Welcome to my zone 9 garden. My roots are deeply planted in the sandy soil of sub-tropical central Florida, where the summers are long and hot, but the rest of the year is paradise!

Tuesday, May 09, 2017

One Last Perfect Weekend

This past weekend the weather felt more like "early spring." It felt wonderful and was most welcome, as our endless summer is right around the corner. We still have a couple of amaryllis' blooming in the garden. This particular variety comes from Mrs. Flora's garden. She was one of our neighbors when I was a kid. It's nice to have reminders of people, from my past, in the garden.

The sunny perennial bed has enjoyed our mild winter and warm spring, despite the lack of rain. The black-eyed Susan's, snapdragons and pentas are in full bloom. This garden bed puts a smile on my face and joy in my heart every time I look at it.  

I just love the carefree nature of the Black-eyed Susan's. 

They keep reminding me to let go and let nature do its thing in the garden. 

The snapdragons did very little through the winter, but once spring arrived they shot up like little rockets, and have been showering me with pretty pink blossoms for months. I will be sad to see them go.

The black-eyed Susan's are all volunteers and they are without a doubt, one of the happiest plants I've ever seen. They're not needy, always look great and the bees love them!

 There were lots of little bees humming from flower to flower. The underbelly of his little body is absolutely drenched in pollen. They just can't seem to get enough!

A close up view shows all that wonderful yellow pollen that this flower contains. They are without a doubt, the gift that keeps on giving. I bet the bees would agree with me!

Thursday, April 27, 2017

The Cardinal & the Tomatoes

I haven't had a "Veggie Tale" to tell in quite a while, so I was happy that Mr. Cardinal showed up and presented me with a story to share.

About a month ago, I was drinking a cup of coffee and looking out the back window at my garden. All of a sudden, a Cardinal landed on the stone wall surrounding the patio. My first thought was of pleasure at seeing this beautiful red bird in my garden. Seeing Cardinals is a common sight, but one I never tire of.  

Then, much to my dismay, he hopped on to one of the tomato plants. In a split second, I went from being pleased to being anxious. The thought that he is going to take a bite out of one or more of the fruits had me holding my breath.  It didn't take long before I exhaled with acceptance, and a reminder to take the good with the bad. If I want wildlife in my garden, I have to accept the fact that they might want to feast on those delicious Sweet Baby Girl cherry tomatoes, too. Right? 

But a few seconds later, I was relieved and delighted to see him emerge from the plant with a big fat green worm in his beak. That sight put a BIG smile on my face, as I realized I was observing nature working together in one of the best ways. 

I went out and checked, and my shiny red orbs were untouched! I was amazed at how wrapped up I got into that little bit of garden drama. 

Monday, February 27, 2017

The Late Winter Garden

Last time I checked the calendar, it's definitely late winter even though it feels like the end of spring going on summer. We really didn't have much of a winter this year at all, and that means less spring clean up in the garden. That's a good thing!

There's lots of Milkweed in the garden and it's all abloom. It has reseeded itself everywhere, and for the most part I leave it where it comes up.  Sometimes, I'll move it to create fuller bushes inside the borders of the flowerbeds. Even the Monarchs are visiting and laying eggs. That puts a smile on my face for sure! 

I've seen this solitary Robin at the fountain a couple of times in the past week. 

The large flocks were through in early January foraging the Camphor berries. He seems to be staying a bit longer to enjoy the sunshine and warmth. 

I've been enjoying a steady supply of tomatoes and kale all winter thanks to temperatures staying above the freezing mark.

The two bushes are so large that they are falling forward, so I've had to tie the plant to the post with, yes, that's an old pair of panty hose - lol! Works like a charm every time! 

New tomato plants went into the ground and planting tower today. Hopefully, it won't get too hot too fast, so that I can keep the tomatoes going for a few months. Very thankful for a mild winter!

Monday, December 19, 2016

The December Garden

It's hard to believe that it's December - - not because another year has almost come and gone, but because it feels more like May - - warm and humid!

We're used to having warm winters - - and quite frankly, I prefer it that way  - - but the humidity is another story. Even though the air is damp, we've had practically no rain at all since the hurricane back in October. Despite the lack of rain, the garden is dry but still humming along with the warm days. 

In the shade garden, the coleus is reaching new heights.

The Louis Philippe rose is bursting out all over, the kale is basking in the sunlight, 

and the strawberries and cherry tomatoes are beginning to blush.

On top of all that wonderfulness, we still have Gulf Fritillary caterpillars munching on the passion vine. I've seen quite a few butterflies in the garden this month. I've especially had a lot of Monarchs, which makes me very happy!

The Pipe vine is still blooming. I found this beauty on the ground and placed it in my potted water garden. Now I can enjoy it every time I walk by.

Even the native violets, in the walkway, are putting forth blooms. 

There's plenty of food around for the hummers, butterflies and birds. The red Firespike blooms, dotted throughout the garden beds, are adding to the festive season. So are the red pentas - sorry I was actually going to do a post without mentioning them. Guess it's just not possible (lol)!

These pretty little berries are dwindling on the Yaupon holly,

and, the Cardinal couple are foraging on the Firebush berries. Every time I walk in the yard, the birds are darting through the foliage for a tasty treat. Soon, I'll be rooting more plants to spread around the yard for my feathered friends.

So, as Christmas draws near, I'd like to wish my gardening friends a warm (going to be in the 80's) and joyous Christmas, as well as a blooming good 2017!

Sunday, November 06, 2016

The Autumn Garden

I, for one, am so GLAD that autumn days are here again!

A sure sign of autumn in my garden is when the Beautyberry plants are draped with their gorgeous purple-pearly berries. A Cardinal couple is always hanging out on this side of the house devouring these berries.

You will find numerous Beautyberries in my garden - all were originally growing here when I built my home. 

Two of my favorite plants - Thryallis and Cestrum have been keeping lock-step all summer with their yellow blooms. And, it doesn't look like they're slowing down a bit, as autumn arrives.

This collection of colorful foliage can be found on the left side of the front yard. 

Berries on the Firebush are another sign of autumn in my garden. The Cardinals also love these berries, while the butterflies and hummers love the nectar. It's a must-have plant in Florida. In fact, everyone should have several of these plants in the yard.

The Nandina is looking a bit fallish, too!

Another fall favorite - camellias! This is Sparkling Burgundy which I can count on to begin blooming in late September. Not one of the fanciest one, but she is the ultimate in reliability.

You knew I wouldn't do a post, without including a pic or two of my red heirloom pentas. I swear the butterflies would go on strike if I deleted this plant from my garden.  

 I have seen more Gulf Fritillary butterflies this fall than I did all summer. So glad they finally decided to come for an extended visit.

And, my final new exciting discovery in the garden - butterfly eggs. What's so exciting about this particular discovery is that these were laid by a Pipevine Swallowtail on my Pipevine. I saw a Swallowtail hovering on the vine, but had to leave the house quickly to pick up my daughter from school. When I got home, I immediately went outside and with a little searching found these eggs. I was tickled pink that the Pipevine Swallowtail butterflies have found my garden. 

That old saying - "Build it (or for gardeners - "Plant it"), and they will come" is so TRUE! It might take a while, but they will find it. I hope you make some wonderful new discoveries in your own garden this month.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Painful Relief

I spent the better part of last Thursday preparing the yard for the arrival of Hurricane Matthew. It's at times like these that you realize how much non-plant stuff you have in the garden. One day later and a garage and house full of patio furniture, garden doo dads, benches and various other stuff - - we filled our jugs of water and waited for the arrival of our uninvited guest. Thankfully the storm was not as strong as was expected but, nonetheless, he left his mark on my garden. From tattered and broken banana tree leaves . . .

 to branches and leaves scattered across the patio, his high gusty winds were busy wreaking their havoc.

 He blew and he blew until several plants, including my large elephant ears gave way and surrendered.

He snapped every dead branch in the oak and carefully disbursed them evenly across the walkway. He did a great job - don't you think?  He saved me some money since I won't need to hire a tree trimmer to clean out the trees now.

 He flattened my beloved red pentas and blackberry lilies. Even the amaryllis' look forlorn and exhausted after his unwelcomed visit.

He insisted that the yellow flowering candlestick plants would no longer be standing when he finished his unrestrained use of power.  He ripped a shingle from the roof of the birdfeeder and would have blown it down, too, had the crape myrtle not been there to lend its support. 

As I surveyed the yard Friday afternoon my spirits were lifted when I saw a hummingbird visit the red spike and a couple of teensy butterflies on the salvia.  They, too, were glad that Matthew was gone! The birds soon began squawking the good news, too. Things were returning to normal. The next day as I began cleaning up, I found 3 Monarch caterpillars on the ground and was able to place them back on the Milkweed plants - small joys in the life of a gardener.

As painful as it was to see this mess, it was a huge relief that all the big oaks around my home were still standing, and that the storm had been less than expected! We did however, lose electricity for 33 hours due to a huge oak down the road from us which took down the power lines. But, all-in-all it could have been a lot worse, and I'm thankful that it wasn't.

In closing, I must say it was so kind of Matthew to take the sticky humidity in our air with him when he left. It makes putting all that non-gardening stuff back in the yard a breeze!

I do hope my fellow Florida gardeners did not have any major devastation in their gardens. 

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Gardening Friends

Today I'm posting about something other than my own garden ....well, mostly anyway. I want to talk about my favorite garden blogs. My main purpose for doing this is self-serving! You see, I read my share of blogs on gardening (some from places other than Florida, too),  genealogy and what I call 'cozy cottage' ones. But, there are certain blogs (Florida gardeners) that I enjoy immensely and look forward to each new post.

So, I know over time that we bloggers can run up against dry spells in blogging. I've done it myself over the 11 years I've been blogging. Can you believe I've been posting on this blog since 2005. I can't believe it myself. It's not easy to find new things to talk about, and it often seems like we can post on the same old thing. Heck, you will most likely find red pentas in just about everyone of my posts over the last 6 months or more. Hey, I have a small garden now, so what can I say. Anyway, I'm getting off topic. My point is that there are about 6 blogs that are my favorites - folks with the same garden interests. One gardener in particular, Eli (sorry for mentioning names) says she feels like she's posting the same ole post over and over.  So, my selfish reason for writing this post is to encourage my favorite bloggers to keep on blogging!!!

You notice that I'm getting a few of my stray photos in on this post like this pretty Vitex bloom

Now, I must mention that as I was writing this post, Eli sent me a comment that she started blogging again. Hurray for that good news, and I know others will be happy about it too. You can find her new blog: Back to Eli's Place (love the new name) at www.elihart1018.blogspot.com.

 But, I want to continue on with this post because I want to make sure that my other favorites - even though they might take breaks - will continue to put fingers to the keypad and post about their beautiful gardens. There have been several Florida gardeners (whose blogs I really enjoyed) that used to blog and have stopped for several years now. Perhaps, they have created a new blog, and I just haven't found it.  I do miss the  updates from Sherry in Ocala, Nanette's Bay-Friendly Landscaping, Ami in the southeast, NanaK, Meems and a few others. 

Isn't this a busy little bee on the Indian Blanket flower!

For the blogs I currently follow: Leslie at Spruce Pine Cottage, Janice at Garden on Fourth Street, Lynn at Southwest Florida Garden, Lorraine (been following her for a very long time) at Flowerlady's Musings, and Rusty at Dragonfly's Garden, I just want to say that I look forward to each of your new posts with anticipation. You folks are like neighbors to me, and I feel as though we are chatting over the garden fence when we exchange comments. 

Each and everyone of your blogs is unique and provides a different perspective to me as a Florida gardener. The photography on your blogs is stunning, your gardens are beautiful and I love seeing what's blooming in your yards (even if I've seen it a hundred times, and it's in my yard, too). I still enjoy it! I love seeing butterfly and bird photos, and I always get new butterfly plant ideas from all of you. Seeing your plant combinations and different talents for matching plants together sparks new ideas in my mind. 

I managed to spare you from another pic of my red pentas :)

I like short posts, I like long posts, Leslie, I like posts on cats, new recipes and stories of the past. Janice, I want more stories on your chickens and  your colorful shade garden. Lynn's gorgeous bird photos introduce me to birds further south of me, Lorraine's openness and honesty about real life is heartwarming, Eli's butterfly garden is inspiring and educational, and Rusty's tropical garden is a feast for the eyes. You guys are the charming gardeners who make my soul blossom and help me to be a better gardener, so please keep on blogging!

Monday, September 19, 2016

Home Sweet Home

Since summer I've been, way, too busy running here and there and everywhere! I'm a homebody by nature and love it when I can stay home for several days without having to go anywhere. Sometimes life gets busier than usual, but I'm adapting to a more active schedule than usual and having fun at the same time.

I'm also, slowly and one-garbage-can-at-a-time, trimming back the 'jungle' in my backyard. Quite by accident, I discovered a wasp's nest when a small squadron of angry wasps attacked and inflicted two nasty stings on my arm. Even though pollinators are welcome in my garden and an essential part of it, I much prefer to come across the dainty little Skippers who don't seem to mind if I get a bit too close.

This BIG fella was an unexpected discovery I came across while working in the garden on Saturday. I looked him up and he is a Giant Leopard moth. He was flipped upside down and when I turned him over, I realized he was not in need of rescue but pretty close to death. I discovered him near my angel trumpet which is listed as one of his favorite food sources. He sure is intriguing and quite a specimen! Another new discovery ~ ~ just wish he wasn't in the process of leaving.

After my morning walk today, I was able to plant my tomato seedlings, cucumber seeds and 4 grow boxes with a variety of greens. I've been wanting to do this for the last 2 weeks, and can now mark that off my list. I always seem to procrastinate on doing this ~ ~ could it be the heat, I wonder!

We have a new addition to our family. Take a look at this cute little guy we rescued off a busy street in town at 7 am on the way to school. He was much smaller at the time (May) and was trotting down the sidewalk. We quickly made a u-turn (luckily there's not much traffic out at 7 am), and headed up the sidewalk to retrieve him. He hid from us in a sickly Sago with lots of stiff lower branches, when a guy out jogging stopped and pulled him out for us. 

He had an upper respiratory infection and was scared to death. We named him Henley and he has made himself right at home, as they always do.  Out of 8 cats that I've had in my adult life, he's my first short-hair kitty. He's very sweet and our other 4, with the exception of one (the siamese) have graciously accepted him. Who could resist such a sweet little face!!!!

He entertains us with his high energy which involves running at high speeds around the house or rough housing it with Arthur or Zoe. And, he's absolutely adorable when he's pooped out! 

This crazy little boy is showing off  his pearly whites. He provides a lot of entertainment around our house. We sit around watching his crazy antics and laugh out loud. I'm telling you - it's better than television or politics!  

Enough said about Henley. I can't tell you how much I'm looking forward to some less humid weather, which I hope is just around the corner. I have quite a few small projects I want to get started on, but don't feel like it when its 80% humidity outside. I know ya'll know what I mean!!!! On the flip side of that, we've been getting our fair share of rain this month and that is always something to be grateful for!!

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