come take her to St. Joseph’s in the cotton patch.  Even to this day mass is still held there 7 days a week.  It is known as “The Cathedral in the Cotton Patch”.  I had never heard of it until my mom mentioned it.

Although the church is literally in the middle of a cotton patch, technically the church is located in Rhineland, Texas but Rhineland, like most of the small towns in rural North West Texas is almost a ghost town.   As of the 2000 census, less than 100 people live in Rhineland, so few that it is no longer considered a town and is now incorporated into nearby Munday, Texas.

The church was built by hand, including all the bricks being made by the locals starting in 1927.  It was built to replace the previous church which was built in the late 1800’s as more and more German-Catholics moved into the area. 

After getting directions from a woman in Munday at Allsups Convenience Store, we drove out to the cotton patch where the church is located.  Indeed, it is quite lovely and unexpected as its spire rises up out of a cotton patch.

The windows in the nave of St. Joseph's Church depict central events in the life of Christ, such as His birth, His transfiguration, and His crucifixion. The windows in the sanctuary represent bread and wine themes found both in the Old and the New Testaments. Windows in the sacristy are, in the choir loft, and in the facade of the church represent important saints in the life of the church and in the life of the Rhineland community, such as St. Isidore, Patron of farmers, and St. Benedict, founder of the Benedictines.

My mom and I were walking around, reading the tombstones in the small cemetery connected to the church when the sky darkened with literally millions of Monarch butterflies.  They descended on the church and the graveyard.  They were in our hair, on our clothes--everywhere.

It felt like some supernatural event, but of course it wasn’t.  Apparently, St. Joseph’s church is located in the migratory path of the Monarch butterfly on its way to Mexico for the winter. 

It was fun at first, but then it got creepy as I realized we literally had insects crawling all over us so we got back in the car and watched them from there for a while.  Then we headed back home.

After that, I read up on Monarch butterflies and have had a special affinity with them ever since.  Over the years I’ve rescued somewhere in the neighborhood of 50 caterpillars. The most memorable was one that I rescued from our Garland Community Garden in late November of 2015.  The poor thing was clinging to a dried-up milkweed leaf.  Lucky for it. I had some milkweed growing on the south side of my house that was still green.  We kept her alive and she completed her metamorphism into a butterfly on Christmas Eve.

But we kept having cold snaps and Monarch Butterflies get very lethargic and have difficulty flying when it is below 50 degrees F.  Finally, after two weeks of waiting for the weather to get warmer, Charlie and I drove all the way to a preserve that is just west of Brownsville where we released her in early January of 2016.  Yes, she was a female and yes, that’s how far I will go for a Monarch Butterfly.  To me they are symbols of the fragility of nature that we must respect and protect. And they have a deep connection to a fond memory of me and my mother.



No, you can’t eat them!

At last!  The Monarch Wings are installed in the Garland Community Garden.  Yesterday, October 1, Charlie and I installed them.  It seemed forever to finish them although I will say these wings were a lot easier to execute than the 8-foot-tall Garden Wings installation in 2018-- the painting (which I did for both sets) and the construction and installation which Charlie mostly did with a little help from me. The Garden Wings held up well, lasting two years outdoors.  One of the difficulties with the Garden Wings was that they were original.  I had to design and think of all organic elements I wanted to paint on them.  Mother Nature has already told me what Monarch wings look like so I didn’t have to think about design.  All I had to do was copy Mother Nature as exactly as my limited artistic skills would allow me.

A few days ago, the leader for a Daisy Girl Scout troop stopped in when I was working in the garden.  Just before the COVID-19 pandemic, they were going to do an installation of painted rocks in our Children’s Garden area.  Now, today (Oct 2) they will install it, of course with different Daisies because pandemic or not, kids continue to march toward adulthood. I look forward to seeing what they do.  I hope they take advantage of our new Monarch wings.

Speaking of good things in our community, Charlie and I decided to wear our Good Samaritan’s volunteer shirts when posing for our wings photos to help advertise the good work they do.  Charlie and I volunteer there.  On Monday afternoons at 3PM I come and help fill boxes with nonperishable grocery items for the next day.  On Wednesdays at 1:30PM Charlie and I come after a truck makes a delivery and we unload a pallet of gallon milk and put it in the Good Sam refrigerators.  It’s a great feeling we always have on our way home from there--like we did just a little bit to make the world a better place.  I highly recommend community service.  It’s at least as good for us than the people who benefit from our work.  Call Pam Swendig, executive director at Good Sam’s of Garland and ask her what you can do.

We felt like it was also appropriate for us to wear our t-shirts for these photos because Loving Garland Green, official stewards of the Garland Community Garden, donate 50% of all the produce from the garden to Good Samaritans of Garland.



Judging from several posts that appeared recently on NEXT DOOR, there are quite a few folks in Garland who do not understand what a Community Garden is and who “owns” the produce--It’s the gardeners who own the produce, not the visitors.  As shown in the U.S. DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE definition below, community gardens are for the benefit of the people caring for the garden.

The “community” referenced in the title “Community Garden” is the “community of gardeners”. Not the community at large.  Thus, members of the community who do not have a plot at the Garland Community Garden are not free to come and pick the produce that others have worked hard to grow. I think the concept of the children’s tale about the Little Red Hen applies here.

In addition to taking care of our personal plots, the care of the garden also includes taking care of other plots such as our pollinator beds, the luffa tunnel, the Medicine wheel and the Multicultural plot.  Layered on top of that members mow to keep the weeds down.

That said, Loving Garland Green, the official stewards of the garden space at the junction of Brand and Naaman School Road, do offer many benefits to the community at large.  Here are a few:


  1. If you are a resident of Garland, you can obtain a plot by contacting Loving Garland Green.  Unlike many community gardens, our plots are free but you do have to plant in them and keep your bed up or you will lose it and you do have to give 50% of your produce to a local food bank.

  2. If you are interested in growing some of the food you eat (a good idea) you are welcome to the garden any time to look at the various urban garden formats we have that range from lasagna beds to pots to homer buckets.  You do not have to create a raised bed with wooden sides, although we even have a few of those at the garden.

  3. If you just want peace and quiet, the garden is a great place for that.  Unlike most community gardens, we have picnic tables, chairs and shade.

  4. If you want to learn fun things such as--Did you know you can eat some weeds?  You can come down and see the Purslane we have growing along with a sign explaining what it is.  In another area of the garden, we have a sign that educates the public on the topic of growing hemp in Texas.

  5. Later on, in the fall, our members will leave seed packets from plants that we grew in 2022.  We encourage our neighbor gardeners to do the same.  The very best seeds to plant are from healthy plants that were grown in your community.

  6. As for more giving to the Community, Loving Garland Green’s policy is to donate 50% of all we grow to the Good Samaritans of Garland.  In 2019 we donated approximately 600 pounds of fresh produce and hard goods.  With COVID, unfortunately, our gathering and donating was not allowed.  In 2022 we are picking up speed again. Despite our severe drought, to date for this year we have a total donation of 256 pounds of produce and dry goods.  We gather the produce from the garden every Friday and deliver it to Good Sam’s of Garland--a great organization that can always use volunteers


THE GARLAND COMMUNITY GARDEN IS A BEAUTIFUL PLACE and the overwhelming majority of people who visit it are beautiful and like the garden itself, they teach me lessons every day.

I’m glad that so many people come to enjoy our garden.  If we had not installed our cameras, we would only know the tip of the iceberg about our visitors--the ones who come to the garden when we are there.  Over the last week since we installed our cameras, the Garland Community garden has had 30 visitors.  I had no idea. I would have guessed 30 people a month, not a week.

Here is one of the many lessons I recently learned (for about the 1000th time in my life) from the garden and a pair of its visitors:

Don’t make hasty judgements based on appearances. 

For example, one of our cameras recorded a video of two men walking through our garden.  I have to admit that I was suspicious and wondered: “What are they doing?”  I couldn’t see from the video taken by one of the cameras what they were doing, but when I downloaded videos from another one of our cameras, I saw.  They had brought wooden stakes and a hammer and were repairing fencing that we have around one of our beds.

The Garden also has night visitors.  Our cameras captured three teenage night sprites frolicking in the shadows of the garden.



UPDATE AUGUST 23:  We filed a Garland police report on them this morning.  At the least it will establish an official record.  We are hoping it will enable us to file a restraining order against them to ever enter the Garland Community Garden again.

This will discourage any poacher from taking from any community garden in our area.  Up until now, there have been no consequences for these people. A conviction for violating a protective order (restraining order) is a Class A misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in a county jail and/or a fine of up to $4,000. However, if you have two or more previous convictions, it becomes a third-degree felony, carrying a possible 2 to 10 year prison sentence.



We know what they look like and what kind of car they drive—a white Cadillac Escalade. There were two of them.  A man and a woman.  They came in a white Cadillac Escalade. We don’t know their names yet but we do know that they 1) knew they were stealing and 2) knew that we have 24-hour camera surveillance. in the garden.  They were warned that they were being captured on video camera.



We had a brick right in the large pot of kale that they stripped. The brick reads: “Don’t steal this kale.”  I put that brick in the kale bed that I steward because on May 22, this plant was stripped of 95% of its leaves and almost died. [Kale will produce for up to two years if it is well-maintained and harvested in a responsible way.]



We have signs planted all over the garden warning people that we have 24-hour camera surveillance. I guess they thought we were bluffing and/or they don't care if people see them stealing.

They entered the garden on Saturday, August 20 at 3:31PM and left about ten to fifteen minutes later.  We have videos of them stealing other produce from the garden, not just stripping kale.

This couple have been to the garden before because both Charlie and I have seen them there walking around.  They know the layout of the garden and they knew what they were coming for.  It would appear they came prepared to steal because that is just what they did and in a short time.

 We have a video of the woman carrying three large squashes from one of our gardener’s plot, Pat Patel.  Pat was saving the larger squash for seed for next year.  This is a special squash grown in India.  You cannot obtain these seed local.  There is a sign right in front of Pat's plot that reads "if you didn't plant it, don't pick it."  This couple didn’t just steal food that didn’t belong to them, they even stole the future of food for next year by harvesting seed plants.





One of Loving Garland Green advisors has told to us file a police report. Since the garden is a grounds lease and Loving Garland Green are the operators, this likely falls under theft of private property.