"Gardening is about enjoying the smell of things growing in the soil, getting dirty without feeling guilty, and generally taking the time to soak up a little peace and serenity. " ~Lindley Karstens

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

The Hot, the Loud and the Proud --- My First Cattleya Bloom!

When I told Noel at A Plantfantic in Hawaii that I MIGHT be able to come up something for his month-end meme "The Hot, the Loud and the Proud".  I was really not certain because I didn't know what I could present to fit this theme.

This is my very first cattleya ever.  When I bought this cattleya (Tag description: Sophrolaeliocattleya Jewel Box 'Scheherazade' AM/AOS) two months ago, it already had two flower buds.  I have been anxiously waiting for its blooming since then. When it finally started unfurling last week, I told myself, this is just a perfect bloom for Noel's theme!

I know, I know, all you Orchid Collectors out there right now might be laughing at my excitment toward this midium sized, single colored cattleya bloom, and I am sure you have seen too many far more maginicent flowers than this one. Hold on your laugh please! Did I say this is my VERY FIRST cattleya? So allow me to be proud of "my first" for a while here... :)

I had no idea what color of the bloom will be when I purchased it (you think I should know it by that long name on the tag?  Hmmm...), so speculating the color is part of my waiting anxiety.  I admit I was secretely hoping it will be one of those pink-purple-white bi-color blooms that Susan showed in her "Orchid Obsession" post.  But when this intense red, velvet textured bloom showed up in groups (four flowers emerged from each bud), I am not disappointed at all! 

So, here is "The Hot, the Loud and the Proud", my very first cattleya bloom after two-month of long waiting!

Monday, March 29, 2010

What is Happening to My Double Delight Rose?

My Double Delight Hybrid Tea Rose has been doing great since I got it in Feburary.  However, this recent week I noticed something is different ...

Here are 6 pictures showing the order in which the very first bloom unfolded.

First row from left to right: Day1 to Day3.  Second row from left to right:  Day 4 to Day 6. You can see the color changes from creamy-white, to red and then to crimson.  The color becomes deeper and deeper as the days progress.

The same cycle of color changing was also observed for the several blooms followed.

A new bloom started opening at the end of last week.  I happened taking the picture from the bud stage again.  See what is happening that is different.

Day1:  It was a rainy day.  It starts as a beautiful bud that already had intense red on the edge.

Day2:  unfolding... the outer pedals became pink.

Day3: The color was almost same as the first boom at its 3rd day.

Day 4: Changing just as expected...  Again, reflecting the similar color as the first bloom at its 4th day.  Expecting more red, or crimson shows up next day.

Day 5:  What is happening?! Where did those red go?  Whatever it is, I am LOVING this color!!!   Let's see what this will lead to...

Day 6 (today):  Go back to the normal cycle again!

Anybody knows what is happening to my Double Delight Rose on day 5? Does the recent frequent rain have some effect to it?  Any interpretion is welcome, either an educational guess or a scientific explaination!

This Double Delight Tea Rose is really giving me lots of joy!

Friday, March 26, 2010

Little Sweet Treasure -- Bulbine Frutescens

I first came to know (and see) Bulbine Frutescens was when my friend at work brought me more than a dozen of small clumps of this plant for my new garden last year.  To be honest, I was not impressed at that time since all I saw was green smashed (due to the transportation) narrow fleshy leaves.  No showy flowers, and no pretty foliages...  

Only after a couple of months later, I started to appreciate this plant. 

I planted them in various locations of the garden to fill the blanks of my new flower beds.  The leaves perked up quickly, and then those up to 20" tall flower spikes rise above the foliage one after another.  The flower is orange with yellow stamens.  Since then,  I have been dividing them and spreading them in my garden to make some nice combination with the environment and the plants surround.

(Flower spike starts forming...)
They seem don't care Florida's hot and humid weather at all, and the January Freeze we experienced in Florida did not do any harm to them either! Heat tolerlant, drought tolerlant, cold hardy, and pretty flowers... got to love that! If that's not enough, bulbine also contains the same glycoprotiens that ease burns, rashes and itches like Aloe (I think that is why it is also called as Jelly Burn Plant ).   Bulbine frutescens is native to desert grasslands in South Africa. The sap in the leaves has been used for healing in South Africa since old times.

Obviousely bees love them too!

Among the various locations I tried, they love the full sun and partial sun places the best.  If planted in shady place, they will just keep their green leaves, but won't be able to bloom prolifically.  
  I planted several clumps in front yard rock garden...


and front door entry way...

and the new flower bed with agaves... 

and between the rose bushes...
(love the combination of bulbine and the diamond frost!)
and under the palm tree...

Some might argue that I overused this plant, well, this gardener has the tendency to overuse the plant she loves!

I recommend dividing the clumps when they become crowded, or if you just simply want more of this plant, just like what I did when I needed more for my new flower bed.  I divided one single big clump into eight small ones!  Very quickly, each small clump will form an open rosette of leaves again.  And, they are very easy to divide since they have very shallow roots.

So, if you are looking for a heat/drought tolerant, cold-hardy, low maintainance, AND pretty ground cover, Bulbine Frutescens could be your answer!

By no mistake, Bulbine Frutescens has converted themselves from ugly ducklings to the little sweet treasure plant for me!

Have a relaxing weekend in or out of the garden!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

My March Favorites -- 2010

It is always hard for gardeners to pick their favorites... I am no exception!  When I was looking through my photo collection taken this month, I have to say I love each and every one of them!

If I have to choose... 
After a couple of months' rest, this golden shrimp plant (camaron amarillo) started blooming prolifically again.  I love those little white flowers peeking through the yellow bracts.

A big salute to this Jatropha tree for it stood the cold weather for me and producing these cheerful red flowers non-stopping the whole winter!

Oh, this golden yellow double layer Kalanchoe (长寿花) is really my favorite among the favorites!  Its lovely color and bloom reminds me of something that a bride may hold in her wedding, only if it is larger :)  I have purchased this for two weeks, and the blossoms are still looking like new. 

This combination of Diamond Frost and Orange Marmalade Crossandra in a container was toasted in January freeze, and they are recovering quite nicely.
Another one of my favorite among the favorites!  (Am I allowed to say this twice??)  This dipladenia pink (红蝉花/双腺藤/飘香藤) is a reliable non-stopping bloomer in my garden.  I love to see its color changes from deep pink (almost red) on buds to the light pink of fully opened flower.  The foliages are always shiny dark green.

 I took this Petunia pictre in a rainy day.  Aren't they pretty with those dark pink veins and dotted rain drops?
I love white bloomings although I don't have too many of them in my garden.  This voila looks so delicate, but they are surprisingly tough and productive.  The plant originally came in a little six inch pot.  After I planted it in the ground, it has spread to one foot acorss, and has been blooming like crazy.  I have been collecting the seeds from it, so that next fall I can have a lot more of these lovely white flowers in my garden. 

This Inca Lily (Alstroemeria) has been blooming its heart out! I should try to take some as cutting flowers to put in a vase so that I can enjoy its beauty even I am not in the garden. Not sure how it will react when Florida's weather heats up though... I may plant it into a shady place after it is done blooming.

Last but certainly not the least, two variety of lettuce that have been filling my tiny veggie garden since the fall.  Don't they look just like flowers?

LECHGA Royal Oakleaf (Heat Resistant)
LECHGA Four Seasons (Beautiful & Delicious)

This post is to join Susan at "Simply Susan" for this month's favorites.  Please visit her at her site for her March favorites.

I will also use this as my entry to the Blooming Friday. For other bloomings all over the world, please check out Katrarina's site at http://rosorochris.blogspot.com/.

Have a nice weekend!

Monday, March 22, 2010

A New Look for My Garden Corner

One of a few first garden projects I finished after moving to my current house last summer is this southeast corner of my backyard.  It gets 6-10 hours full sun depending on the seasons.   This is how it looked like back in August last year.

We removed one of the hedge bushes at the end, so that the lake view is more visible even looking from inside the house.  

Since this corner is located on a lower point of the garden, the water easily gets accumulated there.  I lost a few plants in this flower bed, such as Agapathus and two pineapples.  I think the combination of south florida's full sun and the heavy rain during the raining season are major factors to blame.   The flower bed created then was using those black rubber borders.   If I want to raise this flower bed to mitigate the flood risk, the rubber border obviously can not do the job.

Since I already used the brick to build the border for the west side flowerbed, I decided to use the same material for this corner to echo the west side.

Two weekends ago, I asked my husband to help me to remove one more hedge bush next to that flower bed.  I then used that space to plant a Jatropha tree, which has been growing in a big container since it was brought home from my friend's back yard. 

After the border was built with two layers of bricks, I dumped more top and compost soils into it to raise the level of the bed.

Some purple queens were moved from other place to the bottom of the Jatropha tree (left side of the flower bed) as the ground cover.  Allamanda and one Mounding Lantana were moved to back of the bed so that I can plant some low growing plants in front of them. 

Oh, the right corner is a hummingbird stake that I put there as the decoration.  Hope someday my garden can attract true humming birds as visitors.


Since this is a full sun area, I am choosing the plants that require the full sun and more drought tolerant. 

Three different types of Agaves are planted in this flower bed.
Agave desmettiana 'Variegata'

This Agave desmettiana 'Variegata' got the frost bites during Januray freeze.  You can see those lower leaves are all clipped half way for that reason.  I am amazed how fast they have been recovering!  There are at least half dozen pups popping up around the mother plant as well!

Agave Angustifolia Variegata (Variegated Caribbean Agave )

This Agave Angustifolia Variegata (Variegated Caribbean Agave ) is not a fast grower as Agave desmettiana 'Variegata', but I see it is picking up the speed with the weather warming up.  There is no pups seen for this agave yet.

Agave lophantha hybrid (with pup shown)

This Agave lophantha hybrid has been in a container for a while.  When I took it out, I found it had one pup developed already.  A sweet surprise for me...

Existing Bulbine plants are divided into more portions to fill in the blanks between the agaves. 

I love how those yellow-orange flower spikes waving among the agave leaves. As matter of fact, I love this bulbine plant so much, and I think it deserves a post by its own. So more about this plant in a later post... 

Thursday, March 18, 2010

My Awaken Garden

With weather's warming up, my semi-dormant garden is finally awaken!  There are quite some plants in blooming right now.  I will only show you a few of them today so that I don't bore you with a long post :)

Various Pentas Lanceolata (繁星花) are very attractive to butterflies.  They got severe frost bites during the unsual freeze weather we experienced in January. Now they all recovered quite well.  Wish the butterflies can get the messages and come to visit them very soon.

Weeping (trailing) lantana lavender is nicely trailing down from the container.  I also have the yellow color of this type in my garden, but it has not started blooming yet.
 Lantana camara (马缨丹) is also recovering from the frost bites and starting their blooming season.  This is another butterfiles' favorite.   I love the fact that its flower head shows different colors of red, yellow, organge and purple.

Geraniums (Pelargonium x hortorum, 洋葵/天竺葵) are proven to be cold-hardy in my south florida garden.  They went through the freeze weather just fine.  Only the leaves got some dark purple marks, but it never stopped blooming.  I love the spetacular display of the large flower clusters (across 4 to 5 inches) that rise above the leaves one after another.  They really added lots of brightness to my garden.  I think they are perfect border flowers.


This week there are two kinds of roses blooming: Rosa 'Perfume Delight' and Queen Elizabeth Grandiflora.  
Rosa 'Perfume Delight'

Queen Elizabeth Grandiflora (3/16/2010)
Queen Elizabeth Grandiflora (same flower two days later on 3/18/2010)

They are not located in my "Rose Corner". Since these were the very first two rose bushes I planted in my garden, I did what everybook told me to do: planted in a full sun area. I soon realized that south florida "full sun" in the summer is just too much, even for "sun-loving" roses! In the summer, the flower would soon wilt right after opening the bud, and the edge of the flower would be scorched. 

They are definitely more beautiful and hold much longer in this cool early spring (around 60 to 70 Fahrenheit) of Florida.  Check the change of the same Queen Elizabeth Grandiflora flower in two days range above.

 I hope my newly planted six rose bushes will find the "Rose Corner" a happier place to live in the summer since they do get several hours of afternoon shade.

That is all for today.   Have a relaxing weekend!

I will use this as my second entry to the Blooming Friday. For other bloomings all over the world, please check out Katrarina's site at http://rosorochris.blogspot.com/.
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