Archive for the ‘Mindful Gardening’ Category

Caring for The Magical, Mighty Oak Tree

Friday, February 26th, 2016

mighty oakAncient Celtic druids venerated trees, but especially the Mighty Oak. They believed that because trees are living beings, each had a spirit. This spirit was depicted as “The Green Man”, a peculiar face that looks like it is peering out of the tree trunk, found on the decorative carvings of churches, cathedrals, city buildings all over the U.K. and Europe. The Green Man, often seen depicted with the seed of the oak, the acorn, represents growth and rebirth.

In  my neighborhood, my neighbors and I  love our trees, especially our oaks, some of which are well over 100 years old. Like the Green Man who may be peering out from the bark, our magical neighborhood oak trees have seen many changes in the landscape throughout their life spans. They have provided us, our gardens and the wildlife that we enjoy with shade, refuge, acorns and majestic seasonal beauty. We want to honor their years of stately labor by keeping them as healthy and disease-free as possible.

According to certified arborists Scott Bailey and Dylan Kimsey, owners of Bonsai Tree Care Company, there are some tips that we can keep in mind to keep our oak trees healthy and happy for many years to come.  (more…)

Philodendrons are Fantastic Indoor Garden Plants

Wednesday, February 24th, 2016

philWhen the snow is falling outside, I love to spend quiet meditative time indoors admiring my interior garden.  One of the houseplants that I adore is the philodendron. It can look beautiful in your home or at your office all year round. Timeless and classic, the deep green native tropical philodendrons have been soothing our souls for generations.  This plant is easy to care for and can live for years and years.

Philodendrons are not flashy.  They do not bloom.  Instead, they are vines that climb.  Their common name translates into “tree lover”.   They are tried and true with the ability to survive neglect and adverse conditions.  Even the most inexperienced gardener can have success growing a philodendron as a houseplant.


Gotta LOVE Those Garden Catalogs

Sunday, February 21st, 2016

seedThe frigid February deep freeze can produce the “winter blues” in many people.   The general feeling of being down or discontented by the inability to get outside and dig in the dirt is even more pronounced in those who love to spend time in their gardens.

Imagine feeling irritable, blue, longingly looking out the window to the frozen tundra and wishing you were able to be outside with your plants.  Suddenly, something magical happens… the mail person leaves a big stack of seed and garden catalogs.  At once you’ve found heaven.  Oh, you thick, glossy, full-color beauties filled with new and exotic plants to shop for!  Come to Mama!  Lovingly holding your stack of catalogs in one hand and a cup of tea in the other, your spirits are immediately lifted. You aren’t so blue anymore.  Shopping and plants all rolled into one afternoon.  Could anything be better?  You sense that there is hope that spring WILL arrive after all.


Create Indoor Magic with Amaryllis

Friday, February 19th, 2016

email 2Winter in the midwest is a time of warm gatherings with friends and family. As the snow  appears outside our midwest windows, we can create festive  indoor gardens by growing Amaryllis bulbs. Amaryllis means “to sparkle” and  these plants with lily-shaped blooms provide a dramatic and colorful display.  Fewer bulbs grow as easily or with the show-stopping beauty as Amaryllis.

Did you know that there are over 800 named varieties of Amaryllis?   The most common colors,  which are deep and rich, are red, white, yellow, pink and variegated. (more…)

Beating the Winter Blues with Plants

Tuesday, January 5th, 2016

Botanical Garden sprouts photo for SOG Neighbors

When I think of winter, an old nursery rhyme rattles around in my head:

The north wind doth blow,
And we shall have snow,
And what will poor robin do then,
Poor thing?
He’ll sit in a barn,
And keep himself warm,
And hide his head under his wing,
Poor thing.


I can relate to this little robin and his mighty effort to stay warm. Along with the blowing north wind and snow, gardeners, who love to spend time outside digging in the dirt, may feel a little “blue” to be stuck inside and away from nature. I wanted to share a few tips to help my gardening friends beat their winter blues.

Happiness is Digging in the Dirt

Wednesday, October 21st, 2015


According to the famous plant collector, E.H. Wilson, “There are no happier folks than plant lovers and none more generous than those who garden.” I agree. Researchers now have some proof as to why gardeners tend to be so happy.

Have you ever noticed how good you feel after you spend time in the garden? Or that standing outside and just smelling the smell of good, old-fashioned soil in the air makes you feel better? Science tells us that getting our hands dirty actually gives our brain a boost. Digging in the dirt releases a strain of bacterium in the soil, called Mycobacterium vaccae. M. vaccae triggers a release of serotonin in the brain which provides that lovely lift that we experience. Along with increasing our happiness, serotonin is also credited with decreasing our anxiety level.

M.vaccae enters our bodies through the air that we breathe, so even those who stand nearby and watch someone else dig in the dirt and garden will benefit. This research would indicate that inhaling M.vaccae may be responsible for our feelings of well-being when we are being contemplative in the garden, too. Science also shares that the effects of the natural high seem to taper off after only three weeks.

To keep the natural boost going, it is recommended that we get into the garden as often as possible. Even a weekly dose of M.vaccae will help you continue to feel happy.

Here’s to digging in the dirt, feeling good and gardening mindfully.

© Rita Perea, 2015. All rights reserved.

Hellebores are Winter Heart-warmers

Tuesday, February 24th, 2015

helleOne of the splendid benefits about living and gardening in my neighborhood is the number of beautiful, mature trees that provide a shady refuge for my favorite plant- the Hellebore.  December is the perfect time to celebrate the uncommon majesty of the winter-blooming, and heart-warming, hellebore plant.

The species Helleborus Niger is commonly known as the Christmas Rose due to its peculiar habit of being in full bloom with beautiful white flowers during the winter months. Other names for the helleborus niger include the winter rose, snow rose, Christ herb and melampode. Each of the various names carries a lovely story that includes a lonely sojourner shedding tears for the Christ-child which turn to white flower petals when they drop to the ground.


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