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

Monday, June 27, 2011

Emma’s Garden…

…with the recent rains,is filling in quite nicely.


“Ummm,Gramma,can I interrupt for a moment?”

Sure,Emma.You know you can always interrupt this blog.

“You’re showing my statue,the Euphorbia,

and the Superbells Coral Punch”,


which look pretty good,I must say,but what about MY Queen Emma Crinum?You’re not showing that.”



Emma,it looks like this……



What happened to MY Crinum?!”


That’s what.

If they’ll eat the American flag,they’ll eat your Crinum.


“Gramma,what did you do?”

Don’t tell Momma and Daddy,but …….

I  beheaded ‘em!

…It’s a gardening thing,Emma… 

Actually,Emma,your Crinum is starting to recover..



But,just in case,I did dig up one of the pups and put it in a secure location.


So,no matter what,you will still have a Queen Emma Crinum.

“Gramma,you rock!”


So,do you,Emma.

...So do you….

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Saturday, June 25, 2011

I love a rainy day……


….Not really….


The garden is loving today’s weather.

I know we need the rain,but can’t it rain during the night?

And we got some rain,yesterday,

and the day before that,too.

and I have things to do in the garden.

…..Like plant this…..


My brand spankin’ new Oak Leaf Hydrangea!


But today,I got this….



This much….


And that was before noon!


And tomorrow is to be more of the same.

I may have to clean the house

probably not

or watch gardening shows on TV,

or read my new container gardening book.

But I won’t forget about you Little Fella….


The sun’ll come out tomorrow,bet your bottom dollar!

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Wednesday, June 22, 2011



We received a decent rain shower!

Not great….Less than 1/2 inch,but I’ll take it.

…..Actually,these days I’ll take any rain.Just so long as I don’t have to water…..

Everything in the garden is so happy!

African IrisIMG_2624


Knock-out RoseIMG_2632

Coral HoneysuckleIMG_2634

Pink GauraIMG_2636

Purple ConeflowerIMG_2637


as if it is trying to hold onto the rain drops

Red Trailing VerbenaIMG_2639

You get rain?

Tuesday, June 21, 2011


Because we lost four trees due to the drainage project,there has been a total re-working of the gardens at TheGreatWall.The areas that used to receive dappled shade are,now,in total sun.I posted about the road-side garden here.But what to do about the other areas?

What to do with the new gardens?

Two years ago,I rediscovered succulents.And this past year,I have become even more enamored with them.They must be pretty tough to survive the desert conditions to which they are native.All of the ones growing at TheGreatWall are keepers.They all survived the cold and freezes of our past two winters.As they are in a sunny,dry corner,they do not seem to mind my neglect…I love a plant that isn’t needy!…I tend to forget about them,and it’s just too far to drag the hose over there.So,they exist in those conditions.Sort of like our own desert at TheGreatWall…No real measureable rain fall,lately.The only real rain we have had was less than one quarter of an inch.Today brought  a pseudo rain shower.I could stand in it and not get wet.The pavers were so hot that the rain drops evaporated as quickly as they hit.

So,what’s liking this weather and the new sunny gardens?

The succulents!

We all have one of these growing outside our backdoor.


It subsists on the dregs of our iced tea glasses and beer bottles…must love beer!…and the occasional rain shower.

The front yard planter,which receives full sun,almost all day,and the only water it receives is the occasional pass of the sprinkler or rain,if we should ever get any...


Variegated Agave,with Portulaca

Notice that the grass and everything surrounding the planter is turning brown,from the lack of rainfall.


The front entry area,which,also,receives full sun all day.



The succulent corner of TheGreatWall

or things I tend to forget about








Except for the Ponytail Palm,which is sunk into the ground,pot and all,the rest of the containers are set upon a three inch layer of septic rock.That allows them to drain,during the rainy season.

…The pool area…

Some of the succulents have been moved up to the pool area.Even though the containers are sitting on rock,they also,get protection from the harsh noon day sun,from a patio umbrella.




Have you tried succulents?

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Saturday, June 18, 2011

Father’s Day,2011…

Last year,at this time,I wrote this.

Thankfully,I got another year with Dad.

A year filled with ups and downs.A year where he finally got to meet his darling.The ever delightful Miss Emma….


But after falling and breaking his hip,he has had to adjust to a walker.An adjustment he has not taken to kindly.Especially,when it comes to visiting TheGreatWall.

“You need to do something about this gravel.It’s hard with this walker.Why don’t you pour some concrete between those stones?Then I could move around easier.”

“Ummm,Dad,I’m not too good at concrete.”


My dad was an engineer before he retired.His garden,and our yard,growing up,was done with an engineer’s eye.Everything planned beforehand,and with charts and grafts.Me?I fly by the seat of my pants.Looks good there?There it shall go.

One summer,he decided we needed a swimming pool,in our yard.So he built one.It took him almost all summer,but he dug it by his own hand.Laid the block walls,himself.The concrete blocks were filled with stubby bottles of Utica Club Beer,that he drank while building the pool.”Bottles are the best reinforcement,ever,for concrete.Remember that.”

…and YardBoy and I have put that factoid to use many times…


He even designed his own filtration and skimmer system.It wasn’t pretty,but it worked.He built the privacy fences,too.

Outside of her family,my mother loved three things in life,her gladiolus(drove him crazy that she made him dig them up and bring them to Florida),her roses(drove him crazy that she put her tea bags on her roses-it works,by the way),and golf.One year,he put in a putting green for her.And then he taught us kids how to take the baby apples,that had fallen off the tree,and use her driver and knock ‘em into the neighbor’s yard.

Great fun!

to us kids

…..’til we ALL (Dad included) got caught,with her clubs…


There was Hell to pay in our house that summer!

As an engineer,my dad liked straight lines.All his gardens were square or they edged the perimeter of the yard.

I like curves…..


His thoughts on my yard,“Too messy looking for me.You need to straighten those edges.”

and he would’ve mowed and edged,by hand,before he took a photo…

And he liked to build things.Even out of snow…


But even then,they had to be to scale and perfect…

For as long as I can remember,my dad kept a journal of his garden….I blog….And like a true Canadian---He says he isn’t cheap;he just can’t see wasting  the money when there are still blank spaces to write on---he kept reusing the same journal,over and over and over.


You wanna know the weather in Niagara Falls,NY,or St.Petersburg,FL on a given date? I can tell you.Highs,lows,rainfall,snowfall,I got it.

To over winter his orchids(his passion),and to start seedlings,he built his own green house,off of our back door.

I looked,but I couldn’t find any photos that included his greenhouse.

One of my greatest memories of that greenhouse was the Hoya he had growing around the upper perimeter.It totally encircled that greenhouse,and when it was blooming,to me as a child,it was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen.

Because he built the greenhouse,he had to pacify my mother and he put in a new proper,backdoor entryway,that included shelving for all of her canning…How to make a marriage work,right?

Instead of a greenhouse,I have this….


Works for me….

When I want to try something new,he tells me,”Why not?What do you have to lose?”

When it fails,he tells me,”I wouldn’t have done it that way.”


So,I have come to the realization that I have inherited half of my gardening genes from both of my parents.

My mother gave me the casualness,and the love of enjoying things just as they grow,

and my dad gave me the need to make things perfect.

...What a mix!

Happy Father’s Day!

Enjoy your fathers,while you have them.


One more year,please?

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Edison & Ford Winter Estates

Back in May,while on vacation on Sanibel Island,I met up with a good friend and fellow blogger (Tink *~*~*,AKA My Mobile Adventures) to visit the Edison and Ford Winter Estates,in Fort Myers.I have been wanting to go there for years,but never got the chance.

This year,I made the chance.And all these years,what I had been missing!

After driving down McGregor Blvd.,thru the famous Royal Palm Trees that Edison planted in 1907,you come upon the estates.

Of course,you can’t miss the famous Banyan Tree,Edison received as a gift from Harvey Firestone,in 1925.


Until it was trimmed back,because of damage from the hurricanes in 2004,it was the largest in the world.Now,it’s the second largest,but it’s still damn big!


Somewhere in there is the original tree---it is marked---but I couldn’t find it.

After paying the entrance fee,getting our wrist bands and self-guided tour head sets,and sitting thru a little intro,we were led across McGregor Blvd.to the estates and the gardens.I kinda/sorta hitched a ride in the back of middle school tour---just act like a parent,it works!---so I learned a lot more from their tour guide. It was a beautiful day,but after talking with one of the docents,I realized the steady breeze,off the Caloosahatchee River,was not the norm.We lucked out.It was a gorgeous day.

Edison’s Seminole Lodge


Ford’s The Mangoes


The pergola was added in 1910,to connect the two houses.

The Poincianas were just finishing their show…


This allee leads from the back porch of Ford’s home down to the Caloosahatchee River.

You are allowed to roam the property.Even walk on the grass if you want to.Very few rules here.

One is “Don’t step or climb on the roots of the large trees

and the other is….




Most of the large specimen plants,Edison imported---yes,he imported nonnative invasives,but we forgive him---because he,Ford,and Firestone were looking for a cheaper way to acquire rubber .So,most of the plants are latex based.Edison was also looking for a cheaper filament for his new fangled invention-the light bulb.Believe it or not,he found Goldenrod worked best!---If it should ever come up on Jeopardy or Trivial Pursuit,feel free to use it that little factoid.


Mysore or Brown Wooly Fig


Check out the root system….


Baby Rubber Plant


Variegated Rubber Tree


Common Bamboo-the noise these made,blowing in the breeze,was outstanding!Just like being in an Oriental garden.

The larger specimen plantings may have been planted by Edison,but the design of the gardens show his wife,Mina,had a strong say in how things should be.


The Lily Pond


The Cycad Garden


Red heart  the Cycad garden!

My favorite plant


Java White Acalphya wilkesiana from the Pacific Islands.

A White Orchid Tree


Bauhinia hookeri from Austrailia


And the orchids!


Everywhere you looked there were orchids…




These were growing in a Sausage Tree,outside of Edison’s Barn/Laboratory

and Vanilla,



growing in a Floss Silk Tree-Ceiba speciosa .

and Crinums…



Orange River Crinum Crinum bulbispermum

After moseying around for a few hours,we headed back across the street to the gift shop and garden shop.You know I didn’t come home empty handed….

I bought my Yellow Top,and some Rain Lilies(I lost mine when the County dug up the yard).I would have bought one of the Orange River Crinums,but I was running out of room in the Tacoma,and since YardBoy insisted on sitting inside the cab,and not riding in the bed,on the way home,the crinum must wait until the next time.

Not only are the Estates enjoyable for the gardener,but the history lesson they provide is wonderful.I cannot wait to go back.I didn’t even show you pictures of the swimmimg pool and the filtration system he designed.

The appreciation you acquire for the brilliant man Edison was is incredible.

But I think I will wait until early Spring.

When the gardens will be at their peak.

And the Garden Shop is worth the visit,alone.

You can pay an extra admission fee that includes a back stage tour to the nursery.The Garden Shop sells on line,and now they sell seeds!Prices are pretty reasonable for a private nursery such as this.I would imagine they have a larger selection in earlier spring.

Go!!!! Visit!!! Learn history!!!

Read more about the Estates here,and the Garden Shop here.




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