Tuesday, May 29, 2007
Sunday, May 27, 2007
I’ve noticed that several blogs have listed their particular rules of gardening and it has made me think about what rules I have for myself. Here they are:
1. A garden should be interesting from when looking across the yard and when looking up close, butt in the dirt. This lily is a tiny treasure, hidden at the base of the butterfly bush in the butterfly garden. I missed it three times just walking by. It wasn’t until I sat down to weed that I noticed it. To me, that is the difference between a landscaped area and a garden. A landscaped yard looks great from the street driving by, but a garden requires you to stop and look at it. I love taking someone in the garden and showing them everything they missed at first glance: the ginger blossoms under the elephant ears, the passion flower hidden by leaves, the canna shoots just appearing up from the dirt.
2. A gardener should learn the correct Latin names of all their plants, then promptly forget them. This ain’t school, baby. Gardening should be fun. That said, I firmly believe in learning all the important things about your plants, and rarely plant anything that I haven’t collected considerable information about. Does it do well in this area? What kind of water needs does it have? Do I know of anyone who has it their yard? What do ladies at the local nursery know about it? What is the buzz about this plant on the net? I’ll learn all of the important stuff, just don’t ask me to pronounce or even remember the Latin names.
3. Plants should be durable, and come back year after year. Perhaps I’m spoiled living in Florida, but I only want plants that don’t die on me. They can die back in a frost, sure, but that sucker better have shoots coming back that following spring (that following week, ideally.) I have little patience for many annuals. A major accomplishment of mine this year was that I did my homework and all of the plants I planted in the butterfly garden came back. In my area, plants not only need to be cold hardy, they should be heat and draught tolerant too. This is where paying attention to commercial landscapes is helpful. If a plant thrives near a god-awful hot highway, chances are it will do okay in my yard.
4. Gardening is about sharing. Make cuttings and give them away. Share plants and information. Teach a future generation. Communicate with others about gardening online. This is a command to myself – I don’t do nearly enough of any of it.
5. Disregard any and all gardening rules, including the ones I make up myself. Sometimes, this is the most important rule of all.
What gardening rules, tenets, or principles do you live by?
Saturday, May 26, 2007
Plants I Love
(AKA Plants That Don't Die on Me)
Mexican Petunias are considered invasive here in Florida, and in the last few years, it seems that they genuinely have been popping up everywhere; in landscape centers and nurseries, commercial landscapes, my neighbors’ yards, etc. They have tall dark purplish stems, green lance shaped leaves and dark violet flowers. In my zone 9 climate, they die back in the winter, but when the weather starts to warm, the shoots pop up from the plant’s strong root system. After several years, the plant can get down-right bushy. The web sites claim the best way to propagate the Mexican Petunia is by seed, but I have found it very easy to root from cuttings. It follows the tried and true rule: if the stem is square, it will be easy to root. I put it in a glass of water on the windowsill or put it in dirt with some toner. If fact, I don’t recommend even buying this plant. You are almost certain to find someone in the neighborhood who will gladly give you a cutting. The gardener where I work gives me her trimmings when she prunes. These cuttings have populated most of the plants in my yard. From work to my yard 10 miles away – now that’s invasive!
Posted by Wicked Gardener at 11:53 PM
It seems that out of nowhere, the butterflies have arrived in the butterfly garden. Last year I only saw the small orange Gulf Frillaries. This week I've started seeing several larger ones, like this one which I think is a Zebra Swallowtail. He hung out on the unruly lantana I was pruning most of the afternoon. My munchkin called him my Buddy.
"Momma! Look your Buddy came back!!"
Tuesday, May 22, 2007
Wednesday, May 16, 2007
This absolutely one of my favorite plants and I hope that this picture illustrates why. This is a hidden ginger (Curcuma) and it looks so delicate and exotic. The great part about this plant is that it is hardy in this area. The plant dies back in the winter but pops back up in the spring with these gorgeous flowers. I haven’t had any problem with disease, insects or watering. They are definitely hidden however. They are planted in the Shed Garden and you really have to hunt for them in the pictures.
More prominent are the spiky butterfly gingers (Hedychium coronarium). They didn’t bloom last year, which I hear is not uncommon with this plant, but I hope to have some white orchid-like flowers this year. Shell ginger (Alpinia zerumbet) is a plant I’ve always wanted to try, and will probably will this year with plants behind the palm tree.
Hidden Ginger:Butterfly Ginger:
Posted by Wicked Gardener at 10:18 PM
Sunday, May 13, 2007
Here's what I got for my Mama for Mother's day. Its a green glazed pot with hot pink coleus like the ones from the corner garden and purple sweet potato vine from cuttings. Tip for anyone in an especially hot climate: always get glazed pots. They retain moisture because water can not evaporate through the pot like in terra cotas. They are more expensive, but they look SO much better and in the middle of summer it is nicer to water only once a day instead of twice!!
Saturday, May 12, 2007
The palm tree is in! Finally. I added purple queen, sweet potato vine, and hot pink coleus. I was excited about it until I looked at the picture and it looked so plain. It needs some mid-size plants. I keep noticing the spiky butterfly ginger in the background and think I might try adding some of those. I also saw some Shell Ginger (Alpinia zerumbet) at the store, a plant I’ve always liked and would like to try. They reportedly grow to about 5 to 6 feet. It needs something. The original plan called for Canna ‘Tropicana’, but with the hot pink coleus and the orange begonia, I am beginning to think that red leaves would be too much. As for the coleus, it wasn’t what I was thinking of when I went to the store today. I was intending on some impatiens or possibly some pentas, but they really don’t hold up to full sun and this bed gets it, especially in the afternoon. Coleus isn’t a huge favorite, primarily because it dies off in the winter and it just isn’t didn’t excite me. But when I was in the corner of the nursery, scanning over all the plants, squinting for a patch of hot pink, this plant caught my eye. I mean honestly – who can resist a plant with hot pink leaves? Not I dear sir, not I.
Thursday, May 10, 2007
Ipomoea batatas 'Blackie’ & Ipomoea batatas ‘Margarita’
Is anything more striking than dark purple plants and lime colored sweet potato vines covering a bed or flowing out of planters? Add pink begonias you have my favorite plant combo. The lime green vine brightens any corner and is pretty hard to kill. Large tubers make it pretty draught tolerant. I suppose they are edible, but I have ornamental varieties and I don’t image they’d taste very good. They are very easy to propagate. I cut off a vine and put it water on my windowsill. After a few days they have several roots developing. They are so pretty with cut flowers. Six small plants for a $2.50 filled my whole yard and they come back year after year.
Posted by Wicked Gardener at 8:08 PM
Tuesday, May 8, 2007
I got the palm tree! I love it when a plan comes together! Inspired by my artistic ambitions, my honey got me a palm tree for an early Mother’s Day present, way sooner then I expected to get one. Just goes to show you that if you put your dreams out into the universe, they will come back to you. My Mr. Monster looked hard for the right tree, (a Queen Palm) and he really hustled to get it before he had a stretch of 5 16hr days at work. So sweet!! I love him!!!
I won’t be planting tonight though. Smoke from fires counties away is blanketing the area. You can see it a bit in the background, although this picture doesn’t do justice to the smell or how yellow it makes everything look. There was so much ash over my car this morning that I had to walk around the house to make sure that it wasn’t on fire. I truly expected to see flames from a neighbor’s home. Unfortunately, we are in another drought and the only thing that will help is some much need rain. Hopefully it will come soon!!
Sunday, May 6, 2007
Here is the plan. This is for the southwest corner of the yard which has been up to this point been designed pretty half hearted. I've always wanted to do something Asian influenced, but I haven't had a clear direction. So while me and munchkin were drawing last night I decided to sketch up some plans. I'm really happy with how it turned out, especially since I'm not at all gifted at drawing. I think it clearly shows the direction I want to go with this garden.
Friday, May 4, 2007
Plants I Love (AKA The Plants that Don’t Die on Me)
Below are helpful links to plants I’ve had success with in Central Florida and are growing in my garden currently.
Purple Queen (Purple Heart) – This plant is much maligned as an invasive. My honey hates it because it can get scraggily and finds its way into the pool. My parents have battled a patch growing in their yard for years. They finally laid brick over it as part of a patio and the purple shoots are poking through the cracks. But I love its deep purple foliage and how it takes the heat. Besides, there is absolutely no easier plant to propagate. Cut off a leaf with a good portion of stem, poke a hole in the ground with a pencil, stick the stem in it, and walk away. Done. Practically my definition of great plant.
Posted by Wicked Gardener at 10:37 PM
Thursday, May 3, 2007
My intention for this blog has always been to be a “warts and all” depiction of a garden. So many sites and magazines have lush flowers, perfectly in bloom. Their gardens have fully matured, with not a blank spot to be seen. The only bugs are beneficial and a synthetic fertilizer is completely unheard of. You never see the weeds and the compost bins, the toys and the stray beer bottles (an essential gardener’s tool) left about. These gardens aren’t perfect. They are shot at calculated angles, cropped tight on beautiful flowers at the perfect time of year. They are beautiful, but have always felt a touch empty.
I wanted a garden that immediately provided a sense of place. You’d enter my blog and feel like you entered the garden. What is going that day is what you see. I want my pictures to be broad sweeps of the garden instead of tight shots of flowers. The problem is that the big pictures of the gardens, like this one of the butterfly garden, looks so disappointing. My fence is crooked, which I had never noticed before, and very plain. I can’t see a single flower even though I know there are azaleas and passion flowers in there. The picture doesn’t convey my feeling of the garden when I’m in it. The garden is pregnant with bud, full and right to the point of bursting with color and scent. The butterfly bush in the foreground looks raggedy, but has at least a hundred buds, just waiting burst with lilac like blooms. The lilies have sprouted, completely hidden. The lantana and the pentas obscured in the background. The picture just doesn’t show what I see, a garden full of potential.