Lazy Gardener & Friends - December 2, 2022

By: Nature's Way Resources | Published 12/02/2022


Tidbits from favorite columns (with update editing!) while I help my husband recover from West Nile Virus.


By Brenda Beust Smith

I love camellias, really treasure their winter blooms maybe because of this camellia notes from childhood pal Susie Parks Lilley. Susie reminded me of the wonderful camellias her father grew in her "across-the-street-from-us" home in Houston's Riverside Terrace community.

And longtime Memorial Area gardener ED HOLLAND sent a shot of his now-in-bloom Sassanqua camellias (below) in the Memorial area. These may have a shorter bloom period than Japonicas, but their silver lining, reminds Ed: “…They make up for their short bloom life by carpeting the ground around them with colorful petals.”

PUZZLED by a references to "Sassanquas, Japonicas and Reticulatas."? Coushatta Camellia Society President Frank Ohrt generously explains:

"The genus Camellia has 50+ species. There are three main species grown for flowers (L to R above): Sassanqua, Japonica, and Reticulata.

Sassanquas have smaller leaves, smaller flowers (but more), are more sun-tolerant and cold hardy, and start blooming in late fall.
Japonicas, from Japan and Korea, have larger leaves, wider variety of bloom size and form, and bloom later than sassanquas, though their blooming periods overlap.
Reticulatas are from southwest China, are similar to japonicas, but usually have larger blooms. They are a bit more finicky to grow.

UPDATE: IT'S ALMOST 2023!: If you want to see camellias in full color, drop by Coushatta Camellia Society's 2023 Annual Outdoor Plant Sale, JAN. 29-30, 2023 at First Christian Church, 3500 N. Loop 336 W., Conroe. 1-4 p.m. Details: (

"Rose-watching is the current fascination around here. Once a week everyone buys a single long- stemmed rose . . . bud and watches it unfurl day by day. It’s a simple, private way of calming the nerves in these days of terrorists and snipers.”

-- "The Cat Who Went Bananas" by Lillian Jackson Braun (2005)

Hey, these days, whatever works! Lillian Jackson Braun may have totally invented rose- watching (couldn't find any online historical reference). Even so, I cut a tight bud, positioned it eye-level behind my laptop cover and stared at it every time I sat down to work. Seeing up close how petals slowly unfurl IS relaxing and made me smile every time. Mission accomplished!

John's Corner


Many times, we have talked about the dangers of using sewage sludge (biosolids) or compost and fertilizers made from them, on our gardens. Many companies and some government agencies believe that our back yards are a good dumping ground for this toxic material.

Another paper from the University of Toronto finds that “super bugs,” the most dangerous and antibiotic resistant bacteria are produced by exposure to antibiotics, etc. According to the paper, between 2014-2016 there were 700,000 deaths worldwide attributed to antibiotic resistance from these bacteria.

Triclosan has been found to be another contributor to this problem and is found to accumulate in sewage sludge and related products.. The FDA has banned triclosan in a few products but it is still used in thousands of consumer products. Environmental Science & Technology 2022

For gardeners: beware of low-cost composts and similar materials like pelletized fertilizers made from sewage sludge. Many companies use these toxic materials in their products to lower costs. Also, when one is buying products for insect and disease control read the label to ensure it does not contain triclosan.

More and more gardeners are growing their own food since the Covid pandemic. Researchers at the University of Sydney Medical School have found another reason to grow one’s own food.

From animal studies they found that those whom ate grain-based foods versus processed foods, were much more likely to survive a flu or other virus infection. They found when the animals did not have an infection there was little difference in health or behavior. However, when an infection was present, all the animals on the processed food diet died. Journal Cell Reports 2022

Other studies have shown that the concentration of nutrients consumed while recovering from an infection can have a major impact on the severity of the infection.

Purchase organic food or, best yet, grow one’s own food on re-mineralized soil so the food is full of micro nutrients that our immune system requires to work at its maximum.

Another study finds a link between foods that scored higher by a new nutrient profiling system, and better long-term health outcomes. The Friedman School of Nutrition Science at Tufts University have shown that a holistic food profiling system (Food Compass) works much better at identifying better health and lower mortality risk.

This new measurement system looks at the overall nutritional value of a food, beverage, or mixed meal. It measures nine domains of each item, such as nutrient ratios, food-based ingredients, vitamins, minerals (elements), extent of processing, and additives.

“A higher score was associated with lower blood pressure, lower blood sugar, lower blood cholesterol, body mass index (fat), and hemoglobin A1c levels; and a lower prevalence of metabolic syndrome and cancer.”

The higher score was also associated with a lower risk of mortality of all causes. Journal Nature Communications 2022

“One of the alarming discoveries was just how poor the national average diet is.”

This study reinforces that we as gardeners need to grow more of our own food organically and buy from local famers markets as much as we can. 


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