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, May 02, 2011

April at a Glance

~  Notes on the April Garden ~

As April draws to a close...and spring along with it, I'm sorry to see it go. I love the cooler morning temps and the lower humidity but summer is impatient and seems determined to arrive early this year.

Hopefully, the heat and humidty will get the thunderstorms fired up soon as April was our driest month so far this year with a stingy .69 inches of rain...bringing us to 9.8 inches for the year.


As I stroll around the garden I'm surprised to see that a couple of cool-season plants are still going strong despite the hot afternoons. In January I planted 3 delphinium plants (colors unknown) and now the third plant has produced a HUGE spike of lavender blooms. This bloom is larger than the previous two and is a real beauty. The other two plants (a dark blue and a white) still look healthy and are producing smaller spikes of flowers. It'll be interesting to see how long the plants survive in the heat.
The wave petunias are still...amazingly...going strong, too. I'm sure it won't be for much longer though. I planted this winter annual to pick up the slack for the Mexican Bush Sage when the cold temps damaged its foliage. It did its job but now the bush sage is quickly reclaiming its turf.

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The Alpine stawberries are still producing tiny sweet berries that never seem to make it inside the house :-) and the English dogwood is winding down with just a handful of crisp white blooms left.
The pink and white cleome were  added to the island bed to add a bit of sparkle. And, some Mealy Cup Sage 'Victoria Blue,' some "volunteer" native ferns and a golden-colored Anise 'Florida Sunshine' were added to other spots around the garden.


The Flowering Maple planted last fall has been a most pleasant surprise.

A cold-hardy member of the hibiscus family...I planted her in full sun in the center of the island bed. She sailed through the winter with no problem. Even the frost didn't faze her.

If she passes the summer heat test, I'll be adding more of these plants to my garden. Don't you just love her delicate lantern-like flowers?

Since she has exploded in size the last couple of months I'm assuming that she is VERY happy with her spot, and I'm very happy with her presence in the garden.

The "March Madness" bloom affair continues in the garden with the daylilies determined not to be left out.
The orange (on the left) is a new addition from my late aunt's garden. It dies back during the winter but returns with vigor. The other two daylilies (on the right) are vigorous, old-time varieties from my stepfather's yard. They are fabulous sun-loving perennials!

And, yes, the caladiums want their moment in the spotlight...or in their case the shade.
I especially like the way the pink (sorry I don't know the name) caladium looks with the Louis Philippe rose.

The Dark Side of the Garden


As in life we must take the bad with the good...and, the garden is no different. These innocent looking (at least for now) little black creatures...the Eastern lubber grasshopper looks harmless enough, but they are wreaking havoc on the amaryllis, and soon many other plants will bear witness to their existence in the garden.

I give them a good foot-stomping when I see them, and I'll even go as far as squeezing them between my gloveless fingers, if need be. I know it sounds disgusting...but if I don't dispatch them now, I'll have to deal with them when they're BIG and GROSS!

First-time Bloomers in my Garden...
A couple of new plants added in the past 6 months...Red Shrimp, native Cherokee or Coral Bean, soft yellow bicolor African Iris also known as Peacock flower, deep purple buddleia and Tangerine shrimp.

The Faithful and Reliable in the Garden...
The plants I can count on to bloom year after year...Coreopsis, Indian Blanket flower...a particular favorite of mine, Nandina (Heavenly Bamboo), Texas Sage and Society Garlic.

Gardening by Color

Here's a favorite color combination of mine that I discovered quite by accident a number of years ago...blue/purple along with orange/yellow. I'm not sure why I like it so much...but, I do! It's very bold...even the cool deep purple is bold, and they just look very warm and inviting to me. 


April's Simple Pleasures
A few quiet moments with a cup of hot tea and the annual addition of Victoria's Gardens of Bliss!
A chance to study some beautiful gardens and dream...




As May approaches...the Agapanthus or Lily of the Nile are waking up, and stretching their long-stemmed flower stalks up to the sun. Soon we'll have a bed of these gorgeous bluish lavender spheres of blooms to keep the show going.

And, hopefully some rain will fall on all of our gardens as summer arrives in full force.

13 comments:

NanaK said...

Beautiful April garden, Susan. Your flowering maple has really exploded with blooms and in size! Mine are in dappled shade and are full of buds so I'm hoping for a similar explosion here soon. My little hummingbird has already been sipping from the early blooms.

NellJean said...

I'm impressed by the delphinium. I saw delphinium in Cairo, GA early one summer, don't know how long it lasted.

Some things you have blooming are just getting ready here in the edge of GA zone 8b, but Philadelphus has finished up quickly. African Iris is just putting out leaves.

Susan said...

Hi Kay...I'm hoping the Flowering Maple is a winner...I really like it. I saw a hummer on mine as well this past weekend, which is another reason I hope it does well. I saw a variegated (two-toned green) version in a magazine recently. it was really pretty.

NellJean...I don't expect the delphiniums to last too much longer but I have thoroughly enjoyed them in my garden this spring. You have so much to look forward to as spring continues heading your way. Enjoy!

daisy said...

Wow, you've got some wonderful blooms there! Enjoy your abundance!

Ami said...

Susan: You always have something unusal grow in your garden. Those delphiniums are just amazing!

What kind of cleomes are you growing? The classic ones or the one from proven winners? I got one from Proven Winners (Senorita Rosalita), with smaller flowers. It usually grows well until it flowers, and then suffer from stem borer. I had to cut them to almost ground, then it will grow back fast again. I read this pest only for South Florida, so yours should be okay. I love the big flowers from classic Cleome.

That color combination of blanket flower and blue mealy cup sage looks pretty. It is just nice when you got a favorite combination "by accident" :)

Sandra said...

Very pretty blooms and great photos. Absolutely beautiful flowers.
What wonderful rich color! The delphiniums are my favourite flowers.

Penny said...

Thoroughly enjoyed this visit to your garden, Susan! Sorry about your lubbers. I'm trying Nolo Bait this year -- organic biological control (what it doesn't kill is supposed to be rendered sterile so, theoretically, you kill off the population. We'll see. It doesn't stop me from squishing them with my bare hands when necessary!) ... Blanketflower and liatris is a nice orange/purple combo of plants that both like exactly the same conditions.

Susan said...

Daisy...I do like flowers of all kinds. Thanks.

Hi Ami...I can't remember who grew the cleome. They are a large variety...tall with a large bloom. I've grown them before without any problems...so I'm hoping there's not a new bug around that wants to feast on them. :-)

Sandra...I can see why delphiniums are your favorite. They are real beauties and very easy to grow.

Hey Penny...That nolo bait sounds wonderful. Where did you get it from? We have lots of them and with a vacant lot next door there's no one over there to squish them...so I need some assistance!

Meems said...

Hi Susan,
What a nice visit in your April/May garden. We FL gardeners know that when April fades we are on our way to hot humid conditions and this year it has come early. Enjoy all those flowering annuals while you can. I planted a flowering maple this spring and it has already put out new growth/blooms. I do hope it likes our summer.

I'm hand squishing lubbers, too. They are already molting and getting larger... yuck!yuck!

Your daylilies/caladiums/new additions of red shrimp/african iris/coral bean(mine has never bloomed*sigh*btw)all look fabulous. I'll be curious to see how your buddleia survives the summer.

Your faithful bloomers are all hard-working choices. Great post.
Meems

Susan said...

Hi Meems...Yes, the weather is getting warmer day by day. Fortunately, the mornings are still pleasant for working in the garden. Good luck with your coral bean...mine gets morning sun and a little more around mid-afternoon. The buddleias last anywhere from 2 to 3 years for me. They're not long-lived, but the butterflies like their flowers, so I keep one in the garden. Thanks for stopping by.

Nanette O'Hara said...

Love the orange and blue flower combo. Could that be because I am a Gator? I am looking for orange cosmos to pair with purple coneflower.

Susan said...

Hey Nanette...I'm not a gator fan (only watch pro-football) but at least I'm honoring the closest-to-me state college team with my flower colors :-)

I just bought some orange cosmos at Home Depot. Hope you can find some for your garden.

Kimberly said...

Susan, there is so much going on in your April garden! Your delphinium is breathtaking! I like your favorite color combo too..the purple/blue with orange/yellow is like fire and ice - perfect combination and perfect balance! And your daylilies are lovely! Your first-timers are very exciting - great hummer magnets. I'm going to add some of those to my garden eventually, but have vowed to wait for the rainy season before adding anything else. As for the lubbers, they really are disgusting. On my recent visit to our local park, I wandered into a field to get some shots...I suddenly realized I was surrounded by literally hundreds of black nasty lubbers on the tall grasses. It was eery...I left in a hurry. I'm shocked at the amount of damage they do - after 6 years in FL, this is my first time experiencing them in my yard. Finally, I must admire your caladiums - beautiful!

Lovely post, Susan!

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