Dec 31, 2011

Happy New Year!

It's the last day of 2011.....To be honest, my garden has spent most of this year in a mess! I started the pond  last February, so I have mounds of dirt just about everywhere you look :(  Policy is:   I can not start a new project until the last one is finished.....which leaves me tormented with dreams of my butterfly balcony, the bunny trail, and new raised veggies plots...but alas...I must finish the pond first! The good news..I'm almost there! So I have great expectations for the garden in 2012...As I walked through the garden this last day of 2011....I must admit even amongst the mess and neglect..the flowers just keep giving...

         Even the birdseed is blooming!

     My Mystery Rose (OGR shrub)

       Bermuda Mystery Rose: Kathleen         
New Dawn

It's been a good year...with the larger pond finally getting started, my oldest graduated from High School, the pool we've been waiting for 9 yrs...was put in....and even with the economy being tough....this family has weathered the storm very well.....modification in life is easy for me.....I always said you can plop me down anywhere and I will make it a needs are small and my desires are pretty simple..Just like this Queen:
          A tranquil place to raise my kids.......                                             
        A little food on the table........                                        

          And I emerge one happy bee...uhhh. butterfly :)                                       

So as the year ends...I must Thank my Jesus for every little thing I have, and the Beautiful World he has placed me in to enjoy!

       First year with Flowers on the DH's Camellia,
     Firecracker Bush
      The towering Butterfly weed with butterfly!
    My favorite Lavender Pentas

 And my faithful morning hello from the spiderwort

I find no greater peace than when I step into the garden alone with God and just converse! May your New Year be happy, full of contentment and prosperity! and Don't forget to spread some seed.......... janine

Dec 21, 2011

For the love of a Butterfly

Can you believe that at 12:30 AM tomorrow it will be officially Winter....CRAZY....I mean it reached 80 degrees today...Well here's hoping for a mild winter for 2012! I've been working on my butterfly garden recently....and I got a huge surprise over the weekend! As I tried to identify tiny lil sulfers darting everywhere..I caught from the corner of my eye...a new butterfly, flying erradically around the coral Porterweed .(stachytarpheta mutabilis)..I knew instanty what it was... A Zebra Longwing! 

Wow...the first one to visit this garden in the entire 10 years I've been here....It's not that I don't give them a host plant..I do, but I just haven't had one until this day!!!  Passion vine is the host plant of the Florida state butterfly, the Zebra Longwing. That surprise reminded me of one of my favorite Garden/Christmas memories.....Years ago, in my first garden about this same time of the year...there was going to be a freeze and I noticed some eggs on the new growth of the vine. I broke it off and brought it inside, That's when the genius in me came out....I had a baby at home at that time, so I stuck the sprig in a very well watered Diaper....yep that's right a disposable diaper, cut some small slits water it up....and slipped those sprigs right in...worked like a charm...told ya...genius!!!!! Never even had to water it again!  We moved them into a hamster habitrail and kept them well suplied with food. It was our first experience in watching all stages close up and personal in the comfort of our home. My five year old son, Nick, loved it, we watched everyday as they first hatched, then grew, then each, one by one turned into a Chrysalis and then finally, they all reapeared as beautiful black and yellow butterflies. 

We released them on a moderately chilly night that December, amongst the Christmas lights in the shrubs in front of our kitchen window. My son took each out so carefully and let them go. They stayed around for a little while over the next couple days or so, we would keep count each time we saw “one of our brew”. It was a great experience and a wonderful memory! 
    Speaking of Butterflies..this is my advise..... If you want butterflies in your garden, first you must determine the butterflies native to your area and then you must plant their host plants. So many people try to lure them in with flowers, which works temperarily, but to keep them, give them what their babies need...FOOD. 

And never ever use pesticides. If you have a plant or flower that is a bug magnet, get rid of it or move it to another part of the garden where the butterflies do not visit. I find that if I give nature time, it takes care of itself. Just when I think the thrips or aphids are going to get the best of the roses in the garden, the first rains appear or the ladybugs come and keep them in check. My garden is full of pests actually, that is part of the great allure for the kids...they just love the creepy crawlies.  As it turns out, it is very seldom that I have to resort to any sort of pesticide. We do rid ourselves of the ant mounds though, and when the occasional VERY large bannana spider shows up,  I ask my husband kindly to remove it from the garden. How he does it is up to him, as long as it goes. I hand pick the hornworm catpillars that devour my Pentas. Even though they turn into Sphinx moths, they will strip a plant in a single night. The Pentas (pentas lanceolata) are the cream of the crop for my Butterfly gardening, they must be protected though if there is a freeze. I believe if  I was limited to one host plant and one flowering nectar source for butterfly gardening, I could be succesful in Central Florida with just Passion Vine, and lavender Pentas.  

    As I get refocused on my butterfly gardening..I will be researching some new host plants and nectar sources for my area of central Florida...But I will surely include my Pentas...Three of which I have already picked up, along with a new butterfly weed, and some tri-color lantana! (lantata camera).... Yea!'s already getting exciting and I haven't planted a thing yet! Please stay tuned in...My goal is to lure some more Zebra Longwings in too, now that I know they will come here! ......heck, maybe she laid eggs over the weekend....hmmmm, I may have to dig out a flashlight right now and go check for some cute lil black and white cats out there! Please leave me a comment and share with me what flowers you plant to bring butterflies into your garden...or what suggestions you may have for my Fl zone 9 garden...

   Well in a few hours winter will have arrived....and we are still expecting 80 again tomorrow...but it's okay! This is a great time of the year.....! I wish each and every one of you a most joyous holiday season! God Bless and spread some seed ;).....  Janine

Dec 14, 2011

You never know where you may find a friend :)

I got to share my garden with a new friend today! I listed a very nicely priced Child's toy that was gathering dust in my daughter's room on Craigslist in hopes that a little girl may get a really "big" surprise on Christmas morning.  Just after posting it....for a very nice price...ummm..did I mention that? Well I rechecked to see what others may be listing this item for, and needless to say I was underpriced....but that's not the point :) I came across a posting from a Mother looking for this item for her girls for Christmas....I quickly threw her an email and hoped she would contact me before anyone else, since it had already posted...To be honest..I would have just called her, had I reviewed the site to begin with...None the less, she called this morning and her and the family came out this afternoon! I had one text just a few minutes before her, and a bunch after.... but I just knew I needed to call this one back first...As it turned out...I met a lovely family, relocated to our county from Fort Lauderdale... The Mom was from Columbia and the Dad from Chile, they had 4 beautiful children, so polite and sweet....I couldn't have asked for a better home for the item :)

 As we talked, and talked, and the husbands talked and talked...we ended up out back, introducing the Chickens, the Koi and the birds to the kids....I would apologize for the mess, and she would just keep saying how it was perfect just the way it being at home where she was raised....It's funny how we see all our own flaws, but others see things about us so differently!
 She seemed like just a beautiful person inside and out...and from such different parts of the world...we had so much in common.....the love of nature, the animals, the kids....They will be looking for a house out this way....I hope God leads them over here closer...would love to have them in the neighborhood... My daughter took their little girl on a tour of the yard as we talked..she picked flowers the whole way...and then Thanked my daughter, Elly, for letting her pick the pretty flowers in her yard..

All the time spent, is rewarded in moments just like that! There is nothing more beautiful than children feeding the fish for the first time, or a little girl clutching a fist full of flowers......... Enjoy whatever garden space you's like a universal language that everyone finds some peace and comfort in....  janine

Dec 5, 2011

December Bloomers!

Wow! What fabulous weather Florida is bringing us this month! I have spent every free moment I have had out in the yard! Working and daydreaming. So much so, I forced myself to take out the Christmas decorations. But I did, and they are up! Shew...back to the garden! It's such a good time of the year for clean up...I removed a portion of the old pond, to get things simplified for transition...  We spent the weekend digging the barrels in for the filters on the new pond...that's a load off my mind. Now it's just a matter of putting it all together! 

The garden has been loaded with butterflies and skippers this month. They apparently rest underneath the mass thicket of Wedelia that grows crazy along the fence line.... I believe it will become my new area for a Butterfly Garden too. I was looking for an ideal spot...and I guess they know better than me!! 

 I've decided to keep them in containers and place them amongst the Wedelia, so I can pull them during flooding or freezing! Hope I am faithful in keeping them watered! I'll post pictures as soon as I have them placed! It is a wild area just off the barn balcony...I'll call it my Butterfly Balcony..The view here is from the balcony!

The Powder Puff bush (Calliandra haematocephala)  has finally bloomed. It has been a few years since I've seen it:( 
It dies back so early with the frost that some years it never gets a chance to flower at all...One of my daily rituals is to take a stroll through the garden each morning, to find the surprise the garden has left for me each night! That was mine today! Each day you can usually find one...if you look hard enough! 

One of my most favorite of December bloomers is Louis Philippe Rose, Or "Cracker Rose" as it's known in the South! It is very disease resistant and smells sweet and fruity...reminds me of apples! It grows huge....and I keep it pruned twice a year and it still reaches 7' easily! What a great Old garden rose this is for Florida! Everyone should have one!

Some of the other December Bloomers include........

Knock Out Rose/ and an old garden variety in the back

Princess Flower (Tibouchina) 

Milkweed (Asclepias curassavica

Blue Daze(Evolvulus glomeratus) 

And a few of the other Old garden Roses has been a great month in the garden! I've already made my plant list for Santa! So many little time! Please leave a comment and let me know what surprises you find in your garden in December!  I hope you have a very blessed Christmas.....Janine