Cooperative Extension Service 
Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences
Hendry County Extension, P.O. Box 68, LaBelle, Florida 33975-0068  Phone (863) 674-4092

Hendry County Horticulture News

The Creator Takes Stock

One day, the Lord decides to take stock of how the Earth is doing:

Creator: "Frank, you know all about gardens and nature.   What in the world is going on down there?    What happened to the black-eyed Susans, violets, thistles and all the other beautiful wild flowers I started eons ago?    I had a perfect, no-maintenance garden plan.  Those plants grow in any type of soil, withstand drought, and multiply with abandon.  The nectar from the long-lasting blossoms attracts butterflies, honey bees, and flocks of song birds.   I expected to see a vast garden of colors by now.   But, all I see are these green rectangles!"

St.  Francis: "It is the tribe that settled there, Lord.  The Suburbanites.  They started calling your flowers 'weeds' and went to great pains to kill them and replace them with grass."

Creator: "Grass?   But it's so boring.  It's not colorful.  It doesn't attract butterflies, birds, and bees, only grubs and sod worms.  It's temperamental and requires irrigation.  Do these Suburbanites really want all that grass growing there?"

St.  Francis: "Apparently so, Lord.  They go to great pains to grow it and keep it green.  They begin each spring by fertilizing grass and poisoning any other plant that crops up in the lawn."

Creator: "The warm summer rains probably makes the grass grow really fast.  That must make them happy."

St.  Francis: "Apparently not, Lord.  As soon as it grows a little, they cut it - sometimes twice a week."

Creator: "They cut it?   Do they then bale it like hay?"

St.  Francis: "Not exactly, Lord.  Most of them rake it up and put it in bags."

Creator: "They bag it?   Why?   Is it a cash crop?   Do they sell it?"

St.  Francis: "No, Lord.  Just the opposite, they pay to throw it away."

Creator: "Now, let me get this straight.  They fertilize grass so it will grow.  When it does grow, they cut it off and pay to throw it away?"

St.  Francis: "Yes, Lord"

Creator: "Those Suburbanites must be relieved in the fall when we cut back on the rain and turn down the heat.  That surely slows the growth and saves them a lot of work."

St.  Francis: "You aren't going to believe this, Lord.  When the grass stops growing so fast, they drag out hoses and pay more money to water it so they can continue to mow it and pay to get rid of it."

Creator: "What nonsense! At least they kept some of the trees.  Now that was a sheer stroke of genius, if I do say so myself.  The tree leaves to provide beauty and shade against the hot summer sun.   As they fall to the ground, they form a natural blanket to keep moisture in the soil and protect the trees and bushes.  In addition, as they rot, the leaves form compost to enhance the soils.  It's a natural circle of life!"

St.  Francis: "You better sit down, Lord.  The Suburbanites have drawn a new circle.  As the leaves fall, they rake them into piles and have them hauled away."

Creator: "No! What do they do to protect the shrub and tree roots during the dry times and keep the soil moist and loose?"

St.  Francis: "After throwing away your leaves, they go out and buy something they call mulch.  They haul it home and spread it around in place of the leaves."

Creator: "And where do they get this mulch?"

St.  Francis: "They cut down trees and grind them up."

Creator: "Enough! I don't want to think about this anymore.  Cathy, you're in charge of the arts.  What movie did you schedule for tonight?"

St.  Catherine: "It's called 'Dumb and Dumber,' Lord.  It's a really stupid movie about .  .  .  "

Creator: "Never mind, I think I've just heard the whole story!"

Want to learn more about environmental landscaping?  Check with the Hendry County Extension Office.  No, it does not mean giving up your lawn, perhaps reducing it and otherwise getting in tune with nature to have a more satisfying lower maintenance landscape plan.  Good luck and good gardening.

Gene McAvoy is the horticulture agent with the Hendry County Extension Service.  Direct your horticulture questions to PO Box 68, LaBelle, FL 33975,  e-mail - or phone 863-674-4092 or 863-983-1598.  You are also welcome to visit the Hendry County Extension Office at 225 Pratt Blvd., LaBelle.   Office hours are from 8:00 - 5:00.

The Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences is an Equal Employment Opportunity - Affirmative Action Employer authorized to provide research, educational information and other services only to individuals and institutions that function without regard to race, color, sex, age, handicap or national origin.

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