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, December 24, 2012

'Twas the Day Before Christmas

Twas the day before Christmas, when all thro' the yard,
 Not a creature was stirring, not even Nutty the squirrel;
 The decorations were hung on the windows with care,
 In hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there....

When up in the tree there arose such a clatter,
I dropped my rake to see what was the matter.
 Away to the road I flew like a flash,
Looked up in the tree, and let out a gasp.
 The sun on the breast of the new fallen moss,
 Gave the lustre of mid-day to objects below;
 When, what to my wondering eyes should appear...

but 2 visiting Bald eagles arriving here.
What a treat to have these beauties so near,
I ran for my camera to capture a pic
of this Christmas gift from 'ole St. Nick.

And one snap of the camera, caught their attention.
 One sprung from the branch, to his mate gave a whistle,

And away they all flew, like the down of a thistle:
 But I heard them exclaim, ere they flew out of sight-
Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

The Tale of a German Giant

Back in July I placed my order for tomato seeds with Tomato Supply Co.  Their Website had promised a "free" packet of GERMAN GIANT seeds if you ordered a certain dollar amount. Well, my order didn't quite add up to the specified amount but they sent the free packet of seeds anyway . . . quite generous of them, don't you think? At first, I wasn't going to plant them but then I decided . . . oh, why not!

Well, I'm definitely glad I decided to plant the seeds after all. Not only is the tomato a giant but so is the plant. At 8 feet tall this healthy large-leafed plant just happily keeps on growing. 

I eagerly waited for the blossoms to set tomatoes. Each day I would go out and look for a tiny tomato. Finally, I spotted one. Each week the little tomato grew bigger and bigger. 

Four months after I planted him the first (and only tomato, I might add - I guess it takes a lot of energy to produce a giant) tomato is turning a beautiful holiday shade of red. Each day I checked to make sure he was doing okay, and a gentle squeeze revealed that he was ripening nicely. I went ahead and picked it fearing that I'd come out the next day to find . . . heaven forbid . . . that a bird had bitten into it or it had dropped to the ground and some other critter had devoured my GERMAN GIANT.

Ah, here it is . . . my beautiful GERMAN GIANT. He barely fits into the palm of my hand. 
Oh, I'm in love!

I proudly placed him on my kitchen island along with some other tomatoes from the garden and just admired him for a couple of days. 

Then the day came . . . time to slice this giant up and see if he tastes as good as he looks. Look at that beautiful red color and the meaty texure. My mouth is watering!

So what did we do with this GIANT (beef cake . . . oops, I mean beefsteak) of a tomato?

we made 3 BLT's

and 2 hamburgers . . . and, we still hadn't eaten the whole tomato. 

And, in case you're wondering. YES, the GERMAN GIANT tastes as wonderful as it looks. It's probably a good thing it only produced one tomato, as I'm not sure what we would have done with a dozen or more. 

I'm hopeful that if we don't have freezing temps we just might get lucky enough to have another GERMAN GIANT as he's still growing and blooming away.

Hope you enjoyed my little "Veggie" tale!"

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

On a different note . . . Head over to Antique Art Garden to contribute to her "Flowerlady Love Offering" fund for Lorraine at Flowerlady's Musings who recently lost her husband after 43 years of marriage.

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

Olde Towne Gardens

My sister and I had fun touring the "Olde Towne Gardens of Mount Dora last month. We filed away in our memory good ideas from each garden. One garden in particular was a complete visual delight. I've saved that one for last because it's a real treat. So, I won't talk much while you sit back and enjoy the tour.
 See the ground orchids (above) planted beneath a shady oak. 
Great idea for a vegetable garden below.
A peaceful and tranquil garden.

Now here comes a real treat. This gardener obviously loves creating vignettes with a variety of containers and old stuff. So before you get started . . .  do yourself a favor and grab a cup of coffee cause you're gonna be here for awhile. I actually drank a cup of coffee (with a touch of nutmeg and whipped cream) and ate a few Christmas cookies myself while reviewing this post . . . it is the holiday season after all. Enjoy!

 See what I mean :-)

This area is immediately to the right of the front door. I like the way they created a sitting area in the front yard.

Here's a great idea. They turned a fountain into a bromeliad planter. Brilliant?

Part of the front yard is a mix of bromeliads, holly and bird's nest fern as well as other drought tolerant plantings. Very little turf grass in this garden.

Now, let's head to the side and back yards where their (husband and wife) imaginations really get going.

Here we go . . . through the arbor . . . a view to the left

And, a view to the right.

Isn't this cute?

They definitely like container gardening.

 According to the information in the booklet this couple attended lots of classes to learn how to create a garden suited for Florida. They wanted to eliminate turf grass and subscribe to the practice of "right plant, right place" golden rule.

You can see the driveway in the middle of this photo. You can't see it clearly but they've planted the right side of the driveway with lower plants first and then a tall hedge of podocarpus and crape myrtles for privacy.

More pretty containers on their back patio.

They've got LOTS of benches scattered throughout the garden. No room to sit for a spell here.

Another seating area with colorful containers.

This is a separate little shed in the far left of the garden.

Keep in mind their property is a typical sized neighborhood lot and they've been successful in squeezing a lot in without having it look cluttered.

More vignettes. Lots of old stuff . . . afterall this couple lives in Mount Dora which is an antique mecca.

I love this idea with an old picnic bench. This is to the right of the driveway which you can just barely see in the bottom left of the photo.

And, these are some of the plantings on the left side of the driveway.

Isn't it wonderful!

Look closely at the container these bromeliads are planted in. Yep, it's an old rusty dust pan. So many interesting surprises in this garden.

Did you enjoy the tour? I know that I enjoyed reliving it again while I created this post. And, the coffee and cookies were good, too. Hope your holiday season is off to a good start and that you're taking the time to relax and enjoy a treat along the way.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Fresh From the Garden

This is the first year we're growing vegetables at our new home. I was saying a prayer as I planted seedlings and seeds because the soil in this area is virtually builder's sand. Plenty of soil amendments - - compost, garden soil, blood and bone meal...plus anything and everything else I could find to improve the soil - - were generously added. 

Almost immediately the caterpillars showed up to feast on my tomato plants. I did a lot of plucking and squeezing in an effort to get rid of them. Once the temperatures cooled down a bit I noticed the cats disappeared. Pickle worms pierced the cukes, and powdery mildew finished off the leaves. I find cukes very hard to grow. I gave up on them since I'm not a big cucumber eater anyway, and replaced them with bush green beans . . .  a favorite of mine.

It's taken the tomatoes a while to ripen . . . with Sungold being the first . . . but now they're all slowly turning color. And, the lemons, too are ripening. A cocktail citrus tree was planted, so hopefully next year this time we'll be enjoying some homegrown citrus.

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

On a different note, I made this horrifying discovery in my garden yesterday.

I almost had a heart attack when I saw him perched in the tree, especially since Nutty... the squirrel we raised . . . was darting all around this tree and at one time was about a foot away from it. Fortunately, the snake was in the process of digesting an earlier catch as you can see by his bloated mid-section. 

Apparently, I disturbed him when I moved some large pots on the side of the house. I didn't see him at the time but am thankful I did eventually discover him and doubly thankful that the "Wild Animal Evictors" came by and evicted this non-venomous Coat Whip (one of Florida's largest native snakes) from my garden. I don't mind black racers but I'm not willing to tolerate a BIG snake in my garden.

For all snake lovers out there . . . don't worry he wasn't destroyed just relocated to an orange grove quite a distance down the road.

Friday, November 09, 2012

Oh Dear . . . Now I Must Share

Sweet Leslie over at Spruce Pine Cottage has nominated me for the Beautiful Blogger Award. Thanks Leslie . . . I think!

According to her post I must answer 10 questions and share the love by nominating other blogging friends for the award. Okay . . . here goes:

1. What would you do if you won $10,000 tomorrow? That's easy . . . I'm a saver, so in the bank it goes . . .  at least until my next trip.

2. Best lifetime moment? Without a doubt, it's when I met my adopted daughter for the first time in China.

3. Are you happy? Extremely!

4. Do you prefer Facebook or Twitter? I have a Facebook account but rarely post anything.

5. If you could change something in your life what would it be? Nothing!

6. What is your biggest vice/habit in life? I have a sweet tooth and eat way too much sugar.

7. What is a good point about you? I try to be friendly and polite to people. A negative point? I need more patience.

8. What is your most embarrassing lifetime moment? Hmmm, That's a tough one. I'd have to say slipping and falling flat on my face at my daughter's school a couple of years ago.

9. What is your favorite flower? I LOVE all flowers, but if I have to choose just one I'd have to say roses, orchids, camellias, azaleas, daylilies. Oops, I guess I just can't pick one.

10. What's your biggest love in life? Aside from my family, it's gardening and being out in nature.

My nominations for Beautiful Bloggers are:

Sherry - If only Sweat were Irrigation

Chris - The Great Wall of Lutz

Daisy - Maple Hill 101

Kimberly - Garden in Paradise

Ami - Southeast Florida Garden Evolvement

Jeanni - Roses and Gargoyles

FloridaGirl - Peace in the Valley

Kay - My Garden Path

Nominees, here’s what you have to do:

1. Include the award logo somewhere in your blog.

2. Answer the same 10 questions I did, for fun, if you want to.

3. Nominate 10 to 12 blogs you enjoy. Or you pick the number.

4. Pay the love forward: Provide your nominees' links in your post and comment on their blogs to let them know they’ve been included and invited to take part. 

5. Pay the love back with gratitude and a link to the blogger(s) who nominated you

Monday, November 05, 2012

What's Your Dream?

Have you ever thought about what would be your "dream" rose . . . flower . . . or plant? Pictured above is Belinda's Dream. No, I don't know who Belinda is but I imagine her as a rosarian who has a yard full of every rose imaginable . . . kind of like Sherry over at "If Only Sweat were Irrigation" or Flowerlady at "Flowerlady's Musings." I imagine that she learned how to cultivate roses and did so for many years in search of the "perfect" rose. And, eventually she found success and aptly named her beautiful rose - - Belinda's Dream!

Belinda's Dream has become a dream rose for many Florida gardeners as I see it pictured often on other Florida garden blogs. And I agree with Belinda that it is a dream rose. A nice shaped bush with healthy leaves (no black spot) and beautiful  large soft pink flowers. Much to my satisfaction she is singing autumn's praises with a shrub full of buds that are soon to reveal a bounty of glorious flowers . . . some of which I'll enjoy on my kitchen island. Thanks Belinda for sharing your dream rose with all of us!

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Harvest Moon

What a beautiful full moon we've had the last couple of nights. The Harvest Moon is definitely larger and brighter than other full moons. Even at 6:45 am it was still shining bright over the lake. I was lucky enough to catch the "Blue Hour" in my photo. If you're not familiar with the "Blue Hour" . . . click here for more information. It's always fun to try and capture the "Blue Hour" in dusk and dawn photos.

Monday, October 29, 2012

A Nutty Story

What in the world could be so fascinating on the patio as to hold the attention of our 3 cats?

Aha, a squirrel!  

You might be asking yourself . . . why does she have a caged squirrel on her patio? Good question. My sister who is part owner of a veterinarian clinic recruited us to finish raising this baby squirrel who was displaced from his nest.

Such a sweet little face...don't you think? 
I can hear you squirrel non-likers out their....ugh, a rodent. I've always liked squirrels (even though they can be a pest on the bird feeders) but, Nutty (named by my daughter) has stolen my heart. Each morning when I checked on him he'd slip his adorable little face out from beneath his blankie and give me a big yawn. When you live with a small piece of the 'wild' it changes your attitude about it completely.

Once he got big enough we hung his cage beneath a large tree and wired the door open so he could come and go until he got used to his surroundings.

He was slow to venture on to the top of his cage and then on to the tree.

But he quickly was enjoying his freedom and was busy snatching insects off the tree trunk.

After a week he was still sleeping in his cage and I was a little fearful that another animal or snake would trap him in there, so I purchased a birdfeeder and took the plastic sides off. We transferred his blanket into it so he would continue to feel safe. One morning when I went back to check on him he popped his little head out from under his blankie.

With each passing day he would climb a little higher into the tree to check out his new neighborhood.

He continued to be happy to see us and would eagerly jump on my daughter's arm.

and head.

Three weeks passed and he was still hanging around the same tree.

 Last week we couldn't find him around his home and tree, so we wondered if he finally took off for good.

But on Sunday as we walked past the small oak tree in our front yard a small squirrel ran down the trunk and looked at us. We stopped and said, "Nutty" and as my daughter approached him he eagerly reached out for her hand. She kept rubbing his head and picking him up and he seemed genuinely happy to see her. We wondered how in the world he came from the backyard all the way up to the front which is approximately 125 yards. But, nonetheless, we were delighted to see that he is still around and still remembers us.

It looks like he's successful in finding his own acorns and is quickly growing up. Raising him was another fun experience since the time we raised "Chirp" the bluejay. We hope he continues to remember us and be friendly with us when we're out in the yard. 

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