#19 Practical Matters for Physically Challenged Gardeners

SE/Gulf Coast Plains, AL(Zone 8b)

Welcome to the new Practical Matters thread. We came from here:
http://davesgarden.com/community/forums/t/1347766/
Physically challenged gardeners are breaking new ground in more ways than one. Here is where we share our experiences about what works and what doesn't. A physical disability is a highly individual experience. There are no solutions that will work for everyone with the same type of physical disability. We discuss new tools, new techniques and entirely new approaches to gardening and getting out in the natural world in the hope each person will discover what works in their precise situation. The community includes those with joint and muscular problems, wheelchair users, those suffering energy deficits due to age or illness and the visually impaired. A list of resources will follow in our next post after we have checked links and availability.
We welcome posts from those who are gardening or want to continue gardening despite physical challenges, those who want to aid a friend or family member in continuing to garden, able-bodied gardeners who have found a tool or technique that might be helpful and rehabilitation professionals.
Amargia is a small apiary and garden operated by people with various types of physical challenges and varied interest in nature. Our gardening methods are organic and no-till and we are moving toward perma-culture. The majority of the land is in wildflowers for the honeybees crisscrossed with mown maintenance paths. We use raised beds and large growing containers liberally and are continually experimenting with new accessible gardening methods.
Melissa kay* @ Amargia

SE/Gulf Coast Plains, AL(Zone 8b)

Below is a list of websites and books that may be helpful.
WEBSITES
Information on outdoor mobility options:
http://www.cyber-sierra.com/nrjobs/mobility.html
A Perkins School for the Blind web page providing numerous links on subjects of interest to visually impaired gardeners.
http://www.perkinselearning.org/scout/gardening-and-horticulture
Thrive is an organization in the U.K. Their website gives practical advice on gardening despite a wide variety of physical challenges from blindness to having a weak grip.
http://www.carryongardening.org.uk/
AgrAbility is an organization for disabled farmers and ranchers. This is an excellent site for disabled persons who want to continue living the rural life.
http://fyi.uwex.edu/agrability/about/
Gardening from a wheelchair.
http://www.christopherreeve.org/site/c.mtKZKgMWKwG/b.5300837/k.7D2E/Gardening_from_a_Wheelchair.htm
BOOKS
---Accessible Gardening: Tips & Techniques for Seniors by Joann Woy : This book is very comprehensive dealing with visual impairment, mobility issues and more subtle problems such as poor balance.
--Accessible Gardening for People with Physical Disabilities by Janeen R. AdilóThis book contains a useful list of the best vegetable cultivars for container growth.
--The Enabling Garden: A Guide to Lifelong Gardening by Gene RotheróSome of the recommendations on raised bed building material is outdated. Otherwise, this book has stood the test of time.
--The Able Gardener: Overcoming Barriers of Age and Physical Limitations by Kathleen Yeoman: A good book for beginning gardeners and for those gardening on the west coast.
--The Bird Song Tutor for Visually Handicapped Individuals is available as a cassette book in most libraries and through the NLS program as a download. It was produced by the Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology.
Please share links to websites you found useful. We will add them to the list. Also, the title and author of any book on the subject of gardening with physical challenges we missed would be appreciated.
mk*
Photo #1: This is why we call this long, narrow bed the Butterfly Landing Strip. It is the lantana and Chinese Chaste Tree drawing them in mid-June.
Photo #2: Daylily ĎVino di Notteí

Thumbnail by Amargia Thumbnail by Amargia
Milton, MA(Zone 6a)

I love the look of those lantana; I wish Ray weren't so allergic. OTOH, I'm glad they're not winter-hardy up here, or we would probably still be digging them up.

Did I proffer my article on Lantana already, Kay? http://davesgarden.com/guides/articles/view/3833
That was an article I really enjoyed working on because the pictures were so pretty!

SE/Gulf Coast Plains, AL(Zone 8b)

Thanks for the link, Carrie.
I have always been mildly allergic to lantana, but the butterflies come from miles around to visit it and it is one of the few plants that bloom in full sun during high summer. Once upon a time, it seemed worth the need to wear gloves and long sleeves to work around it safely. Now that I am adding milkweed, pleurisy root and Joe Pye weed, I can remove it without worrying about depriving the butterflies of nectar. I wish I had thought about the problem you mentioned in the article with the berries. I could have gotten rid of it before with a clear conscience. Allergies get worse with age and I had come to dread working in the bed where the lantana grew. ĎHam & Eggsí allegedly does not spread by seed, but it definitely spreads aggressively by root. It might get out of control without someone here constantly monitoring it. Jim is pulling it all out for me. Bless him!
High summer has arrived in full force. Despite moving to summer hours, I was hit with heat exhaustion. It snuck up on me. It can do that when the heat index is high. Also, I suppose I am not fully adapted to the new limitation of heart and blood pressure problems. I am scheduled for a cardiac catheterization in the morning. Hereís hoping the doctor can find and fix the problem and I will not have to adapt yet. lol.
mk*

Milton, MA(Zone 6a)

Oy, that always sounded like a scary test. Not sure it actually is, but descriptions of it are alarming. You're a hardy perennial, though, Kay, so I'm sure it will be merely annoying. Good luck!

Yeah, any plant which tends to become "invasive" you need to figure out its means of reproduction and cut it off at the pass! Bird/berries are the vector with Euonymus as well as tons of others and it's tough to remove inconspicuous berries before birds find them. We are dealing with a horrible invasion of Porcelain-Berry Vine which was thoughtfully deposited by birds some years ago.

SE/Gulf Coast Plains, AL(Zone 8b)

Since it is too hot to do much practical work in the garden. I invite anyone new to the forum to join us at:
http://davesgarden.com/community/forums/t/1230210/
Where will be kicking back and relaxing until cooler weather arrives.

Winston Salem, NC(Zone 7a)

Hi all. I am still around, but unable to garden anymore. Think of you all often and send my love.

Sheri

SE/Gulf Coast Plains, AL(Zone 8b)

{{{Sheri}}} I hear where you are coming from, but know you are always part of this little online community if you want to be whether you are currently gardening or not. As I have said in a few of the thread introductions, we are about finding ways to continue gardening AND ways to interact with Nature. I am learning to recognize the different bird songs, but I donít know what they look and behave like unless someone tells me. I miss your observations and descriptions.
If you are not comfortable here, please find a disabled community where you do feel at ease. Having loved and support from TAPs (temporarily able-bodied persons) is wonderful, but you need comrades-in-arms to provide that space where it is okay to be authentically yourself. Many TAPs feel an odd sort of guilt for their relative good fortune and there are others who have a visceral fear of becoming physically disabled and the sight of someone disabled causes that fear to bubble up. Ironically, dealing with TAPs often requires padding reality for their comfort. Being ďcrip coolĒ feels like more trouble than it is worth at times. And there is a desire to be in the company of those who donít need shielding and who get the joke without it being explained to them. (e.g., I met two new TAPs yesterday who told me all about the other blind people they know.) I believe you have already survived the worst part of the transition process. Psychiatrist compare adapting to the loss of a physical function to the five step grieving process one has to go through with the loss of a loved one. A polio and post-polio syndrome comrade claims it is more than a five step process and not nearly as clean cut. I tend to agree with him. Give yourself a big hug and a pat on the back. The number of people faced with a serious disability who implode or explode is incredibly high. The suicide figures are appalling and weíve all met a disable person who is so brittle, angry and negative they are difficult to be around. They are like ticking bombs that can be set off by the slightest clumsy move. (If we are honest with ourselves, most of us will admit we were that person for a time.)
If gardening is truly out of the question, look for something else that will give you that ďI amĒ time. There is probably a better term for it. What I call ďI amĒ time are those precious moments when I step out of the world and myself and just be. Gardening and even passively being in Nature provide me that head space. Iíve met people without any real connection to Nature who say prayer, spiritual practices, music, art and writing can get one to that space as well. In my experience, spending some time every day in that space is vital to survival.
I researched Americaís most accessible cities yesterday after I came home from the attorneyís office. It was a depressing meeting. He suggested that selling Amargia was the most practical thing for us to do. The people we are up against are willing to play hardball. It doesnít seem worth the incredibly expensive court battle. ďIf a man steals your coat, give to him your cloak as well.Ē I believe these people will answer one day for their greed. Iíve always been good in such battles, but I never liked the person those battles turn me into. Not this time, I think. Amargia is an idea, not a specific place. We can take what weíve learned here and do it better elsewhere.
This time I want something a little more urban and to have level ground from the get-go. It is the creating and maintaining earthworks (terracing and ramps) that exhaust me. Who knows? Perhaps, this is a good thing in disguise. ) Jim still has his heart set on the Huntsville area in the Tennessee Valley, but I am exploring other possibilities. One part of me is spooked at starting over at my age, but another part is excited over something new. I have never gardened in a zone cooler than USDA Zone 8b. I am thinking about all the lovely plants I have wanted to grow over the years that it was too hot for here.
I was surprised to see Boston on some of the w/c accessibility list given the cityís age. Can I assume you do not agree with that assessment, Carrie? Jim says he would vote Albuquerque as #1 because it once had a mayor who was a w/c user who made accessibility a priority. He says he would not want to be that close to his ex, however. St. Pete was the only deep south city that made list and I have family in the area, but Jim wants to get away from such long sultry summers. For now it is still, ďHave greenhouse. Will travel.Ē

Casa Grande, AZ

Hi Armagia,
I see a little of me in you. We moved from N.E.Ohio to S.W. Arizona! Originally it was because of our jobs. I was doing fine then my Epilepsy came back (after a 6 year respite) with a vengeance. My job harassed and harangued me mercilessly. I went from being one of their top 3 employees and a candidate for promotion to being written up for "closed body posture" twice in 1 day. Uhm...what's that? Since it's a right to work state no matter how much of this stuff I documented my lawyer said nothing I could do.
Eventually I got fired because they had more than 12 write ups on me within 90 days! On the way out they said, "We're sorry. (Co. name) just doesn't have a place for someone like you (my name). You're seizures are just too dangerous." Went back to lawyer. Did have case. Didn't have $$$$. Gee. Me against Blue chip, fortune 500 company, international food corporation. Now who do you think is going to win that one?
(I had a whole stack of Bible verses for them to ponder also; along with some other words usually found written on bathroom walls.)
Although I appear normal, act normal and seem able bodied I am not. I am a menace to my self and to others especially in work and/or driving situations and I can't stand up for falling down (no alcohol required) everywhere, anywhere, anytime. :D
Meds don't work. Not taking them isn't a better option. Can't find out what causes it despite batteries of tests. Been this way for years now. I am 47 and on permanent Social Security Disability. We won't discuss my income or the tenuous political future of it's non-existence.
The whole time I had been in AZ I had been to busy to really notice it. When I did all I noticed was it was HOT, it was dry, it was HOTTER and dry, at times it was HOT and stick, the lightening was frightening, it didn't rain...it poured or it spit mud and it was dusty. Everything in it was brown. There wasn't anything green. What was green seemed downright men looked ugly, freaky, and as if it came from Mars and was bigger than me. It certainly wasn't approachable either...sticks and pricks and spines and spikes. You couldn't get near it.
All I had to do since I could no longer work or drive was sit and feel sorry for my self, and immensely sad and depressed over the loss of my independence, ability to drive, to do things without a "babysitter" (Husband or friend) hovering over me making sure I didn't fall on my head, or going about my daily routine without feeling like everything was a danger: stairs; bath; the stove; kitchen knives; high heels etc. I quit painting.
I made too much money as an artist to get S.S.D.I. so I had to quit. Why paint pictures to sit in the garage and collect dust? My thriving art business and art work that had been selling was gone. Figuratively speaking now...at the time not...I wanted to shoot my self.
While sitting here in AZ depressed at my circumstances and life I realized something. Our move had worked out for the best. Although I appreciated what was around me in Ohio and did a vegetable garden and admired the flowers, the seasons, and the local and state parks for the first time I had time started to appreciate what was around me. I was too busy with other things, people, places and work to fully admire nature or spend time being introspective.
I'd go for nice long walks in the desert and foot hills by my house despite constant scolding from the husband and sit on rocks. I found I could only concentrate so long on my unhappiness before starting to talk to the cacti (They made good listeners.) Then I started to really look at them.
I noticed something. They were pretty amazing. Here they stood all alone in the hot sun, living in dirt, looking sad. Their life was so slow and uneventful. How did they stand it? They seemed to live a pretty lonely isolated life stuck in one place and couldn't get out and about to "socialize" with their friends either. I mean, it's not like there was a whole garden around them or anything. Nothing but some natty scrub brush, a few rocks and some random tumble weed and some other cactus farther away; but no cactus close.
Here they stood though. Each one just green, growing, surviving, thriving in spite of what little water came it's way. Perfectly serene where it was and content with its self. All was good in it's little cacti corner of the world.
When I looked closer I saw not only was it green it was really green! It was also soft to the touch once I found a spot where there wasn't a spine. Every ridge, every column and every spine on it was aligned with military precision. It was perfect in a weird way considering it wasn't man made. The symmetry, line, rhythm and proportion so exact. Stepping back all I could do was admire the sheer scale of it. Such a marvelous piece of work. A true masterpiece standing solitary in the dirt.
I suddenly felt much, much, much better when I got home. Needless to say that was when the S.W. Gardening bug bit. I bought a few Aloes and Agaves. Their crazy waving arms and huge width and funny stalks made me laugh. I discovered all kinds of other "native/semi-native" plants and put them in my back yard. I now had something to pour my time and energy into and not feel so sad or depressed.
I thanked my husband for his loving kindness and for watching over me and also his patience with me while I worked things out and found something within myself again to "grow". When we sold our home and bought a single story one...for my safety...in a different city that too also worked out for the best.
I have wonderful neighbors that love to socialize, talk and get together. They are close to my and my husbands age and talk, wave and shoot the breeze. The lady next to me is also an avid gardener! We talk plants a lot. I have completely transformed my yard here in just the 2 and 1/2 months that we have been here with beautiful cacti and agaves and aloes.
Now I'm planning out my succulent bed for Spring. This Fall I'll be thinking about the shady side of my house and what I can put there when planting season starts. In Winter, I'll be contemplating all those huge beautiful ceramic pots and I don't know what to put in them and how to arrange them outside for a stunning presentation come Summer. My husband just keeps smiling away at me.
I couldn't take all the plants and decorations and things I put into my last garden with me when I moved but I have a few. I also had a brand new clean slate to start with and transformed it into something I wanted all over again. I also know I can still go out into the desert anytime I want, pull up a rock and have a good chat with a cacti; especially when no one else understands my "disability" and it's unique challenges or wants to hear me complain. They really do make good listeners. At best they're a captive audience. (LOL)
I know no matter where you settle you will find it within yourself to be happy again even if it takes a little while. I also know you will find something that will inspire you again to start gardening in some way even if it is just with pots, beds, terrariums, house plants, etc. The smallest thing will pretty soon have you outside ripping up the yard. Treat your move as an adventure. Best wishes.



mulege, Mexico

Thank you. katie

Milton, MA(Zone 6a)

Yes, Agavegirl, that was lovely to read. I was cheering (maybe you heard me).

And Kay, that's interesting, That's kind of how I felt about moving away from Boston, that we were starting from scratch, I had always wanted to garden in a different zone, Texas is more accessible than Boston and so on. Anywhere is more accessible than Boston!

Boston may be on someone's list as an accessible city because the laws are so favorable for tenants and plaintiffs, but the buildings and infrastructure are SO OLD. In Texas, half the state was built since the ADA. It was possible to find a rental house that I could drive into without alteration, and we could get the manual wheelchair into my daughter-in-law's house in Fort Worth. Public spaces--like the concert hall or the public garden--were built to be accessible instead of retro-fitted. in Boston, I have spent enough time waiting outside buildings for the elevator to start working or somebody to find the key to write a PhD thesis! Now I feel like I'm the bitter angry disabled person.

I find I am more and more excited about the aging population, because as people get older they become more disabled, and as that happens, more and more people understand the need for ramps and wide hall ways.

Stepping down from soapbox.

mulege, Mexico

I just saw the term TAB - temporarily able bodied. katie

Casa Grande, AZ

Carrielamont and Amargia interesting about the waiting time for people to get keys to elevators and accessibility for wheelchairs. Because I'm physically mobile I've never stopped to ponder the challenges of that and how infuriating that must be. Housing and public places must be a real pain too especially in areas where there are a lot of historic buildings that aren't permitted to be altered for posterity's sake . I completely get why you're bitter. It's as if the rest of the world is oblivious.

I've always been p.o.'d at the lack of public transportation in 90% of this state or most for that matter and the general lack of understanding that not everyone who can't drive has D.U.I.s or suspended license related issues.

When I first applied for S.S. and explained I couldn't drive the woman doing my paperwork told me to, "Take the bus." My reply after explaining where I lived, was, "If I stand on the corner long enough will it get there this century and can you write me a note explaining why I was late to work?" She still questioned me and my ability to drive and work. When I asked her if she would like me to work as a school bus driver or personally driving her and her kids around all day on the freeway doing 70 mph, she suddenly "got enlightened" and changed her attitude. Unfortunately most aren't enlightened and there is no public transportation which is why the majority of Epileptics are still driving to work when they shouldn't!

Old or young why is it people are just so ignorant about the dangers of seizures and seizures behind the wheel of an automobile...as in the loss of body and brain function and all control.

Again there is that misnomer that just because you "look" able bodied you "are" able bodied.
Wrong! Drunks and Epileptics, you think they'd spend more money in an effort to keep us both off the roads (LOL).
I get bitter. I often think I should go to Washington D.C. and start driving again. When I hit some politician they'd gain some Epilepsy awareness real quick and do something about national public transportation. I'd be sitting in jail but hey, at least something might get done to help everyone else.

Milton, MA(Zone 6a)

The very first time I went to the movies with my HP placard (I don't remember who was driving), I was walking with a cane. I was still mostly ambulatory on most days. There was a police officer on the other side of the car--the car door was between him and me. He said "well, you look fine. What's YOUR disability?" I would have burst into tears and hid under the car but y mother said "thank you for making sure HP parking spots are used correctly" or something that started with "thank you." Of course it was a horrible thing to say and he probably would be fired in 2015 for saying something like that, but it was 1987. But nowadays when my husband (whom I didn't know yet) or my daughter (who wasn't born yet in 1987) get made about someone who doesn't LOOK disabled, I think of that insensitive police officer in 1987. The doctor who recommended the HP placard asked me how long I spent looking for parking....as long as it takes to find a spot that's within a car length or two of the front door. Now that I use a wheelchair, van, and have a wheelchair plate, nobody asks about the parking any more, but Agave, I hear you on the invisible disability front.

At my neurologist's office they have a scale where you just roll on and weigh yourself AND your wheelchair. I hadn't weighed myself regularly in years. So now I weigh myself when I go to the neurologist office. But at my GP's office, they asked me what I weighed and I said that I had no idea so they took me down the hall to another person's office where they have a roll on scale to weigh me, and it was so long since someone had used it that the batteries were dead, but worse still, nobody in the office knew how to put the fresh batteries in.once they located them. Half of me was "who cares what I weigh" but the other half was "if none of the people who need this service from our doctor is willing to wait for them to figure it out, the people who work here will NEVER learn how to use it." I once wrote an essay called "I Am A One Woman Travelling Consciousness Raising Show." I am getting tired of being the one with patience!

Casa Grande, AZ

I'm sorry you had to deal with that. It was horrible that man questioned you in such a way as to make you cry. I mean there's asking a question and then there's that. I got a lot of, "Well, don't you take your medication?" every time I had a seizure. I just wanted to say, "No. I thought it would be more fun today to see what would happen if I didn't. Of course
#%*#& I take my meds! Now what do you think?" I think stupid questions are as offensive as stupid comments.

No...maybe it's just ignorant. It just doesn't occur to them, honestly because they've never had to think about any type of handicap/disability or deal with one personally. They're impervious. I'll be honest. I never thought of it either until it hit me and then my whole perspective suddenly changed. You realize the easy things you used to take for granted aren't so easy sometimes and that others can't see or understand that. Some things are now challenges. Ordinary things have become privileges like driving. Some things do not seem possible again like being able to work or deemed "hirable" for fear employers see you as a potential workers comp case or future injury lawsuit (Although they won't say that. You get written up for closed body posture then fired.)

I get what you say about the scale too. It's a shame when you have to take the time to explain and bother to educate people about the most mundane things that they should know; you assume they know because they're the professionals; and what's worse you're paying them even though they don't know and you probably know more than they do. So you just sigh, and go through it because you need to have it done and they need to learn or should know. Makes you wonder who is really disabled sometimes doesn't it?

What I think should be taught in every health class or psychology class (do they still have these in high school?) is a sensitivity/awareness course in regards to disabled persons. It ought to be a requirement in college also.
Students should have to experience a period of time getting around on wheel chairs, on walkers, blindfolded, with headphones on to block sound as though they were deaf, etc. It would be interesting to see and hear what they would say and describe as their experiences after this as they tried to navigate through hallways elevators, stairs, to class, onto a bus, around their homes, etc. I don't know what would mimic seizures. Maybe pair them with someone and at the least and most unexpected times with no warning in bizarre places have that person throw a glass of water on them? That one wasn't meant to be funny but I don't know what else would mimic the sudden shock and surprise onset of it especially in public.

I believe it would go a long way in dispelling some ignorance. I think it would also go a long way in maybe fostering a more conscientious and perhaps considerate group of individuals.
I think everyone in Congress should be forced to live on our paycheck also for 3 months.
If they can do that as their only source of income and feel that it is more than enough then they really know how work some miracles and are proof you can exist off of air and don't need electricity. Maybe they can teach me because I sure need electricity and food.

I think your Traveling Consciousness Raising Show has a South West chapter! :P
Sounds like an interesting essay. Have you ever posted it?

Anyway, that's when I go find my rock and my cactus and have a good talk and sometimes a good cry. I find they like being enlightened and they in return enlighten me. They just keep reminding me of what I can do, and who really appreciates me and needs me to show up to work for them everyday!
I guess that's about what it is. It's a mind game (no pun intended). It's either find a way to keep my brain sane and my mind alive or go mad and give up.
I felt sad for Amargia. Don't know her full story but it sounds like whatever she's giving up she's poured herself into and it is a huge part of her and she's going to be a little lost without it. Starting over is hard. But to play the mind game "It's fun, it's new; how exciting. I have a new space and place exactly where I'm supposed to be (for some goofy reason) and it's all mine to do with as I wish". Gotta play that mind game. You've already gone crazy enough if you're sitting in a desert on rocks talking to cacti.

Milton, MA(Zone 6a)

I have heard quite often "you have a wonderful attitude, you're so nice/smart/pretty/whatever (when they're not calling me a typical angry disabled person). I always say "it's either deal with it or throw myself out a window." Joke! All the windows are one story so there's nowhere to fall. But I hear your mind games too;

Armagia is more than one person, which is why they sometimes put (jim) or (MK) at the end! Sometimes they had two (or three) different screen names, but most recently they started all using the Armagia name (to save money). It's usually just Jim or Kay/Melissa, but sometimes Nadine (who is my kids' age) will chime in too. I will direct you to this thread which used to have all the names/screen names listed. I see Kay is there as "kudzu1," Jim as 'seacanepain" and Nadine as "Sansai87" so it obviously needs to be updated.

Jim, Kay and other, would you like to all be listed as Armagia or did I remember you saying you were going to have another personality fracture?
http://davesgarden.com/community/forums/t/1103477/

Casa Grande, AZ

Can I be listed by my Indian name; "Talks2cacti"? :P

Milton, MA(Zone 6a)

Definitely!

And you don't have to be listed at all.

Casa Grande, AZ

Cool, all for saving $. Just let me know to whom I'm speaking. Carrielamont, couldn't agree with you more about the window thing. Seems like we can't even manage to get that one right!
Does anyone go "postal" anymore? We should really come up with a new term that's apropos for individuals such as us.
Anyway, on the brighter side does anyone have something planned for gardening or are they at least making plans to garden, contemplating it, growing some house plants, etc? As for house plants that were given to me 2 months ago as house warming gifts here's where I'm at:

Gave up on my Bromeliads. One looks sickly and the leaves are brown even though the flower isn't. The other one was gorgeous and the flower died as it should but when I removed it the plant never grew pups. It just got brown leaves and is now dying one leaf at a time. Yeah, yeah, know all about the light, soil, distilled H2O, etc. I'm not sure to let them linger or put them out of their misery.
I tossed the orchid once the blooms dropped. Love to look at them. Fussy pain in the butt to grow. People claim they re-bloom. I just treat them like disposable plants as I've never seen or owned one that has. It just stood there like a bare stick getting yellow leaves. Yeah, followed watering instructions on it too. Like I said, disposable plants.
There's a reason why I grow only green leafy things that require low light in the house, and stick to cactus and agaves outside.

mulege, Mexico

I grow lots of aloes. They are not fussy and are less dangerous than cactus and agaves though many of the leaves are like knives so one must be careful. They bloom reliably here and the hummingbirds love them. A neighbor who was clearing land to build a new house gave us two truckloads of aloes and a hill which was bare and dusty is now getting covered with aloes.

I brought a lot of naked lady bulbs back from helping a friend landscape in San Francisco. We'll see how they do. I call this "Darwin's Garden." I have a "Darwin's Hibiscus" which is about thirty feet tall (really!) and blooms constantly while others of its ilk turn up their toes and die.

Vetiver grass does really well here and is a great plant. I got starts from theherbgarden.com several years ago and they're doing well.

Our big success this year is dragonfruits. I got lots of cuttings about ten years ago. We got a couple fruits last year. this year we are getting lots of fruit.

I bought a jackfruit while on my way home and am planting the seeds from it.

"Live free or die" is not just a movie slogan.

hugs,
katie

Casa Grande, AZ

HI Katie :P

Aloes are so cool. I've got some of those too that were just abandoned in planters from the previous owner of our home. They looked so sad and dried up in such a small amount of yucky soil. I transplanted them in the back yard and they've thrived and produced babies.
Yours must be fairly large and mature if they're blooming and you've got hummingbirds. How wonderful...especially since the whole lot were freebies! (Doesn't it just break your heart though to know they could have probably all been thrown out?) I only had one large enough to bloom. I'm looking forward to the others getting big enough. I want birds and butterflies.

I found some of the other interesting but non threatening species I have in my garden are the Tephro cactus articulates variety 'diadematus' or just your pine cone cactus. It looks like mine is getting ready to bloom. I'm all excited about that.
There's a Hesperaloe parvilflora (Redflower False Yucca). Really pretty and quite show stopping when it blooms. That definitely gets hummingbirds. Mine is still small but is growing rapidly. I expect by next year it will be big enough to bloom. They say it has spines although I haven't seen any. I do know the leaves can be sharp if you run your hands along them but most of us don't do that deliberately.
I have two very small and newly planted Carissa macrocarpa 'Tomlinson' the good old Natal Plum. Love it. Looks kind of like Jade. Nice ground cover/shrub/small bush. Easy to prune to whatever size you want. Does have a random thorn here and there but rarely will you run into them. Nothing garden gloves don't solve.

I'd love to see a picture of your Darwin's Hibiscus ! That must be quite a sight! Mammoth plants just fascinate me especially when they're the size of children, automobiles, or as tall as 2 story houses and look like they come from Mars. (LOL) My neighbors have Prickly Pears and an Agave ameicanas (Century Plant) that fit these exact descriptions!

I'll post some pics from my garden and of the neighbor's freaks. First 2 pics are some of my plants; last 3 are my neighbor's.

I'm familiar with dragon fruit. Quite beautiful. If it is what I'm thinking it is the white and pink one with the black seeds and the kind of curly green tendrils. I've seen them in grocery stores. Outrageously priced so I've never eaten one but certainly have admired them. Are you cooking or doing anything with the fruit?

I'll have to look and see where you are on the map also. Exploring Mexico less as a tourist and more as an enthusiast has always been one of my dream vacations.

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Milton, MA(Zone 6a)

Ag-girl, Have you read any of Geoff Stein's articles? He writes for this site and specializes in cactus and succulents. http://davesgarden.com/guides/author/palmbob

Casa Grande, AZ

Hi Carrie :D
Still exploring the web site and looking around and getting familiar. Always look forward to my newsletter and reading it. I'm just now finding ways to go back and look at some of the older ones. :D

Did read a great article on Agaves 102. It was an older article. Don't know who specifically wrote it but it was very good. Thought about Katie and all of us when I saw it because this. These agaves are smaller more manageable and (most) user friendly plants sans large thorns. All are pretty happy in containers or not taking up much space in the garden.

I'm going to have to make an effort to look for Geoff's articles.

Although Agaves and cacti are my passion I do like to know what others are and to see pictures if they have them of their gardens. You never know...I just might get turned onto something new! Hey, I could use more friends to talk to. The cacti are probably getting bored listening to me (LOL). I also would like some ideas that maybe I wouldn't have thought of originally that others may give me.
I've been having so much fun here on this web site and so glad I subscribed. Every forum I've participated in the people are so nice and I'm having fun.

SE/Gulf Coast Plains, AL(Zone 8b)

My apologies for going MIA the last few days. One of our number, Scott, was hospitalized in a diabetic coma, but he is now awake and out of the CCU.
It is good to see your post here again, Kb!
Hi Talks to cacti. lol. Welcome to the forum. One of advantages I see to desert therapy is that a cactus doesnít charge $90 an hour to listen.
We intentionally designed a meditative spot under a weeping willow. I like the rustling of the willow nearby timber bamboo. With a slight breeze, it sounds like all the trees are whispering among themselves. Lately though, Iíve found myself drawn more to the shade of a gnarly old juniper in the bee yard. Most of the land just seems to be waiting for high summer to pass and cooler temps to arrive, but the bee yard still hums with activity.
I think most people who became disabled over a long period of time can relate to having an invisible disability in one sense. I have been legally blind and a little hard of hearing since my early teens, but passed myself off as ďnormalĒ well into my 30ís. Mine isnít a very unusual story for the legally blind. Older mobility impaired people actually have a term for faking normality that way. They call it Roosevelt Syndrome. Roosevelt was a little before my time and I did not fully understand the reference until I read the book FDRís Splendid Deception. Our 32nd president went to great lengths to hide the extent of his disability and even got the press to join in his cover-up.
Nadine, our frog queen, voted absolutely not to selling the land because we have grass frogs here and they are an endangered species. They are strange frogs. The tadpoles are large, but the frog that develops is so tiny it can sit easily on a blade of grass. Under the stewardship of the people who want Amargia, the little guys would croak for sure. Because of the way these people use herbicides on the 200+ acres they already own, I donít eat fish caught in the river anymore. I canít count the number of animal corpses weíve had to dispose of because of their attempts to poison coyotes. (None of the corpses were coyotes, BTW.) . The land doesnít work anymore as a good living space and certainly not as a community farm, but it could continue to work as an apiary with the addition of a game fence to prevent mischief. The bees have everything they will need within the confines of the fence and need a minimum of monitoring to stay healthy. It seems we will neither fight nor concede defeat. What is ironic is I bought the land that became Amargia very cheap because it was considered farmed out, trash land that nobody wanted.
The soap aloe (African aloe) bloomed for the first time this year. It isnít fully hardy here though. I have to tuck a few plants in the greenhouse every winter to keep it going. It is the same with dragon fruit. They both look good in the merfolk garden along with flap-jacks and different sedums. It all gives a fun under-the-sea look
Jim said to thank you, Carrie. He re-opened his DG account with the user name ďseacanepainĒ and everything went smoothly. I am the only confusing one it seems.
mk*=Melissa Kay=Kay=kudzuone =Amargia (Did I miss any?)

Milton, MA(Zone 6a)

I'm confused, if that was your goal. My DIL is a Melissa but I don't know anyone else named Kay, so that's how I think of you. Or kudzuone. That almost looks like kudzu zone!

Casa Grande, AZ

Hi gang.
Sorry to hear about Scott. I am glad he is awake and doing better. Please keep us updated and let him know we (,me and the cacti) are rooting (yes pun intended) for him!

Yep, I found plants much better therapists.
They're cheaper, never tell you to "go home and work on it" and it seems the more crap you dump on them the happier they get!
Plus if you want to go talk to another one it's never a conflict of interest. It's highly unlikely anyone else is as crazy as you and talks to cacti in the desert. If they are, chances are pretty slim they're sitting on your rock talking to the same one you are.

I think for gardeners we get drawn "spiritually" or aesthetically to the plants that seem to speak to or resonate with something inside of us. Maybe I like cacti and agaves because right now I need order in a chaotic, barren place, military precision and preciseness on how I am to organize my self if I'm going to live like this in a desert, and a sense that I can stand very strong regardless of some of the most inhospitable conditions...oh, and look kooky, weird, and be an eccentric without getting hauled away in a net.

Perhaps you're being drawn to the Juniper for a reason. It's weathered texture and gnarled shape has not detracted but only added to it and made it far more interesting and meaningful to you. The fact the bees have built their home around it says something also.

I think it is deplorable that anyone would not be good stewards to the land but to animals either. Coyotes are so misunderstood. My last place was next to a golf course. At the end of it was the desert and my rocks and cacti where I'd go sit. When the golfers (mostly snow birds) left at the end of the day the random coyote would come out on the edge of the golf course and eat the donuts, left over sandwiches and candy wrappers these people threw around. It used to make me so mad. Not that the stuff was poisoned but then the residents would complain that the coyotes were coming in too close to the houses and they would try to poison them or shoot them!

Coyotes are more afraid of you then you should be of them. They're timid and will just turn tail and run rather than risk an encounter with you. If unsure just stand very still, do not make eye contact, and do not make any sudden moves, and they'll go away. They always do. Don't mess with the wild life and it won't mess with you.

I just felt so bad that these harmless animals minding there own business were being poisoned or having people take pot shots at them with guns simply for being what they were...coyotes...wild dogs that scavenge garbage left around by humans when they can't find food to eat and are hungry. You are not on their menu. See, even coyotes hide who and what they really are. Look at the "image" people have of them.

I so get Nadine and the frogs. In a way I felt bad moving. In a very off kilter kind of logic I always felt like if I were around and went out to my rocks and cactus then the coyotes would be o.k. too because I understood them and what they were really up to when other people didn't. Now that I moved I don't know what will happen to the coyotes.

Is there anything you can think of to do with your land? Sell or rent parts of it to bee keepers? A farming co-op? University maybe would be interested in part of it as a botany/biology area for their students to actually conduct field work in? Since the land has an endangered species on it (frog) can you get a grant that puts it under protection?
Hey...I'm trying here.

Milton, MA(Zone 6a)

http://www.arthritissupplies.com/arthritis-gardening-tools.html
Just found this site that sells (among other things ) tools for gardening. Ag-girl, I 'm not trying to cut you off or change the subject; I just want to stick this here.

ABSOLUTELY about how cactus don't mind if you see another plant. I don't think of that as much with therapists as I think of doctors. Not now, but when I was being diagnosed and several different doctors all wanting me to choose them or listen to them. Hey, I was 25 years old, trying to figure out which end is up. Please don't bring your ego into it.

Casa Grande, AZ

I don't have an Ego...just a Super Ego and an Id ! :P
See, that's what happens when your ex fiancťe and all his friends are psychoanalysts.
And then we wonder why I prefer to talk to sit on rocks and talk to cacti...hmm...

Thanks for the website on the garden tools. Will definitely check it out! I'm sure I can use some of them. Mine aren't so handy (ha-ha) any more.

Hope everyone is having a super morning.
My current conundrum is trying to decide where to move another scorched Agave I have in the back yard.
I only have limited space due to a dog that needs a place to potty. My need is to continue keeping her exceptionally well house trained and preserving my rug by preserving her outdoor space!
So I have to play the plant shuffle. Not what I intended to do this a.m. Oh well, love a challenge. At least this one I can solve. I'm still working on my Rubik's Cube and my husband's perpetual inner child.
I gave up on the in laws. I just ignore them.

Winston Salem, NC(Zone 7a)

Today is my final day with DG, I just got my notice. I have enjoyed you all so very much over the years.
You will each remain in my heart and prayers.
Blessings & love,
Sheri (BirdieBlue)

Casa Grande, AZ

:{ BirdieBlue

Come back and find us soon please.
We'll leave the sun on, the rock warm and a cacti ready for those chats.
Take care and be happy.
Agavegirl1

Midland City, AL

Hey AgaveGirl1. Welcome to the thread. We are on the same page concerning future plans for the land. Great minds think alike. ;-)

Most apiaries consist of many small bee yards spread out over several counties. Local beekeepers would jump at the chance to have hives pastured here.

I miss the New Mexico desert sometimes, but then Iím into plant structure and foliage more than flowers. Well, except for daylilies.

Confusion has been Kayís middle name lately, Carrie. (Oh no! Another name.) Adjusting to being physically frail may be harder for her than adapting to blindness was. I think losing a physical ability IS comparible to Elisabeth KŁbler-Rossís five step grieving process. It seems more complicated because the process has to be gone through every time a physical function is lost instead of just once. What I asked her to thank you for was reminding me my account here was in the name of seacanepain. I started using a single user name for all my website accounts for simplicity, but I forgot my account here wasnít active at the time I did that. When I used seacanepain instead of the user name Iíve been using, everything clicked into place and here I am. It feels good to be seacanepain again and I know it makes admin happier. Nadi says Sansai87 is with you in spirit because Sansai makes what I write readable. Isnít dyslexia considered among the invisible disabilities?

Iíve missed you, Katie. It is great to see you back.

Are you still with us BetNC or did we scare you off. I was curious to know how your tomato jungle is doing? I want the new house and yard to be small and have been thinking about growing tomatoes in containers.

(Jim)

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SE/Gulf Coast Plains, AL(Zone 8b)

We love you, Sheri, and we are here if you need us. You have the address for Amargia Farm. We will be in residence for the foreseeable future.
Scott is at a hospice in Panama City. I think he will like being near the beach.
Can a woman almost 6í in height be called ďfrailĒ? Only if you are Jimís height, I think. I do have a Lincolnesqe thing going now. I need to find a stove pipe hat before Halloween.
Iím on 11 different meds now including Tramadol. Being confused and confusing seems to come with the new territory, but the doctors tell me my body will adjust to the new drugs. Despite some drowsiness and zoning out, I do feel better.
I am looking for hanging basket plants that can hold up to late summer heat since trailing lantana is no longer an option. (Allergic reaction). I cheated last year and hung chimes in the full sun locations that matched in with the wrought iron motif of the hanging basket frames. I remember a trailing succulent my grandmother had at her home in Oklahoma that she called ďburro tailsĒ. I will be trying to find out its botanical name today and checking out any other trailing succulents.
Kay* (It probably suits me better than Melissa. Iíll save my first name for beekeeping sites though. Canít resist. Melissa is Greek for honeybee. )

Casa Grande, AZ

Hi seacanepain.

AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH.......pant, pant, pant, ..............................AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH, pant, pant, heave, pant, pant, ......sigh.....breath.

Oh, good morning. :D
I quite smoking last night and haven't had a cigarette today. If somebody told me to go kick a puppy for a smoke I probably would right now.
Let's change the subject. My foot is twitching and so is my eye.

Thank you for the warm welcome. Yes, great minds do think alike. :P I think it's great that the apiaries show interest in the property. It is such a good use of the land when you consider the status of bees and a rather efficient use of the land also. I'm not sure if bees are like cattle, but rather than raising them spread out all over the place in various counties where you have to heard those little doggies, it "seems" a good idea to have all the hives located centrally in a concentrated area with several keepers.

I've never really been to N.M. although I've wanted to visit it. I drove through it on the way here while moving. Must say the mesas were breath taking and so were the colors. As a painter myself and having a husband who likes to do photography we really liked the place. Seemed almost otherworldly in just the right light. You were lucky to have lived there. I'm sure where you're at is lovely too...just in a greener, lusher and more tropical way. Diversity is fun when it comes to gardening!!!

I like flowers too...including day lilies and all lilies. It's just this climate pretty much disintegrates them and they become disposable plants or compost so I pretty much stick to what grows and thrives out here.
Interesting phrase.."plant structure and foliage" please define that a little more for me and tell me some of your favorite plants. Interested in knowing.

I guess I can say I am into plant architecture, scale, rhythm, and oddity:
I like any plant that looks like it is sculptural or architectural and look like pieces of "art" or "man made" rather than plants; (Octopus Agaves, Aloes, etc..)

any plant that has inordinately, behemoth huge or bizarrely tiny and minute scale/size in proportion to everything around it; (Saguaros, Ocotillos, really old Prickly Pears that are as big as cars.)

rhythm in that I like the precise, perfect, repetitive shapes of the leaves and ridges and even the exact spacing of thorns and spines on these plants.(Agaves, barrel cacti especially)

oddity of course in that I like what I term the "UFOs" of the plant world. The uglier, freakier, and odder something looks shape or color wise the more I like it. (Perfect example century plants)

I listen to the discussion on the loss of motility and mobility and their sensations and am not sure what to say.
I feel bad and not sure what to do/say that is productive or helpful without sounding patronizing or condescending to the person.
I also feel awkward for myself as again, in that I have 100% control of my body, senses and brain or I have 100% loss and no control of my body, senses, consciousness, and brain and it's cognitive abilities.
There's is no medium, slow onset or "warning" in my regards. It is zero to sledgehammer. The seizure is temporary but the condition is permanent.
I don't know what to say that is encouraging or helpful to everyone except that I DO understand and feel the pain, awkwardness, and futility of it all.

Can I mail everyone a rock and a cactus? :P

Oh Carrie....went back and checked out Geoff's articles. Fabulous. Thanks so much. Tons of such good stuff to read and study.! Thank you. My husband says the only way he's going to get my attention now is to put on something green, stand there with his arms out and say "Water me!" (LOL)

Agavegirl

mulege, Mexico

I recommend rarepalmseeds.com, especially for agavegirl. It makes me feel like and absolute amateur on plant identification but some of the plants are fascinating. They also have a new sacha inca - and I will have to try it.

Woke up early in lots of pain. Finally went back to bed and too sleep. Woke up and Tony is gone. A little early but I always know there is a good reason. I love being able to trust him totally.

I should go to town and shop If I can wake up.

Hugs, katie

Casa Grande, AZ

Katie,
Please shop for shoes.
Cinderella is proof that a new pair of shoes WILL change your life! :D
I'm going to go forage for nuts and berries translation shop for food with the husband. :[ Rather shop for shoes or plants.

Have good day kids!
Let me know how you're doing and what you're planting, watching grow, etc.
Hugs all
A.G./ talks2cactus

Midland City, AL


You go Agavegirl! Quitting smoking was one of the harder things Iíve ever done, but it was so worth it.

I like plants that look interesting even when they are not in flower. Kalanchoes, echeveria, sempervivums and sedums all find their way into my basket at the nursery. Plants that have unusually colored foliage have a way of following me home from the nursery too. I like variegated plants, but have learned to be a little wary of those. The variegated elderberry and variegated Chinese privet I bought reverted to plain green foliage in a few seasons.

Weíll catch up with all of you on Sunday. Iím driving Kay up to visit our grand-kids and checking out a B&B called The Rose House Iíve heard good things about. I hope it is cooler there and I can get out with the camera.

(Jim)

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Milton, MA(Zone 6a)

Wasn't the reason you guys put your name after a post because you were sharing an account/username?

Have a great trip. Jim and Kay! I read all that at once....I find it hard to reply when I don't visit every day or so. I have been in the hospital for four days and I feel like I have been gone for a year.

Casa Grande, AZ

Carrie :( Hope you're feeling better!
Is there something in the air?

Let's see: Carrie you're in the hospital;
Katie is not well;
one other forum I'm on here in D.G. a "friend" hurt her back and has been "out" for a couple of days;
my husband pulled a muscle in his back this weekend;
I had 3 seizures between Friday and Saturday;( reason why you hadn't heard from me...I was sleeping);
and my neighbor lady had to go get her blood drawn to check for some additional issue she was having with an ongoing kidney stone.

Geeesh everyone! (eye roll, forehead smack!) Now, can we just do this one at a time please? :P And everyone wonders why I smoke!

By the way Jim thanks for the shout out! :P
Am doing o.k. though. For the most part having about 3-5 a day. Miraculous considering I was smoking a pack to slightly over a pack a day. The rest of the time I supplement with an e-cig and nicotine gum. I consider this huge progress. Also my biggest accomplishment is not getting up and "needing" that first smoke in the morning, after every meal or before bed time.
These were huge hurdles for me. I'm doing it.

Goal is to just get down to e-cig and gum and then wean myself down to lower nicotine e-cig and gum and then no nicotine e-cig and gum. Then no e-cig period.
Hey...gotta have a plan.

Like you I enjoy the semperviums and sedums and echeveria. I'll be getting into succulents in the Fall. Geoff's articles are going to be a great learning tool. Come Spring I wanted to start a succulent garden on the side of my house. Do you have an extensive one or just do containers? I don't know a whole lot about kalonchoes. Variegated plants are pretty too especially Cannas and anything dark with red or orange in it. Just love the "shock value".
What does Kate enjoy?

By the way I hope you had a good visit with the grand kids.

Oh hey....can you guys do me a favor? Looks like I stumped everyone on the plant identification forum. I posted a picture of a little cactus and nobody seems to be able to identify it. Can one of you?
Talk to you tomorrow most likely.

Midland City, AL

Carrie, nothing too serious I hope. Are you doing okay today?

The trip went great. The Rose House is a well-restored, turn-of-the-century Queen Anne. Staying at The Rose House was like a trip back in time, but with all the conveniences like AC and modern plumbing. We came across something unexpected when we stopped at an inexpensive hotel on the way home. The motel was in the middle of the city (Talladega), but the owner who lives on the premises had a great vegetable garden going.

#1: The Rose House Inn

#2: Some gardeners rogue out the plain green foliage and keep variegated privet looking good.

#3: Super 8 vegetable garden. If the impulse to garden is strong, I guess gardeners find a way.

#4: How big is big? I always suspected Kay was a tree hugger. Now I have the proof.

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Midland City, AL

Hey, AgaveGirl! You snuck in on me. Iíve got a dyslexia cheat. I write my post on Office Word where I can use a font that gives me the least trouble, copy and drop on DG. I didnít look up to see if anyone had posted since Carrie. Tell me if Iím being too nosy and intrusive, but I donít know much about epilepsy. Iíve seen someone have grand mal seizures though. That has got to be tough! I donít always like what my day gives me to deal with, but, at least, I know what to expect.
Yu stumped the folks on the plant ID forum? Thatís impressive. Iíll check it out, but the people there know their stuff much better than I do.
Yeah, it seems like everyone is getting sick lately. Iím scheduled for back surgery later this week. I can sympathize with your DH.
Iíll look and see if I have some older pics of my more unusual succulents. Kay plantnapped my oddest succulents for her MerFolk Garden and it's photo isn't ready at the moment. Donít ask me how she got the idea of using late summer xera-scape plants to get an under-the-sea look, but it is coming out good. Ice sculpture kalanchoes look especially appropriate. Kay calls them flapjacks because the leaves have a pancake shape. If you see pics of any of my succulent plants you like,, let me know. They multiply fast in this climate and most arenít winter hardy in our area. We just keep a few in the greenhouse over winter to get started again in spring. The succulents are a late summer thing for us to keep the garden interesting when there arenít that many flowers blooming. Rose of Sharon, hydrangea, crepe myrtles and some canna are about all that blooms in high summer heat. Mimosa that have escaped cultivation and Queen Anneís Lace are about the extent of wild blooms. The yarrow and verbena are usually here by now, but it has been a wet summer and they donít care for humid conditions. (Iím listening to the rain and wind as I write.
Yes, Carrie, Kay and I were both posting on the Amargia account. Admin isnít crazy about that practice though. They think it is confusing. I wouldnít want Terri or Melody ticked off at me. Melody has been very patient with Amargia Farm as weíve switched things around trying to make them work. People with different physical challenges helping one another out is a viable system, but things are always in flux. When one person goes through a rough period and drops the ball, the others snatch it up and keep it in the air. Like, Kayís been sick for about 8 months, but she is getting better just in time to be my rehab coach. Nadi will do the stuff that is too visual for Kay.
The grandkids and friends in the Tuscaloosa area are trying to talk us into living there instead of further north in Huntsville. My son-IL is trying to purchase 3 acres and, if the loan goes through, he would like us to join him there. (I like my in-laws, TalksTo-Cactus. It is some of my blood relatives I have problems with. lol.) Tuscaloosa is a college town in the west central part of the state on the Black Warrior River. It isnít a bad place. Iím just not sure I want to live in a city where 40% of the population is under 30. ;-)
(Jim)

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