Posted in gardening, The Southern Garden

Let the garden be your medicine

Healing powers of your garden.
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I know we’ve all heard working in the garden is therapeutic. And I’m sure there are tons of facts which can show this, proving it to everyone of you. But I’m going to talk about something much more personal, something I’ve seen for myself.
My mother recently had a serious operation and developed complications which left her in the hospital for quite a long time. As a result, she was getting despondent and seem to be a shadow of herself.
Now, let me tell you a few things about my mother. She’s a strong, determined woman who loves to work in the garden. Or just relax outside and read her books. For her to be in a hospital room for any length of time? Well, it just isn’t like her.
After a couple weeks I was up visiting her and it was a beautiful day. She looked so lost sitting in a chair and I made a few inquiries about getting her out of the room for a bit. We made her comfortable in her wheelchair and I took her outside. We didn’t go too far the first day, just down the sidewalk to look at the pond. But she got out of the room into the fresh air. The change in her was so visible and I wondered why we hadn’t thought of this sooner. The next time she went out for a longer time and sat in the garden watching the antics of a feisty squirrel.

9367719 - gray squirrel attempts to steal seeds from a bird feeder
9367719 – gray squirrel attempts to steal seeds from a bird feeder

I think this was the turning point for my mother’s recovery. Everything she did from that point on in her recovery was with the goal to get home and out in her garden. It worked, too— she has gotten stronger and is getting around on her own now. I attribute a lot of this, but not all, to being able to be outside enjoying nature.
Her doctors and therapists all had a huge hand in her recovery as well as her own desires. But I believe by being outside and having the determination of being able to work towards achieving her goals to be in her garden has helped her.
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She still has a way to go, and still cannot work in the garden. But she can sit out in her lawn chair and enjoy her flowers with a cat on her lap and a book in her hands.
I have high hopes by the end of the summer she will be once again be planting her garden and planning the next area she wants to redesign.

http://www.VictoriaLKWilliams.com

 

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?

http://www.VictoriaLKWilliams.com

Posted in gardening, The Southern Garden

A Northern Spring VS A Southern Spring

A Northern Spring VS A Southern Spring
I was listening to the news last night, and I realized that spring in the south differs greatly from the spring in the north. Up north early spring can be anything from flooding in early and late snowfalls, with crocuses peaking through. When I lived in upstate New York, spring was always my favorite season. Spring seemed to start with the celebration of Easter, the daffodils blooming and hyacinths scenting the air. New life is everywhere, from the robins in their nest, to the bunnies coming out of their lairs.

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But, last night on the news I heard signs of spring in a different manner, the signs of spring in the Deep South. The first thing we had heard was at the riptides were bad because of the changing directions of the winds changing from winter to spring. This might be bad for the swimmers, but the surfers sure love it.

The next thing we found out about was the man-of-war are all on the beach. Their purple-blue but bodies can sting, and so do those long tendrils. With care, you can still enjoy a day at the beach, but plan on staying out of the ocean.
Next, we are reminded about that the sharks are migrating; this is definitely a spring time item. Huge shivers (groups) of them can be found offshore. All within swimming and snorkeling distance of the fun loving bathers enjoying a sunny day.

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And finally, we heard news that with the weather warming up that the alligators are getting frisky. This means the alligators are getting warmed up, moving around and getting ready for meeting season. Kayaks and fisherman need to take care on our river-ways.

Yes, spring in the south sounds a bit more dangerous than spring in the North!
Daffodils and tulips up north verses sharks and alligators in the south.
I guess I’m a southern girl at heart. I’ll take my sharks, man-of-war and alligators over cold flooding waters and the possibility of a late snowfall.

But I will admit I miss the glorious color and scents of the spring.

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http://www.VictoriaLKWilliams.com

 

 

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?

http://www.VictoriaLKWilliams.com

 

Posted in gardening

The Garden’s Melody

Listen Well…

There are those who will tell you the garden is the quietest spot to spend an afternoon, but I beg to differ. The garden is full of all kinds of sounds; you only need to take a moment and listen.

Sure, there are all the everyday sounds we hear all the time outside; children playing hard, doors slamming, the sound of music coming out of the window, conversations between neighbor. The list goes on and on. But those are all man-made sounds and we want to talk about the sounds of Nature’s Garden.

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 When you listen to your garden there are many things will stand out to you. Do you hear the bull frog croaking loudly? The cackle of a crow as he steals his food from another bird? The chattering of the Blue Jay as she chases the intruder from her nest? Is there a dog barking or a squirrel scolding? There is so much to hear when you stop and listen.

Then there are the second level sounds; subtler to the ears. These sounds take a little more effort to hear, you really must listen for them. Like the sounds of the Katydid Beetle in the heat of the summer, beating its wings to make its distinctive sound. Or the sound of a Ground Dove cooing as it makes its way around the ground to get to her nest. Perhaps you hear a Mockingbird speaking to other birds, using the five or six different tones it has in its repertoire. It’s as if he’s having a conversation with each type of bird. You may hear a tapping from the Woodpecker’s beak as he searches for food in the bark of the shade tree you so enjoy. From this to the chattering of the Squirrels as they run across the yard playing tag with each other.

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No, wait a minute… listen a little closer and you will hear it. There’s a buzzing of a Bee as it goes from flower to flower gathering nectar and there is the beating of a Dragonflies wings as it settles itself on top of a pond of water looking for a drink. The lizards scurrying in the leaves looking for the next meal or the rustling of the leaves from a soft breeze add to the garden melody.

Yes, if you listen closely you can hear all kinds of adventures going on in your garden. I have a challenge for you: take your lawn chair out and settle yourself in the center of your garden. Close your eyes, and really listen. What are the sound you hear?

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What is your garden trying to tell you?

 

Posted in The Southern Garden, Uncategorized

One word makes a difference!

The word tropical brings many images to mind.

Swaying palm trees, fruity little drinks with umbrellas in them, romantic evenings on the beach. Fishing, swimming, snorkeling all of those wonderful things go with the word tropical.

palm trees in wind after sunset

But if you add three simple words after the word tropical and you’ll find Southern Gardner goes into just a bit of a panic. Our heart beats a little faster and get out comes our checklist. Because add the words wave, depression, and storm and our work is cut out for us.

There comes an urgency for gardeners as we secure all the pretty little accent that we’ve added to our garden to make it look nice. The wind chimes, flags and spinners that we love to see in the gentle breeze are now a danger.

Bird feeders and plant containers are pushed into protected areas or even laid on their side; flat against something that will protect them. Debris is removed quickly and placed where it cannot blow, the garbage cans are secured. If it becomes more than a tropical storm, hurricane shutters are lowered and other emergency measures are taken.

bowls on ocean terrace

Anyone who lives down here along the Coast knows during the months of July through November  you keep your eye on the weather. Late August and September are the peak months for tropical weather.

Heavy pruning is done prior to August to ensure that no loose limbs are left. Larger trees like the Oaks are trimmed, not just to shape, but to allow air to flow through them. This is so when that wind hits its large masses of leaves and branches, it doesn’t uproot the tree, it simply blows through.

A gardener with more delicate flowers, like orchids and bromeliads or some of the more exotic  flowers, will hurry to find places that are secure to put them. I know personally, my garage looks like a greenhouse just before storm hits; tools and plants and garden accessories are now being stored there for the duration of the storm threat. Like many a Gardner, I’ll protect my plants but leave my car sitting in the driveway.

Now is the last week of August and there are four systems out in the Atlantic Ocean, being watched carefully by all. Not every tropical wave will become a depression and not every depression will become a storm. But if you watch them come off the coast of Africa and follow their path your heart races a little faster as it approached the outer Islands. You know at this point they can go in any direction.

Driving in rain. Focus on raindrops on the window

Once the storm clears we’re right back putting all of our things in the garden ready to wait for the next storm warning.

After all, this is our way of life!

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