Posted in gardening, The Southern Garden

A Good Day in the Garden

Any days a good day… 
                                         If you can get into the garden.

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And every day is a different day in your garden.

Sights, sounds, smells; they change by the day, by the hour, and by the minute. If you’re in your garden enjoying your time there, you’ll soon notice this. Some changes will be subtle, and some will be in-your-face. But you need to be aware of your garden’s activity to enjoy it. 

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I have a bird feeder in my garden (actually I have three) and I get a wide range of birds visiting. The same birds seem to visit, over and over, I could almost name them and tell you what time of day they will show up, demanding a meal. I have a couple rabbits who scurry in and out from the bushes when they think no one will notice them. And the squirrels rule the whole domain. Occasionally I have a falcon who appears, looking for meal, but he doesn’t stay long. Once he leaves, everybody else comes back out to play. The egrets come to visit; flocks of white, unusual looking birds with their long legs and equally long beaks, looking for bugs and worms.  A pair of Sand-hill Cranes may wander into the neighborhood. They meander in and out amongst the backyards, breaking the peace with their loud cry. Sometimes we’re even lucky enough to see the furry little chicks that come along with them.

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It seems like each animal has its own cycle to be in my garden, and they almost become complacent about sharing your garden. The last couple days I’ve been very surprised to look out my window and see a pair of ducks. I know there’s no water around my house, so I don’t know where they came from. They arrive every day right around three p.m., stay for bit, and then they go on their merry way. 
There’s also cycle butterflies and  colorful moths that come to the garden. Being lucky to live in South Florida, I get to see  the migration when the monarchs come in.
When the date palms produce seedpods, they become a hub of activity. The bumble bees arrive in swarms. Not only can you see them, but you can clearly hear the bees buzzing around the pods as they open, trying to get as much nectar as possible from the flowers before they turn into seeds.
If I happen to be in my garden when there’s a storm approaching you can even smell the rain coming. And on those many summer days when the heat and humidity are overwhelming, the heat will hold the smells from the gardenia, jasmine and honeysuckle, practically overwhelming you with their scents.

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Personally, I enjoy the approach of the storm clouds. They bring out different colors you might not notice in the full sun. The sky turns different shades as the clouds approach; the wind picks up and you can smell everything from dust to flowers.
So rain or shine, sunrise or dusk, I find it’s great to spend time in the garden. 

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Posted in gardening, The Southern Garden

A Northern Spring VS A Southern Spring

A Northern Spring VS A Southern Spring
I was listening to the news last night, and I realized that spring in the south differs greatly from the spring in the north. Up north early spring can be anything from flooding in early and late snowfalls, with crocuses peaking through. When I lived in upstate New York, spring was always my favorite season. Spring seemed to start with the celebration of Easter, the daffodils blooming and hyacinths scenting the air. New life is everywhere, from the robins in their nest, to the bunnies coming out of their lairs.

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But, last night on the news I heard signs of spring in a different manner, the signs of spring in the Deep South. The first thing we had heard was at the riptides were bad because of the changing directions of the winds changing from winter to spring. This might be bad for the swimmers, but the surfers sure love it.

The next thing we found out about was the man-of-war are all on the beach. Their purple-blue but bodies can sting, and so do those long tendrils. With care, you can still enjoy a day at the beach, but plan on staying out of the ocean.
Next, we are reminded about that the sharks are migrating; this is definitely a spring time item. Huge shivers (groups) of them can be found offshore. All within swimming and snorkeling distance of the fun loving bathers enjoying a sunny day.

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And finally, we heard news that with the weather warming up that the alligators are getting frisky. This means the alligators are getting warmed up, moving around and getting ready for meeting season. Kayaks and fisherman need to take care on our river-ways.

Yes, spring in the south sounds a bit more dangerous than spring in the North!
Daffodils and tulips up north verses sharks and alligators in the south.
I guess I’m a southern girl at heart. I’ll take my sharks, man-of-war and alligators over cold flooding waters and the possibility of a late snowfall.

But I will admit I miss the glorious color and scents of the spring.

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Posted in gardening

The Garden’s Melody

Listen Well…

There are those who will tell you the garden is the quietest spot to spend an afternoon, but I beg to differ. The garden is full of all kinds of sounds; you only need to take a moment and listen.

Sure, there are all the everyday sounds we hear all the time outside; children playing hard, doors slamming, the sound of music coming out of the window, conversations between neighbor. The list goes on and on. But those are all man-made sounds and we want to talk about the sounds of Nature’s Garden.

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 When you listen to your garden there are many things will stand out to you. Do you hear the bull frog croaking loudly? The cackle of a crow as he steals his food from another bird? The chattering of the Blue Jay as she chases the intruder from her nest? Is there a dog barking or a squirrel scolding? There is so much to hear when you stop and listen.

Then there are the second level sounds; subtler to the ears. These sounds take a little more effort to hear, you really must listen for them. Like the sounds of the Katydid Beetle in the heat of the summer, beating its wings to make its distinctive sound. Or the sound of a Ground Dove cooing as it makes its way around the ground to get to her nest. Perhaps you hear a Mockingbird speaking to other birds, using the five or six different tones it has in its repertoire. It’s as if he’s having a conversation with each type of bird. You may hear a tapping from the Woodpecker’s beak as he searches for food in the bark of the shade tree you so enjoy. From this to the chattering of the Squirrels as they run across the yard playing tag with each other.

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No, wait a minute… listen a little closer and you will hear it. There’s a buzzing of a Bee as it goes from flower to flower gathering nectar and there is the beating of a Dragonflies wings as it settles itself on top of a pond of water looking for a drink. The lizards scurrying in the leaves looking for the next meal or the rustling of the leaves from a soft breeze add to the garden melody.

Yes, if you listen closely you can hear all kinds of adventures going on in your garden. I have a challenge for you: take your lawn chair out and settle yourself in the center of your garden. Close your eyes, and really listen. What are the sound you hear?

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What is your garden trying to tell you?

 

Posted in The Southern Garden

Your night time garden.

There’s something different about the garden at night.

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It all starts at dusk as the sun slips its way below the horizon and twilight settles into your garden. Suddenly it has a whole new personality, exciting and mysterious.

As the shadows deepen your garden becomes a mixture of dark hidden spots and places. Secrets–only the night holds.

 The phase of the moon will also determine how much light your garden gets during those twilight hours. Moonbeams may glitter off of the foliage from a midnight rain or sprinklers. Or possibly from a water feature you might have in your garden– if your water feature is large enough, you might catch the reflection of the stars in the sky. But the light of the moon has a different  feel to it than the light from the sun; more mystic and peaceful.

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Night time is for the nocturnal animals to come out and play. Depending upon where you live will depend upon the type of animal to come out. You may hear the sound of the hoot owl or the cry of a bobcat. We’ve even heard the howl of the coyote and the hissing   of the alligator

If you’re like me, you love those sounds but safely from within the screen porch–there’s no way  you want to confront any of these animals up close and personal.

At some point it’s time to head inside, and I make my way to my office were there are windows on all sides showing me my garden from a different view. From this side of the window I can see the little fairy lights  in the trees and the landscape lighting shinning softly throughout the foliage it gives it a warm friendly glow. I’m so glad I put them in, especially when I look at the tree directly opposite my office window.

Because you see the nighttime has one more surprise for me…

 I watch as a fat possum works his way up the trunk of a tree.  It’s not even two feet away from me, with only a pane of glass between us. I leave the light on my desk and a possum notices me he stretches as far as he can from the trunk of the tree. He’s as curious who I am, just as I am curious about him. He quickly grows bored with me and continues on his way up the tree. I sit and count as he comes and goes at least three times up that trunk, each time disturbing the tree frogs, making them start their nightly songs.

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Yes, the garden at night is full of activity and it’s up to you to determine if you want to sleep through it or stay awake and watch.

Posted in The Southern Garden, Uncategorized

A Southern Rain

 Rain in the south is different from up north.
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Songs are written about the rain– there’s a country one out about rain, corn, and whiskey. Conversations are made about the rain; perfect strangers will think nothing of commenting to you in an elevator or on a sidewalk about the lack of rain or the overabundance of rain. Because down here that seems to be how it is. We get it either too much or not at all…
It’s sweltering hot and humid and we’re dying for the rain,  the lawns are turning crispy and folks are looking for cloud cover to just cool the temperature couple of degrees.
Or it’s raining so hard the parking lots are flooding. Backyard suddenly look like they are hosting a small lake, and roads look like they have rivers running down them.
If you pay attention, you can tell when the storm is going to hit.Yes, the sky gets dark and the wind picks up, but there’s other signs too. The birds and the squirrels are suddenly eating like crazy out of the bird feeders.  There’s a stillness just before the storm hits, not only with the movement of the wind, but with the sound of the animals. And then the first crack  of thunder breaks the silence. You run for cover.
It’s not uncommon to see rain coming down heavy across the street, and your yard is getting nothing-not a drop. And then, just like that, it’s over. Their lawns are wet and yours is still crispy.
But there’s a saying down here about the weather:
Wait 5 minutes and it will change.
Roads that were flooded are clear in a matter of hours. You can almost see the grass getting greener as it sucks up the water and overnight the difference is amazing.
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There’s a fern that grows on the Live Oaks called Resurrection Fern. When the rain comes the foliage turns into beautiful green within hours, but when it’s dry the fern is brown and dead-looking. The rain resurrects it once more to beautiful plant.  The trees are covered in green lush foliage from the fern growing up the branches and trunks. Everything has a new fresh look to it. The dust is going from the leaves,  the plants shimmer in the sunlight, the grass is green once again. For a few minutes the humidity is gone and you can almost feel a hint of coolness in the breeze. The birds come back out in full force, singing happily, the cricket start chirping and the squirrels are running from tree to tree to make sure that their nest are still intact.
So a Southerner may lament the lack of rain and then moan about a couple of days of steady rain. But to me there’s no better place to live than down here in South Florida. Because after all; just wait 5 minutes and the weather will change.
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Posted in The Southern Garden

The 1st blog from the Garden.

Why Gossip from the Southern Garden?

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Gossip can bring many things to mind; teenagers at the mall, neighbors talking over the fence, mothers stopping to talk with each other at the market…the list goes on.

But, to me, when you add the word “southern”, a whole new image comes to my mind. I’m envisioning Southern Belles in beautiful gowns, having sweet tea on the veranda, picnics and porch swings.

Add in the concept of “gardens”, and I visualize color, palm trees, sweet scents, vast lawns, draping Spanish Moss, Orchids, Hibiscus and other exotic, tropical plants.

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Now, I grew up in the north, so maybe I’ve romanticized the southern life a bit. I’ve lived in the south for 30+ years, and I know there is much more than that to the way of live down here. Hot, hot summers, and humidity that can make you wring out your clothes like a dish rag. And then there are the bugs-bigger than small mammals, reptiles that should only be allowed in a zoo, and of course those tropical storms.

Yet, with all that, the Southern Garden can be breath-taking. Full of big and small, delightful surprises.

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So, yes, I’ll take my romantic Southern Garden, flaws and all. Because I’m a Southern Gardner at heart.