Working on Book “Accessible Everglades”

Our last book was a little over 80 pages (A Garden for the Five Senses). This one has grown to almost 250! Part of the reason is the amount of material about the “Greater Everglades” that I want to share with you all.

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Sunset over Everglades City

It is not just about the Everglades National Park. It is about the other Florida State and Federal Preserves, Parks, and Southern Florida locations that make up the Everglades ecosystem, or as I am calling it here, the Greater Everglades. There is so much to see and do no matter where you start from, and no matter how much time you have to see something of this living water world.

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DH at Big Cypress

DH and I discovered that ecologically and historically most of Southern Florida was part of the original Everglades, stretching from the Chain of Lakes near Orlando and Disney World, to Lake Okeechobee (the Big O), which originally spilled over and gave the huge amounts of water that eventually drained into what we think of as the Everglades, those marshes and swamps, to the Atlantic Ocean, the Florida Keys, and the Gulf of Mexico.

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Alligators everywhere

Another reason is the fun I am having showing photos of the flora and fauna that is so special about the subtropical U.S. We want to convince you to visit there too and go before it is gone. Florida is growing in population and Southern Florida is a real draw. Although currently the western Everglades is remote and lightly settled, the popularity of the State will likely make this place increasingly suburban like the rest of the Nation.

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Brazilian pepper is pretty but an invasive species

That, combined with the ecological threats of climate change, water resources, non-native species fighting it out with natives, etc., etc. There is only so much damage and destruction and shrinkage that this unique landscape can endure and still be the Everglades.

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Pelican at sunset

Cool Landscaping Ideas – How to Use Fake Grass

We have written about artificial turf, that is, fake grass, earlier. We have an expert today to tell us about this drought-proof substitute for a natural lawn. Our guest author is Nicole Abrahams. Nicole is a writer of a supplier and installer for the most advance artificial grass in the UK market. Easigrass has a product for every unique application including gardens, balconies, schools and large commercial areas.

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Closeup of artificial turf by desalvia licensed under CC BY 2.0

Is fake grass really the lawn of the future? That remains to be seen, though it can’t be denied that fake grass is proving extremely popular due to its many benefits and applications.

The benefits fake grass has to offer in abundance:

  • A low-maintenance lawn solution that looks fantastic all year round
  • A clean, durable hygienic outdoor area that’s easily safe-proofed for kids
  • An environmentally friendly lawn solution with long-term cost effectiveness

The applications fake grass lends itself to so well:

  • Pet-friendly residential and commercial lawn areas
  • Cost-effective sports venues and safe-proofed school playgrounds
  • Low-maintenance, attractive pool areas with natural aesthetics
  • Cool Residential Landscaping Ideas
  • Apartment Balconies

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    Village green photo by Jitze Couperus licensed under CC BY 2.0

In the middle of bustling cities lawns aren’t only in short supply due to space restrictions, they’re also practically impossible to create even if a homeowner had the space to spare.

Fake lawns are making an appearance on apartment balconies the world over, providing a touch of green that’s sadly missing from cities where the predominant colors have become grey and black.

Wall-to-wall fake grass ‘lawns’ – most areas are probably a bit on the small side to use the word ‘lawn’ with any conviction – are proving immensely popular, providing homeowners with a splash of natural color many find sorely missing from their lives, as are fake grass ‘mats’, often found in shapes that accentuate and emphasize the geometry of landscaped garden features.

A popular way to use fake grass to landscape urban areas, often small, space-restricted areas, is to lay it in between tiles, which makes for an attractive, interleaved look that provides an attractive contrast between the materials.

 Putting Greens

Yes, it’s a rather obvious application for fake grass but it’s a popular one. A home putting green is simple to create on a budget though golf aficionados need to pay particular attention to the fake grass product used – some are more suitable than others for that smooth ball rolling experience – and of course the under-surface, as the under-surface naturally needs to be smooth and completely free of bumps.

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Putting Greens photo by Easygrass Community licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

 Kid’s Playgrounds

Fake grass has fast become the lawn material of choice for kid’s playgrounds because not only is it clean, hygienic and easy to maintain, but it’s also very easy to safe-proof.

Kids are prone to bumps and spills when playing, so fake grass, which is softer and more forgiving than regular turf, is a natural choice, especially when an under-surface is laid to provide it with greater give and spring, making it much more forgiving on young knees and elbows.

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Youth soccer field by Groundhopping Merseburg licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0

Laying turf in pool areas simply isn’t practical as pool filters tend to become quickly clogged with grass that has a tendency to stick to wet feet.

Fake grass on the other hand lends itself to pool areas perfectly, providing an inimitable surface that’s soft and perfect for relaxing on, not to mention looking immensely attractive when laid right to the edge of the pool, perhaps laid in between large pavers or stones to provide a distinguished pattern with a stunning distinction between contrasting colours.

 Selecting Fake Grass

With so many varieties on the market, selecting fake grass could prove a challenge if you were to make a selection on your own, which is why you’re advised to consult several fake grass installation firms, take note of their suggestions, and at the same time, compare their products and prices.

There are a few things to bear in mind here, including working within your budget and the need for complete price estimates, i.e. ensuring that along with installation costs a warranty is also included.

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Century City photo by Tavi P licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Have you been tempted by drought-free synthetic lawn? Have you used it at your place?



Making Up Stories from Sights We See — the Body Bag

Sometimes it’s when we are out on the road; sometimes when we see something in the neighborhood; sometimes in the newspaper or on TV; sometimes it’s just the pup trying to tell us something without the complicated voice box and mouth we possess. There’s a photo, or a scene flashing by, or a nearby vehicle or group of people.

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FunkParade97 .UStreet .NW.W DC. 3 May 2014

So we make up a story based on what we see without any facts to accompany the scene. We try to make it funny even if perverse, and we might even try to put together a recurring theme based on a recurring sight. Recently, for example, we’ve noticed a lot of vehicles just don’t seem to have enough space inside them to carry everything the occupants want to transport. So they attach some sort of platform that is as wide as the bumper itself on the rear of the car/van to carry “something else.”

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auto carrier for rear of car

Then they put that “something else” in black plastic and fasten it down with bungee cords or rope to the platform. Often that “something else” is long, as long as the platform is wide (5 or 6 feet?), and not very high, maybe two feet at most. So traveling along side them or behind them, our story is that  it looks like a “body bag” (it’s black and lumpy and flapping in the wind) and that they are transporting a corpse, looking for a place to plant it.

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Carrier with stuff on it. Usually we see them not as high a pile and usually wrapped in black plastic

It seems that there are a lot of people doing this, so we don’t know if (1) cemetery space is running out, (2) the economy is so bad that people don’t have money to bury Uncle George, or (3) they knocked someone off that no one will miss and are just looking for space to unload him or her. (It must be hard to unload because most people seem to have the rear platform filled, rather than empty.)

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Fancy top carrier seems to have enough room

So today we see a tow truck hauling a pickup truck hauling a smoker barbeque and two long benches. Behind this, wouldn’t you know, was a van with an empty platform. And we came up with the following story: You take your body bag to this guy who has an itinerant crematorium. You give him the remains. He sets up benches for you all to respectfully wait for the process of cremation to conclude, and you carry home some ashes of Uncle George to scatter in the garden. Unfortunately, he broke down (both the truck and the smoker) on his last cremation, so everything had to be hauled to the repair shop, including unfinished Uncle George, so the van is following Uncle George until they can carry his ashes away with them. There’s got to be a business idea here somewhere, right?

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Smaller version of what we saw being hauled

What are your stories without a shred of information but a scene?