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Book Signings and Lectures
by Monica Brandies


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Garden Signs

A simple sign can turn a garden into a sanctuary.

They can make you smile, feel proud, learn, or turn and run.

One of the things that make a difference between a good garden and a great one is the garden art and I especially love the signs.

Ros Scriven whose gardens were featured recently, definitely has the fine flair for using art in her garden. She has a sign that may indeed be hand painted that says "You Grow Girl!" And she moves it around to reward whatever is growing well.

Just inside the trellis entry to her garden is a pot holding bicycle, not an old one fixed up but one made for only decoration with special places to put containers of flowering plants. On the handlebars is a sign that says, "Take time to enjoy the garden."

But one of my favorites it the one that is shaped like an empty pot and says, "I tried but it died." She had it sitting on a tree trunk. That one was sure to make me smile.

So did the one that Nancy Kast has among her prize winning African violets, a little nicely decorated sign that says "Grow DAMM IT!"

Dawn Renee's garden includes a sign that says, "God is Love. He who lives in love lives in God and God in him." It makes for a good reflection. Another of my favorites I first saw in a rose garden decades ago says, "The kiss of the sun for pardon, The song of the birds for mirth, One is nearer God's heart in a garden than any place else on earth." I don't quite agree with that since I think God is everywhere. But it is easier to feel His presence there.

You can find clever signs in catalogs or on the Internet or you can make you own.

Very important signs that you can get free include the Certified Florida Garden sign and the Wildlife Habitat sign. The first one you may already have earned. Just stop in or call the County Extension Service and tell them you want the information for the Yards and Neighborhoods program to get that sign. They will send you a pack of valuable information free that includes a "yard stick" on which you get points for all the things you do in your yard that make it planet friendly. You need 36 points to get the sign, but I had 59 on my first try. If you don't get enough. It tells you how you can.

Then you send in the check sheet and ask for the Master Gardeners to come and check you out. This is not so much a test as a visit. These people are the nicest, kindest you will ever meet and they want to help, not hurt you. They will call ahead so you can be ready. This does not mean that the garden must be perfect. These people realize that gardens are never quite perfect. At the end of the visit, you will no doubt have your sign, though I was a little antsy until I really saw it there.

The Wildlife Habitat Sign is a bit more difficult. You need to have 50% native plants at least in a small designated area and some written plans with plant names. Again, contact the Extension Office, ask for the packet and follow the directions.

Many of the public garden such as USF Botanical Gardens and the Florida Botanical Gardens in Largo have large signs with much information that you may take time to read but not to write down so you'll remember. With today's digital camera's it is easy to take a photo or two or the sign, getting as close as possible, and thus have the information forever on your computer where you can zoom in on any part.

One larger sign in the Keys State Parks says "Please take nothing but pictures, leave nothing but footprints." Nearby another sign, slightly smaller says, "CAUTION: Alligators and Poisonous Snakes May Be on Trail." That got our attention and made us walk carefully. Actually we didn't walk far on that trail but not because we turned and ran but because it had been blocked off by recent hurricane damage.

I Tried But It Died. Garden failures are among the easiest in life to bear. Every gardener has plenty, but many more successes.

The Certified Florida Garden sign is not hard to get, but it shows that the garden is planet friendly.