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, October 27, 2010

Five Years Later

Little did I know that five years ago this month, I was about to get hooked on blogging. Five years, and 235 posts later...I'm still blogging, and enjoying it more than ever.

It all started when I discovered Fragments from Floyd...a blog written by Fred First about life in Floyd County, Virginia. I was so taken with his beautiful photography and heartfelt thoughts, that I decided to give it a whirl. My blog didn't start out as a garden blog...it was more about life's simple pleasures...but it quickly evolved into one.

Blogging has been a positive force for me and my garden. I have enjoyed reading other blogs, making new friends and interacting with them through their blog, as well as meeting some in person. It's tremendous how much I've learned from what others have written. It has made me a better gardener, and my garden has flourished with newfound ideas and knowledge. Gardener's are very warm and generous people by nature, and they love sharing information as well as plants.

From my humble perspective, garden blogs are one example of  "what's right" in this world --kind and passionate people, communicating and generously sharing what they know -- making the world a better place!

To all of you who write such wonderful blogs, and those of you who visit my blog-- I would like to say "thank you!" It has been sooooo much fun, very enjoyable as well as enlightening, and I look forward to the fun continuing.

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Now for a look back...  

My first post was created from a template of a poem written by George Ella Lyons that Fragments From Floyd posted on his blog. It was a lot of fun to write, and it brought back memories that I hadn't thought about in years. In visiting the past, I realized the profound impact those years have had on who I am today.

Where I'm From

I am from the humid and still heat of the South, from Noxzema and home-cooked German meals.
I am from a simple place, a dirt road, the saving grace of books, and endless summer days.
I am from orange blossoms and palm trees, saturating the air and swaying in the breeze.
I am from memorable holiday celebrations, from sensible German heritage-hearty stock, frugal and stubborn.

I am from an inner world where thoughts and feelings are closely guarded.
From the endless affirmation that a good work ethic is a virtue.
I am from the traditional realm of Martin Luther, idealism, the voice of intuition, fairy tales & happy endings.
I am from the land of Spanish moss and oak trees, from the old world of castles & knights, orangesicles & sauerkraut.

From an optimist and a homebody, from grandparents I barely knew but inherited a love for the soil.
I am from a world neatly saved and cherished, the earthy smell of steamy rainshowers, family walks after dinner, unending thoughts & questions.

Keep blogging everybody as your beautiful photos and your love and care of the earth along with its wild creatures...in the words of Clarissa Pinkola Estes...really do help "Mend the part of the world that is within your reach."

And, don't forget to create your own "Where I'm From" poem - you'll learn a lot about yourself!

Monday, October 25, 2010

My Favorites...this month!

Autumn Favorites

Summers in Florida are long and hot, so when autumn rolls around there's much to celebrate...crisp mornings, pleasantly warm afternoons, low humidity, soft golden sunlight, and LOTS of color.

It's not our tree color that will take your breath away...
it's the flower color...in every shade imaginable...that puts a smile on my face.

So, please forgive me in advance  for this long post on my October favorites....but autumn makes me a very, very happy gardener. 


Roses love autumn, too, and Sombreuill's (antique French variety) simple beauty and intoxicating fragrance is wonderful. I love the unique color and the name of the waxy-feeling flower of Allamanda 'Cherries Jubilee'.  The bright yellow Cassia "Alata' or, as I prefer...Candlestick bloom is a real eye-catcher and a favorite of the Cloudless Sulphur butterflies, and the chubby little bumble bee you see in the photo. Right on schedule, the Sasanqua camellias 'Sparkling Burgundy'...which are loaded with buds...will bloom into winter. And, lastly this cute little red tubular flower (sorry, but I don't know the name...perhaps someone can identify it for me) is popular with the hummers.

The orchids got off to a late start this year, but the wait was well worth it.

Soft purple and green foliage seems to dominate the autumn garden. The pretty cordyline was one I received as a passalong plant from my neighbor Nancy. Striking leather-looking foliage on the Alocasia 'Amazonica' was what attracted me to this plant...it's a real standout in the garden. One of my newly favorite plants is the Lorapetlum 'Ruby'. I love the dark-colored leaves in shades of burgundy and green, and the dark hot pink flowers that it produces a couple times of year is the icing on the cake. And, lastly American Beauty Berry is so very pretty in the garden....and, the birds love it, too!

Ornamental grasses are so fall...don't you think? The upper left and lower right...at different stages...are from the same large variegated variety of grass. It was a variety that was unfortunately unnamed when I purchased it, but I liked it so much that I decided to give it a try, and it has done well over the last two years. Other ornamental grasses shown are Pink Muhly and Red Fountain.

Wild Things
In my wildlife area, I let the native wildflowers take over in the spring and fall. I was delighted to discover the plant...Showy Rattlebox 'Crotalaria spectabilis'...with the pretty stalk of yellow flowers. They look like little orchids. I'm definitely going to save some seeds from it. The upper left photo with the yellow stuff on a rotting log appears to be some kind of fungi. I love the bright yellow color. And, the cute little pink flower...I think it's some kind of mallow is a favorite of the Bumble Bees.

Autumn's Simple Pleasures

Chrysanthemums are the quintessential autumn flower. While some folks might think of them as too old-fashioned or ordinary a flower...it wouldn't feel like autumn to me without these traditional beauties gracing my front and back porch.

I love their scent, too!
                Pretty at all stages of bloom.

Just take a look at their simple beauty!

This year I'm borrowing an idea from my neighbor, and planting these in the ground. He's got a nice sized patch of yellow mums that rebloom twice each year, and they look stunning in his garden.

Breakfast on the Patio
Coffee and hot chocolate...with marshmallows, of course...along, with some apple streusel muffins for breakfast enjoyed on a refreshingly cool morning.

What amazing autumn color is in your Florida garden?
 If you'd like to join me in posting your favorites for the month, please do...they don't have to be in collage form...but do leave a comment, so I can drop by and see your favorites.

Monday, October 18, 2010

First Harvest

While watering the garden, I discovered some green beans that were ready to be harvested. It seemed to early to check, so I was surprised at my discovery. I guess I better check my veggies a little closer from now on.

A few to eat with the promise of more to come.

The green onions and the leeks are progressing nicely.

Strawberries (on the left) planted last year are still looking good and are now producing babies. We're looking forward to some sweet berries in late winter. And, the sweet potato plant (on the right) continues to spread itself like a blanket across my limited garden space.

The delicate tendrils of the cucumbers are attaching themselves to their support, and climbing higher by the day.
I'm always amazed at how this process works.
But, there is a pesky little pest that is starting to make the pretty fuzzy leaves look like lace.
Does anyone have any tips on how to stop their destruction?

Herbs from early spring are still providing us with plenty of spice for our food, as well as some pretty flowers on the basil.

Soon I'll be eating summer squash....one of my favorites! 

More green onions...left over from early spring are still going strong. These onions are one of the easiest crops for me to grow. No pests attack them, and they even tolerate drying out in their container when I forget to water them. And, since the cooler weather has arrived...the tomato plant has ballooned in size and is beginning to set fruit. Can't wait for some yummy beefsteak tomatoes.

I hope all of your veggie gardens are growing well, and that your harvests will be plentiful!

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Autumn Joy

The days of autumn are pure joy!

My garden is happily transitioning into autumn, as evidenced by the changing color of the foliage and berries on the Heavenly bamboo. This plant looks good in all four seasons.

The hibiscus that were so severely damaged last winter have returned to their full glory. I have missed their gorgeous flowers, and am so happy to have them back.

So colorful are these tropical beauties basking in the sunshine.

This cordyline...a passalong from my neighbor...is sporting some creamy white flower spikes for the first time.   

And, the very unusual Dutchman's pipe is loaded with buds and flowers. Such an odd sight...but the butterflies love it.

Getting back out in the garden means visiting my favorite nurseries for some replacement plants. I was pleasantly surprised to find this flowering maple and leopard plant at my local Ace hardware...they aren't plants that you find everyday. They make a great combo...don't you think? Unfortunately, one prefers sun while the other needs shade, so I'll have to find other companions for them. 
I've admired the leopard plant at our local public garden for a number of years, and knew I would search for one someday in the future. The leaves remind me of begonias, and the soft yellow spots add nice color to the garden.

The humidity-free days of autumn, along with the cool morning air and the warm sunny afternoons are pure joy to a Florida gardener!

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