Monday, March 26, 2012

Getting Ready For SPRING

Sometimes, when you least expect it, The Garden suddenly, and without any warning, offers us a glimpse of just how beautiful Spring can be...

Over the last couple of weeks, I have taken about 12 hours to get all 17 flower beds ready for this Season of Possibilities...this time of amazing colors and wonderful fragrances. Dirt, sweat, blisters, and the task of removing pesky stickers from hands...all great stuff, and all part of the Spring Clean for the May Queen. But, it is so worth it !!

I still have to redesign the huge flower bed on the side of the house that is next to the Blue House...will be combining several smaller beds to make one complex one...and want it to be unique, and a welcoming place of peace to all who enter its boughs. I may even get a couple more pieces of "yard art" to add to its new look.

But that will be a PROJECT, a JOURNEY...not something to rush into and "get done"...but to ponder and create and revel in as it takes it develops its new Life. It will a joyful experience, and one that will bring a new dimension to The Garden, as a whole. 

As I cleaned out the flower beds and weeded the little bit of weeds that were there...then, raking the beds and yard, just to add to the began to rain.

I realized at that very moment that THIS...the flower beds and The my CHURCH...along with the cats, dogs and Family, of course. And also at that very moment, I could have sworn I heard The Universe sigh.


Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Time to Get Ready for Spring 2012 !!

Well, y'all, it's been quite a stretch between my last entry and this one...
guess I let Fall and Winter take hold and just gave my Garden time to just BE...

But, now that the possibility of a hard freeze here in Orlando is gone, it is time to bring the GARDEN BACK TO LIFE !!

Cut back all of the dead bits...this tells the plant that it's OK to start making new growth.

Rake the flower beds, getting the old mulch and dead leaves and such out of the growing space.

Take a good, long LOOK at your Garden...see what you want to keep the same.
And think about changing it up a bit... 
Add some new "yard art".
Get some new, fresh mulch and spruce it up.
See what you have that has survived the Winter, and where you might have some empty spots that need filling.
Now is the time to plant SEEDS...
Time to consider COLOR.

If you don't have the funds right now, think about transplanting some of the plants you already have.
This gives your Garden a new look, freshens it up, and let's you see those places that might need more color...less color...or something NEW and different.

It is also time to begin the feeding process...
Slow release plant/flower food is the easiest to use, and is the 
most economical, since you only apply it every few months.

Get off that couch...get from behind that computer...
and get your hands dirty !!

Next time, I will talk about how you can create your own 
Until then,



Thursday, July 28, 2011

It's HOT outside!!

Well, y'all, it seems as though we went straight into the heat and humidity of Summer without even a nod at Spring...
And if your gardens are anything like mine, they do NOT like it. It's been a real struggle to keep things blooming, producing, growing and just simply LIVING.

As a careful and close observer of my Garden inhabitants, it seems to me as though they are reacting to this weather as if something is "missing" from their Life-cycles...
Whatever they derive, and need, from the milder weather of Spring, they are developing...or, in some cases, NOT if that certain "something", now gone from the environment, is truly an ESSENTIAL.

And while I have tried everything under the Sun...yes, pun make up for whatever that critical element IS, I have come to the conclusion that, for now, all I CAN do is feed and water when needed... 

And yes, there is something very important to REMEMBER here...

I know that it is very tempting to load up your struggling plants with more nutrients...after all, they seem so sad...but the big risk with this "help" is burning the roots and/or bulbs.  Right now, they may be wilty and not much to look at, but most stuff will come back next Spring, or Growing Season. If you give them too much fertilizer, you take the chance of permanently damaging the root ball or the bulb, which can not only kill the entire plant, it will prevent regrowth or blooming.
So, go easy on the nutrients, especially on the weaker guys...

Rain Gauge    
As for WATER...I know it is hard to just watch the Garden as it struggles to be in its full glory, but over-watering results in root rot, fungus in the soil, mold and mildew on bulbs and root balls, and diseases such as Brown Spot. So, resist the temptation to "Save the Garden"...only water when your plants really NEED it. Use some kind of "water gauge" or "rain gauge" to keep track of levels around plants. If you don't have one, just stick your index..."pointer"...finger down into the soil...if the dirt is damp up to the second knuckle, then don't water.
Additionally, keep up with the weeding and deadheading and such...every little bit of regular maintenance helps the overall condition of the Garden.

I know, I's hard to do pretty much nothing but watch...
But know that, if you take CARE of your plants and flowers, and try not to kill them with kindness, chances are that NEXT SPRING, or Growing Season, your patience and diligence will be rewarded with stronger and healthier beauties.

As always, if you have any concerns or questions, please EMAIL me at:


Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Easter Lilies

Beauty that delights the eye...fragrance that pleases the nose...purity and perfection that satisfy the Soul...I give you the Easter Lily...a FLOWER...and BULB...that anyone can grow.

Since Easter Lilies are dormant during the hot summer months when it takes extra effort simply to move about, they are ideal for Central Florida(Growing Zone 9). They withstand the occasional frosts, have almost no pests or diseases, multiply so rapidly that they more than pay for themselves, and need to be dug and moved about only every three years.
One of the easiest flowers to grow...the Bermuda Easter Lily...Lilium longiflorum a springtime joy. Bulblets an inch across will bloom, with the number of blooms increasing as the bulb grows larger. The average number of blooms for a mature bulb runs from 11 to 15, with 20 or more not unusual, held aloft on thick, strong stalks.
Set out the bulbs any time from mid-August to late October, about 2 feet apart, sun or shade. Since the soil of Central Florida is mostly sand, you need not prepare the entire garden space. Dig a hole about 8 inches square and 8 inches deep, drop in a big handful of fertilizer, mix it with the soil and set the bulb with its top 4 to 6 inches below the surface of the ground. Then leave them alone for three years.
Spacing them widely apart allows you to care for them with a hoe, without having to kneel or stoop. Cultivate only enough to keep down weeds. Let the weeds lie and hoe them into the soil the next time you cultivate.
When the plants are about 6 inches high, mulch with leaves, vegetable trimmings or shrub clippings. This keeps down weeds, helps to keep the ground cool, slows up evaporation of moisture and adds needed nutrients to the soil.
Any of these fertilizers gives good results: ordinary lawn or garden fertilizer, special azalea fertilizer, or a 4.8.6 formula. Don’t bother measuring...ust scatter by hand around the plants. Make sure to wash off with a hose any fertilizer which spills on the foliage. You don’t have to hoe it into the soil.

Give five applications of fertilizer: when plants are 6 inches high...when they are 1 foot high...when buds begin to show...when buds turn down...and after blooming in order to nourish the bulb for the next season. Water at least twice a week, giving enough to reach the roots, and continuing for a month after blooming. After the last application of fertilizer is made, all you need to do is keep out the weeds. When stems are dry and brittle. grasp them with a twisting motion and they will come away easily from the bulb.
When cutting blooms, leave 6 or 8 inches of stalk to feed the bulb. Cut at any time which is convenient for you; there is no hocus-pocus about time of day or wetness or dryness.
Dig your bulbs in August or September only when they become too crowded to care for easily. You can dig them more often but it isn’t necessary. The longer a lily bulb is left out of the ground, the more it deteriorates, eventually crumbling to powder. So reset them within a day or so and don’t expose them to the sun for more than a few minutes at a time. Then forget them until they come up sometime in November.
The only insects that chew on lilies are grasshoppers. To combat these, dust or spray with a natural pesticide made for flowering plants The only disease to contend with is MOSAIC. Signs of this are yellowed, stunted plants, flattened crowns, blasted buds and dappled white spots on the leaves. Dig out the infected plant immediately and burn it. As mosaic is said to be a virus in the soil, don’t set other bulbs in that location.
So, there you go: few set rules, no special fertilizers, no difficult technical care. They can be set at different depths, left alone for long periods of time and they multiply like bunnies. They are so well suited to this Growing Zone(9), that every garden in Central Florida should have a bed, or two, of them.

**Next on our Adventure...AZALEAS

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Bulbs, continued...HYACINTH

Just the mention of this wonderful bloom conjures up memories of the most amazing favorite floral scent since I was a little kid. I used to wear Hyacinth Oil as my "cologne", until it became almost impossible to find it...but, alas, I wander a bit...

Over the years, I have often considered growing my own Hyacinth, but when Spring...primarily Easter...rolled around, I just never got around to getting one for my Garden. Well, this Easter Season, I saw the most delightful PURPLE Hyacinth in our local supermarket, and decided that I would explore this new and wondrous addition to our Botanical Kingdom. The photos in this Blog are of our Hyacinth.

But, even though BULBS, on the whole, are easy to grow and maintain, Hyacinth seems to be a bit of a Garden Diva. And the fact that here, in the Orlando area, we have gone from Winter right into the sweltering heat of "Summer" real SPRING to speak of...has made gardening in general...more sensitive plants specifically.... more of a challenge that it should have been. So, here I am...more watering without drowning the roots or causing root rot....misting when necessary...deadheading and clipping off dead leaves and such...doing ANYTHING to make growing and thriving in our Garden a good and healthy endeavor.
Did I mention that my beloved Hyacinth does NOT love intense heat...even the morning Sun is toastier than it should be in Spring...or a lack of rain and humidity? Growing our Hyacinth has become challenging, to say the very least, but I think we are doing OK. The blooms have been gone for a few weeks now, but I have new greenery coming up from the soil. Alas, Time will only tell...

For those of you thinking about giving the delightful Hyacinth a try, here are some excellent growing instructions..straight forward and easy to follow.
Just THINK about that wonderful fragrance, and go for it!

Planting Instructions...HYACINTH

The next BULB we will explore...LILIES.
Until then....


Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Bulbs, Continued...GLADIOLUS

Have you ever walked into the grocery store, and right there, near the front of the store...or sometimes at the checkout line...are the bouquets of cut flowers for sale? Do you remember how spectacular the bunches of GLADIOLUS were, with their dramatic colors and exotic cascade of blooms? Ever see one in the darkest of purples? Or a crimson red? Yellow with an orange center? Simply awesome...

Ah, yes...the majestic GLADIOLUS...the grace and color are always brilliant.
It would be easy to think that such a dynamic flower would be difficult to grow, but in all honesty, they are remarkably easy. What is even  more amazing, they seem to do really well here in Central Florida. Heat and sandy soil do not hinder great color and strong plants.
When I planted mine, though, I DID put a bit of potting soil down in the hole for the "corm", or bulb" before dropping it in. On the more mysterious side of Gardening, I HAVE had a couple of GLADS pop up in places I NEVER planted them, and in straight sandy soil...go figure.
I must say, though, their surprise appearance does tend to stir a SENSE of the MAGICAL..."sigh".

Here is a great web site for growing GLADIOLUS...take a few minutes and get inspired to grow these beautiful blooms.
This site looks at growing GLADS in the Garden and in CONTAINERS:

Once you realize that, with minimal work and care, this great flower can be added to the beauty you have begun to surround yourself with, you will want to plop a couple of corms...bulbs... into little spots all over your Garden, but in places where you will regularly tend to the plants that are already there. For a bit of magic, try to "forget" where you plant them. Then, when their next growing season comes around, and they break through the surface...their long stems and grand blossoms gracing your will find a renewed Sense of Wonder.

The next BULB to fall in love with...LILIES.


Monday, May 2, 2011

Ah, yes...BULBS

Amaryllis...Gladiolus...Lilies...Tulips...Hyacinth...and countless other glorious Flowers...all come from BULBS.
And nothing could be easier to grow, manage and cultivate than those underground wonders.
I will be talking to you about them in several "chapters", to give each its own spotlight.

I want to start with AMARYLLIS, not because they begin with the letter A, but because they were the first flowers from bulbs that I grew in my Garden.
Traditionally, they are associated with Christmas and the Holiday Season, I suppose that is because they are usually forced(more on this later) to bloom at that time, to keep with the red and green color scheme. But that is not the only time of year they bloom, or can bloom. My Garden is graced with them all year long, although they do seem to be more prolific in early Spring.
And they can be found in a variety of color, not just the more common bright and with red highlights...even some that are more of a salmon hue. I have the red and red and white "candy cane" colors, but will be looking to expand my color palette later this Summer.

Here is a great LINK for the growing and care of AMARYLLIS as a CONTAINER flower:

And here is a LINK for the cultivation of AMARYLLIS in your Garden:

I must say, I do love my AMARYLLIS, even when it is not in bloom...when in a fairly large group, the greenery is brilliant.
And as always, if the LINKS I provided don't answer YOUR questions, EMAIL me with your query and I'll get an answer to you as soon as I can...

Next, I will lovingly look at the magnificent GLADIOLUS...