Posted in gardening, The Southern Garden

A Plant’s Purpose

Plants do more than just look pretty. They serve a purpose.
The primary purpose of plant life is to clean the air, taking carbon dioxide and other gases and in and, through photosynthesis, releasing oxygen. Without the plants, our earth would most certainly perish.Not only do they provide the air we breathe but also our food. Either as a direct food source ( remember-eat your fruit and veggies!) or through the meat we eat. They can provide food and habitat for many animals, including endangered animals.

But there’s other ways that plants help us.
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If you live along the shore, you know how sandy it is and how easily the dunes can wash away during storms and high surf. The sea-grass and beach daisy planted on top of the dunes will help hold that sand in place, keeping it from eroding. As do the mangroves holding the riverbanks along the river. Plants will also filter and clean that same river water.
Plants can also protect property by being a wind block. When they’re properly pruned, they stand up to some tough winds. Trees provide shade and cooling for us. Some plants are deliberately planted by farmers to attract the insects to the weaker, less expensive plants. This is done so their primary crop can grow without being attacked by the insects. These host plants serve an unusual purpose of being planted deliberately to be infested.
We decide on the types of plants and placement when we plan our landscapes. Do you plant to provide screening or privacy? Or maybe to cut down the noise pollution? Or maybe you plan to create the calmness of a serenity garden.

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Our municipalities realize the value of plants and how important of a role they play in our life. County ordinance will demand that certain plant species and a  certain number of plants are planted. This is usually based on the space you are building. In our area there’s a big push for native plants to be use, cutting down on the need for specialized care that more tropical plants demand.
Even in the water plants serve a purpose to provide oxygen for the marine life and coral. Without these filtering plants, fish will die and the coral will fade and die. Pollution will take over, and our waters will be unsafe for drinking and recreation.

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So, I guess what I need to say is this; before you cut down that tree or remove that hedge think about the purpose of the plant. If the plants are being removed because of age or decline, can you replace it with something else? (An interesting fact; most Christmas tree farms will plant a new tree for every one cut down. It’s smart planning for the future, insuring future crops of trees and income.)

Can you plant something that will benefit not only yourself, but our precious planet?

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Posted in gardening, The Southern Garden

A Garden’s Charm

Fountains In The Garden 

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Close your eyes as you walk through a garden.  Every little sound you hear seems more pronounced.  Now imagine the sound of water.  Is it the gentle trickle from a small ornate fountain tucked in a corner, or the splashing of a waterfall that is the focal point of the garden?
Water has been one of the major elements of the garden since the beginning of gardens. I would bet that the Garden of Eden had water features in it: streams, falls, pools. I’m sure Adam and Eve enjoyed these eliminates as much as we do today.
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But today our gardens are usually small compact areas. Here, we strive to create an oasis to enjoy and relax in.  As a result, the water features we use have had to become smaller.  Thankfully, there is a wide variety of fountains in sizes and styles that will meet almost every need.  Great works of art have inspired makers of fountains into combining statues with water.  Beautiful containers have become fountains with a simple addition of a bubbler added to it after the drainage hole is plugged.
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Nature provides great inspiration for the style of a fountain.  It is not uncommon to see a fountain with birds, forest animals or fish as the main focal point. Fountains can also create a meditative area, the style of the fountain reflecting a simplistic viewpoint.
Yes, I think I can speak for most of us; we enjoy the addition of water to our gardens.  But for every pro there can be a con, and this is no exception.  Smaller fountains tend to have a water evaporation problem and if the water gets too low, then the pump can burn itself out.  Even larger fountains and waterfalls can have problems; too shady of an area and you can find your water feature is more of a spot for algae to grow and leaves to collect in.

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But do not give up on your fountain, they are worth the effort you put into them.  And if you find they are just too much work–well they make terrific planters too!

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This blog is a response from a one word challenge I sent out to my readers.  Send me one word and see if I can create a gardening blog from it.  This Blog’s word was Fountain, from Marie.  Thanks Marie!  Join in the fun and send me your word, too.

 

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Posted in gardening, The Southern Garden

A Healing Garden

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Having a garden full of herbs gives you more than just a pleasant taste to your food. Some herbs can add health benefits too. From curing headaches to relieving indigestion, they can come in handy in our daily life. Any kitchen garden worth its salt will include healing herbs along with your favorite cooking herbs.
Our forefathers knew this and often used herbs before they could get medical treatment. Their wisdom and experience guided a healer’s hands to find and cultivate the right plants to ease and comfort the ills a family member might feel. Herbs are even found in the pages of the Bible: Proverbs list Cinnamon as a stimulant, used to increase the appetite from someone suffering from the flu. Matthew speaks of Mint being used for headaches and fevers. Esther talks of Myrrh used for skin wounds and boils.

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I think it’s fascinating how plants help us. It seems a shame we’ve gotten so far removed from using natural remedies and growing our own natural remedies. It’s seems so much easier to open a bottle of vitamins or pain reliever which you purchased over-the-counter than it is to put the effort into growing a few medicinal herbs.

Why not plant a few? You don’t have to have an entire herb garden; you can plant a few in with your flowered pots, line your vegetable garden, or even just put a few on your windowsill in decorative clay pots.
Listed below you’ll find just a few herbs and what they were commonly used for as a healing plant. It is essential to know how and how much of each herb to take. There are many trained professionals in this field of medicinal herbs that should be consulted before you try to use these plants on your own.

ALWAYS consult your doctor before trying to use herbs as a healing method.

Oregano: smooth’s the stomach muscles
Mint: can ease hiccups
Ginger: anti-nausea remedy
Garlic: a natural antiseptic
Cloves: an anti-microbial
Sage: antiseptic and antibiotic
Thyme: relaxes respiratory muscles
Basil: relives gas and upset stomach
Black Pepper: to relieve indigestion
Cinnamon: helps lower blood pressure
Rosemary, Sage and Oregano: lowers fevers

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Posted in gardening, The Southern Garden

The Gift of Rain

The Gift of Rain.

The gift of rain can do many things for us; water the crops so that we can eat, fill the lakes and ponds so that we can drink. The rain does much more than that and it truly is a gift.

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Have you ever noticed how some much-needed rain can change your whole attitude? It can wash off the dust, clear the cobwebs to refresh and renew you. Not only can the rain renew you, the rain can change your whole outlook. On a gloomy, dismal day the sun breaks out in amongst the rain and it can create a rainbow. But, remember, that rainbow wouldn’t be possible without the rain. The gentle rainfall can be relaxing and peaceful versus the thunder and lightning and pounding rain of a good storm can be frightening. Yet, without the change of rain types we would never be able to experience all the rain has to offer.

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Rain has many benefits as you well know. It opens the flowers, which produces seeds, which produces food. The results of a good rain will green-up your lawn and open the leaves on the trees giving this world the oxygen it needs. And the oxygen wouldn’t be there without the green plants and the green plants wouldn’t be able to survive without the rain; are you seeing the circle we live within? Sometimes the gift of rain comes in abundance and it’s almost too much for us to handle. Other times we find ourselves praying for rain to save our farms and livestock. Whatever amounts of rain we receive, we should always be grateful, because it means our world, our precious earth, is producing and growing and surviving.

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So, the next time you find yourself caught in a rain storm, will you moan and groan about the inconvenience?

Or, will you be grateful for the gift of rain?

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Posted in gardening, The Southern Garden

Out with the Old

There’s something both heartbreaking and exhilarating about redoing a landscaping. It’s sad to tear out old plants that have reached their maturity and are declining, but it is also necessary for a new landscape to be installed.

When I’m called in to do a re-landscape, the first thing I look at are the bones of the landscaping. It took years for a palm tree to get to the height that balances with the house, or for an oak to provide a beautiful canopy to shade and offer cool sitting areas for the homeowner. As for the bougainvillea growing up and over the arch of your front entry; why would you want to remove something so gorgeous? But other plants just tore out after about 12 to 15 years down here in South. And rather than leave plants that are going downhill, having weak stems and are prone to insect and disease problems—we need to take them out.

It’s my job just determine what goes and what stays. Once a determination is made, I can begin the design. Bed lines are often changed to add new interest and to accommodate the growth of the larger plants remaining in the landscape. This is the opportunity to create a whole new look. Pathways can be added, vignettes of privacy can be snuck in and views that have matured over the years can be enhanced. This is also the perfect opportunity to incorporate some beautiful container plantings. I especially like to do this in areas where the roots are so thick that you can’t dig a new plant into.

Since the original landscape was installed, there have been many improvements on the plants available, hybrids have been created that will tolerate the southern heat better and new varieties have been introduced to the market. This is a perfect opportunity for the homeowner to take it vantage of these.

It’s rather like the old saying for a bride: something old something new and something borrowed. The old: the mature plants that will stay anchored landscape. The new: different varieties of plants now on the market. And the borrowed? Reusing some old standbys that helped create the foundation of a good landscape.

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Don’t be afraid to take out a shrub here there, or even an entire hedgerow. This is the south and things will grow quickly.

Before you know it your new landscape will look like it’s been there all along.

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