Saturday, December 10, 2011

Of Hobbies and Hubbies

How many times I have been envied by fellow gardeners because my husband and I share same or shall I say, similar hobbies. Oh it can be a wonderful thing but there are moments when I selfishly long to be the sole decision maker in the garden. Now gardening has been my hobby for as long as I can remember but with hubby, only recently .   I knew there was trouble when it took us one year to decide which grass for the property. We ended up dividing the property so that planted his favorite grass and formal beds in the front yard and I get the ponds and back property to plant with a wilder look.  As time went on I noticed the property lines blurring as he built a hurricane proof garden room in back and I started planting roses in the forgotten front flower beds.
The good part of that is that we BOTH enjoy seeing botanical gardens and attending the Native Plant Societies meetings and Garden classes and tours. The not so good side is that we differ on how we do things. Him overkill, precise and workaholic best describe him. Me,,,,,, creative need I say more?   While I am happy to pot veggies in containers full of rich homegrown compost he decides hydroponics would be better. After watching the CD on how to put the hydro-stackers together  FOUR times and actually visiting hydroponic farms we started the hydroponic garden.  The scientific stuff I left to him while he let me place the seeds.  I then decided to see who's tomatoes and lettuce would grow quicker and better and I KNOW which ones take less work.  The bugs find them all just as tasty no matter how they are grown.
My salad bowl is tucked in amidst blossoms and fairies and gnomes. My tomatoes and peppers and herbs are close to the kitchen with old shutters and fun decor as a backdrop. Together we share our love of nature and animals and plants and the maker of them all. I guess I wouldn't have it any other way

Monday, November 7, 2011

All Creatures Great and Small Must We Gardeners Love Them ALL?

  1. Though I considered myself a gardener and critter lover it was the Master Gardening class and all that followed that opened my eyes to how much the two intertwine. As a child I was always bringing home snakes and salamanders and getting reprimanded especially for bringing them inside. Now I found myself raising red wigglers and investigating insects to find out if they were good bugs or bad bugs and if the lizards and frogs I found were native to Florida or an invasive species dining on the native species.

 At first I was  crazy about  wildlife gardening and did a great job of planting a woodsy wildlife habitat to go along with our ponds and creek. Wild coffee, beauty berry, stoppers, wax myrtles and mulberry trees were placed across the pond in a spot we declared the HABITAT. A small patch of woods with a path marked by fire bush (hamelia patens)  , wild lime and sweet acacia complete with all the thorns beckoned to wildlife.

 But when I decided I wanted to raise ducks I discovered I had overdone it with the wildlife habitat. I was heartbroken when Dixie Duck was taken out by a bobcat. A friend of mine reminded me that bobcats needed to eat too.  Maybe so but shouldn't they just stick to rabbit and squirrel which thrive in abundance on my property?  

The frogs, lizards and snakes should also know the rules. Stick to YOUR habitat and stay out of my house and away from the hen house! I am really not all that squeamish and I love taking photos of all God's creatures but, go on now! 

Often a grandchild needs help with a school project about insects or trees and they know I am ready and willing to help capture even the meanest bug, showing them how to ID and label their latest find. We enjoy watching as caterpillars and butterflies perform their metamorphosis and even though butterfly nets seem like a great idea no butterflies are ever to be caught.
Lizard catching though, keeps kids busy for hours as they playfully attach them to child size earlobes  making a pair of lovely dangly earrings.  Occasionally a bite on the nose brings them to reality but soon they are happily playing again and chasing the ever abundant tail droppers. I must admit I cannot imagine a garden without all God's creatures, though I would love to imagine it without the fury of the fire ants!

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Addicted to Water Features

When we began our ponding adventures little did I know how far it would take us down the soggy trail of water features. Our first ponds were not the small little plastic tubby ones full of colorful KOI but real ponds connected by a winding creek that I wanted deep enough to be navigable by peddle boats or canoes.I wanted real fish,the kind the grandkids could fish and eat! It was a difficult year and a half of dirt moving but we so enjoy our beautiful pond paradise who could ever ask for more?
Whimsy being something I also wanted in the garden I began frequenting yard sales to add fun to the gardens. Milk cans, farm bells,blue bottles and old pumps. Oh yes wonderful old pumps.All these things hold beautiful memories to me. My husband promised that if I painted that old pump he would make a water feature for me, not that we needed more water on our two and a half acre property but I love to paint so he was on! The old pump it its fire engine red new paint and cool water  beckons to my grand children. The path to their special spot are stepping stones done in mosaic by each grand child. They reminisce of the work and love that went into them.
Another yard sale item was Pan. He was missing his musical instrument and was priced at ten dollars. We took him home for eight dollars and the past owners were happy to see him go. My husband fashioned new pipes for him from copper tubing.
Oh and then there is the fountain. It was from a house going into foreclosure. My husband bought it for fifty dollars , myself thinking it way to formal. I was really not happy that he then added a small pond around the fountain.
No more water features I pleaded,unless it is a pool!
After living with the fountain a shade I dubbed tombstone white I decided to calm it down by painting it. Ahhh yes much more serene!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

How the Garden Announces Spring, a Garden of Hope

Oh the beauty of SPRING. Many of my northern relatives swear that Florida has no seasons but we FLORIDA gardeners know better! True, there is no snow melting or tulips opening but we know!

Migrating birds and animal mating as well as our weather and plants tell us spring is here.
To me the gardens look happiest when the Black Eyed Susans open their eyes at last! It seems to add just the right color to the cottage garden I have tried so hard to grow. Or shall I call it a Potager Garden since tomato volunteers mingle with my flowers while dill and fennel call to the butterflies.

Being in Florida my garden still has a taste of the tropics
but it is definitely attractive to butterflies and wildlife so it could be either of those. And,
maybe it should be called a Whimsy Garden since blue bottle trees, fairies and gnomes
are hidden about for the grand kids to find.
Whatever anyone calls my garden I love it because I plant what makes
me happy.

Spring is a great time in Florida!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011


In Florida we appreciate the beautiful breezes as we get them but often in the middle of the day we could sure use a breeze or two.
When it gets a little too warm I can always count on a quick spin in my golf cart to feel a breeze when it gets too warm. Not to play golf but to get me and my garden buddies around around my few acres. OK so whats that got to do with ants?
It was just such a day that I took the grandkids for a spin. Taking in the garden views and scents of honeysuckle, jasmine and roses I began singing as my hair flew behind me. I was a kid again singing away with my little friends until the four year old grandson brought me back to reality by calling me,,,,Grandma.
"Gwaaandma" He dragged it out to inflict more pain. "Gwaaandma, why are the ants your friend???"
"What!" I said. Again he dragged it out"WHY are the ants your friend? "
Having an ongoing battle with fireants I questioned him further. "Why do you think the ants are my friend?" I asked him. His big blue eyes sparkling he very seriously said " You were singing the ants R my friend is blowing in the wind!"
I had to laugh because yes, so engulfed in the moment I forgot I HAD been singing The answer my friend, is blowing in the wind the answer is blowing in the wind!

Friday, March 18, 2011

Springing To Life In The Garden

Somehow I cannot stay indoors when spring in all her glory beckons me.
A cottage garden in Florida requires some creativity but as any garden you create that is what makes it YOURS!

Many Hollyhocks gave their lives to trial and error until I discovered Asian Hollyhocks which somehow withstand Florida's weather.

Amaryllis are so gorgeous,why can't they stay in bloom longerSometimes I give in to cheap no name roses but I plant them in pots full of yummy nematode free soil.
They are easy to keep control of and I love having a bouquet of roses to give to elderly or ailing relatives.Spring is a time of rebirth and we begin to allow our ducks to collect a clutch of eggs to hatch. Yes that means we must forgo our duck egg omelettes for awhile but those fuzzy peeps are just so cute!
Aunt Hattie our Magpie duck hatched 13 ducklings. Some are hers and some are a lazy Indian Runner duck's who snuck her eggs in Aunt Hattie's nest.
The Black Eyed Susans are just beginning to open their black eyes and will soon transform the garden into a picture taking paradise.
The grand kids who must sit still for endless sessions may call it something besides paradise when asked to pose for too long!

Compost is an important part of my flower success and I love the volunteers from tomatoes. Sunflowers are also planted by squirrels and birds. Seems those always grow better than the ones I painstakingly plant!

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Fragrance of Spring

Maybe there IS a cologne by that name, if so surely it cannot bring near the pleasure of being in my garden .
The Lemon tree is center stage of my favorite flower bed and even though they say to plant it in sandy soil MY lemon tree seems quite satisfied with the rich compost that makes up the ground floor and basement of that bed! Covered in lilac and white blossoms the aroma is the reason I took the chance of placing it there.
Two fragrant flowering favorites I plant for the butterflies and bees to enjoy stop me in my tracks! Deep purple Heliotrope and Agastache. I call agastache the Dunkin Donut flower for it is dressed in orange and pink and smells so sweet!
Roses are popping this time of the year in Florida as the cooler weather has made them put on a show, not only in beauty but in their rich teasing smells. Bring in a bouquet and you can enjoy their beauty indoors as well. When you choose roses you will find the OLD Garden Roses easy to grow and richer in fragrances. If you choose others be sure to get them on fortuniana stock (if you live in Florida) or plant them in pots. The Double Knockouts have been blooming off and on again all year and are really easy to care for.
Sweet Allysum does not lie about being sweet. The fragrance brings back memories of my childhood and spooning honey into my mouth and chewing the comb like gum. It comes in white and shades of purples. Definitely a favorite of bees and butterflies it looks great as an edging or spilling from a pot. If you place the pot high enough you will not have to bend quite so far to enjoy its fragrance.
So while you are out doing your spring garden chores, take time to smell the roses and especially the Lemon blossoms!

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Head Shots in the Garden

Whimsy is quite abundant in my Florida garden and I
discovered the enjoyment I
get from found or handcrafted items peeking out for others to find.
Garage sales are so much fun and in Florida a year round hobby! I discovered a Mayan mask wall pocket made of green plastic for 3 dollars.
It was hideous but with some broken plates and a few jewels and grout I made over that Mayan monstrosity and gave her a lovely air-do!
Some things can be found at
local stores in the scratch and dent section such as this plaster fellow. I patched him with some drywall mud and antiqued him to go over a fireplace insert that announces where my outdoor spigot is! He has held up wonderfully for the past 6 years.
One of my favorite finds was from a yard sale just around the corner from our home. Five unusual heads with a marking I have searched to learn more about but never found a thing.
The owner said her mother had traveled to Germany and brought them home for her insisting she
could certainly find SOMEthing to do with them. The poor girl said she had
absolutely NO idea what to do with
them and gladly sold the entire lot
for ten dollars. One was quite large
and the others varying sizes , each
sporting strange little hats and an
Fortunately I had a plenty of
metal rods left over that use to valiantly hold up my treasured
blue bottles because .
Now I have
relocated my blue bottles to a
Senna tree so I inserted
the metal
rods in the heads and placed
throughout the garden.
They have not stayed in
the same
place as most of my
treasures get
moved about from
time to time.
First they poked out of
cobalt blue pots adorned with roses. Today
they hide among the
Flax lilies that line the
brick chip path of a
flower garden. Their cheery faces lure young and old alike further
down the path so they
cannot help but also
notice the
flowers and butterflies
that make the flower
bed their
A whittled chunk of
wood from a
mountain man's
crafty hands
hangs almost
unnoticed on a
small shelf my
mother gave me against
the North side of the house.
It was from
an estate sale and I imagine
the elderly couple
bought it as a souvenir on a
special trip to the mountains.
The face even has a wooden hat
similar to that of a gnome.
Another Island face wears
a bandanna that brings out
the blue the tiny
blue bottles stuck on
twigs near her.
The pot is full of
cheery succulents for
her hair!
She is surrounded
by jewels
of geodes , crystals
and seashells.
Two cement masks made by filling a Vaseline lined cheap plastic
mask with cement get moved about the gardens quite often
one is in my herb garden and the other lies at the end of a different path near a cement bench.
A place children of all ages love to explore!

Saturday, January 1, 2011

New Year New Plants???

The year 2011 is here and it seems like a good time to rethink garden plants that really took a hit during the freeze we Floridian gardeners grimaced through.
The first plant Id like to remove is my hubby's fave the Christmas Palms. He loves Christmas Palms and purchased several amazing ones with four trunks each and placed them close to the road to showcase them. None still have four trunks and they had just gotten looking good after last years freeze when along came Jack Frost who wiggled in under the heavy blankets we secured to them.Maybe they will find a spot around back,in a more sheltered area.
Thinking my native plants would be immune from ANY Florida weather that could be dished out (HAHA) I was disappointed to see my firebush and firespike look like additions for the compost heap!
As I am pulling out dead zinnias, a plant I love to seed for the butterflies(and because I love the colors and varieties),I noticed my Black Eyed Susans are getting a start for their spring showing.
My double knock out roses and Old garden roses along with geraniums are laughing at the cold and allowed me to create a gorgeous bouquet to bring my ailing mother. Note to self. ADD more!
The tomatoes that had been staked took a hit next to a row we had not yet had time to stake and those look just fine. The ground had kept them warmer. They were all covered with a sort of tent that my husband made.
The butterfly bed lies along the side of my house in a low lying area near the pond and sheltered by some trees. Since so many Sabal Palm fronds had managed to cover my yard I decided to use them as insulating cover. The result was wonderful! The butterflies were up and nectaring the next day.
Lettuce, onions and radishes covered with a light sheet did great and tasted wonderful.
Since many pots and garden decor had been brought inside due to high winds and freezing temps it was also a great time to move some things around. Just like my interior I like to move my pots and touches of whimsy around on occasion. It adds life to the garden and it is so fun to see the grandchildren discover something they never saw before just because it had been moved.
Many times people will say Oh that's new isn't it? When they just never saw it because in all honesty, there is just too much to look at! I love going to other peoples gardens but know I cannot possibly take it all in so I take many photos. That way I can enjoy them at home and I always see something I did not notice while I was there.