Monday, November 26, 2007

What is growing in the garden this December?

I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving. Here in the DragonFly we took it easy over the holiday, I spent the time with family, decorating, eating, and relaxing.
The Tricolor Ti is flowering this month, many gardeners believe the flowers are insignificant but I differ.

My Papaya tree is full of Papayas; I can’t wait for the fruits to ripen

This lone rose opened this week, I have two rose bushes but for some unexplained reason I don’t get many flowers, maybe is the soil, may be is the location, or maybe is the gardener.

The Orchid Cactus (Epihyllum) has a couple of fruits; I am told they are eatable.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

A gardener making a difference

I would like to share a story I heard on NPR this week, about the Gardeners' Foundation in the bay area of San Francisco.
The foundation awards underprivileged, college-bound kids with financial aid, never questioning the applicant about his/her citizenship status. What is amazing about this foundation is the man who started it all, Catalino Tapia. Mr. Tapia came to this country over forty years ago as an undocumented immigrant and made his living as a gardener, working and beautifying other people’s gardens. Over the years, he was able to become a documented resident of his adopted country.
After putting his son through college, he realized that there was an urgent need in the community to help those kids that wanted to go to college but could not afford it. Mr. Tapia began the Gardeners’ Foundation, appealing to many of his customers for donations to fund scholarships for deserving young people who yearned for a college education. The foundation has grown and prospered and has helped many grateful students realize his or her dreams.
Today, the issue of undocumented immigrants is a front-page story in our country. This is something that is very important to me since my own family migrated to the United States in the 1960’s. My parents made the difficult decision of leaving country and family behind so their son could grow up and raise his own family in this wonderful nation, enjoying the benefits of freedom and democracy. It was not easy moving to a country where they could not speak the native language, where the only jobs they could find were those other people did not want. After many hard, lean years and much struggle, my parents were able to live the American dream of owning their own home, seeing their only son graduate from college, and becoming full American citizens.
Our country has taken in immigrants from all over the world from the very beginning of its history. This, I believe, has contributed to its greatness and I so admire immigrants such as Catalino Tapia and my parents; they make us all proud to be Americans.
I’d like to leave you with one last thought: the issue of undocumented immigrants is a complex one but no matter what side of the issue you are on, I’d like you to consider that God has never created any “illegal” human beings. We can call these hard-working people undocumented, but no fellow human should ever be called “illegal”.
I hope you and your families have a blessed and happy Thanksgiving together.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

NIX the White Picket Fence

After comments from many of my gardening blogging friends about my post last Sunday, I have come to the conclusion that you are correct--a white picket fence is not a good idea for a stucco home like mine. An iron fence might look good but is going to be expensive and the wife is not too crazy about it. Maybe a hedge, we'll see.
This weekend I took a break from heavy gardening. On Saturday morning the weather was excellent so I did some pruning and weeding and cleaned the pond. I don’t know about you, but I love pruning and weeding because I can be out in the garden, close and personal with my plants; no worries, no hassles.

Saturday afternoon I attended the homecoming football game of my college alma matter. Unfortunately and amazingly, it's been two years and no wins! I was hopping this was the game that we would pull out a win but my team did not fail to disappoint us. Guess they're taking after our Miami pro team, the Dolphins, which are so far winless this year as well.

Today, my wife and I attended the “ The Ramble Garden Festival” at Fairchild Tropical Garden. This is an annual event to benefit the Gardens and known as the largest plant sale in South Florida. There is also an antique and collectible show/flea market and lots of other activities in one of the most beautiful setting in all of Florida.
The weather was great and so was the turn out. Fairchild Gardens is considered one of the largest tropical botanical gardens in the world, totally dedicated to the study and conservation of tropical plants. This is a must-see if you ever visit our fair city.

Plants are the main reason I go and I always find something to bring home.

Here I am with my finds this year--a tri-orange color angel’s trumpet and a yellow devil’s trumpet (called "devil" because the flower points upwards)

This is a “White Bat”. Dying to buy one for the house but, unfortunately, I was too late and they sold out early. This one was the display. I got the phone number and address of the nursery and I am planning to go and get one. Striking and unusual flower and gorgeous giant leaves.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Canna x generalis

My entry for bloom day is my last surviving Canna Lily, the only one the snails have not destroyed. It never fails to have flowers every month. This month is particularly beautiful.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

ENGLIMIAMI Garden look ???

Are you like me? I spend most of my gardening time working in my back yard and I totally ignore my front garden. For 2008 I am determined to change and it all started this weekend.
I am embarking on a new project transforming my front yard from an “AH” look to an English garden look (I call it ENGLIMIAMI look)

First, I need more flowers in the front garden. This weekend I added, a White Plumeria plant, and some Zinnias around the borders.

These two new hanging baskets with Dusty Miller, Coleus, Philox, and Zinnia should look very nice in a couple of weeks.

Second, I need to get rid of the large Black Olive tree in the front. Every couple of years I hire someone to cut back the tree to make it safe for hurricane season. I don’t know what I was thinking when I planted this tree in my small front yard. I am going to replace it with a baby Jacaranda tree I currently have in a container.

Third, I need to add a nice border around the garden (maybe a white picket fence) and remove most of the grass.

This is going to be a year-long project. I will keep you all posted with updates as I go along!

Thursday, November 08, 2007

November Colors from the Garden

All the pictures were taken this morning while I was doing a walk around the garden before heading to work

This little guy was sleeping in my white bird of peradise

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Perfect weekend for outdoor activities

This weekend the weather was in the seventies, sunny and no humidity, perfect for the outdoors.
On Saturday I helped my wife with a yard-sale she had planned.

In between sales I did some gardening in the front yard. I took out this Variegated Arboricola shrub that had out grown the space where it was. This shrub is not one of my favorite plants, I don’t know what I will replace it with but it will be something with flowers.

I found these two characters in my neighbor’s trash bin and saved them, now they are my new garden waiters. What are they? Kangaroos or Rats. I need to find flowerpots that are not very heavy.

Today I spent the day at the South Miami Art festival. Checking out the art and eating good food and enjoying the good weather outside.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

My secret life as a beekeeper

This weekend I was looking for a book to read in my library and I picked up “A Country Year” by Sue Hubbell. This is the second time I read this book since buying it three years ago in a yard sale. The book is about the author’s life in the Ozark Mountains of Missouri, living off the land as a beekeeper. Her description of the land, the people of the Ozarks, and her bees was riveting; I could not put it down. After reading the book I told myself this is the life I want.
And so it started, my fantasy of moving to the country and become a beekeeper. Of course, I did not share this fantasy with anyone because I couldn’t take what I knew would have been everyone’s reaction—probably, “You--a beekeeper. HA HA HA!!!!”

A few months later, I was working in the garden and I noticed an unusual number of bees around me. I looked up and “Oh my God,” a beehive had moved into the top corner of my roof, the bees going in and out through a small round hole in the wood on the roof overhang. “It must be a sign,” I told myself. My wife, of course, freaked out. Everyone I knew would tell me “you have to get rid of those bees” and that made sense to me but no one knew of my fantasy, my thinking that this could be the first beehive of my bee empire!
After making sure that the bees were not getting into our attic, I decided to share my garden with these hard working insects and for about a year harmony reigned at the DragonFly Garden. I was fascinated by the hive and would watch the activities at different times of the day such as the parade of worker bees hauling water from my pond to the hive: nature at its best in my garden. I would secretly take trips to the Redlands looking for land for sale where I could establish my beehive business. The Redlands is an agriculture area in extreme southern Miami where most of the winter vegetables are grown and many commercial beekeepers operate. Maybe my fantasy was not such a fantasy after all!

One day, while I was working in my tomato plants and unbeknownst to me, there had been a management change at the hive and the new queen let it be known to all her workers that she was not interested in sharing the garden with the bold guy and his dog below. She sent a squadron of her best fighters after me and it was like Pearl Harbor, unprovoked and unexpected. I made a straight line to the house while my poor dog ran in circles and tried to fight back.
For days our family could not venture outside for every time we would go anywhere near the hive, the kamikazes would come out. It was clear the bees had to go. I called several beekeepers to see if they would come out and get the hive but none were interested. The only option left was a bee exterminator. I found one near Orlando and the day he showed up, I could not bear to see the massacre. I am told the man came dressed in a full hazmat suit and equipped with an electric chain saw. By the time he finished, part of my roof was destroyed and he claimed that this had been one the biggest beehives he had ever exterminated. The hive was about 8 feet long! After all was said and done the exterminator cost me $600 and fixing the roof another $400

Today I have a newfound respect for bees but I admire them from a distance. I continue to have my fantasy of moving to the country and living a simpler life but maybe I could raise Alpacas--they are cute and furry and don’t sting!