"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, February 29, 2012

February Update on the Leap Day

Today is the leap day, thought it would be great to give an update of my February garden, just make this post a little special :)

There are so many colors and flowers bursting in my February South Florida garden due to the mild winter we had this year.

In the past, I only tried pink snapdragons, and this is my first time to grow yellow and white ones, and I find myself loving them so much in the winter garden, warm and bright.

This is the time for Golden shrimp plant(Pachystachys lutea) to bloom.

Giant Apostle's Iris (Neomarica Caerulea 'Regina') started blooming, much earlier than last year.

This Lobelia plant is one of the rare blue flowers I have ever seen.  They make the great trailing (spiller) plants for the container.

This Purple Verbenas is also great for container, either as the filler or the spiller.

The following two are the new plants I am trying this year, Cuphea llavea Vienco™.  I love them in a more compacted size, suitable for my small garden.

This year I am trying to grow Mona lavender (Plectranthus) in the ground instead of in the container.  It is in a partial shade area, and they seem quite happy there. Best of all, it doesn't require frequent watering compare to growing in the container.

These two Begonias had their blooming peak this month.

Begonia Odorata Var. Alba

Rex Begonia

Even caladium bulbs are shooting out of the ground here and there much earlier than last year.

Dipladenia pink just started blooming again after a hard trim I did late last year. Now they came back fresh and strong.  I expect they will be on their peak time in March.  

Dipladenia pink

Bulbine plants look the best when they are blooming in a mass. Bees just love them.

This Chorus Line daylily has not finished blooming yet, neither has Pandoras box daylily.


Wow, I found I am having quite some blues in my garden.  I guess that doesn't happen by accident considering blue if one of my favorite colors in the garden. Could not help snap some pictures of this blue butterfly flower every time I pass it by.

Blue Butterfly
Clerodendrum ugandense

February is also the month when many orchids bloom.  One of most impressive orchids bloomed this month is Epidendrum Orchid, or go with the common names such as Crucifix Orchid, Reed-stem Epidendrum, Sun Orchid,and etc.

 I bought one in April of 2010.  After the initial blooming, it only had a few flowers last year.  After I put them into the ground (this orchid is terrestrial type) in a more sunny location, this year they just bloomed like crazy.  If you are trying to find an easy growing orchid, this is the one that you should try!  They are also so easy to propagate by division of pseudobulbous stems or offsets, or by removing and planting those pups on old stems or flower spikes. From one 5 gallon container, now I have three clumps of this orchid spread in my garden.

You also can spot Epidendrum Orchid in the below flower bed.

Now the rest are different orchids blooming currently in my garden. I put them mostly in my front porch since my back porch has too many suns.  I really need more space for more orchids!

For those of you living in the cold weather area, hope you enjoyed the flowers in my Tropical garden, and remember Spring is coming!

Happy Gardening!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

No More Grass Within the Fence!

While this blog almost turns into a monthly update, my garden did not cease its progress at all.

My long time readers might know that my garden contains no more than a perimeter of stripes around the house and backyard.  After we moved in two and half years ago, I slowly converted those stripes into the flower beds one at a time.

The last stripe of grass left is a narrow one along the lake, about 30 feet long and 5 feet wide.  Here is how this area looked like back in 2010 (the complete length of the stripe is not shown in the picture).  Except some containers I put there, nothing else.

Since this area is between the lake and the house, I don't want to grow anything big and wild to block the view.  Also this is a full sun area, I know I need some plants that are drought tolerant and sun loving.  Since it is close to the pool, I want this flower bed not making mess, and low maintenance, and of course, need to look pretty!

Lots of ideas were bouncing around in my head when I took the night garden walks under the moonlight in the backyard, and eventually I pictured a flower bed more like a rock garden, but not as many rocks as the typical rock gardens. 

Last December, two small Christmas palm trees were planted to match an existing one at the other end (now shown below).  I think Christmas palms are relatively fast grower in my area, and hope they can provide a little shade to the plants around them, and the human being walking by.  Yet, when they grow taller, they would not block the lake view.  The right bottom corner of the below picture also shows an existing bed that I opened about two years ago.

I forgot to take pictures to record every step of this project, but it has lasted on and off for over a month.  Between kids activities at the weekends, we have been using those pocket of the time to do little by little.  And often, I have been doing lots of digging and planting at night!

Since the real boulders in big size are really expensive in South Florida (easily goes to $300 - $500 each), we bought three artificial ones from local nursery.  They are more less natural looking, the second best I can get compared to the real rocks.

The below was after removing all the grasses, and three artificial rocks were positioned, and some plants were placed at the back half of the stripe.  The big bromeliad in the center is one of the pups of Aechmea blanchetiana 'Orangeade'from my own garden. When it is exposed to the full sun, it shows more intense orange color.

As matter of the fact, most of plants I used here came from my own garden, I only  bought some bush daisies (Euryops) and one full sun bromeliad (left to Aechmea blanchetiana).

After all the plants were placed, I used the black plastic garden edging to  divide the stripe into front and back two sections length wise. To create a more natural look, the edging was put in a wavy lines. Since the plan was to put the river stones in the front half of the bed to match the other part of the backyard, I put the pine bark mulches first to the back half of the bed, so the mulch won't make mess on the river stones.

Finally, last night I finished the whole project! 

Here is the whole view of this finished flower bed. I took this picture early this morning. I think it connected the existing bed at the right quite well.

At the far left end, I created a pathway to echo the other end, and open the view to the widest area of the water. I also bought a solar pagoda with candle.  I love its adding a little bit Asian touch into my garden, and it makes this view more peaceful. It also creates a pretty combo with flax lily and bush daisy.  Although I might have to move bush daisy behind the flax lily when it grows taller.   Bush daisy has been performing really well in my other full sun flower bed without much care, besides that, the cheerful yellow can add more color and life into this flower bed.  Three bush daisies are spread in this bed.

Here is the view looking the other end of this stripe. The very far end is the more matured Christmas Palm.

The following are the closer views of different sections of the bed. Agaves, bromeliads, bulbines, crown of thorn, variegated Devil's backbone (Euphorbia tithymaloides)and cactus are the major varieties I used.

Can you see the black circle in the stone area of the above picture?  That is a plastic pot I buried under there.  I will use it to plug in another pot for a  clean and quick planting.

The grass looking plants around the palm base in the above picture is the bulbine plants.  They will fill in pretty quickly once established. This is another favorite plant of mine. I wrote a post about this little sweet plant here.

Can you see my pot-in-pot usage in front of the above two boulders?  I can use this quickly switching in and out the seasonal flowers to give this bed a little bit of season changes.

The variegated Devil's backbone lost all leaves due to the move stress and a couple of cold nights after the move.  They should be able to recover soon.  Its variegated leaves and the zig-zag stems really add some interests into the garden.  Its leaf color even turns into  pink/reddish during the winter.  Another easy and nice looking full sun plant, also extremely easy to propagate!

This project is so far my most satisfied one, and it could also be my last biggest project!

From now on, I have no more land to open, and no more grass to remove! However, I am sure I will still be busy around the garden. After all, the gardening is all about changing, right?

Monday, February 13, 2012

More Day Lilies Blooming and a Long Over-due Project

Two more daylilies are blooming in the garden.  They were planted at the end of last October as bare root fans, which I ordered from smokeysdaylilygardens.com.


(Evergreen, early-mid, rebloomer, 4" flower, 19" scape height, white/cream, Ruffled, fragrant, recurved)


(Evergreen, early, rebloomer, 3.5" flower, 20" scape height, pink/rose, Ruffled, extended bloomer, very fragrant)

I wish these daylilies can thrive in my garden for many years coming!

Now here is an over-due update of a loooong over-due garden project.  (Can you hear the word "procrastination" whispering in the air?)

In August 2010 August, we started building a path on the west side of house and back yard to replace a muddy grass area.  You can see how it looked then here.  It was just a path with grasses removed, and layered with weed block clothes, plus the pea sized gravels.

Later, we added the step stones (you can see the picture in this post). We were then looking for bigger sized stones to lay on the top of pea gravels to level with stepping stones to finish the job, but never got time to do so.

During the recent Christmas holidays, DH and I had a couple of weeks off the work.  We finally found a local landscape place had the river stones for sale,  just what we were looking for!  After dumping 40+ bags of river stones, now the path finally had a finished look.

This is the portion of the path at the west side of the house, looking towards the South (backyard).

Now looking from the back yard towards the North (front of the house) of the same path.

Zooming out more in the same direction (towards North).  The majority part of the path shown in the picture now is in the backyard, west flower bed.

Now turn around to look the other direction (towards further south, lake side) of the west side. The portion with four stepping stones were just created this past Christmas by removing the grass there.  Now the whole west side along the house includes only flower beds and stone path, no grass at all. 

I am really enjoying the soothing and tranquil feeling of this new river stone path gives.

On the east side of the back yard, there was a short path leading to the fence door going out of the backyard.  Since I often need to hauling the soil to the back yard for planting, and river stone path won't be easy for a pulling card to go through, we turned this pathway to a brick paved path.  Now I can easily transport the soil using my little pulling cart.

Although it is not a perfect job, we were proud to have this path paved all by ourselves considering this was our first time ever to try this.

With the above project finished, now within the fence, we only have last strip of grasses left, which is along the lake side (see below).

Two small Christmas palms were added last December.  Between two palms, the small tree in the container is "Michelia champaca", which should produce very fragrant yellow flowers. Now I have already put it under the ground outside of the fence  since the above picture was taken, and I cannot wait for it bloom for the first time!

Removing this last piece of grasses, and converting it to another planting area is in progress, I will post it once it is finished. One hint, this area will be involving some rocks.

Last, let me use this full opened hot pink gerbera daisy wish you all a very happy Valentine's Day!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...