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Love/Hate Plant Relationships…

You got any? After ten minutes of trying to pull up some weeds and yank some vines down, I sure do. And here’s the first one:

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Black-eyed Susan Vine, also called Clock Vine (Thunbergia alata) is simply gorgeous when it stays where you want it to stay. But it will take off during the summer (especially when you’ve been AWOL from the garden for months) and cover everything in its path. It is an annual, so it will die, but it will leave behind a LOT of seeds that come rushing back in the spring, each year. 

Now if you wonder why a mere ten minutes of yanking this out of my trees, off of my shrubs, and down from the roof of the Bali hut is such a big deal, I’ll tell you. Because it is 95 degrees in my back yard today. NINETY-FIVE! And ten minutes is the absolute maximum I can take before I run back inside to cool down again, cursing the black-eyed Susan vine every step of the way. It’s bloomin’ HOT out there, pardon my pun. So I wish I didn’t have to deal with this vine smothering all its neighbors, beautiful or not.

What grows in your garden or yard that you love the look of, but hate dealing with? (Not counting lawns. I don’t know why anyone, anywhere grows grass, so I’m going to ignore that for the purposes of this post.) What troubles you to the point that you really want to get rid of it, but like the flowers or fruit or leaves so much, you just can’t bring yourself to do so? I’d love to know.

 

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What Happens When . . .

. . . you stay indoors, glued to your computer, busy writing a book and ignoring your garden? Well. Disaster, if you love a beautiful garden as much as I do. Oh, my! Beggar’s ticks as high as my head, roses with only 6 leaves left on the plant, coleus that look like they’ve been crawling across the burning sands of the Sahara for weeks. Just a hot mess, in general. My poor, poor back yard! 

The good news is, it was too hot to work outside anyway, so staying inside and working on my book was probably a smarter choice. (And by the way, for those who enjoy romantic suspense, Wake-Robin Ridge will be available to download FREE all day tomorrow, 9/6, thanks to Kindle Select!) The bad news is, I’m going to have to spend weeks weeding, cutting back, digging up, tossing out, and starting over. With the wicked, wicked heat we’ve had this summer, scenes like this are a thing of the past.

Belinda's Dream Rose

But have no fear. Even though it is still in the mid-to-high 90’s every day around here, the evenings are cooling down, finally, and that means temps overall will start becoming more bearable. Which,  in turn, means I can start working outside, at least in the mornings, and get things cleaned up a good bit.  

Afternoons will be spent marketing my new book and working on my book of poetry, Summer Magic. But I can do a LOT in the morning, if I get going early enough. If I prune and feed, the roses will spring back to life again, and moving the coleus into the shade and watering more regularly will probably have them looking good soon, as well. 

One interesting tidbit. Like most Florida yards, we have a plethora of lizards in ours. Tons of the invasive Cuban brown anole, and a few determined green Carolina anoles are racing around everywhere. But this week, I spotted an Indo-Pacific gecko on my back porch. He’s very sweet looking, with smoother skin than the regular lizards and huge, googly night-vision eyes. I’ll try to get a picture of him to post here.  Of course, geckos are not native to Florida, but as far as I know, they are not that common, especially in central Florida. Unlike the hideously invasive Cuban tree frogs, I’ve only ever seen one or two anywhere in the area. (This doesn’t mean that they will never become a problem, of course, but I don’t think they are right now. And so far, I like mine.)

I’m really looking forward to getting some work done outside this weekend, and to getting caught up again on all of my blogs. Writing a book is fantastic, but it is an enormous time-suck that pretty much swallows everything else in your life in one huge gulp. I’m going to plan my hours better when I start my next one! 😀

So tell me, what’s blooming in your garden this late in the year?

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?

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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Favorite Fall Bloomers #1 – Goldenrod

“The goldenrod is yellow,

The corn is turning brown,

The trees in apple orchards

With fruit are bending down.”

     –Helen Hunt Jackson

Seaside Goldenrod in My Garden

Seaside Goldenrod In My Garden

(Click to Zoom on any Picture)

Well, they tell me fall is fast approaching.  In some parts of the country, it’s actually getting cooler.  Hard for me to believe either of those things when the mercury is still topping out at 93 degrees each day around here.  It’s a shame, too, because autumn is really my favorite time of year.  I love everything about it, especially when I’m lucky enough to spend a week or two in the mountains.  Crisp, cool mornings, with the smell of apples and frosted pumpkins in the air.  *sigh*  Bliss!!

However, Florida does have the advantage of offering year-round gardening, with some annuals and vegetables that actually perform better in the winter than at any other time.  So I guess you take the good with the bad.  And this time of year, we do have some fall bloomers that begin to perform well.  I have several that I really enjoy, but probably my favorite of all is goldenrod.  I love it!  And there are so many wonderful varieties to enjoy, with different shapes to the bloom heads, different heights, and different leaves.  But as far as I know, they all sport glorious sunny yellow flowers that attract bees. 

Roadside Goldenrod (Unknown species)

My personal favorite is seaside goldenrod, shown at the top of the page, which has low growing basal rosettes of large, leathery leaves, but sends up 6 and 7 foot tall bloom spikes that are covered in bumblebees for weeks.  It self-seeds in my garden, though not in an invasive way at all, and I wouldn’t be without it.

Close Up of Goldenrod with Beetle

Photo from Backyard Biology (Thank you, Sue!)

Check out Sue’s post featuring the picture above and a whole series of wonderful goldenrod and prairie pictures.  They’re great!  And by the way, don’t worry about goldenrod causing allergy problems.  They have gotten a false rap all these years. Turns out their pollen is too heavy to float on the breeze, and they’ve been getting the blame for problems caused by ragweed.  Ragweed blooms are inconspicuous and often share the same field with the showier goldenrod.  People go, “I’m sneezing.  Look at all those yellow flowers over there.  They must be the cause.”  But trust me.  You can grow all the goldenrod you want with impunity!  If you haven’t added any to your wildflower or butterfly garden, you really should try it.

What fall flowers do YOU love to grow?  I’d love to hear from you!

What’s In A Name?

“Weeds are flowers too, once you get to know them.”

~A.A. Milne

Spiderwort In The Garden

Consider the spiderwort.  Flowers of the loveliest blue, opening every morning and closing in the afternoon.  Graceful, grass-like foliage, tinted a teal green.  Hardy, trouble-free, and eager to fill your flower beds with color all year long, here in central Florida.  Sounds perfect, doesn’t it?  Except, it’s considered by most to be a weed.  An annoying invader that needs to be destroyed at all costs.  Out, out, damned spiderwort!  You can probably see where I’m going with this.  At my house, spiderworts are allowed to grow and bloom where they will, unless I need the spot for something else.  Why not?  They’re beautiful, and fill bare spots perfectly.  And unlike some actual garden plants I’ve been given, they don’t spread so horribly that I need a backhoe and a drum of Agent Orange to eradicate them.  Prolific, but not obscenely so.  Therefore, I smile at their pretty blue faces every morning, and enjoy them, until I need to replace them with a new rose or flowering perennial.

So what “weeds” are welcome in YOUR yard?  I’m sure many of you are growing native plants here and there, and by some standards, most of those are considered weeds, too.  Just as my spiderwort is a native, so is my seaside goldenrod, a tiny purslane called moss rose, a volunteer scarlet morning glory, and a few others.  Most are welcome for now.  They tend to be hardy and often provide food for birds and other wildlife.  I’ll share some pictures of other “weeds” I love tomorrow.  In the meantime, I’d love to know what’s volunteering at your house.