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CAROL'S CORNER - Current Observations for the month......August 2004

    Digging iris is tough work on the back, but that's what I've been doing for two weeks, in preparation for the iris sale on July 31st.  Then after cleaning and trimming, Pete and I sit in front of the television and mark name tags.   Now that's teamwork!  For members who do not have iris to dig yourselves, how about volunteering to help other members who need help.  Cindi Davis would know who needs help if you are so inclined.  It's a great way to trade work for some new iris varieties, if you're so inclined.
     This time of year, just taking a walk around the gardens requires carrying my handy scissors, hand trowel and marking pen.  Oh yes, and ribbon for highlighting those clumps needing division.  July and August  should be known as  "the month of weeds and deadheading".
     Oh yes, don't forget the after sale party at the home of Billie Gray.  Free food and lots of laughs.  And if you won a Presidential Rhizome, like Pete and I did, you'll really want to be there.  We each won a Presidential Rhizome the same evening, and many members have never let us live that one down.  The drawing for December and January took place at the January meeting at our home; our five year old granddaughter drew the winning numbers, first one for Pete, and then one for me.  Now is that karma or what?
     Thinking ahead to the September meeting, I like the idea of a program on "favorite garden tools".  Come prepared to show and tell about your favorite tool.  I have three in mind, a bench, a cart and a hoe.  I have one tool to share that I hesitated a long time in purchasing because of the cost, but now that tool goes with me everywhere in the garden.  I'll show you why in September.  It was well worth the purchase price.  And I'll bring pictures from the catalog on the one that is too big to cart to the meeting.  How about your favorite tool?  Or bring along your worst tool, if you don't have a favorite.
     I recently read an article in Reader's Digest about the healing power of gardening.  I was glad to hear tha fertile new research proves that you reap when you sow.  In a 2002 study of 3,310 women, University of Arkansas scientists found that strenuous yard work (pushing a lawn mower, pulling weeds) had the same beneficial effect on bone density as weight training did.  High bone density is key in preventing osteoporosis.
     Regarding heart risk, in 2000, researchers in Denmark reported that moderate exercise such as gardening decreased the risk of heart disease by lowering blood pressure and cholesterol. Aim for at least 30 minutes a day.  (During the summer I do four hours a day.  Hurray!)
     For our mind, exercising mind and body has been proved to reduce dementia risk.  Gardening does both.  It's an excellent mental workout that requires planning and foresight and encourages learning, says neuro-psychologist Paul Nussbaum.
     Weed out diabetes:  A 2002 Dutch study found that male gardeners were more likely to have lower blood sugar levels.  And a University of Alabama study of 505 men and women with type 2 diabetes found that active people, including those who gardened regularly, reduced or eliminated their need for medication.
     Finally, a 150-pound person burns 162 calories pruning, digging or weeding for 30 minutes.  Kids benefit too.  A 2003 study showed that non-competitive activities like gardening lure children away from a  sedentary lifestyle.  And they learn about biology and nutrition.  A recent study in Texas found kids who gardened 30 minutes a week were more likely to eat vegetables.