Tuesday, December 30, 2008

My New Year’s Resolutions.

New Year’s has never been my favorite holiday, I don’t know why; I just don’t see the point or why the fuss and coming right after Christmas, almost an afterthought, as if we’re trying to artificially extend Christmas. This year, though, it feels different to me, somewhat more important. There is so much going on around us that it seems like 2009 is going to be a make-or-break year. All of us need to pay attention and put some effort into solving our problems so that this time next year, most of our troubles will be largely behind us and we’ll be on our way to a better future for all humanity and for our planet.

A friend of mine wrote in his blog this week that these uncertain economic times are the perfect moment for all of us to take a good, hard look at ourselves and commit to changing the way we live. He believes that we need to move from a consumer-obsessed society to a more spiritual one, that we all need to be more generous with our time and treasure, create more, (gardens are a good example) and learn to live with less. I believe he is absolutely right, so this year I am breaking with my tradition of not making New Year’s resolutions. Here is my 2009 list:

1 - I want to give more to my community maybe by volunteering some time to a worthwhile organization. I have been talking about doing this for years but always had an excuse that I don’t have the time.

2 – Give more time to friends and family; calling and visiting people close and important to me, being a part of their lives and having them in mine.

3 – Leave my job at the office. These days with Blackberry and access to our office computers from home we are working 24/7 and our employers expect us to be available all the time. No more! I’ll give to my work 110% during working hours but once I leave, the office can’t come home with me.

4 – Create, experiment, and expand my garden while continuing to share the process with you all on this blog.

5 – Take up a new hobby--photography. Now that I have a nifty camera, I want to be more serious about taking pictures, especially nature photography.

6 - Rekindle an old hobby--carpentry. In my younger years, I was a very good carpenter and enjoyed working with wood. For many years, my tools have been collecting dust and rust in the garage and its time to take them out again.

7 – Live with less. My wife and I are committed to cutting down on our spending while learning to live with less “stuff”. We’ve already decided that come March (when my car’s lease is up), we will live with one family car. My wife’s office is within walking- distance of our home and on days when she needs the car, I will take public transportation to my job. More healthy walking for her, less harmful pollution for the earth, and a leaner family budget for both of us!

I think these are good resolutions for 2009 and for me. It will be a busy year!
I wish all of you health, happiness, and success in the coming year and prayers for peace on earth for all humanity!

A message from my lovely wife Maritza:
To all Rusty’s friends in the blogosphere, my fervent wish that you and your families and friends enjoy a happy, healthy, prosperous New Year, and that your gardens bloom with beautiful flora! I just want to let you know that writing this blog and having all of you visiting and commenting on it has led to many hours of joy for my wonderful husband. Making things grow is an art and all of you are artists as talented as any that work with brush or plaster. When I visit my husband’s garden in the morning (for it is HIS garden, I’m just a visitor), I marvel at the majesty created by his efforts. I know that your gardens must be as wonderful. In conclusion, I’m hoping that 2009 will bloom flowers in all your lives and that God bless you always with health, joy, and especially, peace!

Friday, December 26, 2008

Relaxing at home after Christmas

I hope all of you had a wonderful Christmas! Santa was very good to me this year. I don’t know how he found out that I wanted a new digital camera.

I got a Nikon Coolpix P80 with an 18x optical zoom. No excuses now--I should be able to take better pictures for my blog.

Elsewhere in the garden.

The oxalis weeds are back with vengeance. I am tired of fighting this obnoxious weed. They are growing everywhere--in the flowerbeds, the grass, and in my new vegetable garden. I have tried many home remedies and have come to the same conclusion--nothing works!
Update on my front garden project.

The project is coming along very slowly since the bougainvillea is not an easy plant to trim back (I have the scars to prove it!). I am planning to give the project a good push in the next couple of weeks, unless the Miami Dolphins make the playoffs (that is American football for those of you not familiar).

And finally, this week, I’ll be working on my New Year's resolutions. I feel this year is an important one to make some changes in my life!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Merry Christmas

May the joy of the season bring you health and happiness together with family and friends, and may all your gardens grow and prosper in the coming year.

Merry Christmas from the DragonFly Garden

Friday, December 19, 2008

My Brunfelsia grandiflora is in bloom

Better known around this part as the Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow Tree. The reason for this name, the flowers last three days and each day a different color.
When I left for vacation last Friday the tree was showing a few flowers, and now is in full bloom, just in time for the holidays.

The Brunfelsia is a great plant for color in winter; it’s quite a conversation piece, with its clusters of three colors of flowers all different shades of purple. When the plant is done with the blooms, the dark green leaves are quite attractive.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Pictures from Disney

We returned from our short holiday last night. Tired but happy, driving to Disney World is a yearly tradition for those of us living in the southern tip of Florida (for some us it's more than once a year). My family has wonderful memories of the parks; while my kids were growing up we never missed a year. Now that they are adults we are continuing our tradition and have a great time re-living the memories.
I took many pictures of the Christmas lights, unfortunately I've not been a very good photographer as many of them did not come out good.

This picture is of Cinderella’s castle lit up at night; this picture does not do justice to how spectacular it was.

Main Street during the day.

EPCOT Center was decorated everywhere.

At Disney's Hollywood Studios (formerly MGM Studios) the main event is the Osborne Family Spectacular dancing lights. The Osborne Family from Little Rock, Arkansas had a tradition to decorate their home with thousands of lights and the tradition grew to over a million. The lights were donated to Disney and today it features over 5 million dancing lights decorating a city block. Sorry the pictures are not very good.

No visit to Disney’s EPCOT center is complete without a visit to my favorite, the Land Pavilion.
This Dragon Fruit plant on display resembles my own, but I think mine out did theirs.
My tree:

Friday, December 12, 2008

Taking the weekend off.

My family and I are heading to Disney World this weekend for some R and R and family "reconnect". This is the best time to visit the Disney parks; no crowds, cool weather, and the Christmas decorations are magnificent! See you all when I get back!

Tuesday, December 09, 2008


Lantanas are quickly becoming my favorite flowers in my garden. These sun-loving, drought-resistant flowers are perfect for South Florida gardens.
This weekend I replaced the yellow lantanas bordering the street. This hardy plant has faithfully provided a couple of years of lovely flowers but it was time to change her.
An added bonus to planting these flowers is how much bees and butterflies love them.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

A busy weekend at the DragonFly garden.

This weekend I decided to start a new project. For a long time I've been thinking about changing the side gate at the front of the house and the two monster bougainvilleas over the fence.
My wife wants to replace the wood fence with an iron fence; I am warm to the idea but it will probably be expensive ("expensive" in today's economic times might not be such a good idea). For now, I am going to cut back the bougainvilleas, pressure clean and paint the fence, and repair the gate. This is going to take several weeks and a good amount of sweat equity! There is a lot of bougainvillea to cut and my garbage container is not very big.

I also updated the rose bushes, added fertilizer, some manure, mulch, and a recycled border from another part of the garden

The lone rose in bloom this weekend.

This week my local Home Depot was selling bushels of medallion onion seedlings. I couldn’t resist it and bought a bushel. I planted about 30 and gave the rest to other gardeners in my neighborhood. I've never planted onions before but am hoping for a good harvest in about 100 days (according to the instruction booklet).

Friday, December 05, 2008

Visitors from the Everglades.

Today I took this picture of three Ibises perched on my neighbor's roof. These birds are wading birds common to the Everglades National Park and the beach areas of Florida where they peck at the sand for tiny crabs and other crustaceans to eat. Suburbian Miami is not really their habitat but since humans continue to encroach into their home, they visit our cities more frequently. Good thing for us (we get the pleasure of their company), not so great for the birds (they are losing habitat more and more).

For those of you that aren't Miami natives--a bit of trivia. The Ibis is the mascot of the University of Miami Hurricanes. Why this bird for the 'Canes? Because lore has it that the Ibis is the last bird to leave for safety right before a hurricane hits!

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

The Three-Spotted Skipper caterpillar

I found this caterpillar from a Three-Spotted Skipper butterfly in one of my Canna. It's unusual to see these baby butterflies at this time of the year since they are more common during the summer months. Soon this Canna will be down to the stalk, a small sacrifice we gardeners make to keep butterflies in our gardens.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Bullfrogs at work

This is one of the many resident bullfrogs at the DragonFly garden.

These frogs are nocturnal critters, and great bug eaters. I took these pictures early in the morning while it was heading back to her day resting place.