Tag Archive | roses

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?

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?

Love Shared!

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“Dulce Maria”

What better way to express your love for a friend than to share flowers from your garden? My good gardening friend and fellow Urban Fantasy reader, Felix, gave me a rooted cutting of a rose he received as an unidentified cutting from a relative, and now it is growing in my garden. It’s still a small plant, but it produces really big, sweet-scented flowers that are a wonderful shade of coral pink. That is an over-sized mug next to the rose, so you can see how large it is. I love this rose, and I think of Felix, my generous friend, every time the rose blooms! Starting my day with a rose and a cup of Earl Grey tea is my idea of heaven!

And just look at how truly beautiful the bloom is! If anyone recognizes the real name of this rose, which Felix calls Dulce Maria (or Sweet Maria), please let me know. I will still think of it as Dulce Maria, of course, but it would be nice to know how to find another one, should I ever want to add more to my garden. 

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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!

Fantastic Solution for Flower Beetle Problems!

Abraham Darby David Austiin Rose

Abraham Darby

I was outside working today when Mark asked me to come look at something and tell him whether he should rescue the critters or not. (He has learned that many insects are welcome in my garden.) Imagine my surprise when I looked into a white plastic 5-gallon container and saw about 50 dead or dying flower beetles (see earlier post) floating in 3 or 4 inches of water!  I remembered that when I was reading about them, most articles said they were attracted to pale colored flowers, and I had noticed that  seemed to be true. They were ignoring Louis Philippe, for instance, which is red. I think they saw that white bucket, thought it was the biggest white flower in the world, crawled in , and conveniently drowned!  I plan to test my theory by locating several of them throughout my rose garden until this year’s infestation is over. It beats the heck out of walking around and plucking them one by one to drown them in a butter container full of soapy water. Not that that’s hard, but it does take some time. How nice it would be to wake up each morning and find that the beetles had been thoughtful enough to commit suicide during the night!  Will let you know if it continues to work, but I am optimistic. I mean, how likely is it that the drowning beetles would have yelled out warnings to their friends to stay away from the big white flowers? I’m thinkin’ this might be the best answer, ever!

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?

Euphoria sepulcralis (Fabricius) A Common Flower Beetle.

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Flower Beetle (Euphoria sepulcralis)

(Photo found online)

Thanks to the April edition of “Wind Chimes,” the Central Florida Rose Society’s newsletter, I have identified the beetles ravaging my roses! (A hearty thank you to Elaine P. who sent me a copy of this wonderful newsletter!) As you can see, the flower beetle isn’t quite as shiny and pretty as the Japanese beetle, but they are obviously just as hungry. Watch out for these guys if you are growing roses here in central Florida. They will be on them like a duck on a June bug for the next couple of weeks, and hand picking is still the best way to rid yourself of them. Again, that butter dish full of soapy water is the easiest thing for me. I pluck ’em off the unlucky bloom and drop them into the Sudsy Soak of Doom, and that’s that. I have also been making the rounds in the morning and cutting new blooms for indoors before the flower beetles sink their nasty little chompers into them to eat the pollen and petals.

One thing to note, these particular beetles do not damage foliage at all. No, they want to go straight to the heart of why we grow roses to begin with…those sweet-smelling and gorgeous flowers.  In a few weeks, they will disappear, leaving eggs in the soil that will turn into grass root-eating grubs. Thankfully, I don’t grow much lawn for them to thrive in, so perhaps my infestations aren’t as bad as some might be.

One thing for sure, these guys are not our friends! Good luck in getting rid of any that show up in your own garden. And if you are a rose lover living in this area, you might think about joining the Central Florida Rose Society. I really enjoyed reading their newsletter, and hope to attend some of the events listed, too.  Once again, thanks Elaine, for contacting me and sharing the newsletters, and enjoy the cuphea photo!

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? 

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.

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.

More Blue In The Garden

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Abraham Darby Rose With Blue Bench

(Click to Zoom)

Roses in central Florida usually bloom all year long, throughout the fall and even the winter.  Abraham Darby is full of buds right now, and I just like how it looks arching over one of my blue benches.

This is the time of year when I remember the PLUS side of gardening in a state that’s so hot in the summer.  Me, thinking:  “Oh, yeah.  That’s right!  We get to garden all winter!”   I will have to try to remember that when I’m trapped inside every year, during sweltering July and steaming August.

It’s still not feeling like fall, here, but it IS starting to cool off a tiny bit at night.  It was 94 degrees Saturday afternoon, though, so I’m going to keep reminding myself every day that I do get to garden all winter.  Since I can’t change the summer temps, I should just be grateful for that, and stop complaining.  A bit.  🙂

Early Summer Garden Photos

The dog days of summer are here.  It’s so hot and muggy outside, I’ve given up on the garden until cooler weather arrives.  Now is the time for indoor projects, and other pursuits conducted in the heavenly bliss of air conditioned comfort.  The yard has turned into an overgrown jungle now that the rains have returned, after our long year of drought.  That’s the story in Florida.  It’s either drought or monsoon, with nothing much in between.  Thankfully, I took plenty of pictures this year, before the black-eyed Susan, scarlett morning glory, and sweet potato vines ran amuck over everything in their paths.  If you stand still longer than 30 seconds, they will start climbing over you, too!  Here are a few photos.  Enjoy!

An overview of a new rose bed, with my goldfish pond in the background. 
Hubby did all the beautiful brick pathways and patios over the last couple of years.

“Peter Pan” dwarf agaphanthus in the same bed, keeping “All American Miracle” hybrid tea rose company.

The world’s happiest cigar plant (cuphea).  Hummers love it!

Another view of the pond, and more of Mark’s brickwork.

So there you have just a few pictures from this year’s garden.  I’d love to know what you’ve been doing in  your own gardens.  Is anyone else into ponds?  Roses?  Laying brick?  Hope you’ll share your ideas, and please feel free to ask any questions you like.  Gardening in Florida presents a lot of challenges at times, but much of what works here will work in other parts of the country, too.