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Make a few changes this month

August 8, 2014
By H.I. JEAN SHIELDS ( , Cape Coral Daily Breeze

The last 10 days of heat and copious amounts of rainfall, setting new records, have been somewhat of a nuisance not only to gardeners and livestock but also to the many tourists who must decide weather to lather up with sunscreen, slosh around in puddles of rain and dark thunder clouds or just set indoors away from floor to ceiling windows winching at each deadly lightning bolt. A little more decision making than they intended to do when they hit the Sunshine State for sun and fun.

Cattle, horses and smaller farm animals are wading around ankle deep, which is not a healthy way to live and I am sure they are not real happy eating grass soup. Hopefully, none of them are standing under any trees. Although trees are not the favorite place for lightning bolts this year.

The good thing we can count on is that every few days we get a breather and have beautiful blue skies and white fluffy clouds again. Time to drain all those pots and pails standing around collecting mosquito eggs. Growing mosquitoes is NOT a popular garden crop.

Make the weather stations a favorite show, not once a day but several times a day. Their forecasts may not be accurate every time but they are your best defense as you plan your day.

Golfers? Maybe this month you should just stay in the clubhouse, away from the windows, and play cards. Maybe you can make more than you lose.

Also a money saver - less boating, this kind of weather will quickly separate the men from the boys out there in the gulf.

We do save money by not having to fill the pools as often. This really is the time of the year to plant some trees and shrubs and some heat-loving flowers.

The die-hard gardeners who just have to have a splash of color and remember to not plant in low spots, have a good choice of plants such as pentad, several colors and easy to grow; marigolds, which fit in anyplace; zinnias with many colors to pick from; and gaillardia that does really well in the sun, however not for me.

A friend gardener recently advised me that I was having trouble growing this very attractive plant because I needed to be starting them from seeds. Seeds are not a good thing for me. Growing things from seeds take too long for me so I use nursery plants.

Gaillardia will fling its own seeds all around when it is happy, at least they used to. I notice lots of things nowadays do not perform in the same manner they used to. In the garden, or out.

Take, for instance, the amount of cars running red lights. Are the drivers color blind from too much sunlight, or just too blind to the fact there are other people sharing the roads. They do not seem to understand when you are in a left-hand turn lane, you really need to go left, not try to squeeze into the straight-ahead lane. Just because it is green over there, those little cars are stronger than they look.

It's a matter of a red arrow meaning stop. It is not fair or safe for a driver to pick which color he likes best, it's the traffic lane position folks!

Hopefully they are not gardeners, they will never get the right plant in the right place.

Caladiums are doing so good right now, they like the extra watering, and they are truly a not care plant. A big pot of these beauties is a sure hit in some shade.

There are varieties that do well in the sun. I usually compromise and do light shade with some morning sun. The afternoon sun is really wicked, especially when all this summer rain stops and you forget to water a potted plants. Even in the soil they flourish more with proper watering. They will come up at least a second year and do well. I have some that are three years old, same soil, light and shade. They get at least one throw of granular fertilizer in the fall. Then they will die down until the next spring. The more water they get in the spring the faster they come back.

My begonias have done well, especially the white alba, which somehow managed to jump all by itself a few feet away into a sansavera pot. I may have been wildly weeding in the spring and a slip of the mother plant went flying over there.

I love the angel wing variety and they will tolerate much more sun. These lovelies should be available around September.

Try to stay cool, dry and safe until we meet again.

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



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