Monday, September 26, 2011

Jealousy... a damaging emotion~

The Medicine Man of the Acoma tribe warns his charges to be on guard for the emotion of jealousy… considered to be the most dangerous and damaging of the negative emotions. Jealousy does not begin as such, but is rather the result of positive emotions becoming twisted over time.

A person is attracted to an individual for the traits they possess and often there is admiration for these traits. Perhaps the traits could be wisdom, kindness, talent, intellect, compassion, a sense of humor and so forth. In a normal progression, the admiration grows and turns into love and respect for the person; a friendship ensues.

Some weak minded persons allow the progression of friendship to fall into a dark and negative pattern. The very reasons they were initially drawn to the person become the cause of resentment. This resentment is the path to jealousy and hatred. The twisted individual will begin to believe 'gifts' were denied to them and freely given to the other. This sense of denial evolves and morphs into a desire to hurt or destroy the one they once admired. Their emotion has become jealousy, which lives hand in hand with hatred. All logical reason has been lost and the negativity will consume the person.

The Medicine Man cautions to be aware of this and learn the signs of jealousy. Often the victim does not imagine such hostility can come from one he trusted. He says to guard against allowing these negative emotions into your life… they have strong power and will consume all that is good around you.

Cannonball Zeke... the Cat



Cats and gardens go hand in hand, for besides being loyal companions, they are valued for catching and dispatching mice, gophers, and moles. However an interesting bit of true trivia concerns cats and how they helped win the Revolutionary War and American freedom.

Several cats distinguished themselves during the Revolutionary War and in the subsequent War of 1812. One of the best known was ‘Cannonball Zeke’, whose real name was Ezekiel. CZ was a large Maine Coon cat that was brought along as a mascot for one of the Maine Militia units. Apparently enjoying the smell of gunpowder and the roar of battle for some odd reason, Zeke was often seen near the front lines. After one close battle it was noticed that Zeke had found refuge in the bore of an old worn out Coehorn Mortar.

The out-gunned, out-manned colonists had long desired a ‘secret weapon’ that could be used to strike fear into the hearts of the ferocious Hessian troops they faced but had found nothing. One inventive old Yankee, noticing Zeke slumbering, hatched an ingenious plan. The mortar had been deemed useless since the worn bore would no longer give accurate fire, plus the casting of an oversized mold would require use of more already precious lead. It was reasoned that Zeke, being a rather overstuffed Maine Coon cat, fit the bore perfectly. Late that afternoon in a fit of desperation, running short of powder and shot, the thin line of farmers stood at a crossroads... use their remaining ammunition until it ran out and they were slaughtered by the fierce Hessians, or take a chance on old Zeke.

The vote was quick; the remaining powder loaded in the old mortar, and Zeke coaxed into the bore. At the moment of desperation during a massive charge by the Hessians, one of the farmers lit the fuse. The rest, as they say, was history. A completely startled Zeke hurtled out of the bore of the mortar and soared screaming through the air over the heads of the startled troops. In a related occupational hazard, Zeke's tail had caught fire from the fuse and glowed brightly in the evening sky. Attempting to dodge all the bayonets below him, Zeke twisted and turned, landing squarely atop a group of British Officers who were directing the attack. The ensuing panic caused pandemonium amongst the troops on the field. Zeke was clawing and shredding everything in sight in his attempt to get away and the officers were flailing and screaming. The frightened troops interpreted the arm waving as a call to retreat and began to scramble toward their rear lines in mass numbers.

Zeke, taking advantage of the confusion, slipped back behind the American lines undetected, and took up his position in the now warm bore of the old mortar. Time and again, when the chips were down, Zeke was called upon to serve once more. His frazzled tail was a common sight at Washington's camp table, where he dined on trout donated to him by grateful soldiers. While affectionately nicknamed "Cannonball Zeke" by the Americans, Ezekiel was termed the ‘Flaming Furball From Hell’ by the British.

Enterprising American Ranger troops, trained to use stealth to sneak close to the enemy encampments, learned to imitate Zeke's high-pitched scream and would take turns sounding off in different directions while surrounding an enemy encampment, throwing the sleeping troops into wild disarray.

So the next time you notice cats pitty-patting around town or sleeping in the garden, remember their importance in winning our freedom.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Bermuda Grass

The Bermuda At Marshall and Andrea's House is Amazing~

It is indeed pitiful that temperatures in the low nineties are welcomed as a cool respite. This past summer has rivaled the horrendous summer of 2006 with record breaking heat, excruciating long days of sweltering as well as having no rainfall. Many of us have lost the 'watering battle' and watched as lawns, cherished flowers, expensive shrubs, and established trees expired with the overhead heat. Since temperatures have broken all former records set in the Oklahoma dust bowl, we have had a first-hand glimpse into the past that the ‘old timers’ speak of with resignation.

As we drove along the scorching roadway, mirages could be seen in distant fields, giving the impression of the savannas of Africa. The savannas are large grassy fields with few trees and many natural disturbances which include fires, flooding, and over grazing. The native grass is extremely hardy and the first to grow back quickly following natural disasters This native grass is what we refer to as Bermuda Grass, which arrived in the United States from Africa through the Bermuda Isles in 1751. It is an amazing species of grass which can live through intolerable conditions with surprising survival tactics.

Bermuda is a creeping grass which crawls along the ground both above and below. Under stressful conditions such as we are now experiencing, it has the ability to send its roots up to 59 inches deep, although most of the root mass is a mere 24 inches below the surface. It reproduces through both seeds and rhizomes and will send forth seeds every 90 days until dormant.

All along the roadway, the upper parts of the Bermuda grass has died off, however the grass has kept growing below the surface. Following a rain, almost as a miracle, it will rebound and appear green and lush until frost, once again making the countryside lovely.

The Hindus of India consider it a sacred grass for the ability to rejuvenate itself and the ancient Romans pressed juice from the stems to use as an astringent to stop bleeding. It is highly nutritional as feed for cattle and sheep and was first introduced to the Carolinas as forage in 1760.

By 1927, the ability to rejuvenate following heavy traffic or sports made it the preferred choice for golf courses. In 1930 the hardy, fine-leaved texture of Bermuda was recognized as an advantage for use in lawns, but its intolerance to shade was also noted.

With its ability to spread quickly and its natural resistance to herbicides, Bermuda grass has so adapted to the Western landscape that it is often considered a nuisance, however it has kept millions of acres of farmland from eroding. If you have a sunny spot in the lawn and want a stand of Bermuda, whisper you are planning a garden… it will cover the spot in a week!

*It was perfect for our regulation Badmitton Court!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Passion Vine~


This Friday the Northern hemisphere will celebrate the arrival of Fall and most gardeners are grateful to say goodbye to the past summer. The Equinox occurs as the Sun moves to the South and for a brief moment in time, the world is perfectly balanced between day and night. The trees are beginning to thin and the Sun has assumed a brilliance which makes the world appear polished and dazzling. Perhaps it is because school has resumed, but there seems a quietude, a calmness after the frantic rush of summer and the mornings are finally crisp!

Many gardeners are enjoying the blooms on their Passion Vines now. With over 400 species from which to choose, this genus is prized for its extraordinary large and showy flowers. The flowers are characterized by an intricate center which contains both sexes, making it unusually complete unto itself. In other words, it does not require pollination from a separate plant to reproduce.

The Passion Vine is a member of the family of Passiflorales of which herbs, shrubs, trees as well as the vines are all members. The papaya is among the most famous of the fruits, appearing on a tree which resembles a palm. A cousin of the large leafed and highly cultivated Passion Vine grows rampant in the southern states, although its leaves and flowers are much smaller. Called the Maypop, this sweet wild vine climbs over trees, fences and stone walls in wild abandon and produces lovely, fragrant little flower only the size of a small chrysanthemum.

The plant was discovered in Latin America in the 1500’s by Roman Catholic priests. They named the plant for the Passion of Jesus Christ for they believed parts of the flowers symbolized the features of Christ’s suffering and death (the Passion). The flower’s five petals and five petal-like sepals represented the 10 apostles who remained faithful to Jesus. The circle of hair-like rays raised above the petals was said to resemble the crown of thorns. A gardener once told me that the flower is named thus for its desirable qualities and outstanding beauty; he waits for one to appear with a passion!

The Passion Flowers, those intricate and breathtaking flowers, reach the size of a large tea cup… approximately six inches. The flowers can be almost any color, although the most popular are the pale pink, the deep purple and the white. They are truly exquisite!

Second Year Vine~

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Fall Veggies and Four O' Clocks

Four O'Clocks and Everblooming Roses do well together for a great final show~

Although many inexperienced gardeners insist that August is the final hurrah for the garden, September is actually the beginning of an entire growing season. Mother Nature, who is all knowing, sends to the observant gardener many signs of when to plant, and this week one can see the tiny spring-like emergence of self-sown seedlings. With a slight drop in evening temperatures as well, we are given strong indications that now is the time to plant the Fall vegetable garden. If planted now, the carrots will settle in and have a head start early next spring. The spinach will pop up and survive nicely, allowing for something green through the hardest freeze. The turnips, beets, and lettuce varieties, all of which detest the heat, will do well planted in a Fall setting.

The spectacular show of the steadfast Four O'clock is reaching a zenith about now. For many years disregarded and considered a weed, this fabulous plant is often overlooked as a source of faithful color and scent in the garden. It will grow from seed and over time create a tuberous bulb making it a perennial that grows to the size of a small shrub. If you plant several colors, they will cross pollinate and create a myriad of colors that are outstanding.

The standard yellow will cross with white and become a pastel kaleidoscope of swirling color. The deep red and fuchsia will cross creating a red petal with a fuchsia center. The white and pinks will transform into a lovely peppermint twirl. The combinations are endless.

Scented evening bloomers are nice when it finally becomes pleasant to stroll through the garden... which is after the sun has set. The Four O'clock is named for the time of day it opens and its sweet scent wafts through the garden each evening until the morning Sun puts it to sleep for the day. It is truly a remarkable joy to add to the garden.

*Message me and I'll send seeds!

Monday, September 5, 2011

Cooler Weather... and Pansies


Thank God the heat dome finally moved... we have survived! For the first time since the weather events began in May, the weekend surprised us with cool, crisp mornings which were perfect for outdoor coffee and a leisurely walk to see the state of the garden. To say it has been a stressful summer is truly an understatement... it has been devastating.

In viewing the garden it is obvious that many well established shrubs were lost. The combination of months of relentless high temperatures and the blazing sun proved too much for many of them despite Herculean efforts to water. No amount of artificial watering could overcome the cloudless overhead heat. To test to see if there is still life in a leafless apparently dead shrub, break off a small twig and look to see if there is any green within it. If there is a little green and the branch has a slight springy feel to it, the shrub has gone into survival mode and dormancy. It is saving its energy... resting and recovering until spring and time to wake again. Unfortunately the conifers and evergreens that have turned brown do not have the ability to go dormant so they will not return and must be removed and replaced.

However Oklahoman gardeners are such survivors that comfortable daytime temperatures cool evenings will provide collective amnesia and plans for fall gardening will emerge. The wild violets have sent forth tender new leaves signaling it is time to plant the earliest spring bloomers. Their relatives, the precious pansies, have begun arriving in the nurseries and if planted now will survive nicely over the winter.

Originally a common viola growing in fields and hedgerows in England they were cultivated by William Richardson, gardener to Lady Mary Elizabeth Bennett I in the early 1800’s. Despite his efforts their first noted appearance was on the estate of James, Lord Gambier. His gardener, William Thompson, began to cross various viola species with a viola tricolor in an effort to achieve a round flower of overlapping petals. In the late 1830s he found by chance a flower that no longer had narrow nectar guides of dark color on the petals but a broad dark blotch instead; from this pansy came the future ‘flowers with a face’. Released to the public in 1839 with the name "Medora," this pansy and its progeny, including "Victoria", rapidly became popular with gardeners and breeders throughout Europe.

Planting some now will give stressed gardeners a much-needed thrill and the baby pansies will have a head start next spring. With their stunning color options and delightful smiling faces, these cheerful little flowers are always welcome guests at the garden party!

I'll plant them around my Caddo Maple like I did last year~