Summer is officially here - as well as more heat, more rainfall, more thunder and lightning, pesky and sometimes dangerous mosquitoes, more rapid growth of everything planted and to be planted.
Newcomers to the area will be amazed how our Zone 10 area of South Florida flourishes with all the sunshine and rain. The grass needs cutting more often and more mulch is needed to keep things neat and keep soil cool around horticulture plantings of all kinds.
There are plenty of summer plantings, yes they are mostly the annual type but they do add a splash of tropical color to any landscape, sunny or shady, and even though the summer heat makes us pretty lazy about doing things outside, it is great to see a splash of color here and there as we drink our ice tea from a cool air-conditioned space.
It is surprising that many evenings with an overhead fan, sitting on the lanai is cool enough, especially with a cool drink. I am told early mornings can be cool also, however I never seem to be ready early enough to enjoy that.
I recently spent an hour-plus outside trimming and moving some small things around, that day the temperature had been 94 degrees, few clouds. I had steeled myself for a quick chore between the sliding sun in the west and mosquito fly-by time. I was pleasantly surprised by some unexpected shade and a lovely breeze.
Yes, I did work up a light sweat, however I accomplished a lot and I do choose to think a light sweat is a healthy thing. I do not think it is particularly healthy to have to come in from outside work and have to wring out my clothing to dry before tossing in laundry. That is for the young at heart and more dedicated than I am.
Think of the many people, men and women, who make a living toiling in the hot sun. They all deserve a big thank you. Without these people our world would be one big jungle out there.
Please remember outside work requires more hat wearing, more sunscreen and also more mosquito repellant. There are many products out there to try. Check with friends and neighbors to see what works best.
I keep a sunscreen tube in the car because I will many times zoom out of house and forget to stop and put on the sunscreen. I always say, "hey, at my age I need all the help I can get to fight wrinkles." The truth being, you need sunscreen help at any age. Really young and really old are not the only groups that need sunscreen.
You need to have it on before you hit the outside, and wash it all off at the end of the day. I recommend a zinc-based cream because it is the only one that really protects me. I learned this from trial and error and having a brush with a serious skin cancer. The kind that looks so innocent on a face or leg.
I like hats but they are often hot or blow away, I have friends who use both, just in case. Think of sun safety as a stylish event. It is summer, wear sunscreen and a hat and start a trend
The other healthy, more is better problem is the dangerous mosquitoes that seem to be plaguing us lately. With more and more people traveling out of the country and bringing back a mosquito-born disease we really have to be on guard.
We are here to stay and they are here to stay, and we are the more intelligent species so take care!
Today being the Fourth of July, take care to celebrate this great day. Fly a flag. As a veteran, many years ago in an office environment, I have a special interest In recognizing certain holidays that are not as prominent in our world as Christmas and Easter, birthdays and anniversaries.
This has always been a great nation and we need to remember that each one of us doing the right thing will ultimately keep it that way. Celebrating the fun way with fireworks and barbecue is great, remembering why we are celebrating is even better.
I live on a street with 23 homes. Several are empty right now. I only see one flag flying on my street, that one is on my mailbox. The flag cost $1 at, well you know where, the one I had before that cost even less.
Have a great holiday folks and happy gardening until we meet again.
H.I. Jean Shields is a past president of Cape Coral Garden Club.