Plant... Stake... Relax!

    So you have weeded, planted, fertilized, watered ~ so now what? For many plants you get to sit back and enjoy watching them grow. For other plants, especially perennials, you have one more step to take before you sit back & enjoy the bloom show! That step is staking. Below is a wonderful link to Better Homes & Gardens website page on staking. (I especially like the bunch of twig supports. I will be collecting my twigs moving forward for this purpose.)
     If you are like me you like the natural look for your plants supports or if you are doing it correctly, for the supports to disappear as your plants grow. I have recently started using Velcro green garden tape. This works well with single stems that need support, like my lupines. I also like decorative stakes & have a nice 'go to' collection. These can work well with fishing line (just don't let it dig into the stems). Green bamboo stakes are inexpensive and stay hidden. You can use twine, green garden tape & twist ties. Specialty plant supports for tomatoes & peonies for example are invaluable. If you didn't remember to stake those peonies early, just go with the flow & start cutting the blooms to bring inside. That will take weight off the stems & you get to enjoy the fragrance & beauty close up. The BHG website recommends using other plants to stake; they just lean on each other for support. This is something I depend on in my cottage perennial garden. Having a bed chock full of beautiful plants also crowds out the weeds as an added bonus! In that garden I also cut down a late bloomer like Obedient plant by 12-18" by mid-June. This helps reduce the final height and removes any need for staking in August. (this is blessing because if you know this plant, you know it spreads & you have a lot of it).  Whichever methods you choose, just get out there now & get it done so you can relaaaax.
    Of course, gardening again mimics life especially where support is concerned. There isn't anyone amongst us that doesn't need the support of loved ones especially at certain tough times. You need to be that stake for others too. I relate my plentiful bounty of friends to the cottage garden technique. If you have enough friends and are close, you can just lean and sway your way through life without ever becoming completely knocked over & down for the count. Even when life sends those tough storms your way, together we can all get strong & beautiful & bloom to our full potential!

Time to Get Outside!

       With pollen season winding down (and before it really heats up...) there are no excuses left, get outside happily and often! In April's issue of Shape magazine there is an article on Your body on nature. Referencing various studies, here is what happens to you body after being outside for...
 ~ FIVE minutes ~ If you are exercising then your mood & self esteem begin to RISE. The best five minutes you will spend each day!
~ TEN minutes ~ Your focus improves. Great reason to take an occasional break from work or a task & breathe some fresh air!
~ TWENTY minutes ~ Your energy & vitality levels SKYROCKET.         It takes twenty minutes to walk a leisurely mile. You could accomplish quite a bit of garden weeding/deadheading or better yet finally enjoy that Adirondack chair or garden bench you see from your window but never take the time to sit in!
~ THIRTY minutes ~ Blood pressure falls, happiness increases, any symptoms of depression begin to dissipate. My Dad always found his bliss once the weather warmed, to sit outside in his favorite chair after dinner and soak in the comings & goings of the neighborhood & I'm sure for all these subconscious reasons too!
~ NINETY minutes ~ Blood flow to your subgenual prefrontal cortex (the negative thoughts part of the brain) is reduced. We could all use less of these, right?!
~ THREE DAYS ~ The body's natural killer cells, critical to the immune system, become stronger. Alright, you know someone with a tent, right? A great reason to go camping or glamping for sure. Plan a long weekend trip with friends & don't forget the smores! Feel the body heal from the inside out!

    With sooooo many choices for outdoor activities or just deep belly-breath breathing in your favorite chair or hammock perhaps, there are no excuses left to stay cooped up anymore. We always knew this warming of the seasons is good for the soul & now there is proof that's it's so good for your health!