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!

Saturday, July 30, 2011

The Midsummer Garden

          ~ ~ ~ Notes from the July Garden ~ ~ ~

A quick midsummer grooming was in order to contain the fast growing tropicals and to neaten things up a bit. In the first half of the month we had plenty of rainfall but then a dry spell set in for a week, followed by a few days of showers and then July ended on a dry note.

With only two months of summer left to go we're getting closer to days with less humidity and hot weather. And, I find myself deep in thought...like the little fellow in the picture...with ideas and plans for the garden when October arrives. Hmm, I guess I'll have to be patient a little longer.

The Angel trumpet...an offspring from the my mother's plant when I was a kid...has made a remarkable recovery from winter. Last summer it took until August before the plant even decided to grow. I thought it wouldn't make it, but it hung in there. This year it bounced back quicker and surprised me with its unique and fragrant blooms.

The bees and butterflies are loving the Indian blanket flower and Blue Agastache cocktail in the island bed, and the Frangipani (plumeria) is also adding it's sweet and wonderful fragrance to the garden.
New in the garden this year are Drift roses and Pennisetum ‘Fireworks’ Var. Fountain Grass.
The Drift roses have performed beyond my expectation. Peachy yellow clusters are covering this bush located in full sun next to the driveway, and look at those shiny green leaves with no sign of blackspot. Wow, a definite winner! I couldn't resist the green and pink variegation on the Fireworks fountain grass. It glows fabulously in the summer sun.

Summer Favorites
The Natchez crape myrtle, Thryallis and Lorapetlum Ruby blend together for a non-stop colorful combination. As does the Black and Blue Sage paired up with the variegated schfflerra. I love yellow and blue together. My summer garden wouldn't be complete without a patch of sun-loving Blackeyed Susans.

Back in the "WILD" area of the garden the berries on the Simpson Stoppers have turned red. If I sit very still on the bench I can watch a clan of Cardinals dashing back in forth from the trees sneaking a berry treat. In late spring the white berries emerge following tiny frilly white blossoms.

Miss Muffet is taking it easy in the shade garden. She's definitely soothing and cool looking to the eye.

I must plant some Miss Muffet in and around these plants next spring as they coordinate nicely together.The Cherry Jubilee Allamanda...don't you just love that name. I'm sure it's part of the reason I bought her...bounces back quickly from winter and blooms all summer long. The fuschia-centered bromeliad stands out in the shade as do the pink blooms on the Flamingo plant.

Summer's Simple Pleasures
Sitting in the shade watching the Spanish Moss swaying to and fro in the breeze, while rays of sunlight dance on the garden below. Quite soothing!

Hope your midsummer garden is lush and beautiful, and that you're taking it easy in the shade!

Monday, July 25, 2011

Summer Visitors

The summer garden...while hot and humid...is an inviting place for many visitors. This cute little green grasshopper (upper left) looks so pretty perched on a pink zinnia flower. He's cute...unlike the large yellow Lubbers which are also present in the summer garden.

All of a sudden the caterpillars have arrived to dine on some of their favorite meals.

Swallowtail cats love the bronze fennel...

and the green fennel, too!

What a beautiful sight it is when they show up.

The Monarchs have almost stripped the Milkweed bare. Good thing I planted lots of plants from seed earlier this summer. I'm glad to see that this fellow brought along some friends. I can't wait for them to reappear as butterflies.

Ahh, here's a Queen...hope she's laying some eggs.

One of the Monarch's favorite is the Lindley Butterflybush. I just discovered the name of this wonderful passalong plant on a website listing "Florida-Friendly Plants." Unlike other buddleias, this plant can take the heat and the cold. It's been a great addition in my yard for more than 4 years.

More Monarchs on the Milkweed

The butterflies are some of my favorite summer visitors!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Looking Back at June

Well, June has come and gone and here it is the middle of July. Vacation time and catching up has set me behind, but I'm finally getting caught up.

June can be summed up in one word - - H O T!

How unusual to have temps of 99 and 100 plus degrees. At least this energy-sapping weather didn't persist for long before some much needed rain arrived.

This cluster of perennials...pink coneflower, red pentas, white angelonia and yellow black-eyed Susans don't seem to mind the temps at all.

You know a gardener named Susan has to have black-eyed Susan's in her garden...right? Well, you might wonder where the black eyes are. This variety is called Irish eyes and they have pretty green eyes. I thought these would be appropriate since I have a wee bit of Irish in me.

Here's some more perennials taking the heat in stride...so long as they get a drink or two or three of water each week.

Half of this garden bed is in the shade while the other half is in sunlight. Impatiens and ferns flourish in the shade, while the red cuphea, purple angelonia and milkweed bask in the sunlight. 

Looking especially dapper in the June heat is Louis Philippe who's covered in smaller summer blossoms. A succulent groundcover(ice plant)...given to me by my neighbor Nancy is sporting miniature fluffy pink flowers. This little jewel of a plant is wonderful...it's pretty and it DOES NOT freeze!

Lamb's ear --- I love this soft, fuzzy, pale grey plant...and what a pleasant surprise that it produces a bloom, too. Thanks to Sherry at If Only Sweat were Irrigation I didn't pull my snapdragons out. She said they would bloom in the summer...and guess what...she's right! I'm grateful for all the wonderful things I learn from other gardeners.
And the bright white cosmos are just getting started. It's next to one of my favorite plants in the veggie garden...the Thai basil which has been pumping out spikes of purple flowers since April.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

The tropicals love the heat!

 Here's a super-sized caladium splashed with two of my favorite colors...green and pink, along with some bromeliads basking in the late afternoon sunlight.

Lack of rain hasn't stopped this passalong plant...from my sister...from growing into a giant specimen. Proof positive that six inches of oak leaf mulch helps keep the soil moist. She received her plant from a friend, and no one knows the name of it. The butterflies and hummers love it and it doesn't freeze.

And, here's a new find from my favorite local  nursery...a red yarrow. She seemed right at home when I planted her. Yarrow is one of the toughest plants in my garden. I don't care how dry it gets it never hangs its head...plus, it does well in both shade and sun. It does bloom better in sun though, but the pretty fern-like foliage makes having this plant worthwhile alone.

Thankfully, July has brought much needed rain and lots of blooms to the garden. Now, I need to get outside and get caught up there, too!

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