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, February 28, 2011

February at a Glance

~~ Notes on the February 2011 Garden ~~

You never know what kind of weather to expect in February. While, it's still officially wintertime for us, spring can show up early...as it has this year. Hurray! With a low temp of 38 degrees in early February, the last two weeks of the month have produced unseasonally warm temps into the upper 80's. 

But, unlike January, it's been a dry month...having received only a scant 1.36 inches of rain for the whole month...a total of 5.61 inches for the year so far.

There's lots of cleanup work to do this month...and, of course tons and tons (or so it seems) of Oak leaves to rake into the beds.

The warm weather is waking up plants and trees, as well as our local wildlife...who are enjoying soaking up all that warm sunshine.
I know exactly how they feel...as I enjoy feeling the warmth on my face, too.

The cool season flowers are still going strong adding lots of color to the garden. But everyday our traditional spring flowers are making their presence known as they burst into bloom one by one. A BIG thanks to Meems at Hoe & Shovel for writing about the Paperwhites  in her neighbor's garden. I planted a few bulbs and voila'...gorgeous (not so great smelling though) blossoms (lower right photo) for the past six weeks. I hope they will make a return appearance next winter. 
I noticed the paper whites have seed pods developing. 
Does anyone know if the seeds develop into bulbs once planted?


I planted this new variety of South African daisy (sorry, but I failed to keep the tag...so I don't have the exact  name) in my island bed. The center is such a dark purple that it almost looks black. I debated whether to buy it because, while I liked the bright white daisy the dark center...well, wasn't that pretty. But, I needed something next to the purple stokesia, so I thought I'd give it a try, and I haven't been disappointed by the end result.

Either the center looks more colorful in the bright sun or the purple stokesia has helped the dark purple center of the daisy look more purplely...I know that's not a "real" word, but my daughter would love it! :-)

Now on to those traditional Southern spring varieties. The Japonica camellias are taking center stage with their large and exquisite flowers. Over the last couple of years of  "very cold" winters I've planted more and more of these beauties and their cousins...the sasanquas...in my garden. The pink beauty below makes for a "lucky" 13 camellias bushes in all.

A garden wouldn't have that true southern feeling without azaleas. When they start to bloom I always want MORE of them, but I do have to remind myself that their bloom period is short. Spring would not be spring without a good smathering of them in the garden though. Three dwarf White Ruffles (check out the large white bud in the photo below - it's located in the lower right corner) and 4 Duc de Rohan were added beneath our young Live oak as it continues to expand its reach.
Pictured below: Purple formosa, George L. Tabor and White Ruffles

And, a new spring bloomer that was added last year was the Loropetalum chinense...fringe flower.  This plant plays a dual role in the garden...interesting dark burgundy foliage year round, and tons of breathtaking dark pink flowers in spring. Gorgeous!

The orange blossoms are filling the air with a sweet fragrance. Everytime I'm in the garden I get a whiff of them, and I automatically move closer and linger a bit to enjoy this memorable scent from my childhood. I can't wait until the nearby groves are covered with flowers, and the scent hangs heavy in the evening air. Wonderful!

The orchids are happy (and so am I) that they are back outdoors enjoying the warmth. And, speaking of warmth...this sunny yellow cattleya is looking very "spring-like." At first, I thought the yellow cat that bloomed in December had another stalk coming into bloom, but after closer inspection (and a quick glance back at my photos) I realized the other orchid didn't have the red-dotted center.

New Discoveries

Two pleasant discoveries were made in the garden this month. Earlier in February I moved four roses to a better location. The first discovery was that a branch touching the ground of a knock-out rose had rooted. After digging up the rose and severing the branch to the mother plant, I had a free knock-out rose to plant. 

Another free rose was discovered when I moved Sea Foam...a vintage rose...to a better location. The next week I returned to its old spot and discovered this perfect little baby rose growing there.

The same thing happened last year when a low branch on the Louis Philippe rose rooted and produced a new plant. So, if you want a free vintage rose (not sure how it works on hybrids) place a brick over a low hanging branch...forget about it for awhile...then check back later for your new rose (this works for azaleas, too).

Life's Simple Pleasures

Ripe tomatoes in February!
This tomato bush spent a good deal of time in the garage this past winter...and, while the tomatoes continued to grow they didn't turn red. Apparently, a little bit of warm weather was all they needed.

The new spring gardening season...the best time of the year...is well under way. For the next couple of months...you can find me in the garden. I'll worry about cleaning the house later! :-)


NanaK said...

February has been good to your garden. Looks like you have many spring plants emerging to bring their beauty your way soon. Love your camellias. I would love to add some more around here and may look into the japonicas for those big flowers. How wonderful to get two new roses by accident! I'm going to try that technique with a few of mine just for fun. I haven't had much luck trying to root them in pots. Your purple-centered daisy looks great with the asters. Have your asters multiplied at all? I just got some and I was told they make larger clumps that can be divided in spring.

daisy said...

Those paperwhites are stunning! You have so many beautiful blooms and tomatoes to boot! I'd leave the housework too! Enjoy!

FlowerLady said...

Wow Susan ~ You have a lot going on there, and I love it all, especially that Chinese fringe flower.

Don't you love getting 'free' plants, roses especially. :-)

It is too warm, too early, but it beats the cold we had. I just dread summers heat and humidity.

Happy Gardening & Happy Spring,


ChrisC said...

I really do need to clean my house.Seriously,clean it,but then I look outside,these days,and figure I can always do it on a rainy day.
Your garden looks fabulous!Love that yellow orchid.

Susan said...

Hi Kay...I've never been able to root the old-fashioned roses either, but the brick on a branch works great. I planted my aster in early winter and the clump has grown enough to divide it into 3 small plants. It bloomed through all the cold snaps and didn't get any freeze damage...and it's out in the open, completely unprotected...great plant!

Daisy...You notice I didn't complain about not being able to clean the house. :-)

Hi Flowerlady...I do love plants, especially roses. With all the roses you have, you must have had a few freebies. It has gotten quite warm a little too fast, but I'm sure there will be some mild cool snaps coming our way.

Kimberly said...

Susan, what a nice February! That pink fringe is glorious! And healthy tomatoes to boot!! I just planted a veggie garden...we'll see. My orange is blooming too, although it's entirely too little to produce fruit. That's OK..I love the fragrance!

Floridagirl said...

Yep, I've been noticing those piles of oak leaves as well. Yay for free mulch! I had that exact osteospermum a couple years back, and I loved the purple centers. They are very photogenic. I never seem to be able to keep those plants alive for more than a couple of years, even though it says "perennial" on the pots they come in. Hmmmm. Oooh, I saw the 'White Ruffles' at the nursery the other day, and they were so beautiful!

Ami said...

Hmmm, my souther garden doesn't have azaleas at all. Last year I thought about to get some for this year, but for some reason, I missed the season again. Also it seems azaleas are not that easy to find in the nursery down here.

How wonderful to get those free roses! February has been a wonderful month, but I really did not get much time in the garden with all kids' activities. That yellow catt is very beautiful. I do remember you have another solid yellow catt.

Happy gardening for the next a couple of months!

Susan said...

Chris...I totally agree with you..on beautiful days like this the house can wait.

Kimberly...Best of luck with your veggie garden.

FloridaGirl...I plant the yellow African bush daisies every winter and they don't even last a year. I still plant them as winter annuals because they bloom non-stop and don't freeze.

Hi Ami...I guess you are more tropical than the typical "southern garden." You are fortunate in that your tropicals don't sustain too much cold damage. Grow more orchids instead. :-)

Rick Brown said...

I think it is Ostica Blue Eye in your garden, Susan. http://www.floridafriendlyplants.com/Blog/post/2009/02/03/She-loves-me-She-loves-me-note280a6.aspx

Dani said...

Yeah, I'm over raking leaves too. :)

Dawn said...

Awesome pics as always.

You have more ripe tomats than I do, and I am in zone 10/11!!

Susan said...

Rick...Thanks for the I.D. on the white daisy. It really has performed well.

Dani...Keep raking those leaves.

Dawn...Hi and welcome! This tomato plant has been going since last August, so it's taken awhile to get a few ripe ones. Good luck with yours. I'm headed over to your blog now.

Deborah said...

Your garden is just ahead of mine in the season. I'm only just starting to see color. Beautiful flowers in yours, as always.

Meems said...

I planted that variety of osteospermum in the edible garden a couple of years in a row because I LOVED the deep purple(y) center contrasted with the white petals. This year I went with voltage yellow. They are all pretty and great bloomers. I'm hoping the voltage yellow lasts longer than the white ones did in the past. You've got some beautiful colors and blooms for this early in the season. Good planning and hard work. Enjoy your gardening.

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