Saturday, September 15, 2018

My first attempt at creating a Bonsai

I told my family that when I retire, I was going to pick up several hobbies and one of them was going to be the art of Bonsai.  One of my retirement gifts was a set of bonsai tools.  I got a couple of books from Amazon and today I purchased this Juniper groundcover at Home Depot for my first Bonsai.

This week I finished working on the back of the garden, I added mulch and trimed some of the big plants.

I am finding several Monarch pupas around the garden, we had a lot of caterpillars this year.  All the Milkweed plants are gone.  

Heliconias do well in my garden, I purchased this one this week and planted it in a container. 

Flowers showing off this week.  Orchids on the mango tree, Blue Porter flowers (loved by bees) and the always reliable summer annual Purslane.

Sunday, September 09, 2018

The accidental collector of bromeliads.

In my early gardening days, I didn’t have much affinity for bromeliads.  My gardening guru, my dad loved bromeliads and his garden was full of them.  Whenever dad would come to visit, he would bring me a bromeliad plant as a gift.  I didn’t have the heart to tell him that they were not my favorite type of plants, but I always found a place for them in my garden.  Little by little, these plants won me over and today they cover about 60% of my garden.  Most of the bromeliads in my garden today, are descendants from my father’s garden.  My dad passed away last year, and my mom is no longer able to take care of his garden.  Whenever I visit her I try to do some work in their garden and keep it going for her.  Sometimes I find bromeliad plants in the most unexpected places, these days I am the one that brings the bromeliad plants to their garden, to keep the tradition alive.
 Bromeliads are perfect plants for the South Florida climate, they thrive in our hot, humid and wet summer months and can handle our mild and dry winters.  This week I made some changes in my back garden.  I took out the old plants and put others in pots.
 Moved the windmill to the front and away from the big trees.  
 These little ones are great ground cover and excellent climbers 


Work in progress

I have several Cuban Knight anoles in the garden.  They are not native to South Florida and are very destructive to the local lizards' population and bird's nest.  

The lady of the night is in full bloom and the aroma at night is intoxicating  

Good luck to everyone in the East Coast in the path of hurricane Florence, I hope she stays away from land and goes out to sea.  Be Safe.

Saturday, August 25, 2018

Gardening on the ruins

I started a new garden on the ruins of my former vegetable plot.  When I started gardening several years ago, I designated the strip of land between my neighbor’s house and my home, the perfect place for a vegetable/herb winter garden.  This area received several hours of sun during winter and it was out of sight.  The first few years produced plentiful harvest and based on that success, I decided to expand it.  I added building blocks, soil and added more vegetables and herbs.  The first two years produced mix results.  I couldn’t understand why, until one day when I realized that all the fruit trees that I had planted in my backyard had grown and were blocking the winter morning sun, this area of the garden was only getting a couple of hours of late afternoon sun.  
Two years ago, I moved the garden to containers next to the kitchen and the old vegetable garden became a dumping ground for unwanted plants.  Today some of those plants have grown and it was time for a redo.

 I have two lemon trees in containers, and both are doing well this year.

The squares in the building blocks are perfect to plant bromeliads
and succulents.

New stock of bananas opened up this week

 Rain Lilies around St Francis, it looks very peaceful and appropriate

Once a year, late in the summer, this white orchid put on a show

 Another picture from my Lomography art lens

Friday, August 17, 2018

Where have all the gardeners gone?

From my little of suburbia plot of land, I can safely say that most home-owners today, care very little about the looks of their front yard.  I live in the suburbs of Miami, in a mix of working / middle-class neighborhood.  The homes in my development are selling between 350k to half a million dollars, all 64 of the houses in my area were built in the early 1990.  My neighbors are seating on properties worth a lot of money, but by the looks of the neighborhood, very few people seem to put much efforts into their front yards.  I can count with the fingers in my right hand the number of homes with nice front gardens.  The rest of the houses are nothing but grass and old shrubs with past expiration dates.  Most people cut their grass regularly, but many simply don’t care and let the grass get out of control.  My development has no homeowner’s association, so it is every home-owner for himself.
The reason for my bitchy tirade is that all this week I worked in my front yard, trying to shame my neighbors into action, but all I got were nice comments and the usual “when you finish with your garden can you come and work on my” HA HA!!
My house faces west, so the front garden has always been a challenge.  With a full dose of sun most of the day, my choices of plants are limited, especially during the hot summer months.  I find that some bromeliads, succulents and different potted plants (that I can regularly rotate) do well.  As you can see from the photos below, I have a lot of grass, more than I care to have.  All our utility lines are buried underground and the first five feet from the sidewalk must be accessible.  Last month ATT put a new fiberoptic cable and my powderpuff tree almost become a casualty of bad planning on my part.   

We had a severe summer thunderstorm this week, with estimated winds up to 50 miles per hour.  Two large branches from my Firebush tree broke.   Is upsetting because the tree was full of flowers and is a magnet for bees and butterflies.  The good news is that this tree grows fast.


We have a new tenant in the garden, an Eastern Gray Squirrel.  In the 20 plus years that I have been gardening in this house, this is the first time that I encounter a squirrel in my garden.  She already found my birdfeeder and it seems to be helping herself to all the seeds she can eat.  If she only eats my birdseeds, she will be welcome.  If she goes after my fruit trees, then we have a problem.

I got a 35mm Lomography Art Lens for my birthday and I started to experiment, taking pictures in the garden.  The working of this lens is very complicated, it takes time and much repetition to master it.   Here are a couple of pictures from my first attempt.