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Thursday, June 3, 2010

Gail's Gardens: From Haiti to Chelsea

A Charitable Opportunity
In the wake of the earthquake in Haiti many people have lost limbs. The only prosthetics lab in the country was destroyed in the quake, leaving the entire population without access to artificial limbs. A good friend of mine, Jon Batzdorff, working through a non-profit group called ProsthetiKa, has organized a complete portable limb-making workshop in two ocean shipping containers! Jon is a prosthetist and the manager of Sierra Orthopedics in Santa Rosa, and a tireless worker for worldwide relief and training programs. (Check out the Press Democrat article of May 4th for more details).

The portable workshop is being shipped to Haiti this month, and work there will be coordinated by an on-site Physical Therapist project manager, Kim McLennan, PT. A Haitian head technician who will be a long term member of the workshop staff is currently being recruited, and many volunteer prosthetists, orthotists, and therapists have volunteered to assist in the clinical and training work.

If you would like to support this wonderful, long-term training and relief program, please check out the ProsthetiKa website and contact Jon at Your contributions can make a difference in the lives of so many!

Chelsea Garden Show
My first stop during my summer in England will be at the famous Chelsea Flower Show in London during the last week of May. The show draws exhibitors from around the world who build enormous, inspiring display gardens outdoors on the show grounds. This year the Eden Project is building the biggest show garden ever at 5400 sq. ft.! Also on hand are flower and vegetable growers, floral artists, suppliers of all types of garden equipment, furniture, and ornaments: all with awesome displays of their products. I have always enjoyed the San Francisco Flower Show and our local Sonoma County shows, but this one dwarfs them all. If you get the chance to visit England in May, this is a must-see event for gardeners!

The Royal Horticultural Society (RHS), organiser of the world famous event, will support International Year of Biodiversity 2010 and demonstrate what gardeners can do at home to help increase biodiversity, which is in decline globally.

Julian Fellowes, British actor and writer, and keen supporter of garden biodiversity, states; “…An odd anomaly of the modern, fast-changing world, is that private gardens have become vital protection zones for a good deal of our natural wildlife... the shelter of our animals, plants and insects has really become a duty, and will hopefully soon be a tradition if it isn’t already, for British gardeners...”

2010 has been declared the International Year of Biodiversity by the United Nations – the year that celebrates the diversity of life on Earth, including every plant, animal and micro-organism. See for more info.

Some tips from the RHS on creating a garden which encourages biodiversity:
• Grow plants that thrive in your local soil ( to attract the insects that would naturally be there)
• Encourage Birds – by providing water, shelter, and natural food sources
• Hedgehogs - providing meal worms rather than milk and bread (well, perhaps we can skip this one here in Sonoma County!)
• Sedum (green) roofs (attract wildlife, plus great insulation for your home)
• Do not use pesticides on the plants or strong detergents that might harm the bio-sphere to clean the hard surfaces in the garden.

Greg Wise, actor and husband of Emma Thompson, wrote a poem about encouraging bio-diversity:

“Be less Tidy!!
“Have a corner of your life that isn’t neat…
“Let things rot.
“Embrace decay…
“We’ll all be doing it one day.”

Greg says his own garden is a great example of supporting biodiversity. The actor says it is a relatively small space, but includes; a pond, rotting pile of logs, dead tree, compost heap, leaf-mould bin, wormery, tubes full of mason bees, water butt, nest boxes for birds, insect boxers, feeders and a hedgehog house!

Do you have a gardening question you would like to ask? Or a photo to share? Send your questions and photos (jpg) to

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