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

Monday, April 27, 2009

Company Comes To the Great Wall

This past week,the GreatWall was fortunate enough to be visited by my brother,who was on his way to the Fakahatchee Strand Preserve to view the Ghost Orchid in its natural state. He was generous enough to give our orchids(and the rest of the garden,also) the once-over,and deemed them healthy and in good condition.Yea us!!!

This is one of the photos he took of the Ghost Orchid,and has generously allowed us to post here on the GreatWall.
Interestingly enough,it has no foliage,and is quite ordinary looking,except for when it blooms,which it wasn't doing when he was there.
(note from the author-this is a portion of a larger post,from our other blog)

Sunday, April 26, 2009

A Shadey Spot On A Warm Day

Under our old growth Florida Oaks we have planted shade gardens.This one contains our orchids,bromeliads,and caladiums.The orchids and bromeliads are finishing up their spring-time bloom;but the caladiums are starting to emerge to provide summer-time color.

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

For more of Scenic Sunday,click here...........

Friday, April 24, 2009

A Wasp Tale........

While taking my morning stroll through our veggie plot-just checking on things,as we all do-this morning.I spotted something all over one of the tomato plants.EEEk! What the H-E-double hockey sticks is that ?!
I made a frantic call to my dad,who,from my description of these monsters,surmised they were probably some sort of parasitic wasp."Just leave 'em alone." I was told.

However,me being me,could not leave well enough alone.Oh no....not me.I just have to get involved....I grabbed the killer hose and blasted those suckers to kingdom come!

Then ,and only then,did I peruse the Internet to find out just exactly what those dastardly creatures were. They're Braconid Wasps.A tomato growers friend!Not foe.Ack!!!what had I done?I ran back outside,and thankfully the hosing had not deterred them one bit.They're they were,right where they had been before.Take that tomato hornworms!

And,just because I'm in a rambling sort of mood,this beautiful Florida spring day,I thought I'd include some backyard visitors.......

And,of course,I just have to include the daily snapshot of my favorite gardening buddy.Today,he was watching me plant some spinach.

After I had finished,he/she chirped and flew right over my head!Jon has taken to calling me the Hawk Whisperer.However,I think this is as close as we're ever gonna get.those talons are a little scarey!
I hope everyone is enjoying their spring gardening.......

Monday, April 20, 2009

Broad Needleleaf Bromeliad-----

The folks at GardeningGoneWild have a new contest.Take a photo of a plant indigenous to our region.So,here ya go......
It's the Broad Needleleaf Bromeliad(Tillandsia simulata),found frequently in Florida,and nowhere else.In fact,it is the only bromeliad species known only from Florida.Mainly,central Florida. This is an "only the Lord knows"generation that originally came from the Florida Oak in our backyard.It was found quite by accident,one day,when my husband and eldest son were thinning out some dead limbs.Eldest son says,"Hey!Look at this thing growing on this branch.Is it a plant or something?"
Needless,to say,I grabbed it from the cut limb,plopped it in with some orchids and it has been growing magnificently ever since.With many subsequent generations,of which,this is one. Not only did we get firewood for our fireplace,but I acquired the easiest plant to take care of.Actually,it takes care of itself.As all native plants do.

The scientific description lists it as epiphytic,single or in clusters;8-16 inches tall;gray pointed leathery leaves;simple flower spike with reddish bracts;5-30 violet flowers,1 3/4 inches long.Flowering in spring-summer.

No matter where I have placed these beauties in our yard,they just grow and grow.Ya just gotta love native plants,dontcha?

For more(and probably better)photos of native plants,head on over to Gardening Gone Wild.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Today's Flowers,April 19

Blue Eyed Grass
Sisyrinchium atlanticum

Blue Eyed Grass is beautiful mounding plant,and is a water-friendly, Florida native.It grows in full to partial sun.
For more of Today's Flowers,or to visit Luiz Santilli,click here.......

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

And The Rains Came Down......

and down they came!!Along with the wind.I know we're in the midst of a three year drought, desparately need the rain,and when we water that water runs right off the parched soil of our garden,but why does it have to come down like it did this morning?
The weather forecast was for 40% chance of rain,but I'm thinkin' Momma Nature she don't listen to those TV weather guys.'Cause down it came! And it brought high winds,too(The Weather Service is trying to decide if there was a tornado a few miles from us-where's Jim Cantore when we need him?).
It was with great trepidation I came home from work to the GreatWall.What would I find?I wasn't so much concerned with the house(knew hubs would've called with that factoid)but what had happened to the garden?So many things in the veggie garden were getting ready to burst forth.
The lettuce was beaten down...... The sun will come out tomorrow(why is "Annie" running through my head?),so it should perk right back up.
The pole beans were none the worse for wear....

A little saggy on their trellis,but should bounce back.

All of the peppers were troopers,except for one,which ain't looking too happy at the moment.Didn't snap a photo of that one.This one,though,is a real champ!It's GYPSY Sweet Pepper.
The yellow squash look a little beaten down,but not too bad(Insert clapping smiley here!).I'm thinking they should be fine,after they get a little sun.There goes that "Annie" song again!
I was most worried about the tomatoes.And they,actually,looked relieved to have the bad weather behind them.And to have a big drink of water.
I am certainly glad I picked this guy,last evening,though.
Ain't he a beaut?Would've been perfect in a salad,for tonite's dinner,if the lettuce wasn't such a mess.The Swiss Chard took a hit,but it will be salvagable.
It seems like it was the veggie garden that got the worst of the storm.The flowering plants and shrubs look pretty good.
Long time readers of this blog know I worry more about the Plumerias than anything else in the gardens(I'm addicted to them,what can I say?).All of them are doing so well after the freezes of this past winter.Certainly they were set back,but all,except for one,have rebounded(Insert another clapping smiley here).
I am convinced that Plumerias must be female.How else,could they take the setbacks,trials and tribulations that befall them and still bounce back,better than ever? OK-I shall get off my soapbox now.B-u-t ......just think about it......(insert winking smiley here).
The Sweet Onions are bulbing!
All of the flower gardens did great.They,also,looked thrilled with their big-time bath and drink.
African Daisy

Gerbera Daisy
The Gerberas have been struggling,lately.What with the heat and drought we've been having.I absolutely love Gerberas.That's why I put up with all the work that goes into growing them.Yep-I fuss over them.
I worry.....Too much,sometimes. Patience,Grasshopper.....
This is a geranium that I grew from a cutting that I took before this past winter's freezes.It has done incredibly well,if I do say so myself(Insert pat-on-the-back smiley here).
Yellow Crown-of-Thorns
Is it possible to hurt these?And that's why I love 'em.
Yep--the sun'll come out tomorrow...........
Head on over to to Carol's blog,May Dreams Gardens,to see more of Garden Bloggers Bloom Day.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Easter Flowers

What's blooming on the GreatWall.....
Blushing Knockout rose Rosa 'Radyod'

An orchid I bought myself at the grocery store-(I need Ross to come along and name it for me)
For more of Today's Flowers,click here............

Why,It's The Easter Armadillo!

Nope-no Easter Bunny at the GreatWall this beautiful,warm,sunny Easter morning.We think the hawks have decreased our rabbit population.The drought has decreased our lake level almost ten feet,and the fish and frog population is down,so we think they have turned their attention to the bunnies.
But,we did have the Easter armadillo come strolling through the yard.After he had decimated our woodland garden!
The woodland garden has been replanted.I also brought out the big guns.Moth balls! It worked to keep the armadillos out of the new sod,so here's hoping it'll keep him out of the gardens.
Happy Easter everyone !!

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Lutz-We Have A Pineapple!!!

In a previous post,we wrote about how we grow and harvest pineapples here at the GreatWall.

This past winter,with all the freezes that came with it,and the three year drought that we are in the midst of,has left us worried that the pineapple plantation might have to shut down.

All of the plants suffered some type of freeze damage.IMG_1986

Some worse than others…….


Some we were really worried about…….


IMG_1983 But the pineapple gods must have been smiling down on us,because lo and behold,we have this…………

IMG_1984 It,probably,will be a much smaller pineapple than normal.I’m sure that the freezes and the present-day dry conditions have somewhat stunted it’s growth.But it’s still a pineapple! After all it's been through,kudos to it!

Fingers and toes crossed that all the other plants recover enough to reproduce,also.They are all receiving lots of TLC.But what we really need is RAIN!!!

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Sunday, April 5, 2009

Bloomin' Orchid !

Another of my 90 year old father's orchids is in bloom.In an earlier post I mentioned how his orchids came to live with us.

I just love this time of year in Florida.Hot,but not as humid as in another month or so.Everything is blooming.
I just wish our freeze damaged plants would make a faster recovery.Patience,patience.......

For more of Today's Flowers,click here........

Friday, April 3, 2009

Toilin' In The Soil

This morning brought much needed rain,via strong thunderstorms,to the Great Wall.Hallalujah!

So,it was decided,mutuallyI might add,that the day would be spent getting the rest of the plantings out of the way of Hillsborough County,before the projuect starts.It is now on the schedule for late June,early July.And we figured it would be best to do it now,instead of the heat of June or July.So,anything we really wanted to save has now been relocated to other areas of the yard.Even the Al Gore Memorial Fire-Pit has been taken down(hold back your tears,people....),and a new walkway out to the well has been put in.

The rest of the day was spent with container gardening.This is one that has gone in by the pool(AKA WaterWorld),containing Tick Seed,variegated Liriope,English Ivy,Dichondra,and Heuchera(Mocha Mint).Almost everything was rooted from previous cuttings,so it will take a while for it to fill in.
Jon decided to take apart our old,rusted charcoal grill,and I figured,"Oooo,a new planter." Two of 'em in fact.This is the bottom,which sits under the big old oak.It contains a division of a variegated Flax Lily,a lonely Impatien that popped up in the yard,and a potpourri of rooted cuttings that needed to be planted.
Shall we move on?
I really don't care for strawberry jars.They never look good,they're a pain to take care of,blah-blah-blah.but this year I decided to go for the succulent look.These two are on the new mini-me wall.Jon made some "watering sticks" out of PVC(I found the directions on the Internet).So far,they look pretty good in the succulent,rock garden.Time will tell......
You can actually see the piece of PVC in this picture.
The cannas are growing by leaps and bounds.Obviously,the freezes of this past winter did not effect them.I just wish the palms by the pool would recover as quickly.They're getting there,but they suffered some extreme damage from the cold,so I think it will take most of the summer for them to recover.That and alot of TLC.
And,Glory-Be,the "contraband plumerias" are bursting forth!! They got all mixed up on the way home(husbands just do not get the importance of these things.Grrr....),so,now,I'm not sure which is which.I'm hoping that this one is the double white.
The stag horn ferns are going great guns,too.So,if anyone needs a cutting,let me know.This one is incredibly huge.It really needs to be reduced in size.
And,of course,our gardening buddy was back,today.......I'm not sure,but I don't think this is the same one as usual.It seems bigger than our usual visitor.And he/she didn't seem to want to pose for the camera like the other one does.He/she had the attitude of,"Take the picture quick,lady,and be done with it!"
By the way,if anyone in your neighborhood wants to plant an Elephant Ear tree(actually,I think they are now considered invasive in Florida,and are no longer allowed to be sold.Correct me if I'm wrong.),shoot them!This is our neighbor's tree,and it is the messiest tree,I have ever seen!The pods are all over our yard.They do a real number on your lawn mower.If you don't get them cleaned up right away,they each start to grow.When there is a strong wind,branches fall into our yard.Yuck!!!
So,now,it's time for a shower and.........

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Well,doesn't this just suck !

Sooo,at work,today,I'm perusing all my favorite blogs(it was lunchtime,or it was my break,or I was doing research.....whatever),when,while reading Backyard Gardening,I discovered that Paul James,of Gardening By The Yard,on HgTV(guess they really have dropped the G from their name)has been cancelled!
Excuse my French,but WTF?

The only show left,on that channel,that I really look forward to watching.(That,and Candace Olson,but that's for another time and blog.)

Has HgTV(they will get a lower case g from me,from now on)not kept up with the times?

-Even the Obamas have planted a garden at the White House.
-Everyone's 401K has tanked.
-Unemployment haas reached record numbers.Here,in Hillsborough County,it has reached over 10% !
-Gas is predicted to reach $2.75/gallon by summer.
-Even the President has recommended people start growing their own vegetables.
-Not everyone owns a $1 million dollar home,nor can afford to spend thousands of dollars on landscaping and gardening.Let alone hiring a Landscape Architect.
-People are gardening in record numbers.Just go to any Home Depot,Lowe's,or garden center on a weekend.
-Even the Tampa Tribune used him as a resource in a recent article on our water shortage,and lawn maintenance.

So,what do they do?They cancel the only guy who seems to relate to the average home gardener.

Are they more interested in giving away a multi-million dollar home,that most of us can't afford the taxes on,to someone who makes less that $40K a year?And those winners are going to have to sell it just to pay the taxes on it?

That is why,recently,I have taken up watching PlanetGreen.Maybe Paul James could get a show there?

Or,maybe,someone with tons of $$$ could start a cable channel dedicated to the average homeowner/gardener?
Can we start a movement to tell HgTV that this is a boner move? That HgTV has totally lost touch with their audience?

What can we do about it? Here's where we everyday gardeners can all help.Click here.....
Or we could just let him move to another channel and kick HgTV's collective butt?


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