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!

Friday, January 29, 2010

January Orchids

Despite having spent two weeks indoors this month, we've got a handful of orchid in bloom. This orchid always reminds me of butterflies fluttering around. It blooms twice a year, and this time is sporting three long sprays of blooms.

This deep purple phaleonopsis will bloom for several months.

And, these two vandas are repeating for the second time in the last 6 months. They are a real treat!

I always get excited when I see a cattleya bud emerging. The flowers are so large and lovely.

And, a surprise...this is the first time this plant has bloomed for us. I bought it for my husband at an orchid show last spring based on the grower's recommendation. I was in search of a tangerine-color bloom. I am absolutely delighted with the flower...it's gorgeous!

Monday, January 25, 2010

My Favorites...this month!

Here are some of my favorite plants this month...begonia, Indian blanket flower, cast iron, nandina (a/k/a heavenly bamboo), and a piece of "sunny" garden decor.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Let's Go for a Walk...

It's sunny and 64 degrees outside, which makes it a great day to venture out. So, come for a walk with me and we'll see if we can find the "cold-hardiest" plants around. Make sure you put on a good pair of walking shoes, 'cause we may have to walk a bit to find some plants that aren't brown and shriveling up. :-)

Let's start with my yard...Hhmm! Oh, over here. This variegated Cast Iron plant is an old-fashioned, staple of the south, and it made it through completely unscathed. Very dependable and great looking, but it only likes shade. Plant it in the sun and you'll be extremely disappointed.

Two more favorites of mine. First is Nandina a/k/a Heavenly Bamboo...which is the name I prefer. It just sounds...well, so "heavenly."

and, Holly fern. This fern doesn't go crazy and spread like other ferns. Instead, it develops into healthy looking clumps of lush green. And, right about now, "lush green" looks really, really good.

My Daylily (pictured below), Society Garlic, and Agapanthus a/k/a Lily of the Nile (one of my favorites) came through like troopers. They're not blooming now, but come spring and early summer they'll put on a great show.

All of my Iris....African (pictured below), Brazilian, Flag, and Walking...also look great. These plants should be considered staples in everyone's yard. They're easy to maintain, they multiply, and they bloom their little hearts out.

I've mentioned Indian Blanket Flower (Gallardia) before, as a "favorite new" plant of mine. And, now that I see how well it did, I'm an even bigger fan. The top flowers were wilted but the buds still look great.

Here's a new plant I tried for the first time this past October...Gold Mound Sedum. The tag said it was hardy down to 26 degrees, and it looks like it passed the test. It's succulent-looking in nature, and I really love the chartreuse color. Looks like I'll be planting more of it.

Some other plants that did well in my garden are...
African Bush Daisies...yellow flowers
Roses...I'll be incorporating a few more antique varieties for sure
Thryallis...yellow flower
Lorapetlum...leaves turned slightly darker
St. Bernard's Lily...white flower
Rose of Sharon...another old southern favorite
Bulbine...yellow flower
Gardenia...shiny leaves and deliciously fragrant flowers
Beautyberry...native plant with purple berries
Brazilian Plum Pink Flamingo...shade loving plant

All my tropicals are toast for now, but the dependable plants I mentioned above are all in good shape and should brighten up my spring and summer garden.

Now, let's head down the road to see what else we can find. About now, I'm looking to replace some of my tropicals with some interesting and productive cold-hardy varieties.

Right away this Camellia jumps out of all the brown. I don't know why more folks don't grow them...they're a great green looking plant and their flowers are lovely, especially in winter.

One neighbor has some great looking clumps of Lamb's Ear that did well. I lke the gray color, too. You don't often find grayish colored plants that look this good.

Her neighbor which is Nancy...I wrote about her in a previous post...reports that her black-toned Ajuga groundcover, her gray-toned Yarrow (blooms white), and her flowering Dianthus are all unfazed. Her Confederate Jasmine vine also looks great.

Down the road this Red Sensation cordyline is the only one of this family to look great, and the Rosemary bush also looks good as new...both add great texture to the garden.

Here's a plant I couldn't identify. It's some sort of groundcover with varying tones of green, burgundy and cream. I think it might be Joseph's Coat. What do you think?

Well, I think our little walk was very productive. We found a lot of "cold-hardy" plants...30 in all... that we can incorporate into our own gardens, and not have to worry about them next winter. Thanks for coming along with me.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Global What???

GLOBAL COOLING - You Might Convince Me!

After 10 nights of freezing temperatures, memories of the winter of 2010 are permanently etched into the minds of Florida gardeners. The second Arctic blast that arrived on Saturday finished off the plants that had managed to squeak by to that point. And, with each passing day, some of the toughest plants gave way to the frost and temps in the upper 20's. This morning the tips of the azaleas (below) are hanging their heads, and even the liriope shows signs of frostbite.

As for the back and sideyard, where most of my tropical plants are, it is a sad state of affairs.

My heart sinks every night when I check the thermometer and see that it's already below freezing at 9pm. I know the carnage that's taking place in my garden.

And, I get a knot in my stomach when I walk around and survey the damage. We're all in the same boat though, as no yard has gone untouched.

Even the water birds (winter visitors) are trying to soak up some warmth from the sun as the thermometer reads 27 degrees.

The citrus growers have iced the orange trees for most of this week in an effort to save the trees. I'm  not sure how this process really works, but it must be helpful.

And, our local nursery is doing the same thing.

I consoled myself by heading to my local HD where I bought a rose bush and a gold-tipped ligustrum tree...neither of these plants freeze. They looked so sad because they had not been watered for a day or two, so I scooped them up for the total price of $10...took them home...watered them well...and put them inside the garage. Old Man Winter may have won this battle, but hope springs eternal in the hearts of gardeners...and our gardens will come alive with flowers come spring...or, maybe, closer to summer this year!

Friday, January 08, 2010

A Frosty Morning

These beautiful Sandhill Cranes were hanging out in the field at my daughter's school yesterday morning. They are always a site to behold, and this morning was no exception as they blended in with the frost that had settled overnight.

When I returned home, I found this little mockingbird sunning himself on my silver gazing ball. I wonder if the sun reflecting on the silver surface was doing an extra good job of warming his cold little body. He didn't seem to mind as I crept closer and closer to him. I guess he wasn't giving up his warm spot.

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

So Far, So Good....

So far we've escaped the damaging effect of below freezing temperatures on our tropical foliage. But the forecast through next Monday does not bode well for us. Temps will dip into the 20's and surely put a frosty bite on some of my favorite plants. So, I took one last opportunity to scavenge around the yard, taking clippings and quickly potting them. It might be cold outside but I can still dream about warmer days down the road, and save a few bucks on replacement plants while I'm at it!

Monday, January 04, 2010

The Big Chill

Five days of below 32 degree weather is what the meteorologist has forecasted for us this week. FIVE DAYS...that is totally unheard of. Two, possibly three...maaaybee. But five...NEVER!

So what do we do...

We pick the remaining tangerines on our tree...

We move all the large potted plants into the garage...

And the smaller ones into the breakfast nook... the cats love this idea as they search among them for lizards that may have come indoors, too.

We wrap the staghorn ferns in old sheets and blankets...this will work if the temps don't go toooo low! They look kinda creepy at night.

We bundle up the tomato plant which does have tomatoes on it.  This is probably a futile attempt on our part, but there's always a chance. Another ghostly figure in the yard. It's a good thing it's not a full moon.

Next, we head to the front yard in the hope of saving the variegated schflerra..the only interesting foliage plant in this area. More old mattress covers do the job up here. This is the first time ever that I used ALL the old blankets, sheets and mattress covers that we store in two large boxes in the garage just for this type of weather.

And, just in case you think we've lost our marbles...the neighbors have all done the same thing. Here's neighbor #1 to the west. He's purchased large tarps to cover his Ti plants and crotons.

I couldn't resist including this photo. No that's not a giraffe all bundled up in his backyard...it's a palm tree that's growing just a little bit north of its comfort zone.

Neighbor #2 to the east is trying to protect a fiddle leaf fig and ficus trees with covers and Christmas lights.

And lastly, neighbor #3 to the south has lots of little white ghosts in their front yard.

It looks like this might possibly be one of the coldest winters for us in a very long time. The coldest morning will be Tuesday at a projected 28 degrees. It looks like my "curb appeal" project is on the backburner for now.

Friday, January 01, 2010

A New Year...A New List!

A new year...a new list of garden projects! As I walked around my yard on the last day of 2009...camera in hand...to see what areas need sprucing up, I'm surprised to discover...more than I thought. You think you've got your bases covered and then when you stop...take a long look...you realize there's more you can do. But that's part of the fun of gardening.

There's always...fortunately...a new project just around the corner. So for 2010, I'll be focusing on giving my front yard some much needed "curb appeal".

The grass is in good shape and the green structure of plants is in place, but it looks a little dull. I've identified six areas...actually seven...that need a splash of color and a little pizzazz.

And, then there are some plants, like this wild and crazy African iris, that desperately needs to be divided.

Something tall and colorful to soften this hard corner is a must.

Ohhh, and what can you say about this dull area. YIKES!

And, the mailbox bed really has been neglected even though I look at it up close and personal everyday when I get the mail.

So, I'm delighted to see that I've got my work cut out for me in 2010. My mind is already playing around with ideas and plant combinations. Now, as soon as the weather warms up a bit I'll get started on my "curb appeal" project!

A Happy New Gardening Year to All!

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