December 31, 2008

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The healing garden

By Janis Kieft
Courtesy of The National Garden Bureau

In the best of times flowers help us celebrate the joyous occasions in our lives — the birth of a child, a wedding, career or personal success. In more difficult times plants give us hope and inspiration to meet the challenges of life.

The role of plants and gardens in healing is ancient. As early as 3000 B.C. the Chinese were using medicinal herbs. The Greeks built a temple for Aesclepius, their god of healing, set among mineral springs, bathing pools, and healing gardens. Green was a sacred color in ancient Egypt and represented the hope of spring that brought new vegetation and life.

In colonial America, the Quakers felt a deep attachment to nature and believed gardens were a place of creativity for the mind and body. Growing plants was a way to relax and restore the soul. One of the first programs to use plants in a therapeutic setting was established in 1879 at Philadelphia's Friends Hospital after a physician noticed that psychiatric patients working in the hospital's fields and flower gardens were calmer and that the gardens had a "curative" effect on them.

In more recent times, advances in technology and new drugs have been the focus of treatment at medical institutions. However, within the past few decades, the medical community around the world is rediscovering the healing power of gardens. Many hospitals and health care facilities are incorporating green spaces, flowerbeds and views of gardens into their surroundings and horticultural therapy programs are often an important part of a patient's course of treatment.

Healing gardens can be found in a variety of institutions, including substance abuse treatment centers, outpatient clinics, long-term care facilities, hospices and retirement homes, as well as in botanic gardens and arboreta around the world. In Cleveland, Ohio, the Men's Garden Club worked with homeless women in temporary housing to create The Serenity Garden, a therapeutic green space that replaced the bleak asphalt paving that had filled the back yard of the facility. The Center for Victims of Torture in Minneapolis, Minnesota, developed their Garden of Healing to aid in the healing process of people who have suffered psychological and physical abuse. Oregon's Portland Memory Garden provides a safe and enjoyable setting that addresses the restorative power of gardens for patients with Alzheimer's.

Doctors at the Jupiter Medical Center in Florida found that cardiology patients in rehab who had a view of that facility's Jacqueline Fiske Healing Garden from their room took less pain medication and had shorter hospital stays than those patients who could not see the garden.

For an individual recovering from a serious illness such as cancer or stroke, gardens can be an important part of healing by providing hope and inspiration. Hope in Bloom is a non-profit organization in Massachusetts that installs gardens at no cost at the homes of women (and men) undergoing treatment for breast cancer. Each garden is developed specifically to the home and lifestyle of each recipient in order to give them a tranquil place to escape from the world of doctors, hospitals and sickness.

Clare Cooper Marcus, Professor Emerita in the College of Environmental Design at the University of California at Berkeley, found her garden had a strong impact on her coping and healing during several bouts with cancer. A gardener since childhood, she has always found the garden to be a comforting retreat — a place where her anxieties dissipate into the ground.

Throughout her illness and treatment, Cooper Marcus wrote in a journal and discovered that working in the garden had symbolic parallels to her illness. When Cooper Marcus decided to clear a corner of her garden cluttered and overgrown with brambles, she realized it was similar to the chemo drugs eliminating the cancer cells from her body and making her healthy again. Cooper Marcus now focuses on the therapeutic aspects of gardens and their design through her consulting business, Healing Landscapes.

Whether tending to a houseplant, growing some flowers or turning an outdoor garden into a relaxing retreat, plants have the power to heal our body and our soul. Research has shown that working in the garden can benefit everyone. The physical efforts of gardening — digging, planting, bending and walking — are great forms of exercise to keep the body healthy. Strenuous yard work, such as digging or weeding, not only burns calories, it is similar to weight training in building bones and preventing osteoporosis. Gardens and gardening activity can also improve mental outlook and our emotional mood by reducing stress, anxiety and depression. Studies have found that gardening can lower blood pressure and cholesterol, which reduces the risk of heart disease. Researchers at the Cleveland Botanical Garden found that blood pressure of many visitors dropped the longer they stayed in the gardens.

A healing garden can take many forms but always provides interaction with nature. Visually plants provide inspirational colors or peaceful tones. We can hear the relaxing sound of water or the stimulating activity of visiting wildlife. The rich aroma of fresh earth and the delightful scent of perfumed herbs fill the air we breathe, while the fresh flavor of a crispy pea pod or sweet berry tempts our taste buds. We can touch the velvety smoothness of a flower petal or be touched by the movement of leaves in the wind.

Begin to create your own garden of healing today simply by planting a container filled with colorful flowers, a nutritious vegetable, or an herb such as lavender, sage, basil or thyme. In addition to being attractive and aromatic, these and many other herbs have been used medicinally for centuries. Watching and nurturing any plant as it grows provides power and energy to enhance your well-being.

In an outdoor setting, incorporating a few simple design elements turns any garden into a place of healing and inspiration.

  • Grow plants that you find pleasing. Are you energized by bright colors? Then include annuals such as zinnias, petunias, sunflowers or cosmos. If you enjoy cooking, incorporate herbs, vegetables and edible flowers into your garden. Plants such as sage or lavender can be harvested and used for aromatherapy.
  • Include a place to sit and observe the beauty of nature or a path for walking through the garden. Enclose it with shrubs or fencing to create a secluded retreat.
  • Add a focal point for meditation and reflection such as a piece of sculpture, a special plant, interesting rocks, wind chimes or a water fountain.
  • Encourage butterflies, birds, insects and other wildlife to the garden for their healing energy. Birdfeeders and birdhouses quickly and easily begin attracting garden visitors. Choose plants that supply nectar and food. including coneflowers (Echinacea purpurea), butterfly flower (Aesclepias tuberosa), salvias (Salvia spp.), dill, parsley and sunflowers.

The design and development of a healing garden, just like the process of healing and recovery, takes place over time. It is that journey and the time spent with nature that heals our body and soul.


Gardening tips

"When I plant wildflower seeds in the fall, I take pieces of screen wire cut to fit the planted plots and place over the planted area," writes Carol Wilkerson. "This keeps squirrels, cats, etc. from digging in the newly turned turf. When the seeds have reached about two or three inches I remove the wire and the seeds are off to a good start. You can use the wire over again and again whenever you plant."

Have a favorite gardening tip you’d like to share? Texas Gardener’s Seeds is seeking brief gardening tips from Texas gardeners to use in future issues. If we publish your tip in Seeds, we will send you a free Texas Gardener T-shirt. Here’s a chance to get published and be a garden stylist as well! Please send your tips of 50 words or less to the editor at: Gardening Tips.


Did You Know...

In times past, ladies in the Orient made dye from the skin of eggplants. They then used that dye to color their teeth gray. Back then, gray teeth were considered stylish and, as you might expect, eggplant farmers were very popular with the ladies.


The compost heap
Copper wool better

"Good ideas for stopping those unwelcome winter bugs (from the latest edition of Seeds)," writes W. Stone. "But rather than plugging the open weep holes in your brick walls with steel wool — try using copper scouring pads. Copper wool will keep those pests out, it will last longer lasting than steel wool and won't stain or rust away."


Upcoming garden events

Kemah: The Kemah-Bay Area Garden Club will meet at 9:45 a.m., Wednesday, January 7, at the Kemah Visitor Center and Schoolhouse Museum, 603 Bradford Street, Kemah. Carol Brouwer, Ph.D., Harris County Extension Agent, will present "Shade Gardening." Light refreshments will be served and the public is welcome. For additional information, contact Mary Ellen Chapman, President, at (281) 559-1912.

Austin: Travis County Master Gardeners Association will present "Rainwater Harvesting and Waterwise Gardening," 10 a.m. until noon, January 10, at the Zilker Botanic Garden, 2220 Barton Springs Road, Austin. This free seminar on capturing rainwater and lowering water usage in your landscape will cover all the basics of building a non-potable rainwater harvesting system. In addition, learn how to design beautiful gardens designed for lower water usage. Don't be misinformed, Xeriscaping is not "zero-scaping." Vendors representing tank and gutter companies will be available to answer specific questions. City of Austin representatives will be available to answer rainbarrel, permit and rebate questions.  For more information, visit http://www.tcmastergardeners.org.

Houston: Urban Harvest Fruit Tree Sale will be held Saturday, January 17, from 9 a.m. until 2 p.m. A class describing all varieties for sale, as well as providing vital information on how to plant and care for each type tree will be held January 10 (12-2 p.m.) and 13 (6:30-8:30 p.m.) at Urban Harvest's office on Canal Street. A nominal fee of $10 is charged for the class. Register for the class by calling Urban Harvest. The tree sale is at Rice University's Football Stadium, on the concourse. For detailed information about the sale as well as about fruit trees, check the Urban Harvest Web site www.urbanharvest.org or call (713) 880-5540.

Schertz: Do you have a love for gardening and want to learn more about horticulture? Then the next Guadalupe County Master Gardener training class is for you. Classes are on Wednesday, January 21 to May 13 from 6 to 9 p.m. at the Schertz Civic Center, 1400 Schertz Parkway. Instructors include Texas A&M AgriLife Extension specialists, staff and local experts, including Malcolm Beck, Patty Leander and Drs. Larry Stein and Mark Black. Topics cover botany & plant growth, entomology, Xeriscaping, propagation, herbs and vegetables, tree care and pruning principles, composting and organic horticulture, water conservation and much more. Registration is $170 with a 10% discount if received by December 29. For more information and applications visit www.guadalupecountymastergardeners.org.

San Benito: The Texas Master Naturalist training program begins at 6 p.m. January 21 and will meet monthly through April 1. Registration closes January 14. The Texas Master Gardener Volunteer program begins at 9 a.m. January 28 and meets monthly through July. Registration closes January 16. Both will meet at the San Benito County Annex Building at Williams Road and U.S. Hwy. 83/77. To apply for the training, visit the Rio Grande Valley Chapter Texas Master Naturalist Webs site at www.rgvctmn.org or call (956) 364-1410. The class fee is $125. The Master Gardener classes that begin January 28 will be taught by AgriLife Extension specialists, staff and other local horticultural experts. Fee for the class is $140. In exchange for the training, students are asked to volunteer in local gardening projects. At least 50 hours of volunteer service within one year of training is required to earn the title of Texas Master Gardener. After that, there is a yearly requirement of 12 hours of volunteer service for recertification. To register for the Master Gardener program, call (956) 455-5358 or (956) 831-4547, or contact the AgriLife Extension office in Cameron County at (956) 361-8236.

Tomball: Arbor Gate will present a Fruit Tree Sale and Seminar, Sunday, January 25, at 15635 FM 2920, Tomball. A presale seminar presented by Heidi Sheesley, Treesearch Farms, begins at 9 a.m. The sale begins at 10:30 a.m. For additional information, call (281) 351-8851 or visit www.arborgate.com.

Tyler: Smith County Extension's annual East Texas Spring Landscape & Garden Conference will be held February 14 at the Tyler Rose Garden Center, Tyler. It is an all-day program with a range of topics, including landscape design, tree establishment and maintenance, rainwater harvesting, and plants for the region. Cost is $15. For more information, call (903) 590-2980 or visit http://easttexasgardening.tamu.edu/programs/2009 Conference agenda 2 with agencies.pdf.

Houston: The River Oaks Garden Club's 74th annual Azalea Trail will take place Friday, Saturday and Sunday, March 6, 7 and 8, from 11 a.m. until 6 p.m. each day, and will feature four beautiful private homes and gardens. Tickets for admissions are $15 before March 6 and $20 during the trail. For additional information contact the River Oaks Garden Club at (713) 523-2483 or visit www.riveroaksgardenclub.org.

Nocogdoches: The SFA Mast Arboretum will host its annual Garden Gala Day on April 18 from 9 a.m. until 2 p.m. at the SFA Intramural Fields on Wilson Drive, Nocogdoches. This event features the annual spring plant sale fundraiser benefiting the SFA Mast Arboretum, Pineywoods Native Plant Center, Ruby M. Mize Azalea Garden, and their educational programs. All of the plants are produced at SFA by the staff, students and volunteers. The public is encouraged to arrive early and bring a wagon. For more information and a list of plants for sale call (936) 468-4404, or visit http://arboretum.sfasu.edu and click on “upcoming events.”

Fort Worth: The Greater Fort Worth Herb Society's Annual Herb Festival will be held from 9 a.m. until 3 p.m., May 16, at the Fort Worth Botanic Center, 3220 Botanic Garden Blvd., Fort Worth. For additional information, call (817) 874-6405, e-mail festival@gfwhs.org, or visit www.gfwhs.org.

MONTHLY MEETINGS

Kilgore: Northeast Texas Organic Gardeners meets at 10 a.m. on the first Wednesday of each month at Wildwood Eco-Farm in Kilgore. For more information, call Carole Ramke at (903) 986-9475.

Allen: The Allen Garden Club meets on the first Thursday of each month at 7:30 p.m. at the little blue-gray house located at 102 N. Allen Dr., Allen. For more information, visit www.allengardenclub.org.

Austin: Austin Organic Gardeners meet at 7 p.m. on the second Monday of each month at the Zilker Botanical Gardens in Austin. For more information, visit www.main.org/aog.

Schertz: The Guadalupe County (Schertz/Seguin) Chapter of the Native Plant Society of Texas (NPSOT) meets the second Tuesday of each month at the Guadalupe County Annex, 1101 Elbel Road, Shertz. A plant exchange and meet-and-greet begins at 6:30 p.m. followed by a program at 7. For additional information or an application to join NPSOT, contact guadalupecounty@npsot.org.

Friendswood: The second Tuesday of each month the Harris County Precinct 2 Master Gardeners hold a free evening educational program for the public, called the Green Thumb Series, at Southeast Church of Christ, 2400 W Bay Area Blvd., Friendswood, about 1 mile west of I-45 and Baybrook Mall. For more information visit http://hcmgap2.tamu.edu or call (281) 991-8437.

Rockport: The Rockport Herb & Rose Study Group, founded in March 2003, meets the second Wednesday of each month, with the exceptions of June and July, to discuss all aspects of using and growing herbs, including historical uses and tips for successful propagation and cultivation, meets at 619 N. Live Oak Street, Room 14, Rockport at 10 a.m. Sometimes they take field trips and have cooking demonstrations in different locations. For more information, contact Linda (361) 729-6037, Ruth (361) 729-8923 or Cindy (979) 562-2153 or visit www.rockportherbs.com.

San Antonio: The San Antonio Herb Society meets at 7 p.m. on the second Thursday of each month at the San Antonio Garden Center, 3310 N. New Braunfels (corner of Funston & N. New Braunfels). For more information on programs, visit www.sanantonioherbs.org.

College Station: The A&M Garden Club meets on the second Friday of each month during the school year at 9:30 a.m. at the Exit Center, 1600 Rock Prairie Road, College Station. Expert speakers, plant sharing, and federated club projects help members learn about gardening in the Brazos Valley, floral design, conservation topics, and more. For more information, visit www.sallysfamilyplace.com/Clubs/GardenClub.htm.

Dallas: The Rainbow Garden Club of North Texas meets the second Sunday of each month at 2 p.m. Everyone is welcome. Meetings are held at member’s homes and garden centers around the area. For more information, visit www.RainbowGardenClub.com.

Sugar Land: The Sugar Land Garden Club meets on the third Tuesday of each month, September through November and January through April at 10 a.m. at the Sugar Land Community Center, 226 Matlage Way, Sugar Land. The club hosts a different speaker each month. For more information, visit www.sugarlandgardenclub.org.

Denton: The Denton Organic Society, a group devoted to sharing information and educating the public regarding organic principles, meets the third Wednesday of each month (except July, August and December) at the Denton Senior Center, 509 N. Bell Avenue. Meetings are free and open to the public. Meetings begin at 7 p.m. and are preceded by a social at 6:30. For more information, call (940) 382-8551.

Granbury: The Lake Granbury Master Gardeners meet at 1 p.m. on the third Wednesday of each month at the Hood County Annex 1, 1410 West Pearl Street, Granbury. The public is invited to attend. There is an educational program each month preceding the business meeting. For information on topics call (817) 579-3280 or visit http://www.hoodcountymastergardeners.org/.

Houston: The Native Plant Society of Texas — Houston (NPSOT-H) meets at 7 p.m. on the third Thursday of each month except for October (4th Thursday) and December (2nd Thursday). Location varies. For locations, for more information on programs, and for information about native plants for Houston, visit http://www.npsot.org/Houston.

Rosenberg: The Fort Bend Master Gardeners meet at 7:15 p.m. on the third Thursday of each month except December at the Bud O’Shieles Community Center located at 1330 Band Road, Rosenberg. For more information, call (281) 341-7068 or visit www.fbmg.com.

Seguin: The Guadalupe County Master Gardeners meets the third Thursday of each month at the Texas AgriLife Extension Bldg. at 210 E. Live Oak at 7 p.m. For more information, phone (830) 379-1972 or visit www.guadalupecountymastergardeners.org.

Longview: The Northeast Texas chapter of the Native Plant Society of Texas meets the third Thursday of each month at St. Mary’s Parish Hall in Longview. For more information, call Logan Damewood at (903) 295-1984.

Edna: The Jackson County Master Gardeners present their "Come Grown With Us" seminars on the fourth Tuesday of each month, January through October, beginning at 7 p.m. at 411 N. Wells, Edna. The seminars are free, open to the public and offer 2 CEU hours to Master Gardeners or others requiring them. For additional information, contact the Jackson County Extension Office at (361) 782-3312.

Fort Worth: The Organic Garden Club of Forth Worth meets at 7 p.m. on the fourth Tuesday of each month except July and December at the Fort Worth Botanic Gardens main building. Refreshments are served. For more information, call (817) 274-8460.

Seabrook: The Harris County Precinct 2 Master Gardeners hold an educational program at 10 a.m. on the fourth Wednesday of each month at The Meeting Room (on the Lakeside) at Clear Lake Park, 5001 NASA Road 1, Seabrook. The programs are free and open to the public. For more information, visit http://hcmgap2.tamu.edu.

Dallas: The Dallas Organic Garden Club meets at 6:45 p.m. on the fourth Thursday of each month at the Fretz Park Recreation Center, located at the corner of Hillcrest and Beltline Road in Dallas. For more information, call (214) 824-2448 or visit www.dogc.org.

Arlington: The Arlington Organic Garden Club meets from 7 p.m. until 9 p.m. on the last Thursday of each month (except November and December) at the Bob Duncan Center, 2800 S. Center Street, Arlington. For more information, contact David at (817) 483-7746.

If you would like your organization’s events included in "Upcoming Garden Events," please contact us at Garden Events. To ensure inclusion in this column, please provide complete details at least three weeks prior to the event.


The Southern Kitchen Garden

By William D. Adams and Thomas R. Leroy

A kitchen garden, or potager, is a celebration of the seasons: brimming with vegetables, herbs, flowers, and even fruit trees, it’s our link with nature and a source for fresh produce. The kitchen garden has always been an important part of life in the rural South, at times meaning the difference between being well-fed or going to bed hungry. In recent times, the kitchen garden has become more fashionable and now more and more homeowners are reaping the delicious rewards of growing their own food.

A kitchen garden needs little more than a small raised bed, so an aspiring gardener with only a modest backyard will have plenty of room to get started. If you have more space on your hands, then you can include some produce requiring a little more space like fruit trees, corn or pumpkins.

In the book, the authors with take you through the process of starting your very own kitchen garden from location to soil preparation to planting and then to harvest. It is also loaded with useful information on propagation, pest control and is laced with mouth-watering recipes and beautiful color photographs.

$21.30 plus shipping*

Order online with credit card at www.texasgardener.com or call toll-free 1-800-727-9020.

*Or with credit card by phone and receive FREE shipping. That is a $3.50 savings! Visa, MasterCard and Discover accepted.


Wish you’d saved them?

Are you missing an important issue of Texas Gardener? Or, perhaps, just tired of thumbing through stacks of back issues looking for the tips and techniques you need to make your garden grow? Three new CDs provide easy access to all six issues of volume 24 (November/December 2004 through September/October 2005), volume 25 (November/December 2005 through September/October 2006), volume 26 (November/December 2006 through September/October 2007), and volume 27 (November/December 2007 through September/October 2008)*.

$16.99 per CD includes tax and shipping

Order by calling 1-800-727-9020.

(Discover, MasterCard and Visa accepted.)

*Other volumes will be available soon.


Doug Welsh’s Texas Garden Almanac

Doug Welsh’s Texas Garden Almanac is a giant monthly calendar for the entire state — a practical, information-packed, month-by-month guide for gardeners and "yardeners." This book provides everything you need to know about flowers and garden design; trees, shrubs, and vines; lawns; vegetable, herb, and fruit gardening; and soil, mulch, water, pests, and plant care. It will help you to create beautiful, productive, healthy gardens and have fun doing it.

$26.63 plus shipping*

Order by calling 1-800-727-9020 or order on-line.

*Mention Texas Gardener’s Seeds when ordering by phone and we’ll waive shipping charges. (Discover, MasterCard and Visa accepted.)


Fiber row cover valuable year-round

Grow-Web encourages plant growth and development, and also provides protection from insects, birds, diseases and frosts. It is also air and water permeable and allows for ventilation. Grow-Web provides excellent protection to seedlings when applied directly to the seedbed.

$30.64 per 12.3’ x 32.8’ roll (includes shipping!)

Order by calling 1-800-727-9020 or order on-line.

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Texas Gardener’s Seeds
is published weekly. © Suntex Communications, Inc. 2008. All rights reserved. You may forward this publication to your friends and colleagues if it is sent in its entirety. No individual part of this newsletter may be reproduced in any manner without prior written permission from the publisher.

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Publisher: Chris S. Corby Editor: Michael Bracken

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