Sunday, March 30, 2008

The Great Sunflower Project

Do you want to help in the effort to save the honeybees? Then you should join The Great Sunflower Project run by San Francisco State University. The project needs our help counting the honeybees that visit our gardens; as a thanks, you will receive free sunflower seeds for your garden.
At least 25 percent of our honeybees have died in what scientists have named, "Colony Collapse Disorder". Since honeybees pollinate many commercial crops, such as almonds, apples, berries, and melons, as well as help our own gardens, this is a very serious problem for Mother Nature.
I invite all my blogger friends to join me in this worthwhile project. Let's grow some sunflowers and count bees.

Friday, March 28, 2008

New visitors to the garden

This giant green lizard (don’t know the name of this type) visited the garden this week. This species is not native to South Florida, but is commonly seen these days, thanks to man and our obsession for owning exotic wild life. People buy them as pets then release them in the wild when they tire of them. These lizards are very destructive to the bird population as they eat the eggs from nests.

This beautiful Black Swallowtail butterfly was flying around the garden this morning. I have planted many butterfly-friendly plants in the garden and I am happy to see that the beautiful creatures are coming around.

Last week, I spent my week off working in the garden; the work was tiring but exhilarating. I want to thank you for all the nice comments you posted on my blog.
This week I have not been able to spend any time outside with my plants since my "day job" has consumed all my time. My company is changing our computer system next week (no easy task for an airline that flies worldwide) and the stress level has been high, the hours long. We are preparing for the worst (hundreds of passengers without reservations and no flights to check-into at airports). We also are hoping for the best and maybe it’ll turn out similar to the Y2K scare--to quote Will Shakespeare, "much ado about nothing."
As for me, I am thankful to have a nice garden to come home to, unwind, and enjoy with a glass of wine and my faithful companion, Rosie, by my side!

Friday, March 21, 2008

Day Five, the final day of my gardening marathon.

Today I finished the front yard makeover that I had planned for my week off.

In this bed I planted a Cape Honeysuckle and Verbena for ground cover.

Here, I added several Lantanas of different colors. It's going to look very nice in a couple of weeks.

Recapping what I did this week-- I added a new bed along the pathway to my front yard and planted ground orchids. I added Bromeliads to mix up with my Crown of Thorns. I also added new bricks in most of the front yard flowerbeds.

I had planned to put a division between my neighbor's driveway and my yard to plant miniature ixora bushes. One problem, though; I busted the budget on the other jobs so I will leave this for next time.

It was fun working in the garden everyday. If I could make a living at it I would do it in a New York minute! Monday it's back to work.
That is all from the DragonFly garden for this week, Happy Easter everyone.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Day four of the gardening marathon

I have a new neighbor in the garden--a Mourning Dove moved in and built a nest in my bougainvillea plant next to my gardening shed. I will be extra careful not to disturb the family.

My gardening day was interrupted mid morning by a heavy rain and not much got done. I am planning to finish tomorrow but the forecast is for more rain.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Day three of my gardening marathon

Today I continued with my front yard make over. I finished the long bed along the walkway to my front door.

I got these ground orchids at a bargain price of $10 for both and divided both into 17 individual plants. The solar lights are from my back yard (where they were not getting much sun). The front garden faces the west and it gets plenty of afternoon sun so the lights should do well there.

I also finished the bed by the side of the street where I have a beautiful Lantana bush. I wanted to make the bed bigger but that part of the property belongs to the county. Usually they don’t care what you put in it, as long as it doesn’t interfere with traffic. There are rumors that Comcast, our cable company, is going to put new underground cables in our neighborhood and, if that happens, they will dig up everything and will not replace anything planted except for grass.

Today I finished early and went to have lunch with my parents. Tomorrow I am going to work on the flowerbed on the other side of the walkway. The job continues!

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Day two of my gardening marathon

Today I moved the gardening to the front of the house; I am making new borders around the entrance of the house and using new stone borders for some of the existing beds (My back is killing me tonight)
I finish this round bed in the front. It did not turned out the way I had planed. This morning when I visited my local nursery, they were having a sale on Bromeliads. I couldn’t resist buying some (I have a weakness for Bromeliads) in addition I added a couple of Crown of Thorns to compliment the ones I already had in that bed.
Over all I am satisfied with the way it turned out, this is a very sunny location and I am not sure how the Bromeliads are going to do there, but if I see any problems I can always transplant them somewhere else.



Monday, March 17, 2008

Day one of a gardening marathon

This week I am on vacation and my time will be dedicated to gardening the entire week, or until my knees and back hold out. I have big projects in mind and little time to do it.

The way it looked two weeks ago

Today I finished cleaning up and adding some compost.
I planted my prize White Bat Plant.

I also transplanted all the different begonias I have in the garden to this bed to accompany my White Begonia in the background. I am hoping that the begonias will do well in this area with partial shade, and hopefully will survive our summer heat.

The finish project.

Friday, March 14, 2008

March bloom day

In March, the DragonFly garden is in transition from the mild Florida winter weather to the heat of summer. The temperatures in the past week have reached the low eighties and the plants are beginning to feel the heat and are in need of more water. Unfortunately, we are in the midst of a drought and are allowed to water only once per week.
This beautiful miniature yellow orchid thrives among my Plumeria tree and bloomed this week.

The Plumeria tree itself is blooming--a sure sign that spring has arrived in the tropics.

I purchased this vine at BJ’s; unfortunately, it did not have a nametag. If any one recognizes the plant and can provide its name, please let me know. (Gorgeous flower, huh?)

This is my Canna's first flower of the year.

The white Pentas are doing well and like the warmer weather.

Pink Dragon Wing begonia

The Impatiens and Viola are looking a little tired from the early spring heat.

Sorry, I know I am a day early but I will be away this weekend and don’t want to miss my favorite posting of the month.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

A pruning weekend

“Hey buddy, where's my food?”

This week the temperature here in South Florida went from the mid-eighties on Thursday to the mid-forties on Saturday. What is going on??? Saturday morning we got a nice thunderstorm as a cold front passed by and the rest of the weekend was nice and cool. This probably was the last cold front of the year.

With the ground wet from the rain, I decided the best way to use my gardening time was pruning the Shooting Star and the Brunfelsia trees. My father has always pruned his trees in February. He feels that all pruning should be done before Lent begins so, by his calculations, I am already late! This custom was passed down to him by my grandfather who was a farmer. I don’t know if there is any scientific fact behind it but we have always followed the custom.

The Shooting Star tree is a very aggressively-growing tree and this year I was very aggressive pruning it.
I also started working on my last wild corner in the garden. I know what you are thinking, “How did I let it get this way, almost overrun with weeds?” My answer is this is Florida and in a blink of an eye weeds take over. Before you report me to the gardeners' union, I do have a real job that takes most of my time. Gardening is supposed to be my hobby but lately it feels more like a second full-time job.

My dilemma is what to do with this bed??? Last year it was full with Bolivian Sunset, a beautiful red flowering plant that reseeds every year and looks great around this time of the season but not this year (maybe it has something to do with these killer weeds).
I have decided to put my White Bat plant (the exotic plant my wife gave me for Christmas) in the center and fill the rest of the bed with a collection of different Begonias that I have in pots. This corner of the garden gets lots of shade and the ground tends to be wetter. What do you think?

Sunday, March 02, 2008

The front yard renovation begins.

This past week I had my front yard “Black Olive Tree” removed. Yes folks, I, the self-professed environmentalist had a beautiful tall tree cut. I've been sick about it all week but I had to do it.
I planted this tree when I first moved to this house back in 1990. Two years later the young tree (and everything else in my garden) was knocked down by hurricane Andrew. That was a sure sign that this was the wrong tree for my small front yard but I replanted it and the tree continued to grow.
Since the initial restoraton, I have had to prune the tree every couple of years to keep it from potentially falling on our roof during hurricane season (a very expensive proposition). Then, this year I finally came to the conclusion that the tree had to go. It had grown monstrously big for my garden, the roots were damaging the sidewalks, and the expense of constant pruning for hurricanes was too much.

In its place I planted a more appropriate front-yard tree, a gift from a fellow gardener. The new tree is a “Calliandra Haematocephala” or Powderpuff tree. It grows about 15 feet tall, is drought-resistant, and it flowers four to six months of the year. The flowers are beautifully "bushy", with a wonderful color and the tree looks great.

Flower of powerpuff tree

Around the tree, I transplanted the multi-color Lantanas I had around the old tree. I also added these purple Bromeliads from my back yard (an inexpensive flowerbed).