Thursday, April 14, 2011

Living in the South ~ Cajun Country ~ Flora and Fauna

For someone who loves all things green and growing, the sub-tropic climate of South Louisiana was heaven. Especially coming from a part of the country that is brown 7 - 8 months out of the year. But the climate was also very challenging.
I finally had a chance to grow all those gorgeous exotic plants that I had only dreamed about. And there was always someone around that wanted to swap plants. So much fun!! But in that lush climate, plants weren't the only things that thrived. Plant diseases and insect pests also thrived.

But I enjoyed it and I learned a lot. I became a Master Gardener. The schooling for this program is thorough and it greatly expanded my knowledge of plants. And because of this training I became a coach for the local Parish 4H horticultural team. This group of girls and I would travel around to the local nurseries in the Spring learning the identities of plants in preparation for the State competition. That was fun! I encourage everyone out there to take advantage of their local Master Gardeners. Often times these individuals can be found at the local extension office. They are trained to answer questions and assist people who have concerns about their yard, flowers or garden.

And the bugs..... Love-bugs. June-bugs. Mayflies. Cicadas. Crickets. Spiders. Mosquitoes. So many mosquitoes!!!  Chiggers!!  AGH!!  How I hate chiggers! The itch of their bite is worse than a mosquito bite. We had spiders so big that they would build webs across the bayou behind our house. The bayou was more than 10 ft. across.

And then all the other critters. Armadillos and possums living under the house.  Crawfish making castles all over the front yard. And the frogs. The wonderful serenade of frogs every night. We had bullfrogs in our pond. And little green tree frogs everywhere.... in the house, in the car, in the bathtub. And the cats were always bringing something in the house that I had to catch. But I didn't actually 'catch it'. I would find a basket or bowl that would fit over the critter and then when Hubby came home, he'd 'catch it' and take it outside.

But what I will always remember about the plant life there is the Live Oaks. These are absolutely incredible trees. They are one of the few trees that can withstand the forces of a hurricane. They are slow growing trees that do not lose their leaves like other oaks. Live Oaks are considered an evergreen in the same category as a Magnolia. They lose their leaves in the Spring.  The Live Oak Society is a registry of Live oak trees who have a girth of 8 ft. or larger. These trees are considered to be about 50 years old. When they approach 100 yrs., their girth will be at about 16 ft. Incredibly massive trees whose branches sweep so gracefully down to the ground. This is where I discovered my affinity for trees.


Debra She Who Seeks said...

Yeah, I don't know if I could take all those insects and creepy-crawlies. But it's like anything else, I guess -- you get used to it.

Robin Larkspur said...

Love the plants and trees of the south. the bugs and icky critters not so much.

Wendy said...

You and I are both Dryads, so it's no surprise that you loved the Oaks. I would love to see more blog posts of yours and your relationship with Oak trees and the spirituality you found with the South.

Jeanne said...

Wendy, I'll post about my relationship with Trees and the Spirituality I found (or didn't find) in the South next week when I write about living in Arkansas. So stay tuned.

JJ Beazley said...

The first two Louisianans I met were:

1) The bus driver who accepted my fare from NO airport, assuring me he was going all the way to the French Quarter, then dropped me off in a dangerous part of Tulane Avenue. The black dudes in shades cruised around me like sharks, eyeing up my photographic equipment.

2) The cab driver who eventually 'rescued' me and drove me to my hotel. He never stoppped reprimanding me for not calling him in the first place, and then - as I later discovered when I got to know the geography of the place - took a circuitous route so he would get a bigger fare.

The rest were friendly and helpful.

~ Jayne ~ said...

To effectively repel spiders from a dwelling,place osage oranges in cupboards,corners,& other strategically located areas to ward them off naturally.I would love to visit Louisiana one day ; especially to see those established oak trees.

Jeanne said...

JJ ! Ah yes... Beware the cab drivers of New Orleans!

Jayne ~ Thank you for the spider repelling advice. But spiders are one of my totems so they are welcome in my house. They just have to stay out of sight when Hubby is around. :0) Out of curiosity, if a person doesn't have any osage orange around,what else can be used?

Heathen said...

My favorite thing about trees in the South is the Spanish Moss dripping from them!