The people's voice of reason

Southern Gardening - Potpourri for July

First of all, I trust we are all safe and following good hygiene with masks and social distancing, according to official guidelines. The safest place in today’s world would be outside in your garden. Gardening has so many positive health benefits. It provides a great opportunity for exercise and physical activity. We go on searches walking around nurseries and garden shops to find the right plant and then we are bending, squatting and stooping while planting. And let’s not leave out one of my favorites: weeding. Whether we decide to hand-pull weeds or use a hoe, great work out. When we are outside this time of year, we are exposed to sunlight, which in turn helps us get adequate vitamin D. There was a study in 2006 that gardening activities reduce the risk of dementia by over 30% in future years. Of all hobbies, gardening has been found to lower stress and promote better moods. It helps combat loneliness when there are fewer opportunities for socialization as in today’s Covid-19 environment. And if you are a vegetable gardener, much joy is had when tomatoes, green beans and squash are picked and eaten from one’s own garden. Remember that there are many veggies which can be grown in pots, such as tomatoes, bell peppers, bush green beans and more. So let’s get outside and get those gloved hands in the dirt.

PLANT OF THE MONTH Mimosa (Albizia julibrissin)

Mimosa trees with scented fuzzy pink-and-white blooms are the last flowering trees that bloom in early June and through the summer months. Some people hate this tree because of the ugly seedpods, and its profligate ability to reproduce. I term this a messy tree, since one suddenly has thousands of seedlings. Also, just after several years when the tree has matured, it dies.

Mimosa trees hail from Asia and the Middle East. Their flowers attract butterflies and hummingbirds. I have one outside my kitchen window and have enjoyed the flowery show over the years. A couple of weeks ago, the bloom heads dropped to the ground and I then noticed that the leaves curled, turned yellow and have been dropping. A little research discovered that there is a disease that is decimating these trees. I have found by Googling Mimosa Diseases, that it is a soil borne fungus known as Mimosa or Fusarium wilt which has become entrenched throughout much of Mimosa’s range, restricting the trees in some areas, and actually threatening the survival of Mimosas in others. Bye, bye Mimosa tree.

How America will be celebrating the Fourth of July will be anyone’s guess. Perhaps no fireworks, but we need to get into a Patriotic spirit. Our homes can symbolize our sentiments through flying American flags, or posting smaller ones out front in prominent places. I have seen bunting hung from porches, and flag wreaths on front doors. However, the ultimate symbol would be a red, white and blue flowerbed. I have done this in the past, but in today’s world, it would have special meaning. For instance, red dragon wing begonias, white vinca or white impatiens, and blue ageratum would look smashing. One can also carry out this theme with pot gardens. Begonias, vinca, impatiens and ageratum or really any blue flower can be bought locally.



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