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Five weeks until spring

February 9, 2018
By H.I. JEAN SHIELDS ( , Cape Coral Daily Breeze

Only a few more weeks until good ole spring weather can be depended on. In the meantime, sweaters on, sweaters off, finish off the fresh garden veggies that survived the off-and-on frigid temps and start getting ready for a fresh start in the garden. Maybe something new.

I enjoyed a recent Garden Council program in Fort Myers that featured several large bushes and a tree or two and a really interesting large clumping grass called Ornamental Bamboo Muhly Grass. Muhlenbergia dumosa, of course, poaceae grass family.

This clumping ornamental grass grows 4 to 6 foot tall and 4 to 5 feet wide, does not become invasive, and does not spread by seed.

It is salt tolerant and once watered in well, will be drought tolerant. It likes rich, well drained soil, sun and will tolerate partial shade.

The best part is the small bamboo-like stems enclosed with airy, light, green feather-like foliage.

A Florida breeze will have this fine foliage waving gracefully as it also stands firm and can be planted as a privacy wall or as an accent plant all by itself or in a very large container.

A native of Arizona and North Mexico, it is very adapted to our Southeastern areas. The flowers are inconspicuous, with just a slight pinkish tone when blooming at the tips.

This taller clumping grass should not be confused with the Pink Muhly

Grass, Muhlenbergia Capillaris, or a more recent introduced White Cloud, M. capillaris, which are smaller grassy clumps and have conspicuous colors when blooming. They do wave their grassy colors in the wind, in the fall. You will see beds of these in the medians of the Cape.

Mulch the Bamboo Muhly and do not dig around the roots. Also prune in the early spring before new growth starts. Try it.

Also it is time for Valentine's Day. This holiday is always Feb. 14, and there is a reason.

This event, legend or old wives tale, started in the third century AD. Emperor Claudius II believed that his soldiers went into battle better if they were not married, so he banned soldiers from marrying. A nice priest, named Valentine, was marrying them in secret and when the emperor found out, of course Valentine went to prison.

He eventually became a martyr, however. Before that while he was in jail, he fell in love with the jailer's daughter. Some say her cured her, of what no one says, however when his time to die came, he wrote her a last love letter and signed it "from your Valentine."

There were a lot of grisly ways to be martyred in those early days. No record of his death seems recorded, however it is known that no part of his body has ever been found as they excavated the area around Rome, only his head. His skull, adorned with a cornet made of flowers, and with a stenciled inscription, now resides in the Chiesa di Santa Maria in Cosmedin on Rome Bocca Della Verita.

Most people were made saints after death. No record of that.

Not a happy love story ending, however he is still remembered and during the Renaissance period Cupid was linked to St. Valentine. Cupid was said to be the baby of the Love Goddess Venus and the War God Mars. His name was derived from the Latin Cupido, which means desire. Later on he appeared with his bow and arrow to deliver the gift of love to all who feel his arrow.

So do not overlook Valentine's Day. It's history is still going strong. Also don't overlook the fact that history and love are terrific, but a little chocolate won't hurt.

Happy gardening - and chocolates - till me meet again.

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



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