Saturday, June 30, 2007

Garden Updates

The corner garden. The shell ginger is still struggling in the late afternoon. It usually perks up in the morning. The sweet potato vine is definitely not struggling. The purple queen looks sparce in comparison, but by next year it will be lush and full - just look at the pool garden. Along the fence I added pink vinca to bring in the color of the crinum. I didn't know that the crinum would bloom when I planted them, much less what color they were. It has thrown off my plan, because the pink clashes with the red, but I love the crinum so much that I think the red cannas and the ti plants will be going next year. Bring on the pink!

The butterfly garden is looking parched 'cause Mama said the heck with this gardening stuff, she's going to the beach! (It was fun, by the way. I'll water tomorrow.)
The day lilies were an experiment this year. I like them and think I'll tame the lantana and add some more next year.

The shed garden always looks nice, even when everything else looks parched. I did the least amount of planning for this bed and it requires the least amount of work. I just went with the flow in it. (Maybe that is the secret I missing with the rest of the yard.)

The pool garden update. The purple queen is totally taking over. They are hidden in this picture, but my cannas are finally reaching in a nice size.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Critters in the Bamboo

It seems like most of the action in my yard today is happening in the bamboo container near the pool garden. I found this lizard there. I'm not an expert, but she looks pregnant.

This little bug was on the sweet potato vine planted under the bamboo.

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Saturday, June 23, 2007

A Bunch of Non-Scents

The crinum lily is just getting prettier and prettier! Marcelle from Marcelle’s Crinums positively ID’d it for me. (Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!)

Lisa gave me a nice excuse to display another picture of the crinum, the last for a while I promise! In my last post she asked if the lily smelled. Here is a little deep dark secret about myself: I don’t know. I don’t have a sense of smell. Never have. Strange hobby I have, huh? Like a blind person taking up painting. People seem to be far more fascinated about this than I am. I can’t smell flowers. I describe it as being scent-blind. Do you know how some blind people can see light and dark but little else? That’s about how I am. I can sometimes faintly smell smoke (although I usually see it first) and the alcohol in a bottle of perfume (but all perfume smells exactly the same.) Often, what I think of as smell is based more on the temperature and humidity in the air. I can still taste (which has never been affected by a bad cold), like sweet, salty, bitter and sour, and often my food preferences are based on texture as much as anything else. Since I’ve always been like this and I don’t know what I’m missing, I haven’t missed it. Most smells in this world don’t seem to be very good. Diapers have never fazed me – although I couldn’t detect a dirty one with my nose – I had to feel the weight of the diaper and check it often. I seemed to be better off than my husband who could barely change one without gagging. A cheap bottle of wine does not offend my senses, nor does an expensive one excite me. I can buy inexpensive candles. Bad breath and B.O. don’t bother me. If I have to have only four senses, I’m totally okay with smell being the odd man out.

As a gardener, let’s just say that I’m glad flowers look pretty as well as smell pretty. I’m in it for the visual and the emotional qualities. A beautiful garden just feels wonderful. I touch everything and have a lot of my plants wide, smooth or feathery leaves that I like to run my hands across. Thorns and needles are huge drawback for me, so you probably won’t see any cactuses in my garden soon. It probably explains why I like some many plants that are primarily interesting foliage plants. Fortunately, I live in an area that lends itself to tropicals. It also explains why I’m not super keen on roses. They are pretty, but I can’t smell them and the thorns make them unpleasant to touch. To add to that, they are difficult to grow down here without huge amounts of chemicals due to horrible black spot and insect infestations. The only ones in my yard are the roses my husband bought and planted himself.

So, back to the lily. I asked my seeing-eye nose, AKA my husband, if he would go out this morning and see what the lily smelled like. He looked up drowsily from the couch with one eye open and said. “Hmmm. No.” So I don’t have an answer for you, Lisa.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

The Mystery May be Over

Well, I think the verdict is in: it is most definitely a Crinum Lily. To left is my lily, below is a picture from Amaryllids in Cultivation. I don't know what variety this is, but 'Ellen Bosanquet' is very common in Florida and looks a lot like mine. So from this point forward I'm now calling this a Crinum 'Ellen Bosanquet'. (If anyone sees this and determines I'm wrong, please let me know. I'd love more info.) Since this plant has bloomed, I've noticed it frequently in my neighbor's yards, and even a clump in what looks like an abandoned lot. That gives me hope that it will be easy to care for. So far, I'm shocked that these suckers haven't long since died with the care I've given them. Sometimes you spend a lot of time finding the perfect plant, and sometimes the perfect plant just finds you.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Mystery Bud is Starting to Bloom!

Look what came out of the mystery plant bud! The mystery flower is either dark pink or red, and both colors are okay with me. I'm so excited. This has totally wiped out my funk from last week. My husband is tired of the daily trips to see this plant's progress. It is just like opening a christmas present REALLY SLOWLY.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Pool Garden

An update of the pool garden. This garden really comes alive with the hot, humid weather. The crepe myrtle, cannas and hybiscus are blooming. I need to clean out the pool. I have a little critter in it! (The yellow leaves did not improve - I just lopped them all off this morning. I fertilized with some fish emulsion based on the advice of some in the blogosphere so hopefully I won't have any more big yellow leaves.)

Shed Garden

This is the shed garden front and from the side.

Update of The Corner Garden

This is the left side of the Corner garden, the actual corner of the Corner garden. (I need to change that name.) The left side is finally getting interesting enough to photograph. In the back are my mystery plants (1.). In front of them are some varigated shell ginger plants (2.) with cannas (3.) thrown in for good measure. After planting the tubers back in early March, the red pine cone ginger (4.) came up. I had given up and planted four blue salvia plants there. I moved the salvia to the butterfly garden and under the elephant ears (5.). The elephant ears are transplants from a side bed that you couldn't see. I really need some landcape timbers to outline this bed.

This is the right side of the Corner garden, next to the shed. Don't look at the compost pile. Damn it -I told you not to look!

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Saturday, June 16, 2007

My Mystery Plant has a Bud!

These are my mystery plants. My mom got them from her friend who said that it was some sort of lily. Originally I put them in the bed with palm tree. I took them out, and left them on the lawn for about week before my Monster convinced me to plant it along the fence. Lately in the neighborhood I’ve noticed pretty pink lilies blooming from plants similar to mine. After reading a tropical plant book, I think (hope) it might be a crinum lily. Here is part of the description: “Some species develop a trunk like pseudostem, which is actually an extension (or neck) of the bulb.” Check. “(Flowers) are in clusters at the end of a solid stalk which arises from the side of the pseudostem.” Check! The picture in the entry shows hot pink funnel shaped flowers. Even better it says they are draught tolerant and hardy in my area. I will be SO excited if accidentally scored a really cool plant that I almost threw away!!!!

Thursday, June 14, 2007


Plants I Love (AKA The Plants that Don't Die on Me)


I never used to like salvia. Typically all you’d see in Florida gardens was the common red variety and something about it looked very plain and sterile. It just never really interested me. That was before I started looking into butterfly gardening. While not the butterfly magnet butterfly bush and lantana are, they do attract the insects. The bigger draw for me is the variety of colors available and the wildness they seemed to possess. My local nursery always has new varieties and I seem to be a sucker for them. My favorite is salvia guaranitica ‘Black & Blue’, pictured to the left. It has big, electric blue flowers with dark black stems. It died back in the winter, but reseeded itself, which I was thrilled about. I’m also growing pink hummingbird salvia and victoria blue salvia. I’ve managed to collect seed from the pink salvia and currently have a bunch of seedlings and some rooted cuttings, which I’m excited about. The lady at the nursery promised that the pink salvia would bring on the hummingbirds. I haven’t seen one yet, although my Monster did report seeing one over the weekend in another part of the yard. Maybe they are still looking for it? Hummingbirds: if you happen to be Internet savvy and see this, they are in the front yard!

Monday, June 11, 2007


Gardening this weekend was frustrating. I’m not sure if it was the oppressive heat and humidity that made pulling weeds feel like walking in a warm bowl of soup, or the sinking feeling that I’m simply killing everything that I touch. (Plants that I don’t touch are doing just fine, thank you.) All this has lead to one crappy attitude. My husband helpfully points out that I usually feel this way at this time of the month, but frankly, what the hell does he know? I mean, look at the evidence. My plants are turning yellow. The bananas have yellow leaves and the sweet potato vine is pale yellow. See! I’m killing all of my plants! Does anyone know why this is? Is it a fertilizer issue? I’ve been neglectful with the fertilizing. I try to be organic and not use synthetic fertilizers, but I don’t know enough about organic ones. With the exception of a bit of compost here and there, I pretty much don’t do anything. My husband keeps whispering in my ear “Miracle Grow, Miracle Grow!” So far I’ve resisted, but I’m becoming weak. Anyone who can give me advice on would be so appreciated. It is official – I have no idea what I’m doing. Maybe I’ll curl up in the air conditioning and watch sappy chick flicks until September when the weather starts to ease up. Bring on the double fudge chocolate chunk ice cream!

The sweet potato vine and the butterfly ginger are perking up, but the shell ginger in the back middle is still struggling. I made an attempt to divided it when I first got it, which it apparently did not want to do. In the process I was a little rougher with it than I should have been and it's having a hard time.

Butterfly Garden

This is a dead spot right to the left of the bird bath. Whatever I plant there dies. Everything around it looks just fine. These were big beautiful blue salvia a few days ago before I transplanted them from the corner garden. I try to give this spot extra water, but something is just not happening.

Thursday, June 7, 2007

Plans Halted

This week my family endured a traumatic event that while not life threatening or permanent, nevertheless caused significant disrupption on our summer plans financially. Plans for the corner garden are halted, save for the few dollars I scraped together for mulch that I'll get this weekend. I really don't want to loose the plants I already have. The trellises and the landscape lumbers are put on hold indefinitely. Sure, things could be a hundred times worse, but this event could have turned out very badly, put into question some parties we were planning on and totally nixed any hope of a vacation this year. It basically put us in a pretty bummed out mood for a week and a half.

I found myself really turning to the garden for calm and peace. There isn't much to do in the garden right now. The big weeds haven't taken hold and I've kept up with most of them. I'd normally be primping the garden about now - mulching, buying some filler plants. The urge to do so now has been hard to resist. Instead, I've been trying to focus on no-cost options. I've moved elephant ears from a bed that was hard to get to and not really visible to a more prominent spot in the corner garden. Everything that could potentially be propagated by a cutting has been done so and a ton of baby plants are lined up in plastic cups. I've asked everyone I know for snips of their plants and have considered going to the homes of people in my neighborhood and ask for theirs, but I am a bit freaked out by that. They might come at me with gardening shears for even asking for a clipping. You never know.

Mostly, I've been sitting, relaxing and enjoying the garden for what it is. Like parenting a child, I always see three gardens when I look: what it was, what it is, what it has the potential to be. And like a child it's hard to enjoy a garden for what it is and not worry about what it could be. After spending this time, I really realized one of the reasons I love gardening so much was that I associate it so closely with wealth and richness. I've toured estates and beautiful homes and the ones that strike me are the ones with lush and cared for gardens. Even a simple cottage looks amazing with a beautiful garden. The real joy is that even though I can't add much to garden right now, the garden pays its rewards ahead, so I can still enjoy my previous work. And unlike a diamond necklace, a gadget, or a new car, the garden is constantly changing and new, only getting better and richer with age.

Sunday, June 3, 2007

Green Thumb Sunday

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An alien in the Shed garden.

Ok, so it is just an alocasia in the garden, but I think it looks like some multi-tentacled alien creature. I'm super entertained by my own over-active imagination.

Coleus in the Corner Garden

Pink coleus in the Corner garden.

Crepe Myrtle in the Pool Garden

The crepe myrtle is starting to bloom in the corner. The tree is has a ton of buds that should explode in pink in just a few weeks.

Friday, June 1, 2007


Plants I Love (AKA Plants That Don't Die on Me)

So, this is about plants I love. But sometimes love becomes hate, and then love again until you can’t quite figure out how you feel about the object of one’s affections anymore. That pretty much sums up my relationship with lantana. It has its charms, namely my favorite quality in a plant: I can’t seem to kill it. It is drought and heat resistant, and was hardly phased when I left it in the car all day. (The impatiens didn’t fair so well.) The butterflies love it and it stands up to my daughter’s numerous bouquets. It comes back year after year and is pretty much no maintenance. But the cracks are starting to form in the relationship. It grows everywhere, suffocating my other plants such as the camellias you can hardly see anymore. I think it is responsible for the mild rash I get on my hands sometimes when working in the garden. After researching the Internet, I found out it even smells unpleasant (I have no sense of smell, but that is another post.) But then I do a little research and find out that it is reportedly used to decrease libido. I’m not sure, but I think that might finally be the last straw.

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