Saturday, February 21, 2009

The Key Lime tree is back


I was finally able to buy my wife her favorite citrus tree, a Key Lime tree, which we Cubans call "limon criollo" or "creole lemon" even though they are not lemons at all but small yellow limes.
Key limes are much smaller, seedier, have a higher acidity, stronger aroma, a much thinner rind than regular limes, and are jucier and more tart than their larger, more common green cousins. The name comes from its association with the Florida Keys where it is best known as the main ingredient in the world-famous Key Lime pie.

Ever since I can remember we always had a Key Lime tree in the backyard. Then, five years ago, the State of Florida ordered all citrus trees in South Florida destroyed because of the advent of Citrus Canker, a lethal disease that ruins citrus fruit and is thought to be highly contagious from tree to tree (although today that is highly debated). The death sentence of our local private trees was passed by the state to protect the central and northern Florida billion-dollar commercial citrus industry. In order to prevent the potential impact on this important Florida commerce, the state ordered what we gardeners call the atomic bomb solution and proceeded to cut down every orange, lime, lemon, and grapefruit tree in South Florida homes and nurseries. Every tree was targeted, no arguments from home or nursery owners--if you had a citrus tree in your back yard or business, it had to go. The massacre of our citrus trees sometime turned ugly with some people threatening state employees (the "executioners" maybe) with violence and police being called. Many lawsuits were filed and all to no avail. Many homeowners with heirloom trees that had been in their yards for decades saw them cut down in one afternoon. Afterward, the state put a moratorium on the sale of citrus trees in South Florida for five years. Now, at last, we are again permitted to grow citrus in our gardens.
Try to imagine a Florida garden without a citrus tree; it's like living in Vermont and not having an apple tree! Thank heaven our citrus is back!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Starburst or Shooting Star


My Starburst tree is in full bloom, technically a shrub, my is already fully-grown. This plant is fabulous for tropical gardens, it has year-round color, besides the spectacular flowers, the leaves are olive green on top and purple on bottom.

This plant is low maintenance, fast growing; the flowers appear in late winter (January to March) and last around six weeks.

The only negative about this plant is that it sends up suckers everywhere and it can be a nuisance. The plant above is in my neighbors yard and it was a sucker from my plant.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Happy Valentines Day and day before GBBD


Blooming at the DragonFly this month, I would like to start with the only rose in the garden, in time for Valentines Day.

The Starburst plants are blooming everywhere in Miami, my is a little late this year but as you can see the top of the tree is already in full bloom.

The yellow marigolds are reseeding again all over the garden.

These orchids were almost lost last week to the cold weather (I forgot to bring them inside the house).

The first flower from my new Taca.

White impatiens.

More hollyhocks

The giant white bird of paradise.

Sunday, February 08, 2009

My collection of Coleus.


I am not much of a collector of plants since my theory is, if I see a plant I like, I buy it. But, when it comes to coleus, I am always looking for new varieties to add to my collection. There are so many different shapes, sizes, and colors of these plants that it makes it fun to collect them.

My current crop of coleuses came through the cold weather last week with no damage. Coleus grow year around in South Florida but the occasional cold snap is no friend of this beautiful plant and they can suffer damage.

New to my collection this year is this one called “Fishnet Stocking” and very fast becoming my favorite.
Oxblood
Pineapple speckles
Chocolate drop
See more pictures in my other blog, The Viewfinder

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Spanish Moss everywhere


You all have probably noticed the Spanish moss growing all over my garden. It all started with a small group of stems I found on the street a couple of years ago. Today it has become part of my garden d├ęcor.

The early morning sun's rays going through the Spanish moss gives the garden a spectacular shine.

Spanish moss is not biologically related to moss, it is related to the bromeliads family. It grows hanging from tree branches in full sun or partial shade. I also use it for ground cover on my potted plants and the birds like it for their nests.

Monday, February 02, 2009

A rare visitor to the DragonFly garden


Tonight I photographed this owl perched on my hammock in my back porch. This is a first for me. I have lived in this house for twenty plus years and I have never seen an owl in this neighborhood since owls don’t usually frequent cities. I am glad it chose my garden for its visit!

What kind of an owl is it? My book, "Birds of Florida", is not very clear. It could be a Screech Owl or possibly a Barred Owl.

My wife named her Golda, after Golda Meir, the former prime minister of Israel. Don’t ask me why.

The pictures are not very good quality because most were taken from inside the house. We didn't want to disturb Golda or have her fly away.