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Master Gardener: July gardening notes

Tuesday, 6 a.m.: Going out to water. Not happy with the Master Naturalist friend who e-mailed me saying he got over 4 1/2 inches of rain where he lives in Pope County on the 20th and 21st.

Since entertaining outdoors in this prolonged heat doesn’t make a lot of sense, why not bring the party indoors. Following are some ideas: Potted plants can be brought from the patio inside to dress the table temporarily as a centerpiece. I keep a nature collector’s jar: impressive acoms, butterflies (whose spirits have gone to meet their Maker), bird nests, etc. Could use them as accents on the arrangements, wreaths, etc. (The snakeskin sheddings will stay in the jar!)

Peony, rose or other large specimen blooms set in antique cup/saucer sets are beautiful as accents on nightstands, etc. Indoor greenery can be dressed with fresh flowers fitted in florist’s vials. Mix wild and cultivated flowers to make arrangements.

Bring a porch swing or hammock indoors. Just give it extra space for the swinging motion it’ll make.

Old shutters can be used as a seasonal back-drop on a table to showcase seed packets, dried botanicals, etc. Gourds from the previous season that have been allowed to dry out naturally can be used as table decoration. Small potted plants can be stair-stepped on old ladders if you don’t have shelves. Convert worn-out wooden or metal chairs to plant holders, sporting a mixed arrangement or trailing plant.

And if this year’s weather extremes have you going crazy, consider the nut, the coconut, that is. Examine a coconut. Does it not have exterior characteristics that resemble a monkey’s face? The English word coconut is derived from the Portuguese word “coco” meaning “monkey face”. Did you know that coconut water is naturally sterile and in an emergency can be used in place of medical saline in an IV? (How neat is that?) And that despite its name, the coconut is not a nut at all, but a drupe - related to the peach and the olive. Also, the coconut is no stranger to the Pacific but didn’t make an appearance in the Caribbean until the mid 16th century. And finally, it’s believed more people succumb from coconut blows to the head than from shark attack. There. I’ve REALLY told you more about coconuts than you want to know!

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