In the Garden:
Lower South
April, 2004
Regional Report

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Take a break this month to relax outdoors and enjoy the sounds of spring in the south.

Songs of Spring Fill the Air

The roar of lawn mowers is drowning out the spring song of birds now that warm weather has coaxed our southern turf grasses out of their winter rest. Soon, when summer really gets here, we'll be treated to the cacophony of cicadas and their rhythmic songs. The warming weather and the sounds of summer are some of the wonderfully relaxing, outdoor elixirs of southern life. They are downright captivating, affecting us every bit as much as cabin fever during a long winter spent cooped up indoors. They cause us to drift away ... to daydream ... to digress in thought.

Where was I ... oh, yes. I remember as a kid those summers spent roaming the neighborhood with friends, capturing cicadas from neighborhood trees. Cicadas were fascinating and had many uses, which any southern kid worth his weight in salt could soon discover. With a few feet of thread you could lasso one and make a "cicada kite," which was good for a few minutes of fun until the insect became uncooperative and had to be released and the next one drafted for the Insect Air Force. But, I digress ... and after all, this is a gardening column.

Appreciating That Patch of Grass
There must be something therapeutic about mowing grass. Maybe it is getting outside for fresh air and sunshine, maybe it is some psychological hypnosis induced by the drone of the mower, or perhaps the volatile scents given off by the cut grass are intoxicating to some area of the brain. Nevertheless, despite the work of mowing, many gardeners actually enjoy it.

We love to have a neatly clipped turf like a green welcome mat out in front of our homes. As a former kid, I can tell you that there is nothing like turf grass for reclining upon when looking up at the trees on a warm summer day. No doubt much of the wisdom of Twain, Thoreau, Longfellow, and others came in such a setting! I'll bet the first rendition of "The Village Blacksmith" went something like this: "Beneath the spreading chestnut tree the barefoot boy reclined on the soft, green grass ..."

Take some time these upcoming months to enjoy the sounds of summer. Buy a hammock or find a comfortable spot on the grass. It's the perfect remedy for a hectic, hurried life. It's what gardens are for. In fact, I think I'll step outside for a while to digress in de grass myself.


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