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Finally! I’m BACK!

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Coral Honeysuckle in Full Bloom, and Carolina Wren in Residence in the Old Birdhouse

I know I’ve said it before, but honestly, you have no idea how much time writing and publishing a book can eat up. I’m spending at least 60 hours a DAY on it, so you know I’m in Time Deficit Mode, here! 😀 But. I’m trying to find ways to manage my crowded days better, so I can get back to my blogs again. I’ve already gotten Bookin’ It back to speed, and I can’t leave Who’s Your Granny just abandoned and lonely, now can I?

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View from My Patio Table

So…here’s the scoop. My sad and neglected garden is undergoing a metamorphosis as I try to get it cleaned up, replanted, and looking good before the heat becomes unbearable.

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First Don Juan rose of the season. Reddest & most perfect rose, ever! (Ignore all the photos
on my inspiration board. This is my writing desk, and you never know who or what might
be displayed! 😀

I dug my pathetic looking roses, which do not like my soil, and potted them in huge containers last month, and they are already leafed out and starting to bloom. They LOVE the richer potting soil, and the extra TLC.

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I’ve raised and released six monarchs already this season, which is pretty good, given that I don’t have as much milkweed available for them to lay their eggs on as I usually do. It’s on my shopping list.

Found a decent source of good terra cotta and glazed pots at my local Wal-Mart. Much better prices than Home Depot, and certainly better than most garden centers. So I’m collecting pots and moving a lot of things out of the ground and into containers. Easier to care for, and I have more control over the growing medium. I’m trying to do more xeriscaping for the inground stuff…native plants and low maintenance things. And annuals, which I’d have to replace every year, anyway. Thinking of broadcasting some wildflower seeds, if it isn’t already too late here.

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Mama Cardinal on my Jasmine vine, just outside my screen porch. Can you see her? (Look for her orange beak.)

We’ve been having 90 degree days regularly for several weeks, so summer is upon us already. Stay tuned for more frequent updates! And please let me hear from you, those of you who are still with me. I’ve missed chatting with my fellow gardeners and friends.

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Gardening Weather Is Here!

Belinda's Dream Shrub Rose

Belinda’s Dream Is The Only Thing Blooming in My Yard Right Now
(Photo taken last spring)

Wooohooooo…the best thing about living in Florida is being able to garden all winter. The worst thing is NOT being able to garden all summer! (At least I can’t, that’s for sure.) I have a ton of clean-up still to do, due to having neglected my yard for over 6 months. What a mess! Everything that isn’t dead is leggy, scrawny, and in dire need of TLC. Part of my plan for 2014 includes gardening a certain number of hours every week, until it all looks good again. I miss my retreat!

What’s happening in your part of the country? Still buried under snow? Weather warming any? Or is the worst still ahead? We often get hard freezes in January & February that last a day or possibly two, but as long as I plant winter hardy annuals like pansies, violas, and petunias, they’ll make it through. I won’t set out anything too tropical until later in the spring.

Those of you who live in the still-frozen areas…are you planning your gardens yet? Making up lists of seeds or new plants? Diagramming your beds? Or do you wait for the weather to warm and wing it?

The Beautiful Chaste Tree

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Chaste Tree (Vitex agnus-castus)

I’ve been admiring the lovely chaste tree for some time, but only planted my own last summer. It was about two feet high and had only two stems on it at that time. This year, it has branched out like crazy and is close to five feet tall. The flowers are a wonderful shade of lavender, and to me, this little tree makes up for the fact that we can’t grow buddleia (butterfly bush) in central Florida worth a diddly. 

The chaste tree is so named because in medieval times, it was believed you could make a potion from it that would curb the libido. Oh, those medieval husbands! Apparently, they were always worried about what their wives would get up to while they were away crusading or jousting or whatever the heck they were doing. This would have been another tool in their arsenal—along with the infamous chastity belt, I guess—to control their women-folk. (It’s totally erroneous, of course! As if!!) Seems to me, it would have been easier just to stay home and be good husbands, but what do I know of those times? I’m old . . . but not THAT old! 🙂

I particularly like how my tree’s lavender blooms look next to my Abraham Darby rose. And when the plumbago between them is flowering, I have a nice little pink and blue bed going there. So far, the tree seems to be easy to care for, although it is deciduous and loses every leaf in winter, so you would want to keep that in mind when you decide where to plant yours. (You will be getting one, won’t you? How can you resist?)

Here are some closer views. 

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And one more. Notice the monarch butterfly? I never saw it until I opened the picture at 100%. I knew bumblebees were fond of these flowers. Now I know butterflies like them as well. What could be better?

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My plan is to limb the tree as it grow, so I get a nice “umbrella,” and can grow smaller plants beneath it. These trees usually top out at ten to twenty feet, though I’ve never seen one around here more than twelve or so. I’m looking forward to watching it grow. 

Do you have a chaste tree in your yard? How has it done for you? Do you have one of the lavender or blue varieties, or do you grow the pink or white ones? Inquiring minds wanna know!

Bits & Pieces

 

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Clematis crispa

Just a couple of pictures from my bedraggled, weedy, overgrown and now soaking wet, garden.  The photo above is a native clematis that I just adore. Yes, I know the bloom is tiny, and pretty tame when you compare it to the cultivated varieties you can grow in the north, like this:

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Or this:

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Or even this:

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But it is dainty, and sweetly shaped, and just look at how those raindrops hang from the tips of the “petals!” I’m sorry the picture isn’t sharper, but it was raining, and I was rushing a bit. 

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Last month, I replaced my hanging baskets in my front bed. I didn’t want to pay $25 or more for established hanging baskets, so I bought six 99 cent plants and made my own. Each basket got a Dipt In Wine coleus, a bright red New Guinea impatiens, and a Margarita sweet potato vine. They started out looking like this:

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And three weeks later, they look like this:

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Not bad for $3.00 worth of plants, eh? And I fully expect them to get much larger before summer is over.

And finally, I was all excited a few weeks ago when I found a really cool blue planter to put my coral “drift” rose in. I’m happy to report, it is thriving, and is on its second round of blooms. I’m still loving both the planter and the rose. And the Purple Showers ruellia behind it has begun to bloom again, after I cut it back severely in May. Tomorrow, maybe I can get a good picture of my little chaste tree, which has started to bloom nicely. 

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You’ll notice I’m only taking close up shots, here. A wide-angle view of what’s going on out there would make you run screaming! Ha. But I can only do so much in a day, and my days are pretty well booked right now, until I finish my novel. (Get it? Booked??? Oh, ha, ha, ha. Sometimes I crack myself up! *snort*)  So, that’s about it for Granny’s Garden right now. What’s new in  YOUR yard?

Sometimes It’s The Little Things That Make All The Difference!

Like finding exactly the right planter for your new rose, and it turns out to be bargain-priced, too! Doesn’t that just make you happy? Or am I just easily pleased?  Either way, I really like how my new Coral Drift rose looks in my heavy, clay planter that I found for only $17 at Home Depot. I’m a happy camper, now! (BTW, it’s larger than it looks. Nearly 2 feet long. This isn’t a miniature rose. Low-growing and with small flowers, but not a mini.)

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What little things make YOU happy? In the garden or anywhere else?

San Diego Gardens

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California Pepper Tree

(Click on any photo to enlarge)

I took quite a lot of pictures in my daughter’s neighborhood while in San Diego. They live in an area where there are lots of older craftsman and Spanish style bungaloes and cottages, with front yards just filled with flowers. These smaller homes do not waste space on water-hungry lawns, but instead, landscape with beds of plants suited to the hot, sunny and dry climate. Except for roses, which do need regular watering, but don’t like rainfall. If irrigated often enough, roses love San Diego, and San Diego loves them back. Even the smallest and plainest of houses often have yards filled with enormous rose blossoms. And when I say enormous, I mean 8″ or more across…salad plate sized, and bigger. They are amazing.  Here are a few pics I took walking around the area. Many of the plants are ones I see here in central Florida, but many more were new to me, and so interesting.

This home was much larger than most within walking distance, but not nearly large enough to warrant the $1,000,000 it just sold for, if you ask me.  No one did of course, but I would have trouble paying that much money for a home less than 2,000 square feet in size. I think Erin said it was about 1,800. Of course, I would have trouble paying a million dollars for ANY home, since…well, not to put too fine a point on it, but…I don’t HAVE a million dollars! At any rate, it was very nicely landscaped, and I couldn’t resist a picture. The upper vine is bougainvillea, of course, which is RAMPANT in San Diego. (They even trim it until it becomes bush-like and use it as hedges.)  The lower vine had a very pretty cup-shaped flower on it that I didn’t recognize. Inside the fence was a small courtyard with various container plants. Small citrus trees, and jasmines, and the like. It not only looked good, it smelled great, too.

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This garden fascinated me by the use of black rock as a mulch. The purple and orange color scheme really popped against it, though the picture doesn’t do it justice, I’m afraid. The purple plant in the background is sea lavender, which is planted in medians and commercial planters, too, and is very pretty. Up close, the flowers look like statice. In the foreground was salvia leucantha (Mexican sage), and bird of paradise, plus some smaller annuals.  It was really striking and well-maintained.

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This is just a cute little cottage with a very small front yard that was packed with roses. I thought it was very sweet.

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There were a lot of areas planted in front of fences, near the sidewalks, which was nice, because I could stop and take a good look at what was growing. This mixed bed had purple fountain grass, salvia leucantha, something that looked like a type of cuphea, and a glorious patch of pink small-leafed ice plant. Both that and the more typical ice plant are everywhere you look, and come in the brightest shades of red and pink you can imagine. I believe some of them are probably on the invasive side, but they are still widely used in gardens, too, and frankly, they are so beautiful, it tends to make you overlook any problems, I imagine.

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This is another patch of small-leafed ice plant, interspersed with some type of succulent. I thought it was gorgeous!

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Sadly, the day I took most of the rose pictures was so sunny, they are mostly way over-exposed. This one was a wonderful blend of pinks and yellows, and the bloom in the foreground was probably close to 9″ across. It was wider than I could spread my fingers!

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Many fences enclose smallish courtyards with containers of plants grouped here and there. This one was rather modest with the planters, but the colors of the roses were just wonderful.

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Others were really packed with plants, both in ground and in containers, and almost all of the gardens were beautifully maintained.

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This is a tree rose from the same garden.

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Erin is new to gardening, but she planted this lavatera last year as a plant about 18″ tall, and it is just fantastic now. The hummers love it. She also planted peppers, tomatoes and CORN in the back part of the garden.  In the foreground, you can see the big green leaves of Myres’ grapevine.

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Close up of Erin’s lavatera.

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A picture of one of the millions of succulents seen in nearly every yard, maybe an agave of some sort. I’m not sure, but it had wicked points and was about 2 feet wide. I just liked the color.

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A wildly over-exposed picture of Erin, Myres and Kaelen, but I swear to you, the bougainvillea was just that red, and I’ve never seen one with more blooms on it in my life!

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And lastly, the most…er…unusual thing I found “blooming” in a neighboring garden. And believe me, this guy wasn’t going to stop grazing for anyone.

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Lots of photos for one post, I know, but I wanted to get them all up while I had a chance. Hope you enjoyed them!

Louis Philippe, Angel Face, and “Dulce Maria”

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(Click to see larger image)

A couple of my roses had buds yesterday which I quickly snipped to save them from marauding flower beetles. I just had to share.  The glorious coral-pink one was a rooted cutting given to me by my good friend, Felix. He didn’t know the name, but calls it Dulce Maria. This is the first time it has bloomed for me, and I just love the enormous petals and the vibrant color. The fragrance in this first bloom was very mild, but the flower makes up for it in size and beauty. The red one is Louis Philippe, which smells very nice, but these first blooms of the spring are a bit on the smallish side. It is never a huge flower, but is one that I love probably more than all other roses, for its history, as well as its blooming habit. And the third one is Angel Face, which is the most beautiful, feminine, and heavenly smelling little rose imagineable. The lavender color is fantastic, too. I wish my iPhone did a better job at capturing the colors for you, but maybe you can get an idea of how nice these three roses are. 

And here is my cat, Harry Blackstone Copperfield Dresden, checking out Dulce Maria. He’s a nosy boy! But he knows a pretty rose when he sees one! Again, click to see full sized photo.

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Are your roses blooming yet? Which are your favorites?

My Favorite “Weed!”

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Spiderwort (Tradescantia ohiensis)

All weeds are not created equal. Some of them are noxious, annoying, ugly things that take over your flower beds and make you shake your fist at the sky and use words no really nice gardener would use. At least not in public.  Others are much nicer to find popping up here and there. If I like how they look, or think birds and butterflies will like them, and I don’t need the space for anything else, they get to stay in my garden. Probably my favorite of these would be spiderwort. I love the beautiful blue blooms, and even the foliage is nice, looking very much like strappy daylily leaves. This picture doesn’t do the blue color justice. It isn’t nearly this purple, but more of a real, true blue, which isn’t all that common in the garden. That’s probably why I like it so much.

I think weeds and wildflowers are often under-appreciated, and give a garden a sense of being more like a meadow.  Do you have any that you allow to remain in your beds?

Mexican Flame Vine

I have an annoyingly blank and ugly stretch of privacy fence along the side of my yard.  It’s absolutely necessary, due to the traffic on the other side, but it sure ain’t purty, as they say.  I’ve tried for almost NINE years to get something growing on it that would hide the whole thing. I’ve planted every kind of sturdy, easy-to-grow vine you can think of.  Some that can be downright monsters.  All have failed over time. (I’m thinking they salted the earth along the fence line when they installed it!  Gack.)  Anyway, I finally tried planting several vines in huge pots along the fence, hoping the enriched potting soil would fix the problem.  One of the vines was a wisteria vine.  Wisteria!  A vine that has been known to swallow entire HOUSES in some parts of the south. Ha.  The Fence of Death wasn’t impressed. 

But a few months ago, I noticed that a Mexican flame vine I planted over three years ago had decided to grow.  Keep in mind, this vine had died back to about 3 leaves and was maybe 6″ tall all this time.  And brown and unhappy looking.  Now, the flame vine has risen up in rebellion against the evil fence, and in doing so, swallowed up the pathetic wisteria and finally, finally begun to bloom.  In a fiery splash of day-glo orange, it is something to see right now.  And since we haven’t had a freeze this year, I’m thinking (though I wouldn’t dare voice this out loud) that it might be here to stay, this time. 

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you…tada!…Marcia’s Mexican Flame Vine!  Um…sorry about the sad pictures. The light was bad, and I can only do so much with an old, outdated iPhone.  But you get the idea. It’s splendid!

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Mexican Flame Vine On The Fence Of Death

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More of the Same, On The Same

I tell you, folks. Life is good. And life with a thriving Mexican Flame Vine is even better! What kind of problem areas do you have in your yard?  Anyone else got a Fence of Death to deal with?

February In My Garden

I finally, finally got to spend some time in my garden today, potting a few things for around my front entryway, and starting the huge, ginormous task of weeding and pruning. It felt good to sweat over some actual, physical labor, instead of just over what word to put in front of another.  But you might have known I couldn’t stay away from the computer for very long, so here I am to share a couple of pics from this morning.  The garden overall is pretty dismal yet, but there are some things that shine, in spite of the weeds and neglect. 

My white bird of paradise hasn’t frozen back this year because…well…because there hasn’t been a freeze, of course! (Though there was some ice in my birdbaths last week, so it had to have dipped below 32 briefly, anyway). If you look closely at this monster big plant (about 10 feet tall, probably, and just as wide), you can see a couple of BIRDS in the middle.  For some reason, these blooms are buried in the center of all the stems and huge leaves, guarded against prying eyes like mine. But I found them anyway! 

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White Bird of Paradise Blooms

As I poked around here and there, I found a few other things of interest, too.  Most obvious to anyone in the garden is the coral honeysuckle vine which climbs up a large pole with a big birdhouse on top. Ummm…honest, the pole and birdhouse are under there, somewhere. This vine is a favorite of our ruby-throated hummingbirds, and I’ve seen a few feeding from it already this year.

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Coral Honeysuckle Vine

A couple of my roses are blooming, too, even though they have barely begun to leaf out since I cut them back the other day.  This first one, Double Delight,  is still quite small, but the blooms are divine, both to look at and to smell, hence the name.  The rose-red coloring on the outside of the petals will continue to bleed inward for days, until the rose is more red than white. Sorry I couldn’t get a better picture with my iPhone.  You can tell I’m not a photographer!

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Double Delight Hybrid Tea Rose

Another small rose I love is Florida Home Run Pink, a single rose that has a lovely “wild rose” look to it.  It was “created” by the same folks that came up with the Knock Out Roses, and is just as easy to grow.  I have a semi-circle of three in front of one of my birdbaths.

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Florida Home Run Pink

There are a few more things blooming, but I didn’t get any more pictures.  I’m hoping to spend some time out there tomorrow, as well, so I’ll try to get a few more.  What’s blooming in your yard? Or are you still under a layer of that white stuff? 

February In Central Florida

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Pink Firespike  (Odontonema strictum)

Photo Taken Half Hour Ago Near My Patio

(Notice very blue sky, and hot, hot sunlight)

I was just watching the news today, and saw the images of the awful blizzard that struck the northeastern part of the country yesterday and over night.  My heart goes out to those without power, and who have suffered damages from the storm. I have to say, it seems surreal to be sitting at the table in my shorts and t–shirt, watching the news and trying to imagine how cold it must be up there. The local weather came on immediately afterward and promised that we will have 84 degree temps by Monday.  It’s a mere 74 degrees right now, so that’s a ten degree hike in the next day and a half. Frankly, 84 degrees is too hot to suit me, but it’s better than digging out from under a five foot pile of snow, I know, so I’m not going to complain.

I’m actually working in the garden today, pruning back roses that are trying to send up new growth already, and weeding things that normally would die over the winter, but haven’t this year, since we haven’t had a freeze yet.  Even my firespike is blooming for the first time in three years.  It’s really too tropical for here, and normally freezes right before the buds open every year.  Go figger!

Ain’t life strange?  I’m sweating, those folks up north are freezing, and still, things go on, for better or worse. It’s left to us to just play the hand we’re dealt, I reckon.  So, with that thought in mind, break’s over, and it’s back to the garden for me.

A Bit More On Herbs

Specifically, oregano.  Surely oregano is one of the most popular herbs used in cooking, and is one of the easiest to grow in the herb garden. But if you think all oregano is created equal, you’d be wrong.  There are several herbs with similar flavors that have “oregano” included in the common name of the plant: Mediterranean Oregano, Mexican Oregano, and Cuban Oregano to name a few.  Sometimes these plants are not even in the same family, but can often be used in similar ways.  If you want to grow them for cooking, though, you need to learn the differences, as even though they are similar in taste, they will not add the same flavor to your dishes.  I’m not an expert on oregano, by any means, but here are a couple I have grown, and some information for those of you who would like to know some of the differences.

The mainstay of Italian cooking would have to be Mediterranean oregano, and it is the one most commonly sold (at least around here) as potted plants for your herb gardens.  It is a low growing, spreading sprawl of a plant, with smallish leaves and the flavor you associate with pizza and spaghetti sauce.  It is easy to grow, at least for me, and in Florida becomes a tender perennial which lasts years in my garden, even if neglected.  It is a member of the mint family.

Mediterranean or Common Oregano (Oreganum vulgare)

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Mexican oregano is known to have a similar but much stronger flavor than Common or Mediterranean oregano. It is less sweet, with a hint of citrus.  It is a member of the verbena family (which is probably why it reminds me so much of lantana), and makes a small, deciduous shrub.  It goes better with Mexican foods, such as chili, than with Italian dishes.

Mexican Oregano (Lippia graveolens)

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The third “oregano” I have grown is sold as Cuban oregano around here, though it may be sold under different common names in other parts of the country.  It is really an attractive plant, having large, fleshy leaves, and comes in a green form, or a variegated one.  One leaf chopped up is enough to season quite a big dish, so use it sparingly. The plant has been grown commercially, and is used as herbal treatments for coughs and throat problems, though I would urge caution before using any herb for medicinal purposes unless you know what you are doing.  Just because something is natural, home-grown, or organic doesn’t mean it isn’t dangerous if used incorrectly.  But this plant is so pretty, I grow it just for the hairy, variegated leaves alone. It is a plectranthus, related to Swedish ivy, and several other ornamentals. The plant has an upright growth habit, and looks great mixed in with various coleus.

Cuban Oregano (Plectranthus amboinicus)

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And there you have it.  A bit of info on three plants sold as oregano that can actually be used in cooking, as well as just for pleasure in your garden.  Google the Latin names and you will find tons of information on how to grow them, if you aren’t sure what will work in your area.

More Things Herbal

“Better is a dinner of herbs where love is, than a fattened ox and hatred with it.”

Proverbs 15:17

Well, I’m fresh out of oxen, fattened or otherwise, but I am planting herbs, and this year I am actually going to try to USE them in my cooking.  At least more often than I have in the past.  I grow them every year–basil, thyme, oregano, rosemary, parsley,  and velvety, silver sage, to name a few. But I mostly grow them because I love how they look, how they smell when I brush up against them in the garden, and how many butterflies and bees they draw.  I always think I will snip them and use them daily, but except for the occasional cup of pineapple salvia tea, I tend to forget.  This year, I plan to remember!

Basil is my favorite herb to grow and to eat, and thus one that I do sometimes think about when making dinner.  I even like to substitute fresh basil leaves for lettuce on a sandwich, I enjoy it so much.  Sweet basil tastes the best, but African blue basil is the most beautiful and is an absolute magnet for honeybees.  The clumps can get 3 feet across or better, and just as tall.  

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(Click to see full-sized)

What are your favorite herbs to grow? Do you harvest them for drying or fresh seasoning?

Herbs In The Garden – Borage

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Borage Officinalis

With temps hovering in the mid-70’s and even predicted to go as high as 85 degrees tomorrow, I’m feeling pressured to get my winter gardening underway, and to find time to clean up my beds and get ready for spring.  I really love planting herbs in and among my other flowers and shrubs, and in containers scattered throughout the garden.  One of my favorites is borage, which has edible flowers and leaves, but which I mostly grow for the lovely, Victorian look of the plant.  With its velvety leaves and gorgeous blue, star-shaped flowers, it just feels so romantic to me.  And it is a bee magnet, so it is always welcome in my yard.

I’ve read that both the flowers and the tender new leaves have a mild cucumber taste, and make a delicious and attractive addition to salads.  I’ve never tried this, and I’m curious to hear from anyone who has.  If nothing else, how beautiful would a sprinkling of these blue flowers be across the top of a crisp, green salad?  I have heard it recommended to try borage sparingly at first, as it might have a mild laxative effect on some people.  I find that can be true of many vegetables, so it doesn’t worry me overly much, but if you have a sensitive system, you might want to heed the advice.

Borage is an annual, but it often reseeds and comes back on its own.  I just picked up a beautiful plant this weekend so I could use it to jump start a container garden in a cobalt blue planter.  I also found a healthy seedling that volunteered in my raised bed. 

If you’ve never tried growing borage, you really should.  With its fuzzy leaves and sweetly nodding flowers, it will give a softness and a touch of beautiful blue color to any garden, whether you grow it as an edible herb, or just as a pretty and unusual plant.

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(Click to see Full Sized)

What herbs do you enjoy growing, and what time of year can you plant them in your area?

Time To Start Gardening Again!

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While much of the country is cold and snowy, here in central Florida, it’s time to begin planting the winter/spring garden, and doing the heavier yard work that you don’t want to tackle in the broiling heat of summer.  Today is sunny, clear, and in the mid-60’s out.  Perfect gardening weather.  Unfortunately, I have some other obligations today, but Saturday, I will be stopping by a nursery on my way to visit friends, and I’m specifically hunting for some lovely blue cabbages.  I used some last year as an edging in one of my beds, and they were gorgeous through winter, spring, and most of the summer.  The deep blue color held up the entire time, and they didn’t shoot up on long, bare stems like some of the pink & green decorative cabbages do.  I’m hoping the weather on Sunday will let me get busy weeding and setting out a few new things, like…blue cabbages!!

In the picture above, you can see a freshly set out blue cabbage (they get much fuller and pretty), and a beautiful little green cabbage with a bright pink center. The blue cabbages all got better and better, bluer and fuller, and very pretty. The green and pink ones gradually turned an all over dusky purple that wasn’t especially pretty.  They also got leggy and ended up sitting on top of  bare stems nearly a foot tall.

I’m also hoping life slows down a bit, and I can find more time for posting on this blog.  That’s one of my goals, especially over the next few months. 

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This one started out SO pretty, but didn’t hold up as well.

Do any of you grow decorative cabbages and kales.  If so, which ones have you found to be especially pretty? 

Dandelions and Mosquitoes…in January!

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Dandelions

Today, as my husband and I left Steak N Shake after our decadent Frisco Melt sandwiches (we are SUCH gourmands!), he noticed dandelions blooming in the parking lot.  In January!  And yesterday, as he was taking down our Christmas lights (finally), he was swatting mosquitoes. Yep. In January.  After reading several blogs from more northern climes lately, I realized what a cool thing this is. Cool, as in neat, fun, and amazing, as opposed to cool, as in snowy, icy, or ten degrees below zero.  Just one more aspect of winter in central Florida.  Now whether this is a good thing or a bad thing depends on your preferences, I reckon.

Me, I love cooler weather, and I really don’t want to be wearing shorts in January.  BUT. I also don’t want to be shoveling six feet of snow off of my car, and sliding down icy stair steps every time I leave my house.  So, I’m going to go with the whole “bloom where you’re planted” thing and revel in the many blessings surrounding me in this part of the country.  Hope you are able to do the same, no matter where you live.  In other words, if you find a dandelion in winter, make a wish.  And when Life gives you snow…BUILD SNOWMEN!!

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A Rose By Any Other Name…

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(Click to Read Quote & See Picture Full Sized)

“The roses under my window make no reference to former roses or to better ones; they are what they are; they exist with God today. There is no time to them. There is simply the rose; it is perfect in every moment of its existence.”

How beautiful is this quote by Ralph Waldo Emerson?  And how fitting the message for the start of a new year.  My friend Nicki took this picture of a rose in her garden, Souvenir de la Malmaison, which is a favorite of both of us.  Then she printed this beautiful card to tuck in my Christmas “basket” and I now have it framed and sitting on my desk. 

I want to keep this quote in mind throughout 2013, to remind me to live in the moment, and to never compare myself to anyone else.  Treasure your own individuality, folks, and fill your days with as much happiness and laughter as you can.  Don’t worry a moment for what anyone else is, or has.  You are exactly who you are supposed to be and you have everything you really need in order to be happy.  At least, that’s going to be my personal philosophy this year, to the best of my ability.

Thank you, Nicki, for such a splendid card and sentiment.  It’s a treasure.

Garden at Giverny

“I must have flowers, always, and always.”

–Claude Monet

Claude Monet's Garden at Giverny

Garden at Giverny Painted by Claude Monet

(Click to see larger version)

I thought perhaps while my own garden is in such a disreputable state, I might share a few garden images and quotes with you over the next few days.  If you are a gardener at heart or an art lover, you may already know of Monet’s love of flowers. His garden is still considered one of the most beautiful in the world, and attracts thousands of visitors to Giverny, France, every year. For information and some lovely photos of the garden that inspired so many of Monet’s paintings, check this link:

Monet’s Garden in Giverny

Wouldn’t you love to go there?  Maybe some of you have?  If so, was it as beautiful as it looks?

Image found online.

Don’t You Love It When…

Angel Face Rose

Angel Face

(Click for Close Up)

…you come across something you’ve been hunting for for two years?  And better yet, when it is sitting next to something you’ve been hunting for six months?  How cool is that?  In my case, I’ve been positively longing for an Angel Face rose for my garden.  Everywhere I checked for Angel Face, they told me they hadn’t been able to get any in for a very  long time, and thought maybe the grower wasn’t growing them any more.  Roses do come and go in popularity, and it had been a decade or more since I had one in any of my past gardens.  I had just about given up on finding one until two weeks ago.  I stopped by my one of my favorite local nurseries (Lukas, for anyone in this area) and as I was walking along with my friend, Nicki, looking at plants, lo and behold!  What did I spot right in front of me but one little Angel Face!  I was so excited!  And then, I realized it was sitting right beside a Double Delight, the rose I had been trying to get for at least six months.  Double Delight was still being sold everywhere, but somehow I always arrived the day AFTER the last one had been sold.  Yet…here they both were, side by side.  They may as well have had a sign over them saying, “Yooohooooo!  Marcia!  Here we are!”

Double Delight Hybrid Tea Rose

Double Delight

(Click for Close Up)

Being nobody’s fool, I grabbed them both up, and they are happily planted in my backyard now.  It’s the little surprises along the way that make everything worth while, I think.

Both of these roses have heavenly, old-fashioned fragrances, and are prolific bloomers.  They are subject to black spot in Florida, like pretty much all but the antique varieties, but overall, they are generally vigorous plants.  Double Delight is a hybrid tea, and Angel Face is a bushy little floribunda.  I’m tickled to death to have them both in my garden, now.  

Any of you guys been hunting for something you really want but can’t find?

Photos found online.