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!

Sunday, April 26, 2020

The Jade Tooth

We are discovering Monarch chrysalis’ all around the house in very unusual places. One clever caterpillar decided to disguise herself as a jade tooth in this dragon garden ornament. How awesome is that! Each day my daughter photographed the chrysalis, waiting to see its debut as a beautiful butterfly. On the 11th day...miraculously, she unfolded her wings, breaking through the thin outer covering, and within minutes, the damp crinkled wings began to straighten and grow larger before our eyes. She clung to the dragon for another two hours...drying her wings in the warm sunlight.

Our sheltering at home has brought a new and welcomed ‘slowness’ to our lives. One that allows us to savor some of the miraculous happenings in our small backyard. 🐛🌿

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

A Spring Delight

One of the silver linings, for me, during this Covid pandemic has been the chance to slow down and savor more time at home. The amaryllis and Black & Blue salvia, along with Tropical red salvia in the background are creating a pretty spring vignette...one that I’m enjoying thoroughly! 🌿

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

The Sweet Smell of Summer

As a kid I can remember walking through the neighborhood and smelling the scent of freshly cut grass. Even as an adult, I still take a deep breath and savor the herb-like scent of grass. The steamy fresh scent after a rain shower is another wonderful childhood memory. Everything is refreshed and the drop in heat is reduced to what feels like a blanket of steam surrounding me. I still love to watch the steam rising from the asphalt roads and off the roof tops of homes. Quite an eerie feeling but one that's so familiar. And, there does seem to be a feeling of comfort in the familiar. 

One of the most familiar scents of summer from my childhood comes from the Angel Trumpet that my mother grew in her yard. My trumpet tree is an offspring - many generations removed - from her tree. It is covered with blossoms following, what seems like, record amounts of rain in June. Even in a considerable amount of shade, this plant rewards me with flowers and scent all year round. It's one of my favorites!

A new plant to my garden is the night-blooming jasmine. This plant is a monster!! It has a mind of its own and I'm constantly trimming it back off of the surrounding plants. It gobbled up and devoured the peach tree (the 2 visible trunks in the photo) a long time ago. In the evening, on toward darkness this plant is intoxicatingly fragrant. My mom always tells the story that our neighbor told her. She said to "never plant a night-blooming jasmine outside your bedroom window because the smell is so strong that you won't be able to sleep." Of course way back then we all slept with our windows open because we didn't have air conditioning. 

A new very subtle and, unfortunately, short-lived scent is the St. Christopher lily. I brought this plant from my aunt's garden to mine after she died.

The plant is similar to a crinum lily but shorter in stature,

 and the flowers are shaped more like a chalice than a lily.

It's a beautiful flower that gives off a subtle scent when you're near it. They fully opened over night and this morning I noticed the flowers had lots of little gnats all over the inside. A quick Google search and I learned that gnats feed on pollen, and do perform pollinating functions. How about that? You learn something new all the time.  

 I hope your garden is full of the sweet smell of summer, too!

Tuesday, May 09, 2017

One Last Perfect Weekend

This past weekend the weather felt more like "early spring." It felt wonderful and was most welcome, as our endless summer is right around the corner. We still have a couple of amaryllis' blooming in the garden. This particular variety comes from Mrs. Flora's garden. She was one of our neighbors when I was a kid. It's nice to have reminders of people, from my past, in the garden.

The sunny perennial bed has enjoyed our mild winter and warm spring, despite the lack of rain. The black-eyed Susan's, snapdragons and pentas are in full bloom. This garden bed puts a smile on my face and joy in my heart every time I look at it.  

I just love the carefree nature of the Black-eyed Susan's. 

They keep reminding me to let go and let nature do its thing in the garden. 

The snapdragons did very little through the winter, but once spring arrived they shot up like little rockets, and have been showering me with pretty pink blossoms for months. I will be sad to see them go.

The black-eyed Susan's are all volunteers and they are without a doubt, one of the happiest plants I've ever seen. They're not needy, always look great and the bees love them!

 There were lots of little bees humming from flower to flower. The underbelly of his little body is absolutely drenched in pollen. They just can't seem to get enough!

A close up view shows all that wonderful yellow pollen that this flower contains. They are without a doubt, the gift that keeps on giving. I bet the bees would agree with me!

Thursday, April 27, 2017

The Cardinal & the Tomatoes

I haven't had a "Veggie Tale" to tell in quite a while, so I was happy that Mr. Cardinal showed up and presented me with a story to share.

About a month ago, I was drinking a cup of coffee and looking out the back window at my garden. All of a sudden, a Cardinal landed on the stone wall surrounding the patio. My first thought was of pleasure at seeing this beautiful red bird in my garden. Seeing Cardinals is a common sight, but one I never tire of.  

Then, much to my dismay, he hopped on to one of the tomato plants. In a split second, I went from being pleased to being anxious. The thought that he is going to take a bite out of one or more of the fruits had me holding my breath.  It didn't take long before I exhaled with acceptance, and a reminder to take the good with the bad. If I want wildlife in my garden, I have to accept the fact that they might want to feast on those delicious Sweet Baby Girl cherry tomatoes, too. Right? 

But a few seconds later, I was relieved and delighted to see him emerge from the plant with a big fat green worm in his beak. That sight put a BIG smile on my face, as I realized I was observing nature working together in one of the best ways. 

I went out and checked, and my shiny red orbs were untouched! I was amazed at how wrapped up I got into that little bit of garden drama. 

Monday, February 27, 2017

The Late Winter Garden

Last time I checked the calendar, it's definitely late winter even though it feels like the end of spring going on summer. We really didn't have much of a winter this year at all, and that means less spring clean up in the garden. That's a good thing!

There's lots of Milkweed in the garden and it's all abloom. It has reseeded itself everywhere, and for the most part I leave it where it comes up.  Sometimes, I'll move it to create fuller bushes inside the borders of the flowerbeds. Even the Monarchs are visiting and laying eggs. That puts a smile on my face for sure! 

I've seen this solitary Robin at the fountain a couple of times in the past week. 

The large flocks were through in early January foraging the Camphor berries. He seems to be staying a bit longer to enjoy the sunshine and warmth. 

I've been enjoying a steady supply of tomatoes and kale all winter thanks to temperatures staying above the freezing mark.

The two bushes are so large that they are falling forward, so I've had to tie the plant to the post with, yes, that's an old pair of panty hose - lol! Works like a charm every time! 

New tomato plants went into the ground and planting tower today. Hopefully, it won't get too hot too fast, so that I can keep the tomatoes going for a few months. Very thankful for a mild winter!

Monday, December 19, 2016

The December Garden

It's hard to believe that it's December - - not because another year has almost come and gone, but because it feels more like May - - warm and humid!

We're used to having warm winters - - and quite frankly, I prefer it that way  - - but the humidity is another story. Even though the air is damp, we've had practically no rain at all since the hurricane back in October. Despite the lack of rain, the garden is dry but still humming along with the warm days. 

In the shade garden, the coleus is reaching new heights.

The Louis Philippe rose is bursting out all over, the kale is basking in the sunlight, 

and the strawberries and cherry tomatoes are beginning to blush.

On top of all that wonderfulness, we still have Gulf Fritillary caterpillars munching on the passion vine. I've seen quite a few butterflies in the garden this month. I've especially had a lot of Monarchs, which makes me very happy!

The Pipe vine is still blooming. I found this beauty on the ground and placed it in my potted water garden. Now I can enjoy it every time I walk by.

Even the native violets, in the walkway, are putting forth blooms. 

There's plenty of food around for the hummers, butterflies and birds. The red Firespike blooms, dotted throughout the garden beds, are adding to the festive season. So are the red pentas - sorry I was actually going to do a post without mentioning them. Guess it's just not possible (lol)!

These pretty little berries are dwindling on the Yaupon holly,

and, the Cardinal couple are foraging on the Firebush berries. Every time I walk in the yard, the birds are darting through the foliage for a tasty treat. Soon, I'll be rooting more plants to spread around the yard for my feathered friends.

So, as Christmas draws near, I'd like to wish my gardening friends a warm (going to be in the 80's) and joyous Christmas, as well as a blooming good 2017!

Sunday, November 06, 2016

The Autumn Garden

I, for one, am so GLAD that autumn days are here again!

A sure sign of autumn in my garden is when the Beautyberry plants are draped with their gorgeous purple-pearly berries. A Cardinal couple is always hanging out on this side of the house devouring these berries.

You will find numerous Beautyberries in my garden - all were originally growing here when I built my home. 

Two of my favorite plants - Thryallis and Cestrum have been keeping lock-step all summer with their yellow blooms. And, it doesn't look like they're slowing down a bit, as autumn arrives.

This collection of colorful foliage can be found on the left side of the front yard. 

Berries on the Firebush are another sign of autumn in my garden. The Cardinals also love these berries, while the butterflies and hummers love the nectar. It's a must-have plant in Florida. In fact, everyone should have several of these plants in the yard.

The Nandina is looking a bit fallish, too!

Another fall favorite - camellias! This is Sparkling Burgundy which I can count on to begin blooming in late September. Not one of the fanciest one, but she is the ultimate in reliability.

You knew I wouldn't do a post, without including a pic or two of my red heirloom pentas. I swear the butterflies would go on strike if I deleted this plant from my garden.  

 I have seen more Gulf Fritillary butterflies this fall than I did all summer. So glad they finally decided to come for an extended visit.

And, my final new exciting discovery in the garden - butterfly eggs. What's so exciting about this particular discovery is that these were laid by a Pipevine Swallowtail on my Pipevine. I saw a Swallowtail hovering on the vine, but had to leave the house quickly to pick up my daughter from school. When I got home, I immediately went outside and with a little searching found these eggs. I was tickled pink that the Pipevine Swallowtail butterflies have found my garden. 

That old saying - "Build it (or for gardeners - "Plant it"), and they will come" is so TRUE! It might take a while, but they will find it. I hope you make some wonderful new discoveries in your own garden this month.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Painful Relief

I spent the better part of last Thursday preparing the yard for the arrival of Hurricane Matthew. It's at times like these that you realize how much non-plant stuff you have in the garden. One day later and a garage and house full of patio furniture, garden doo dads, benches and various other stuff - - we filled our jugs of water and waited for the arrival of our uninvited guest. Thankfully the storm was not as strong as was expected but, nonetheless, he left his mark on my garden. From tattered and broken banana tree leaves . . .

 to branches and leaves scattered across the patio, his high gusty winds were busy wreaking their havoc.

 He blew and he blew until several plants, including my large elephant ears gave way and surrendered.

He snapped every dead branch in the oak and carefully disbursed them evenly across the walkway. He did a great job - don't you think?  He saved me some money since I won't need to hire a tree trimmer to clean out the trees now.

 He flattened my beloved red pentas and blackberry lilies. Even the amaryllis' look forlorn and exhausted after his unwelcomed visit.

He insisted that the yellow flowering candlestick plants would no longer be standing when he finished his unrestrained use of power.  He ripped a shingle from the roof of the birdfeeder and would have blown it down, too, had the crape myrtle not been there to lend its support. 

As I surveyed the yard Friday afternoon my spirits were lifted when I saw a hummingbird visit the red spike and a couple of teensy butterflies on the salvia.  They, too, were glad that Matthew was gone! The birds soon began squawking the good news, too. Things were returning to normal. The next day as I began cleaning up, I found 3 Monarch caterpillars on the ground and was able to place them back on the Milkweed plants - small joys in the life of a gardener.

As painful as it was to see this mess, it was a huge relief that all the big oaks around my home were still standing, and that the storm had been less than expected! We did however, lose electricity for 33 hours due to a huge oak down the road from us which took down the power lines. But, all-in-all it could have been a lot worse, and I'm thankful that it wasn't.

In closing, I must say it was so kind of Matthew to take the sticky humidity in our air with him when he left. It makes putting all that non-gardening stuff back in the yard a breeze!

I do hope my fellow Florida gardeners did not have any major devastation in their gardens. 

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