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!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Christmas Blooms

Instead of a white Christmas, it will be a warm one with temps expecting to reach 80 degrees. That's not exactly the wintry feel of Christmas that most people experience but our plants love it and there are plenty of blooms in the December garden.

My poinsettia bloomed in time and has yet to be touched by old man winter.

A plethora of orchid blossoms bask in the warm sunny days of December.

The Christmas bromeliad. My mom says this one blooms every Christmas, and once again she was right. It opened its first bloom yesterday.

A sunny orchid to brighten our day.

and another pretty holidayish bromeliad.
Wishing everyone a very Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 15, 2008

A Colorful Autumn

It's rare for our deciduous trees in Florida to turn brilliant colors of scarlet and gold in autumn because our weather is balmy in October and November. But this year we experienced early and consistent cool temperatures, and in return we got "real" fall trees. Even the sycamore and cypress trees usually turn more brown than golden, but not this year. They were golden and vibrant. Some of the most vibrant leaves were on the crepe myrtles. This maple tree below was draped in a cloak of deep burgundy.
And, this cypress tree looks very "holidayish" as it literally glows in the afternoon sunlight.
I was so astounded by the amount of color that I had a hard time keeping my eyes on the road as I drove around town. I'll take early cool temps every year if it brings a colorful fall down our way.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Blooms in the Fall Garden

The colors of autumn in my late November garden.
Orchids in rich golden colors with splashes of red or brown.

Colors in orange and red tones.



Fashion Azaleas

Bromeliads & Tillandsias

And, a volunteer tomato plant

Monday, November 17, 2008

More on the Light

This Lady palm is my favorite. The sunlight really lights up these fronds, and the blocks of dark green where the leaves criss-cross makes for a very interesting photo.

The dark burgundy backside of this Calathea leaf turns to shades of rose when drenched in sunlight.

The large leaves of the Lotus begonia look fabulous all lit up.

The neighbor's Ti plants look extraordinary.

Large-sized leaves, such as this Calathea, look great illuminated by the sun.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

All Aglow

As the late afternoon sun shines on my garden at an angle, certain plants just light up with a gorgeous glow. These three plants are all in close proximity to each other, and they seem to come alive as they are drenched in soft autumn sunlght.

This bromeliad is part of a larger patch. Iwish I had a better picture that shows the entire bunch. During the day they are a deep burgundy color but once the sun shines on them they just burst into a vibrant glow of color. I love looking at them and find myself taking frequent glances, as they are located outside my back porch and I can see them from the kitchen and patio.

This poinsettia is more subtle than the bromeliads but very beautiful in its own way. As you can see the flower is not the only part of this plant that is red.

Friday, November 07, 2008

It's a Jungle Out There!

Newcomers to Florida always say how hard it is to grow anything here. But the truth is, we're blessed with warm (and a generous portion of hot) weather year round and sufficient showers - all you have to do is plant it, and it will grow (even in sand)! Throughout the summer months my suburban yard transforms itself into a jungle.
A hodge podge of tropical delights - caladiums, crotons, bromeliads and pothos vines all blending together.
If you like neat and orderly, then you won't like gardening in Florida as plants easily multiply filling in every bit of space in the flowerbed. And, forget about plants that need trimming. You could spend your whole summer clipping away.

Instead, it's easier to sit back and enjoy while the plants have their way with your garden.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

The Cracker Rose

I've grown numerous antique roses before but Louis Philippe (also known as the Cracker Rose) is only one of four that has survived. I've had this plant for 10 years, during which time I moved it from one home to another. And this winter, I'm going to move her again to our new home. This time will be more of a challenge since she is now quite large.

Once the milder days of autumn arrive she kicks into gear with plenty of beautiful and (much) larger blooms than in summer. She even does well in partial shade. I'm guessing she probably gets about 5 hours of sunlight each day. This French rose is low maintenance - no blackspot - even in humid Florida. I hope she doesn't mind making one more move, as I just can't bring myself to leave her behind.

A Burst of Autumn Color

Fall color isn't always easy to come by in Florida. The signs of fall are there (in subtle ways) but you have to really look for them. Aside from our Golden raintrees, you can occassionally find a maple tree that is more colorful than usual but the leaf color is indeed minimal. Fortunately, we can count on flowers to add plenty of color to our fall gardens.

As I was taking a walk the other day I happened upon this bright yellow display of chrysanthemums in my neighbor's yard. I hadn't even noticed that these mums were growing there until they burst into bloom. I thought that he had placed these in the perfect location (center of his front yard), right next to the vibrant pink Ti plants. Now, everytime I drive or walk by, I enjoy glancing at this colorful patch of fall mums.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Frost on the Watermelon

While some folks may have frost on their pumpkins today, an unusual cool snap of 42 degrees almost put frost on my watermelon. Well, not quite but I just couldn't pass up the chance to use (and modify) an old garden expression that rarely applies to Florida. This cute little melon is compliments of the compost we added to our pepper plants. This surprise (but now identified) vine popped up along with about a dozen tomato plants from our composted vegetable scraps. We're still waiting to identify the tomatoes. All we can tell right now is that they are a small, round cherry type of some kind.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Nancy's Garden

My neighbor Nancy has an incredible garden. When you first see it your jaw drops open and you just can't quit saying "your garden is beautiful!" Her property backs up to a lake which previously was a phosphate pit about 100 years ago. The land has reclaimed itself beautifully as a lake surrounded by a forest of large live oak trees. Nancy has a mound in her backyard which is the result of the debris (sand, clay, peat) leftover once the phosphate was removed.

She has created a stunning garden on this mound and surrounding property that includes tons of rock, brick from old roads, and a multitude of plants. She gardens mostly in shade and tends to be drawn toward bromeliads, ferns, caladiums, ginger and a host of many unusual plants. It's hard to find a plant in your own yard to passalong to Nancy because she more than likely already has one. She is a very generous gardener who loves to share clippings or volunteer plants when you visit.

From my visit I got lots of ideas to use in my own garden which re-invigorated my interest in gardening following the hot summer months. It also set me off on a mini-shopping spree for summer clearance items!

Friday, July 25, 2008

On a Funny Note!

This cute little comic appeared in our local newspaper (The Ledger), and I thought it was so cute that I would share it. In case you can't make out the words, one jalapeno pepper says to another "Watch your back. They couldn't hang it on the tomato. Now they are coming for us."

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Garden Blogger's Bloom Day - The Heat is On!

It's mid-summer, and only the toughest plants can keep from withering in the heat and humidity of a Florida summer. So, before I set about snapping photos for Garden Blogger's Bloom Day, I thought I probably wouldn't find too many. Boy, was I wrong! There was so much to choose from that I couldn't even post all of the photos. Some of the other plants in bloom (not shown here) are: hibiscus (I'll do a separate post on those tropical beauties), lantana, pentas, begonia and ixora (definitely summer stalwarts), bromeliads (they love their place in the shade) and thryallis (which was just getting started).

I'll start off with the cool colors of summer - two orchids basking in the impermeable humidity.

Can't live in the south without having crepe myrtles. They may not have a scent but they bloom in abundance - twice, if you dead-head the first blossom.

This Rose of Sharon or Althea has a soft, delicate appearance. You don't see a lot of these around, and I don't know why. They are beautiful!

The Peace Lily does better outdoors for me than in. The dark green foliage and bright white blossom lights up shady nooks in the garden.

Impatiens add a lot of color to shady spots. These volunteers decided to nestle up against a bamboo palm in the side yard. So long, as they are in the shady they're not water-greedy.

Another favorite of mine is the Mandevilla vine. It's not an aggressive vine that is hard to control, and it blooms, blooms, blooms.

I find that Portulaca or Moss Rose does well in patio containers. It's not a messy plant. The flowers dead-head themselves by rolling into tiny little balls and don't stain the patio deck.

Also, this Crossandra is not too messy and it rewards us with lots of blooms.

I love this combination of bright cherry red Knock-out roses and deep purplish-blue perennial salvia. I scooped these 4 salvia plants up off the "bargain shelf" at Wal-mart for next to nothing and they have rewarded me with a profusion of blooms all summer.

Even this variety of Liriope is blooming with abandon. I can't recall the name, but it's not one I've used in the past. I only hope it's not one of those that keeps on spreading and I have to dig it up and separate it (yuk!) I like plants that mind their manners and the boundaries of other plants.

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