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Sometimes you have to plan, plant and pitch

November 4, 2011
By H. JEAN SHIELDS - Garden Club of Cape Coral , Cape Coral Daily Breeze


Special to the Breeze

How about this weather? If you do not like what's happening today you can bet that the clouds will turn to sun and the wet to dry. By the next day.

This is not an unusual weather pattern for this time of year, however some years are more versatile than others.

Some of this past month's changes were helped along by the little hurricane that couldn't. I mean, it tried to curl around over here to Florida but just could not do it. Some of our cold fronts are stronger than a little hurricane.

We had a recent cold front that managed to drown half of Lee County, plenty of wind also. The hurricane season is not likely to be a problem now but those pesky cold fronts will be passing through frequently enough.

We may be cold, windy and wet but we are not going to be snowed in down here in South West Florida. Sorry, I cannot say no snowflakes up around the bend of Florida. Many, many years ago I was walking around Pensacola with pretty snowflakes drifting all around. That is really lovely, especially when they melt upon touching the ground.

I have a friend still up in Connecticut and she has written that they were snowed in and without electricity for three days. Trees coming down under the weight of the heavy snow. She is hoping to be here by next week. I don't blame her.

We do get spoiled living in the South. Some of us have more than our share of flooding in Lee County and that can be a disaster for our miles of unpaved roads and low lay of the land. People do suffer serious consequence here due to serious weather conditions, but most of the time we are not freezing for days.

It is iffy gardening with these every changing weather patterns, but I like the big, heavy cloudy days and appreciate the fact that I do not have to slather on any sunscreen.

I can sure tell where the low spots are around the grounds. I need to move some things once in a while to keep them drier. It seems like from one year to another the low spots move around.

I have been trying to grow some Cyperus (si-pear-us) in a wet spot for over a year. They love wet feet, can even live in a couple inches of water. They are almost invasive in our warm climate when growing in bodies of water, so they need to be contained for home gardening.

They are very useful for flower designing projects. Their slender green reed-like stems can be bent into several artistic shapes.

They grow from rhizomes, in soggy areas with tufts of flat or round leaves at the top. They resemble an umbrella.

This is a Herbaceous perennial, a relative of sedge, and tolerates both sun and shade. They are tropical looking around pools and garden ponds. I think they have an elegant Egyptian look. No remarkable flowers.

They are easy to separate into clumps for transplanting and if leaf heads are placed in moist sand or a few inches of water, small plants will arise. I have not had much luck with that procedure myself.

Plants are available in markets, most of the time.

There is a dwarf, broad-leaved Cyprus diffuses that make a nice pot plant for a lania, or small pool. There are other varieties.

This year mine are doing OK, because they do not have to depend on me so much for wet feet.

The first year I planted them high and a lovely hibiscus plant low and things were not growing as they should. I switched them and the hibiscus is happy but the Cyperus were still not quite wet enough as the low spot did not hold the water long enough.

That's gardening. You have to plan, plant and pitch a goodly amount of many

plantings to keep them thriving. A dry spot can stay too wet if there is not enough sun, and vice versa. That keeps gardening interesting.

Something you plant may look great right where you want to plant it, but not so much if it burns up in the hot sun or drowns in the soggy soil.

That is one reason I do not throw away a lot of plant tags. I may misread the water and sun recommendations, in my haste to landscape.

I still have not started a tomato plant. I am going to give the heirloom plant Mr. Stripy another chance this year.

I love the big gorgeous red tomatoes but the heirlooms are so attractive.

Enjoy this cool weather while it is here but don't overdo planting and digging.

Sunscreen is still important and cruising the plant markets is great while it is not too hot or wet. Watch for plant sales, just be careful and do not get carried away.

Everything you bring home you will have to plant sooner or later. My motto.

Happy gardening until we meet again.

H. Jean Shields is past president of the Garden Club of Cape Coral.



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