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The deciduous trees and shrubs stand naked and bare as the last of their leaves were swept away in November’s brusque winds.  The sunlight, though dwindling, pierces through every branch and limb, no longer hindered by dense foliage.  The evergreens stand in stark contrast and take center stage in a landscape that appears mostly void of life and color.  The vibrant greens of Spruce, Pine and Cedar seem both festive and ornamental.

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It’s interesting to note that nature gives us what we need.  In Summer, the foliage is dense; thereby, mitigating the full force of the sun’s rays while creating shade and helping cool our selves and our homes.  In Winter, the opposite is true, allowing the sun unfettered access to help warm our homes and bodies.  And the evergreens remain steadfast from season to season, allowing year round wind breaks, privacy screens and beauty.  After all, the power of green and green spaces is truly priceless.

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The Green Road Project, sponsored by the Institute for Integrative Health, has been studying the effects green, natural spaces have on those suffering from traumatic brain injuries, PTSD and other psychological disorders.  In September of this year, a 1.7 acre woodland garden was created at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda.  As initially thought, green spaces have the ability to decrease stress and boost the healing process, but the study went much further.  Instead of simply relying on self-reported assessments, the study focused on biomarkers, such as cortisol levels, which are more reliable and easier to measure.  They are also working on measuring the health outcomes and healing abilities these natural spaces provide.

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Nature, although powerful and mysterious, and at times reckless and unpredictable, extends a gentle, healing hand and comforting embrace that we should accept whole heartedly and never take for granted, regardless of the season.


Plant of the Week

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Blue Angel Holly

Glossy, crinkled, dark green foliage with a bluish tint bares shiny, scarlet berries in Fall that remain until Spring.  Prefers sun to partial shade and dry soil.  Grows 4-6′ tall and 4-6′ wide.  Deer resistant.

“I felt my lungs inflate with the onrush of scenery – air, mountains, trees, people.  I thought, “This is what it is to be happy.”

-Sylvia Plath

Best wishes,

Kim Sweeney