Monday, January 29, 2007

Starburst or Shooting Star

This year I have two Starburst plants and this week they are putting on a show. The Starburt is a great plant. It is technically a shrub but it looks like a small tree. It is low maintenance and the leaf keep a great color year around, olive green on top and purple on the bottom. This time of the year is all about the spectacular white flowers that resemble stars.

I have not been able to find out where this plant is from, but I know is not native to Florida it does well in our zone 10a and 10b.

The only problem with this plant is that it sends up suckers that can be a nuisance some times, that is how I ended up with two plants this year.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Time to fix the sprinkler system.

Ten years ago I had a sprinkler system installed in my back and front yard. This is BMGP (before my gardening passion) Back then, all I had was green grass and at certain time of the year it was not so green. Watering with city water was time consuming and very expensive. So I decided to get a top of the line sprinkler system with its own well, timer and hidden sprinkler heads.
Over the years as the garden evolved, and I made changes to the original plan. I been a man would make the changes myself, “how hard could it be”. Last week I came to the conclusion that the sprinklers were a mess, most of the heads did not work, I had leaks in several spots and some parts of the garden was not getting any water at all. I announced to my wife, I am taking a day off from work to fix the sprinklers. She looked at me with that look of there he goes again.
Then she said “ honey why don’t you call the guy who did the original job” After a few minutes of deliberation I decided that she was right, I have very little time these dates and the back is not as young as it used to be.
I had an old business card so I called him. The next day he was at the house at time he told me (a rare event in today world) the only problem was this guy was about 80 years old, he told me he was retired and did this on the side. He gave me a fair price but I had a big dilemma could I give a labor-intensive job to a man that could be my father. What to do? I decided to give the old guy a chance. I am always complaining that in today world if you are past 30 you don’t matter.
Two days later the job was done, the sprinklers worked like they supposed too, the only problem was the man made a mess of my garden. I know it’s impossible to dig up and install pipes without making a mess but he didn’t take any extra care like I told him too. I guess the old dude earned the right to be messy; we should all be that lucky to be 80 and be able to work.

The Bolivian Sunset (Gloxinia Sylvatica) before the sprinkler guy made a mess.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Finally the Canna Lily is in bloom

My only surviving Canna Lily flowered this week after I transplanted the rhizomes last summer, the plant is doing well in the new location it gets plenty of sun. Canna Lily are one of my favorite plants, it does well in Florida the key is full sun and plenty of water.

This weekend we finally had a Florida winter day, the weather was in the mid 70’s sunny and no humidity a nice weekend to go out and enjoy the town. I did some maintenance around the garden, pull some weeds, cut back some over grown bushes and deadheaded some of the flowers. I am planning a major project for the front of the house but that will have to wait to the end of February when I am planning to take a few days off from work.

What else is in bloom in the garden today?
The Blue Poterflower, a favorite of bees and butterflies.

White Hollyhocks

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Frogs and ponds belong together

My last posting I talked about my pond and the love and hate relationship I have with it. Today I would like to introduce you to Pat the Bufo frog that has decided to make my pond her second home. His or her name is Pat after that famous Saturday night character, you know the one we never knew weather it was a he or a she.
The Bufo Frogs or Marine toads are not native to Florida they were introduced in the late 1800 and released in the sugar cane fields in an attempts to control the beetles that damage the sugarcane, this attempt by humans to mess with mother nature has created problems for cat and dog owners in today Florida, you see these frogs have enlarged glands on the side of the neck, one behind each eye. These glands secrete a white poison that gets smeared in the mouth of any predator, inflaming the mouth and throat and causing nausea, irregular heart beat, and, in extreme cases, death. A dog or cat that bites a Bufo frog will sicken and may die.
My dog Rosie has never been interested in Pat so I let her reside in my pond. My co-worker has a dog that will hunt any creature in the yard, He has had to rush to the Vet with his sick dog several times, when the dog starts convulsing you know is because of a Bufo frog. It gets very costly the only treatment is antibiotics and an over night stay at the pet hospital and if is not caught in time the animal can die.
Pat spends the night in the pond with her head sticking out, eating her regular diner of bugs, she lets me know when is time to clean the pond, she simply will not swim in dirty water.

What is in bloom in the garden today?

Angels Trumpets, the white trumpets are in bloom for the first time, I got this plant as a cutting from a neighbor this summer. Is very unusable to see it in bloom during the winter but this year everything is mess up.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Time to clean the Pond

I have a small Pond with running water in the back yard that I got a couple of year ago. The idea was to get some water plants, make the pond hospitable for fish and have a self-contained habitat. The reality has been that I never found the time get the plants and forget about the fish, with all the wild cats in my neighborhood they would not last a night.
Changing the water turned out to be a pain in the you know what, every two to three weeks the water gets green and murky and is time to change the water. The job is not pleasant. We have a Bufofrog in the yard (more about this frog in future listing) that comes to the pond every night to feast on bugs. I know is time to change the water when frog stops coming around.
I admit I enjoy the sound of running water when I sit in the patio with my cup of coffee and the morning paper, but I wish it wasn’t so much work.

What is in bloom in the garden today?

White Bird of Paradise


Friday, January 12, 2007

The first crop of Tomatoes is in

The first Cherry Tomatoes of the season are in, sweet as ever. This year my tomato plants are not doing very well. Most of the flowers are dropping and the leaves are shrivel. I don’t know if this is a sign of to much water or a deficiency in the soil. I’ll take any advise from all you northern experts out there. I also had to be on the look out for Hornworms and and a brown slug that I have never seen him before.
This year, I prepared the soil a month before planting. I mixed the soil with compost, peat moss and slow releasing fertilizer. I don’t like to use much fertilizer after the plants are in the ground, I only use the Scott liquid fertilizer.

Everything else in the garden is doing well except the tomatoes. Oh well them are the breaks, may be next year I’ll buy a book on how to grow tomatoes in Florida or I should concentrate on flowers.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

The Star of my Winter Garden “Brunfelsia grandiflora".

Every year around Christmas the star of the winter garden takes center stage and my Brunfelsia or as is more commonly know around here “Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow” comes into full bloom and it takes over my back yard. This year is spectacular, this evergreen shrub comes from South America but it has become common place in South Florida. The flowers are beautiful clusters of three colors all different shades of purple, the flower starts out dark and gets lighter each day and by the third day it drops, that is where to common name comes from.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Spring is in the air; the mango trees are in full bloom

After a harsh long winter, spring is in the air. The mango trees are in full bloom. OK, they are nothing like the cherry trees but this is Florida. But at least we get a nice sweet fruit in the summer. What do they get in Washington? A big mess after the trees are done with the flowers and no fruits.
The Mango is the apple of the tropics. There is so much you can do with a mango. From cooking it, eating it, to mixing it with alcohol (You have not live until you try a mango colada)
I don’t have a mango tree in my yard. I think I’ll plant one this year. The one in the picture is my back yard neighbor.

What is in bloom in my back yard?

Don’t know the name but it sure is beautiful