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!

Monday, January 31, 2011

January at a Glance

                 ~~ Notes on the January 2011 garden~~

The weather pattern of consistently cold weather continues...as it has for the past three winters. Our lowest temp. for the month was 28 degrees. The Florida Gold Mound Sedum has been a good addition to the garden, and I'll definitely be planting more of it. And, the Indian blanket flowers are another proven year round winner.

The good news is that the rain has returned. We received a generous 4.25 inches in the last two weeks of the month. The grass is slowly recovering from December's heavy frost, and I'm itchin to cut back roses, fertilize and get things going again. I have to keep reminding myself that winter is not over yet.

While I wait...new "cold-hardy" additions have been added to spots in need of a little bit of color.
From left to right...
Two Burford hollies were added as a food source for the birds and for their dark green glossy leaves.
More Nandinas (Heavenly Bamboo) were added for their berries and their vibrant winter color.
Two Abelia 'Kaleidoscope' were added for their colorful foliage which is more vibrant if planted in the sun. These guys can take the cold, so I'm anxious to see if they can stand the heat.
A Gardenia was added for its shiny light green leaves and wonderful scent.  
Also, added was another rosemary plant for scent and gorgeous texture.

Another new plant to my garden is this Japanese privet 'Jack Frost' for its pretty variegated foliage.

A couple of new camellias were added...the bright white Mine-No-Yuki  (below) and Northern Lights (a white flower with delicate pink edging). Once the flowers of the Mine-No-Yuki are fully opened you can't see the delicate yellow stamens in the center.

A second bottlbrush tree and a Louis Phillipe (Cracker rose) were added for the hummingbirds.
Already setting buds...it will soon be blooming.

A pleasant surprise was this matchstick bromeliad with variegated leaves from my aunt's garden. I have the solid green variety, but didn't know there was also a variegated one. It looks great even when it's not blooming.This bromeliad is also very cold-hardy.
One of my favorite winter flowers is the Fashion azalea. It's a small bush, but it blooms for several months beginning in December, and adds much needed color in the winter garden. The frost killed the first flowers in December, but she's back in flowering mode. (A note to myself to plant some pretty white alyssum in from of them.)

In the vegetable garden the snow peas are growing taller, and have begun to bloom again...they took a short break during the coldest weather. The first strawberry bud is emerging, and is a welcome sight. And, the broccoli planted in September continues to produce new side shoots. In the next week and a half, they'll be pulled out to make way for a potato crop.

January's Simple Pleasures

The weather has been more moderate, and this week promises a jump into the upper 70's...possibly even 80, and that has brought me out of hibernation and back into the garden for some necessary cleanup...mostly pulling weeds, shrub trimming, and my favorite...planting new plants. The plants hurt by frost and freezing temps have new shoots at their base and look eager for spring.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Winter Visitors

Butterflies are not as prolific in winter as they are the rest of the year, but this little native Tropical Checkered-Skipper was enjoying a snack from the Stokes' Aster on a sunny day this month. I also saw him sipping a little nectar from the pansies, as well.
The Stokes' Aster 'Stokesia laevis' is native to the Southeast. It's planted in between a couple of frozen pentas, and almost looks like an artificial plant with its green foliage and pretty flowers. Apparently, it doesn't seem to mind the cold weather one little bit. The plant has multiplied nicely since I planted it in late summer, and soon I'll divide this low growing perennial and plant more along the edge of the island bed.

The American Goldfinches have found the feeder with nyger seeds that's tucked into the tabebuia tree. These little "winter visitors" are so adorable, and fun to watch. They also seem to enjoy the seeds from the crape mrytle trees.

This close-up shot shows two little birds (lower left and upper right) waiting patiently for their turn at the feeder. They are well protected deep within the branches, and actually quite camoflaged, as well.

The large populations of birds that winter in Florida...if I was a bird I would definitely winter here, too...are one of the nicest aspects of winter.

A Note to those of you who participate in My Favorites each month: I've decided not to continue with these posts this year, but thank each of you who chose to join me each month.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Winter Veggies

The winter vegetable garden is humming along...seeming to enjoy the chilly weather. While the broccoli planted in late September is finishing up...

 the seedlings planted in late November are growing nicely. Next winter I will make a note to plant the second round of broccoli a little earlier...in late October or early November to keep the harvest closer together. Last week we planted a few more Cherry Belle radish seeds to keep them going.

One single, solitary tomato bush planted in a container is now setting fruit after having spent a big part of December in the garage instead of the garden. It won't be long before we can enjoy these Sweet 100 cherry tomatoes on our salad.

New tomato seeds have been planted in anticipation of planting in late February.

Here's a good pic of the 1st round of broccoli and the most recently planted in front of it. Leaf lettuce is filling up the salad bowl, while the recently planted romaine is gaining a foothold in the garden.
Don't you just love the varying colors of vegetables? The broccoli is such a pretty color blue and the chartreuse-colored lettuce...just as pretty as any landscape plants in my opinion.

The green onions, leeks and carrots are thriving. More Petite Sweet carrot seeds were put into the ground last week, and I need to pull some leeks and cook up a batch of potato and leek soup.

Growing vegetables in winter seems so much easier to me than any other time. There's less bugs...less disease...and the plants just laugh at frost and freezing temps.

And, in addition...there's a large variety of veggies to choose from...certainly more than I planted. We planted our favorites: broccoli, carrots, collards, radishes, snow peas, lettuce, green onions, spinach, tomatoes in a container, dill, parsley, onion chives, thyme and potatoes.

And, speaking of potatoes...A bag of red, purple and yellow small potatoes...purchased from the supermarket...will be planted on February 14th. Our first crop last year was super easy...and so yummy that we're gonna do it again this year.

As the garden continues to produce...we are enjoying plates of crisp salad straight from the garden, and bowls of hearty soups to warm us up on a cold night.

Thursday, January 06, 2011

Winter Jewels

Among the burned foliage, and what seems like a sea of monotonous green...lies a few winter jewels that sparkle in the sunlight and brighten my day.

Simply spectacular
As pretty as any flower in the garden!

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

A Ray of Sunshine on a dreary day
Pansies always make me smile!

Thank God for winter flowers and the much needed rain showers we're having today.

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