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!

Thursday, September 30, 2010

The Garden's Softer Side

This past spring, I planted a Mexican bush sage in the sunny island bed.  What I didn't realize at the time was that she wasn't going to mind her manners...that she was going to infringe on her neighbors...which have become lost beneath her big, beautiful, bushy flowering spikes.
She's made sure that no other plants would spoil her debut in the island bed.




But, she's putting on such a spectacular autumn display that I have forgiven her for being somewhat obtrusive.

She definitely likes taking center stage in the front yard, so this past weekend I moved some of the plants hidden beneath her skirt. Her bulging size was a good excuse...I mean reason...to expand this garden bed, as I needed the space to move everything a little bit forward.



             
 Here's a closer look at her spectacular purple flower spikes.
Who can resist the gray-green foliage and the soft, velvety flower spikes...absolutely lovely!

Ahhh, while she IS the most dominant force in the island bed this fall...she does have some competition in beauty and softness.
The red fountain grass is giving her a run for her money.
Don't they make a wonderful couple?



The soft, magenta-colored, furry tassels on the fountain grass scream (elegantly, of course) autumn as they flow to and fro in the breeze.

So, what a wonderful surprise it was when these two plants...that have spent the summer maturing into a grand size...burst into bloom this month.

It's a good thing they'll both need a severe trim after winter, since other plants will vie for their chance at being shining stars in the island bed in upcoming seasons.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Cat Tales

Oh, I'll bet when you read the title of this post, you thought I had misspelled "tales"...especially when you saw the photo. Come on...admit it...you know you did. :-)

Well, the truth is that I have two "cat tales" to share with you. The first is actually on cat tails. The clay soil at our new house stays moist about 9 months out of the year, so we weren't surprised to see these cat tails pop up between our property and the vacant lot next to us. I've never grown "cat tails" before, so I was excited at this new discovery.

Now, for the second of my "cat tales."

 
Our two cats...Makayla and Allie...really, really like their veggies. And, since they're indoor cats you can guess what they're eating. 
YES, MY PLANTS!
Here, Makayla is munching on some parsley. I swear our cats have the freshest cat breath around, but they're putting a serious hurting on my patio plants. What am I to do? I've relocated most of them to the back deck, and I buy canned cat food that includes veggies,
but still...they keep munching.







During my last visit to a local nursery I mentioned this to the proprietor and she suggested I plant some "cat grass." She handed me a packet of Organic...can you believe it...organic cat grass seed.

So, I thought what the heck...I'll give it a try!







My daughter and I planted it in a pot, kept it damp and 'voila within a few days we had a nice crop of cat oats.


Now, for the true test. We placed it on the patio and waited for the cats to find it. Hmmm, Makayla is cautiously checking it out...giving it the old sniff test, and then....yes, a taste. Hurray...she seems to like it!

Now, for our picky eater, Allie (check out the hair in those ears). She's curious, too. Oh, goody, she's taking a bite...

WHAT!  Yikes...she's sitting on the grass. Can you believe it? Yes, you're seeing right...this indoor kitty would rather sit on the grass than eat it. Now, she's making me feel bad that I don't let her roam around outside. Oh well, I guess I'll just have to keep my plants on the back deck instead of the patio. :-)

Friday, September 24, 2010

My Favorites...this month!

September is a transitional month in the Florida garden, as the slow arrival of autumn-inspired plants join forces with the tropical blooms of summer...keeping the garden colorful with both flowers and foliage. Yes, autumn is different in Florida...but nonetheless...colorful in our own unique way.

My favorites this month are from left to right....a dwarf variety of Nandina 'Firepower' (heavenly bamboo, as I prefer to call it) whose green leaves begin to take on a reddish color if the plant is located in the sun. A red variety of Gaillardia...Indian blanket flower 'Burgundy' mixes well with its neighbor the dwarf nandina. Mexican Bush Sage that bursts into bloom in early September after spending the summer growing into a VERY LARGE bush (more on this bush in a future post). The blossoms are soft as velvet.
Firebush...a good-looking and hard-working plant that supplies endless nectar to a number of butterflies, moths, bees and hummingbirds...who doesn't love this fabulous Florida-friendly plant!  Another native, American Beautyberry sports berries that look like purple pearls.  And, lastly, the pretty foliage of the variegated Confederate jasmine...much more interesting than it's solid green cousin, and just as fragrant when it blooms. 

Still looking fresh at the end of summer!
Here's a favorite plant combo that still looks great at the end of our long, hot summer...periwinkles (or vinca) and flax lily. This particular deep pink color of the periwinkles is my favorite. It's a simple color combo, but one that is crisp and bright.

September's Simple Pleasures

Getting back into the garden!

When September arrives I sigh with relief because I know it won't be long before the best part of the year...weather wise...begins. I feel the urge to get back in the garden...weeding...trimming...planting...just enjoying being outdoors.

AND

September is the beginning of another favorite season for me....football!

I've cheered the Dolphins on since the 70's -- when I was a kid, of course :-) -- and this year will be no different. So, for 3 hours on Sunday the garden will have to wait.

Go Dolphins!

What are your favorites this month? If you'd like to join me in posting your favorites for the month, please do...they don't have to be in collage form...but do leave a comment, so I can drop by and see your favorites later this weekend.  :-) 

Thursday, September 16, 2010

The September Garden

The month of September is filled with anticipation and antsiness for me because
the best weather of the year will soon be here...temps in the 80's and lower humidty! :-)

My September garden is colorful with a variety of plant blossoms. The masses of liriope border have bloomed to their little hearts content this summer, and it seems to me that 'big blue' is a more prolific bloomer. I can't forget the little yellow coreopsis in the background that also has bloomed well this summer.


And, what a sweet couple this combination makes. Soft white with a hint of pink...Seafoam, an antique variety is not letting the purple pentas outbloom it. They look pretty cozy there next to each other.

This plump little Bumble Bee is making sure he gets every last bit of nectar out of the center of this Mexican petunia.

The Swedish ivy planted in the ground has spread quickly this summer. I stuck a broken terracota plant at the base of it to look as though it is a potted plant that tipped over. Throwing out broken pots seems like a waste, so I was happy to "borrow" this idea from a photo I saw in a magazine.

 Our orchids were slow to bloom this summer after having spent most of the winter indoors. But, now many are setting buds and gracing us with their flawless beauty. Backlit by the sun...it's all aglow!

And, the buds on this exotic-looking specimen is just beginning to reveal its inner-beauty.

It definitely is not a disappointment...as if any orchid ever could be.

This spray of orchid flowers look like butterflies fluttering around in the breeze.

The never-ending worldy conflict of light vs. darkness...in the garden there is no conflict...they graciously complement each other. 

Soon the birds will be enjoying the special treat of Beautyberry. They do look like they'd be quite tasty.

Beach sunflower is so easy-going and undemanding, that sometimes I forget about it. It's located in the very back of the garden and is shielded from view on one side by larger plants. It quietly continues marching through open territory, covering bare ground...blooming its simple but pretty yellow flower all summer.  

How interesting that the pink hydrangea flower has faded mostly to a creamy white. Still very pretty! 

Texas sage is putting forth some new blooms. I love the grayish tone of the foliage on this undemanding plant.

A happy new gardening season to all my Florida gardening friends!

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