Paths of Sunshine

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“Paths of Sunshine” as we call it in garden club circles. That’s what comes to mind as I drive down our county roads. The yellow coreopsis and pink phlox stretching out along the rural areas is the precursor toward summer for most North Florida residents.  We are fortunate that our DOT mowing crews have learned to manage our beautiful wildflowers by mowing at the proper time allowing the flowers to reseed for the following year.

Another sure sign summer is here are the green fields of sweet corn growing rapidly toward maturity. By June we will be able to have my personal favorite, the ‘Silver Queen’ variety. So many great vegetables will be ready soon, tomatoes will be vine-ripened along with cucumbers, peppers, snap beans, eggplants, squash, okra, acre peas and other yummy summer vegetables.  I’m waiting patiently for the peaches, plums, cantaloupes and watermelons.  It is, indeed, a special season. Along with the activities along our special rivers.

In my garden, May and June bring agapanthus with their blue and white flowering clusters. Daylilies will continue to bloom through June along with cannas, crinum lilies, gladiolus, gloriosa lilies, clivia, caladium, achimenes, and pink rain lilies providing  color for the summer.  These bulb-like plants take care of themselves year after year, multiplying to share with others. I mulch with leaves and in time they break down and enrich the soil with nutrients.  Fertilizer is seldom necessary unless there is a deficiency of some kind.

The hydrangeas will be showing off soon. The oakleaf hydrangea is in full bloom early in May with their cone-like creamy white blossoms , then the macrophylla  or big-leaf hydrangea will show off their huge blooms for weeks of color, including pink, white and blue to purple shades.

Speaking of fertilizer, we need to improve fertilization practices along with wastewater disposal in the Ichetucknee Springshed in order to reduce the load of nitrate nitrogen leaching into the Floridan Aquifer.  Nitrates from chemical fertilizers and leaky septic tanks are one of the causes of our decline in water quality. This and the over pumping by consumptive uses of groundwater within and outside our local counties is causing a decline in the average flow of our rivers and springs.  We can also see the results of more development and human activities in the amount of algae growing on our native vegetation under water.  No one wants to lose our precious springs or our rivers quality.  We, that are closely associated within the Three Rivers community should be the first to educate ourselves and others by treating our beloved natural areas with respect by leaving as little of our footprints as possible.

Guest post by: Martha Ann Ronsonet