06/7/17

Some Gardening Benefits

Ed Note: This post on some of the benefits of gardening was submitted by Maria Cannon, one of our readers. Thank you, Maria.

Help Relieve Depression Through Backyard Gardening by Maria Cannon

Some gardening benefits – As someone who has suffered from depression and anxiety, I have managed to channel those issues through hobbies like quilting, sewing and knitting. But several years ago I took up gardening and it was therapeutic in a different way from my other hobbies. Being outside, digging in the dirt, and being able to watch the progression of my work each spring offers a boost that I feel physically and mentally.

In some ways, you spend most of your time in a box. Think about it. You wake in your house, go straight to your car, head into a building, go back into your car, and head into your home. Spending all that time indoors can be surprisingly tiring.

That’s because you’re a natural organism. Humans evolved in nature, so when people are deprived of it, they suffer. Sure, there’s the physical health problems of poor air quality and sick building syndrome. But there’s also the mental health problems of depression and stressors.

New research is starting to show a surprising cure for both physical and mental health problems: gardening. It’s a way to get outside and be with nature, but it’s controlled and something almost anyone can do at home. Believe it or not, you can help fight depression by building a garden in your backyard.

Nature-Deficit Disorder

There are many causes to depression and similar mental health issues. One that only recently has been getting attention is the lack of connection with nature. Dubbed the “nature-deficit disorder,” it’s not an actual diagnosis. Instead, it describes how people need to be in nature from time to time, and how our modern society makes that harder.

It’s easy to find yourself staying indoors for days at a time. With video games, smartphones, and work tasks, you could spend a lot of time staring at a screen. But it’s not just technology that’s a problem, as you could suffer from a nature deficit by staying in and reading books all day long.

This problem is especially bad with children. If they grow up in an environment lacking anything natural, they can suffer from childhood obesity and similar problems. None of that is good for their mental health either.

Gardening For Mental Health

How can gardening help with your depression? There are several ways:

    Spending time outdoors in nature can boost your mental energy.
    Working with plants and helping them grow can improve your confidence and self-esteem.
    Much like with mediation, simple gardening tasks like weeding or planting can promote mindfulness.
    Growing something makes you feel more connected to the world.

Then there’s the simple fact that gardening has fewer stressors. Technology is wonderful, but between emails and social media, there’s always something demanding your attention in an obvious, almost rude way.

The opposite is true for gardening. It’s a calm, mindful activity that brings you back down to earth (literally). When you’re in the backyard gardening, you hear wind and birdsong. You have no one demanding you explain anything, and there are no pressures to get more work done. It’s just you and the garden.

Gardening For Physical Health

Your body and mind are interconnected. If you’re stressed, you are more likely to get a cold. And if you’re not eating right, you’re more likely to feel lethargic and depressed. Thankfully, gardening can help with physical problems as well.

Gardening is hard work. You end up using many muscle groups while you turn the soil, dig, plant seeds, pull weeds, and more. In fact, the CDC says that gardening can help with high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, osteoporosis, and more.

Then there’s the nutritional benefits of fresh fruit and vegetables. It’s hard to beat taking something from your backyard in terms of freshness.

Fight Depression With A Garden

Gardening isn’t a magical cure. You’re not suddenly going to be free of depression the moment your hand hits the soil. But research shows that spending time outdoors with a garden has the physical and mental health benefits you need to fight depression and win.

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06/3/17
Price Garden Corrales

The Price Garden, Corrales

The Price Garden, Corrales

The Price Garden in Corrales is as interesting and as beautiful as the Rio Grande bosque on which it is located. Those of you who read my other blog, Susan Brandt Graham Photography, know how much I love to photograph there. Gardening on their property presents benefits and challenges that are different from those in the NE Heights sections of Albuquerque. On the positive side, given its location along the Rio Grande, the water table is not so far from the surface. They have irrigation access, a part of the old New Mexico acequias system. Those of you who read Tim’s blog, Off Center and Not Even, know that he often is up in the middle of the night to open the gates and later to close them. Sometimes there is adequate water, sometimes there isn’t. More challenging, at least in my opinion, are the temperature extremes at night, especially in the winter. “Cold air sinks,”and that is readily observable at their home. I always keep a jacket handy, even in summer, if I plan to be there in the evening. Winter nighttime temps are often 20 degrees colder than at my home. In other places I have discussed the microclimates and environments of the area, and the abundance of Dr Huey roses in Corrales. With a lot of hard work, Tim and Laurie have a beautiful garden that fits well into the natural landscape. I was fortunate to be able to photograph it twice in May, 2017. These are just a few of the images.

Price Garden Corrales

Colorful Beauty

Price Garden Corrales

Garden Study in Orange

Price Garen Corrales

David Austin Rose

Price Garden Corrales

Betty Boop, Fourth of July, and Purple Salvia against Adobe Wall

Price Garden Corrales

Rose ‘Ballerina,’ a very hardy hybrid musk

Price Garden Corrales

Rose ‘Ballerina,’ a very hardy hybrid musk

Price Garden Corrales

Rose ‘Ballerina,’ a Very Hardy Hybrid Musk

Price Garden Corrales

Price Garden, Roses

Price Garden Corrales

Price Garden, Peonies

Price Garden Corrales

Price Garden, Dr Huey, Bamboo, iris, gorgeous light!

This just a glimpse at the Price Garden, and over time I will post more images of their wonderful, peaceful, inviting garden. This is the best of natural, sustainable gardening in a very challenging spot in the Desert Southwest, Corrales in the bosque. I hope you have enjoyed this brief tour.

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04/26/17
gardening challenge

Gardening Challenge Coming

Gardening Challenge Coming

A gardening challenge in the way of a very late and possibly hard freeze this weekend is headed to the Albuquerque area. The “average frost free date” for much of the time I have been here has hovered around April 15. Late freezes are not entirely unknown, however. We had a hard freeze in May of 2005. An Arrangement School was held at the same time as the Albuquerque Rose Show at the end of May. I still smile at the number of “Betty Boop” roses featured in rose arrangements that year, as well as in the show itself. That happened before we had rose photography in our rose shows. Floral photography does allow shows to thrive even with all the challenges of gardening.

This year, many of my roses have bloomed earlier than usual. However, I have a couple that I have babied that will be damaged by a hard freeze now. I’m also a little worried about the developing peaches and pears in my yard. I’ll keep an eye on the forecast and see what I can do to protect some of the plants.

Tim and Laurie, whom many of you know, face more difficult and frequent challenges in their gardening in Corrales, along the banks of the Rio Grande. However, once the freezes end in the spring, their property is full of lush floral growth.

These following images are from their yard in mid-May of 2016.

gardening challenge

Beautiful Climbing Roses

gardening challenge

Iris

gardening challenge

More Iris

gardening challenge

Even More Iris

gardening challenge

Even More Beautiful Iris

For those in the Albuquerque area, watch the weather forecasts. Good luck with your tender plants if the late hard freeze really happens.

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02/2/17
spring and roses

Spring and Roses Are Coming

Spring and Roses Are Coming!

Spring and roses are coming, as this current warm spell reminds us. Although it is tempting to prune roses now, it is far too early. However, this is a great time to do some clean-up in the garden. The last cooler spell, along with the wind, removed most of the remaining leaves on my rose bushes. I can see crossing canes better now, and ones that need to be removed. I did a lot of that yesterday, but not pruning.

While waiting for this year’s roses, as well as other flowers and plants, I’m going to share some from prior years. I’m ready for spring:

spring and roses

Ambridge Rose, a David Austin Shrub Rose

spring and roses

Miniature rose, ‘Climbing Earthquake’

spring and roses

Old Garden Rose, Hybrid bracteata 1918
Mermaid

spring and roses

Miniature Rose ‘Marriotta.’

spring and roses

Rose ‘Gold Medal’ with Hair Streak Butterfly. Winner of the Judges Class, 2015 ARS American Rose Photography Competition.

I had multiple winners in the 2014 Fall National, but I’ll show two here, Queen and King.

spring and roses

Spray of ‘Dream Weaver,’ Queen of Show in Photography at the 2014 ARS Fall National

Spring and roses

“Gemini” – Creative Interpretation
King of Show in Photography, ARS 2014 Fall National Convention
Best of Show in Photography, Albuquerque Spring 2014 Rose Show

For those of you planning to enter photographs in ARS sanctioned rose shows with the requirement for images matted and mounted to 11×14 specifications, I have prepared a short “how to do it inexpensively and quickly” in Kindle format, which can be read on any device with the free Kindle app. It costs $0.99, the lowest price Amazon would allow me to offer it.

I’m looking forward to Spring and Roses!

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05/18/16

Dr Huey, 2016

Dr Huey, 2016: The 3rd Annual Corrales Rose Society Dr Huey Tour

Dr Huey, know best among most rosarians as a common root-stock for grafted roses such as hybrid teas, floribundas, and many other classes of roses, may be seen in all of its own glory all over the Village of Corrales, New Mexico, for approximately one week in May. The Corrales Rose Society held its 3rd Annual Dr Huey Tour on May 15 this year, and the blooms were truly at their peak; the best overall I have ever seen them.

You may wonder why Corrales has so many of this hybrid wichurana, not usually planted for its own good qualities. Corrales sits on the river, here in the Middle Rio Grande Valley. You may recall from elementary school that “hot air rises, cold air sinks.” When I’m visiting friends in Corrales, even in the summer, if I am going to be there in the evening, I always take a jacket. Winter nights can get 10°-15°F colder than my location in Albuquerque. Corrales could be considered a “cold sink” and is just another example of one of many micro environments in the high desert.

People buy and plant grafted roses, and enjoy them as such while they are in that form. But many winters have killing freezes, often prolonged. In a desert area where winterizing of roses is rarely, if ever done, the grafted portion dies. In spring, the very hardy, alkaline-soil-thriving root-stock appears. The blooms are not at all unattractive, as you will see. People in the high desert tend to appreciate what grows and thrives, and most of these are kept. Some people keep them trimmed; some allow them to grown into their natural fountain shape; many allow them to cascade beautifully over walls; and one in particular has gotten quite huge!!!

I hope you enjoy these images as much as I enjoyed seeing the roses in person.

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05/17/16

2016 Corrales Garden Tour

2016 Corrales Garden Tour, Sunday, June 5

The 2016 Corrales Garden Tour is coming up very soon, Sunday, June 5. The information for times, as well as for pre-sale and day of tour sale are on this poster.

2016 Corrales Garden Tour

2016 Corrales Garden Tour

Gardens Fulfill Needs

Gardens answer so many desires. They are places of beauty, offering emotional and physical recharging and introspection, or a chance to share hospitality. Our gardens are the first place to act locally as we think globally about caring for the environment.

The six unique gardens on the Corrales Garden Tour on June 5, from 9AM-4PM, speak to all those needs and yearnings. Some are quietly serene and very private, others capture rain runoff and allow it to return to the soil; some have whimsical elements and a variety of seating areas. You will see gardens in the trees, others in the sandhills, and each has taken our climate and need for water conservation to heart in various ways.

Different gardens are featured each year, and the gardens are always interesting. Here is a post from last year’s tour on water features in the garden.

Six different gardens will be featured this year, and Master Gardeners will be available to answer questions. It will be a very enjoyable day.

Be sure to wear sunscreen, and it is always a good idea to have water with you.

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08/2/15

Cosmos

Cosmos

Cosmos

Cosmos

Cosmos is an annual I grow every year, not only for the beauty of the flowers, but also because the goldfinches and hummingbirds like them. When the seeds develop, the goldfinches prefer them to the nyger seeds I usually provide. For that reason, I do not deadhead these flowers, even though I would get more blooms if I did. I grow them, enjoy them, and then enjoy watching the birds feed on them.

Several days ago I posted some images from my garden, images with no editing (to say nothing of enhancements!) except for cropping and placement of a watermark. That was something of a photography exercise for me. Although I was not unhappy with the outcome, I personally found the exercise itself to lack the “fun” I find in digital photography. Last evening, for the first time in some time, I had a couple of hours to do what I enjoy – manipulate a photograph to create an image that reflected something more (to me, at least) than “a real flower captured by the camera.” What you see is the result.

I firmly believe that developing a raw file is something absolutely necessary to realize the full potential of digital photography, and should always be allowed.

“Enhancing” a photo through the use of many techniques, as this image has been enhanced, is very different from editing a raw file to develop it. I think any discussion of what should be allowed for any given use of an image should clearly distinguish between “editing” to develop a raw file, and “enhancing” to create an image not captured on a sensor.

Back to cosmos – a wonderful annual for its inherent beauty, and as a natural “feeder” for birds. A good flower for the garden in the desert southwest.

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07/8/15

Sunflowers and Birds

Sunflowers and birds of all kinds go together naturally and beautifully. Several years ago some “volunteers” came up from the seeds I had been feeding. The birds loved the fresh seeds that formed when those flowers finished blooming! The goldfinches preferred them over the expensive nyger seed. The house finches love them, and the doves hang around under the flowers waiting for the other birds to drop an occasional seed. Since that first year of volunteers, I plant sunflowers each year. Although I always intend to plant them right after average frost-free date, some years I don’t get them planted until mid-summer, giving me and the birds flowers and seeds in the autumn. This year I got them planted early, and the flowers have peaked and the birds are enjoying the seeds. Within the next couple of weeks I’ll be removing the spent ones, and resowing seeds for a second bloom in fall. While this past Fourth of July weekend was an extremely busy one, I did make time to relax one afternoon and photograph some of the birds enjoying the sunflower seeds.

sunflowers and goldfinch

Male Goldfinch

Sunflowers and Birds

Male Goldfinch

sunflowers and birds

Male Goldfinch Taking Flight

Sunflowers and Birds

Male Goldfinch

Sunflowers and Birds

Male and Female Goldfinches

sunflowers and birds

Male and Female Goldfinches

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07/3/15

Gemini, A Great Hybrid Tea Rose for the High Desert

Gemini, A Great Hybrid Tea Rose for the High Desert

Gemini is probably my favorite hybrid tea rose to grow here in the high desert of the Southwest, Albuquerque. As beautiful as it is, it is equally tough. It tolerates the summer heat. Mine was not damaged by the extreme cold of February of 2011. The colors are wonderful. The form is close to perfect in almost every bloom.

Gemini rose

Hybrid Tea Rose, Gemini

Gemini rose

Gemini, a Hybrid Tea Rose

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06/17/15
mermaid rose

Mermaid, A Beautiful Old Garden Rose

Mermaid, A Beautiful Old Garden Rose

Mermaid is a beautiful old garden rose (Hybrid bracteata 1918) that long time readers here know well. In May of 2006 it was reaching its peak after having been planted several years before. It took Best of Show at the Spring 2006 Albuquerque Rose Show, along with the ARS Victorian Award for Old Garden Roses with unknown date of introduction or introduced in or after 1867. Who could have imagined what December of 2006 would bring?

Mid December of 2006 brought an 8 inch snowfall to my house. It was heavy and wet, and pulled Mermaid and its trellis a little away from the wall. But I was sick at the time, thought there wouldn’t be more snow at least for a while, and I could repair things when I felt better. Big mistake!

A week later or so I got an unheard-of-for-here 22 inch snowfall at my house! The melting and refreezing, melting and refreezing added more weight, and in the middle of one night with a noise loud enough to awaken me at the other end of the house, Mermaid and trellis came crashing down across the patio. It took me weeks to get that mess cleaned up to the point I could walk out into the rest of the yard. To do it, I had to cut everything, including the clematis that had been growing with Mermaid, off at ground level. I thought everything was gone.

Imagine my joy at finding tiny basal breaks later in the spring of 2007! Mermaid did not grow a lot in 2007, but the companion clematis came back more rapidly. 2008 was even better. By 2009, things were looking very good. At the Spring 2010 Albuquerque Rose Show, Mermaid once again won the ARS Victorian Award along with Best of Show.

The 2014-2015 winter in Albuquerque was quite mild. Mermaid’s spring bloom this year was probably the best I have seen since the 2006 damage. Once again, at the Spring 2015 Albuquerque Rose Show, Mermaid took Best of Show (5 matched sprays in the entry in “Exhibitor’s Dream”) along with the ARS Victorian Award. This is a rose you will not see often in rose shows, because it is an “eight-hour wonder!” It opens in the morning, and drops its petals by evening. But, it is gorgeous during that time!

mermaid rose

Mermaid, Best of Show 2015, at placement during entry before judging

These are images from this year’s spring bloom:

mermaid rose

Old Garden Rose, Mermaid

mermaid rose

Old Garden Rose, Mermaid

mermaid rose

Old Garden Rose, Mermaid

Mermaid – one of my favorite roses, and back to being a focal point in the garden of my small Albuquerque yard.

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