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What is in Your Plants
February 09, 2009

Finally, a reprieve.

A break in the weather.

At least in my part of the world.

Temperatures were above 50 on Saturday and we are in a strech of days where it is forcast to be in the 30's and a shot at 50 once more before the temperatures turn South once again.

That beats sub-zero and single digits any time.

Days continue to grow longer and some of the birds are noticing as well.

More and more I hear cardinals and chickadees singing.

Remeber, that this weekend is the "Great Backyard Bird Count."

I'll need more snow for birds to visit, today there aren't many to count.

I forgot to mention last week, that February is "National Bird Feeding Month"

Yup, an act of Congress in 1994, says it is so.

February is traditionally the most difficut month for birds to find food (the in between time).

Now aren't you glad you are caring for your feathered friends?

This past week the Tufted titmice have joined the choir and woodpeckers are drumming away on distant trees.

This past week the Tufted titmice have joined the choir and woodpeckers are drumming away on distant trees.

The resident Red-tail hawks are together more often, I hope I get to see the courtship again this year.

It is truly something special.

A Cooper's hawk has found our yard to his liking.

Thursday I found what was left of a Blue-jay.

Typically hawks will hang out for a week or two or until the food supply disappears or move elsewhere.

I know it's part of nature, but you know me...........................

When I see it hanging around I have to shoo it away.

A handfull of wild turkeys have visited a few times this past week or two.

With the snow so deep these guys can almost reach a couple of my feeders.

It was comical one day, as I watched one bird stand a foot away with his neck stretched.

I could almost see it studying the situation.


Now how do I get up there without falling off and will it be worth it.

I guess it was to much like work so they strutted to where I toss feed on the ground under the spruce trees.

Still, you could almost hear the wheels turning.

You know the snow is deep when they waltz up the street and into suburban yards looking for some groceries.

Up until this past weekend, It's been to cold to take the fur kids with me on my walks, so I walk alone.

Now that calendars are dirt cheap, you may want to get an extra one just for your bird and garden activities.

Keep it near your favorite window or vantage point.

Start recording on your new calendar all the activities you see and hear.

What date was it when you heard your first cardinal sing?

What date was it when you saw your first migratory bird and what species was it.

Is it a bird that will stay or one that is passing through?

Mark down when it is time to clean feeders and so on.

You can do this with all your bird activities.

To some extent, you can do this with your gardens as well.

Now you have a calendar record to keep for next year and you know about when to start looking and listening for certain activities.

By this time next year, you will have a nice record of all the bird, butterfly and other activities that have taken place and you will know what and when to expect next year.

Keep the calendar going all year to record fall migration as well.

You may even want to jot down when Goldfinches begin to change colors.

What activities are going on in your neck of the wood?

Are your feeders still busy?

Are you shoveling snow as fast as it comes down?

Are you planting anything inside yet?

I would like to hear what's going on with you.

This week's letter is a bit different.

The topic is the Physiological, Psychological and Sociological benefits of your gardens.


What is in a Plant?

You plant them.

You water them.

You prune them.

They have value to you.

But, do you know why?

Plants can live without people, but we can't live without plants.

Our very existence is embroidered with horticultural connections

Plants are fundamental to all life on this planet through their ability to transform and story energy.

This energy flows through the entire food chain.

Without plants, there wouldn't be any other life forms.

Think about that for a moment,.

Researchers have also discovered that chlorophyll molecules bear a surprising similarity to hemoglobin, the primary component of human blood.

Both molecules are made up of a ring of carbon and nitrogen atoms surrounding a single atom

The distinction is that single atom.

Chlorophyll contains an atom of magnesium, while our hemoglobin contains an atom of iron.

Our "Creator" is pretty smart to make things so simple.

We love our gardens and flower beds, but there is so much more to consider when you plant.

There are Sociological, Physiological and Psychological benefits that run underneath the obvious benefits we enjoy.

Psychologists have studied the benefits of restored yards and natural settings.

In addition to the ability to remove pollutants and shade, greenery provides a place of respites from from the constant tension imposed on our fast placed lives

As you may know, work, stress and tension result in mental fatigue, irritability, physical tiredness and the inability to concentrate.

Natural settings restore us mentally and spiritually.

Office workers who have a view of nature report better job performances and satisfaction.

Plant life allows the human spirit to release itself from the daily stresses.

New studies are showing that children and youth have the most to gain from green surroundings.

Playing in trees and vegetation can support a child's development of skills and cognitive abilities and lessen the symptoms of ADHD.

Living in a green environment can improve school performance as students show greater concentration and self-discipline (Read "Last Child in the Woods by Richard Louv).

Design styles can represent a philosophical value as well.

Japanese, English, Cottage, Natural..............

Garden styles that may reflect your personality.

If you have been with me for a while, you know that colors and fragrances are two of the many considerations in landscape design (I like "Nature's" work).

Colors and smell prompt feelings and associate memories in people.

20% of your optic nerves connect directly to your pituitary gland, which creates emotions ans response to color.

This means your body is reacting to color on a subconscious level apart from what you consciously perceive.

While perceptions can be subjective, there are some color effects that have a universal meaning.

The colors red, yellow and orange are known to have a warm feeling to them.

Colors in the blue spectrum are known as cool or calming colors.

Green, of course is the leading color of your landscape and is the backdrop that give a sharpness to colors.

Plantings of compatible colors like pastels, create a peaceful mood.

Monotonous colors will create a calm sense (nature).

Strong and contrasting colors will induce energy and excitement.

I like the strong, bright colors,(colours for my Canadian friends) they bring life to my yard and cheer me up.

Cool colors also make a place look smaller, while bright colors give the appearance that an area is larger than it is.

Here is something else and I wrote on this before.

Of the five sense, only our sense of smell is linked directly to the limbic lobe of our brain.

Our emotional control center.

Depression, anxiety, anger, happiness, joy and contentment all emanate from this region of the brain.

A particular scent or fragrance can bring back memories and emotions before we are even aware of them.

The scent of lilacs or perfume may bring back the thought of an old flame.

The smell of lavender may bring back memories of mom of grandma.

Nostalgic smells have a powerful mood altering effects on a person's state of mind.


In 1798, Dr. Benjamin Rush (his signature is on the Declaration of Independence), documented that gardens and landscaping improved the conditions of mentally ill patients.

Your gardens are a means of physical and psychological rehabilitation.

Do you ever have people stop or make a trip just to pass your habitats?

They do it for the joy and soothing effects.

Currant research suggests that surgical patients who recover in rooms with a landscape view have a shorter post-operative stays and depend on pain relieving drugs is less.

A multitude of studies have been conducted on physical benefits of man made landscaping and natural views.

One study was was on heart rates and blood pressure on elderly women living in a retirement center.

There was a control room with no view.

A view of a built landscape and a view with a natural setting or landscape.

Viewing the natural setting resulted in lower blood pressure and heart rates.

Viewing a man made landscape had a general effect, but the effects were inconsistent and the benefits were smaller.

Next time you have to go to the hospital, make sure you get a room with a view.

So now you are feeling good when you get out and work (play) in your gardens.

Your blood pressure drops, you breathe in fresh air and you smell the world around you.

You get exercise by walking around, bending, planting, pruning and just having a good time.


Plantings can also benefit a neighborhood and community.

Less crime takes place,

Workers are proud of their place of employment

There seem to be lower levels of fear

And neighbor relationships improve.

All of this from landscaping or plants?


Natural settings and even landscaped areas (streets with tree as well) have a calming effect.

Kids and adults are outside more.

You hear laughter and can almost feel the smiles in the air.

Landscapes bring on a sense of interaction and pride in an area.

Habitats invite birds, butterflies and small mammals.

Be sure to plant trees, shrubs, flowers and offer water.

Now your irritability and stress begin to pass and you are aware of your surroundings.

You see life everywhere.

You smell.................

You smile.................

Life is good............

Yes, plants offer much more than we really think about.

Because I'm a Naturalist and I work in the Green industry, I may be more aware of what is going on around me than most of you (By my own work and that of others).

Like me, you may have an understanding on the calming effects of gardens and nature ( I don't need all the professionals telling me what I already know).

If not, take some time...................

I mean really take some time to let this soak in.

Take a nature walk or go to a park if you must, but let the natural world be a healer to you.

All of this from something we often take for granted.

The "Great Physician" can heal in many ways.

Well, It stime to fly for now.

Before I go, here is your positive qoute for the week.

With Valentines Day this Saturday, how a bout a bonus qoute as well?

"Love doesn't make the world go 'round. It makes the ride worthwhile."

Carol Burnett

"There is no remedy for love but to love more."

Henry David Thoreau

How appropriate both are.

Not because of Valentines Day, but for everyone, everyday.

A remedy for love is to love some more.

Love makes the ride worth while.

Make the ride worth while by loving more and love even more and more.

It is easy to love friends and family.

You may even show love for God.

The true test is to show love for strangers.

Love isn't just a feeling, it is an act of our will as well.

Start with a helping hand.

By helping others, you are showing love for God, did you know that?

By helping others, you are actually helping your self and that means you are loving yourself too.

Now that has got to make you smile...............................


While you have that smile going, why not share that as well.

Now you are really cooking.

Share with strangers and give your love.

Why not start today.

Until next time my friend.

God's many Blessings for you.

Until next time,

"Treat the earth well:

It was not given to you by your parents,

It was loaned to you by your children.

We do not inherit the Earth from our

Ancestors, we borrow it from our Children."

Ancient Indian Proverb

Your friend indeed,

Ron Patterson

PS. If you enjoy these letters, please forward them to friends, family and co-workers. Better yet, have them sign up so they can recieve their own letters.

Gardening For Wildlife.

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