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!

Friday, April 29, 2016

One Last Look at Spring

Since summer is coming in like a lion this week, I figured I better post the last of my spring pics. It was a good spring for amaryllis, and I really do love their bold and beautiful flowers.

These two (1st and 2nd photo) are from the garden of Rosemary, who was my babysitter when I was 2 years old.

This one from my Aunt Erna's garden.

 And, this unusual one is from an old neighbor when I lived in Lakeland. All of them are very pretty and carry special memories of the gardeners from which they came. 

Gerbera Daisies have such a sweet little look about them, don't you think? I picked this one up on the sale rack of a local store and am enjoying the last of the blooms on it before I plant it in the garden. And, speaking of planting it in the garden - the garden is getting amazingly quite full these days. I'll save more on that for another day!!!

Lastly, two of my FAVORITE plant combinations in the garden, and it only happens in spring. The Knock-out rose and the English Dogwood make a great looking couple! These two plants were made for each other. The rose will continue to bloom but will have to do so without the exceptional background of the English Dogwood since it only blooms in spring.

The blooms on the English Dogwood are stunning. I can't quit looking at them. Every time I'm outside, I just stand there and stare. They're so simple, yet dazzling. They look like they would be fragrant, but they're not. It's a great plant that my neighbor in Lakeland also shared with me. Thank you Nancy!!!!

But alas, spring is slipping away and summer is roaring in like it always does around this time of year. The wonderfully cool mornings are beginning to feel a little more humid, and the afternoon sun is roasting tree-less yards while we wait and pray for June rains.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Odd Couples in the Garden

As I sat on the back porch one morning, a familiar loud bird call caught my attention. I searched the trees in anticipation of a chance to see a magnificent prehistoric looking bird. Aww, there he was! Clinging to the side of an old dead tree snag in the vacant lot next to me. I never tire of seeing a Pileated Woodpecker.

He was busy chopping away at the tree bark with that large beak of his. Big chips of wood were flying through the air left and right as he worked to find a few tasty bugs.

 I saw another bird swoop in and was surprised to see that it was a Red-bellied woodpecker and not his mate. How cool it is to capture this odd couple in a photo together. 

The next 'odd couple' I discovered in the garden is REALLY odd! I moved my blue bottles (my version of a Southern blue bottle tree) to a new location right outside the breakfast nook window. 

Soon after relocating them, I would look out the window and see this dark brown lizard sitting on top of the bottle. The bottles catch my eye when I walk between the nook and kitchen, and sure enough, every time I walk by, this little guy is sunning himself. After a while it got to be hilarious! He even refused to leave when I went outside and took a photo of him. I guess he's taken a fancy to this pretty blue bottle and has claimed it as his own.

Wildlife in the garden can be very entertaining except for the two black Racer snakes that I saw chasing each other. I hope they're not planning on making a nest in my garden!!! 

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Heavenly Scents

Not only is the garden filled with beautiful spring flowers, it's also filled with the scent of subtle and strong fragrance these days. As I walk through the garden I can pick up varying degrees of scents - some earthy, some subtle and others filling the night air with heavy fragrance.

The Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow plant is one of the more subtle scents which is a good thing because it emits a low, earthy musk scent that is not appealing to everyone. You have to be near this plant to pick up the scent. It's not one of my favorite scents, but I like it because it is different.

The roses bloom beautifully and with ease in the perfect spring weather. Angel Face is one that I collected from my Aunt Erna's garden when she passed away.

The Red Knock-outs are a no-fail, easy to grow, unfussy rose that rewards its owner year round.

One of my favorites is Confederate Jasmine. I have this vine growing on all 4 sides of my home and I love being surrounded by this wonderfully intoxicating scent. I wish it bloomed year round.

  A close cousin, the Night Blooming Jasmine is also blooming, and it has a wonderful scent, too.

Sweet Almond scents the garden throughout the year. 

Don Juan, another one of my aunt's roses, has a fruity scent.

The Pink Knock-out is another sweet smelling winner. 

I saved the most fragrant plant in the garden for last. This one single apricot Angel Trumpet turned into

a choir of heavenly scent! 

You can almost get drunk on the heavy evening scent of these blooms. It is a distinctive scent that is very recognizable. These days I stroll through my garden several times a day - enjoying the last remaining weeks of pleasant spring weather and breathing deeply the scents that surround me. In the evening I sit on the patio until dark, enjoy the heavy fragrance from the Angel Trumpet that dominates the garden. 

I don't want spring to end!!!

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Two Beauties!

My daughter took this stunning photo, and it's so beautiful that I just had to post it. 

This beautiful red Cardinal is sitting on a branch of our neighbor's beautiful Chickasaw Plum in full bloom last month. We are so lucky to be able to see this large tree from our patio. For the last two springs, I have thoroughly enjoyed watching the blooms, one by one, cover the entire tree creating one gorgeous blooming piece of art!

So glad she happened to look up at the right time and had her camera in hand!

Monday, March 28, 2016

Spring Orchids

My last two gardens had ideal growing conditions for orchids. A high canopy of tree cover with dense shade beneath it. The orchids LOVED it! I do not have that same kind of environment in my new garden. The two large oaks that I have are limbed up quite high and too much sunlight filters down beneath them. But, in spite of these conditions my orchids (which I move around seasonally to avoid too much sun) are happily providing me with lots of winter and spring blossoms. 

This Nun's Orchid is a real beauty and has been blooming for several weeks now.

This gorgeous orchid was gifted to me by Nancy - a previous neighbor with a mega green thumb. It's a wonderfully heavy bloomer in spite of any neglect on my part. 

A handful of phaleonopsis bloomers are inside my home where I can enjoy them, and the rest are given a prominent spot on the patio where I can also gaze at them from the inside.

Here are the orchids I'm currently enjoying!

Monday, February 22, 2016

Winter Happenings!

 On the warm days between recent cold snaps, I've been relocating plants to better locations. Better to catch these mishaps sooner, than later, while I can still make the adjustments easily.

Even with two steady months of chilly weather, Old Man Winter has been good to us this year. There were a few mornings in the mid-30's with light frost, but fortunately they did not damage my tropicals. Hopefully, we'll get some bananas this year. 

Luckily, the tomato bush, Bella Rosa, was able to escape damage from the frost. Another day or two and I'll be enjoying the first fruit of the season.  

Louis Philippe has grown so large that he's intermingling with the red pentas and the milkweed. Soon, I'll need to get in there and tame him back a bit.

It has been a joy to watch the large flocks of Robins that visited our Camphor tree twice in the last 2 months to feast on the berries. I pulled up a chair to watch them snatch a berry and dart back to a neighboring tree to eat it. The tree canopy was alive with action, berries were falling to the ground, and I decided I better take cover to avoid being splattered with bird poop in all the mad frenzy.

I know that "the experts" say that Camphor trees are invasive - and, yes they are prolific, but they feed large flocks of visiting birds in winter. I keep reminding myself of that, as I pluck up every berry that pops from the ground. 

 My daughter and I visited Harry P. Leu gardens this past October and then again a few weeks ago on a beautiful Saturday. This area captured my attention. It was a mix of green and white with some bronze foliage thrown in the mix. There's just something about a super large Live Oak with different leaf sizes and textures beneath it. It's definitely a winning combination!

I'm glad that we'll soon be closing the door on winter, and that it was a mild one. Now that I've cut the ornamental grasses back, I'm eager to get started on the roses and plant a few new additions to the garden. And, I'm looking forward to watching the plants and trees in my young garden grow taller and wider in their 2nd year. 

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Peaceful Easy Feeling

Winter has finally arrived and even though I'm not fond of really cold days, I don't mind a few chilly weeks. On these days, I really appreciate the sun. As I look out from inside my home, the sunlight has a soft warm glow which is very different from the bright, harsh sunlight of summer. The soft light seems to make everything glow and more enjoyable to look at.

On cold afternoons, you will find me enjoying the garden from a sunny area protected from the wind. The look on Makayla's face expresses exactly how good the sun feels on a cold day.

There was a lot going on in the garden on this beautiful sunny afternoon.

The Cardinals are daring the Carolina Chickadees and Titmice to come to the feeders when they're there.They are a beautiful sight in the garden.

 The woodpecker is hammering away in search of a snack. So glad he posed for me while I snapped a photo. 

This little dove is enjoying the warmth of the sun, too.

More low temperatures are forecasted for this coming Saturday, and  I do hope we can stay above freezing. I would hate to lose my pentas because the butterflies, moths and hummers are enjoying them.

There might be terrible things happening in the world and lots of sadness on the news, but in the garden I get a "peaceful easy feeling!" You might call this my tribute to Glenn Frey who's music also gives me a "peaceful easy feeling."

Monday, January 04, 2016

The State of the Garden

Yes, 2016 is here! Happy New Year wishes to all my fellow gardeners. May your gardens thrive and bloom to your heart's content.

It's that time of year when we reflect on the old and dream about the new. A time to look back at the garden and see how much it's changed. My garden space is still in its infancy at 1 year and 3 months old.

When I first began to plant my tiny garden, I feared I wouldn't have room for all my favorites. I worried that maybe I went too small and that I might miss having a bigger lot.

As usual ~ the worry was for nothing! This postage-stamp sized lot has turned out to be a blessing in disguise. Yes, I've had to make tough plant choices and leave out some plants, I would normally have included. In a tiny garden, the space often dictates the type of plant, and sometimes that has been a challenge to find the right plant. My garden space is manageable which has made gardening more enjoyable and after 1 year, the garden has really grown. As you can see, sanding the stone walkway is still on my to-do list.

In the past, I was somewhat - okay, VERY - controlling and somewhat fearful of letting my garden get too out of control, dreading the amount of work it would take to tame the jungle. But in this garden, that fear has gone by the wayside, and I find myself packing in the plants and loving the jungle feel. I've also discovered a new love for large-leafed plants and tropicals. Before I was much more into flowers than I am now. Don't get me wrong I still love my flowers, but I've got a whole new appreciation for foliage. It seems like an oxymoron but I can't get enough big-leafed plants in my small garden. Hhmm, I wonder what a psychiatrist would say about that!!

Revamping my vegetable garden is high on my agenda for the new year. There's only a very small space with limited sunlight in the winter months, so I've taken to planting leafy greens and herbs in with the perennials. I do think they make good companions though. And speaking about companions, there are 3 that accompany me in the garden these days. Tucked in amongst the kale and amaryllis is my big boo - Arthur,

my pretty girl, Makayla (don't you just love those eyes?). She is extremely cross-eyed and has trouble even catching lizards. She LOVES being outside.

This evil looking kitty is Allie. She's really a scaredy cat and a bit psycho! This is an old photo of her when she was only allowed on the screened patio. You can see that she's a plant lover though. Because the 3 of them spend time in the backyard, I've had to move the bird feeders to the front yard. Allie is the only one who shows interest in the birds and I surely don't want her to kill them. I do enjoy having the cats follow me around the yard though.

 We've been lucky to have many butterflies floating throughout the garden this year, and in my sunny spots I plant lots and lots of flowers and host plants to keep them hanging around.  

We've also been graced with the presence of many feathered friends, and I do love to watch them. Lots of squirrels, an occasional snake and a very pesky armadillo also visits frequently.

I've enjoying many of my old favorites . . .

as well as, many new plants I've never planted before such as this Tiger grass (from my  mom) which is now blooming and passion vines. My restricted space has somehow managed to free me from old fears of spreading plants and out of control vines, which are now easy to keep up with. It's funny how the greatest benefits end up being the ones you least expected. 

 Happy Gardening in 2016!!!

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