Friday, November 27, 2015

My idea of a perfect Black Friday day.

Today my family headed out early for the craziness of shopping for deals on Black Friday. I on the other hand packed my camera, binoculars and bike and headed to Biscayne Bay for a day of communing with nature.  The bike trails near the bay are a perfect place for biking and birding.  This morning the weather was ideal, a sunny crispy day and I had the trails all to myself.  

 Kayaking on the bay is popular sport in the area, I am thinking of getting one.

This Yellow-rumped Warbler is a winter visitor to the the area

 The Anhinga, the Osprey and the Great Egret are year around residents.

The birds were not the only thing that got my attention, the native plants are also beautiful.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Is your garden caterpillar friendly?

Today there was an excellent article in the Miami Herald’s garden section, written by Norman Winter. He asked the question, is your garden caterpillar friendly? This question got me thinking, I consider my garden butterfly friendly, but am I doing enough to help caterpillar thrive. 
(This picture is from my vegetable garden a couple of years ago) 

 Butterflies lay their eggs in certain plants where the caterpillars will feed and grow.  I have many milkweed plants all over my garden; they are the Monarch’s favorite plant, (It is fascinating to see these little guys devour a milkweed plant in a day) but I also have other butterflies visiting the garden, like Zebras, yellow Sulphurs, Gulf Fritillaris, Julia and many others.  It is important to have host plants for each of these butterflies.  For example the Julias and Zebras (the most common butterflies in my garden) like the passion flower vines. I currently don’t have one in the garden, but you can be sure that it is my list of future plants. The bottom line is if you are caterpillar friendly, you will have many more butterflies in your garden.

This will be my next project; I will be expanding this bed and plant more??? Yes, butterfly and caterpillar friendly plants.

This week at the DragonFly Garden

Another weekend ruined by rain.  I was able to put in a couple of hours on Saturday morning and get the garden in the front of the house ready for Christmas decorations next week.

I have a few giant white birds of paradise blooming this week.  


Sunday, November 15, 2015

Rain and more rain, the weekend was a total washout.

My gardening Saturday was canceled due to rain and so were my plans to visit the Ramble plant sale at Fairchild Gardens today.  What is going on?  This is the middle of November and we are supposed to be in the middle of our dry season.  

In between rain storms, I organized this corner of the garden where all unwanted and unused things end up.  All gardens have places like this, but I am a neat freak, I can’t stand looking at the mess.

This week at the DragonFly Garden.

Not much to report this week, we had another snowbird visit the garden.  This is the first time in many years that we had a Cardinal visit the birdfeeder. This male Cardinal is looking for love and it looks like he will been staying for the winter.

Saturday, November 07, 2015

The Snowbirds are back

Every winter we get seasonal guest in the garden, last week I noticed a hummingbird around the fire bush tree.  These little guys spend the summer in the north and winter we us, they are shy and difficult to photograph.  All this week I been staking out the fire bush tree, trying to get a picture and today I got lucky.

Turkey Vultures are also winter visitors to the area, they usually are high up looking for dead animals, they roost together in the tall buildings downtown.  

This week at the DragonFly garden.

This week I started to pull out some of my overgrown summer flowerbeds.  In this corner of the garden the Lantana's were out of control, I replaced them with pollinator friendly flowers like, Mexican heather, white Pentas and Crossandra.  I also planted purple coneflowers seeds, I am not sure if they will do well in my 10b zone but they were a gift from a friend up north. 

I fished these orchids from a neighbor's garbage can, I have several of these orchids around the garden, they are good producers and easy to take care.

New home

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Pollinator’s favorite flowers

The Cuban yellow buttercup flowers are one the pollinators favorite flowers in my garden.  These beautiful yellow flowers are consider invasive weeds by many gardeners.  They are not native to Florida, but come from the West Indies.  Some botanists believe that their seeds were carried to Florida by hurricane winds.  In my garden they arrived by way of birds or the wind and now I have volunteers everywhere. 
Bees, moths and butterflies love these flowers; they open in the morning and are done by early evening.  The sharp green leaves make it an attractive plant for the garden.  In some Caribbean countries the leaves are used for medicinal purposes, I also read that the buttercup plant is use as a companion plant by papaya farmers to avoid the sting of the fruit flies on the fruits.

This week at the DragonFly garden:

I mail ordered several packs of seeds for the vegetable garden this week and planted tomatoes, kale and Swiss chard seedlings.  The nursery where I get my seedlings is having issues with their distributor; apparently the weather is not cooperating.   

Blooms from the garden this week.

Day moon over Miami 

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Time for planting

 This week I finished clearing the vegetable garden and adding compost to the soil.  Now comes the time to decide what to grow this season.  Last year was a bust overall and some of my choices did poorly like eggplant, broccoli and peppers. This year I’m giving these plants a break.

On the list of possible plants, I have spinach, kale, Swiss chard, green onions, lettuce, arugula and tomatoes.  Not all will end up in the garden; it’ll depend on what my local nursery will have for sale.  I also will try my luck with seeds, but my past success rate with seeds is not promising.  I will also plant herbs like basil, chives, dill, oregano and parsley.

This week at the DragonFly Garden.

Not much happened   in the garden this week, we had a wet week and much of the rain fell in the late afternoon, usually around the time when I was home after work.  The first hummingbird of the season visited the garden this week; I’m looking forward to take pictures of these little guys around the firebush tree.

This is a Long-tailed Skipper butterfly. These butterflies are not easy to photograph, they are fast and move around a lot, this one was in the mood yesterday and stay long enough for me to take some pictures.

New flower from the Elephant ears plant.

Sunday, October 04, 2015

Pollinator habitat

Over the years I have added many plants in my garden that are pollinator friendly. I believe that we gardeners have a role to play in saving these very important contributors to our planet.  We all know the stories, bees are in trouble because of diseases and butterflies are on the decline because of the loss of habitat.  It is time for all us, no matter have small our gardens are, to take this very important cause on behalf of these defenseless creatures.
Today I am declaring that from now on, my garden will be a pollinator habitat.  This will mean no chemicals (I don’t use any), all new plants will be pollinator friendly, more native plants and less grass.  I will also be talking about pollinator friendly plants on all my blog postings.

This week at the DragonFly Garden.

There is always a plant in need of a haircut in my garden.  This week it was the Fire Dragon bush, it had taken over my side garden and it didn’t look good from inside the house.  In keeping with my new pollinator friendly policy, noticed the new purple salvia container next to the bench.

For more information on how to turn your garden into a pollinator habitat, check The Xerces Society website.