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!

Thursday, December 31, 2009

December Orchids

It may be cold outside, but these heat-loving orchids don't seem to care...most likely because they're spending more time indoors than out. When temps dip below 50 degrees we "reluctantly" bring them inside where they take up a lot of space...dining room table, kitchen counters, floor & windows.

After a couple of days...like company you weren't expecting...(dare I say it nicely) they tend to get in the way, and you secretly wish they would leave!  :-(

Generally, the temps will drop below 50 for one night...sometimes two...and then quickly warm up again. But this year, the temperature is staying under 50 for 4, 5 even 6 days.

We brought the orchids in a week ago...took them outside yesterday to give them a huge drink of water...and will bring them in again tonight. And looking out at the extended forecast, they will be staying with us at least until next Wednesday...perhaps even longer. I shouldn't complain...my house is full of beautiful blooms and what could be cheerier than that in winter!

Oops, I almost forgot this phaleonopsis. It produces large flowers that last and last!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day

Gardeners from the south must chip in and keep the blooms coming for Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day at May Dreams Gardens.

So, from Florida here's a bright red bit of holiday cheer from these gerbera daisies. Quite cheery for us since we've had a number of dreary sunless days.

And, more Christmas cheer from this gorgeous hibicus

And, the roses want to join in on the celebration, too. And they are outdoing themselves during out late fall season.

And, of course it wouldn't be Christmas without a poinsettia.

Happy Holidays to all, and may all your gardens overflow with an abundance of blooms in 2010!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Day 12 of the Twelve Days of Christmas in the Florida Garden

A BIG thank you to Meems at Hoe & Shovel for hosting the 12 Days of Christmas in the Florida Garden.

It was a tremendous amount of fun scurrying around to come up with 12 posts in a row. At first, I wasn't sure it'd be possible, but I quickly found myself thoroughly enjoying the process and anticipating my next post.

For the 12th and final day...a bouquet (or container)...of holiday cheer. And in the words of Old St. Nicholas,
 "Ho, Ho, Ho, Merry Christmas!"

Friday, December 11, 2009

Day 11 of the Twelve Days of Christmas in the Florida Garden

Meems at Hoe & Shovel came up with the idea for the 12 Days of Christmas in the Florida Garden.

Companion Plants of a Different Sort!

Lurking behind this lush looking plant with variegated leaves is a couple of poinsettia bushes from past Christmas'. If you look close, you can see the dark green leaves of the poinsettia bushes to the bottom left. In the past, the poinsettia's always missed blooming by Christmas, peaking in January instead. Since they require a certain number of "dark hours" to set their bloom, I figured the motion-sensor light on the back porch was disturbing their sleep.
But since I planted this pretty foliage plant two years ago...without any intention...the poinsettia bushes have bloomed by Christmas. My "unscientific mind" has reasoned that the new plant is shading the poinsettia bushes just enough to keep their bloom schedule on time. They have...in turn...become "companion plants" of a different sort.

Here's a close-up view of the rain-drenched red flowers brightening my Florida garden. Next week, I will cut back the variegated plant (don't fret...it will freeze back in January, anyway) just enough, so that I can see the poinsettia bushes from inside my home.

How lucky I am that I planted the variegated plant...totally unbeknownst to me... in just the right spot. Sometimes we are blessed to be guided by unseen forces!

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Day 10 of the Twelve Days of Christmas in the Florida Garden

Meems at Hoe & Shovel came up with the idea for the 12 Days of Christmas in the Florida Garden.

My mother discovered this huge squirrel's nest lying on the ground in her backyard, and fortunately, she asked if I would like to have it...or rather, she asked if my daughter would. Either way, I jumped at the opportunity. My plan was to place it in the garden as a "natural" type of garden ornamentation.

The neat thing about this nest is that the squirrel built it in a Sabal palm tree, which accounts for the berries that you see wrapped around the outside of the nest. The fact that part of the berries came down with the nest makes it...in my opinion...extra special and decorative looking.

Before it found its way outback, I decided to decorate it for Christmas.
It was easy, since I had all the stuff in my Christmas stash. A pretty gold bow, a red poinsettia (of course), Mr. Cardinal (sorry, but Mrs. Cardinal isn't quite festive enough looking) and 3 brown eggs. So simple, even I could do it!
Here's a close-up look at the palm berries.
I placed the nest on a table between two white wicker chairs on my front porch, and I'm thinking about leaving it there permanently. Of course, I'll remove the festive decoration and create one that will work for the rest of the year. I only hope the neighborhood squirrel's don't get any crazy ideas about using it.

Thanks mom for giving me this "work of nature!"

Day 9 of the Twelve Days of Christmas in the Florida Garden

Meems at Hoe & Shovel came up with the idea for the 12 Days of Christmas in the Florida Garden.

A little reflection of Christmas in Florida!

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Day 8 of the Twelve Days of Christmas in the Florida Garden

Meems at Hoe & Shovel came up with the idea for the 12 Days of Christmas in the Florida Garden.

I came across this adorable flower pot, and when I saw it...of course... I just "had to have it." Who could resist that mischevious smirk on the plantman's impish face. I'm fascinated with tree faces, and have now discovered "potheads," as I've seen them referred to online. :-)

In the story "The Old House" by Hans Christian Andersen there was a description of...the old house...which included the flowerpots with faces on them:

There were old flowerpots with faces and donkey's ears, and flowers growing out of them just as they pleased. One of the pots was almost brimming over with carnations-that is, with the green part; shoot grew by shoot, and each seemed to say quite distinctly, "The air has blessed me, and the sun has kissed me and promised me a little flower on Sunday! A little flower on Sunday!"

I thought this description appropriate since the plant I have planted in this flowerpot is a Tillandsia..or air plant which is blessed by the air and kissed by the sun and produced a little flower this past Sunday when I discovered it.

Monday, December 07, 2009

Day 7 of the Twelve Days of Christmas in the Florida Garden

Meems at Hoe & Shovel came up with the idea for the 12 Days of Christmas in the Florida Garden.

I walked out my backdoor on Sunday to discover this bromeliad covered in pretty pink blossoms. I don't know the name of it, but my mother always refers to it as the "Christmas bromeliad" because it always blooms at Christmastime.

Its hot pink color with touches of white and fluorescent blue tips was a pleasant Christmas surprise.

A BIG thank you to Sylvia at My Trinkets for identifying this bromeliad as Bilbergia.

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Day 6 of the Twelve Days of Christmas in the Florida Garden

Meems at Hoe & Shovel came up with the idea for the 12 Days of Christmas in the Florida Garden.

This beautiful garden fairy is all decked out for the season with a cluster of holly berries at her feet.

Friday, December 04, 2009

Day 5 of the Twelve Days of Christmas in the Florida Garden

Meems at Hoe & Shovel came up with the idea for the 12 Days of Christmas in the Florida Garden.

Have a HOLLY Jolly Christmas...
And, a few Heavenly Bamboo berries, too!

Day 4 of the Twelve Days of Christmas in the Florida Garden

Meems at Hoe & Shovel came up with the idea for the 12 Days of Christmas in the Florida Garden.

This is the time of year when our navel oranges sweeten and ripen. I've seen flatbed semi's loaded with ladders and crates parked in the orange groves...ready for pickers to begin their task of picking each orange by hand. Soon I'll be plucking these deliciously healthy fruits off the branch and savoring each bite of sunshine.

This particular tree is called "fruit cocktail" because three different varieties of citrus --Hamlin, Navel & Ruby Red grapefruit -- are grafted together and produced on this one tree. It's a great way to save space in a small garden. Soon we'll be planting her in the ground.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Day 3 of the Twelve Days of Christmas in the Florida Garden

Meems at Hoe & Shovel came up with the idea for the 12 Days of Christmas in the Florida Garden.

Lucky for us we can grow veggies through the winter months. On a couple of frosty nights, I may have to toss a blanket over my broccoli and wrap one around the tomato bush, but the collard greens are unaffected.

It looks like the first head of broccoli is just about ripe! :-)

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Day 2 - Twelve Days of Christmas in a Florida Garden

Meems over at Hoe & Shovel has come up with a clever holiday blogging idea - The Twelve Days of Christmas in a Florida Garden. She's going to post "something" on her blog everyday for 12 days and she's encouraged her readers to join in.

It's definitely an ambitious undertaking at this time of year, but I think it's such a great idea that I'm willing to burn the midnight candle and join in.

A number of our orchids are coming in to bloom. This very yellow cattleya surpirsed me when I walked out on the back deck this past weekend. Orchids have a way of doing that - surprising you that is. I water them regularly and many times miss the emerging buds until the flowers pop open. Anyway, it was a very pleasant surprise.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

December Floats in on a Breeze

December has quietly arrived

and the decorating along with all the other hustle bustle of the season is officially underway.

Some of favorite flowers are in bloom at this time of year. Last November I placed four camellia plants around the base of a live oak tree, and this year they rewarded me with tons of purplish-pink blooms. The plants are loaded with blossoms and have been in non-stop bloom for the past month.
One of my favorite azaleas (Fashion) is starting to bloom. I love this azalea because it fares well in full sun and the blossoms last from now until January/February. That's a lot of mileage for azalea blooms.

A couple of summer stalwarts that are still in bloom-producing mode are these two Indian blanket flowers. A red and yellow combination, and

a solid yellow variety. I just cleaned up the spent blossoms on them a few weeks ago, gave them a shot of fertilizer, and they're back on track to bloom through the winter months.

The berries on the Nandina or Heavenly bamboo plant have turned red, and even the foliage is showing a tinge of blush. It's a plant that looks great all year, and then changes to add some color interest to the autumn and winter garden.

Our roses take a break from blooming during the hot summer months, but milder temps along with a quick haircut and a handful of fertilizer reinvigorates them and they happily produce new blooms before winter arrives.

These blossoms and the plants below are the Knock-out variety. Great hardy shrub roses that take very little care. As you can see on the photo above, the leaves look healthy and great without any evidence of black spot. And the best part is that I never, ever spray them!

Plus, their red color adds a little holiday cheer to the yard.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

November Musings

November is one of the most perfect months in Florida. As Summer’s unfaltering heat and oppressive humidity have finally faded away, it is replaced with balmy Chamber of Commerce weather. The kind of blissful days that draw even the most homebound person outdoors to soak up every minute of perfect weather.

I grab my bucket of garden tools and plan to start in the side yard pulling weeds and clipping back plants as I work my way around the house.

The bromeliads are in desperate need of thinning as they are encroaching on the brick walkway. The peacock ginger is slowly fading away until next spring and I can finally see my small collection of ceramic mushrooms again.

I discover this nasty little weed called Heartleaf Drymary is popping up in various parts of the yard where the grass is sparse from too much shade. If I ignore it, it’ll take over the yard in a heartbeat.

I spread some mulch and then decide to take a break. A large glass of ice cold water and an apple seem the perfect snack to enjoy while I sit on the deck and overlook my backyard.

I’m not seated long…more weeds to pull…potted plants need relocating…one idea after another pops into my head and I MUST do it now!

I grab some apple slices and stroll to the other side of the yard. The hibiscus seem to relish this time of year with an abundance of blooms.

This morning glory has decided to use this hibiscus plant as a trellis. They actually make quite a nice pair.

A pretty pink begonia dangles in the wind.

And a couple of Brown Turkey figs are ripe for picking. The day draws to an end, and...with a BIG smile on my face...I make plans for another "perfect" day in the garden tomorrow.

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Mount Dora Plant Festival

It was the perfect weekend for the Mount Dora Plant Festival. A breezy day in the 80's made it even more enjoyable. There was a good variety of vendors, and lots of customers loading up their carts or carrying bags of plants.

There were your usual stands of orchids, bromeliads, tropicals, and some really unusual plants like this hanging pitcher plant.

And, there was plenty of color around. Perennials and butterfly plants could be found in abundance.

My first intention was that I really didn't need anything, but I would go "just in case" their might be something out of the ordinary. Does that sound familiar to anyone? Then I remembered the tillandsia guy and the begonia vendor from last year, and I got a little excited thinking about picking up one of each.
Well, I did end up finding two tillandsias and 3 begonias. I must admit that when I'm confronted with numerous choices (especially plants), it's very hard to select just one. Plus the begonias were 3 for $5. Who could pass that up?

And, of course there were a few other plants I just couldn't pass up either.
Like this dazzling leopard lily with leaves that feel like a succulent and whose blooms are a pretty violet color. They had this plant potted in a hanging wire basket and the plant had surrounded the entire basket. It was stunning!

Oh, and this very unusual variegated fern. I've never seen one like this before, so "I just had to have it." You know the feeling, right?

Oh yeah, and this really cute crinkly-leaved fern and this beautiful red-colored bromeliad. I did, however, display some self-control. There were about 3 other ferns I wanted but I was determined I wasn't going to spend every penny I came with. So now, I'm looking forward to next year's festival. :-)

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