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A rainy day in Florida

May 25, 2018
By JOYCE COMINGORE - Garden Club of Cape Coral ( , Cape Coral Daily Breeze

We were beginning to look a lot like a dry desert. Be careful what you pray for is an old adage, but we were needing rain. The rainy season starts in June along with the hurricane season. Hurricanes are the reason for our rainy season. Hurricane season is June 1 to Nov. 30, any year. This year, rainy season seems to have come early, with an above average number of hurricanes predicted for 2018. Flooding seems to be our new norm. Man the lifeboats!

I understand that we are expecting flooding rains for Memorial Day weekend. I'm not ready, yet, to start chanting my childhood refrain, "rain, rain, go away," mainly because, unlike the Carpenters, rainy days don't get me down. I haven't reached the saturation point of welcoming a rainy day. I love walking in the rain, having concluded some time ago, that I won't melt. Besides, it's so cooling, the air smells so refreshing, invigorating. Five to six inches of rain are expected to be added to our already rain-soaked ground this week. It does so much to my landscape.

My gardens are immediately improving. My coontie plants at the front door have perked up and are a shiny bright green, droopy shrubs are reaching out, and water is collecting. Fight the good mosquito fight, empty standing containers of collecting water. With the soft ground, it is a good time to plant trees, shrubs and grass. This weather saves on using our water.

Oldtimers up north, used to say, "Think the rain will hurt the rhubarb?" - a real weather conversation starter. That is another edible plant that I wish would grow here. Too much heat here for growing good rhubarb. I always grew rhubarb up north, loved eating it raw, (not the poisonous leaves, tho'). Fond memories of mom stewing up a pot of rhubarb for tarts and pies. No mixed in strawberries, I could even eat a bowl of simmered rhubarb without any crust. Which is what I fix when I find rhubarb for sale in the grocery stores.

Being Memorial Day weekend, means June 1 brings our hurricane tax relief week, lasting until June 7.

Time to stock up on batteries, flash lights, candles and all emergency supplies, tax free savings. Time to prepare your hurricane emergency kit. Stock up on canned foods, a good can opener and fresh water.

Trim away all dead branches, twigs and dangerous hanging limbs. I recently read an article about trees having a heartbeat. I love trees and all things connected to them. Scientists have discovered their trunks and branches are actually contracting and expanding to "pump" water from the roots to their leaves, similar to the way our hearts pump blood throughout our bodies.

Only the trees do it much slower, beating once about every two hours, and instead of blood pressure, they regulate their water pressure. Since trees have regular periodic changes in their shape, this implies periodic changes in water pressure.

Scientists in the Netherlands monitored 22 tree species to see how their canopies changed, doing the tests at night in greenhouses to rule out sun and wind as factors. Several trees moved their branches up and down by about a centimeter every couple of hours. They theorized that the motion is caused by the water and nutrients pumping up from their roots, in essence, a type of "heartbeat." We've always assumed that there was a constant flow but didn't realize there was a timing in the movement.

They are not positive as to how the water and nutrients push upwards through the xylem (whose job it is to transport all nutrients and water from the roots to the leaves). Some trees go to sleep at night and the scientists figure the dawning of the sun perks up the branches to restart the process of flowing water pressure. There had been no conversion by the sun into making simple sugars to feed themselves.

How interesting it is to find that trees talk/communicate with each other, they care for their families, and offspring. Soothe us with their forest bathing. There is much to learn from trees.

Ram Dass, AKA Richard Alpert, friend of Timothy Leary, wrote, "When you go out into the woods and you look at trees, you see all these different trees. And some of them are bent, and some of them are straight, and some of them are evergreen, and some of them are whatever. You look at the tree and you allow it. You see why it is the way it is. You sort of understand that it didn't get enough light, so it turned that way. And you don't get emotional about it. You just allow it. You appreciate the tree. The minute you get near humans, you lose all that. You are constantly saying, 'you're too this, or I'm too this.' That judging mind comes in. And so, I practice turning people into trees. Which means, appreciating them just the way they are."

Somewhere out there, there is a tree, tirelessly producing oxygen so you can breathe. It also absorbs the bad air, carbon dioxide, for its own benefit; appreciate it, thank it.

By the way, the vaudevillian answer to "will the rain hurt the rhubarb" is - not if it's in cans.

Joyce Comingore is a Master Gardener, hibiscus enthusiast and member of the Garden Club of Cape Coral.



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