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!

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!

Saturday, August 08, 2015

Old West Road Trip - Idaho/Wyoming

On our way from Utah to Wyoming we traveled through the southeastern tip of Idaho on the Pioneer Historic Byway. It was a stretch of  a scenic country highway that ran through small western towns and farmland.

We ended our day with a fun white water raft trip down the Snake River. The next two days we enjoyed the natural pristine beauty of  Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks.

Look at the size of the dandelions.

Pretty view of Mount Moran (one of the Tetons). It was clear enough to see the snow at the top.

Jenny Lake

 And, of course - Old Faithful!

Here's pics of a couple of the hot springs, geysers, mud pots and steam vents. Each one different with some amazing colors.

Old Faithful Inn can be seen in the distance.

This was a beautiful ending to our 1st day in Yellowstone as we headed back to our hotel. Sunset over Grand Tetons.

On our second day back in Yellowstone it was overcast with a few showers. However, it didn't dampen the beauty nor our spirits as we looked forward to another day in this wondrous land.

It didn't take long before we spotted this big fella as he decided to cross the road. Totally awesome!

Mother Nature sure knows how to create a beautiful vignette. Don't you think?

We ventured up the east side of Yellowstone into Hayden Valley in search of more wildlife.

 Upper Falls at Artist Point. Isn't this place MAGNIFICENT? 

The more I see of Yellowstone the more thankful I am that this place has been preserved for all to see.

Lake Yellowstone - the color difference is from a geyser flowing into the lake. You can see the steam off to the left of the photo.

A beautiful variety of wildflowers can be seen everywhere, and I am thoroughly enjoying them.

Look how intricate this little wildflower is. It's indescribable!

A rebirth of the land after forest fires have raged through this area. Nature is truly amazing! 
Lake Yellowstone is visible over the tree tops.
 Yellowstone has captured my heart and soul! I do not want to leave!
As we drive the last few miles out of Yellowstone, I find myself making plans for the day when I will return.

The drive on to our hotel in Cody through the Shoshone National Forest proved to be a continuation of the beauty of Yellowstone. Absolutely, breathtaking scenery!!

 Shoshone River

Sorry that this post was so long but Yellowstone is so beautiful and it was hard to pick and choose photos. Onward to South Dakota!!

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