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!

Sunday, May 22, 2016

One Year Later

A few weeks ago I was strolling back through my blog and came upon photos of the backyard in May of 2015. I saved the pics so I could do a post on how the garden has matured in one year.

So, here we go! Let's take a look at the garden one year ago and one year later.

This photo was taken at almost mid-garden looking toward the north. Everything was very tiny, and the elevated area in the far corner was just barely a thought in my mind.

One year later and everything is filling in nicely, and the idea for the far corner garden is on its way.  More on that "secret" little space in a future post.

Now standing in about the same spot mid-garden but looking in the opposite direction (toward the south), it was pretty well planted but all very small.

One year later and it's starting to look a little more jungle-like.

At the very south corner of the garden is a view of the patio and the butterfly garden.

One year later and we've just about lost view of the wall surrounding the patio. 

This area is located right next to the patio in the above photo (where the corner of the house is) and is a view of the south side of the garden. 

One year later and most of the fence is covered with the exception of the gate. 

It's amazing to look back and see how it has grown and filled in in just one year. A mix of warm weather, plentiful rain and no winter freezes makes for perfect growing conditions. 

Monday, May 16, 2016

Organized Chaos!!!

As I was strolling through the "sunny butterfly corner" of my backyard the other day, two words came to mind - Organized Chaos! 

Yes, I have become very good at packing the plants into my small space!

So good, that even the walkways are narrowing. All I can say is it's been a GOOD year for Black-eyed Susan's, as they have reseeded prolifically throughout the garden. I did relocate a few into the garden beds, but I love the look of random clumps of flowers taking up space in the walkway.

And, then there's the discovery of a plant that I had forgotten I bought (the lavender Agastache) until its blooms sprung up between the Tropical Salvia and more Blackeyed-Susan's. Uhm, I might be a little out of control!!

 I love it when the blooms of plants intermingle together in one beautiful blooming feast for the eyes. 

Red Pentas, Black & Blue Salvia take front stage with, of course, more Black-eyed Susan's in the background. Pure Joy!

More heirloom red Pentas and Wendy's Wish Salvia are blending together on the south side of this area, while MORE Black-eyed Susan's have jumped the border and planted themselves between the border grass and the walkway.  I will tame these prolific little beasts back later this year, but for now they are a welcome addition and the butterflies and bees are lovin' them!

After seeing the photos above of what I call 'Organized Chaos' - you might be thinking that a better description would be 'Utter Chaos!' But, I beg to differ! 

According to the Collins Dictionary, the definition of 'organized chaos' is "a complex situation or process that appears chaotic while having enough order to achieve its goals." 

My goal for this space is to have plenty of nectar plants to keep as many butterflies, as possible, happy - MISSION ACCOMPLISHED!

 Miss Makayla loves our 'wild little jungle!' Sometimes she's hidden away beneath the plants, and other times she oversees her blooming kingdom from up high.

Monday, May 09, 2016

Mon Petit Potager

Here's a look at mon petit potager,
 or as we call it here in the South  - my little kitchen garden
It sounds so much fancier in French, doesn't it?

Anyway, it is a VERY little - teeny tiny kitchen garden. Despite its small stature - there is quite a bit packed into it. I'm getting pretty good at maximizing my space.

The old umbrella stand frame which has been re-purposed as a trellis is still holding up. A Georgia collard green is parked right behind it, and a few broccoli plants grow in an Earth box in front of it. There's also a dill plant tucked behind it.

Saturday was the first day we began eating our cucumbers. Love that fresh crisp flavor!

Big African Blue basil along with fennel can be seen in the background, while blueberries frame the side of this garden area. We have finished eating the tomatoes that made it through the winter and a Black Cherry tomato is working on setting fruit.

At the far right end of this space we are growing Sugar Snap peas, garlic chives, two green pepper plants and some Dinosaur kale among the salvia and roses. 

Between the two sides of the kitchen garden grows a dwarf mulberry which is in full production right now. Each  morning I pick around 10 to 12 tasty little berries. The nice benefit of the dwarf tree is that it will produce 1 to 2 more crops this year.

 On the opposite side of the pathway I have Swiss chard growing on my patio area, as well as parsley and some bush beans tucked in among the perennial plants that border the patio. I am working on new ideas for growing more veggies vertically this coming autumn. Might even purchase one of those hydroponic grow towers. I've got to get creative in this small space.

And, lastly, I'm delighted to report that the pumpkin vine is making a comeback (from this past autumn's pumpkin harvest) again this year. I've already attached it to the top of the fence, and now it is free to grow to its hearts content. Not too bad for a petit potager!!!

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!

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