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Friday, September 24, 2004

I should read my own articles 

Harlan and I had been talking about a few weeds rearing their ugly heads through the fairly new pavers recently installed around the pool. We've watched throughout the summer as one little patch would develop and we would pull it out by hand. Then a few days later another little patch would start totally unrelated to the other. So my husband and I were sitting outside the other evening enjoying our cocktails along with the wonderfully cooler breezes of autumn. (Yes, as of 9/22 we entered the autumnal equinox.) As we glanced down to admire the pool and deck sure enough there was another little batch of weeds starting to push through. My immediate thought was to put the Roundup to it when I got the chance. We dismissed it as a task for the weekend and went on to talk about other things including the new dog in town, but that's another story.

We came in as the sun was setting and had our dinner. In the meantime, my mind kept going back to those dang weeds. I know you are thinking how can I be that goofy or single-minded, but it was one of those things. The reason it kept coming back to me was the fact that I just didn't want to use any chemicals around the pond. I'm not sure what's in Roundup and I know it has done a good job in the past eradicating weeds in our driveway at our other home, but I just didn't want to do anything to jeopardize the fish, crabs, or birds in this yard. I kept at it until there was a little thought just out of reach - you know, sort of like having the word on the tip of your tongue and it just won't come to you? And then it hit me like a bolt of lightning. Vinegar!

I remembered I had written an article about the many uses of vinegar and guess what one of them was? Yep. Killing weeds. One of the initial tips was to heat the vinegar and pour it on the weeds although as I read more there was another tip from someone who took plain white vinegar right out of the bottle and used it with the same results. So there you are or I should say there am I. I'll bet if I would go back and read some of my entries once in awhile I might learn something. Happy Gardening.

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

Another mystery - are you up for it? 

I've just posted a new article to my Florida gardening page asking for assistance identifying a beautiful flower growing in our backyard. I truly have not seen anything like it nor can I identify it using any of my resources. Can you help?

Mystery solved 

Back in May my husband took a picture of some wildflowers proliferating in our lawn. I looked and studied and just could not find a picture that resembled these pretty little flowers. Today as I was searching to identify a flower that has been growing in my backyard, I came across a reference to Erigeron pulchellus more commonly referred to as poor Robin's plantain. The little flowers are part of the Aster family aka Fleabane. Sure enough, the description fits this little guy to a T. Erigeron pulchellus is a creeping groundcover growing to about 18" tall with leaves up to 6" long. The plant tolerates infertile soil, of which we have plenty, and does well in full sun or light shade. It also likes moisture but prefers not to stand in it for very long.

Now at this time of year the plants have died back and cannot be located so I'll have to wait until spring and see if I can transplant any around the actual garden area for additional color. Rodale's Illustrated Encyclopedia of Perennials claims that poor Robin's plantain grows in zones 4-8. Obviously that is not necessarily the case or I have a poor relation of the poor plantain. Here in zone 10-11 it grows beautifully but that may also be why it blooms in spring while the reference book says it is a summer bloomer. Oh well, it is a very merry plant and I look forward to seeing it again next year. Happy Gardening.

Thursday, September 16, 2004

She was gardening too 

I was watching the news yesterday, as I'm sure most people were, trying to learn where Hurricane Ivan was going to hit. I can't tell you the sense of relief so many of us on the southern Gulf coast of Florida felt when we realized that Ivan was not coming to vist. But, of course, the feeling of guilt for those who were going to have to deal with him was just as great. So we sat and hoped for the best as we were glued to the TV waiting for news.

There was a lot of speculation around New Orleans and how much devastation the city would deal with if Ivan hit full on. Even if he brushed by, with the city under sea level it would be almost certain that flooding would be great. With that continued story, members of the media were everywhere in that area talking with residents and asking them what they would do.

Along about 6 PM, a senior New Orleans resident was profiled and discussed with the reporter what her fate might be. The woman talked about how her husband had rope and life jackets in their attic so that if they needed to escape through their attic window, in the event of flooding, they would be prepared. Here's what struck me about her. Not only was she as calm as I've seen anyone when discussing the possible impact of an impending storm, she was gardening. Yes, she was gardening. She had her garden gloves on and was in process of using her hand trowel to remove weeds when the reporter approached her. This lady was just going on about her business, doing what she enjoyed, and making sure every weed in her front garden was pulled. So the question is, was this her way of dealing with stress or was she just so unconcerned or accepting about what may come that she went on with her daily routine? I don't know the answer to the question but I do know this. There is definitely something soothing about gardening. It connects a person with the beauty of the garden and the wonder of nature. Am I preaching? Maybe. But when I saw her continuing to garden as the reporter asked what she would do if the storm hit, I felt a sense of connection. I had been in her shoes, sans the reporter, and had done the same thing. Although I thought I was the only one, it is so obvious now that I'm not. Gardening parallels meditation with all its benefits. I joke often about the zen of gardening, but it truly exists. There is a beauty and serenity that one has to experience to understand. Happy Gardening and I hope our friend and her family in New Orleans are safe tonight.

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

The power of nature 

This weekend we were yet again in a wait and see mode. Hurricane Ivan was bearing down on the Tampa Bay area and almost every resident was either boarding up or making evauation preparations. My husband and I resorted to what many would consider mundane chores. We mowed and trimmed the lawn back and front. I did every stitch of laundry in the clothes hamper and then threw in a few towels just for good measure. My husband dusted and swept the floors and I changed the cat litter. By Sunday afternoon there was nothing left to do. That's when I decided it was time to weed the garden.

My neighbor down the street had spent all day Saturday cutting plywood and boarding up his first floor windows. By Sunday, he was working on the upper level. I watched him preparing for the worst and wondered if I was being frivolous as I started gathering my garden tools. I took my tools and, kneeling down, started pulling weeds. It didn't take long before I was really into it especially since I had been ignoring this bed for about two months. I was pulling weeds and trimming spent flowers and, before I knew it, an hour had passed. The only thing that stopped me was the threat of a thunder storm looming just south of us. I stood up and looked around for the longest time. There were familiar noises of lawn mowers being used. One of our neighbors was out on his motorcycle revving it for all it was worth. And one street over I could hear children laughing as they played. The only odd sound was that of my neighbor cutting plywood for his windows and then he stopped. When I looked toward his house I noticed he had taken a cigarette break and still had two sheets of plywood leaning against his home. So here I was putting garden tools away and cleaning up weeds while he was gathering energy to start cutting wood again.

It was an enlightening moment for me. People do what they need to to get through trying times. And we've been experiencing some pretty trying times lately. Between Charley and Frances everyone has suffered in some form. Then with Ivan rapidly approaching, it was just enough to scare the bejesus out of us all and get most of us to the point where we just said - ok let's get it over with. So people were out mowing their lawn and children were doing what they do best. My husband decided to spend the day in front of the computer, his form of relaxation, and I took to weeding the garden while my neighbor decided it was time to board up. And the boards are still up. Even though it appears that Ivan is going to the Panhandle, there's still enough anxiety that we're all looking over our shoulders and keeping our fingers crossed. While we have been cautiously optimistic with the news over the last few days, I realize I still accomplished a couple of things. I got just about half of the garden weeded and redirected my apprehension to something that, while mundane, still has great meaning for me. And my garden looks pretty darn good - it's the zen thing working again. Happy Gardening.

Friday, September 03, 2004

The web gardening community 

I am always so pleased to think of the number of gardening friends I have made through the web. Today is no different. A few days ago I wrote on my Gardening Information page about the Pocket Gardener offered by Ohio State University. This valuable tool provided at no cost can be downloaded directly from their site. I emailed the contact person, Dr. Tim Rhodus, just to let him know I had mentioned the Pocket Gardener and was providing a link on my links page. Dr. Rhodus quickly responded by thanking me and offering this site a link on their resources page. That email was followed up by another from Elaine Eberlin at OSU informing me that I had already been added to their resources page. She also mentioned two other informational sites they have -- the Ohio State University Webgarden and the Ohio State University PlantFacts. These sites speak to horticulture and crop science careers as well as offering a plant database complete with images, videos, tips on a myriad of plant and garden topics and a glossary of commonly used horticultural terms. These are fantastic sites that I have bookmarked and will visit often.

I also heard from a fellow weblog gardener who I had emailed a few months ago requesting reciprocal links. Moosey's Country Garden is a beautiful site chockful of wonderful photos and information about their gardens. There are also reviews of books and magazines as well as an active gardening forum. Go out and visit Moosey's site and when you do, wish her a happy birthday on the 8th.

Many of the garden folks I've become acquainted with since I started this blog have come back to visit and I have done the same with their sites. It's interesting to experience the camaraderie the web gardening community enjoys. I've had the pleasure of meeting people from all over the world who share the same thing - a love of gardening and nature. How wonderful is that. As my gardening network continues to grow I'll mention each new friend so you can join in. Happy Gardening.

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