Page 1

...for discerning weeders December, 2011

FIELD TRIP Inside this issue:

By Klare Fox

Coming Events


Critter Calendar


A Look Back


O Christmas Tree 4 Gifts for Wildlife


Weed of the


Month Mark Your


Calendar Book Review


Bits and Bytes


Last Word


On October 21, a group of Master Gardeners, Larry, Sheila and assorted spouses, friends and even a grandchild made a trip to the Mobile Botanical Gardens. The trip coincided with the Garden‟s annual Fall Plant Sale, featuring an amazing collection of both old favorites and hard-to-find plants, many of which featuring Japanese maples. More gardens found new homes in Florida that day! such as camellia and fern collections are in the works. After the sale, the group toured the garden, with the expert tutelage of both Larry and After all the shopping and garden viewing, Sheila as a bonus. Sheila also administered a delicious lunch was enjoyed just down the life-saving first aid to a baby flying squirrel street in the atrium of the Mobile Museum found along the path. Ask her for her tech- of Art‟s Palette Café. nique next time you see her! If you missed the trip and would like to go The Garden maintains an extensive collec- on your own, visit the following websites tion of all types of azaleas, as well as frafor more information: grance and texture garden, an herb garden, and longleaf pine forest and a memorial garden

DON’T FORGET! You have to log your hours onto the VMS 1

CHRISTMAS PARTY December 7th Immediately following a VERY SHORT general meeting At the Crestview Extension Office Bring a Covered Dish Silent Auction! Special presentation of a Cajun Christmas ! We’ll have lots of food, fellowship and who knows—you might discover a treasure at the auction that will fill out your Christmas shopping list just perfectly! For more information contact Charlotte Dunkle. Any silent auction items contact Jane Montgomery or Ann Phillips 2

A Walk on the Wild Side Linda Meyers If the holly beside your hearth be sharp, tis the year for the man to rule, but if it be smooth during the Yule, tis the woman’s turn to rule.

Courtesy of The Annual Christmas bird count begins mid-December. This is the best time for watching waterfowl on wetlands, lakes, and prairies. Great horned owls and barred owls are courting. Be sure to listen for them. Look for Goldfinches at your feeders. Yellow-rumped warblers will show up at feeders if it is cold enough. Bald eagles will start hatching about Christmas Day.

The American Holly (Ilex opaca) was established as the official state tree of Delaware in 1939. The town of Milton Delaware is said to have once displayed more Christmas holly decorations than anywhere else in the world.

A Look Back

By Marg Stewart

I‟m not even going to try and name all the people who have worked so hard this past year! Chances are, I would inadvertently leave someone out and that‟s just not good.

State award for Personal Communications. Congratulations also to Andy and Lockey for winning the State award for Special Audiences for the Fisher House Project.

This year has had great field trips. Thanks to the efforts of the folks who worked at getting those scheduled. Everything from a dairy farm to botanical gardens. 2012 will bring even more opportunities to get out there and learn new things and knowing out group—new and different plants will find homes.

Congratulations to our new Board members: Linda Meyers, Secretary; Joe Michetti, Treasurer; and John Bauer, President-Elect. We‟re going to be asking for volunteers for a few committee chair positions so start thinking what you would like to participate in. Right now we‟ll be asking for: Activities, Outreach, Fund-raising and Hospitality. Just remember that being a chairperson doesn‟t mean that you are in it by yourself! We need folks to step up for these positions so that we can keep doing what we do best—EDUCATION!

We participated in several activities around the county and hopefully can expand our participation in 2012. The nursery folks deserve a standing ovation for all the hard work that they put in with the native plants and perennials. They all worked through some pretty intense weather (okay—stinking hot!), dealt with notso-welcome visitors and thanks to them, we had a great plant sale and have a good basis for the next project—the landscape at the new extension office.

There is so much talent and knowledge within our group it really is amazing. If you think about it, we have folks who know hydroponics, wild flowers, vegetables, lawns (bless you), trees, digging wells with water (amazing), artists, chefs (oh yeah YUM!), teachers, engineers, leaders, organizers and so much more! I am really looking forward to this coming year and the amazing stuff that we‟ll do!

More thanks to the plant sale coordinators and workers. Without you, it wouldn‟t have worked. Hospitality was a hit this year. Door prizes were also pretty darned good (I never seem to sign in on the right number though—sigh).

And last but not least, thank you to all the committee folks, Board members, new class members, Larry and Sheila. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Congratulations to Charlie Reuter for winning the 3

O Christmas Tree Soon many of us will be involved in the yearly ritual of buying and decorating a Christmas tree (or dragging the artificial tree down from the attic and getting it set up). We don't give much thought to how the evergreen Christmas tree came to be such an important symbol of the season but there is indeed some interesting history behind it. And that history goes way back! The ancient Egyptians revered evergreen plants. When the winter solstice arrives, they brought green date palm leaves into their homes to symbolize life's triumph over death.

By Karen Harper

homes or just outside their doors to show their hope for the forthcoming spring. Our modern Christmas tree has evolved from all of these early traditions.

In the early days of Christianity, Christmas was called the Feast of the Nativity. Pope Julius I chose December 25th in order to coincide with and eventually absorb the other pagan festivals occurring during this time of year. Early church leaders had an interest in holding Christmas at the same time as the Winter Solstice Festivals, thus increasing the chances that The early Romans observed a feast the holiday would become widely accalled the Saturnalia in honor of Satcepted and observed. By the middle urn, the god of agriculture, at the time ages, Christianity had replaced most of the winter solstice. The Romans pagan practices. Legend has it that knew that the solstice meant that soon Martin Luther began the tradition of the land would again be green and decorating trees to celebrate Christfruitful and in anticipation of that, mas. On a cold Christmas Eve, about they decorated their homes and temthe year 1500, he was walking through ples with evergreen boughs and lights snow-covered woods and was struck and they exchanged gifts. They gave by the beauty of a group of small evercoins for prosperity, pastries for hapgreens. Their branches, dusted with piness, and lamps to light one's joursnow, shimmered in the moonlight. ney through life. Centuries ago in When he got home, he set up a litGreat Britain the Druids, priests to the tle fir tree indoors so he could Celts, used evergreens during their share this story with his children. winter solstice rituals. The Druids He decorated it with candles, which used holly and mistletoe as symbols of he lighted in honor of Christ's eternal life, and place evergreen birth. branches over doors to keep away evil The Christmas tree tradition most spirits. The early Scandinavians belikely came to the United States lieved that the evergreen tree was the with Hessian troops during the mortal form of the sun god Balder durAmerican Revolution, or with Gering the icy winter months because it man immigrants to Pennsylvania remained alive when the harsh winter and Ohio. But the custom spread killed everything else. A candle would slowly and the Puritans banned be placed at the top of the tree to repChristmas in New England, believresent the sun and the life giving ing it to be a pagan custom. Then, warmth it can bring. Later in the Midin 1846, the London News sketched dle Ages, Germans and Scandinavians Queen Victoria and her children placed evergreen trees inside their around a Christmas Tree. What 4

was done in the Queen's court immediately became fashionable - not only in Britain, but to fashion-conscious east coast Americans as well. The Christmas Tree was about to arrive in America. In 1851 an enterprising farmer named Mark Carr hauled two ox sleds of evergreens into New York City and sold them all and a tradition was born (or re-born). By 1900, one in five American families had a Christmas tree every year, and within 20 years the custom was universal. Christmas tree farms sprang up during the depression. Nurserymen couldn't sell their evergreens for landscaping, so they cut them for Christmas trees. Cultivated trees were preferred because they have a more symmetrical shape than wild ones. Six species account for about 90 percent of the nation's Christmas tree trade. Scotch pine ranks first, comprising about 40 percent of the market, followed by Douglas fir which accounts for about 35 percent. The other big sellers are noble fir, white pine, balsam fir and white spruce. Continued on next page

O Christmas Tree

continued from previous page

By Karen Harper Trends in decorating the Christmas tree have been interesting. After Queen Victoria died, the country went into mourning, and the beautiful High Victorian Christmas tree died with her for a while in many homes. Meanwhile in America, One of the first American mass merchandisers, F.W. Woolworth, began importing German glass ornaments into this country in the 1880s and by 1890, strong sales of Christmas ornaments helped launch the legendary Woolworth Five and Dime Stores. In the 1930's there was a revival of Dickensian nostalgia, particularly in Britain. Christmas Trees became large, and real again, and were decorated with many

Gifts for Wildlife

bells, balls and tinsels, and with a beautiful golden haired angel at the top. But then wartime came and it was forbidden to cut trees down for home decoration, but large trees were erected in public places to give morale to the people at a difficult time. Postwar Britain saw a revival of many Christmas traditions. People needed the security of Christmas, as one of the enduring symbols to get them back on their feet. Trees were as large as people could afford.

ored gelatine 'windows, which allowed the light to shine in different shades as it revolved under the tree. No decorations were needed for this tree. My mother insisted on having one of those aluminum trees with the revolving light and the family tolerated it for one year. We then rebelled and insisted on ignoring fashion and returning to our much-loved real fir tree with its somewhat tattered and untrendy decorations. Current decorating trends hearken back to Victorian nostalBy the mid-1960's, things were changing gia, but with new themes and conceptual in America. Modern ideas were everydesigns. The Starry Starry Night Tree, The where. Silver aluminum trees became pop- Twilight Tree, The Snow Queen ular and they were designed to have a reTree....Ours doesn't have a theme unless volving light source underneath, with col- 'Eclectic' counts as a theme!

by Linda Meyers

habitat and providing the needs of wildlife. Together you can learn about beneficial native plants to add to your landscape. This is also a great time to plant trees that provide native food for wildlife. Crabapple, pines, maples, birch, and oak trees are just a few that produce seeds and berries that wildlife rely on.

We have such a wealth of diverse wildlife in our state, but many animals are threatened or endangered due to loss of habitat. With winter approaching there are fun activities You can also create the “gift” of a loose pile of brush with we can do with our family to help wildlife in our own backlimbs, branches and your Christmas tree to provide shelyards. ter. If you have a dead tree in your yard share with your A tradition our family did together for many years was to children the important role it plays in the survival of many decorate a tree in the yard just for wildlife. There are many animals who rely on cavities to build their nests and raise fun and simple food ornaments for wildlife you can make their young. Woodpeckers, chickadees, screech owls, nutwith children of all ages. Here are a few of our favorites: hatches, titmice, flying squirrels and others are facing dePopcorn and cereal chains - kids love to string popcorn cline because of the scarcity of standing dead trees. Save and cereal (with holes in the center works best) on string that old tree and provide a gift to wildlife that will last for and hang all around the tree. years. Peanut butter pinecones - spread peanut butter in all the Your family will also enjoy picking out a new bird feeder, grooves of a large pinecone and then roll in birdseed or nesting box or bat house to place in the yard. Also let the cereal, hang from a strong cord. children help you locate the perfect spot for a new birdbath Fruit slices - cut apples and oranges in thick slices and or plan and prepare an area for a butterfly garden to plant string through the core or center and hang. in the spring. Everyone will have fun and learn from Popcorn balls - made with syrup, and peanut butter are a watching the wildlife they will attract year round. great treat hung from a tree. Raw peanuts - rolled in peanut butter, bird seed and ce- Sources: "Landscaping Backyards for Wildlife: Top Ten Tips for Success" EDIS real and hung. Planning a habitat to benefit wildlife in your yard is another activity which you can include the family. It‟s a wonderful opportunity to share the importance of replacing lost

Circular #1429 "What Have You Done for Wildlife Lately?" Florida Game and Freshwater Fish Commission


Weed of the Month

Jenny Gillis

chemicals or fertilizer!* Dandelion is grown in gardens on an infrequent basis, and is produced on a rather large scale by a few commercial growers in Florida. Dandelion seed can be bought from some nurseries, and the selections they offer are likely to be superior to wild dandelions.


Dandelion—Taraxacum officinale The dandelion is often regarded as being nothing except a weed, but it is much more than that. The scientific name of the dandelion is Taraxacum officinale. The common name, Dandelion, comes from French “dent de lion”, meaning "lion's tooth", and a reference to the jagged-edges of the leaves. Other names a dandelion may be known as are Faceclock and Blow Ball. In the language of flowers, the easily identified yellow flower means coquetry, flirt, and love's oracle. Almost everyone has encountered wild dandelion as a weed pest in lawns and gardens throughout Florida and the U. S. It can grow just about anywhere! Many gardeners spend hours trying to eliminate dandelions from their garden, so it sometimes comes as a surprise to find it grown as a crop. In fact it has a long history of culinary and medicinal use. There are cultivated varieties of this troublesome weed that make excellent cooking greens and salads. The young leaves are rich in vitamins and minerals. Sauté dandelion heads (before they open) in butter, they taste like mushrooms! The roots are used to make a coffee-substitute, and home winemakers use the flowers and the leaves. *Note: do not eat any weed that has been treated with

Bear in mind that the deep tap roots are difficult to lift without leaving some root behind, which is why dandelions are so difficult to eradicate. Deadhead before it self-seeds.

December 7 General Membership Meeting @ Crestview December 14 BMP Class FWB Annex Dandelions originated in Europe. It is a cool season perennial that can also reproduce by seeds. Its low spreading, deeply notched leaves form a rosette pattern as they emerge from a weak central tap root. It closely resembles endive in form and in cultural requirements. The hollow flower stalks form a single

January 4 General Membership Meeting @ Crestview ECO-EXPO February 4 Emerald Coast Convention Center

Joel Roberts Poinsett, Ambassador to Mexico, brought Euphorbia pulcherrima to the United States in 1828. William Prescott named the plant Poinsettia in honor of its discoverer.

compound flower of many golden colored florets. Varieties differ in leaf shape, ranging from very curly leaved to broad leaved. 6

Book Review

by Marg Stewart

No book review this month....instead a cool list of titles that you may want to let Santa know about! For the cook in your life: Substituting Ingredients by Becky Sue Epstein and Hilary Dole Klein is a great resource for those times when you don‟t have a particular ingredient. Recessionproof Your Pantry by Jackie Clay. Want to take advantage of those sales? It‟s a good reference source for what you can store in your pantry without breaking the bank. Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day by Jeff Hertzberg and Zoe Francois. Really, an easy way to always have dough on hand to make fresh bread! For the gardener in your life Mini Farming by Brett L. Markham. Believe me, you actually can grow a whole lot on a 1/4 acre or less! For the DIY

person in your life: Vinegar, Duct Tape, Milk Jugs & More by Earl Proulx. The ultimate reference guide for using all those odds and ends that normally fill up your garbage can! And finally Natural Alternatives for You and Your Home by Casey Kellar. Making everyday cleaning products, beauty products and more with inexpensive and readily available ingredients.

Bits and Bytes Q: Why is it when I do a search for something that a friend told me about, I don’t always come up with the same results that they do? A: First off, thank you Ed Smith for sending me a link a while ago with a great presentation on „filter bubbles.‟ What happens during our jaunts into the cyber-space world, is that the search engines, web pages and even our own settings on our computers, start to „learn‟ what sort of things we

by Marg Stewart view and do. Search engines especially keep track of where you go and the types of things that you look for on the web. Since everyone is different and we have different interests what ends up happening is that you start getting search results based on your past usage. In other words, you are provided with responses that they „think‟ you want. Ever notice that some shopping sites will have statements like “people who bought this also bought.....” yup, it‟s being tracked. No, it isn‟t necessarily a bad thing but it will make you stop and think that maybe, just maybe you 7

aren‟t getting ALL the information that is out there. :) How to fix this? One way is to make sure that you delete your history and cookies on a frequent basis. Yes, you‟ll have to reenter information in some places but if that isn‟t a big deal to you then you can do that. Also, don‟t always click on the first search result that you get. Make sure that you check the other pages they offer. To view a really good explanation check out http:// eli_pariser_beware_online_filter_bu bbles.html

Marg Stewart—Editor Shari Farrell, Karen Harper and Linda Meyers—Co-Editors

Have pictures or an idea for an article? Send it in! Articles and pictures are always welcome.

Your member site:

LAST WORD Here it is, the year is almost over and the Christmas holidays are fast approaching. After watching the madness that happened in some areas for Black Friday it did tend to make me wonder about people. I mean really, pepper spray? Fist fights over linens? Then there were stores that opened up on sum it up in one word....SHEESH! It‟s supposed to be Deck the Halls, not deck the guy reaching for the last TV. After seeing all that madness I reached again into my archives and read the one thing that usually helps me remember the holidays in a more positive light. It was written in 1897 in response to a little girl‟s question as to whether there was a Santa Claus or not. Take a moment, read it for yourself and remember....”Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus!” “Virginia, your little friends are

wrong. They have been affected by the skepticism of a skeptical age. They do not believe except they see. They think that nothing can be which is not comprehensible by their little minds. All minds, Virginia, whether they be men‟s or children‟s, are little. In this great universe of ours, man is a mere insect, an ant, in his intellect as compared with the boundless world about him, as measured by the intelligence capable of grasping the whole of truth and knowledge.

The Foundation for the Gator Nation.....An equal opportunity institution.

Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus. He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy. Alas! how dreary would be the world if there were no Santa Claus! It would be as dreary as if there were no Virginias. There would be no childlike faith then, no poetry, no romance to 8

Marg Stewart make tolerable this existence. We should have no enjoyment, except in sense and sight. The eternal light with which childhood fills the world would be extinguished. Not believe in Santa Claus! You might as well not believe in fairies. You might get your papa to hire men to watch in all the chimneys on Christmas eve to catch Santa Claus, but even if you did not see Santa Claus coming down, what would that prove? Nobody sees Santa Claus, but that is no sign that there is no Santa Claus. The most real things in the world are those that neither children nor men can see. Did you ever see fairies dancing on the lawn? Of course not, but that‟s no proof that they are not there. Nobody can conceive or imagine all the wonders there are unseen and unseeable in the world. You tear apart the baby‟s rattle and see what makes the noise inside, but there is a veil covering the unseen world which not the strongest man, nor even the united strength of all the strongest men that ever lived could tear apart. Only faith, poetry, love, romance, can push aside that curtain and view and picture the supernal beauty and glory beyond. Is it all real? Ah, Virginia, in all this world there is nothing else real and abiding. No Santa Claus! Thank God! he lives and lives forever. A thousand years from now, Virginia, nay 10 times 10,000 years from now, he will continue to make glad the heart of childhood.” Francis P. Church, New York Sun 1897 Merry Christmas to you and yours! May your lives be filled with the joy of the season and best wishes for a prosperous New Year!

December 2011 Newsletter  
December 2011 Newsletter  

Field trip to botanical gardens, history of Christmas trees, gifts for wildlife, book reviews and more!