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, November 28, 2005

Welcome to my Garden!

I'm so glad you stopped by to take a stroll through my garden. We'll start in the front yard. As we step off the front porch, there's a private little area tucked off to the right. From the street this bench is disguised by the Pygmy Date palm tree in front of it. I like the fact that it's not visible from the street. It's a surprise as you walk up to the front door.

My front yard comes alive in spring with Azalea blooms. It originally was more of a shade garden until the hurricanes in 2004 toppled two trees. But the azaleas continue to do well. The azaleas are accompanied by the blossoms of the Magnolia tree, Indian Hawthorne and African Iris. In summer, we enjoy the red blossoms of Glorybower Clerodendron, Knock-out roses, Ixora, crinum lilies, caladiums and bromeliads.

Around the sideyard is one of my prize possessions...this Angel Trumpet in soft shades of apricot. This plant is the offspring of a plant my mother grew when I was a child. It has special meaning to me, and I've planted one in every yard I've had. It usually sustains some freeze damage each winter, but returns in spring to scent the garden with its delicious fragrance. Planted around it are white azaleas, milkweed, Indian Hawthorne, Hibiscus; all edged out with Giant Evergreen Liriope and Variegated Aztec grass.

Our backyard slopes down to a lake that once was an old (about 100 years ago) phosphate pit. Nature has done a great job of reclaiming what once was a huge hole in the ground. It is unusual to have a yard in Florida that is not flat. The previous owner of our home planted a groundcover (name unknown) that has done a good job of preventing erosion and looks lush and nice. We are fortunate to have many Live Oak trees from which to hang our Staghorn ferns from.

Here's a view from a little further back. It is a very peaceful backyard where we enjoy watching many varieties of birds, herons, anhingas, turtles, possums, armadillos, alligators (in the lake only), and an occassional black racer or rat snake.

Here's my favorite perennial bed. Even though it receives filtered sunlight, I enjoy growing Agapanthus, antique roses, daylilies, bromeliads, impatiens, azaleas, Blackberry lily, and Amaryllis.

Here's a partial view of it from a different angle. From inside the house we can watch the birds on the feeder or birdbath. The birds attracted to our feeder include blue jays, cardinals, titmouse, wrens, sparrows, and goldfinches in winter.

As we turn the corner there's a brick walkway (thanks to my husband), where there once was a muddy path. This area is where I grow the majority of the bromeliads I have. It's a large round bed that I share with a neighbor. On the neighbor's side is Lady palms and Ti Plants. My side includes Bromeliads, Peacock Ginger Begonias, Crotons, Impatiens, Aloe and Cast Iron plants.

One end of the walkway is flanked with Peace Lilies and crotons. I love the crotons for their colorful foliage. Luckily, this area has done well during cold spells in winter...I think the trees are responsible for this.

At the other end you'll find my neighbor's Ti Plants and Lady Palms. And, some of my orchids on the right side.

Here's my favorite chair in the corner of the deck. Reason being...the chartreuse color. It compliments every flower color imaginable. This chair is slowly rotting away, so I must always warn guests not to sit in it...otherwise, they'll end up flat on their backs.

Right next to our backyard porch is the perfect location for our orchids...about 50 of them. They thrive in this partly shaded and breezy area. Plus, we can enjoy their blooms from inside the house. Anyone who grows orchids knows how addictive they can be.

Here's a great view of my neighbor's portion of the flowerbed (the hot pink Ti plants). To the right side of the photo are two large Snow on the Bush plants. These plants provide some pink and white color under the shade of the oaks, and they do a great job of hiding my compost bin.

Now, let's take a break, sit for a spell on our deck, and enjoy some tea and cake as we continue chatting about plants. But, remember, don't sit in the adirondak chair. :-)

Thank you again for dropping by to take a stroll with me through my garden. I have enjoyed it immensely, and I hope you have, too. And, now, as I promised, here are some parting gifts to you for your garden. In the South, it's not appropriate to say "thank you" for passalong plants...in fact, it's downright bad luck. Instead, you should smile and say, "I know these plants will do very well in my garden."

Friday, November 11, 2005

The Silence of Dawn

It is dawn as I sit on the back porch, blanketed by the silence - complete silence - of a new day. It is the squirrel who first disturbs the stillness as he navigates the maze of interconnecting tree branches. To the left of me a lizard, in search of breakfast, darts after an unsuspecting bug.

Again, there is silence until a large water bird announces his arrival at the top of a tree with a loud squawk. The air, pleasantly cool, is completely still with the exception of some frayed palm leaves softly swaying in the gentlest of breezes. It is so quiet that you can hear the sound of dew dropping out of the trees and landing on the ground with a soft thud.

Then one by one, very quietly, I can hear the sound of birds as they begin to welcome the new day. A low hum of chatter is slowing growing louder as the day grows brighter. All of the neighborhood inhabitants are waking up and assuming their daily routine. The air is filled with the sound of busyness once again.

Friday, November 04, 2005

Birds in Motion

As I sat by the lake watching the ducks quite enjoying their daily bath, I found my attention being drawn to a large flock of black birds. The flock would soar high in to the air in unison, as though someone had given the "go" signal. They seemed to have an established flight pattern. Each bird having a designated position as they harmoniously shifted gears, and moved in a different direction as though their minds were one. They made several appointed runs as though they were rehearsing for an upcoming theatrical performace.

Eventually they broke from their pattern and began to fly willy-nilly before scattering off in different directions. I always wonder how they keep from flying into each other. It's an art form of nature that defies all understanding!

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Soulful Living

At the end of a week when your body is dragging and your soul feels depleted, you can find a well of sustenance at SoulfulLiving.com. No matter what your spiritual or religious belief is, there is something there for everyone.

They have a vast library of uplifting articles on every topic imaginable. It is a great online place to visit (one of my favorites) to recharge your batteries and get you on your way again.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

The Sound of Unseen Things

During fall and winter, I love to sit outside on a breezy day and listen as the wind roars through the trees. The tree branches are tossed to and fro in the wind - completely at its mercy. The trees ability to be flexible, yet strongly rooted in its foundation allows it to withstand the turbulent winds when they arrive. The wind, in and of itself, is silent and yet it finds its voice when it encounters an obstacle in its way. I've always thought of the sound of wind as the voice of God, and I find it comforting to feel and hear His presence.

As the wind falls silent for a few moments, I can hear the steady beat of a woodpecker's beak in the distance. The rhythmic and ceremonial drumming is soothing, and I close my eyes and drift away to the sounds of unseen things.

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