Sunday, January 28, 2007


I went to the American Camellia Society's Convention hosted by the Ocala Camellia Society. I'm not even sure why I went. Only three of the camellias I bought last year survived and only one of those produced a few, wholly unspectacular blooms. Perhaps I was going as one last attempt before I gave up entirely and ripped the puppies out. Perhaps I went because Dave agreed to take the munchkin for the afternoon and I was a free woman with nothing else to do. Regardless of why I went, I was glad I did. It was extremely inspiring.
I was moved by how many varieties they had. There were flowers as large and showy as hibiscus, as compact and elegant as roses and small and dainty as buttercups. I especially liked the bloom above, a japonica "Tom Kundsen". It is a vibrant pink edged in purple. Another I liked (and seemed to be quite popular) was "Black Magic", a dark magenta bloom with large yellow stamens. The most fun for me was just listening to other gardeners. Even though I was a good 20 years younger than almost anyone there, it was nice to hear people just as concerned about upcoming frosts and spider mites as I was.
The names of the flowers were interesting too. "Betty Sheffield", "Tom Kundsen", "Frank Houser", "Mona Jury", "Mary Alice Cox". It begs the question, who are these people? Are they from a nursery, college professors, little old ladies in there garden? I bought (of course) a "Prof. Sargent" camellia with small orange-red flowers, and quick search of web gave me pretty much no info on who Prof. Sargent was (or is). Perhaps I'll check the library to see if anyone has written a book about this interesting plant and the people who developed it.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Frost Tonight?

For a moment, I thought I got away with something this year. While I've gardened in this area long enough to know that a frost was inevitable, I hoped against hope that it might consider bypassing us this year. Tonight is our first real possibility of frost. At 52 degrees, it barely feels cold out right now, but the weathermen, with urgent and dramatic threats, are telling me to cover anything I have the even faintest hope of keeping.

I covered with old sheets the Bird of Paradise and Hibiscus by the pool. Both of the these plants are relatively expensive and slow to recover from a lot of frost damage. I also covered some Elephant Ears that I'm just hoping to keep because I like where they are at. Now there is nothing left to do but put do some laundry I've neglected and throw a wool blanket on the bed and try not to think about what might die in my garden tonight.

Monday, January 22, 2007

The Butterfly Garden

It is January. There is no way this garden should look as green as this. Hell must have frozen over, because my garden hasn't.

It is messing up my plan for this garden, frankly. In the summer, masses of purple and gold lantana would attract butterflies. In the winter, all of this would die back allowing the camellias and easter lillies to bloom. Well, the lantana is still kicking and my camelias aren't.

In front of the bird bath is a purple butterfly bush (Buddleja davidii 'Nanho Purple') which looks a 100 times better right now than it did in June. Go figure. On either side are two Salvias ('Indigo Spires') that had bright blue flowers in June - not so much now. They are getting tall and lanky, but I'm scared to prune them. I suspect I should wait until the end of February to cut down on frost risk. Behind the butterfly bush is a variagated lantana with pale yellow flowers that I think might be called 'Lemon Drop'. It didn't do well over the summer, but it has a lot of small leaves right now and might be making a come back. The tree is a hot pink crepe myrtle flanked by purple mexican petunias (Ruellia). Purple passion flower vine still has tendrills over the arbor and camellias are in the beds next to fence. Oh yeah, yesterday I planted pink tiger lillies to go with the easter lilles from last year.

Everything in here is meant to be butterfly and toddler friendly. If you want butterflies, just add a passion vine and butterfly bush. The later was in the ground a total of ten minutes before the first butterfly landed on it. The passion vine attracts the catapillers of the Gulf Fritillary butterfly who ate it to the ground over the summer. The cats cacooned and flew away and the vine grew back with a vengance. The garden is also meant to stand up to the 3 year old. All of the flowers are small and plentiful, so she can pick as many bouquets for Daddy as she wants. Most of the plants can take little walking on, too.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

The Pool Garden

This is the first of my tour posts. This is the garden that made us fall in love with the house. All of the beds and the sunken pool was put in by the previous owner. I gutted all of the plants, leaving only the crepe myrtle and couple of bushy purple heathers.
The garden is square, with a dead looking crepe myrtle in the back. You have to prune them hard in the early spring, before the first leaves appear. We'll do this sometime this week. We didn't last year and the plant was very lanky. I'm deathly afraid of chain saws (and weed-wackers and lawnmowers for that matter - you can loose a hand you know) so I've enlisted the help of my monster Dave who takes great pleasure in these things.
On the corners opposite each other are the bananas. They are huge - the plants were only a few feet high when I planted them two years ago. There are also two on either side of the crepe myrtle that never really took off. No plant I've tried near that tree has done well. The bananas look dead as well, but they actually look better this year than they did last year. Usually a frost gets them and the go brown almost to the ground. No frost this year - I still have several annuals that are usually long gone. I'm keeping the dead leaves on the plant on purpose. I've been told that it protects the trees from serious frost damage. As soon as the danger of frost has passed, usually the end of February, I will totally lop them off about half way down, staggering each stalk for intrest. Big, beautiful leaves will appear right out of the middle of the stalk.
If I had to do it all over again, I would have skipped the bananas altogether and planted more of the bird of paradise in the foreground. When I first planted it, that day in fact, I showed it off to a realtive who was adament that it would die in a few months. It just couldn't take the Florida sun and the leaves will burn. I would be better off digging it up and bringing it in the house. Well, it is by far the most beautiful plant in my yard. I think I've only cut off about five dead leaves since I've owned it. Purple Queen grows around it and up in between the leaves, looking like blooms if you squint. It should bloom for real in a year a two and I simply can't wait.
Additional plants in this garden include Canna 'Tropicana', bright orange Begonias, a Ti plant, and a few grasses that I never have identified.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Get up at 6:00am - Dark. Home at 7:00pm - Dark.

No Gardening during the week. I'm not quite brave enough to breakout the flashlight and start weeding. Far too many spiders and other unidentifiable critters out there. I'm obsessive, but not nearly that compulsive. Perhaps that is why the garden has been a bit slow going. I'll take pictures of the garden on Saturday to post. I'll have to wait until then. Can't wait until summer when I can go out into the yard after work.

I suppose I shouldn't complain - at least my garden is not covered with several inches of snow! And it's not 98 degrees outside.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Welcome to Wicked Gardener

Welcome to my resolution.

So. This is my first entry for Wicked Gardener. This is something I've wanted to do for years. I love reading garden blogs and for a long time have felt that I could contribute something to this community. The big garden sites are fine, but I love nothing more than finding a terrific little blog, a personal, intimate account of a gardener and their struggles in taming their little piece of nature. So, one of my resolutions is to finally start a Gardening Blog.

I am a thirty year old mother of one who lives in Ocala, Florida with my beloved monster. We purchased our first home in 2004 and are gradually developing a backyard garden for our little munchkin. I've loved plants since I received my first cutting that turned into a beautiful houseplant. Now that I have a yard of my own, I'm doing my best to create our own secret garden paradise.

Notes on the name, Wicked Gardener: I love nothing if not the subversive. I wish my talents in life were slightly different so that I could be covered in tattoos and still be employed. I'm an atheist and a libertarian and plenty of people in my life have called me a witch (and the other word, starting with a B.) I had a child (and bought a home) out of wedlock and when we finally did marry, we eloped on our favorite holiday, Halloween. In my ultra conservative Red-State town, I might as well be the devil herself. This site is dedicated to the counter-culture domsestic arts, and since I do not cook, clean, sew (I knit a little, but badly) or anything else useful, I play in the dirt. Besides, I'm originally from Massachusetts, so I wanted a wicked cool blog run by a wicked gardener.

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