Site Meter

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Raise Up a Child

Kids. Well, that about says it all, doesn’t it? Maybe it’s grandkids or your kids or neighborhood, or church, or friends, or relatives, but there are kids who need each of us for one thing or another. They need to be taught how to handle money. It doesn’t grow on trees.

So teach them about the value of gardening. If you have a garden set aside a space for each young person you want to mentor to plant a couple of things. Help them select easy to grow plants that will create a success story for them. Work with them to establish a regular weeding and watering schedule. More importantly, be with them, talk to them about the value of what they are doing.

You already know the benefits. Gardening calms the soul. Working with the earth cannot be compared to anything else. It can be done independently or with others but there is a peace to it. And that peace leads to appreciation. Gardening is good exercise and hard work but allows the gardener to stand in awe of the amazement created. This can do wonders for self-esteem and confidence.

If the plants chosen are edible, great! There are life lessons galore in raising something that can be placed on a plate to provide part of a meal, even if it is parsley, rosemary, or thyme. Let ‘em do it. This is sage advice.

Perhaps your understudy deserves a set of gardening tools. Loan yours, under supervision and make it just the simple ones. It’s a toss up as to whether a youngster will want his/her own tools or be delighted to inherit yours. You decide; there’s no wrong answer. They need to learn to clean tools and put them away. It’s part of the experience.

If you are not a gardener at heart but instead a grand appreciator then you still have a role to play with the next generation. Develop their love for the landscape created by plants, be it a field of corn or a pond providing homes for amphibians or the luxury of a designed landscape in a front yard. Talk about the selection of different plantings, how annuals differ from perennials, how evergreens really are ever-green, and take them places they will see landscapes flourish.

Yes, the city skylines are beautiful in their own ways. Nothing replaces the wonder of seeing a flower reaching for the sky or a tree beating its hidden heart and roaring as it grows, year after year. Visit botanical gardens, visit nurseries, wander on trails.

There are all sorts of places gardening may lead. There is a lot of life in the dirt. Study it. There are things to do with flowers: give them, press them, divide them. Teach the next generations well. Teach them we are caretakers of Earth.

The best place gardening will lead is right back to your relationship with this child, to your respective hearts. In times to come each of you will remember the time…

Friday, April 9, 2010

Coming Soon in YOUR Neighborhood

Is it possible this is the time of the year to get your taxes filed? Sorry, it is. Better than this, it is preparation and planting time for most regions. We happen to be in the middle of Illinois which falls into region/zone 5. A friend in Oklahoma has already put in onion sets and potato seeds and jokingly said they’d be ready by Saturday. He’s got to be kidding. But then, another of our friends announced he dreamed he planted a new variety of tomatoes the other night. They were the 6 hour variety (from ground to table). Do these people think they have a chance of being believed?!

Patience IS a virtue. While you wait for a frost-free date to roll around you can be busy planning your veggie garden. Determine what vegetables you really like – list them. Then be realistic and decide which of all of these nutritious items you can and will care for as well as how you will harvest, what you’ll do with the plentiful crop, what it will take to maintain a healthy garden. Are you going to have a “Friends and Family” plan, with help being promised? Are you on your own, maybe doing container gardening? Will you be in combat with wildlife and how will you handle the invasion?

If you just cannot wait, go ahead and get the asparagus and broccoli into the ground. And, yes, the onion sets, tater tubers, and even cabbage can be put in now. So you CAN get your hands dirty! Most other plants need for you to wait until the soil is warmer. Get your calendar out for them.

You’ll just get the garden tools cleaned off and hung up on the pegboard and it will be time to put in seeds for lettuce, spinach, peas, and turnips. Then cauliflower, radishes, carrots and beets can go in – yes, before April 15th! After all the danger of frost is behind us you can plant tomatoes safely. Likewise sweet corn, summer squashes, beans, pumpkins, watermelons, cucumbers, peppers, and sweet potatoes.

Still, this is an only an overview – if you are experienced you probably have your own plan; if not, error on the side of doing too much research and too much planning before you plant – but remember, time is not going to stand still – for gardens or taxes.

Ready? Set? Plant!

Forty years ago Earth Day took root. It took over seven years, the actual idea being spoken aloud in November, 1962. Senator Gaylord Nelson proposed a national conservation tour for President Kennedy, widely covering eleven states in five days. Kennedy went but the issue of the environment never made it on the national political agenda.
A conference in 1969 found Nelson still voicing concern over the environment and this time there was a public groundswell that could not be ignored by officials nor media. Earth Day, April 22, 1970 was designated. People took over within communities and schools and across the nation went to work on behalf of our planet.

The decades since have brought a full range of actions and reactions – observation, tolerance, and celebration. We hear a great deal these days about “going green”. Earth Day is now Earth Week in schools.

For us, every day is Earth Day, always has been, always will be. That’s not a political statement. It’s our reality. The Earth is our “office” and we want it to be beautiful and well.

Early learning and experience taught us trees are special to almost everyone. Whether you remember climbing your first tree at an early age, resting against a tree trunk after raking leaves or the fine scent of a pine forest, tress are in your memories.

Besides being natural beauties, trees are workers. Here’s how:

 Each living tree produces oxygen for two people while also absorbing one ton of carbon dioxide over its lifetime.
 Trees are good for gardens by preventing soil erosion. Useful organic materials are not washed away and leaves provide cover or mulch in the fall.
 Three or more living trees strategically placed around your home will help keep your home cooler by shading it. A lower A/C bill is money in your pocket.
 As living trees are removed birds and other outside dwellers become homeless or hungry. Trees serve as condos and grocery stores for many.
 Living trees are gorgeous, so much so it can be difficult to choose which ones to add to your landscape. Colors, textures, height, focal or pivotal highlights – trees have all and more.

Talk to us. Tell us your tree stories. Share with us where you have trees now and where you see new trees in your yard. Please place your comments on this blog. Although Designer Landscapes owners and staff won’t be able to put you back in the tree house or on the swing of your childhood tree and we won’t be able to return you to the tree you sat under and swapped secrets with friends or read books, we will be able to keep trees in your life so you can build these memory keepers for others, for generations to come.

The selection of trees to re-create memories is vast. Ranging from trees to plant, celebrating a birth, to trees to shade the home, to trees to nap beneath, we’re sure you will find the tree of choice at our nursery. Or allow us the pleasure of selecting the perfect fit for your setting. Our trees grow on you.

(Arthur Rackham, Victorian artist)

Enjoy Earth Day, every day.