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!

Friday, September 27, 2013

Stumbling Upon the Unexpected

Look what I discovered in the garden this week . . .

After escorting the trash can to the curb,  I was walking back towards the house . . . just minding my own business . . . when the morning light on the east side of the garden caught my eye. It's always a treat to see rays of sunbeams filtering through the trees, so I stopped to admire the soft autumn light for a minute. That's when the 2 blue orbs caught my attention.

As I walked closer, both of the blue orbs and the bird feeder appeared to be lit up like lamps. "How neat is that!" I thought. And, then there it was on the right side . . . another surprise . . . the overnight handy work of a busy spider. Whenever, I come across a spider's web, I'm reminded of the lyrics in The Eagle's song "Waiting in the Weeds"  - - "A small, gray spider spinning in the dark, in spite of all the times the web is torn apart."   Don't you just love the meaning behind those lyrics? Spiders are resilient and people need to be resilient, too, to weather life's storms.

 This is my version . . . or, at least the beginning of a "bottle tree."  In the past, Southerners created bottle trees to keep evil spirits (or 'haints' as they were called) at bay. The Southerners would hang bottles, while the Europeans hung round globes (known as "witch balls") with an opening in them The evil spirits (or haints) would be attracted to the sound made by the wind around the bottle openings, and would be sucked into the bottle or ball. Since I'm of European descent and a Southerner, I wanted to include a bit of this history in my garden. Click on this link if you want to read the history around the "bottle tree."

 And, a view from the other side of the tree gave a whole different perspective. There's always 2 sides to every story . . .isn't there? Not to bore you but to quote Don Henley in his song "Long Way Home" he says. . . "there's 3 sides to every story - your side, my side and the cold hard truth." Now, how true is that, even though we'd rarely admit it. From the back side, the sunlight is illuminating the cinnamon-colored bark of the Natchez crape myrtle, and the gazing balls are their natural deep blue color.

Wouldn't you agree that was a neat little discovery? That's been happening in my front yard every morning since I hung those orbs there, and I didn't even know it. Wonder what else is going on in my garden that I don't know about!

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Oh, and look what other unexpected, and not so wonderful, things I discovered when checking on my vegetable garden. I actually love seeing caterpillars in my garden but not on my eggplant leaves, so he was quickly relocated. Can anyone identify this little guy for me?

And, then there was this feisty green stinkbug hanging out on my tomato bush. He is definitely not a welcome visitor! I actually saw two of them fighting over a small Sungold tomato yesterday. He was quite agitated by my picture taking attempts, and finally flew away.

But before heading indoors to get some work done, my walk ended on an upbeat note when I came across this bright green Eastern Pondhawk dragonfly sunning himself on the tomato cage. Can't blame him, as it was quite a delightful morning following 3 days of rain and gray skies!

It should be a wonderful weekend . . . so enjoy!

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Summer is Waning

 Now that summer is waning and I'm starting to venture back out into the garden, the result of many months of a tropical summer is staring me smack in the face. Like this chocolate cherry allamanda that is in definite competition with the elm tree.

 She's intent on using the tree branches for support as she extends her long branches high into the tree. Oh, but what gorgeous flowers all summer long. 

She's right outside the screened enclosure, so I can enjoy her blooms and super-sized buds all summer long while staying cool in the pool.

And, while we're on the topic of the pool . . . the poolside plantings are growing nicely in their 2nd year. They're all starting to meld together nicely and create that tangled jungle look.
Who in their right mind would leave the comfort of cool water in July and August to venture out in the heat to trim?

All of my tropical foliage LOVED the plentiful rain we had this summer, and I am very grateful for it, too!

Yes, there is some trimming that needs to be done all throughout the garden. But there's nothing like a large blooming hibiscus keeping company with a palm tree. They definitely scream "Florida!" It makes me want to plant more of them again, especially since those nasty old cold winters are now a distant memory. You know what I mean?

I did venture out in August long enough to give my roses a mini-trim so that I could enjoy some autumn blooms.

 And, now that I'm back in the garden tidying up, I'm reminded to cut some blossoms like this hydrangea and rose to enjoy inside. 

And, I'm even finding a little time to decorate for fall . . . or should I say I'm encouraging fall to arrive. My apologies for the fake autumn leaves, but after all, I do live in Florida . . . as the Spanish moss will attest to!

A long happy gardening season is soon to arrive . . . ENJOY!

Monday, September 09, 2013

Late Summer Surprises

Who doesn't love finding wonderful blooming surprises in their garden? I know I do, especially when it involves an orchid plant. My orchids are tucked so far back in my garden beneath the giant trees that I don't often see what they're up to. With all the steady rainfall this summer, I haven't had to venture back in that mosquito-laden area to water them. So, when I decided to walk back and see how they're doing, I was delighted to find these late summer surprises.

The vanda (yellow) and ascocenda (tangerine) orchids are so easy to grow and they bloom at least twice a year. They simply hang in a wood basket with no orchid medium whatsoever. I do believe the white and purple orchid is a Miltonia which is also a very easy orchid to grow and never fails to reward me with a generous amount of blossoms.

Are there any "late summer surprises" lurking in your garden?

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