"I'm not really a career person.I'm a gardener,basically.".....George Harrison

Sunday, March 29, 2009

My Newest Favorite Flower

Earlier,I posted that Plectranthus was my new favorite plant,but this is my new favorite flower.
I had seen this plant years ago,on Sanibel Island.Not knowing what it was(nor did the owner),they gave me a cutting,but,alas,it did not take.So,imagine my delight when I found it in a little nursery by our house.

It is Hibiscus Acetosella,"Red Shield."
It's small pink flowers open for one day,only for a few hours.The lady at the nursery told me to whack it back when it got to be about one foot tall,and it will bush out even more.I am trying to root that cutting,and so far,it seems to be taking.

for more of Today's Flowers,or to visit Luiz Santilli,click here.......

And the Rain Came Down.....

After months of no real measureable rainfall at the GreatWall,last night the blessed rains arrived!It has been incredibly windy and dry the past week,especially yesterday.with temperatures in the 80's.It was so windy,yesterday,we had to restake the tomatoes and the peppers.
But the arrival of a cool front(highs in the 70's)during the night brought rain!We had fears that it would be a pounding thunderstorm,but thankfully it was just an all-night steady rain.And on and off again showers this morning.
So,the GreatWall is looking all perky and green this morning.

This is my new favorite plant.You know how sometimes you are just drawn to a certain plant and you can't have enough of it? It's Plectranthus Emerald Lace,shown in the upper photo with a coleus.Below,it's in a planter with a mini-variegated ivy.There is also a red begonia in the same planter.
We planted Gaillardia grandiflora amongst the vegetables.so far,the bees are having oodles of fun.And this morning,after the rain,it is sitting up all happy.
The bees are also loving the Bacopa we planted in the large containers of Plumeria.Those two plants look so beautiful together.
Since it's to be on and off rain all day,I guess my attention will have to be diverted to cleaning,or some other boring chore.
Come on out,sun!!!!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Everything I Ever Learned About Gardening.......

I learned from my soon-to-be 90 year old father. I learned some things about gardening from my mother,too.Like how to grow a new rose bush from just a cutting,how to keep ants off of peonies,how to grow an African Violet from just a leaf,and Lily-of-the-Valley is the bestest smelling flower ever.(The whole rose and African violet things never really sunk in-I can kill either of those plants just by looking at them.).Roses like it when you throw your old tea bags on them,and they love cut-up banana peels(that one works in Florida,too).Get rid of aphids by throwing dirty dishwater on them.But I think her favorite plant,next to the peonies,was the glads.She loved them.She even grew them after they moved to Florida.I have never been able to get into growing them-they remind me too much of funerals.Sorry,Mom.

But the most knowledge came from my dad.He was an executive with GTE/Sylvania,so I think gardening was his escape from the business world.During the summer(we lived up north, in Western New York),the minute he got home,he would head to his vegetable garden.In the winter,he headed to his greenhouse.My mother used to say,"Your father walks in the front door looking like the cover of Esquire,and walks out the back door looking like a farmer."

From him,I learned how to collect marigold,zinnia,and daisy seeds.How to compost("the correct way"-Heaven forbid it should be done wrong!).He grew huge zucchinni,and his tomatoes were the best!I can remember sitting in his garden,with my mother,holding a salt shaker and eating tomatoes fresh off the vine."Don't tell your father.We'll blame it on the birds."
From him,I learned strips of tin foil hanging off the tomato plants will keep blue jays and mockingbirds away.Or thread black string through the plants.That one confuses the birds.
"The only way you get rid of tomato horn worms is to pick 'em off,and smash 'em with a rock.Otherwise they'll kill your plant." I'm still working on that one.....

Over thirty-five years ago,they retired to St.Petersburg(I soon followed),and the gardening continued.He learned gardening in Florida was much different than gardening in Western New York.He brought his orchid collection with him,and discovered orchids love living outside,in Florida.He also discovered tropical fruit trees and plumeria(they would go to Hawaii every year,and he became enamored with them,and brought some cuttings back).Thus,my love and fascination with plumeria was born!
A few years back,after my mother passed away,the house and garden was too much for him to handle,so he willingly moved to an Assisted Living Facility,closer to us.I was lucky enough to get custody of the orchid collection.
And I had much learning to do.His first lesson; "Don't fuss so much!Stick 'em under your oak trees and leave 'em alone.They'll be fine.When they bloom,bring 'em up to enjoy 'em." It took me awhile,but it finally sunk in that he was right.I totally ignore them until they bloom(and they do bloom profusely),at which time they come up to the patio to visit us.When they are done blooming,back they go,under the oak trees.
These are his babies.......

Another one is on the side bar to your right.
He has become the go-to-guy for plumeria for myself and some friends who live in South Florida(some of his cuttings are now growing quite happily down there,and he is pleased as punch about that)."Will you people quit fussing over them!"
The one bit of advice that sticks with me,(hope you've figured this one out),"Quit fussing!Leave 'em alone.Stop smothering them." At least once a week,I call him with a gardening question,and I usually get that same answer.Or,I hear that I need to learn to have patience.......
I'm working on that one,Dad.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

And On the Fourteenth Day........

We're resting!!Because it is done!!!
After hauling retaining wall rocks,two yards of dirt(one yard for the mini-me wall,and the rest in the garden beds),gravel,and landscape pavers,we can finally say,it is done and it is good.It is good and done!

Here it is all filled up with dirt,and compacted down...... Gravel going in........

The rest of the weekend has been spent putting in new plants,shuffling some around.Those would be the ones that have to be relocated from the side yard,due to the county drainage project.We have taken to calling that side yard,TheGreatTrailerParkofLutz.It makes us very sad to look at it these days.The rest of the yard is looking so beautiful,and then we have this poor,pitiful side yard,which is barren and neglected.

But,to look on the bright side.There is planning to be done.For when it is done,it shall be filled with palms and tropical looking plants.Patience is not one of my virtues,either.I think I need to make a phone call to the project manager,and tell him,"I have plans.Get a move on!"

Jon's new rose garden is settling in.He got his first bud!He's the rose grower,not I.I grow everything else,but not roses.for some reason,if I touch them,they're goners.So I just leave it to him,and he can bring me a rose he grew everyday.Works out perfectly for us.
For some reason(the cold and freezes we had in Florida this past winter?),all of our mums are blooming.Go figure.Thoughts,anyone?
Anywho,these are the plants that have found new homes at the GreatWall.

St.Bernard's Lily (just 'cause I liked it)
Lemon Balm (for bees and butterflies)
Blue eyed Grass (planted underneath the plumeria)
Bee Balm(to attract bees and butterflies)
And,our gardening buddy has been keeping an eye on the progress.
This guy/gal seems to be fascinated by our landscaping attempts.Either that, or he/she is having a great laugh at us silly humans. Every day,whenever we are in the garden,he/she comes and sits and just watches us.Hope he/she isn't thinking about dinner......

For more of Today's Flowers,or to visit Luiz Santilli,click here.......

Monday, March 16, 2009

And The Wall Goes Up.........

Block by block,it is slowly going up.The drain seems to work,so far.Fingers crossed.We have tested it with the pool,and so far,so good.We will probably put more rock in the drain,just for appearance sake. Wednesday,two yards of dirt will be delivered.JonJ found a deal for the dirt,so it might be Thursday.(Sometimes,I'm not too crazy about his deals......but I'm digressing here.) Then the real work shall begin....

When I got home from work,this afternoon,I took my customary stroll around the yard.Just checking things out....And I had company......
I think the moth ball trick is working! Nothing or no one has dug anything up since I put a few down.I was reluctant to put too many out because of the smell.But so far nothing has been disturbed.I don't put them down around anything edible,but,over the weekend,something jumped in one of the containers with the squash seedlings and had a grand ole time.So,yesterday,I replanted everything in the container,re seeded,,and put a moth ball on the ground beside the container.It seems to have worked!Time will tell......or was I just lucky?
It is the height of oak tree pollen season,here in this part of Florida.It plays havoc with everything.Especially pool decks and swimming pools.And when you have a husband who is allergic,life can be ______(go ahead-you fill in the blank).
The specks you see in this picture are not me being a bad photographer,but oak pollen falling.You may have to click on the picture to get a better idea.And,yes,somebody needs to refill the bird feeder.
Don't get me wrong.We love our old growth oaks.Especially,in the summer months,here in Florida.For the shade and cooling effect they have on the yard.But they sure can be a pain at times.
A backyard visitor......
And while I was sitting waiting to get that picture,I realized I was being watched.....
Honestly,I don't taste good..........

Sunday, March 15, 2009

The Newest Additions To The GreatWall---

Why is it that we cannot go to a nursey,Lowe's,or Home Depot without taking a quick trip through the Garden Shop?And we have to come home with a special treasure?
This weekends purchases....... Euphorbia

Angelonia-I'm hoping it will attract more butterflies to the garden.

African Daisy-I just had to have it when I saw the color.
For more of Today's Flowers,or to visit Luiz Santilli,click here.................

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Glory Be! Another Mini-Me Wall !!

As you can see,we have drainage issues by the pump for the WaterPark.Not only does water come shooting out of the pump whenever the pool(AKA The WaterPark) is back-washed, but we have a gutter drain spout that has a drop off of two and half stories!So,whenever it rains,well...you can get the picture.....And,rest assured, it ain't pretty.
No matter how much dirt and/or rock we put in there,it would all wash away.
So,it has been decided that another mini-me wall should go in there.Along with a French-drain.

It took one entire day to get 10 blocks laid.Tree roots,etc.Grrrr...
What you are looking at is our temporary fix,until the whole project is finished.(We could get rain. It is possible...Seriously,it could happen.....).
Eventually,it is anticipated(and hoped--puhlease,puhlease,puhlease)it will look like a mirror image(if only a mini-me version) of the original GreatWall.

Tomorrow,the GreatWall is taking the day off.We are going to Honeymoon Island,in search of eagle nests.Rumor has it,that for the first time in forty years,eagles have nested there!With a live chick! The nest has been put off limits,but hopefully,we can get close enough to get a good picture,or two.
If not,we've heard tell that there are shells there!

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

We Have An ID On The Perps

Yep,Jon found out who's been taking the blue marbles from around the fire pit,and spreading them around.It's otters!
He caught them very early,this morning,having a field day with them.He was using his night scope to find out what was going on,and said they were so cute,but scampered off when he finally turned the lights on.I wish we had some type of motion camera that could capture a picture of them.Just for evidence,of course.In case,this should ever go to court.......
We love that they're here,and feel comfortable to come up onto the pool deck but couldn't they at least put the marbles back,when they're done?
We have another perp,too.This neighborhood has gone downhill,I tell ya!
Something(an armadillo)tore up the woodland garden I planted last weekend.Thankfully,Jon replanted eveything before I got home from work.
So,it shall be moth balls spread all around,til the critters learn to leave my stuff alone.It works on raccoons,cats,dogs,and 'possum.I just don't know if it works on armadillos.Guess we're gonna find out.Worth a shot anyways.The down side is the garden will smell like mothballs,until it gets established enough to be able to take the ravages of the wild armadillo.....

On the upside,the weather has been gorgeous,lately.One couldn't ask for more perfect weather.Cool nights,hot days,low humidity.All the plants are starting to come back from the cold and freezes of this past winter.
Why do I have to work?I should be home,playing in the garden.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Today's Flowers

Some of the flowers in bloom,at the Great Wall of Lutz..........
Ostica Blue Eye


Gerbera Daisy

For more of Today's Flowers,or to visit Luiz Santilli,Jr.,click here........

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Spring Has Sprung On the GreatWall !!!

Am I the only person who gets up in the early morning hours(as soon as it is light enough to see),who goes out into their garden just to peruse the state of the land?In their jammies?

This morning,I get up,and what do I find?But pseudo mass destruction.My first thought was,WTF? The Van Hyning Cockles that I collected from Cayo Costa and Ft.DeSoto,and which we use as mulch around the potted plants on the Cantina,were strewn everywhere,including in the pool! The oyster clusters that have been under the Cantina Kitchen bench were all spread around.The yard-art whelks were all topsy-turvy and spread all over.The blue glass marbles that are under the fire pit were scattered like someone was playing marbles(we are still finding them this evening!).

Now,anyone can tell you,I love shelling in the early morning hours.But only if it's a minus low tide,a front has blown through,and the company is great(ok-I don't mind being by myself),but shelling in your swimming pool is not what I like to do.Especially,in my jammies.Now,if I was on
Sanibel Island,it might be a different story.But I'm in Lutz,and it ain't quite the same.But,I digress.....
We are of the mind it was one dumb raccoon,or some playful otters(the marble thing...).We're leaning towards the dumb raccoon.
Pretty much all cleaned up now.And,now,onward to the arrival of Spring on The GreatWall....
Birds bathing ........
After the Great Freezes of '09,the plumeria all show signs of life.
Including the contraband plumeria.They may not bloom this year,but they're all still alive!

This poor pineapple really took a hit from the freezes,but lo and behold,it's trying to put out a pineapple.The Pineapple Plantation may still be in business,after all.

Pole beans have spouted.

Wild bromeliads are blooming(is that the correct term for what bromeliads do?)

Underneath the Norfolk Island Pines,we have started to put in a woodland garden.We still have a ways to go on that project.The plantings are in,but we need to lower part of it,so we have good water drainage.If and when the summer rains start.....

Next,we need to have a couple of yards of topsoil brought in,and,also,some sod.For the back corner(once known as The Jungle)we already have a bench that we made out of the old cypress beam(from our rotted out entryway).Once we get the dirt in,and the sod laid,it will go there.It's never ending work,but great satisfaction.Not to mention,a great work-out.

Now,it's time for this(what a great gardening companion she is,isn't she?Someone has to take care of napping.):

And this:

Thursday, March 5, 2009

The GreatWall's Day Off

With apologies to Ferris Bueller,but we called in sick today("I was up all night sick as a dog.").If people up north can have snow days,I think those of us,in Florida,should have "perfect Spring days."It's just so much more fun to stay home on a day like today,than to sit in some office with no windows.
Why shouldn't we be able to stay home and just relax,look around the garden,and enjoy all the hard work we've put in to getting it back in shape,after the cold and freezes of this past winter?
And it's way more fun to watch the back-yard visitors that we had,today,than to sit in front of a computer in a windowless office,don't you think?

A Red-Shouldered Hawk on our neighbors dock Debate is ongoing if this is a juvenile female Cardinal,or some type of wild parakeet.Thoughts anyone?Bueller,Bueller....?
Tufted Titmouse.
(Feel free to jump in,at anytime,and help us out on the identification,people.)

Pileated Woodpecker
(he just refused to give me his good side!)


I'm thinking we need a bird identification book......Any recommendations on a good one?
So,that was our day,at The GreatWall of Lutz.Tomorrow,back to work.Playtime is over.Insert wailing smiley here.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

When God Hands You Lemons.....

(Note: I did some research on the names of the plants we used,and went back and edited to show the names.)

Make lemonade!
Or,in this case,get out the shovels,pruners,weed-eater,garden forks,rakes,and a couple of containers of Round-Up,and create a garden.

Most of the plantings are in. Now everything just needs time to adjust to their new home,and fill in. The only thing we didn't manage to get planted were the azaleas.That was on the schedule for today,but we awoke to rain,wind,and a cool front passing through.In this part of Florida,we do need the rain(we're in a 10 year drought,so they say),but why couldn't the rain wait until tomorrow? Ahhh,the life of a gardener.Learning to work with the whims of Mother Nature,I guess.

Here are a few of the plantings that went into the former-jungle-garden.Don't ask me names.I just pick the ones that I like.Ones that will grow in the conditions of the planned garden.
l-Heuchera Hybrid 'MELTING FIRE' R-Calibrachoa 'MINIFAMOUS ORANGE'
I love the combination of these two together.They're in a planter,and I cannot wait for them to fill in.
I have always wanted to plant Violas,and now I can! This garden will be a perfect place for them to grow.Semi-shadey,with dappled sunlight from the oaks.
This plant should grow about 18" tall,so it's planted behind the re-located liriopes.I think it will give a nice effect.At least,that's my hope.If it doesn't,I'll just plant something else.
Plectranthus 'MONA LAVENDER'
Onward to the new cactus garden.As mentioned in the last post,we turned the big-ass stump from the big-ass schefflera into a cactus garden.This area of the yard gets sun almost all day,so the cacti should do well there.Please ignore Jon's canoe in the background.It could turn into a container garden,if he doesn't find a place for it,SOON.
The stump has been covered and surrounded with rocks,with the pots nestled in between and around the rocks.
I'm trying out these plantings around the rocks,too.Just to add some color to that space.If they do well,I'll add more of them.
This one grows taller,and the following one is a mounding type.They actually,look good together.

Calibrachoa 'MINI YELLOW'
I always garden with my camera,so I was lucky enough to catch this female Cardinal.Just sitting there,checking out what was going on.Actually,I think she was waiting for me to move on,so she could use the bird-feeder.But I had to take her picture first.....
Since,Mother Nature has forced me to take a break,today I will turn my attention to the other side of the yard.The area where we can't do anything(because of the previously mentioned drainage project by Hillsborough County-"Get on it guys!! Don't you realize I have plans?!"),and is rapidly turning into another jungle.We have tempoarily re-located all the plants that we want to save.So,today,I think I will put my plans on paper,and complain and whine about how slow government works.....


Related Posts with Thumbnails