Rose Garden 2018

For centuries, roses have inspired love and brought beauty to those who have received them. In fact, the rose’s rich heritage dates back thousands of years.  People have been passionate about roses since the beginning of time.  We have over fifty bushes in our garden.


Jawaharlal Nehru, the first Prime Minister of India,  was fond of Red rose. He always wore a Red rose on his jacket until his last breath.


It is said that the floors of Cleopatra’s palace were carpeted with delicate rose petals.  Shakespeare refers to roses more than 50 times throughout his writings. It is also New York’s state flower.


1,000 years old. That’s the age the world’s oldest living rose is thought to be. Today it continues to flourish on the wall of the Hildesheim Cathedral of Germany.


It was in seventeenth century that French explorer Samuel deChamplain brought the first cultivated roses to North America.  Roses are truly ageless. Recently, archaeologists discovered the fossilized remains of wild roses over 40 million years old.


The people of ancient Greece used roses on festive occasions to adorn themselves with garlands of roses, and splash themselves with rose-scented oil.  Napoleon’s wife Josephine so adored roses, she grew more than 250 varieties


The largest rose bloom ever bred was a pink rose measuring approximately 33 inches in diameter, bred by Nikita K. Rulhoksoffski from San Onofre, California.


Red roses are the traditional symbol for love, romance.  It reflects beauty and perfection.  Myth has it that Venus’ son Cupid accidentally shot arrows into the rose garden when a bee stung him, and it was the ‘sting’ of the arrows that caused the roses to grow thorns.  When Venus walked through the garden and pricked her foot on a thorn, it was the droplets of her blood which turned the roses red.


Pink Rose depict gentleness, grace, gladness, joy and sweetness.  It  can also convey happiness, gracefulness and admiration.


Bright, cheerful and joyful are what come to mind when thinking of a yellow rose. Giving yellow roses can tell someone the joy they bring you and the friendship you share.


White roses, the purist of colors, represent innocence, purity and charm. White roses are traditionally used in weddings and can represent new beginnings. We believe that white roses can also express remembrance and innocence.   Why white roses are so special is no mystery – it’s a myth. Perhaps it started with the Romans who believed white roses grew where the tears of Venus fell as she mourned the loss of her beloved Adonis.


Orange roses evoke energy, and enthusiasm, desire and excitement. Giving orange roses can symbolise your passionate romance and share your excitement of the relationship with your loved one.


Love at first sight or just an enchanting way to say, “I love you!” Lavender roses can offer a daily reminder of your love and eagerness to grow your relationship.


Peach-colored rose is gifted when are you grateful for someone or just want to show your appreciation.  It shows appreciation and gratitude or a different way to say “Thank You!”   They symbolise innocence and purity.


Cream roses are indicative of charm and thoughtfulness and goes well with pink ‘thank you’ roses.  Gifting a bunch of cream roses is an ideal way to show someone that you care – but without any romantic intentions.

” How did it happen that their lips came together? How does it happen that birds sing, that snow melts, that the rose unfolds, that the dawn whitens behind the stark shapes of trees on the quivering summit of the hill? A kiss, and all was said.”   Victor Hugo

” What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.”  William Shakespeare

Peonies – A Symbol of Honour, Fortune, and a Happy Relationship


Peonies are outrageously beautiful in bloom, with lush foliage. They bloom from late May through  June in Toronto.  The flowers last only two weeks.


Their stems are not strong enough to support the heavy blossoms, hence they need support.  Peony cages are placed in spring around the plant as they grow.


Peony is named after Paeon (also spelled Paean), a student of Asclepius, the Greek god of medicine and healing.  They are also the 12th anniversary flower – because the peony symbolises honour, fortune, and a happy relationship.. It is the state flower of Indiana.


Peonies are native to China. They are highly valued there, and are often referred to as the “king of flowers”. They were the national flower prior to 1929, when they were replaced by the plum tree. Chinese name for the peony is ‘Sho Yu’ meaning “most beautiful”.


Peonies of three types grow in our garden- Tree Peonies, Herbaceous Peonies and Itoh peonies.


Herbaceous peonies (also known as bush peonies) die to the ground in Winter.  They re-emerge in March, or when the snow melts. Many find that they are deer resistant, but not always. Peonies are long lived, minimal care plants.


Tree peonies are called tree peonies for the woody stems that they have. Tree peonies have woody stems that defoliate in the fall, but the woody stems stay intact, above the ground. They tend to bloom earlier and with larger flowers than the bush peony.


Itoh or Intersectional peonies are a cross between the herbaceous (or bush) peony and the tree peony.  These crosses have produced new, exciting colors.  The plants have the lovely leaf form of the tree peonies, but die to the ground in the Winter.  Since they are recent introductions and are still in short supply they command a high price.


Itoh Peonies derive its name from Japanese horticulturist, Dr. Toichi Itoh, who successfully created seven peony hybrids from a tree peony bred with an herbaceous peony.  Dr. Itoh passed away before ever seeing his creations bloom. Years later, American horticulturist, Louis Smirnow bought some of these original Itoh peonies from Dr. Itoh’s widow and continued Itoh’s work.


Peonies like full sun, and though they can manage with half a day, they bloom best in a sunny spot.  They come in every color except for blue. Pink, and white, are the most popular colours.  Peonies can live upto a hundred years.  In ancient times peonies were believed to relieve headaches and help with asthma.

 

Early Spring Tulips 2018


‘April rains bring in May flowers’ is a common saying in Canada. This year, tulips sprouted as the days warmed up in April, but we had two snowfalls thereafter. Many plants either died or did not grow properly, but we still boast of the best Tulip Garden in Town.


Tulips Originated in Persia and Turkey and were brought to Europe in the 16th century.


Cultivated varieties, referred to as ‘Dutch tulips,’ originated in the Netherlands.


They got their common name from the Turkish word for gauze (with which turbans were wrapped) – reflecting the turban-like appearance of a tulip in full bloom.


Yellow tulips symbolises cheerful thoughts.


The brightly colored, upright flowers may be single or double, and vary in shape from simple cups, bowls, and goblets to more complex forms.


Tulips typically bear cup-shaped flowers in almost every shade but true blue. They can be double or single, fringed or twisted, perfumed or non-scented.


Purple symbolises royalty.


The eleventh wedding anniversary flower is also tulip. It conveys forgiveness.
These are different shades of Red Tulips in our garden. Red tulips are most strongly associated with true love.


Tulips are spring flowers and it arrival signals the coming of a new season. Most tulips have six petals, but some can have many more.


Some of the Tulips are still blooming – may be due to the late setting in of spring.


Red tulips are the hue of choice to express that you are deeply in love. The color red evokes passion and romance.


They are gone in two weeks – and that’s the saddest part.

 

Gardening for Fun & Happiness


‘So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him,  God blessed them and said to them, Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.’  (Genesis 1:27, 28)

God gave man the right to rule over everything on earth.  It must not translate into exploitation of nature, but being fruitful.  It is all about the power of creativity that God blessed us humans with.  It exhorts all humans to be part of creation and one of the best way to execute God’s command would be to tend to your garden.  It may be a few indoor pots, a small home-garden or your farm.

May 03 is Garden Meditation Day. This is a day to take some time out for yourself to relax and meditate or the least, visit a garden if you do not own one.  It is the time to get on to hands-on work, like digging in the garden, planting seeds, pruning plants and so on.  It can actually be a form of meditating.

Research has proved that that when we become involved in physical activities that involve creativity, planning, problem-solving, physical labour, it reduces stress, anxiety, and depression.  It can also be a good exercise for weight-loss.  The act of tending to your garden, planting saplings, de-weeding, will always make you feel better and also give you the power to be part of creation and being close to mother nature.

A mere look at your garden or plants can generate a lot of emotional changes which will surely have a positive effect on your blood pressure, heart activity, muscle tension, and neural activity.  It will surely calm your nerves, soothe your emotions and provide lot of happiness.

Today, we have literally taken the God’s word of ‘ruling over the earth.’  Gardening is the best way to ‘go green’ and support mother nature.  A well kept garden, why even a few indoor plants will surely impact the quality of air at your home.  It helps keep the house warm in winters and cool in summers, thus reducing carbon imprint and also save a few bucks.

A vegetable garden in your backyard will provide you with fresh and good quality vegetables.  In case you resort to organic farming – without use of artificial fertilisers and pesticides – you will have a regular bountiful harvest of organic vegetables.

One summer morning, as I was tending to the roses in the garden, an octogenarian stopped his car and came out to compliment me on the excellent garden.  He said “your work has improved the property value of your home by a hundred thousand dollars and your neighbour’s by at least fifty thousand.  I retired from being a real-estate agent for over forty years and this I can vouch for from my experience.”  A garden or a landscaping is an investment for the future.  A well manicured lawn, well kept flowerbeds, well pruned trees – all add ‘curb-appeal’ of your home.  It is a sure shot recipe to sell your home faster.

Gardening and landscaping is truly becoming an art form. Planning, planting and watching your own garden grow can fill you  with satisfaction and pride. Gardening is truly a life-time hobby. The more you learn the more proficient you get and the possibilities become endless.  It is all about taking the first step, getting your hands dirty and your shoes soiled.  As time pass by, you will surely enjoy it – especially post-retirement.

So what’s stopping you from starting your own garden and landscape design or even get some indoor plants?

 

Vertical Bank Notes in Canada


Vertical currency is a type of currency in which the orientation has been changed from the conventional horizontal orientation to a vertical orientation. why a vertical currency?

People generally handle and deal with currency notes vertically rather than horizontally. People ‘tell’ (count) the notes, holding the bundle vertically.  They tend to hold an open  wallet or purse vertically while searching for notes.   Most people hand over notes to one-another vertically rather than horizontally, especially when making purchases.  All machines like Automated Teller Machines (ATM), vending machines, etc accept notes vertically.  Thus it appears that vertical note makes more sense.  Bermuda, Brazil, Cape Verde, Israel, Switzerland, and Venezuela have adopted vertically oriented currency and now Canada has also joined them by issuing a vertically oriented $10 note.  Early Chinese banknotes were also vertical, due to the direction of Chinese writing.


Many countries have different colors for their notes as it is one of the best ways to distinguish one note from another.  USA issues only green backs which traces its history to 1861, when US government issued paper money as a means of financing the American Civil War.  The backside of these notes were printed with green ink as an anti-counterfeiting measure.  Green colour was chosen to avoid photographic duplicates, since the cameras of the time could only take black and white pictures.  Thus these notes came to be known as ‘Greenbacks.’  In order to cut down on manufacturing costs, US government shrunk the size of all paper money and instituted standardised designs for each denomination, which made it easier for people to tell real bills from fakes. The small-sized bills continued to be printed with green ink because green ink was plentiful and durable and green colour was associated with stability.

Various images on the notes relate to the value of each note.  These images depict the history of the nation, its culture,  its important personalities, historical events, national achievements, monuments etc, to be educational, for its citizens and also for the others handling the currency.

On 08 March 2018, on the International Women’s Day, Canadian Finance Minister Bill Morneau and Bank of Canada Governor Stephen S Poloz unveiled the new $10 bank note featuring Viola Desmond.  It was the first time that an iconic Canadian woman is portrayed on a regularly circulating Bank of Canada note.  She became the first black person and the first non-royal woman ever to appear on regularly circulating Canadian notes.  Please click here to read about my earlier post ‘Canadian Woman on Banknote.’

The note also features the Canadian Museum for Human Rights—the first museum in the world solely dedicated to the evolution, celebration and future of human rights. Also depicted on the note are an eagle feather—representing the ongoing journey toward recognising rights and freedoms for Indigenous Peoples in Canada—and an excerpt from the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

This new $10 note is the first vertically oriented bank note issued in Canada. This will allow for a more prominent image of Viola Desmond and differentiates this new $10 note from the current polymer notes.

Viola Desmond was selected for the new $10 bank note by Minister Morneau following an open call to Canadians to nominate an iconic Canadian woman for the next redesigned bank note. A successful Black Nova Scotian businesswoman, Desmond is often described as Canada’s Rosa Parks after she refused to leave her seat in the ‘whites only’ section at the Roseland Theatre in New Glasgow, Nova Scotia, in 1946.

Desmond, then aged 32, was dragged out of the theatre by police and jailed. The civil rights activist was convicted of defrauding the province of a one-penny tax — the difference in tax between a downstairs and upstairs ticket.

Segregation was legally ended in Nova Scotia in 1954, in part because of the publicity generated by Desmond’s case.  Desmond died in 1965. The province of Nova Scotia apologised to her posthumously, 45 years later.

 

Military Lounge @ Buffalo Airport


On 04 February 2018, I traveled to Buffalo Airport, USA to pick up Reshma Sameer, daughter of Veteran Brigadier Azad Sameer. To read more about Brigadier Sameer,Please Click Here.

Buffalo Airport is 160 km from our home, about two hours of drive by car.  She was scheduled to land at 2 PM.  It was snowing in the morning and was foggy.  Hence, I left home by 10 AM, catering adequate time for a slow drive,  breaks, and crossing at the Canada-US border.  We generally cater for about 30 minutes for border crossing formalities.


As I pulled up at the US Customs & Border Protection counter, there was hardly anyone waiting there to cross.  I drove up to the counter and the officer manning the post came out.  As I was handing over my passport he asked “Sir, aren’t you watching the Super Bowl?”  “I am off to Buffalo Airport to pick up our family friend”  I answered.  Returning my passport he said “Drive safely, have a nice day, Sir.”  This quick clearance must have been due to the ‘Veteran’ Licence Plate of my car.

The Super Bowl is the final game of the National Football League (NFL), played on the first Sunday in February.  It is one of the most watched TV event in United States with more than 100 million people from the United States alone watching it.  Every year the TV commercials, known as Super Bowl ads attract a lot of interest and also money.  This year it featured Hollywood stars Cardi B, Tiffany Haddish, Keanu Reeves and Morgan Freeman.

I reached the Airport at noon and was looking for a place to spend two hours at my disposal.  I picked a book I had in the car and my reading glasses after parking the car in the parking lot.  As I entered the arrival area, I read a sign ‘Freedom Lounge – A Courtesy Centre for Military Service Members and Veterans.’

This lounge was setup in 2016 by WNY Freedom Lounge Inc in recognition of  sacrifices by the US Military Service personnel.  It ensures a welcoming environment for traveling Military personnel & Veterans at the Buffalo-Niagara International Airport. The lounge is open to members of the military, veterans and their families free of charge.


WNY Freedom Lounge Inc is a private, non-profit organization, headed by Veteran Lieutenant Colonel Dan Walther of Kenmore, who raised funds and made arrangements for the lounge. The lounge provides morale and recreational services to members of the US Military and their families. The lounge offers comfortable seating, reading material, TV, phone, snacks, and internet access. It is staffed by veteran volunteers, veteran organizations and military supporters.

I was welcomed in by Veteran Chief Petty Officer Ronald of the US Navy.  After exchanging usual pleasantries, he ushered me in and showed me three rooms – a reception area, a kitchenette and a small living room with sofas and chairs.  He opened the fridge, well stocked with beverages and asked “What would you like to have Sir?”  “Black Coffee” I replied.  He brewed a cup for me in the coffee maker and we sat down and talked.

He said that this lounge has been created for transitioning Military personnel, who  often have significant wait times between connecting flights.  Most Military personnel often travel alone and they need a place to rest.  The lounge is staffed and maintained fully by volunteers.  It is generally open from 9 AM to 10 PM and during other times, the Information Desk staff would open it.

We spoke about all matters two Veterans would speak – about our service in the Forces, places served, family, children, aspirations, dreams, et al.  At the end I realised that we Veterans – from US and India – why from world all over – speak the very same language.  The Military is in our blood and it cannot be shed easily.

Super Blue Blood Moon


On 31 January 2018, it is going to be a Super Blue Blood Moon – crossover of three individual lunar occurrences happening at the same exact time..  It is a lunar spectacle, a stellar show in the sky that night.  Last super blue blood Moon happened way back on March 31, 1866.

Social media will be abuzz with all possible details and explanations and also many e-rumours, some grotesque and some funny.  Many conspiracy theorists will claim this spectacular lunar display as a sign that end of the world is coming near.

To study this phenomenon, one needs to look at the moon’s orbit.  It is elliptical shaped, inclined at about 5 degrees.  It is offset from the centre with the closest point from the earth called ‘Perigee’ and the farthest ‘Apogee’.  The moon revolves around the earth along this orbit in 27.55 days.  As the moon revolves, it also rotates along its axis in very same 27.55 days.  Thus we see the same face of the moon every time.

New moon waxes to a full moon and then wanes back to new moon.  This takes 29.53 days and is called a lunar month.  It is due to revolution of the moon around the earth and the earth’s revolution around the sun.


A super-moon is when a full moon occurs when the moon is at its Perigee.  The New Year Day of 2018 was ushered in by a super-moon.  A super-moon appears around 7% bigger than an average full moon  and 12% to 14% bigger than a micro-moon – when a full moon occurs around Apogee.  Super-moon appears the biggest of all full moons as it is the closest it can get to earth.

Next super-moon will appear after 15 revolutions by the moon around the earth (15×27.55) – about 413 days  as it would coincide with a full moon after 14 lunar months (14×29.53) – about 413 days (one year and 48 days).  Thus we can calculate past and future super-moons.

The term  super-moon is believed to have been coined  by astrologer Richard Nolle in 1979 in Dell Horoscope magazine .  It gained credence when the media titled the full moon of March 19, 2011 as super-moon.

The idiom ‘once in a blue-moon‘ refers to a rare occurrence, but in fact it appears once every 2.7 years, because the lunar month – from new moon to new moon-  is 29.53 days compared to 30 or 31 days of our calendar month.  Hence February (with 28 or 29 days) can never witness a blue-moon.

12 lunar months  (12×29.53) makes it 354.36 days, against the 365.25 days in a calendar year,  The difference of (365.25-354.36) 10.89 days adds up over 2.7 years (2 years 8 months) to about 29.5  days, which is a lunar month.  Last blue-moon occurred on July 31, 2015.

2018 has another specialty. January has a blue-moon on 31st.  As February this year has only 28 days, there will be no full moon in February.  This results in March having two full moons on the 2nd and 31st being a blue-moon again. Double blue-moons occur about 3 to 5 times in a century. The next occurrence will be 2037, while the last was in 1999.

Super-blue-moon on January 31 will coincide with a total lunar eclipse, which is colloquially referred to as  a  blood-moon or a red-moon.  The Moon will turn a shade of red as observed from many parts of the world as the earth moves between the sun and the moon, casting its shadow on the moon’s surface.  The moon takes 3 hours and 23 minutes to cross the earth’s shadow.

Even though the moon is in the umbral region of eclipse, some of the red spectrum of visible light  emanating from the sun (longest wavelength) tends to skim over the earth and reach the moon. This red spectrum is reflected by the moon when it is passing through the umbral region.  Thus the moon appears red with a copper-tone during an eclipse.


Lunar eclipse, partial or total, can only occur on a full moon day as that is the only time, the earth may come in line between the sun and the moon, casting its shadow on the moon.  Eclipse does not happen every full moon as the earth’s orbit around the sun is not in the same plane as the moon’s orbit around the earth.


(Image Courtesy NASA)

Eastern North America can see beginning stages of the partial umbral eclipse low in the west before sunrise of January 31.  Portions of the Middle East and far-eastern Europe can view the ending stages of the partial umbral eclipse low in the east after sunset.  Indian subcontinent, the Middle East and Eastern Europe, the eclipse will already be underway as the moon rises.  In India it would start at 6:21 PM on January 31 2018 and will be visible till 7:37 PM.  South America, most of Europe and Africa will not witness this trilogy.