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Gardening in America
Controlling One's Environment
by Nancy Fletcher

Dealing with one's sorrows in life can be a challenge. Unfortunately one could say everyone living has their own battle to fight. With this in mind wherever we live, I have always used the space outside my window for a picture of pleasure for anyone who can see and who passes by that window.

My husband opened up a brick wall and installed a sliding glass door off my handicapped daughter's bedroom. By that he set  a patio. Around the edges of this patio we planted Canna Lilies.  The eve he put over the patio ends in a splash down right there at the Canna Lilly plants. Of course, lilies love water and as a result they become huge. In like manner we planted Canna Lilies at the edges of the septic laterals where the run at the front of the house. They became so huge and striking it was most enjoyable to look out across the front lawn to see them there. The Canna Lilies on the south by the bedroom window stay protected and with only a light mulch they winter over.

One thing to remember is that Canna Lilies must be cut down BEFORE a frost. If the leaves are not cut they become toxic and poison the bulbs. This can cause the bulb to die and not put out new shoots in the spring.

When the curtain is pulled back from that glass door in the morning one is greeted by the beauty of these very large leafed plants. It is only a small thing but can be most enjoyable.

The arbor in front of our house my husband set in and built after we had owned the house over twenty six years. At this very moment from my computer I am watching a Wren, a redbird, and some sparrow.

My father in laws treasured rock collection rests on  shelves along one of the lattice work walls my husband set there. The rocks are unusual and interesting. I can usual tell about the person's interests as to the different rocks they admire as they pass by them on the way to the front door. Also they are directly beside my computer screen. Something about the rocks the birds enjoy also.

Trailing off the arbor are the drops of trumpet vine blossoms. The hummingbirds love these and are a pleasure to watch as they visit each flower.

The most recent addition is a small fountain my husband built from some of the rocks from his Dad's collection. The fountain he made too deep for the birds to use as  a bird bath. They have a smaller bird bath out on the lawn. However, the little Wren manages to find nooks and crannies where he can splash about for a bath. The other birds sit on the ledges and watch him as if wishing they could do the same.

It is true we have had years to work at controlling this hillside, prairie environment. On the other hand for the short time we lived in Dallas, Texas we were just as able to manipulate our environment to do the same thing. Banana plants grow well there and this is what I used outside the windows to have that tropical leafy look to frame the windows. Planted close to the window they are, true, on the outside. But something about the large leafiness of the plant brings it into the house via that window.

This is a time when some are fascinated by the culture of the American Indian. Usually this fascination goes toward the animals and their relationship with the people. Let it be noted that Native Americans were equally as appreciative to the works of creation going to the plant world. There's was the belief, "There will always be something there for you."  "It may be a tiny flowered plant growing through a tight crevice in a rock, but it will be there at a time when you need it."

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