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, January 29, 2009

January Orchids

January was a good month for orchid blooms, especially when you consider that they spent a lot of time indoors because of cold weather.
A couple of these carried over from December, and oh yea, there is a bromeliad stuffed in the middle. I bought it at Lowes. I just couldn't resist the sunset color combination.

I love this deep bold purple color. It looks like velvet.

This is a real beauty with a large and deliciously scented flower. It filled the entire kitchen with its sweet aroma, but on this day it is out soaking up the sunshine.

Ah, this is one of those very tiny orchids in a plastic bag that you find at one of the box stores. There is a picture attached to the plastic but you're never really sure what you'll get. I can't remember what the picture looked like but I am very pleased with this sunny yellow beauty.

I couldn't resist including this photo of Allie the cat. In our family, even the cats appreciate beautiful flowers. But as you can see, she has bad cat manners as she lies sandwiched between two orchid plants on the kitchen counter.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Reduce * Reuse * Recycle

The day finally arrived when I got sick and tired of looking at this messy corner of pots strewn here and there. As you can see, I'm not very good at keeping my stuff organized. When I'm in search of a pot, I move them all around, and then (yes, I admit it!) I walk away leaving my pots in disarray. Or when I'm finished planting I just toss the new pots on top.

The warmer weather this week has put me in the right mood to delve in and clean up this mess. I separated, stacked, swept, reorganized & tossed pots out all the while thinking, "Wow, I sure bought a lot of plants last year." When you purchase a handful at a time it doesn't seem like you've spent much. But when the pots are stacked all together it's a real eye-opener.

I did, however, enjoy looking at the plant tags and remembering which plants I purchased, until I knocked them off the garbage can lid one too many times. Then they just became an additional nuisance I didn't need around.

Finally, the job was complete, and I was satisfied with the results. I never part with the larger pots because I generally purchase small plants, and I need the larger ones for repotting. Now, I see that I need to get the bleach out and clean the concrete - always another task right around the corner!

But, I did manage to reduce my stash pretty significantly. Our county trash hauler recycles these nursery pots which makes me feel a lot better about tossing them in the garbage. But I shudder to think how many pots in the past I've sent to the local landfill. Fortunately, those days are over.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Would Someone Please Turn up the Heat!

Our second night of freezing temperatures (around 28 - 29) dusted our lawns with a coating of frozen ice. By 9:00 a.m. plants such as the crinum lilies, philodendrons and even the azalea buds were hanging their heads - victims of the chilly breath from Old Man Winter.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Chilly Weather Headed Our Way

It looks like winter is arriving here in Florida. We started out with unseasonally cool temps in November, followed by a warm December. But now that we are officially in our winter months (January & February), our first taste of really cold weather is headed our way. We'll have to bundle up our plants and bring our orchids indoors.

My mother came up with a great suggestion for my sister. She lives in a rural area where temperatures can be lower than in the city and she has a large number of orchids. My mom suggested that she place all of her orchids on a small trailer (used to haul 4-wheelers). She can easily bring them into the garage, and then pull them out again when it warms up.

I thought that was a great idea and it got me thinking about how I could simplify the task of hauling our 44 orchid plants in and out for the next couple of months.

Voila'! Thanks to my mom's idea I came up with a solution to my orchid conundrum. I used an outdoor table and cart (do you recognize these Jane?). I placed as many orchids as possible on these two pieces of outdoor furniture and now my husband and I can easily lift them and bring them into the house when necessary.

When it warms up, we place them right outside the back door on the patio for easy watering. I can't get all of my orchids on them, but it has significantly reduced the number of trips required to get them all indoors. My mom always comes up with good ideas!

The Making of a New Bloom

I look out my back window and unexpectedly discover a new orchid bloom just beginning to open.

I'm excited about the new whiteish green flower and wonder what color it will be. Later that afternoon one of the blooms is beginning to open up a little more.

The next morning a tinge of pale color is beginning to show up and the second bud is showing signs of opening up.

The next morning the one flower is open fully and the pale color is beginning to deepen, while the second bloom moves quickly to catch up.
On Friday, the second bloom is fully open.

And, by Sunday I can see what color this beauty will be. A beautiful soft hue of lilac with a yellow throat. I wonder where we got this orchid from until I visit my mom's blog and see that she has the same orchid in bloom. Now, all of the mysteries have been solved.

Monday, January 05, 2009

Turning Over a New Leaf

The nice thing about a new year is that it's a time to start fresh, to begin again, to do things differently. Last year I vowed to keep up with my garden maintenance better. I always wait until the weeds have taken over or the plants have grown beyond their bounds, and then I have a BIG clean-up job. Since I have two yards to take care of, I really needed to get my act together. For the most part I did a pretty good job. I still get behind now and then, but mostly I stayed on top of it.

Now, that brings me to 2009. I've been thinking about what I want to do differently or better this year. I know that I still need to stay really focused on regular maintenance chores, but I also need to take it one step further and stay on top of bug problems. As you can see the old leaves on my azaleas plants have had the juices sucked right out of them by those pesky lace bugs. I've had good results with Bayer Advanced Rose & Flower Insect granules in the past. The only problem is that I don't have a system set up to apply the stuff regularly. I guess I need some sort of calendar or perhaps a notebook might work better. I can jots dates down and look back when needed. There that might take care of those pesky bug problems.

But what about a little more fun in the garden. What I really want to do, no matter how busy life gets, is take a little walk around my garden each day. I want to see what secrets the garden holds, catch more flowers in bloom, see what plants are happy or not, and be more aware of what's happening as the seasons come and go.

So, for 2009, I'm turning over a new leaf (figuratively and literally - so I can see what bugs are hiding under there) and vowing to get better acquainted with my garden.

Sunday, January 04, 2009

A New Season Begins

We made a short holiday trip to the wintry state of Pennsylvania in search of snow. Unfortunately, temperatures ranged from the 30's to almost 70ish. And the only snow to be found were piles of dirty stuff on the side of the roads. We did, however, get a taste of cold weather which made our return home even sweeter.

If you're not from the north or some other cold weather climate you don't realize how bleak winter can be. It's cold, the sky is gray and overcast, and, most trees and plants are bare with the exception of the evergreens (which by the way, I was surprised to find that most folks don't decorate them for Christmas).

A trip up north in the winter makes me appreciate living in Florida. I couldn't live without the sunshine, the greeness and being able to garden 12 months out of the year.

As I took down the Christmas decorations in the warmth of an 80 degree day, I noticed the azaleas buds had swelled and were popping open in large bunches. For most folks, azaleas represent spring but in Florida they start to bloom in late winter. They are a little early this year because our temperatures have been on the warm side as of late.

I did notice that some other plants are putting out new growth, including a crepe myrtle. It feels like summer and the plants think its spring. But that's not necessarily good. We still have the possibility of some cold weather sneaking in within the next 6 to 8 weeks and zapping the tender new growth.

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