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 15, 2011

All Decked out in Yellow

Red may be the color of Christmas ~ ~ but the Christmas Senna is all decked out in yellow.

Every year I eagerly anticipate seeing this LARGE shrub covered in these sunny yellow flowers.

 I'm apparently not the only one who loves this plant and its pretty flowers. For weeks bees have been hovering all around it, 

as well as wasps...

The creatures I planted this bush for ~ ~ the Cloudless Sulphur butterflies ~ ~ are showing up in abundance, too.

Turning a bright yellow as they munch away on the flowerbuds.

Who thought they would love the taste of the flowers! ??????

See what I mean.

They definitely reduce the amount of flowers, but that's okay since I planted the bush for them, and 

I'll reap the rewards by having an abundance of these beautiful yellow butterflies in my garden.
We found a number of these caterpillars spinning their crysalis on a nearby Sabal palm. How in the world do they travel 10 feet down the yard and then another 5 feet up the palm tree? Another one of nature's mysteries.

Friday, December 09, 2011

November at a Glance

Oh my gosh, it's December 9th and here I am just getting around to doing a recap on November. It's obvious to see that the holidays are upon us and time is limited, but I didn't want to miss out on posting the fall color in my November garden.

I'm participating in Dave's Fall Color Project 2011 to dispel the myth that Florida lacks fall color. We may not enjoy the massive amounts of fall color in other areas of the country but as you'll see by these photos we do enjoy a fair amount of color as far south as central Florida where I am located. 

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ 

If cold fronts blow through as early as November the sweet gum trees in our yard turn a beautiful burgundy color. We also enjoy stunning blue skies in autumn with fewer of the puffy white clouds that abound in summer. 

Here's a close-up of the gorgeous star-shaped leaves.

Our Bald cypress trees also turn a prettier golden rust color when cooler weather comes in early November...as it did this year. Often times they will turn a more ruddish brown color, but this year we enjoyed stunning color.

Especially, when highlighted with the softer sunlight that is prevalent during autumn and winter in Florida.

The Maidencane grass which is green in spring and summer turns a golden color in autumn, and looks beautiful contrasted with the blue water.

A weekend drive through the Green Swamp (located between Polk and Lake counties) provides us with trees of varying shades of autumn color. A true delight to this native Floridian!

Thanks, Dave for your fall color project. I enjoyed seeing all of the beautiful autumn color around the country, and I enjoyed sharing photos of a Florida autumn.

Monday, October 31, 2011

October at a Glance

~ ~ Notes on the October Garden ~ ~

October is leaving on a rainy note this year ~ which is fine with me since I'm tucked cozily inside my home with a cup of hot tea browsing through the photos of my October garden. 

This warm sunny hibiscus flower seemed like a good choice... the perfect color for autumn and of course, Halloween.  It takes a good portion of summer for the tropicals to recover and bless us with their blooms. I don't seem to have enough of these in the garden anymore. But they are always cheerful ~ always welcome!

One of the first trees I planted when we built our house was this Golden Rain tree. Why, you might ask since it's a prolific seeder? Well, it's simple! This tree is always one of the first signs (often appearing in late August) that the end of summer is nearing. I'm always excited to see the yellow flowers that appear first and are then quickly followed by...

the salmon colored seed pods. The color is stunning! Especially since we don't have a lot of fall tree color. And, what beautiful blue skies we have in autumn.

I look forward to seeing Sparkling Burgundy camellias in the garden each fall because they bloom so heavily. Sparkling Burgundy is a member of the sasanqua varieties which kick off the camellia season here in Florida. 

Who can resist photographing flowers with all the delicate water droplets on them following a rain shower? I know I can't!

Here's another tropical that is back from winter's gloom and doom. 

This mandevilla vine is such a pretty bright white that I never tire of seeing or photographing it.

It blooms all summer and looks so pretty paired with the red pineapple sage (below) that starts blooming in autumn and continues right through the winter.

What else is blooming in the October Garden?

The arbor is covered with a pink blooming vine. I'm not sure of the name. The nursery owner said St.Joseph's vine, but I don't know for sure. The island bed is in a fluffy stage...kinda like a "big hair" hairdo (wow...hairdo - that word really dates me, doesn't it?) due to the culmination of a lot of summer growth. The Mexican sage and sweet almond are large and fluffy as is the purple fountain grass. 

And, the "wild" area is making sure the hummers and butterflies have plenty to eat. 
From left to right ~ Turk's cap, Firespike, Porterweed and native Liatris.

Life's Simple Pleasures
Catching a glimpse of a couple of frisky otters going for an early morning swim in a natural spring in our neighborhood. They are so sweet-looking! A relished site in this tiny piece of  "Old Florida" in which we live.

Hope your Halloween is filled with TREATS and not TRICKS!

Friday, October 21, 2011

An Unexpected Treat

We had a can of mealworms left over that were used to feed a baby woodpecker found on the sidewalk. Unfortunately, the woodpecker was injured and did not survive. So, not wanting to waste a can of perfectly good mealworms, I put them in our birdfeeder. And, boy-oh-boy did the birds love their "unexpected treat."

This little Tufted Titmouse was the first to discover them.

It wasn't long before Mrs. Cardinal chased him off.

But he quickly returned with a friend.

As I looked down to turn the camera off I noticed this cute little yellow ground orchid was about ready to bloom ~ ~ An "unexpected treat" for me!

Monday, October 03, 2011

September at a Glance

~ ~Notes on the September Garden~ ~

What a joy it is to discover that autumn has finally arrived...totally invigorating! The flowers on the native bee balm (a/k/a dotted horsemint) were also a joy to discover.

Lots of critters. . .besides bees. . .seem to like this beauty, too.

The Mexican Bush Sage is back in all its autumn splendor. It  was such a stunning specimen in the island bed last autumn that I decided to. . .

add a second bush on the other side of the bed. 
Now, I get "double the pleasure" when I look at them. 

September days filled the meadow area with drifts of goldenrod,

while the purple fountain grass adds a "fall-ish" feel to the front yard.

Fluttering visitors frolicked happily among all the purple. 

The butterflies, including this Cloudless Sulphur, NEVER pass on the Mexican petunias (sterile variety).

And, the Monarchs are still munching away on the Milkweed.

The vanda orchids seem to love autumn, too. 
Even their color says "autumn."

The Autumn Joy Sedum ~ ~ a passalong plant from my sister-in-law is sporting its autumn crown of flowers that eventually will change to a deeper russet color.  

What a wonderful gardening season is ahead of us now that summer is fading away. 

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

August at a Glance

~ ~ Notes from the August garden ~ ~                                                                                                  Along with the hot weather that typically accompanies the "dog days" of August we were very fortunate to receive a generous amount of rain. The zinnias loved it and reciprocated with an abundance of colorful blooms. The veggie garden has been planted with high hopes ~ as usual ~ for a bountiful harvest, and now I eagerly wait for the days of lower humidity that I know are right around the corner. What a joy it will be to work in the garden without sweat running down my face.

The month started off rough for the yard. Some much needed tree trimming was on the agenda but, YIKES! those guys were rough on the turf and the plants. Fortunately, the yard is bouncing back quickly. The trees look great and are hurricane ready...as ready as they can be, that is.

Not a Pretty Sight

The Flowers of Summer
Rose of Sharon - a practically maintenance-free plant

Lorapetlum Ruby - Fabulous year round foliage color

Candlestick plant - A favorite of the cloudless sulphur butterflies

An Unexpected Bloom
The bloom on this Abelia 'Kaleidescope...planted earlier this spring...was a complete surprise, but a very pleasant one.

The American beautyberry has completed its transition, and is sporting a nice collection of  beautiful purple pearls that the birds will soon be devouring. You might wonder why a piece of shovel is in my garden. Every broken shovel ~ ~ the workhorses in my garden ~ ~deserve an honored spot in the garden for all their dedicated hard work. 
What can I say~ ~ I'm a sentimental person. ; )

Faded Glory
I can see that the summer flowers are winding down. More and more seed heads are beginning to show up. The seeds are from left to right: stokesia 'Omega Skyrocket, blackberry lily and agastache 'Golden Jubilee
Anyone want seeds? Let me know.

My daughter found the creepy looking bug above on our dock post. A few days later she made the I.D. while looking at a framed collection of insects at our local extension office. Quite a coincidence don't you think? 

We were amazed but not that surprised since an army of dragonflies dart back and forth over the lake on summer evenings scooping up mosquitoes. An amazing and entertaining sight!

Life's Simple Pleasures

I'm still sitting in the shade taking it easy. Hope you are, too!

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