Regional Gardening Reports :: National Gardening Association

In the Garden:
Upper South
June, 2008
Regional Report

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The meadow garden around the pond hasn't turned out quite as expected, but it's beautiful nonetheless.

What Price Glory?

Don't you hate it when something goes wrong and there's nobody to blame but yourself? That's how I feel about my gardening efforts right now. Among my more serious failings is being somewhat of an obsessive/perfectionist nature. What this does to my gardening is make me keep striving for what I call "the fantasy garden." We've all seen it in magazines and books. Perfectly edged, weed-free beds. Everything blooming on cue. Plants never outgrowing their allotted spaces. And, just like Santa Claus, yes, Virginia, those gardens really do exist. Sometimes they're in public botanical gardens with very large endowments or in private gardens with a bevy of gardeners. But, certainly, even an individual or a couple can produce such a gem!

Maybe it is still an attainable goal for me, but recently I was forced to take the blinders off and face reality. Too big of a garden, too little time and money. Too many "one-of-a-kind" plants to blend into a cohesive whole. Too many different garden interests. Although both a part-time employee and I had been working in the gardens since early March, large areas still needed weeding, mulching, and tending. But, of course, there is always that one little straw that breaks the camel's back.

It came on a humid day with temperatures in the 90s. Shouldn't have been a problem. Last year I worked every day outside during our record-breaking, hottest-ever August. But this year even after I realized that the heat was adversely affecting me, I stayed out in it for another 4 hours. If I was dizzy standing up, well, I'd just sit down and weed.

The good news is that I didn't get extremely sick, only spent the following day in bed. This gave me plenty of time to think about what really matters. My little corner of paradise will remain a slightly scruffy but still very magical place. Fresh, home-grown strawberries, serviceberries, asparagus, rhubarb, six varieties of peas, broccoli, and cabbage have all been on my plate this spring. The roses and clematis have never been more beautiful. And, for once, the deer didn't think the oak leaf hydrangea buds were an hors d'oeuvre.

Maybe most of you are perfectly happy with your garden, but if not, be sure to enjoy what you've accomplished, not bemoan what is still on the to-do list.

Recognizing Heat-Related Illnesses
With heat waves hitting even before summer was officially here, who knows what the summer may bring. It pays to be able to recognize the various heat-related illnesses and how to treat them.

Heat cramps consists mainly of painful muscle cramps, often in the legs, as well as flush, moist skin and mild fever. This condition most often occurs during or after intense exercise. To treat, move to a cool place, place cool cloths on skin, rest, drink a cool sports drink, and slowly stretch cramped muscles.

Heat exhaustion results from a loss of water and salt in the body. Extreme heat conditions and excessive sweating without adequate fluid and salt replacement leads to this condition. The most common symptoms are fatigue, weakness, anxiety or faint feeling, headache, and pale, moist skin. There may also be muscle cramps, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, or a mild to high fever. Follow the same treatment as for heat cramps, but be aware that heat exhaustion is an intermittent stage before heat stroke, so if there is no improvement, don't hesitate to see a physician or emergency department.

Heat stroke is a life-threatening emergency and requires immediate medical attention. Most of the symptoms for heat exhaustion apply, except that the skin becomes warm and dry, fever reaches 104 degrees, and the heart rate becomes rapid. While waiting for emergency services, move to a cool place and rest, drench skin with cool water, place ice bags on the armpits and groin area, and drink cool liquids.

Safety Strategies
Avoid being outdoors during the heat of the day, drink plenty of water or sports drink, use sunscreen, and wear a hat, sunglasses, and lightweight, light-colored, loose-fitting clothing.

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