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Tricks or treats, plants or eats

October 19, 2018
By H.I JEAN SHIElDS ( , Cape Coral Daily Breeze

A new season is upon us gardeners, clean up your tools buy new gloves, of course, a new hat, and dig in.

The weather really will start to cool down by the end of the month. I know this because Halloween is the last day of October and every year our little trick or treaters have to wear a sweater, or even wear leggings under their frilly ballerina skirts to keep warm as they race around the trails to treats.

The little beggars are not picky, well most of the time. A nice shiny apple is not their favorite treat, and maybe they are correct, with the modern coat of wax it is probably wrapped in.

I raised three trick or treaters in South Jersey and we have not forgotten how seriously cold and wet so many of our Oct. 31st nights out dampened, but did not deter, the thrill of free treats.

Somehow Dad always got a "time out card" for the actual activities. Somehow it worked out best when he stayed home keeping the hot chocolate warm and standing ready by the dinning room table where all the spoils of the evening were dumped, into three separate, closely guarded piles.

Of course, he received all the caramels, too much chewing for little teeth, and licorice, which no one seemed to like anyway.

I was kept busy drinking hot chocolate and planning on which pieces I would be able to make disappear by the next morning.

That was 50 some years ago.

Halloween is still the same, in a different way.

Florida Halloween is good. We had two grandsons, a willing mom and a willing-to-stay-at-home dad.

We needed hot chocolate off and on, but most years, just unfiltered water and full strength, healthy-for-your-bones milk during the guarding and not sharing of the night's spoils.

One thing great was they had friends in gated communities and those adults knew how to enjoy a Halloween assault of happy goblins.

At the end of every driveway was a table set up with goodies, did not even have to ring a doorbell. That was 20 some years ago.

Florida Halloween is the same in a different way.

In the North, East, West, gardening is the same as South Florida, in a different way. Fall is spring down here and spring is fall. Not too hard to remember.

Gardeners do have to be ready to not plant a few favorite flowers and trees, which will not grow in our humid hot climate, however there are so many tropical flowers and trees and all manner of gardening that it will gladden the heart of any gardener.

Find a garden mentor, a Garden Club, neighbors cruise the big box stores a few times and read plant tags. Find private nurseries, local garden events and make Southwest Florida you're same but different, happy lifestyle.

Happy planning till we meet again.

H.I. Jean Shields is Past President of the Garden Club of Cape Coral.



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