LEAF WALKS – THERAPY IN NATURE
This is the time of year to check out leaf colors. During the day today, I had to slow down to take in all of the colors along the roadside. One of the first trees to turn in this region are the Black Gum trees with their red and magenta hues. Sassafras are a particular favorite illustrating bright orange, yellow and red colors. The brilliant yellow of the Locust trees is almost blinding. The Maple trees are just starting to turn color, so the sequencing of the autumn color display goes on for weeks.
This is a great activity for everyone to get involved in. One of the ways is to take a walk outside in the garden and around the neighborhood. You will not only discover a wide range of trees, you will reconnect with friends and neighbors. Some activities include:
- Ask people what their favorite trees are. See what comes up as the most popular.
- Take a camera along to record what is found and to show others later. maybe have a slide show or hang pictures of favorite trees.
- Collect various samples of the leaves that can be brought back for identification. See how many different leaves can be found.
- Have a contest to see how many trees can be identified. Bring along one of the tree I.D. books or use one of the Apps’ for your phone such as ‘Leaf Snap’
- Organize a joint adventure between a school group and elders from the community for a joint lesson in tree identification
- Visit and arboretum or nature center to explore many of the native trees in your area – and meet new people at the same time
These and other activities can be planned easily and quickly. No special equipment is required. Just a comfortable pair of shoes or sneakers. Maybe a pad and pencil for recording the information. The goal is to get fresh air and exercise. Getting together to socialize and share stories is always a great thing to do, especially with this great fall weather.
One of my favorite trees is the Green Leaf Japanese maple – what is yours? Enjoy!Read more
Paw Paw Fruit
This is paw paw season. The fruit is native to the US and grows wild in the eastern half of the country. It can be found along river banks and other areas in the wild. However, it is becoming more common. The paw paw fruit is being grown commercially and can be found in some famers markets. It has a tropical mango-like flavor and can be used in a variety of ways, from fruit smoothies, pies, ice cream to even beer..
The good news is that you can grow this fruit in your garden. The paw paw tree (Asimina triloba) is a small tree that prefers well-drained soil. It has large leaves and fruit and is considered an understory tree. It has few pests that bother the tree so it can be considered a low maintenance tree. It is best to buy container grown trees because the plant does not transplant well as a bare root methods.
This is a tree to grow in your yard. Because the fruit ripens quickly, it has a short shelf life. Growing the fruit in your yard makes it easy to harvest and eat when it ripens. The season is typically from Sept. to Oct. The paw paw fruit will definitely help create conversation and it should be a tree to consider adding to the garden.Read more
GARDENING – CLOSER TO WHERE WE LIVE
Reading an article in the paper yesterday made me think about how we have been expanding our vegetable gardens and reducing the size of the lawn. The article talks about how residential developments are being planned around working farms. Well, how about re-thinking your yard to consider the whole area as a garden?!? Why limit the tomatoes and chives to the vegetable garden? Why not mix the vegetables and herbs in with the traditional shrub plantings. How about adding more fruit trees in with the other ornamental plantings. Pots, planters and raised beds are all opportunities for expanding our gardening talents and vegetable crop yield.
This is a great time to get started. Garden centers are having end of the season sales. Plant prices are reduced and there is still a good variety of plants to choose from. You can still plant vegetables and have a crop to harvest this fall. We just planted beans and spinach and they are starting to come up. This generates interest and definitely adds to the conversation.
There are other great ideas for thinking outside of the (garden) box in the Wall Street Journal article “An Apple Tree Grows in Suburbia” by Stephanie Simon
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:
Therapy in Nature
Take the time today to pause for a few minutes to acknowledge June 21st as the longest day of the year. This is also the official start of the summer season. So, take a moment to celebrate nature. I encourage you to have lunch outside or walk in the park. Maybe go for a bike ride this evening. Open yourself to the benefits of nature, today, and every day this summer!Read more