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!

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!!!

Monday, December 14, 2015

I'm "Seeing Red These Days"

I'm in the state of "Seeing Red" these days! Every window I look out of I "See Red" and it's wonderful!! 

Here's the backside of the photo above. In it Louis Philippe 'Cracker Rose' is putting on quite a display of happy red blossoms.

The pentas, impatiens and vincas are enjoying the warm weather.

One of my favorites is the Turk's Cap or sleeping hibiscus which is now higher than the fence. Every time I look out the kitchen window toward this corner I get the happiest feeling. I'm not really sure why, but these flowers just seem very Christmasy to me!!!

Don Juan has eyes for Pomona, and she seems to be enjoying it!!
(Roman goddess and protector of the garden and fruit trees) 

A poinsettia in the garden actually bloomed in time for Christmas. That doesn't always happen.

This Brazilian Red Cloak catches my eye every time I back out of the driveway. 

She's a real beauty!! 

 I didn't realize that I like red flowers so much!

 On the inside my Christmas tree is adorned with all my favorites - ornaments from places we've visited (Florida is well represented)  . . .

ornaments that represent gardening . . .

and our kitties from the past and present (9 altogether). My mother made this ornament for our gray kitty Gus who is no longer with us, but he and all the others share Christmas with us each year. 

I hope that everyone is "seeing red" these days and that your days are filled with the beauty and magic of Christmas. 
Wishing all my gardening friends a very Merry and Warm Christmas!

Monday, November 09, 2015

Just in Case You're Wondering . . .

Back in July, I wrote a post called "It's the Great Pumpkin(s), Charlie Brown!" about a serendipitous pumpkin vine that sprouted from last year's pumpkins that I purchased. I was hopeful that my pumpkins, or at least some of them, would make it through to autumn, so I could display them in my front yard.

Well, just in case you're wondering . . . the answer is YES! 
Two pumpkins out of 4 sat inside my air conditioned house from July until the end of September when I happily placed them out front. 

It worked out perfectly that one was small and one large. Every time I pulled into or backed out of the driveway they put a BIG smile on my face!!!
Aren't they a couple of beauties?
Well, here's the thing. Yes, there always has to be a "thing" in every story, and, it's actually kind of ironic and a bit funny, too.  Halloween day arrived and I thought . . . I should probably put them inside the garage in case a trick or treater thinks it would be funny to smash a pumpkin or two. Right?

So, I'm pulling into the driveway later that day and I notice that the small pumpkin is gone. I walk over and realize that it has rolled off the top because the big pumpkin gave one large exhale and collapsed on top of the planter. Sorry, I didn't think to take a picture of that because I was too busy very carefully moving a soft and smelly pumpkin to the backyard, so . . . yes, you guessed it . . . it can start the process all over again.

In the meantime, I'll be thankful if the last remaining little pumpkin can make it through Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Candles in the Garden

When I was a kid my mother grew ~ what we called the Candlestick plant 'Senna alata' in her garden. I've heard it referred to by many different names - candle bush, candle tree and candelabra bush. It was always one of my favorites and I have grown it from seeds in every yard I've ever had.  

I first grew it because of its memories from my childhood but later learned that it is a host plant for the Cloudless Sulphur butterflies. Apparently, they are attracted to this striking plant as much as I am, but for different reasons.  

 As you can see by the photos - I really LOVE this plant! I used it to fill in empty spaces throughout my newly established garden and within a few warm (I mean HOT) summer months it now is the shining star in my garden.  

 It's towering presence has quickly created the cozy, jungley feeling I'm in search of, and even though these plants will be cut back they will return next summer with their brightly shining candles.

Tuesday, September 01, 2015

Old West Roadtrip - South Dakota

South Dakota was the last state on our trip out west. One might wonder what there is to see or do in South Dakota . . . since it's not one of those states on most people's bucket list. Let me tell you . . . if you ever get the chance to visit South Dakota . . . DON'T pass it up! Not only is there Mount Rushmore but there is the Black Hills and the Badlands, and plenty of beautiful scenery throughout the state.

I was surprised to see milkweed growing throughout Mount Rushmore National Memorial Park. I guess the government is getting serious about helping Monarch butterflies.

I was also surprised to see that the park had a natural landscape. Native grasses and wildflowers were growing everywhere. Absolutely, no manicured landscapes or lawns anywhere to be found.

I liked the "natural look" and was glad to see that times are a changing. Now if only we could see more of this in Florida. Just imagine how the insects must love taking cover in these grasses, sipping nectar from the wildflowers.  

Now, on to the BEST part, at least for me, of South Dakota - - the Badlands!! What a spectacular place. Wide open prairie land . . . as far as the eyes can see . . . covered in beautiful native grasses and wildflowers. What a feast for the eyes!!!

Forgot to mention there's also ROCK and plenty of it. Here's another variety of native grass. I believe I read that they have something like 23 varieties of native grasses.

The photos of the prairies that follow will look as though each has been landscaped, but it is all growing naturally. It is an absolutely stunning portrait of nature's unique and diverse beauty!


As a gardener, I was fascinated by the prairie. My idea of gardening has been changing in the past years, with a lean toward a more natural type of home landscape. So, needless to say, the wheels in my head were churning and turning as I stored idea after idea into my brain. Look at this adorable grass! 

Sunflowers grow wild alongside the roads.

 Oh, and don't forget about the ROCK. It's not that gorgeous red color . . . it's a soft shade of sand with some shell pink blended in. And the grasses contrasted with the color of the rock is perfect. Each one enhancing the beauty of the other.

Morning glories weaving themselves through the grasses.

Not sure what I envisioned when I thought of the Badlands, but I definitely never expected them to be this beautiful.

An added bonus were the Big Horn Sheep that graze on the prairies.

Another variety of native grass in bloom.

Another stunning wildflower fitting in perfectly.

The vast vistas of the west are truly amazing.

More beautiful grasses. It reminds me of a landscape painting.

These rocks look like ancient sand castles that would wash away from a rain shower.

A little more color ~ warm terracotta and buttery yellow ~ at the base of these hills


Our trip is over and it's a long road home, but we will always have wonderful memories of the West.

The world is a beautiful place!

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