The crape myrtle is recognized for its sustainable, drought-and-heat resistance attributes as well as awe inspiring blooms. Usually developed as a small deciduous shrub or tree, this plant typically peaks at 30 feet in height; and in bloom, boasts spectacular masses of fluffy red, pink, purple and/or white flowers throughout the summer season.
Perhaps one of the more beloved trees in the South, crape myrtle trees were initially imported from China. A favorite tree of Virginians trees during the Colonial era were displayed as a sign of status. While today more varieties of crepe myrtles are grown in Colonial Williamsburg than during the 1700’s, many of these present-day trees are thought to be off-spring of their original imported stock. So, for centuries, not only have crape myrtle trees intrigued those who visit state of Virginia colonial gardens, but through an attribute of longevity, contributed to creating eco-sustainable landscapes.
Virginia Tech research recommends choosing the right crapemyrtle for your landscape requires evaluating where it will be planted, not just what color its flowers are. So, the questions are - will the plant be used in a perennial border or near a building foundation, or will it be a centerpiece specimen in a large grassy area or bed? The smaller the space available, the smaller the crapemyrtle (at maturity) should be, so be sure to choose a cultivar that will not require pruning to make it "fit" into the landscape.
Research further advises to avoid ‘crape murder’. A misconception that crapemyrtles need to be severely cut back in late winter or early spring in order to flower well in summer has led to the unhealthy practice of topping these plants. If necessary, crapemyrtles can be reduced in height without being topped.
Topping should not involve cutting stems back at an arbitrarily chosen height. Instead, prune back to a bud, side branch, or main stem. Topping trees and shrubs is harmful in many ways and regarded as an unacceptable practice by trained horticulturists and arborists (see A Guide to Successful Pruning: Stop Topping Trees!, Virginia Cooperative Extension publication 430-458). In fact, severe pruning has proven to increase stem decay significantly when topping cuts are made, and that more dead branches also occur within the canopy.
For more extensive ‘how to select and care for’ information, link to Virginia Tech research - http://pubs.ext.vt.edu/430/430-451/430-451.html.
Luffa Aegyptiaca as a ‘plant of CARE’ is recognized for its eco sustainable characteristics and ability to connect people to the living green that surrounds them. Loofahs or luffas are the fibrous seed pod portions of a gourd on a vine. When matured, the vine's cylinder-shaped fruits grow into a long, fibrous pod that contains the loofah. The resulting sponge is commonly used for scrubbing and exfoliating in the bath.
The fruits and flowers of the loofah gourd have been used for centuries by Asian and African cultures as a food source. The sponge-like seed pods are also used in various applications such as soaps, mats and, more commonly, as a bath sponge. They are members of the Cucurbitaceae plant family, which also includes melons, squashes and cucumbers. A fun historical fact is prior to World War II, most loofahs produced in the U.S. were used as filters in a ship's boiler. A loofah's dense makeup also makes it ideal for scrubbing pots.
Burpee's 1888 catalogue said, "A natural dishcloth, and a most admirable one. Many ladies prefer this dishcloth. The fruit grow about 2', and the vine is very ornamental, producing clusters of yellow blossoms, in pleasing contrast with the silvery-shaded, dark green foliage. In the North this variety requires starting in a hotbed. The dried interiors of these gourds have already become an article of commerce; grown in Florida, they are sold by Philadelphia and NY druggists."
The types of loofahs grown can vary depending on desired use. Loofahs grown for their edibility usually contain less dense fibers than those grown commercially for their sponges. A loofah's size and shape also varies depending on the type of gourd planted. A naturally grown, unaltered loofah is usually dark or tan in color. Loofahs grown or purchased by a commercial supplier may be bleached white. In addition to its home and garden attributes, flower blooms are an excellent habitat attraction for pollinators; and specific to intriguing children, the dried gourd can be used to create globe style bird houses.
Virginia Tech research recommends some gourds such as the luffa gourds are fairly tolerant of insects and diseases so few controls would be needed. Pollination, as with pumpkins, is essential for adequate fruit production. If you're planning to save seeds then hand pollination will prevent cross-pollination from occurring although this can be time consuming. Additional research information is available at Va Tech web site http://pubs.ext.vt.edu/2906/2906-1368/2906-1368.html .
In addition to its sustainability, what makes the Luffa/Loofah Aegyptiaca different? These plants are identified to flourish in multiple climate zones, recognized as enabling eco sustainable habitats; and through their vibrant characteristics, intrigued mankind for centuries. In honor of fall as a season for planting and harvest, Luffa/Loofah Aegyptiaca is spotlighted as ‘Plants of CARE’ challenging all to select and install plants which enable eco prosperity. For, prosperity is not defined in terms of money. It is a spiritual matter, an ongoing faith – not cash – which creates a sense of earthy friendly abundance.
From the rain forests of south-east Alaska to the deciduous forests of the Mid-Atlantic region, across the Nation, climatic shifts occur challenging all to enable eco sustainable urban suburban landscapes.
Greening America’s Landscape –
Historically, earth-friendly strategies were defined in terms of reduce, reuse and recycle but landscapes that reflect a perspective of CARE - conservation, accountability, recovery and eco-efficiency - take this definition a step further. For, eco-sustainable spaces are not simply a result of lifestyle choices but reflect how we feel about the environment. While keeping it simple (as in simple living) is the name of the game, there is a more important underlying factor – a commitment to ultimate greening: providing for the present without sacrificing the future.
Landscape Gardens of CARE -
Through encouraging use of green scaping concepts: build and maintain healthy soil, install right plant for site requirements; and during seasonal appropriate cycles, be water wise, adopt earth-friendly pest and weed management, and implement natural lawn care, emphasis is placed on phased implementation of the ‘R’ philosophy: reduce, renew, reuse and recycle; specifically, advocating ‘put green’ back into the urban/suburban community by nurturing existing and/or replacement of ‘living green’. An additional strategy is to highlight ‘purchase’ - buy-local; but after witnessing a record-breaking urban/suburban pollution ride on the waters of storm Irene, present-day focus needs to shift on the ‘people factor’. For, if eco-healthy urban suburban landscape gardens are to exist, we must become people who CARE – have a perspective of conservation, advocacy, recovery and eco-efficiency.
Plants of Care, plant recognition program –
Whether an experienced landscape professional or novice homeowner, all are challenged to not simple identify plants that survive but thrive; and then, create landscapes from a sustainable point of view, seeking to reduce their carbon footprint as well as feed their families pesticide free produce. Any style landscape should not simply reflect traditional design concepts but be a result of the right plant, installed in the right place at the right (optimal) planting season - creating a legacy of green, healthier urban/suburban communities. The challenge is to create landscapes from a “waste not, and want not” eco logical commitment: become caretakers for the environmental community.
As a hands-on landscape gardener who has participate in nation-wide regional plant testing, I’ve gained familiarity with programs such as the ‘Southern Living Plant Collection’, ‘Proven Winners’, ‘Plants that Work’ and many more. Still, while plant material proven to enable landscape gardens of CARE could be recommended by any one of these programs, in my program – Plants of CARE, it will be spotlighted for its ability to inspire people to CARE – have a perspective of conservation, advocacy, recovery and eco-efficiency. To emphasize April as national ‘keep America beautiful’ month, a selected ‘plant of CARE’ will be announced.
As recipient of the Turning America from Eco-weak to Eco-chic Award, I challenge all to ‘keep America beautiful’, become people who CARE: commit to conservation, accountability, recovery and eco-efficiency.
2012 - April, plants of care choice - Redbud tree/shrub, for details visit blog http://blog.thewrightscoop.com/2012/04/03/plants-of-care-redbud-treeshrub-.aspx
2012 - July, plants of care choice - Plants of CARE, cucumber "Heirloom Armenian"
2012 - Oct., plants of care choice - pumpkin hijinks
2013 - Jan. plants of care choice - eastern cedar
2013 Apr. plants of care choice - American Beauties Native Plants
2013 July plants of care choice - crape myrtle
2013 Oct. plants of care - luffa
Side-bar: Tips for Creating Landscape Gardens of CARE
American Beauties Native Plants are recognized by the Wright Scoop as ‘plants of CARE’ for their eco sustainable characteristics and ability to connect people to the living green that surrounds them.
The American Beauties™ –American Beauties LLC, a partnership between Prides Corner Farms located Lebanon CT, and North Creek Nurseries located Landenberg PA, is a team of experts dedicated to identifying plants which guarantee landscapes that provide food and habitat for a variety of desirable critters. Launched in the spring 2006 in the Northeastern US, plans are underway to make this program available in other parts of the country. So, look for informative and easy-to-shop American Beauties displays at your independent garden centers. While purchasing an American Beauties plant will bring life to your garden, it helps a great cause. Every American Beauties plant sold benefits the National Wildlife Federation (NWF), their work to create better home landscape environments for you and the colorful garden critters you love. For additional details, visit the American Beauties web site, www.abnativeplants.com .
In addition to plant sustainability, what makes the American Beauties Native Plant collection different? These plants are identified to flourish in multiple climate zones, recognized as enabling eco sustainable habitats; and through their vibrant characteristics, intrigued mankind for centuries”
Eastern Redcedar ‘Cupressaceae Juniperus virginiana’ –
Eastern Redcedar ‘Cupressaceae Juniperus virginiana’ is a plant identified to flourish in multiple climate zones. Recognized as providing eco sustainable habitats, its vibrant characteristics have intrigued mankind for centuries. Cedar trees were used to build not only the temple of the Lord but also Solomon’s house and other public edifices in Jerusalem. In the new world, Native Americans used cedar to make canoes and other boats as well as weapons, boxes, bowls and baskets; and, believed cedar to be inhabited by their ancestral spirits.
Viewed as a plant used to establish a ‘holy place’, Quakers installed cedar trees to mark grave sites. So, it was during the restoration of our family cemetery that I became intrigued by this plant. For, we identified five trees which had for more than 150 years marked the grave site of family members. During the Civil War, cedar trees were also used to mark the site of fallen soldiers. So, it is not surprising, to honor the memory of those lost in the Virginia Tech shooting tragedy the Washington State University community planted a large eastern red cedar in the Alumni Arboretum adjacent to the Lewis Alumni Centre on Wednesday, September 12th, 2007. The oldest known tree was reported from Missouri and was nearly 800 years old, so a tree installed to honor people or events has the potential to be a lasting tribute for many years to come.
Selected as a ‘plants of care’ choice, Eastern Redcedar ‘Cupressaceae Juniperus virginiana’ is an excellent plant which through its ability to flourish has attract nation-wide gardeners and through its sustainability is recognized to inspire people to become people who CARE – have a perspective of conservation, advocacy, recovery and eco-efficiency. To identify a regional plant vendor google search Eastern Redcedar ‘Cupressaceae Juniperus virginiana’. As gardeners, we have an opportunity to create eco healthy urban suburban green communities, identify and install plants that work-well in your area. For details of the ‘plants of CARE’ program, visit web site www.TheWrightScoop.com.
Side-bar: eastern redcedar ‘Cupressaceae Juniperus virginiana’ -
Leaf: Evergreen, very small, with two types of leaves (often on the same tree), scale-like leaves 1/16 inch long, dark green, with 4 sides held tightly to twig and longer (1/4 inch), dark blue-green needle-like leaves that are more common on young trees and fast growing shoots.
Flower: Dioecious; but occasionally monoecious; males are small, yellow-brown, occurring in large groups; females are light blue-green.
Fruit: Berry-like cones, light green in spring, turning dark blue and glaucous at maturity, about 1/4 inch in diameter, appearing in spring and maturing in the fall.
Twig: Green for several years, covered in scales, later turning brown.
Bark: Red-brown in color, exfoliating in long, fibrous strips, often ashy gray where exposed.
Form: A small tree with a dense ovoid or columnar crown reaching up to 60 feet tall.
Across the Nation, climatic shifts occur challenging all to enable eco sustainable urban suburban landscapes. As a result, pumpkin “Hijinks Hybrid” is identified as a ‘Plants of CARE’ for its ability to flourish in multiple climate zones while providing vibrant edible characteristics which inspire people to become people who CARE – have a perspective of conservation, accountability, recovery and eco-efficiency.”
Pumpkin “Hijinks Hybrid” –
Pumpkin “Hijinks Hybrid” developed by Sakata® Seed America Inc. is one of the 2011 All-America Selections vegetable winners. It produces fruit ranging in size from six to seven pounds with a uniform size and shape. Tested in gardens nation-wide, the Hijinks was observed to deliver high yields and have notable resistance to powdery mildew. This early-maturing pumpkin variety is said to be ripe in about 100 days when planted from seeds and 85 days when transplanted. In addition to its excellent fruity taste and texture characteristics, the Hijinks has a smooth skin including grooves, which makes it ideal for fall decorations.
Specific to plant installation, in my central Virginia garden, I’ve found pumpkin “Hijinks Hybrid” to require full-sun, sprawl up to 15’, require installation 85 to 100 days prior to harvest in late September and/or October; and because of its smaller size, have kid appeal. This plant, introduced to my garden by seed distributor/developer Sakata® Seed America Inc. easily connects garden to table or personalized gifts from a kitchen, inspiring people to connect with ‘living green’ that surrounds them.
Selected as a ‘plants of care’ choice, pumpkin “Hijinks Hybrid” is an excellent plant which through its ability to flourish has attract nation-wide gardeners and through its sustainability is recognized to inspire people to become people who CARE – have a perspective of conservation, advocacy, recovery and eco-efficiency. To acquire seeds google search pumpkin “Hijinks Hybrid” or visit the web site of Sakata® Seed America Inc.
Side-bar: Pumpkin/Squash Bread Recipe*
Note: The most difficult thing about making pumpkin/squash bread is deciding which recipe to use. The following is a recipe used for generations by the Hoehns/Compton families.
Harvest pumpkin “Hijinks Hybrid” at 85 to 100 day maturity, wash and then, scoop out fruit. Thinly dice and/or grate fruit for required recipe 2 cups. Remainder can be frozen for future use.
In mixing bowl, stir together 3 eggs, 1 cup oil, 2 cups sugar, 2 cups grated/diced pumpkin, 1 tsp. vanilla. In separate bowl, sift together 3 cups flour, 1 tsp. salt, 1 tsp. soda, ¼ tsp. baking powder, 3 tsp. cinnamon.
Stir into first bowl sift ingredients and if desired, add ½ cup chopped nuts. Pour mixture into two loaf pans. If desired, you can sprinkle a little brown sugar on top of loaves. Bake at 325 degree for 1 hour. Remove from oven and let cool for approximately 5 minutes; then, remove from pans. If desired, baked bread can be frozen and used as gifts for the holiday seasons.
*Warning, most people who receive this bread as a gift for holidays such as Halloween and/or Thanksgiving ask for refills; so, you may want to double your recipe!
I like to dig in the dirt. As the descendent of a long line of gardeners, I recall childhood experiences of helping my parents and grandparents with their garden. In fact, a space was designated specifically for me. For, in my family, it was acceptable for a child to have soiled clothes and dirty hands – to dig in the dirt!
Later, when I married and started to garden at my new home, believe it or not, many childhood plants were transferred. Then, as space expand, I solicited roots, clippings and newly separated perennials from friends, family or acquaintances. Still, although these activities definitely illustrate the influence of a gardener’s gene, I did not have benefit of formal training. So, after identifying educational opportunities, I first attend a ‘master gardener’ program offered by Henrico County; and later, more formal opportunities.
What is the result? Recently, a friend observed, “You’ve turned an avocation into a vocation!” Pausing for a moment, I questioned her observation but then, agreed. For, no longer, is my effort to ‘dig in the dirt’ simply a result of part-time effort. It has moved into the vocational world.
Paralleling a journey into training, I’ve opt to share landscape/garden knowledge with others. Contributing feature articles and columns to garden magazines, I’ve participated as an “asks the expert” columnist, taught adult educational seminars; and presently, participate in all of these activities plus advocate community greenscaping. Still, the further I ventured into the world of landscape gardening, the more I questioned its impact on the environment. For, gardening and eco-friendly landscape gardening are not necessarily the same activities.
It appears that although as a Nation we have participated for more than 50 years in a “Green Revolution”; on the whole, we continue to fail. Survey statistics released by the National Garden Bureau identified of 12 eco-friendly activities only 3 were viewed as somewhat successful. Obviously, it will take more than simply a “love of all things green” to make it work, create an earth-friendly legacy.
So, the future holds a unique opportunity: the opportunity to not simply be a caretaker of space but the person who cares! A person who sets the Climate, nor merely adjusts to a preexisting one; creates an encouraging Attitude, not practices ambivalence; is Receptive to people without losing sight of personal needs; and demonstrates Empathy for others while keeping problems in perspective. Instead of stumbling through eco efforts, we need to let knowledge be our mentor. Individually and collectively, we need to educate ourselves and then, incorporate what we learn into daily experiences. Become known as people who are open to new and different ideas; and perhaps, more importantly share these ideas with others; for, unless knowledge is shared, it is stagnant.
As a child of the ‘tell instead of read me a story’ era, I have benefit of hearing eco perspective stories told by family members. In fact, I credit the legacy of a rural Virginia childhood and Quaker lifestyle belief - view self as caretaker, not owner of property: a perspective of providing for present without sacrificing future – as the source of my eco commitment. Nevertheless, not everyone has the benefit of such experiences; so, I challenge you to acquire knowledge; and then, become known in your community as the eco expert. Become the person who has positive impact on surveys which measure safe landscape/garden practice, share your knowledge and write articles for civic newsletters or volunteer to provide speeches.
Join me in an effort to inspire people to create an eco-legacy of CARE, a perspective of conservation, accountability, recovery and eco-efficiency – ‘green’ America’s landscape! Together, let’s ensure space is available in which it is alright for a child to experience dirty hands and soiled clothes. As parents or grandparents, enable another generation of people who turn their eco-avocation into a vocation. Ensure a legacy in which ‘digging in the dirt’ is eco-friendly, creates eco-healthy urban/suburban communities.
To identify additional eco tips and strategies, visit web site TheWrightScoop or acquire a copy of Eco-legacy – a millennium woman’s heritage, available Wright’s LuLu Sylvia’s Store option, http://stores.lulu.com/syhwright .
Plants of CARE, cucumber "Heirloom Armenian"
Across the Nation, climatic shifts occur challenging all to enable eco sustainable urban suburban landscapes, landscapes that reflect a perspective of CARE - conservation, accountability, recovery and eco-efficiency. As a result, cucumber "Heirloom Armenian" is identified as a ‘plants of care’ for its hardy heirloom edible characteristics.
Plants of Care, plant recognition program –
Whether an experienced landscape professional or novice homeowner, all are challenged to not simple identify plants that survive but thrive; and then, create landscapes from a sustainable point of view, seeking to reduce their carbon footprint as well as feed their families pesticide free produce. So, as a hands-on landscape gardener who participates in nation-wide regional plant testing, I implemented a plant recognition program to recommend plant material proven to enable landscape gardens of CARE. A plant of CARE choice is spotlighted for its ability to inspire people to CARE – have a perspective of conservation, advocacy, recovery and eco-efficiency.
Known for its extra crispy crunch, mild flavored skin, being burpless, and always bitter free, cucumber "Heirloom Armenian" is an eastern European heirloom that has become extremely popular with home gardeners.
Cucumber "Heirloom Armenian" –
Cucumber "Heirloom Armenian” has creamy, pale-green, long, ridged fruits with a crisp, juicy texture that needs no peeling. Heavy yielders, the plants are proven to thrive in hot summer areas. Preferring an average soil pH, these cucumbers do not like acidic soil. The plants thrive in warm weather; so, install in-ground after danger of frost. Or, to get an earlier crop start indoors 3-4 weeks before last frost. These heirloom cucumbers are thirsty! Never let them go dry. In fact, the fruit has been identified to consist of 95 % water. And, if you encounter pest problems, try an integrated pest management approach. Cucumber beetles are "supposed" to dislike marigolds or wood ashes sprinkled at the base of cucumber vines. As a final planting tip, plants can either be installed to climb a trellis or sprawl across the ground. Either installation style has worked-well in my central Virginia garden.
This plant, introduced to my garden by well-know seed distributor Renee’s Seed, easily connects garden to table or personalized gifts from a kitchen, inspiring people to connect with ‘living green’ that surrounds them. Selected as a ‘plants of care’ choice, cucumber "Heirloom Armenian" is an excellent plant which through its ability to flourish has attract nation-wide gardeners and through its sustainability is recognized to inspire people to become people who CARE – have a perspective of conservation, advocacy, recovery and eco-efficiency. To acquire seeds google search cucumber "Heirloom Armenian" or visit the web site of an ‘heirloom’ seed supplier. As gardeners, we have an opportunity to create eco healthy urban suburban green communities; so, identify and install plants that work-well in your area. For details of the ‘plants of CARE’ program, visit web site www.TheWrightScoop.com.
Side-bar: Bread and Butter Pickles Recipe
Note: The most difficult thing about making pickles is deciding which recipe to use. The following is a recipe used for generations by the Hoehns/Compton families.
Harvest cucumber "Heirloom Armenian" at 12 to 18 inch length, wash and then, thinly cut to ¼ inch round about 6 quarts (most likely 3 to 4 cucumbers will yield 6 quarts)
6 small yellow or white onions thinly sliced
1 cup pickling salt (can use Kosher salt as a substitute, regular table salt has additives in it that will turn the pickles dark and muddy the color of the pickle juice)
(place above ingredients in a large bowl, add cold water and let stand for 3 hours)
After 3 hour wait, using stainless steel pot, bring 6 cups cider vinegar, 6 cups sugar, ½ cup mustard seeds and 1 tablespoon celery seeds to boil.
Drain and rinse cucumber mixture and then, stir into boiling liquid. Mixture will cool liquid. Let simmer for a few minutes (do not let it boil again).
Having already washed 6 quart jars (or 12 pint jars), evenly distribute cucumber mixture and even out with remaining liquid. Then, cover jars with jar lids and turn to non-leak status. At this point, place seal jar upside down on its lid for a few minutes, next flip to right side up and check to see if lid can be further tighten. Let cool and store in dark place for 3 months. Storage time enables flavor to peak and will provide gifts for the holiday season.
Warning, most people who receive this recipe for a gift will ask for refills; so, you may want to double your pickling recipe!
From the rain forests of south-east Alaska to the deciduous forests of the Mid-Atlantic region, across the Nation, climatic shifts occur challenging all to enable eco sustainable urban suburban landscapes, landscapes that reflect a perspective of CARE - conservation, accountability, recovery and eco-efficiency.
Plants of Care, plant recognition program –
Whether an experienced landscape professional or novice homeowner, all are challenged to not simple identify plants that survive but thrive; and then, create landscapes from a sustainable point of view, seeking to reduce their carbon footprint as well as feed their families pesticide free produce. So, as a hands-on landscape gardener who participates in nation-wide regional plant testing, I decided to recommend plant material proven to enable landscape gardens of CARE. A plants of CARE choice is spotlighted for its ability to inspire people to CARE – have a perspective of conservation, advocacy, recovery and eco-efficiency.
In honor of April as national ‘keep America beautiful’ month and ‘lawn & garden month’, a first selected ‘plant of CARE’ is the redbud tree/shrub. Why? The redbud tree/shrub is proven to be a plant that adapts to almost any landscape, through prolific self-seeding is renewable, contributes to critter and people habitats, is a relatively disease free minimal consumer of support resources; and perhaps more importantly, provides profuse spring bloom which inspire all to ‘dig in the dirt’.
Redbud, Cercis spp. Family Fabaceae (Pea family) -
Redbuds are attractive deciduous trees or shrubs characterized with broad rounded heart-shaped leaves, clusters of sweet pea-shaped flowers which bloom on bare twigs and branches, beanlike pods that form after flowers and leaves which turn yellowish in fall before dropping. Identified to grow best in full sun or with light shade, most species require moderate amounts of water and some winter chill for their best floral display.
The Eastern Redbud, native to the eastern and south-central United States and southward to Texas, matures at 20 to 30 feet in height and 15 to 35 feet in width. Generally known to have a divided trunk close to the ground, it can also develop as a multi-trunk shrub. Nevertheless, redbuds growing in the sun will be compact and rounded; when grown in shade, their form is loose, open and tall. Although most tend to be short-lived, often declining from disease after about 20 years, a redbud trees are sustainable through self-seeding and on my property, a tree transplanted by my mother has thrived for more than 40 years.
A feature that inspires most people is the showy flower, which is magenta in bud, but opens to rosy pink before the leaves emerge early in spring. The flowers appear in clusters that nearly cover the bare branches of the tree. Appearing in early spring after the white flowers of serviceberry and wild plum and before (and during) the white and pink flowers of the flowering dogwood, blooms remain for two to three weeks. A fruit, flat pods (3 inches), remain on the tree during winter. This tree is best used in naturalized areas, where the flowers are contrasted against evergreens or woodlands. It can be used as a specimen or in groupings in a shrub border.
Primarily a woodland plant, it prefers moist, well-drained sites. Still, it can tolerate acid or alkaline soils and prefers some shade in the heat of summer. Native to a wide range of climates, it is important trees are grown from locally harvested seeds. Trees grown from seed collected from regional native trees tend to adapt better to climate shifts; for example withstand the heat of a regional summer.
The Western Redbud (Cercis occidentalis) similar to the ‘eastern’ produces small clusters of purplish pink blooms on bare branches, followed by flat, bean-like seedpods. As the flowers fade, attractive, heart-shaped leaves begin to open. In autumn, leaves provide fall color, and the bean pods remain on the tree after the leaves drop, giving it an interesting appearance. Tolerating USDA zones 5-9, the western redbud is very drought tolerant and excellent for areas that receive little water.
Selected as a ‘plants of care’ choice, the redbud tree/shrub is an excellent plant which through its ability to flourish has naturalized in almost all nation-wide landscapes and through its vibrant color and sustainability is recognized to inspire people to become people who CARE – have a perspective of conservation, advocacy, recovery and eco-efficiency. To acquire seedlings, google search a regional department of forestry or visit the VA Department of Forestry web site. For details of the ‘plants of CARE’ program, visit web site www.TheWrightScoop.com.
Side-bar: Cultivars & Varieties identified by VA Department of Forestry:
•var. alba - This is a white-flowered form that occurs somewhat frequently in nature. The foliage is a lighter green than the species.
•'Royal White' - This cultivar has larger flowers and a more compact form than var. alba.
•'Forest Pansy' - This is one of the most popular cultivars. It has deep burgundy foliage that loses its intense color in the heat of summer, becoming almost dark green. Flowers are more rose purple than the species and open a little later.
•'Flame' - This is a double-pink form.
Related Species•Chinese Redbud (C. chinensis) - This is a small, multi-stemmed shrub that grows 6 to 10 feet tall and wide. Its rosy purple flowers are showier and more profuse than Eastern Redbud. Leaves are also thicker.
Through participating in 2011 Industry events, as both an attendee and workshop/speech provider, I've observed polarized attendee participation. For, basically, there appear to be two distinct reactions: those who ‘plug in’ – participate in active listening and those who ‘disconnect’ – actually chose to walk out of a session. So, considering the fact most present-day businesses which tend to thrive are open to creative shifts in their business strategies, I’ve urged all to as the elementary teachers heed - ‘put on your listening ears’!
People who ‘put on there listening ears’
• clear their mind of distractions,
• ask open-ended questions that encourage the speaker,
• ask questions that clarify any unclear issues,
• don’t draw conclusions or make snap judgments,
• don’t automatically agree with everything,
• restate key points in their own words,
• are open and non-defensive, and
• avoid thinking about responses while the speaker is talking.
Successful people, regardless of Industry sector, are aware of the powerful role which listening plays and maximize its use. For example, politicians, at least the better ones, ‘work a roomful of prospective voters’ while intently focusing on each individual. Carefully listening to each person’s views, politicians converse earnestly with one person after another creating a positive and lasting impression in the voter’s mind that each person has their full measure of respectful listening. Unfortunately, this tactic – although proven effective, is a technique most people seldom encounter.
Stephen Covey in his book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, emphasizes the power of ‘empathic listening’. Covey says in some situations, there is a necessity to not merely go through mechanical responses that might be required for ordinary listening, but open oneself to the talker to the point where one actually feels what they are feeling. For, Convey believes the only way to establish communication in some professional and personal situations is by becoming, in a small part, the person you are listening to. He uses the word "sensing" (others call it "intuition") to describe the information a listener perceives during deep, empathic listening. While this strategy most certainly takes time to learn, with practice, the rewards are a whole new level of communication which automatically elevates you in the eyes of a talker because people who listen at this level are so rare.
On the other hand, perhaps in some ways, a more important concept is to extend the ‘golden rule’ which translated at the platinum level is to treat others not only as you would prefer to be treated but as they respectfully deserve. So, avoid ‘disconnecting’ and instead, enable your ability to listen for underlying issues. Then, address these issues, not emotion. During a recent ‘green’ conference, I witness a workshop instructor fail to accurately hear a stated issue. After providing examples of green build technologies, the instructor solicited comment. Responding, an attendee queried, “You are aware a house always faces the street?” Instead of interpreting the comment as a valid concern related to restrictive community building codes, the instructor ‘blew it off’.
Instead of ‘blowing off’ someone stated concern, as Covey’s research suggests, be the person who steps into the other person’s shoes. Don’t ignore stated issues, paraphrase the message by summarizing it, and use analogies to clarify it. Participate in active listening skills, ‘put on your listening ears’.
About the author - To acquire details of Wright’s activities, visit her web site www.TheWrightScoop.com or contact Sylvia@TheWrightScoop.com or follow tweets at ID Wright Scoop or postings at facebook The Wright Scoop. As recipient of the Turning America from Eco-weak to Eco-chic Award, Sylvia Hoehns Wright challenges all to ‘change America’s landscape’, move their life-styles from eco-weak to eco-chic – ‘green’ life’s garden, one scoop at a time!