Living Lite

Your Container Garden's Spring Hydrangea Spruce Up

March 17, 2019

Winter's end is a time for gardeners to hustle, kind of like Spring cleaning - in the dirt. My container garden was drab all winter, except for a few evergreens. So I'm eager to enjoy some color and vibrance again.

My hydrangea buds waking up after their winter slumber (Photo by: Katherine Tallmadge) My hydrangea buds waking up after their winter slumber

Thankfully, my five hydrangeas - some of which have been in pots for 11 years - are awakening with tiny buds, which inspired me to get to work so that my garden will blossom as soon as possible.

The beauty of my garden is thrilling; it makes this city girl happy; my neighbors love it, too, and we often gather around it chatting. And, as I mentioned in November 20's article: "Create Your Holiday City Garden in Pots!being among nature, plants and trees, improves your well-being.

Horticulturist and Garden Designer, Luis Mármol, pruning my Hydrangea (Photo by: Katherine Tallmadge) Horticulturist and Garden Designer, Luis Mármol, pruning my Hydrangea

I advise my clients to get outside into the fresh air because "The benefits of nature span a remarkable breadth of health outcomes with evidence for ... reductions in ... all diseases ... from cardiovascular disease, improved healing times, self-perceived general health, reduced stress, reduced respiratory illnesses and allergies... a reduced risk of poor mental health, improved social cohesion, and improved cognitive ability," according to the American Journal of Public Health.

I took the opportunity of this perfect weekend to prepare my hydrangeas for a flourishing spring display, with the advice of my garden guru, Luis Mármol, Dumbarton Oaks Horticulturist and Garden Designer.

Luis Mármol loosening some of the hydrangea’s compacted roots before planting it in the new pot (Photo by: Katherine Tallmadge) Luis Mármol loosening some of the hydrangea’s compacted roots before planting it in the new pot

First, the pruning, the scariest part for me. In my hydrangeas' 11 years, I didn't dare cut them for fear of losing blossoms. But Luis said pruning is necessary. It adds fullness and increases blooms. He said to cut off the ends of the most brittle branches. If they snap off easily when you bend them, those are the branches you can lose.

Secondly, prepare the new, larger pot by creating drainage. I drilled new holes in the bottom of the pot, and filled it with a layer of old aluminum cans. Luis added an additional thin layer of leaves and then potting soil. 

Third, remove the plant carefully from its container, and pull apart some of the roots with your hands or a garden fork.

Finally, place the plant in the pot so that it is centered. Pour potting soil around the plant to fill in the container. Be sure there are three "fingers" of space between the top of the soil and the top of the pot. This way, when you water, the water stays in the pot and actually waters the hydrangea instead of spilling onto the ground.

Luis Mármol filling potting soil around the plant, then patting it down gently (Photo by: Katherine Tallmadge) Luis Mármol filling potting soil around the plant, then patting it down gently

BEFORE: My front porch container garden after winter pruning, waiting for its Spring awakening (Photo by: Katherine Tallmadge) BEFORE: My front porch container garden after winter pruning, waiting for its Spring awakening

AFTER: My front porch container garden in spring. Definitely worth the effort! (Photo by: Katherine Tallmadge) AFTER: My front porch container garden in spring. Definitely worth the effort!

Now, for the hardest part: Waiting!


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Vaccines are Safe!

March 10, 2019

"The current measles outbreaks in the United States and elsewhere are being fueled by misinformation about the safety of vaccines," according to warnings issued recently from the Presidents of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine. 

To help counter such misinformation, the Academies created a website that provides clear, concise, and evidence-based answers to questions about vaccine safety and other commonly asked questions about health and science as identified through our partnership with Google. 

The evidence base includes a number of our studies examining vaccine access, safety, scheduling, and possible side effects.  Our work has validated that the science is clear – vaccines are extremely safe, the Academies Presidents continued in their warning statement.

Given our shared congressional mandate to advise the nation, we are compelled to draw attention to these facts in order to inform better decision-making at a time when it is urgently needed to protect the health of communities in our country and around the world.  Furthermore, we call on our professional colleagues everywhere to share these facts as widely as possible, they added.  

 


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To Curb Cravings, Eat a Sweet at Every Meal

March 3, 2019

My client, Debbie, said sweet cravings were destroying her health and her weight loss attempts. She was "eating practically a box of chocolates every day" and couldn't stop. And while chocolate fits into a healthy diet - I prescribe daily chocolate for my clients who need to gain weight - the amount she was eating was not helping her high cholesterol, her fatty liver, and was causing her weight to soar higher and higher.

What seemed like an impossible problem was a cinch to fix. All we did was add sweet foods to her routine. You see, your body craves a variety of flavors, textures, colors and shapes, preferably in each meal, to feel satisfied. If one of those flavors, such as sweet, is missing from your meal, you are less likely to feel satisfied and you will crave that missing flavor. Pay attention to your next large savory meal. Even if you are no longer hungry, you will probably crave sweets afterwards. If, on the other hand, you include fruit as a part of your meal, you will crave fewer sweets, which is something I advise in my book, Diet Simple.

Evolution created our drive for food variety, as it gave us more nutrients, allowing us to survive. Sweets were particularly important because they provided more calories to withstand frequent famines.

Simply make fruit a part of every meal and snack. You may be surprised at how your sweet cravings become more manageable. This technique works for my clients with excess sweet cravings, even for a recovering alcoholic who lived on sweets. 

Will fruit take the place of chocolate? Well... No! At least not all the time. But will it reduce your cravings and allow you to be satisfied with a more reasonable and healthy amount? My experience says: Yes! Give it a try yourself. The mandarine oranges I recently purchased from Trader Joe's really hit the spot for me, and allow me to enjoy a little chocolate, too.


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