WALK IN THE PARK
An article in the Wall Street Journal today, Aug. 30, talks about the benefits of spending time outside in nature. The author of the article, Shirley S Wang, suggests “Taking in the sights and sounds of nature appears to be especially beneficial for our minds.” Research indicates how our memory and attention improves by as much as 20% after a walk in an arboretum. People who walk along a busy street show no cognitive improvement. So, plan on walking in the garden, an arboretum or other nature-filled setting. You will benefit from the experience. To read more from the article, “Coffee Break? Walk in the park? Why Unwinding is Hard.”, visit the link at:
Therapeutic Gardens Greenletter – August 2011
An interesting garden web site to check out is Garden-Share.com. The site offers a variety of interactive groups to share ideas, such as vegetable Gardens, Perennials, Herbs, Container Gardens and other groups. According to the web site, vegetable gardening has enjoyed a surge in popularity. A recent survey of their members indicated that 45.8 percent of the gardeners cited “relaxation and enjoyment” as the main reason for gardening.
It is well know that the physical characteristics of a neighborhood influence the rate of walking by people living in the area. The research paper “Influence of environmental street characteristics on walking route choice of elderly people” published in the Journal of Environmental Psychology (2009) shows that this is especially true for older adults. Distance to parks, grocery stores, restaurants, retail stores and other entities influences whether older adults will walk to these sites. Pedestrian friendly design is very important for elders to encourage them to walk. Daily physical activities helps elders stay in shape, reduce weight, and stay socially connected. “Sufficient physical activity among older adults can reduce the risk of falls and increase functional status.”
Spending time outside during the summer months has many benefits, among them, the fragrances of the garden can be very profound. The Moonflower Vine has wonderfully smelling flowers that open as the sun sets. Gardenia is a plant that does well in pots and can be moved to the patio for enjoying is fragrant flowers. (You can bring it inside for the winter.) The more common plants, such as Basil, Lavender and Rosemary, add delight to all gardens. Be sure to plant them close to the walk or patio so you can touch them to release their delightful aromas.
It is hard to resist this tree, especially during the summer months. This is one of the few summer flowering trees. It is easy to care for, relatively disease resistant and is available in a range of sizes. Be sure to select a height that fits the setting. They are available in dwarf sizes up to 20 feet tall. They prefer a sunny location. I mention picking the ‘right tree for the right location’, because there is the term ‘crepe murder’ is used to identify the trees that are pruned to reduce their height.
A recent discussion of whether to cut out the suckers from tomato plants led to a little research. An educational and interesting on-line video details why suckers should be removed from indeterminant plants versus determinant (shrub) tomato plants. The sucker is the new growth taken off of the leaf terminal (new growth between the stalk and branch). Never sucker above the new blossoms. A link to the You Tube video is at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qJgA4n-sCE8
Looking for an unusual plant to add to your recipes or just a conversation started in the garden – try growing Lime basil. It is great to add to your culinary adventures because of its unique gourmet flavor for fish and chicken dishes, vinegars, dressings, sauces, as well as for herb oils. It grows as a smaller compact (12″ – 24″) plant with bright green leaves, Lime Basil is good to plant in containers and along the walk so that contact will release its zesty aroma. It is very fragrant and will definitely attract attention.
A quick list of some of the plants that will attract hummingbirds includes: cardinal Flower, Trumpet Honeysuckle and Pineapple Sage, to name a few.
“I could go on and on. But that is what gardening is, going on and on.” – Margery Fish
Design for Generations, LLC
Creating Restorative Gardens.Read more
THE JULY THERAPEUTIC GARDENS GREENLETTER
A few tips to help attract these fascinating birds to our garden:
- The color of the flower is more attractive to these small birds, as opposed to fragrance, which does not attract them
- The color red is most appealing, however, other colors, such as white and pink, are attractive
- A few of the plants that are attractive to Hummingbirds include Coral Bells, Trumpet Creeper, Fuchsia, Cardinal Flower and Pineapple Sage
- One of the most recommended to plant to attract these birds is Bee Balm (Monarda)
- Be sure not to use pesticides in the garden as this may keep the hummingbirds from visiting
- Hummingbirds are native to the western hemisphere and are territorial
NATURE AND VITALITY
The paper “Vitalizing effects of being outdoors and in nature” (R.M. Ryan et al. 2010) looks at the positive impact of being outdoors and in natural settings. It is known that outdoor natural settings impact wellness for individuals. The paper supports the previous research on the positive and restorative effects of nature. It is often the particular setting in which nature is an important reason why the outdoor environment is vitalizing. We often choose to vacation in nature (the seashore or mountains) and may even decide to live for a year round nature experience.
I just subscribed to Heirloom Gardener magazine. It is a great summer read, offering suggestions for more of the ‘old fashioned’ vegetable plants. There are some fun articles on what and how people are using these older varieties of plants to achieve better tasting produce. The web site is interesting and worth bookmarking. http://rareseeds.com/magazine/
The summer is not the best time to be transplanting plants. However, if you need to separate those perennials or want to give a fellow gardener one of the plants from your garden, you may want to use Wilt-Pruf. It is an all natural spray that coats the plant to stop them from transpiring. It can also be used to prevent moisture loss due to drought and wind.
We are experimenting with over 25 varieties of tomatoes this summer in the HOPE (Helping Other People Eat) Garden at Faith Presbyterian Church. Many are heirloom varieties, such as Viva Italia, Prudence Purple, Black Zebra, Lemon Boy, Mortgage Lender and Snow White. The tomatoes are being grown for the needy and donated for local shelters.
Providing water directly to the plants is the goal. When installing an irrigation system, consider using drip irrigation. With drip irrigation, the water goes to the plant and does not run off into the gutter. It is also cost saving because you do not water things that do not need to be watered. The system works best with plants (lawns may require other means of irrigation.) The current online issue of This Old House has a good article on drip irrigation. www.thisoldhouse.com/toh/how-to/intro/0,,1088902,00.html?xid=grnewsletter-110706-drip-irrigation
“But thought an old man, I am but a young gardener.” – Thomas Jefferson
Happy summer gardening!Read more
THE JUNE THERAPEUTIC GARDENS GREENLETTER
Older perennials that are coming back into fashion are Cottage Pinks (Dianthus sp.). You may remember them from your grandmothers garden or seeing them in older estate gardens. They are smaller growing masses of clove scented flowers. Their name may be misleading because they are not just pink in color. They can be found in colors of burgundy to red to white. Look for ones like ‘Scent First’ that have long blooming red flowers. “Chomley Farran’ has double striped red and lavender flowers.
Speaking of plants that you have seen in gardens, I remember working with my grandfather in his garden, helping him tend to his garden. He spent hours dusting, cultivating and pruning. These are fond memories. I do not seem to have the time to do that today. However, the nostalgia of growing roses is strong. That is why shrub roses help bridge the gap between pleasant memories and time. The Knock Out series of roses offers a host of possibilities. I am a fan of the simple red “Rosa Radrazz’, yet there are many more from which to choose. The benefit of these plants is that they are repeat bloomers, drought tolerant and pest and disease resistant. You can visit the Knock Out Rose web site at http://www.conard-pyle.com/index.cfm/fuseaction/koplants.plantDetail/plant_id/591/index.htm
Building raised planters can help make gardening easier. Elevating the planting bed is a great way to control the soil for your vegetables, herbs and other plants. It also makes it easier to reach the plants and creates a kneeling edge. Creating the planter boxes is essential, especially when the existing soil conditions are less than perfect or prohibitive. Having built several raised beds this spring, I will attest to the fact that with a small amount of sweat equity, this is a good way to get a garden started. A simple formula is to purchase three 1″ x 8″ x 8′ long regular lumber (not pressure treated). Cut one board into two 4′ sections. Use 2′ long 4″ x 4″ posts for the inside corners and attach the sections with deck screws. Dig holes for the corner posts and install the planter. You can add a layer of cardboard on the bottom to deter weeds. Be sure to level the frame and then fill with bags of soil. Mix in some aged manure and/or compost and you are ready to begin planting.
PLANT SHOPPING TIPS
How can you tell if you are purchasing the right plant? First, take a look at the roots. Ease the plant out of the container. The roots should fill the pot so they hold the soil together. However, if the roots completely fill the pot, this means that the plant is root bound and is not a good choice. If you do get a plant that is root bound, ease the roots apart and plant it right away. Look at the overall health of the plant. Are some of the leaves yellowing or wilting, signs that the plant has dried out or not received the best of care. The soil should be moist in the container. There should not be any pests on the plant or weeds in the container. Also, look for new growth on the plant which can be either foliage and/or flowers.
Going away on vacation and concerned that all of your hard work may go to waste while you are resting? Think about hiring a garden sitter to tend to the watering and minor garden chores, such as picking the vegetables. Be sure to walk the property with the sitter. Show them where to set up the sprinklers and what needs to be hand watered. Create a list and even sketch out a map of the areas to be covered. Ask friends for recommendations or possibly contact a garden center.
The Farmer’s Almanac offers great advice for gardening, such as the times to plant and harvest. The first 14 days of the month of June are good for digging holes and June 24, 25, 28 and 29 are best for harvesting. The Almanac has advice for other important days as well. The best days for entertaining are June 3 to 6, 9 to 11, 23, 26, 27 and 30. The best days to write are June, 1, 2, 28 and 29. (Please write to me the beginning of June. The end of the month will be too long to wait!)
“A weed is a plant that is not only in the wrong place, but intends to stay.” – Sara Stein
Happy gardening!Read more
THE MAY THERAPEUTIC GARDENS GREENLETTER
Ecological restorationists are professionals that work to get the natural plant systems working again. They do this by resupplying drained wetlands with water, planting native plants and seeds and by removing invasive species. We can do similar work when we improve our own gardens and create new gardens by doing the following:
- Removing invasive plants is one way that we can help the natural ecosystems.
- Adding rain gardens to capture the rain water and help it to infiltrate on-site instead of running off our property.
- Using rain barrels to capture storm water and use it to water our garden.
- Mulching the beds to reduce erosion and help retain moisture benefits the plants.
- Including native plantings to attract pollinators and other beneficial insects.
These actions help heal the land and this heals us. We all benefit from nature in many positive ways.
One plant that should be considered for most gardens are blueberries. There are several varieties today that offer possibilities. Polaris will grow in Zones 3 to 8 and is about 3 foot tall. Top Hat is a smaller plant reaching 18 inches and is an excellent choice for planting in containers to use on patios and balconies. Northsky is another compact blueberry and the fruit ripens in mid July. It is good to try different varieties to insure good pollination. For more information on pruning, over-wintering, water requirements and other growing blueberry conditions, check out the web site: http://howtogardenguide.com/2008/02/26/blueberry-care/
We need to encourage pollinators into our gardens by planting the things that will cause them to visit. Some of the annuals to consider planting to attract these beneficial insects and animals include Russian Sage, Bee Balm, Sunflowers, and Bachelor Buttons. Perennials are good to use, not only because they are attractive to pollinators and they will come back every year. These plants include Poppies, Sage, Basil, Lambs Ear, and Oregano. These plants are honey bee as well as human favorites.
NATURAL WEED CONTROL
One of the ways to help reduce the weeds in our garden, walkways and other areas is to use vinegar. To kill grass on sidewalks and driveways, pour full strength white distilled vinegar on it. Spray white distilled vinegar full strength on tops of weeds and reapply on any new growth until plants have starved. Normal vinegar has a 5% acetic acid concentration. This is not enough to kill the mature weeds; however, it will kill the young growth. You may need to apply vinegar twice to kill all the new growth. The conditions should be rain free for a few days for the vinegar to be most effective.
It seems like we have fast forwarded into spring and everything is starting to bloom. This is a good time to take stock of what is doing well in the garden and what may need to be replaced. Get out a note pad to jot down ideas of what we may want to add to our garden. And keep those notes with you when you visit garden centers. Keep an eye out, first of all, for the plants that are indigenous to the region. These plants will perform better because they are native and require less water. The plants will also attract butterflies, hummingbirds and other friendly visitors into your garden.
The deer have already been or will be returning to sample the newly planted vegetables in your garden. One of the ways I have found that is effective in chasing away the deer is the motion activated water spray called “The ScarecCrow”. One of the companies that sell it is Deer Busters. It is attached to your hose and will repel unwanted intruders for up to 30 feet. (Remember to turn it off during the day – otherwise you may chase friendly visitors – like the postal worker). A link to their site is at: http://www.deerbusters.com/dee-4015.html
“You are as welcome as the flowers in May” – Charles MacklinRead more