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I think I've found an inexpensive, fairly quick solution to coastal erosion: Louisiana irises. They love the water, grow hearty in this state and their rhizomes and root networks become so thick and strong that I'm sure they can hold up structures on their own to say nothing of capturing sand and sediment. At least that's what it felt like when I tired to dig up the Louisiana irises in my backyard, partially to divide them (like a good little gardener) and partially to save them after my two dogs trampled them and used them as doggie pallets.

My first effort to dig them out was totally futile; I couldn't even get the shovel to pierce the ground, so I soaked the clumps of foliage with a hose until the ground was pretty soggy. That helped, but I still had to contend with the thick, resilient roots and rhizomes, which required jumping on the shovel to get it through the roots and lots of arm wrestling. I actually felt that workout for days in my shoulders and am fairly certain that my breasts increased by a couple of cup sizes. (If this whole writing thing doesn't work out for me, you might find me working a stage on Bourbon Street.)

At any rate, I think the powers that be should look into the Louisiana iris option for rebuilding the coastline. It's done wonders for my yard (and my upper body).

And speaking of powers dedicated to nature, join me in welcoming Martha Stewart back to our pages with her "AskMartha" column, which will replace the "Living" column written by Martha Stewart Living editors that we have run for the past few months while Stewart took stock of her past business dealings and pondered efficient uses for small spaces. This month, she celebrates nature with advice about gardens planted specifically for cutting flowers for indoor arrangements. Welcome back, Martha.

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