Urban Windowsill Garden in London

Since moving to London a year ago, my “gardening” has been confined to the windowsill or occasionally a side table. The plants are suffering from radiator burn, overwatered but dry.

This is the morning scene. Farmer Ffin (on my computer above) is living in China with his grandparents. We hope he can immigrate to the UK later this year.  The windowsill gardenia buds and browns. The Rosemary hangs on. The plant on the left that I rescued from the hallway (not sure its genus and species…any help?) is bursting from its pail. 

The poinsettia distracts from the dirty windows.

Our plan is to soon move into a new flat with a patch of soil. : )

Stay tuned!

Auspicious turtle appears in our garden on Chinese new year & we release it in a local temple

Our Urban Micro Guard-dog, Beaffin, discovered this Malayan snail eating turtle (Malayemys macrocephalaon Chinese New Year day.

See the amazing video Farmer Lu took just minutes after I called him out to the garden.

We interpreted the turtle’s presence as an auspicious omen for the coming year.

Given the number of snails in our Urban Micro Garden, we though seriously about closing off a section of the yard to keep the little reptile as a pet.

Since the turtle had been hibernating, we put it in a little box under a lamp in the living room to spend Chinese New Year in peace.

Then we decided to release it in the wild at nearby Wat Umong, the forest temple just a few minutes’ walk from our home. Given that the weather was already starting to warm and the frogs had started to sing, we decided that the turtle would probably be happier in a wetland, rather than in Beaffin’s heavily-patrolled domain.

Here’s the video by Farmer Lu of me (Farmer Jack) releasing the turtle in the turtle and fish pond at Wat Umong.

We named her (we think it was a she) “xiao ma gui“, which means “little (year of the) horse turtle” in mandarin Chinese. 


Because everyone loves a puppy doing yoga

Yes, this is a shameless ploy to get traffic through exploitation of my cute puppy, but I’m sure if Beaffin could understand computers he would be happy being a blog star. He is quite cute in the Bhujangasana position, don’t you think?beaffin in Bhujangasana position

His “warrior pose” recently made it on the “cutest puppy” blog here.

Cleaning up the bali curtain (Cissus sicyoides) around the house entrance

Bali Curtain wrapped back around the wall to open up the entrance I should have taken “before” pictures, but I only took “after” pictures. This vine in the grape family (VITACEAE) grows very quickly with the tropical downpours of the rainy season in Chiang Mai. It sends down roots that make the “curtain”. After 50 days away from home, the curtain had almost completely covered the entrance. So I tied back the “roots” and used some nylon rope and propped it up with bamboo.


I’m hoping the Bali curtain will cover the entire roof. I probably need to get a sprinkler system set up up there first. You can see the rose bush and ornamental ginger plants poking out of the green giant that covers the front porch of the house. A green barrier! We do appreciate our privacy!



Imagine walking under this at night with the vines all in your face. I did not have the courage to do so after a rain, even with my umbrella, for fear of snakes. I had to clear a path.


I think it cleaned up pretty nicely.


This is the walkway all cleaned up.


The jasmine flower was creeping out too, so I propped it up with some bamboo.


I spoke yesterday in (on? at?) a webinar about how to boost your career with your blog. I spoke about a different personally-branded blog. Until that webinar, I had forgotten about this site for the last 3 or 4 months because of work and travel. But I really do want my career to be closer to the earth and in a garden. I’m wondering about how I can market some of the plants that I grow in the garden. Perhaps I can turn www.urbanmicrogarden.com into the commercial arm of this www.urbanmicrogarden.org site.

I could sell aqueous solutions of bali curtain, which, according to Wikipedia have anti-lipemic and hypoglycemic effects. Anybody interested? The medical marvels in my garden astound me!

Well, back to environmental report writing…my paying work (for now). Dreams of financial independence in a lovely garden can come true, right?


Happy Holidays from our garden!

Christmas 2011 in the urban micro garden

Click on the photo to see others who have submitted photos on lovemakesafamily.tumblr.com advocating marriage equality

We took this shot on our front porch on Christmas Day in Chiang Mai with a bit of our www.urbanmicrogarden.org in the background. Beaffin held surprisingly still and we just propped the Thai language sign against his chest as he stared off toward the front gate. Lu Wei’s and my signs both say “love makes a family” and Beaffin’s sign says “I love my family,” which was the Thai grammatical structure I felt most comfortable writing.

New snake discovered in the leaves

We’re trying to identify this baby snake.

I was helping the neighbor in her garden when she picked up this beauty with her bare hands (by accident) as she was bagging leaves.

trying to ID this snake found in yard in chiang mai, Thailand

We’re thinking it might be a Russell’s Viper (Daboia Russelii or Russelii Siamensis) or something similar (possibly the harmless boa, Gongylophis conicus, but the markings look different). Of course, we’re hoping that it’s a nonpoisonous snake species, not, as Wikipedia puts it, “one of the species responsible for causing the most snakebite incidents and deaths among all venomous snakes on account of many factors,such as their wide distribution and frequent occurrence in highly-populated areas.”

I wish we’d gotten a shot of the head.

UPDATE: It seems we have a Boiga multomaculata (many-spotted cat snake), which is a constrictor and harmless to humans. Hooray! One more non-poisonous snake identified in the neighborhood).

How to have a wonderful day

One of the best parts of tending a garden is the cultivation of beauty. But how often do we cultivate appreciation and gratitude of the beauty and wonder that surrounds us? How often do we open the heart to life’s gifts?

This video uses words and images to send you right into a more happy, appreciative, loving space. It’s a lot to pack into just under 10 minutes.