Sunday, December 28, 2008

Update on the Front Garden

Turns out that the oleander was just a bit top heavy. I cut off a bunch on the left side and it popped right back to life. I think this took care of a lot of the caterpillar problem, although I'm sure there are still a few there. My husband has commented that he likes this bed (and he rarely comments on the plants.) During the week, we only see it in the dark at this time of the year, so I purposely picked white flowers so we could enjoy it more.

The snapdragons are coming into their own now. Makes me wish I planted a hundred of them.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Too Much Eggnog?

I'm on vacation this week, so after washing mountains of laundry, scrubbing the kitchen floor and wrapping a bazillion presents, I might have a little extra time to do some gardening and, hopefully, get back to some regular posting. My focus will mostly be on the front garden. I think the backyard is at least temporarily a lost cause. The petunias above were an experiment. I wasn't sure how they'd hold up to frost, so I didn't want to by a ton of them. But so far, so good. I know we really haven't had a very hard frost yet, so they could still get damaged, but I might get some more today, just to make the bed all spiffy for Christmas.

My oleander has a problem lately. Its been curving to the ground. Not falling over, as the trunk seems straight, but curving. Did it have too much to drink at the garden party? (They get crazy every year.) Oleander osteoporosis setting in early? I have no idea what is causing it or how to fix it. I was thinking about lopping off the top third to make it a bit less top heavy. That would stink because there are quite a few buds on the tree. Of course, these little bastards will probably get to the buds before I do:
Here I thought caterpillar season was over.
As I'm taking these pictures, I can literally see the vultures circling. Talk about a sense of doom.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Jackson Pollock Cookies

Above is my batch of holiday cookies I made this year. They are yummy and super dunkable. I'm getting everyone (neighbors, teachers, co-workers) a dozen. Since I don't know all of your addresses (and couldn't afford postage anyway,) I'm giving you the gift of the recipe. Now this is important: This recipe for seriously time crunched, "only bake once a year" people with no artistic talent, preferably mothers with kids who always want to "help." I was tired of sugar cookies that looked like they were in horrible accidents. So please, if you have extra time and talent on your hands, make something more complicated and leave this one to us.
Here you are: I call them Jackson Pollock Cookies (Seriously, NO ONE I work with understood why.)
1. Bake a package of pre-made sugar cookie dough according to package directions. Let them completely cool. I made them a night before. If you are ambitous, you can roll out the dough and cut out shapes, however that would be streching my baking skills past their breaking point.
2. Get a bag of regular chocolate chips and two bags of white chocolate chips. (Reserve one bag of white for later.) In separate bowls, melt the chocolate in the microwave. Microwave for 30 seconds, stir and repeat until melted. If needed, add a capfull of veggie oil to make the chocolate flow better. (The more oil you add, the softer the chocolate on the cookie will be, so use sparingly.)
3. Split the remaining white chocolate chips and melt the same way, adding red and green food coloring to the bowls. Add a couple more capfuls of oil to these to make them very drizzly.
4. Place the cookies on a table covered in wax paper. Dip half the cookie in either white or regular chocolate. Set on the wax paper. When you have a bunch of these, let the kids dip forks in the colored chocolate and drizzle it over the cookies. It helps if you close your eyes and pretend you are Jackson Pollock. Can't really mess this part up and kids love it.
5. Let the chocolate harden. This can take up to an hour if you are like me and always put in too much oil. Putting them in the fridge helps too. Then enjoy dunking them in some coffee or hot chocolate. (I'm pretty sure I've made this sound way more complicated than it is. Its pretty simple if I can do it.)
This will be the only recipe that you see on this particular website, because I don't know how to make anything else. That's what husbands are for.
May your holidays be filled with Peace and Love.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

End of a Blog

You know how it goes: Your favorite blog misses a week. You are troubled. "This is so unlike them," you think. You've seen this before and you know the first signs, but you understand. People just get busy. So you wait, and periodically check up on them. Two weeks pass. What is going on? Have they moved on to new, spiffier blog that they have neglected to tell us about? Three weeks pass. Worry sets in. Has something happened? Are they okay? Is their family alright? A month passes. If you are lucky, they write a quick a post, full of excuses:

Sorry I haven't posted in a while. You know, with Christmas sucking up all my extra time and money, job issues, computer issues and a generally uninspiring winter garden, I just have been doing other things right now. But I still love you all and promise to post updates soon. Promise.

Suddenly, you can breath easier. At least they are still alive. And yet, it seems hollow. Another month passes. Then another. And another. You have to come to the eventual conclusion that they have moved on with their lives, and that you must too. Yet you hold on, checking them, hoping. Then comes that fateful day when you go to your blog roll, and press the delete button.

Don't delete me, people! I know it's been two weeks, but I swear I'll be back. I will go and leave comments on your blogs just to prove I'm still around - just don't give up on me!

Maybe, one day when they start blogging again, they'll look you up like an old boyfriend and you can start back where you left off. . .

This post is dedicated to Kim, Hunky, and Andrea. I miss you all.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Naked Americans

Yesterday, my daughter had a "Thanksgiving Feast" at school. She called Grandma to tell her all about it. She described her costume, a headband and faux leather vest, decked out with feathers. "Grandma, Grandma!!" she said, "I was a Naked American!"

Happy Thanksgiving, All You Naked Americans!!!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Shock and Awe

So I went out today expecting total death and destruction of all my plants from 4 days of freezing temperatures. Especially since I did just about nothing to protect any of my plants. What did I find instead?


What the . . ? Even the ginger is blooming.

After a bit of hunting, I found some coleus that took a beating, but is still ticking.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Freeze Tonight


Sunday, November 16, 2008

There's Always One . . .

Look what popped up in my "white" snapdragons.
In my brilliance of buying discount gingers yesterday, I failed to actually look at the weather. No planting with freezes on the way. It's not cold enough to worry about covering the plants, but at 33 degrees, I have to pull in all the unestablished babies, just in case. So the gingers have to stay in their pots a little longer. (No wonder they were so cheap . . . ) It's a dilemma for me because I'm a notoriously bad container gardener. Frankly, when it comes to gardening, Mother Nature does all the heavy lifting, I just let her know where I want things. When plants go into containers and are dependant on me to actually water them, they don't do so well. With the time change making it dark when I get home, it is even harder to remember to care for them. So I don't like to keep any more containers than I have to. With any luck, I won't kill the gingers before I get them in the ground.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Kenny's Place

For ages now, the Nursery Nazi has been telling me about a great nursery across town called Kenny's Place. They are always clean and she's never found a pest or disease problem there. Better yet, they employ mentally handicapped people in the community and teach them job skills in horticulture. She says they assist customers with their plants and are very friendly and smiling. (I joked she only likes the place because its the only nursery in town that has employees actually happy to see her.) They also have gingers and other exotics galore. Yesterday, we finally made the trip.

The nursery is small and unimposing from the outside, but once you get out and walk around, you quickly realize it has a huge amount of plants you can't easily get anywhere else.

And, (cue the angels singing. . . ) this is the GINGER SECTION! It goes on forever! I was a kid in a candy shop and wanted one of everything. From what I've seen, this is toward the end of their inventory of the year. I would have died to have been here back in August.

Another neat thing about the nursery was it was also an inadvertent butterfly garden. They where everywhere, and monarchs, which I've never seen in Florida before. They had more butterflies there than I've seen at many "butterfly exhibits" I've been to.

Now for the stash:

Here is what I got: 1 Blood Lily, 4 Globba Ginger, and 2 Hedychium coccineum 'Disney' gingers All for the amazing price of, hold on to your hats people, $23 dollars! Including tax! (If you don't think this such a great price, go ahead and price one tuber of the Disney ginger. Even on Ebay it is way more expensive. And each of these pots has several tubers.) A trip to Kenny's Place may become a weekly pilgrimage.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Sholom Park

Today we went to one of my favorite spots, Sholom Park. The name implies that it might be a specifically religious place and I've met someone who thought it was a cemetery. It is actually a meditative park and gardens. They discourage pets, disruptive play and don't really encourage joggers, although you occasionally see them. It is a place that encourages quite contemplation of nature and the world. Kinda cool, really.

A little courtyard looks out on to the surrounding countryside.

I don't know what kind of tree this is, maybe a crepe myrtle? I love the bark though. Looks like giraffes.
This is the rose garden. Normally it is filled with roses and camellias, but I think
I hit it in between blooms. It was a bit of a flower hunt.
Found one!

A Florida vista.

A lily in the pond.

The tropical garden, like mine, is starting to fade. I should find out if they need volunteers. Unfortunately, most garden clubs meet on like Tuesday morning, which pretty much excludes anyone who works for a living. This little garden cemented my love for tropicals. My heart fluttered a bit when I saw it. It was full of gingers. One spiral ginger had fuzzy new leaves that I could have petted all day.

I think this is a ginger, but I'm not sure. I'd love a positive ID. It was the only thing blooming and it was really pretty.

The park has a bunch of signs throughout the paths that make you stop and think about your surroundings. I could see this one on my tombstone.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008



I don't have to move to Canada!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

(Nothing against Canada. My plants would just do terribly there.)

Election Night

I'm online tonight, watching the results. Leave a comment and we'll celebrate or commiserate together.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

This Blog is for Pansies!

Halloween, at least down here in Florida, seems to indicate the end of summer even more than the traditional Labor day. When the weather is still in the 80's, it seems like summer will never end. But now that we've seen frosts, and my gingers are quickly fading, I have to admit that even here, it does come to an end. This year, my goal is to have year round flowers. After a few small experiments last year, I'm going full on with pansies and snapdragons. Yesterday I bought Majestic Giant Pansies (above) for the corner garden and white snapdragons for the front garden. Both of these plants can take a couple of frosts, even freezes, when many of my other plants die back. I'll be adding more in the next month. I was hoping to find seeds to make this mission a bit cheaper, but I think pansy seeds are one of those things you only see when you don't want them. Truth be told, pansies aren't really my style. A bit old fashioned for me. But when January comes around, beggars can't be choosers. I was disappointed at the selection. I REALLY wanted black pansies that were so plentiful in the spring for Halloween, but now they were nowhere to be found. I also wanted those neat tricolored snapdragons that glow pink, orange and yellow. I was lucky to find any pansies, which just seems crazy to me. Nurseries instead seemed to be big on getting rid of their impatiens which have only have a few more weeks in them at best. Well, I've learned my lesson. In the spring I'll raid the seed cataloges and keep seeds for August/September sowing. Until then, purple and white will be ruling for a while.

This kitty seems to have adopted us. It has been hanging around for the last week. Tonight my husband fed it. Do you know how much trouble I would have been in if I fed it? I guess a name is next. . .
She doesn't seem to understand why we won't let her in. She is pretty cute and pathetic looking. How do you say no?

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Monsters in the Garden

What do you do when there are monsters in the garden?

Wait a while. They'll go to sleep eventually.

Halloween was fun, if a bit low key this year. Our parents all came over for food and hung out to entertain trick-or-treaters while the monster and I took the little monster out to make the rounds. The little one was a cutest witch ever:
Overall it was a fun night. (Oh, and thanks for the comments on our anniversary. Two years and counting! Our Halloween story is here. )

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

A Long Over Due Post

One of the things that I have learned about gardeners is that they are generous beyond words. That is definitely true of Garden Bloggers. And I've also learned that your baby is your baby forever, even if someone else is taking care of it, at least I feel that way. So I thought that the very generous gardeners that have sent me seeds and cuttings might like to see how their babies are doing:

First are Red Yucca seedlings from VanillaLotus at New Sprout. She sent them back in May and they shot right up, but they've looked like this for several months now. I had several containers that more or less look like this and I planted one in the ground to see if it would take off, but that was only a week ago. Not sure if this is just what yucca do (hee, hee) or if I'm doing something wrong. I really hope it takes off because I love yucca blooms.

Second are Angel Trumpet seeds from the Gardening Fool. They are going gang busters. I think there about 7 to 9 plants and I can't wait to see how they progress. Then came the mother load: Green Jeans from Central Florida Gardening extremely generously sent me a box of great plants, including some of her spiral ginger:

This was from the tuber:
These were cuttings.

She also sent hibiscus seeds (below)
. . . and air plants, which I really thought I got a picture of until I turned on the camera tonight.

Last but not least, Annette from our Our Garden Dirt for seeds from her fabulous four o'clocks. I'm following her specific instructions and not planting them until spring. (BTW Annette, where did ya' go?)
Many THANKS to all of you!!!

Side note: I brought all of the babies in tonight because it is getting COLD tonight. Not quite freezing, but too cold for the little ones. The cold weather has me mentally skipping Halloween and going right to Christmas. I'm trying to get in a festive mood, but I'm not quite feeling Halloween this year.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Attention Florida Voters: Read This Post!!

Prompted by Julie at A Succulent Life!, I searched the Internet for info on the almost incomprehensible amendments to Florida constitution. As I am planning on voting tomorrow, I wanted to be knowledgeable. (Yes! Early voting in Florida includes Saturdays! Wah-Hoo!! Not all locations, but the one I was planning to use has it.) There are some really important ones on there, and the wording is simply ridiculous. They need to be translated into English. This was a really good site, and I wanted to share it with my fellow Florida gardeners.

(BTW - Again, I'm steering away from flowers, but I think there is an amendment or two here us nature lovers can get behind. Amendment 4, anyone?)

(BTW, BTW - If you do live in Florida, try to vote early. The lines are already crazy long and are sure to be worse on the 4th. I tried today and the line wrapped half around the building. And these people were standing in the rain! Don't wait if you can help it.)

Thursday, October 23, 2008

UPDATE: The Butterfly Garden

My daughter loves touching the pussy-willow soft blooms of the Mealycup sage.
I realized that it has been a while since I've posted updates of the gardens. I guess it all feels a bit repetitive to me, but as always, I'm so surprised about how much it changes when it feels like it is staying the same. I have posted links at the bottoms of these posts that tell the story of each of the gardens. I love seeing how much they have changed since March, but it is a bit sad to know that dreary ol' January is just around the corner. Until then, here is the butterfly garden, which is much nicer in person than comes off in the picture.

Here is the Butterfly Garden's Past.

UPDATE: The Shed Garden

See the shed garden's history here.

UPDATE: The Front Garden

This pic was taken almost a week ago. Since then the pentas and the oleander have started blooming.

The rest of the story is here.

UPDATE: The Corner Garden

The corner garden still has some work to do. I need something with height along the back of the fence. You see the beginnings of a trellis, which I may, or may not get finished before spring. Regardless, it looks much better than it did back in March:

To follow the entire evolution of this garden, go here.

Monday, October 20, 2008

I’ve just spent far too much time drooling over the plants at Plant Delights Nursery. The selection there is ridiculous. If anyone is looking for a Christmas present for me, I will happily accept gift certificates.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Little Bastard

Friday, October 17, 2008

Growing Grass

Ya' know, I love my husband. Last week he trimmed all of hedges, mowed, and did all of the chores I don't like doing. He also sowed winter rye grass, which stays nice and green all winter. Unfortunately, the spreader's aim isn't so good. Sigh. I'll be picking rye grass out of my garden beds all weekend.

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