March 20, 2015

My Vegan Corner of the World

Life really gets fun when we convert grass into an ecosystem. I literally grew a gentle world. My vegan corner of the world is a garden to nurture all the senses; to feed both body and soul. Barefoot, I stroll through paths in this place where peace resides. Bird's wings in flight overhead, the river flowing by, bees buzzing, cicadas, or the lovely song of a bird that sounds like it is right out of a Disney movie - are the sounds heard within this planted patch of flowers and food.

Surrounded by 9,000 acres of New Zealand forest reserve, it is virtually impossible to garden without being fenced in from possums, in particular. The non-native and introduced possums destroy fruit trees and plants. In New Zealand, they are generally looked upon as pests – not as sentient beings - and are persecuted. I was hoping to get lucky this year before the possums discover the garden. It was all good until mid February when I erroneously drew a possum to the garden. He or she sampled a few plants, but did not demolish the garden. One might even say the possum was being respectful. Green leafy plants are the most inviting to possums, so the one I grew was rocket (arugula) – as it is my favorite but not theirs. I went out with my flashlight one night and met this possum face to face; and a cute face it was staring back at me. The possum has as much right to be here in the natural environment as I do. The natural setting I live in is their world too, quite literally.
A possum ~ Photo credit: Ewan Brown 

Plaque at the entrance to the Kisses memorial garden
My little corner of the world is a memorial garden to my best doggie friend; Kisses. She lived as a free dog; no leash and collar. I didn't "own" her. Kisses learned not to kill animals. She wanted to stay close; from our love at first sight moment when she came to me from the surrounding woods where she had been abandoned. She was fed a vegan supplemented plant diet for 13.5 of her 15 years.

Photo credit: Nadine Loraine
Walking past the Kisses plaque and into this ever-evolving garden – there are rows of flowers, corn, and sprawling crunchy Kirby cucumbers that were so plentiful, I had to learn how to make dill pickles. Vegan-since-birth children; Eden and Soul, joined me many days in a pea-eating fest held in the Kisses garden.
Photo: Nadine Loraine - Soul, Eden and (me: Auntie Butterflies) eating peas in my garden

Soul and Eden searching for peas
When the peas that were planted on both sides of the corn were finished, they were pulled out and used to mulch and feed the corn, which looked like it needed more nutriment. It was beautifully symbiotic the way the peas and corn grew alongside each other; one plant holding the other up while the peas nourish the corn in return. Lupines, broad beans, peas, string beans and other nitrogen-fixing legumes are used in the vegan-organic method to replace products sourced from animal exploitation such as blood and bone. 

One outside border is a mass bedding of vividly coloured zinnias; a favorite of both bumble bees and butterflies. The back border includes tall Cosmos swaying in the wind, offering lovely color and scenting the air. Mixed in with them are Milkweed plants to feed the Monarchs and a 'pollinator mix' of flowers for the bees. There were fuzzy lavender flowers that the honey bees particularly liked while the bumble bees nuzzled into the purple-blue bells of Echium flowers.

Photo credit: Nadine Loraine Bumble bee nuzzled into Echium
Photo credit: Nadine Loraine
They also enjoy the blue Borage, and are seen in a euphoric state in the Zinnia flowers. In the mornings, I'd see the bees asleep inside the zinnias and the sunflowers.

Photo credit: Nadine Loraine
Some of them did repay me for planting their favorites by pollinating the gold zucchini flowers. Butternut squash and watermelons had been purposefully planted next to this row in hopes that the bees would help pollinate them. I spent many hours, fascinated, watching the bees pollinating according to plan. My philosophy with bees is to leave them be, and not steal what they make for their own survival. In a world where bees are reportedly diminishing, there is no hint of that in my vegan corner of the world where the bees are abundant. They are not interested in stinging me as they are happy and focused on the flowers.

Photo Credit: Ewan Brown
Photo Credit: Ewan Brown

Starting mid February, one female and one male Monarch took up residency in the Kisses garden, and were soon joined by more. My days then became enhanced with butterflies sleeping, gliding, soaring, and joining intimately. 
Photo: Ewan Brown ~ Monarch butterflies having intimate relations
Something I had never before witnessed that I had the pleasure of watching was a synchronised flying show of two Monarchs spiraling upward. A butterfly curves her tail into the Milkweed plant and drops off eggs. In late summer, tiny caterpillars on the Milkweed plant grow and grow; preparing for their awe-inspiring metamorphosis that takes place later in the season. My policy with the Monarch butterflies is to plant Milkweed and help protect them from wasps.

Monarch caterpillar on Milkweed ~ Photo: Ewan Brown
My veganic garden was almost free of cost. To create the Kisses garden, I traded work in exchange for the initial ploughing of the patch, and for the seeds. I also previously collected some of the seeds. Wood ash from the fireplace was generously spread to promote flowering. Hay was put on the walking rows to stop weeds while mulching and feeding the crops. Peas provided nitrogen throughout the garden. Since the garden patch was virgin soil, there were no additional fertilizers, and I chose plants that like virgin soil such as potatoes, watermelons and tomatoes.

A third border is a wall of annual flowers including Teddy Bear Sunflowers, medium-size and long-lasting Sunflowers, miniature wine colored Cosmos, Poppies; a bright red gift to the morning, with gold Calendula and Marigolds.

Photo: Nadine Loraine Teddy Bear Sunflower
The front row is a wall of corn and tall sunflowers. Vegan children; Eden and Soul helped me plant the sunflowers and I overheard Eden (age 3) say to herself "I can't believe it!" when she saw the results of her planting experience. At the feet of the sunflowers are more bee-loving wildflowers that remained when the sunflowers and corn finished and were pruned away. One sunset, I stood with the sunflower faces that were just starting to bloom. They literally turned their heads to face the setting sun and we watched the sunset together. After flowering, their faces no longer moved to face towards the sun, but had now become reminders of the sun's beauty.

Photo: Nadine Loraine - sunflower blossoms turning towards the light
Flowing around my vegan corner of the world is the cold and clean headwaters of a river. It is naturally filtered as it flows over rocks and I drink from its oxygenated white bubbly spots. I swim laps in one of the river's many invigorating pools that had been discovered a decade after we moved on the land. I named it 'Serendipity' until later when I realized it was the “seren-dip-in-me” pool. The river flows by a large native Puriri tree with berries that attract the vegetarian wood pigeons.
Soul, life vegan, age 6.5, jumping into the Seren-dip-in-me pool - Photo: Bruce Cambron

 Photo: Ewan Brown - N.Z. native wood pigeon (vegetarian bird) 
 Photo: Ewan Brown
Butterflies Katz happy in her garden~ Photo: Bruce Cambron 
This pleasurably alive colorful creation was therapeutic. It helped me to be happy about being alive; no small thing. I smiled a lot remembering happy times that Kisses and I shared. This peaceful oasis is just around the corner from the meeting house at Gentle World's vegan educational center in New Zealand. The Kisses garden was inspired by the teachings of Gentle World and our shared creating of a world based on “life as it should be”.

The Kisses garden is near the (yellow) meeting house
Photo: Nadine Loraine
Photo: Nadine Loraine - row of courgettes/zucchinis

Photos: Ewan Brown
Photo: Ewan Brown
Photo: Ewan Brown
Photo: Ewan Brown

Link to the form for visiting/volunteering at Gentle World:

Above photos:  Nadine Loraine

The children, Eden and Soul, are vegan since conception and
often visited the Kisses garden and the Seren-dip-in-me pool. 


rugged pathways said...

This is beautiful. I was uplifted. Whose are those two gorgeous children with such amazing names? You have created a small piece of heaven. x

Unknown said...

Beautiful images and such a lovely spot on the planet. Thank you for sharing!

Elena Brodskaya said...

Wonderful, just what I needed. Thank you so much for sharing, Butterflies.

Raw Spirit Festival said...

How inspiring! How beautiful! We are also creating a vibrant vegan garden paradise that we call Heaven On Earth here in a little-known rainforest in a labyrinth of verdant canyons in the mountains of Arizona. Blessings to You Butterflie! To Soul and Eden too! Peace & Love, Happy Oasis

Rae Sikora said...

wow wow wow......I wish you could beam me over there right now! Love this post.

ana-maria-stefania said...

How I love these pictures and the message as a whole !
True inspiration and Love in every corner of the corner :)

Kisses & Hugs to every& corner ! <3

From Heart to Heart,

uday said...

thank you very for r really eye soothing and beautiful.

GenevieveG said...

Lovely photographs. ����������������������

Cassie K said...

OOh I love these photos. Check out my veganic garden photos at my website and stay up-to-date on tips and methods for ethical gardening practices: