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, April 13, 2015

It's All About the Roses

While there are many Spring blooms happening in my garden this week, it's becoming very apparent that the next 2 weeks are going to be "all about the roses!"

Everyone who grows roses in Florida knows they are prolific bloomers and they produce the largest blooms in Spring and Autumn due to the warm but mild temperatures. Unfortunately, the summer heat puts a damper on the whole bloom process. But not to complain, because they make up for it in spring, autumn and winter, which all together is as long as summer.
 Don Juan pictured above

 In the front yard the Double Pink Knock-out is the first to get the show started. By autumn she will be 5' tall and covered in roses.

In the backyard her cousin the Double Red Knock-out is not far behind her. She, too, will be coming in around 5' tall by autumn. I have 3 of these (2 new and very small ones) planted near each other and can't wait to see their autumn display (there I go being impatient again). 

One of my old time favorites is Sombreuil. She's a bit behind due to a more radical spring trimming. This French beauty is loaded with buds!

Every garden in Florida should have this Louis Philippe a/k/a Cracker Rose. He's easy to grow and is the most carefree, large growing and practically thornless rose around. He sits below the patio wall but by Summer I'll be enjoying his blooms from inside the house.

Not to be left out by the show-stealing big roses, the "little but mighty" Drift roses are making their own statement.

I was able to find a place for the 9 roses bushes that I brought from my previous garden, PLUS find room for 3 full-size roses and 12 Drift roses in my petit' space. Happy? Yes, I am !!!!

Thursday, April 09, 2015

Waiting is SO hard!

A slow and reluctant learner, I would now consider myself a relatively patient person. This hasn't come easy! Over many years and many "lessons in patience" sent by the universe, I've had no choice but to learn this trait. 

Gardening is definitely a hobby that includes many of those lessons in patience. Every time I see a new bud forming on one of my plants I get all excited and can hardly wait for it to open.

orchid cactus

But as the days go by, it seems like it's taking that tiny bud FOREVER to open up. Of course it doesn't help that I keep check the buds a couple of times a day! The amaryllis' seem to be the worst when it comes to taking their sweet time to open their gorgeous trumpet flowers.
Apple blossom amaryllis

Oh, the painstaking patience it requires to be a gardener can sometimes be frustrating!
Black-eyed Susan

But, when the day comes that I check the garden and . . .

discover this . . . I am truly rewarded for my reluctant patience!
Sombreuil - old garden rose

Monday, April 06, 2015

Spring Amaryllis'

Nothing says "Spring" quite like the amaryllis. We may not be able to grow tulips here, but amaryllis' are right at home in our early spring gardens. And, who can resist these beautiful large blooms. 

Mostly, I have a variety of red bulbs that family and friends have shared with me over the years. I purchased the Apple Blossom (middle right photo), and Nancy (a gardening friend) gave me the unusual burgundy and green bulb (upper left photo). The orange and white stripe (lower left photo) was grown in a neighbor's yard when I was a kid. The flowers on this variety are particularly long-lasting.

Last week I purchased a solid white bulb, and I will look forward to seeing it bloom next spring.

As spring moves along, the daylilies have already started blooming and the agapanthus are sending up bud shoots all according to their natural rhythms.

Love, love, love Spring and all it's beautiful flowers!

Friday, March 27, 2015

Beautiful Sunny Days

The weather this past week was perfect - sunny and warm with a little rain tossed in.  I noticed that the Anole lizards were out in full force soaking up all the warmth. You hardly see any of them scampering around in the winter, but come sunny, warm days and they quickly reappear.

I personally like seeing them peering at me over the top of the patio wall or scurrying in front of me to get out of the way. 

My kitties (Zoe pictured here) love watching them, too! Fortunately, they're indoor cats but every once in awhile a misguided lizard ends up inside, and then they all have a field day going after the tiny little dinosaur. My daughter and I have rescued many a lizard by tossing a dish towel over it and scooping it up, but occasionally the cats win and the lizard becomes a tasty treat.

My dwarf Mulberry tree is loving the warm weather, too. With a new flush of spring green leaves in place, it didn't waste any time producing a crop of dwarf-sized fruit. Luckily, I've been able to get to the ripe ones before the birds. We had Mulberry trees in our neighborhood when I was a kid and our purple-stained mouths and fingers made it easy to see what we had been up to.

My little kitchen garden is happy to receive a little more sunshine these days. Swiss chard, broccoli, green peppers, green onions, basil, and a container of red potatoes are happily humming along. 

Everything looks so much more cheerful under the glow of a sunny day!

Monday, March 23, 2015

March Blooms

As I listen to the soft pitter patter of rain drops through the open window, I'm thankful for the much needed rainfall we're getting today. The grass was just starting to green up and now with the rain it's looking even better. After several bouts of brown patch (Zoysia grass is all new to me), I wasn't sure what it was going to look like come spring. But, not to worry, it is looking good.

On one of my many strolls through the garden this past Saturday I made an exciting discovery!  I always check the Milkweed for caterpillars, and today there they were . . . feasting away to their heart's content. Look at those two little guys just munching away!

Couldn't help but take one last photograph of my little Pygmy Fringe tree as its flower tassels are quickly being replaced by new leaves. It's such a delicate little blossom with a barely detectable scent!

 Just around the bend, the Nun's Orchid is rapidly opening her buds. She is in a container and gets center billing right smack in the middle of the shady garden pathway for now. Her flowers look like beautiful butterflies fluttering in the wind. The wind sure is hard on her foliage though!

Hope you're getting some of the raindrops from Heaven today!

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Ma Petit Jardin

Gardening is without a doubt essential to my well-being. I love everything about it - except weeds, of course! But, my most favorite part is the design process. Dreaming about the possibilities of a blank space can literally keep me awake at night.

I seek out lots of inspiration from magazines and Pinterest, then research plants and finally come up with an idea - which surprisingly looks nothing like my inspiration photos. Funny how that happens! Then it's non-stop planting and replanting until the look "feels right." My new "petite space" has been the biggest challenge yet, but progress is being made. 

Pathways are in but not fully completed yet. Sitting areas were established first. There are 4 benches in this tiny jewel of a yard with plans for a fifth one. One bench can be seen in the photo above, as well as the cheery red bench (below) which is a "house warming" or should I say "garden warming" gift from my mother and sister. 

Currently I'm working on the 10' narrow side yard where I will definitely be going vertical. But joyfully, I have been able to work in three small trees, as well as ferns and bromeliads in this mostly shady area. 

As I sit on my back patio and look out over my tiny expanse of a garden, I'm totally delighted with this cozy little space. It is definitely more than I ever thought it could be ~ ~  andI'm just getting started! 

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

A Borrowed View

As I keep moving right along on landscaping my backyard, it takes a while before it all starts to come together and look nice. It's a plus when you can start with a "borrowed" view. And, fortunately for me, one of my neighbors has a nice fence-line of greenery. Having their jasmine vine drape over my side of the fence is a BIG bonus! It softens the hard edges and floats in the wind. I'm weaving the long strands throughout my side to partially cover the fence. Behind it is a crape myrtle whose flowers I'll be able to enjoy all summer long. The Sabal (cabbage) palm is another wonderful layer of green that provides some height, and one that the birds love.

Running down the fence line are 3 large viburnum. The birds use these small trees as cover when they dart in and out of them to the feeders and birdbaths. Higher up there's a nice canopy of oak trees.  All these combine to make me feel nice and cozy in my backyard.

From that angle and the side yard there's a view of a breathtaking native Chickasaw Plum tree in full bloom. I can't get enough of this tree. Fortunately, I can see it from my kitchen and I can't stop admiring it. 

I've never seen a Chickasaw plum this beautiful. It is loaded with small white flowers and is a buzz with pollinators. 

They are truly in "bee heaven" as they drift from flower to flower. Hopefully, some of them will lay eggs in my bee house located in a couple of photos above. With any luck the small plums on this tree will keep our neighborhood birds happy. 

From a distance you cannot tell that the flowers have any pink on them at all. But a close up view reveals that the center stamens are a very pretty soft pink. 

It is simply stunning, and I am thoroughly enjoying this "borrowed view"of spring from my backyard. 

Tuesday, February 03, 2015

Daily Visitors

It was November 23rd when I noticed the first bird in my backyard. It was a Mockingbird enjoying a dip in the fountain that was filled with rainwater in my barren backyard. I was so excited that I immediately hung up several bird feeders and got busy adding plants to the backyard.

A short 2 1/2 months later and guess what? We've had a total of 15 different varieties of birds show up in our garden. How exciting!

Here's Mr. Cardinal taking cover beneath my neighbor's vine which hovers over my fence. I had the birdfeeder in the middle of the yard for 2 weeks without attracting any birds. Once I moved it next to this fence and vine, he showed up within an hour.

Here's the birds we've seen:

1 - Mr. and Mrs. Cardinal
2 - Gray catbird
3 - Brown thrasher
4 - White heron
5 - Red Shouldered hawk
6 - Ruby-throated hummingbird
7 - Northern Mockingbird
8 - White ibis
9 - Blue jay
10- Mr. and Mrs. Mourning dove
11- Carolina chickadees
12- Titmice
13- Carolina wren
14- Red-bellied woodpecker
15- Pileated woodpecker

It's amazing how quickly they show up when there there's food and some cover. We've placed some nesting material around the backyard and hung out a few nesting boxes in the hope of having some baby birds in the spring!!!! 

Putting Down Roots

Four months after moving into our new home, we are truly putting down roots. We are loving our little community, and with each and every passing month we are feeling at home. I've been on a planting marathon the last 2 months and our empty canvas is filling in very quickly.

 The 125 plants that I brought with me have almost all been planted and countless numbers of other plants have been purchased and added to our ever evolving little piece of paradise as evidenced by this growing stack of plastic pots. I've got to get them cleaned up and deliver them to the master gardeners.

Thanks to a mild winter that has brought steady rations of rain, my plants are noticeably putting down roots, too. No, I can't see their roots, but the plants are filling in and new growth is visible everywhere.

Just a couple more weeks . . . and I'll feel safe enough to plant some of my favorite tropical beauties. I can hardly wait until the end of summer to see how much the garden has grown and changed. Talk about impatience . . .I know . . . it's all about the journey . . .  yada, yada, yada! But, I still can't wait to see the plan begin to come together. So, while I wait, I take pleasure in the small signs of bigger things to come like the small baby leaves on the Red Buckeye tree that was started from a seed from my sister's tree. This tree is very slow to grow from a seed, and I'm excited to see that it likes its new location.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

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