Saturday, July 24, 2010

Is there a career change in the future?

Lately I find myself answering many gardening questions, most friends and family assume that that I am the ultimate authority on gardening (No pressure) The truths is that in all my years of trial and error in the garden, I have acquired some knowledge of what works what does not work in my zone, I am far from a guru on the subject. I consider myself more like a grasshopper learning something new everyday.

A co-worker asked me for help this week; she wants a nice garden in her front yard. The first thing she told me was “I am a killer of plants, I don’t know how to take care of them, I want garden that looks nice and is labor free” (is there such it thing?) she also told me that she is on a strict budget. This is quite a tall order but I couldn’t resist the challenge.

This is my canvas; the house has a western exposure.

The large coral rock will move to the inside courtyard to be the focal point. (The house will get a new coat of paint) I am suggesting stone border around the walkway and replacing the gravel with mulch. Where the coral rock is today I would plant a juniper or sago palm. Under the arch I would put a couple of thriyallis with some silver dragon liriope around it.

The inside courtyard is the main focus of the job, here I am thinking of dwarf ixoras around the wall, the large coral rock in the center and maybe a couple of alocasias around it, different types of liriope grasses and some lantanas for color. On both sides of the walkway I would put Mexican heathers. If the budget permits some garden art would be nice.

On this side I would put Mexican petunias against the wall, and a collection of the same plants from the other side.

For this spot under the tree I am planning on planting several bromeliads from my garden at no cost to the budget.

I am open for suggestions, and remember the three main factors.
1 – Plants must be drought tolerant.
2 - Easy to take care (there will be no gardener on duty)
3 – Economical plants that will fit a tight budget.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Questions and observations

Lately I am finding many of these worms all around the garden, especially under pots and rocks. They look like earthworms but are not the same. I’m wondering if they are good or bad for the garden. I’ll appreciate your comments.

I took a picture of this moth yesterday and I can’t find the name in any of my books. Any idea??
Is magic

This Plumeria flower fell from a tall tree and was held in mid air by one strand from a tiny spider’s web. Isn’t nature grand!!!

Saturday, July 10, 2010

The Rangoon Creeper

The Rangoon Creeper is by far the most exotic plant I have in my garden, the name alone is more appropriate for a horror movie than a plant. The creeper or “jasmin manzano” (apple jasmine) as is know in my native Cuba, brings back memories of my childhood and my grandmother’s garden in the country.

The flowers change three different colors in one day, when they open in the morning they are white, by mid afternoon they turned pink, and at sundown they are bright red. In the early evening the flowers omit an aroma of fresh picked apples that is intoxicating throughout the garden.

The creeper has a negative side; it is very aggressive especially during the summer months. Every couple of weeks I have to give it a trim, otherwise it would climb on top of every neighboring plant and take over the garden. The seeds are also a problem, they are about half an inch in length and when they drop to the ground they all grow into new plants,
The Rangoon Creeper as the name suggest comes from the Indian sub continent and I am sure they were brought to the Caribbean like so many other plants by the Europeans in the seventeen and eighteen hundreds.

No matter how labor intensive this plant is, it will always have a place in my garden, it keeps me connected to the past and the woman that is responsible for my gardening genes.

Working around the garden this morning.

I performed the biweekly trim to the creeper; I also cleaned all the water fountains and the birdbaths. (not my favor gardening shore)
I also prepared my herb corner for the fall planting (I know it’s a bit early, but is good to dream of cooler days)

The herbs in the picture, are the only survivors from this past winter garden, they are a sorry sight. As you can see I like to keep all my herbs in containers, they seem to do better and I have the flexibility to moving them around.

Tomorrow I am heading to the Mango Festival at Fairchild Tropical Garden, I’m sure I will be drinking lots of mango smoothies to keep cool.

Monday, July 05, 2010

Pictures from the garden

This morning we had the first sunny morning in over a week, a perfect time to take pictures in the garden.

Most of the flowers from the plumeria tree are on the ground, after three days of constant rain.

The combination of the purple allamanda and the white mandevilla gives color to this corner of the garden.

This female Monarch butterfly is taking a break after laying eggs allover my milkweed bushes.

Here is one of many Monarch caterpillars in the garden, devouring my milkweed bushes.

The Mexican flame vine has outgrown the trellis; I definite need a stronger structure to keep this aggressive vine happy (a project for cooler months).

Bougainvillea flowers at the right time of the morning when lighting is perfect for a picture.

Saturday, July 03, 2010

Happy 4th of July

I hope everyone in the US has a happy and safe 4th of July holiday, for us in South Florida is going to be a rainy weekend. Every year is tradition for our family to go to a park near the bay for a picnic and to see fireworks put on by the city of Miami. We hope this year is no exception

This morning I went to Home Depot to buy light bulbs and look what I came home with. I told myself that I was not going to buy any more plants during the summer months, especially annuals. This is the perfect time of the year to take a break from the garden, working outside is hassle and planting new plants in this hot summer sun is not ideal.

Last month I lost must of my annuals during my two-week vacation, and some of the garden beds were looking a little poor, so I did what all gardeners do, I forgot all the difficulties and got new plants (Mexican Heather, Pentas, Dahlberg Daisy and Coleuses) all strong summer annuals for my 10B zone.