Bali, isle of heavens

No other place in the world has been so highly praised for its beauty as Bali,  many temples, shrines and beautiful palaces.  Even the most remote  corners of the island, the visitor’s eye is engaged by magnificent views of these richly ornamented constructions.  Very much living shrines, they are the sites of both daily observance of the Balinese Hindu rites and more spectacularly religious festivals.

A mask dancer performing in Pura Sadia temple during the Galungan-Kuningan festival, the most important in the Hindu Balinese calendar, celebrating the victory of good over evil.  It is believed that during Galungan spirits descend to bless the earth and ascend back to the heavens on Kuningan day.  Music and dances performed in temples are considered as offerings to the deities.

Bowl of flower petals and holy water are left on temple altars after blessings or purifications rituals.  For the Balinese people, offerings of food , flowers and incense to the gods and the elements, promises a state of equilibrium where man, nature and the divine can co-exist in peace and harmony.


IMG_0529                                Rows of fishing boats along the beach of Jimbaran.

Carved decorative Balinese door.

Children learn to dance and play musical instrument at a very young age.


31Women dressed up in their splendid attire in preparation for a temple festivity.


Barong a character in Balinese mythology He is the king of leader spirit of the host of good.  Banas Pati raja the good spirit which animates the Barong.  The character of the Barong often accompanied by two monkeys (dancers dressed in monkey costume)



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Halloween Pumpkin


At this time of the month October there are plenty of pumpkin to choose from the patch or grocery store.    Pumpkin is a member of the Cucurbita family, large trailing vine with heart-shaped leaves.  they are in reality a winter squash.

Pumpkin are high in vitamin A, B, and C, iron, phosphorous and potassium.

About 99  percent of the pumpkins sold in the grocery store are used as jack-o-lanterns.  these large, deep orange color pumpkins is a variety called Connecticut Field are stringy to eat and high water content.  they are not good for eating, suitable for carving only.

Smaller pumpkin called “pie” or sweet  flesh that is less watery making these the best for eating.  I grow this variety in my garden excellent for pies, quick breads, cakes and muffins.

My favorite sweet pumpkins for eating are winter luxury and New England Pie.  winter luxury will grow 5 to 7 pounds, it has a unique netted skin, dense and sweet tasting.  New England pie  will grow 4 to 7 pounds, dry, stringless and relatively starchy.

The best temperature to store pumpkin is 50F to 55F, with relatively low humidity.  Storing in high humidity will rot the pumpkins.  Store away from light in area with  good ventilation.

To keep your home-grown pumpkins or store-bought, cut them into slice pieces or large chunks nd microwaved, boiled, baked in oven or steamed.  Puree cooked pumpkin meat, freezes well and can be kept frozen up to a year.







Roasted pumpkin seeds, also known as “pepitas” are wonderful nutritious snack !

Cut the pumpkin, scrape the seeds and put them in colander to rinse.   Remove any pulp strings. (this can be tedious) and dry thoroughly. Put seeds in a large bowl, add a few drops of olive oil (I like extra virgin).  Spread on cookie sheet line with parchment paper.  Roast in the oven at 375F until seeds are golden brown color.  Keep and eye on them and move them around occasionally to ensure even roasting.  Cool completely  and store in air tight container.   If this sound too much to make buy in health food store or in grocery store with bulk section.


The most prominent Halloween symbol is of course the carved pumpkin with lit candle inside.  This is an Iris tradition of carving a lantern, which goes back centuries.  this lantern usually carved from a potatoes or turnips.  The pumpkin carving was first associated with Halloween in North America, where pumpkin was more readily available much larger and easier to carve.








Garden Peas

Home grown peas always taste better than store-bought.  Growing your own is easy and you do not need a large garden to grow this nutritious vegetable.

Pisum Saticum the botanical name for garden peas.  Loaded with vitamin A, B, C, Riboflavin, Protein, Carbohydrate, calcium, Iron, Phosphorous and Potassium.  Adding peas to your diet also has health benefit.  They are excellent nourishment and strength restoring.  Peas contain nicotinic acid reportedly recommended for reducing cholesterol in the blood.  Steam diced carrot and peas , mix with meat, or sprinkle on salad.  Anyway you use peas they are healthy nutritious.

Garden peas was discovered at all place in Burma (Myanmar) and Thailand by an archeological expedition at approximately 9750 B.C.  This is a much earlier finding than the peas found bronze age (approximately 3000B.C.) lake dwellings in Switzerland and Savoy.  The Greeks also cultivate peas and they were brought to Britain by the Romans.  Peas were the first vegetable to canned and later deep frozen.

Peas are cold weather crop, so plant them early.  I started mine in the greenhouse in flats in early February, then transplanted outdoors in early spring depending weather condition.  Green Arrow variety is my first choice shelling peas, they are prolific producer, long pod up to 10 peas per pod, excellent pea taste.  Pick them early when they are still tender.

Many diseases affect peas.  the most common is pea root rot (Fusarium or aphanomyces euteiches) which causes browning and dying of the foliage from the ground up.  Another pea disease to watch is the powdery mildew, those white powdery mold on the leaves, stems and pods in hot weather.  Choose resistant variety.


When done with harvesting, pull the stalks and spread them on the ground in a sunny area of the property to dry.  when they all look brown and brittle I use my gas driven mower and mow the stalks into shredded particles.  Dried pea stalks have nitrogen  content that is beneficial for compost and the garden.

Peas are good for freezing too.  shell the peas, spread on a cookie sheet then put in the freezer for several hours or until peas are frozen.  Fill one gallon plastic bag with the frozen peas, depending how often you use, it will last until next planting or longer.



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Camellias and the Zen garden

There is a place in Paris worth for a visit.  Created in the nineteenth century by its founder Albert Khan, French banker and philanthropist known also  for his auto chromes collection taken during his voyages in Asia.  The garden which once enhance his Parisian home was created to illustrate the gardens of the world.  His creative garden landscape is still kept alive till this day where visitors may enjoy the lovely walks through the French, English, the forest and especially a voyage into the meditative Zen world of Japanese gardens.



The original Japanese garden created by Albert Khan in 1908, was given its contemporary style in 1989 by the Japanese landscape designer Fumiaki Takano.  Nothing much is left of the old Japanese garden except for the bridges, the small wooden door leading to the orchard and the wonderful  weeping purple beech tree.

Walk along the pond and sit under shady trees to listen to the sounds of dripping water while admiring some of the garden flower collection such as the many beautiful species of Camellias.  The visit gets even better in Spring when cherry blossoms become a wonderful background to the Japanese style houses surrounding the garden.


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Elegant Peonies

Peonies are beautiful flowers.  With a sweet scent similar to roses.  Bloom in mid spring until early summer.  Did you know that peonies make superb cut flowers ?  The variety that grow in my garden is “Festiva Maxima” it has an old fashion rose fragrance.  Intoxicating scent through the whole area where the flowers grows.  Some varieties are fragrant.  Others have no fragrance at all, and a few tend to have an unpleasant bitter scent.  the “Festiva Maxima” produces large, white double blooms with a crimson flecks in the center.  Somewhat peculiar , though ants like to gather on the flowers.  Perhaps the sweet scent.


When making your vase arrangement, harvest the flowers as early in the morning as possible.  Using a sharp knife or prunner,  cut the stems so they are 18 inches long.  Be sure to leave at least two leaves on each remaining stem and never remove more than on half of the flowers from a single plant.  This allows the plants to continue to photosynthesize.

If you to use the flowers in an arrangement immediately, select blooms that are almost fully open.  If you want a bouquet that lasts longer select flowers in various stages of opening.






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Peacocks in cherry blossoms

Bagatelle gardens, Paris with their peacock showing off their gorgeous plumage.   The birds enjoying their leisure time among cherry blossom trees.    They roost on tree and nest on ground.  India chose blue peacock as their national bird, often you can find these birds in royal palaces.






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Daffodils Reflections of Spring sunshine

“I wandered lonely as a cloud. That floats on high o’er vales and hills. When all at once I saw a crowd.   A host, of golden daffodils”  -William Wordsworth-

A description of how daffodils seen by William Wordsworth, an English romantic poet from the 18th century.



Daffodils and other narcissi and their color range from cream, white, yellow, orange and even salmon.  Some cultivar are big and bold and others are small enough to make an important contribution to window box and rock garden.

Most garden variety of the daffodil are descendant of the wild narcissus.  There are now more than 9000+ varieties of narcissi, grouped into a number of divisions according to flower shape and color.


The word “narcissus” is used to describe varieties with a short central cup, even though the large cupped and trumpet daffodils are also botanically narcissus.

Daffodil bulbs are reliable, adaptable and easy to grow when left undisturbed in the soil for at least three years, it will produce  increase of flowers each season.  Not only they are hardy and beautiful, their bitter-tasting bulb repels rodents.  Besides the daffodil is one of the best bulbs for naturalizing in the garden.  Because it grows under deciduous trees and in open woodlands.



Before deciding where to plant daffodils, you need to carefully prepared the site .  Mix well-rotted compost into the soil and let it settle for several days before planting.  Then, mix bone meal into the planting area 5 pounds per 100 square feet.



Plant narcissi from September onwards and no later than the end of October.  Partial shade is ideal, but full sun  tolerated.  As long as the soil is fertile and reasonably moist.  Allow the plants to grow on for at least six weeks, after flowering before cutting the leaves back.  This way the bulbs  will have sufficient energy for next year bloom.  Propagate by dividing clumps of bulbs after the leaves have died and replant in the fall.


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