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!

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

May at a Glance

Oranges & Lemons Gaillardia
~~~ Notes from the May Garden ~~~

Wow, it seems like May has just whizzed by in such a gosh darn hurry to get on to summer. And, speaking of summer...isn't this Orange & Lemons gaillardia just the epitome of a summer flower? She's like a ray of sunshine beaming up at me everytime I pass her in the garden. She makes me smile!

This May has definitely been the driest month of the year so far. While three separate storms brought hope and a bit of windy weather with them...in the end, they only managed to sprinkle the garden with a bit more than an inch of rain. That was a big disappointment!


But May did bring a pleasant and unexpected surprise...a "real" cool front that actually lasted for 3 whole days. A reminder of those pleasantly cool spring mornings followed by humidless afternoons in the 80's. That was a total joy!


Even though we didn't have too many April showers, we did have plenty of May flowers. A lot of  plants are blooming, but I'd have to say the daylilies are at the head of the class. 
 These daylilies act as border plants for the island bed when they're not in bloom. The island bed has changed quite a bit in the last year, so I'll do an update on it soon.

Last year the red/yellow variety bloomed along with the solid yellows, but this year the red/yellow variety went first, followed by the solid yellows. Hhmm, I wonder why that would be?

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Finally, two finicky hydrangeas have decided on a location in the garden. Both of these plants have been relocated a couple of times in search of the right spot, and THANKFULLY they've finally found it! 
Now they're deciding if they're going to bloom blue or pink!
I'm envious of those gardeners who can grow them in full sun with very little water. My two "princesses" want very little to do with the sun, and they demand that I provide cool splashes of water on them regularly.
Lacecap
And, to make matters wors,e I've got an Oakleaf hydrangea that I've had to move once...he finally found a spot he likes, only to be somehow broken off near the base of the plant...and now, finally is about 2 feet tall again. I think he's gonna stay, too. I have to admit...quietly though...they are quite pretty and have attractive foliage.

More Flowers in the May garden....
Texas sage, Fruit cocktail shrimp plant & Agapanthus

Unknown cold-hardy butterfly plant (if anyone can I.D. it that would be great), Russian sage & Simpson Stopper

Coneflower, Yarrow, Sweet almond (heavenly fragrance) & Mealy cup sage in a pale shade of blue.

Two nice-sized patches...one pink, one white...of Gaura a/k/a whirling butterfly. The pink looks so pretty against the gray fronds of the Bismarck palm.
And some fruit and veggies, too...
Blackberries (Navaho & Apache - both thornless varieties), Fennel producing seeds, Sungold tomatoes (excellent producer/wonderful taste), Currant tomatoes (terrifically sweet taste) & Red mulberries (a yummy memory from my childhood)

And, some orchids, too...

May's Simple Pleasures...
Enjoying a bowlful of warm blueberry crisp on Memorial Day in complete gratitude to the men and women who so bravely serve(d) our country to protect the freedom that we enjoy today. Thank you!

Queen butterfly on Milkweed


And, in closing, I have to say that even though the afternoons are quite warm...the humidity has been low (for this time of the year)...and it was a very pleasant month right up through to the end.

That doesn't always happen, so I'm VERY thankful that May is gently easing us into summer!

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Naturally Pretty

A weed...yes, that is what most people would call this flower...a weed!

I don't know about you but this dainty, adorable little yellow flower is a welcome "native" and one of many that can be found growing and blooming...along with other pretty little natives...in a meadow area (that is about an acre in size) on our property. Every spring we let the grass grow and soon the "natives" show up in all their splendor. 


In pretty pastel yellows...

And spunky little white frilly-edged, tiny flowers with yellow pincushion centers. Talk about sweet...the Southern fleabane is oh, so sweet looking!

The butterflies really love the pinkish red blooms of Tasselflower...so much so, that I leave them in flowerbeds  around my home when they turn up.

Delicate bluish-purple wild Carolina petunias pop up everywhere. See the little insect on the upper right petal...he blends in so nicely. One of the marvels of nature.

 Morning glories with blush shaded edges weave their way through the grasss attracting insects to its sweet pollen...

Here's a photo later in the day when the purple shading is at its best...

And, blue spiderwort that thrives in wet or dry ground. All of these plants are self-sufficient...only depending on the water provided by Mother Nature...

The aptly named Spanish Needles form nice colonies of white daisy-like flowers...

And, all are loved by pollinators of all kinds...
I believe it was Emerson who said, "A weed is merely a plant whose virtues have not yet been discovered." Well, this Gray Hairstreak has certainly discovered the virtues of Southern fleabane.

Tall stalks of beautiful red-veined yellow orchid-like flowers are most welcome. I never pull these up...letting them go to seed, so they'll return the next spring...

And, pretty golden-colored native grasses glow in the sunlight and move in tandem with the breeze...

A garden of a different sort...one touched only by the hand of nature.

It's naturally pretty!

Monday, May 16, 2011

Stemsational

You know how you walk through your garden time after time...looking to see what's doing well...what's new...or what's blooming, and then one day something different catches your eye and you lean in for a closer look. The next thing you know you're noticing this "something different" all over the garden.

Well, that happened to me the other day when I caught sight of this crimson-colored stem on the abelia. The chartreuse leaves next to the deep red crimson stem highlighted by the sun caught my eye...it was a striking combination.

The next thing I knew, the stems on other plants were jumping out at me wherever I walked...like the fuzzy water-filled stems of this begonia. I just had to reach out and touch it.

And, then there was the burgundy stems on the Japanese painted fern.

Everywhere I turned...more pretty stems!
In this case...a jungle of black elephant ear stems swaying in the breeze.

And, this very unusual spotted stem on and even more unusual plant...the amorphophallus that my neighbor Nancy gave me.

Does this every happen to you?
Something unusual that you rarely notice catches your eye...and then you can't help but notice it all around your garden.

Thursday, May 05, 2011

Bee Heaven

A little slice of "bee heaven"

I couldn't help but notice that the bees were lovin the  Gaillardia Indian Blanket Flower...
Not just one...but many! There's two bees in this photo...

Each photo is of a different bee...


Here's a pretty green bee...

There are lots of other flowers in the garden...but all the bees are here..

I wonder if the blanket flower's sweet nectar is to bees what chocolate is to me...irresistably good!


If so...it must be the best tasting in the garden.
By the way, I love these hardworking flowers as much as the bees do...for other reasons though! :-)

P.S. Don't you think Indian blanket flowers are photogenic? They're so easy to photograph...even for an amateur like me... and they always...always...look beautiful!

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.

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