Monday, February 28, 2011

Azaleas Say "Springtime "

Nothing says "Spring" like azaleas in bloom.


Bumble bees and butterflies find the blossoms irresistible.


These shrubs are ablaze with color.


Normally a backdrop to the other plantings in the garden, this is the azaleas' season to shine.


As I pull into the driveway, this view makes me smile every time. 

Thursday, February 24, 2011

I Think It's Spring!

New blooms are popping in the veggie bed bringing in the pollinators.  Bees are buzzing and the first butterflies of the season have been flitting through the flowers.



Herbs for kitchen use as well as to attract butterflies have been growing from seeds planted during December.   Rue, dill and flat leaf parsley are all yummy food for Black Swallowtail caterpillars. 



Blue basil has been growing and blooming.  Purple flowers and stems make this herb as beautiful as it is flavorful.


More flowers to attract bees have been planted along the perimeter of the veggie bed.


These eggplants are still going from the fall garden.  Wonder how long they will keep growing and producing?  The winter only slowed production a little bit.


Four tomato plants were set into their final containers this past week. 


 They will gradually acclimate to the warm weather and full sun.   


The container veggie bed may not be large enough to sustain all our vegetable needs, but it is a lot of fun to grow and harvest what we can comfortably accommodate. 


The weather is sunny and warm, the flowers, herbs and vegetables are growing and blooming.  I think it's SPRING!

Monday, February 21, 2011

The Broms Are Coloring Up For Spring

Beneath the oaks lies the perfect environment for growing bromeliads.  These areas have been left to self-mulch after the annual leaf-fall.  Here in central Florida the leaves fall not in the fall season but in spring.  The new leaves emerging along the branches push the old leaves off and the ground is showered with oak leaves. 


Many new varieties of bromeliad have been placed around My Garden Path during the past few years.  Some have bloom spikes but others bloom deep in the cup of the leaves and only the leaves show color. 

The dappled sunlight shining on and through the brom leaves shows off the color to best advantage.  Sometimes just the tips of the leaves have color, looking like painted fingernails.


Other species have in your face color right in the middle of the plant surrounding those hidden flowers deep in the cup. 

Most of the bromeliads around the path have been passed along to me from other gardening friends.  Some came from my mother's garden. 


Being gifts from family and friends make these beauties even more special to me.  A few have been purchased but very few.  Most are pass-along plants.  The most prolific multipliers have already been passed along by me to others.  Sharing plants is a great way to spread the love of gardening.
  

All of the bromeliads in my garden made it through the winter freezes quite well.  A few had some damaged outer leaves but most were unaffected.   These plants would look lovely growing along some of the lower branches of the oaks.  (That's an idea dancing through my mind.)


It seems that different broms bloom at different times throughout the year so there are other brom blooms yet to be enjoyed at My Garden Path.  These that are coloring up for spring are very much appreciated.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Oak Tree Circle Re-Do

While enjoying the wafting scent of the tea-olives, my youngest garden helper and I began pulling out Wedelia trilobata from the circular bed surrounding the big oak tree in the back garden. 


This ground cover is now considered a category II invasive for the central Florida area.  Even though I've always liked the cheery yellow flowers, I decided it was time for this pest plant to go. 

Since the Wedelia was brown and crispy after our winter freezes, it was pretty easy to pull up. This job needed to be done before warm temperatures and spring rains brought it back to life. Even so, I'm sure I'll be pulling sprigs out all through the spring and summer.


When the Wedelia was originally planted, it was not considered an invasive. In fact, it was recommended to me by a landscaper. Part of the problem with this plant is the ease with which any part of it will root. So, as I was keeping my patch trimmed up and disposing of the trimmings in the yard waste, I was contributing to the spread of a pest plant. All the ground cover we pulled up this time was disposed of in the trash not the recycled yard waste.



The now blank area was filled with a few newly purchased plants such as Holly Fern and Indian Hawthorn.  These particular plants were chosen for their cold hardiness.  Other plants were divided from existing clumps growing in other areas around My Garden Path.  The pink edging will be pulled out as it is no longer needed to contain the Wedelia.


Bromeliads, Flax Lily, and Flowering Maple were some of the plants added from existing sources in other parts of the garden.  Caladium bulbs will be planted later this month to fill out the area. 

(The plants which are designated as invasive in Florida can be found here.  This is an ever changing list so it is a good place to check periodically.)

Monday, February 14, 2011

Garden Valentines

Valentine's Day in a Florida garden is traditionally the time it is finally safe to think about spring.


Camellia Sasanqua 'Shishi Gashira'
 Signs of life are budding out on previously cold ravaged stems.  Flower buds are showing up  promising springtime blossoms. 

Rosa 'White Out'
 The temperatures are just delightful here in central Florida.  The coming week is forecast to be in the 70's during the day and the 50's at night.  Absolutely perfect gardening weather.

Happy Valentine's Day gardening friends.  I hope you are enjoying all the promise that springtime has to offer.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

The Orchids Are Back Outside


As a novice orchid grower I nearly killed my Phalaenopsis orchid last winter.  The poor thing was brought indoors to keep warm but was left to languish in the back bedroom.  It was out of sight and out of mind.  Without regular watering and subjected to the drying heat, it lost nearly all its leaves.  There were no blooms last year. 



The leaves are still pretty sparse and have damaged areas but there are blooms this year.  I'm hoping it will gradually make a comeback and grow more leaves as I take better care of it.


Even though I should have my orchid buying privileges revoked, I purchased two Paphiopedilum orchids this past fall.  One put up a bloom spike and has rewarded me with a blossom.  There are two more buds up there yet to open.  I really like the mottled leaves of these orchids.  These two are native to Viet Nam and like to stay moist but not soggy. 


Somehow a Dendrobium found my shopping cart as I circled the 'rescue rack' at Lowes.  It has done well and has rewarded me with blooms.  In reading about my various orchids I have noted that they are each a bit different as to water and light requirements. 


A dancing ladies Oncidium  is just now putting up a bloom spike.  Having to bring the orchids inside during cold spells seems like a small inconvienence now that these blooms are making an appearance.


With the orchids back outside hanging on the backporch, conditions should be more to their liking.  It's also easier for me to remember to water them when they are more visible.  Their blooms come through at a time when color and life are much desired from the garden.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Camellias

Camellias are often found in old southern gardens growing beneath grandfather oaks.  The grandfather oaks here at My Garden Path are the perfect environment for these lovely winter blooming shrubs. 

Camellia Sasanqua 'Mine-No-Yuki'

Over the past year, four camellia sasanquas were added to the path.  At first, a lone 'Shishi Gashira' was planted beneath my bedroom window in the backyard garden.  It has bloomed beautifully and been pest free.  Since my budget was very small, this was a very small plant and looked lonely and lost all by itself. 

Camellia Sasanqua 'Shishi Gashira'

This winter two more bushes have been added under the window.  Another 'Shishi Gashira' and a white ruffly blooming 'Mine-No-Yuki.'  All are small but spaced to allow them to fill in over the next few years.  They are still blooming adding a much needed shot of color to the late winter garden. 

Camellia Sasanqua 'Yuletide'

Around front, a 'Yuletide' was planted in the entryway garden this past fall.  It replaces a gardenia standard that succumbed to mealybugs.  The cheerful Christmas red blooms greeted visitors all through November, December and January.  There is one last lingering bloom even now.  Its single blooms with bright yellow centers is quite different from the full, blousy blooms of the other sasanquas.

These evergreen shrubs will help add much needed structure to the garden.  They also will add beauty with their colorful blooms during an otherwise drab time for the garden.