Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Back to the boring routine

Yesterday was my first day back to work after a week vacation, where all I did was work in the garden from sun up to sun down. The week went fast, I did not might the hard work, the weather cooperated and it was great been out there in the garden me and my dog while everyone else in our home was at work or school.
I got a lot accomplished but not everything I wanted to do. It wouldn’t be a garden if there wasn’t something else to be done. The herb / vegetable plot needs to be prepare if I'm to get fresh tomatoes this winter, changes to the garden in the front of the house have been in the works for while but I am not quite sure what I want to do there. Several plants need to be planted and others taken out, in other words I could have used another couple of weeks to finish everything that is in the list.
Now I am back to my one and half hour bumper to bumper commute to and from work, with the short days I get home after dark so the garden will have to wait for the weekend.
One thing about gardening non-stop for a week it mellows you out for the date-to-date work routine. The outdoors has a way of bring one's self down to earth and keeps you focus on what is important in life.
What is in bloom in the Garden
The Angel Trumpets have been in full bloom for a couple of days announcing a rainy day is coming and sure enough today rained all day.

Yellow miniature orchid

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Fall Garden project, three years to late.

Fall is the perfect time for South Florida gardeners to start big projects in the garden, the weather gets cooler and the mosquitoes go away. I been looking at this plot of land between my neighbors and my house for years with the idea that I have to do something there. The area gets shade all year long, the grass doesn’t grow well, and during the reining season the water stagnates there and creates a very messy garden. This area of the garden is the first thing any guest sees when they come into our home (it did not give a good impression)


AfterThe past two years we had to deal with hurricanes in the fall, so all we could do in the garden was clean up duty. This year I had no excuse, I took a week vacation from my job and jump into the project. At age 53 it takes me a long time to finish a project like this. After many breaks, dozens of beers, several trips to Home Depot and 52 bags of rocks the project is done. The project came in over budget, but what the heck if the government can not do any job on budget I don’t feel that bad.

So far the reviews from family and neighbors has been good. Today was a perfect day the weather was in the mid 70s and not a cloud in the skies, a perfect day to sit in my patio reading a book and listening to the water running in my new fountain. The tranquility did not last long my neighbor decided to have a party and the sound of loud salsa music penetrated the garden and the moment was gone.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Fall project. What did you do to my bathroom?

This is Rosie the latest addition to our family. Rosie is a five year old Australian Cattle dog, she came to us or should I say she picked us one fine fall day five years ago a day my wife and I were having a yard sale. It seems like her previous owner dumped her in our neighborhood with a rosary around her neck. That was all my wife needed to see so she was one of us, it didn’t matter that we already had a dog Pepper who was older and did not like to share. I tried to give her way to friends, far away family any one, but no takers after a couple of weeks she was part of the tribe.
One day while looking at a book of dogs, I found an identical picture under Australian Cattle Dog. I had no idea about the breed. My vet confirmed the finding and preceded to tell me what great dogs they were but added she needs a job. Australian Cattle dogs are working herding dogs that persuade cattle to move by nipping at their heels. We soon found out what that met, since we had no cattle in our Miami home why not herd the next best thing, the humans and the other dog.
After showing Rosie that I was the Alpha dog in our house and herding humans was not part of the deal, I took the advise of my Vet and found her a job. Guardian and Protector of the garden. She took on to the job like a natural, she would not allow any stray cats in our neighborhood to come into the garden and soon the word got around to all the cats to stay ways from that house with the funny looking dog. She is the perfect garden dog does not dig holes respects the flower beds and does not bother the lizards, frogs and birds.
Rosie is my shadow in the garden she will sit next to me for hours while I work and does not complaint no matter how hot it is, she is always waiting for me by the front door when I come from work ready to go to work in the garden. So how do I re-pay her for all her hard work and dedication? I turned her favor bathroom place in the garden into my fall project, where soon all the grass will gone and will be replace by rocks flowers and a water feature. Oh well we have plenty of grass in other parts of the garden.

What is blooming in the garden? Cats Whiskers

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Is it Orchid Cactus or Cactus Orchid??

I must admit I am not a big fan of Cacti but a few years back while walking in my neighborhood I found a small cutting of this Epiphyllum (the fancy name) so I decided to give a home in the trunk of my coconut tree.
The coconut tree was blown away by a hurricane but the cactus hanged on to what was left of the trunk. Then one night WALA the must beautiful flower I have ever seen. By the time I brought my family to see it in the morning it had wilted.

The flowers open around 10 to 11 pm at night and by the time sun comes up in morning they have wilted. Yesterday I counted 26 flowers the most that had ever bloomed at the same time. This is it for the year, this cactus doesn’t like to bloom in cooler weather.It might also be the last year for these beautiful flowers the Coconut trunk is rotting and might topple over at any time, so I will need to find a new host tree and start all over again, this is one cacti I am keeping

Monday, October 23, 2006

My Papaya Tree is it a boy or girl?

Papayas are my favorite tropical fruits you can do so much with it, you can eat it off the tree, you can mix with other fruits to make great smoothies, milk shakes and with a little rum you can make Papaya coladas. That is why since I had a back yard I always had a couple of papaya trees.
Last year I had the perfect tree, the sweetest and biggest papayas I ever had, then we had a visit from hurricane Wilma and my tree was gone. Among many of the things I needed to do in my garden after the hurricane was getting a new Papaya tree, one day while cleaning up the mess I found a little tree growing near where the old one was.
“Great” an offspring of my perfect Papaya tree. Fast-forward ten months and the tree is an adult with many flowers and no fruits.
Yesterday my 93 year old father came to visit, (let me tell you a little bit about my Dad he is 93 years young keep a beautiful garden in South Florida no easy task for anyone at any age he drives and writes poetry) everything I know about plants I learned from him, now a days our visits and conversations are all about plants and gardening.
So I asked my dad for his opinion on my new Papaya tree. “Son” he said “Esa mata es macho” the plant is a male you will never get a fruit from her. I suspected as much but I wanted the confirmation of the family master Gardner. He continued, “lets pull it out and I will help you pick a new one up the plant nursery”
I said “well Dad I don’t know if I want to pull it out, I like the tropical look it gives the garden” He looked at me like all the advised he had giving me over the years was for not, I didn’t get it. Then he said “Keeping a fruit tree in your back yard that doesn’t bear fruits is like keeping a cat that doesn’t hunt mice, what’s the point”

What is blooming in my garden? A Blomelia plus a lizard

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Hurricane Shutters back in to the garage

What is blooming in my garden, wild orchid

This is ritual that we Floridians do twice every year, bring out the shutters in June and put them back in storage at the end of November. I know is mid October but this year is looking like we escaped without a hit and I can stand looking at them in my garden.
I keep the shutters next to each window and door for the season and as soon as we get a hurricane warnings they go up, it takes a couple of hours but after having all my windows and doors blow in during hurricane Andrew 10 years ago I don’t take any chances.

Last year Wilma did a number on my garden I lost two palms a coconut and papaya tree and it left a mess that took months to clean up (as you can see in the picture) but thank god the house was OK. Hurricanes are an inconvenience gardeners in the tropics have to live with, if they are category one or tree trimming hurricanes like the all timers like to call them they are not to bad and could be benefial when we are having a dry season, any thing over Cat 1 can be trouble and we should take them very serious.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Time to trim the Rangoon Creeper

Today I took a couple of hours in the morning to trim my Rangoon Creeper bush this is one of my favor plans in my garden. It is a high maintenance plant it needs constant trimming but it flowers all summer long and by this time of the year it goes into hibernation, time to trim it back. The flowers bloom in white the first day it change to pink and finally it ends up in bright red by the third day. The scent is like fresh apples, the garden at night it smells like an apple orchard. The name in Spanish is “Jasmin mansano” (Apple Jasmine)
Another problem with this plant is that every seed turns into a plant. I had to pull out over 30 baby plants this morning and they are not easy to pull out.

A pleasant surprise today while pulling weeds I found a baby ornamental palm growing at the bottom of the creeper bush. I pulled it out and have it in a container. How it got there who knows birds the air what ever it was is great to get a freebie. This palm is very common in South Florida and you see it all over in commercial buildings. If any one out there knows the name of this palm let me know.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

First Posting

After spending the morning working in my garden geting the back yard ready for the winter for us in Miami that means the start of the season the wearther was not very hot but by 12noon it was over 82 degrees and it was time to come in.
I decided to start a Gardening Blog but I be honest with you I have no idea what I am doing so any one reading this posting sorry for the rookyness.
The picture above is from my vacation last September to Butchart Gardens, will post pictures from my garden next time