Sunday, January 1, 2012

Shuttin' Her Down

It is a sad day, but I've been pretty busy with my life and this blog hasn't gotten the attention it deserves.  I'm shutting down the comments because the spam is getting out of control.  I'm still around though, and with planting season coming up, I might post here and there.  I'll also try to visit your blogs as much as I can.  You can find me on Pinterest (cause I'm addicted,) and if you are a real human being who has a question or wants to say hi, you can email me at wickedgardener76ATyahooDOTcom. 

Love you all (except spammers.  You know who you are and should be ashamed of yourselves!)

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Hey!  I was featured on Pocket Change in their "Best of the Web" post!  Check it out here.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Crinum Lilies

Crinum Scabrum bud
A garden staple of mine for the last few years has been the crinum lily.  It has been crinum time in the garden lately.  Blooms have been popping up in the corner garden.
 The crinum ("cry-num" I only just realized had been mispronouncing this for years) is related to the amaryllis, but is rarely seen in your typical garden center.  It is the quintessential pass along plant.  You almost have to be chummy with an old gardener in order to get some.  I received mine from a friend of my mother who cleans them out of her beds from time to time. The huge bulbs sat in the corner for months until they started to sprout leaves.  I planted them not having a clue what they might be and soon they bloomed.  Since then I've been pretty enamored with the crinum lily. 
The Crinum Scabrum bloom always reminds me of peppermint.
Crinums in the Corner Garden
The crinum scabrum comes first, their red striped white blooms opening up around mid to late May.  I got these from a master gardening sale with only "White crinum with red stripe" on the tag.  I had to figure out the rest on my own.  The next to bloom are the original crinums I got from my Mother's friend:
I still don't know the type, but they seem to be very common in older neighborhoods around town.  They do very well with our sometimes drought/sometimes flood weather, and have been known to outline long gone homesteads, far out lasting the homes they were meant to adorn.  
Crinums by the shed this morning.
A cluster of crinum blooms.
Most crinum originated in Africa and it is thought that many were brought over during the slave trade.  While I don't know if this is true, I kind of like the humble origin story of families passing these plants down from generation to generation in the South. 
The crinum lily seems to be the Miracle Whip of the plant world:  you either love them or hate them.  While not in bloom the plants can be ungainly and their huge bulbs can be difficult to transplant.  But I like them, and I hope this post gave you something to like as well.  If you are interested in learning more, here are some sites I recommend:

Monday, June 13, 2011

Tersa Sphinx Hummingbird Moth

I've been enjoying my pentas this year.  Massive butterfly attractors, these plants grew back wonderfully from the plants I put in last year.  They also do well from cuttings.  Penta cuttings seem to be sensitive to humidity and do not like to dry out.   I added several to my propagation station, a large clear plastic tub that creates a high humidity environment for my new cuttings.  Yesterday, when checking on these plants, I found this:
It did not go into the tub this way.  There were plenty of leaves when I cut it.  I've seen this sort of thing before.  After checking the rest of tub for the culprit, I felt it before I saw it:
Tersa Sphinx Hummingbird Moth
There he is!  I did some research this year and found out it is a Tersa Sphinx Hummingbird Moth caterpillar, also known as a hornworm.  Here are some good sites for more info: Hornworm and Hummingbird Moths.  While this little guy is no longer with us, they are pretty harmless, excluding their taste for penta salad.  I'll have to keep an eye on the rest of the pentas to make sure there aren't any others hiding out.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Update: Front Garden

Wow - This update is overdue!  The winter annuals have peaked and been torn out.  The summer annuals are already coming along.  This is what the garden looked like in March:

I loved the Double Petunias from Kenny's Place.

They almost looked like carnations.

Here is what the garden looks like today:
I can't believe how big the philodendron has gotten in just a few months.  I didn't realize it changed much at all until I looked at these pics.  In front are some rain lilies that have been sending up single blossoms one at a time.  I wish several would bloom at once.  Also in this bed are baby pentas, coleus and vinca.  In front are some lily-of-the-Nile. They didn't bloom last year, so here is hoping for blooms this year.
One of my favorite spots in the garden is under the philodendron.  I poke my head down there when I weed and it seems like such nice spot for creature much smaller than myself.  Kitty sleeps there all the time and I'm so jealous.  
On the other side the summer annuals are coming along.  I'm pretty proud that the only flowers I've had to buy were some vinca and the pink/green coleus up front, and their numbers have increased due to cuttings.  Everything else came back from last year.
 1. Pentas. Grew back nicely from last year.

2. Persian shield
Doing well in the back, but struggling in the foreground.

3. New coleus.  No name on the container.  Damn big box store . . .

4. Coleus "Stained Glass"
More on these in a later post.  Hope to have the garden filled with these soon!

5. Various Daylilies

Looks like this garden is also attracting visitors.  Check out this butterfly I found there.  I have no idea what it is, but today I found a cool website that might help me find out.  It is called Project Noah.  You can upload pictures of wildlife and the community there will help you identify it.  This little guy will be my first submission. 

Monday, June 6, 2011


Finally!  A good solid rain!  My plants will be happy and I have freshly manicured nails.  Whoo-hoo!

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

No Rain

All I can say is that my life is pretty plain
I like watchin' the puddles gather rain
And all I can do is just pour some tea for two
and speak my point of view, but it's not sane, It's not sane.
That song always seems to play in my head at this time of year.  (Ok, all year.  I was a huge Blind Melon fan back in the day . . .)  While the rest of the country has more weather than they can handle, central Florida has been execessively dry.   We have distinct rainy seasons, the most significant lasting from the end of May to the end of September.  During that time we have daily rain showers and you can set your clock by their 4:30pm arrival.  Usually it takes a big storm to kick-start the cycle, but so far that storm hasn't come.  So it is very dry right now.  Due to wildfires over the weekend, there is a burn ban.  Fireside chats with the hubs will have to wait.  Worse for wear are my wilting plants.  They look so sad and miserable.  We have irrigation, but it is manual, and we try to only turn it on when it is desperately needed.  It was installed by the previous owners and mainly gets the grass, so some of the corners are still parched.  Today I dragged the bucket out and hand watered many of the plants.  A few needed more intensive care:

These vinca were totally shriveled up this morning when I first put them in the sink for water.  After a little time in the ICU, they perked back up. They'd only been left outside for a day and a half!  There is rain in the forecast for tomorrow.  Fingers crossed that there will be lots of rain and minimal lightening!

**The rainy season in Florida also brings the start of the hurricane season.  Every year I hear "Why would people live in hurricane prone areas?? It is so scary!"  At least with hurricanes you've got a few days notice.  I can't begin to image what folks in Alabama and the mid-west have had to deal with from recent tornadoes.  That seems like such a nightmare that you can't plan for and my heart goes out to them.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

How to Recycle a Driveway

Have you priced landscaping stones lately?  I wanted to make a raised bed for the circle of the corner garden and liked the look of natural stone.  I priced limestone rocks at the local big box store and they were $5 - $10 a piece!  That didn't even include the delivery charge.  So this is what I lived with for the last year:
Black plastic edging that was only marginally better than nothing at all.  (And you wonder why I haven't wanted to share lately.)  Recently I was visiting my parents who were replacing their driveway.  I noticed some rocks stacked in neat piles and I swear I thought "Hmmm, I thought they were pouring a new driveway, not replacing it with rock. . . "  Ok, so I can be dense sometimes.  My Dad informed me that no, this was the cracked up parts of the driveway that they were getting ready to haul off to the dump in the morning.  One big guy and a sledge hammer broke up the entire driveway, a fact that impressed my nerdy little family to no end.  Well, I wasn't going to let this go to waste.  I immediately filled up the back of my station wagon and went home to build this: 
This is the prototype that took about 10 minutes to dry stack.  I kept what I was doing from my husband.  If I had told him what I was bringing home a bunch of broken up concrete for the garden, he would have been on the phone with the local mental health facility.  But in the end, he liked the look and ok'd me going back to get more for the circle:
Not too bad, huh?  Certainly an improvement.  In the prototype picture the flat side of the stone, the top when it was a driveway, was on top.  I later decided I like the bottom better because it looked more like real stone, and was more stable with the flat part on the bottom. 

This project was complete and I was very happy with myself when my Husband came up with an idea.  We had another problem we were trying to solve. The sand pit adjacent to the pool garden:
When we first moved into this house with a one-year-old, this was a great thing.  Our daughter could play in the sand while we watched from the house or pool.  But she eventually outgrew it and since it was difficult to put chairs in the sand, it was a huge waste of space.  Add to it that the neighborhood cats had made it a community litter box and the wall surrounding it was starting to rot, it all had to go.  Of course the same old problem came up.  We wanted to use white pavers to make it a patio area, but at $2 to $3 a piece it would have cost us several hundred dollars we didn't have, and I really wanted something more natural looking.  Fortunately the cement guys were still breaking up another part of the driveway and had pieces left.  This time the guys took pity on me and my little car and dropped off the load at my house:  
I sorted them into piles based on size, which I highly recommend for this project.
The cement has its own character.  Most of it looks like rock, but in certain spots you see the tire tracks and footprints left from the mud when they first poured the driveway 20 plus years ago.
First there was demolition.  This is always the part were you freak out and think "What have we done??"  That wheelbarrow in the foreground took a major beating.
Halfway done.
Three-quarters done.
Finished product!  I took the sand from the pit and swept it into the cracks.  Finally, the space is usable again and we've enjoyed several nights watching the fire in the pool.  (Yes, it is already very hot here, but the fire keeps the mosquitoes away . . .)  Not too bad considering it was all free.  Which is a good thing because I clearly need to save up for new lawn furniture!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Getting Cheap and Dirty

Wow!  January 31 was my last post?? (And a kinda lame one at that.)  Time flies.  I can't say I didn't post because I haven't been in the garden.  Due to being laid-off, I've had the chance to spend a LOT of time in the garden, although the budget is a bit more restricted.  Since I've been able give it more attention, the garden is flourishing.  It is also the third year I've gardened organically, and it seems like the system has finally caught up with itself.  Thought I'd do a quick post on some of the blooms and a quick teaser for some upcoming posts I'm working on.

The irises in the front garden have gone gang-busters this year.  One day my daughter counted 27 blooms.  This may well be my favorite.  (If you are interested in how I "acquired" these irises, click here and here.)

I've been loving the daylilies this year, and a few days ago my favorite purple one came out.  I think it might be called Purple Grape but I don't know for sure, and, ( forgive me, Hemerocallis Society) I don't really care.  It is pretty.

My rainlily would not be out done.

As I've mentioned, money is tight, and since propogation is probably my favorite part of gardening, I've bought nothing that I couldn't make twenty more of in a week a or two.  The coleous above is included.  Yummm, those colors make me drool a little.

I have an abundance of some plants that for whatever reason I've not been able to reproduce, and this year I cracked the code on two, including the Salvia guaranitica 'Black and Blue' above.  I tried everything on this one.  I rooted some in water, some in soil with root hormone, and some I dug up.  Turns out this plant spreads via an underground tuber, and I dug up and planted some of them tuber and all.  I had about a 50% success rate, which was much better than previous years.  There's a ton of small plants in pots now and have been giving them away.  Digging the tuber up and potting it worked best of all (go figure.)

The other plant I've tried to propagate without success is the confederate jasmine.  It grows wildly on my daughter's playhouse, but up until now, I haven't been able to get it to to grow any where else.  The cuttings even have tiny dry roots at the base when I cut them, making it all the more frusterating. In early January I trimmed the plant back and tried to get some of the cuttings to take in soil, which didn't work.  I left the rest in a bucket that I forgot about until just a few weeks ago.  Rain had filled the bucket and new green leaves were coming out of it.  Duh!  Why hadn't I thought of rooting them in water?  Maybe the woody stems through me off.  Now that I know, I'll be doing more!

Finally, a peek at one of the projects I 've been working on:
You: Oh my!  Is that the Corner Garden?  With a stone border? 
Me: Why, yes it is!
You: But what happened to the tacky plastic border?
Me: I adiosed it. See-ya!
You: Wait a minute, didn't you say you were on a budget??
Me: Well, that is another post, my friend.

Happy gardening!!

Monday, January 31, 2011

I'm Totally Crushin' on This Guy

Daron "Farmer D" Joffe

Who knew organic farming could be so sexy?  Sure it is important for the earth and our health, blah, blah blah.  I'm watching the video above for the man-candy.  You can fan him on Facebook, follow on Twitter here or here, visit his website and blog, or you can be like me and just stalk him. 

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