Parks for Restoration and Healing
I recently had the opportunity to lead a tour of the Conservatory Garden in Central Park. The tour was part of the ‘Healthy Environments Across Generations’ conference by the Collaboration on Health and the Environment held at the Academy of Medicine in NYC. It was exciting to be a part of the conference and to share thoughts and ideas with so many people from other disciplines.
A highlight of the event was being able to lead a group of people attending the conference on a tour of the Conservatory Gardens, which are located in the north east side of Central Park at 105th Street and Fifth Avenue. The weather was perfect for walking though the gardens. We discussed the need for parks, especially in urban areas. Olmsted, who designed Central park, understood the need to create these green oasis to help people restore health and well-being through nature.
The event was especially poignant because of my personal connection to the NYC parks. My grandfather was head of the Parks Department on Staten Island years ago. I remember going to work with him and his stories about the parks. He is the inspiration for what I am doing today as a landscape architect. So, nature does influence who and what we are on so many different levels.
Be sure to visit your parks and open space areas this summer. They will make you feel, better. I promise!
To see pictures of the Conservatory Garden in Central park – take a look at this video clip. You definitely have to visit Central park when you are in the area. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MxBdM_FfCUY
Water therapy – for plants
OK – I admit it – it is hot outside. If you have plants in pots, you will see them wilting faster than plants in the ground. Best to check them each day and look for signs of wilting. An important things to consider during there spikes in temperature and the warmer days of summer ahead is watering the plants, especially now that we have officially moved into summer.
It is better to water longer because you will saturate the soil. The goal is to water deeply so plants will produce roots that go deeper into the soil. The results will be healthier plants that will be able to withstand dry periods longer. Watering for only a few minutes doesn’t really help a plant because it will only dry out again sooner. Most plants need an inch of water per week during the spring and fall season. An inch and a half of water is required, on average, during summer months.
Mulching around plants helps retain moister in the soil and you will not have to water as often. I use a shredded hard wood mulch around larger plants such as trees and shrubs. I have been using newspaper and straw in the vegetable garden. Having soils that are rich in organic material helps retain moisture longer.
Frequently check the soil to see how dry it actually is. Stick your finger into the ground down to your knuckle. If it is still moist – check it again the next day. Remember – watering deeply throughout the root zone of the plants is the key. Deeper roots (trees and shrubs) require longer watering.
A good video on watering tips – that is fun to watch – and actually learn from is at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hrdN5Z5K5QsRead more
Pinching Tomatoes – Therapy in the Garden
Many people really enjoy growing tomatoes. And there’s a great variety of plants – from small cherry tomatoes to the larger slicing tomatoes. We go to great lengths to water, weed and protect these special plants.
One of the questions people ask about caring for tomato plants is how to pinch off the suckers that emerge between the branches. Removing the suckers on indeterminate tomato plants is important. Indeterminate tomatoes are tomato plants that continue growing in length throughout the growing season. However, you do not want to remove the suckers from the bush (determinant) tomato plants because these are smaller growing plants.
Staking is another important consideration in tending to tomato plants. I have staked tomatoes one way for many years – learning the skill from my grandfather. (Doesn’t it all go back to ideas gleaned from other gardeners?) My grandfather used to use wooden stakes and tie up the plants with string.Read more
Tomatoes – Garden Choices
For many of us, spring has arrived earlier than normal, and we’re are eager to start planting many of our favorite vegetables. Best to stick to the cold weather crops, such as lettuce, kale and spinach until the ‘last frost date’ has passed. However, don’t wait too long to start to select the tomatoes you want to plant in the garden. Have you been checking out some of the heirloom varieties?
‘Cherokee Purple’ has a distinct darker color with a slightly salty and acidic taste. Looking for a milder flavor. Try ‘Pineapple’ or ‘Orange Strawberry’ that have a sweet and slightly fruity taste. Do you want to grow a tomato that will cause some to raise an eye brow, as well as offer a sharp tangy flavor – grow the ‘Green Zebra’ variety. How about trying the ‘Great White’ tomato which has a mild flavor while ripening. It is white while young and turns a light yellow/pink color as it ripens.
Several companies offer these and other seeds, including Seed Savers Exchange (www.seedsavers.org), Native Seeds (www.nativeseeds.org) and, one of the oldest seed houses in America, D. Landreth Seed Company (www.landrethseeds.com).Read more
Therapy and Creativity in Nature
Recent articles in the newspaper lead me to believe that creative ideas are often born in nature. Two articles in the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) have focused on greenhouses and garden sheds as women and man caves, respectively. These are places where one feels comfortable among plants and garden settings. We are relaxed to dream and let the mind wander to create new ideas in these nature filled spaces.
The WSJ article “Where Ideas Can Take Root” talks about a retired architect who spends his time in his man cave (aka – potting shed) to start seedlings for his garden, read about new plants, explore gardening magazines and pot up new plants. I think we can relate to these settings and find them comfortable places to spend time. Why not plan on adding a green house, potting shed or similar structure to your home. It may become a sanctuary for you and a place to explore new ideas. We are more creative when we are in settings where we are free to daydream.
The WSJ article by Anne Marie Chaker can be found at http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702304537904577279573163112352.html?mod=ITP_personaljournal_1Read more