Spring is upon us and we are itching to get back into the garden. The winter months, especially after the many storms we have experienced, have left us much to do. One of our chores is to assess the condition of our trees. The snow has caused some branches to split and/or fall. There may also be dead branches that should be removed. Or, we may want to open up the garden for some additional sunlight.
Unless you want to maintain a formal garden setting, most trees look better when they are left in a natural form. The best time to assess the ‘structure’ of the tree is when it is dormant. It is easier to clearly see what branches may need to be pruned when there are no leaves on the tree. To keep the natural form and appearance of a tree, do not try to shape it into a complete sphere or ball. That is not what nature intended.
One critical aspect of tree care is to never cut the central leader of the tree. Most all trees have a central spine that is essential to the structure of the tree. Again, this should never be cut. This will impair the life and healthy growth of the tree. It is better to determine the ultimate height of a specific tree before it is planted, rather than trying to control the height of a tree after it has been installed. A little research will save time and the creation of disfigured tree.
A few general rules to consider when tending to the care of a tree include the following conditions. Remove dead twigs and branches to prevent further problems from spreading. Remove any new shoots that emerge from the area around the trunk of the tree. Remove any branches that are crossing which may cause a wound from the friction of the branches when they move in the wind. A light pruning is recommended after the leaves of the trees appear. A ‘hard’ or more severe pruning is best to do when the tree is dormant (winter months).
Trees are the backbone any garden and landscape. We need to nurture and respect these special plants. They live a long time, sometimes hundreds of years, and our care can help to make sure that they live even longer.Read more
HORTICULTURAL THERAPY AT THE FLOWER SHOW
The Mid-Atlantic Horticultural Therapy Network of the American Horticultural Therapy Association was an exhibitor at the 2010 Philadelphia Flower Show for the first time. The Show is the largest indoor flower show in the world with attendance of over 250,000 people. The horticultural therapy exhibit presented many of the ways in which HT is presented to the various populations served. There were raised planters, adaptive tools, sensory plants and many other aspects of the profession for people to experience.
Comments offered by many of the people stopping by the exhibit were extremely encouraging. People talked about how they were positively affected by their involvement with horticultural therapy while they were in hospital and other instances. They talked about how it had positively impacted family members in a variety of settings. The exhibit even received several awards for display and presentation.
You can read more about horticultural therapy exhibit and the Flower Show at:Read more
GARDENS AND MUSCLE
We lose muscle as we age. This is a fact. As we get older, our muscles shrink. However, we do not have to sit back and think that there is nothing we can do about it. Exercise can reverse this trend. The old adage, ‘use it or lose it’ takes on even more significance. A story on NPR’s Morning Edition today talks about the studies that are being conducted to show how exercise can help people build new muscle at any age. People in their 80′s who exercise with weights, as an example, increase muscle and get stronger. (A link to the story is below).
So, how does this translate to the garden? When we are outside moving a wheel barrow that is filled with tools or soil, we are in fact weight training. Digging holes for new plants, trimming shrubs, cutting branches, sweeping the walk, moving garden furniture, raking the lawn incorporate bending, stretching, reaching, and other movements that are good for us. The tools we are using act as weights and we are doing two things at the same time. We are working in our garden and simultaneously exercising in a very soothing gym. The result is that we are all rebuilding muscle that has been lost to a natural occurrence called aging. We are also creating a beautiful environment that we can all enjoy.
The garden is therapeutic. We can classify this aspect of gardening as good for our health. The activities listed above, and so many more, can be performed by people at any age. This is the active part of using the garden. We are creating gardens that we can look at and feel good about. We are also creating gardens in which we can exercise and improve our health. The link to the NPR 2-22-10 story can be found at:
There are special collectors for all kinds of items, such as rare coins, subway tokens, Pez dispensers and cow creamers. Well, it should come as no surprise that there are people who collect the seeds from plants. And, there are seed exchanges that you can join too swap the seeds that you have collected.
This is a great hobby for the gardener who would like to grow an unusual variety of tomato or other vegetables and perennials. These plants are not the ones you would typically find in plant catalogs. They are special seeds that have been traded to the seed exchanges. There is typically a fee to join a seed exchange.
This may be just the gift to give for an avid gardener for Valentine’s Day, a birthday or other special occasion. It is a perfect gift for elders in a senior community who have a garden and would like to grow special plants this year.
Today’s edition of the Wall Street Journal contains an article on the subject – http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704820904575055181332462128.html?mod=djemLifeStyle_hRead more
HALF WAY TO SPRING
February 2nd is the day when a (nearly) famous groundhog emerges to see his shadow. If he does in fact see his shadow, it signals six more weeks of winter. (Even if he does not see his shadow – there are still six more weeks of winter.) It is a day of parties and merriment in Punxsutawney, PA. You may recall the movie with Bill Murray – Groundhog Day.
It was actually Germans immigrants who brought along their tradition of celebrating the midpoint of winter. They did were not able to find any badgers in PA and had to use the groundhog to carry on the tradition. It is a day that signifies that we have reached the halfway mark in winter.
The hibernating animals are beginning to stir in their underground nests. I think that is how we all are feeling. The sun’s light is getting a little longer each day and the warmth of the it’s rays feels good on our skin. We can almost taste the days of spring ahead. There are a few other signs to look for, such as the snow drops and crocus beginning to emerge from the ground. The bods of the flowering trees start to swell. I saw a few hostas peaking through a sheltered part of the garden last week.
These feelings that we have a real and remind us of our connection to nature. We start to look through catalogs and plan our garden.
The Philadelphia Flower Show, the largest indoor flower show in the world, is attended by over 250,000 people. They are hungry for a taste of spring – even if it is literally forced. So, take heart, spring is not all that far away. The groundhog and other indicators remind us that we are half way there.Read more