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!

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Gardening Friends

Today I'm posting about something other than my own garden ....well, mostly anyway. I want to talk about my favorite garden blogs. My main purpose for doing this is self-serving! You see, I read my share of blogs on gardening (some from places other than Florida, too),  genealogy and what I call 'cozy cottage' ones. But, there are certain blogs (Florida gardeners) that I enjoy immensely and look forward to each new post.

So, I know over time that we bloggers can run up against dry spells in blogging. I've done it myself over the 11 years I've been blogging. Can you believe I've been posting on this blog since 2005. I can't believe it myself. It's not easy to find new things to talk about, and it often seems like we can post on the same old thing. Heck, you will most likely find red pentas in just about everyone of my posts over the last 6 months or more. Hey, I have a small garden now, so what can I say. Anyway, I'm getting off topic. My point is that there are about 6 blogs that are my favorites - folks with the same garden interests. One gardener in particular, Eli (sorry for mentioning names) says she feels like she's posting the same ole post over and over.  So, my selfish reason for writing this post is to encourage my favorite bloggers to keep on blogging!!!

You notice that I'm getting a few of my stray photos in on this post like this pretty Vitex bloom

Now, I must mention that as I was writing this post, Eli sent me a comment that she started blogging again. Hurray for that good news, and I know others will be happy about it too. You can find her new blog: Back to Eli's Place (love the new name) at www.elihart1018.blogspot.com.

 But, I want to continue on with this post because I want to make sure that my other favorites - even though they might take breaks - will continue to put fingers to the keypad and post about their beautiful gardens. There have been several Florida gardeners (whose blogs I really enjoyed) that used to blog and have stopped for several years now. Perhaps, they have created a new blog, and I just haven't found it.  I do miss the  updates from Sherry in Ocala, Nanette's Bay-Friendly Landscaping, Ami in the southeast, NanaK, Meems and a few others. 

Isn't this a busy little bee on the Indian Blanket flower!

For the blogs I currently follow: Leslie at Spruce Pine Cottage, Janice at Garden on Fourth Street, Lynn at Southwest Florida Garden, Lorraine (been following her for a very long time) at Flowerlady's Musings, and Rusty at Dragonfly's Garden, I just want to say that I look forward to each of your new posts with anticipation. You folks are like neighbors to me, and I feel as though we are chatting over the garden fence when we exchange comments. 

Each and everyone of your blogs is unique and provides a different perspective to me as a Florida gardener. The photography on your blogs is stunning, your gardens are beautiful and I love seeing what's blooming in your yards (even if I've seen it a hundred times, and it's in my yard, too). I still enjoy it! I love seeing butterfly and bird photos, and I always get new butterfly plant ideas from all of you. Seeing your plant combinations and different talents for matching plants together sparks new ideas in my mind. 

I managed to spare you from another pic of my red pentas :)

I like short posts, I like long posts, Leslie, I like posts on cats, new recipes and stories of the past. Janice, I want more stories on your chickens and  your colorful shade garden. Lynn's gorgeous bird photos introduce me to birds further south of me, Lorraine's openness and honesty about real life is heartwarming, Eli's butterfly garden is inspiring and educational, and Rusty's tropical garden is a feast for the eyes. You guys are the charming gardeners who make my soul blossom and help me to be a better gardener, so please keep on blogging!

Monday, September 19, 2016

Home Sweet Home

Since summer I've been, way, too busy running here and there and everywhere! I'm a homebody by nature and love it when I can stay home for several days without having to go anywhere. Sometimes life gets busier than usual, but I'm adapting to a more active schedule than usual and having fun at the same time.

I'm also, slowly and one-garbage-can-at-a-time, trimming back the 'jungle' in my backyard. Quite by accident, I discovered a wasp's nest when a small squadron of angry wasps attacked and inflicted two nasty stings on my arm. Even though pollinators are welcome in my garden and an essential part of it, I much prefer to come across the dainty little Skippers who don't seem to mind if I get a bit too close.

This BIG fella was an unexpected discovery I came across while working in the garden on Saturday. I looked him up and he is a Giant Leopard moth. He was flipped upside down and when I turned him over, I realized he was not in need of rescue but pretty close to death. I discovered him near my angel trumpet which is listed as one of his favorite food sources. He sure is intriguing and quite a specimen! Another new discovery ~ ~ just wish he wasn't in the process of leaving.

After my morning walk today, I was able to plant my tomato seedlings, cucumber seeds and 4 grow boxes with a variety of greens. I've been wanting to do this for the last 2 weeks, and can now mark that off my list. I always seem to procrastinate on doing this ~ ~ could it be the heat, I wonder!

We have a new addition to our family. Take a look at this cute little guy we rescued off a busy street in town at 7 am on the way to school. He was much smaller at the time (May) and was trotting down the sidewalk. We quickly made a u-turn (luckily there's not much traffic out at 7 am), and headed up the sidewalk to retrieve him. He hid from us in a sickly Sago with lots of stiff lower branches, when a guy out jogging stopped and pulled him out for us. 

He had an upper respiratory infection and was scared to death. We named him Henley and he has made himself right at home, as they always do.  Out of 8 cats that I've had in my adult life, he's my first short-hair kitty. He's very sweet and our other 4, with the exception of one (the siamese) have graciously accepted him. Who could resist such a sweet little face!!!!

He entertains us with his high energy which involves running at high speeds around the house or rough housing it with Arthur or Zoe. And, he's absolutely adorable when he's pooped out! 

This crazy little boy is showing off  his pearly whites. He provides a lot of entertainment around our house. We sit around watching his crazy antics and laugh out loud. I'm telling you - it's better than television or politics!  

Enough said about Henley. I can't tell you how much I'm looking forward to some less humid weather, which I hope is just around the corner. I have quite a few small projects I want to get started on, but don't feel like it when its 80% humidity outside. I know ya'll know what I mean!!!! On the flip side of that, we've been getting our fair share of rain this month and that is always something to be grateful for!!

Thursday, September 01, 2016

The Jungle

In my jungle, my mighty little jungle, the plants have soared this summer. As I walk down the pathway I, sometimes, have to duck down or push back a leaf in order to proceed forward. It's wonderful, and I always feel like I'm on an expedition out here in search of the latest new bloom or wild creature.

This Robellini palm is going to have to fight for its space next to the giant elephant ear. It was so tiny when I planted it 1 1/2 years ago, but it is finally about 4 ft tall. Hopefully, next year it will be large enough - or almost - to cover the fence. There's another one on the other side of the elephant ears, so this space should be nice and tropical.

This is the first time the elephant ears have bloomed, and what a giant bloom it is, and long-lasting, too.

The crinum lilies have exploded in size and have bloomed throughout the summer, along with the yellow cestrum which the butterflies and hummers love.

I once read an article that said when working with a small garden space, do not shy away from large-leafed plants. It stated that "giant" plants will make the space feel larger.

I don't know if that's true or not, but I do love LARGE-LEAFED plants, including this super-sized bromeliad that has been blooming all summer.

This corner of the garden has all melded together creating a wall of greenery and summer-long blooms of mostly crape myrtles, red heirloom pentas, milkweed, blackberry lilies, agastache, black-eyed Susans and several varieties of savlia.  Everytime I look out my family room window, this colorful little corner has brought me much enjoyment because it's filled with butterflies all day long.

 I've been trying to identify this Swallowtail without much success. There are several Swallowtail varieties that are present daily, and I think this one might be a Spicebush Swallowtail. Not sure, so if anyone can I.D. it for me, please let me know. Looks like this little beauty has weathered some tough times, losing part of its lower left side.

I added a shelf to the top of my fence for this Pipevine to grow, in the hopes of attracting the Pipevine Swallowtail. I've heard they're very difficult to identify, so I'm not sure if the one in the photo above might be one. Anyway, I noticed that something has been eating on the leaves of the Pipevine, so that is good news. None of those odd looking flowers yet.

One day I caught this little fella perched on top of a milkweed leaf. My daughter said it's some kind of Skipper - not sure, but she usually knows her butterflies. He's cute, whatever he is!

I don't have too many flowers in the shady part of the jungle, but there is plenty of colorful foliage to keep it interesting.

 The other corner of the garden is a sunny spot, too and is also filled with butterflies all day. This corner is filled with firespike, tropical salvia, passion vines and firecracker plants with a few red and green variegated banana trees tossed into the mix (for me). The Gulf Fritillary, and Zebra Longwings love this corner - and, I love watching them. The hummers also love this side of the garden!!! 

Rain was hit and miss for us this summer. It seemed as though everyone around us got rain but not our area. We had a steady supply for about 3 to 4 weeks in August which was great during the hottest time. 

The bridal bouquet plumeria is sporting its usual crisp white blossoms which are so cooling to look at in the middle of a long, hot summer.

The volunteer Black-eyeds Susans have slowly dried up, and have given way to a ton of volunteer milkweed in its place. I'm slow to pull up seedlings that sprout in the walkway. I don't mind tolerating them for a brief period of time if it brings more butterflies to my little jungle. I'm sad to say for the second year in a row, I did not see that many Monarch butterflies in my garden despite the presence of a plentiful supply of milkweed. I'll keep planting it and hoping they will come. How about you - have you seen many Monarchs in your garden this summer?

 One last towering giant in my jungle - and one of my summer favorites - is the candlestick plant. I love this plant as much as the Cloudless Sulphur butterflies. It is a bright and cheerful addition to my cozy little jungle!!!

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