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, February 28, 2011

February at a Glance

~~ Notes on the February 2011 Garden ~~

You never know what kind of weather to expect in February. While, it's still officially wintertime for us, spring can show up early...as it has this year. Hurray! With a low temp of 38 degrees in early February, the last two weeks of the month have produced unseasonally warm temps into the upper 80's. 

But, unlike January, it's been a dry month...having received only a scant 1.36 inches of rain for the whole month...a total of 5.61 inches for the year so far.

There's lots of cleanup work to do this month...and, of course tons and tons (or so it seems) of Oak leaves to rake into the beds.

The warm weather is waking up plants and trees, as well as our local wildlife...who are enjoying soaking up all that warm sunshine.
I know exactly how they feel...as I enjoy feeling the warmth on my face, too.

The cool season flowers are still going strong adding lots of color to the garden. But everyday our traditional spring flowers are making their presence known as they burst into bloom one by one. A BIG thanks to Meems at Hoe & Shovel for writing about the Paperwhites  in her neighbor's garden. I planted a few bulbs and voila'...gorgeous (not so great smelling though) blossoms (lower right photo) for the past six weeks. I hope they will make a return appearance next winter. 
I noticed the paper whites have seed pods developing. 
Does anyone know if the seeds develop into bulbs once planted?


I planted this new variety of South African daisy (sorry, but I failed to keep the tag...so I don't have the exact  name) in my island bed. The center is such a dark purple that it almost looks black. I debated whether to buy it because, while I liked the bright white daisy the dark center...well, wasn't that pretty. But, I needed something next to the purple stokesia, so I thought I'd give it a try, and I haven't been disappointed by the end result.

Either the center looks more colorful in the bright sun or the purple stokesia has helped the dark purple center of the daisy look more purplely...I know that's not a "real" word, but my daughter would love it! :-)

Now on to those traditional Southern spring varieties. The Japonica camellias are taking center stage with their large and exquisite flowers. Over the last couple of years of  "very cold" winters I've planted more and more of these beauties and their cousins...the sasanquas...in my garden. The pink beauty below makes for a "lucky" 13 camellias bushes in all.

A garden wouldn't have that true southern feeling without azaleas. When they start to bloom I always want MORE of them, but I do have to remind myself that their bloom period is short. Spring would not be spring without a good smathering of them in the garden though. Three dwarf White Ruffles (check out the large white bud in the photo below - it's located in the lower right corner) and 4 Duc de Rohan were added beneath our young Live oak as it continues to expand its reach.
Pictured below: Purple formosa, George L. Tabor and White Ruffles

And, a new spring bloomer that was added last year was the Loropetalum chinense...fringe flower.  This plant plays a dual role in the garden...interesting dark burgundy foliage year round, and tons of breathtaking dark pink flowers in spring. Gorgeous!

The orange blossoms are filling the air with a sweet fragrance. Everytime I'm in the garden I get a whiff of them, and I automatically move closer and linger a bit to enjoy this memorable scent from my childhood. I can't wait until the nearby groves are covered with flowers, and the scent hangs heavy in the evening air. Wonderful!

The orchids are happy (and so am I) that they are back outdoors enjoying the warmth. And, speaking of warmth...this sunny yellow cattleya is looking very "spring-like." At first, I thought the yellow cat that bloomed in December had another stalk coming into bloom, but after closer inspection (and a quick glance back at my photos) I realized the other orchid didn't have the red-dotted center.

New Discoveries

Two pleasant discoveries were made in the garden this month. Earlier in February I moved four roses to a better location. The first discovery was that a branch touching the ground of a knock-out rose had rooted. After digging up the rose and severing the branch to the mother plant, I had a free knock-out rose to plant. 

Another free rose was discovered when I moved Sea Foam...a vintage rose...to a better location. The next week I returned to its old spot and discovered this perfect little baby rose growing there.

The same thing happened last year when a low branch on the Louis Philippe rose rooted and produced a new plant. So, if you want a free vintage rose (not sure how it works on hybrids) place a brick over a low hanging branch...forget about it for awhile...then check back later for your new rose (this works for azaleas, too).

Life's Simple Pleasures

Ripe tomatoes in February!
This tomato bush spent a good deal of time in the garage this past winter...and, while the tomatoes continued to grow they didn't turn red. Apparently, a little bit of warm weather was all they needed.

The new spring gardening season...the best time of the year...is well under way. For the next couple of months...you can find me in the garden. I'll worry about cleaning the house later! :-)

Tuesday, February 22, 2011





Nun's Orchid

Belinda's Dream


Sunday, February 13, 2011

Love is in the Air!

Valentine's Day is almost here, and love is definitely in the air around our house.

An afternoon walk on a gray, overcast day was all the proof we needed...as we watched our neighbors preparing for the big day.

 :-)   :-)   :-)   :-)   :-)

~~ Let's dance~~

Monday, February 07, 2011

Happy Faces

We're so fortunate to have plenty of sunshine during the winter months here in Florida, but occasionally we do get some gloomy, white overcast skies. And, when that happens there's nothing more cheerier in the garden than the sweet, happy faces of pansies.  

From single colors to ornately decorated multi-colored varieties...each one as pretty as the next.
You can see that I was smitten by...what looks like every color and combo imaginable.

I plant them in containers...
This one was planted in November with the pretty coleus for autumn color. When the coleus later froze, the pansies filled in the container. They're worth the cost and the time to plant them as they'll last for many, many months.

I plant them in the ground...
because I know I can depend on them throughout the winter months to add some much needed color to the island bed in the frontyard. They make a nice cold-hardy combination centered between ornamental kale and some good-ole Georgia collard greens. Even if you don't like to eat collards...they make a great looking (quite large and showy) addition to any flowerbed...front- or backyard.

I'm always amazed when people ask me why I'm planting flowers in winter. Yes, they look tender...but these magical little "bundles of cheer" love winter, and they bring plenty of joy and warmth to my heart with their sunny, happy faces.

Definitely worth it!

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