Posted in gardening, The Southern Garden

Flower Care in the Hot, Hot Summer

Down here in the South we have two summer seasons; hot and hotter.

Once May slips through we’re into summer. And there won’t be much of a break from the heat until October/November. As the summer months crawl along, the heat builds up, day after day. Sometimes we get an afternoon rain to give us relief, but the humidity just builds until there’s a good old-fashioned thunderstorm. Or even worse, a hurricane!
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It goes without saying the plants we planted for color and beauty during the winter months will not survive in this hot heat. Even in the shade, the sturdiest of plants will suffer.
That’s why it is important to pick summer annuals to replace your winter annuals. You can still achieve a beautiful garden by using the right plants.

Listed below are summer annuals I like to use.
Caladiums, Cassandra, Periwinkle, Purslane, Sedum, Pentas, Portulaca, Lantana, Bush Daisy, Blue Daze, Angelina, Coleus, Phlox, Dipladenia, Scaevola, Gomphrena, Zinnia, Sunpatiens, Mexican Heather, Gaura, Society Garlic, and some varieties of Begonias.

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Along with selecting the right plants, proper care is essential. You need to make sure that the plants are watered consistently and thoroughly, fertilized when needed and check for insects weekly. This also means removing debris from around the base of the plant, looking at the underside of the leaves for the critters and snapping off any problem areas. Because the plants grow so fast during the summer months, the insects thinks it’s a feeding frenzy for them. A healthy plant will tolerate an insect infestation much better than a week plant, and that’s why it’s important to make sure they’re watered and fertilized properly.
With all this heat and humidity it is also important to keep an eye out for disease, mold and fungus problems.

This is also when most landscapers do their hard cut-backs on the landscape plants. Often this looks severe, but the plants will flush back out over the summer months to their full lush beauty. In the meantime, the area where you had your winter annuals may now be exposed to the full brunt of the summer sun, with no shade from the surrounding shrubbery. You need to be aware of these changes when you decide what plants to plant.
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But don’t be afraid to continue to garden in the summer months. Switch out those old tired annuals and put in fresh flowers that will last the summer.

Then hop in the pool and enjoy your garden.
Go ahead, you earned it!

 

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http://www.VictoriaLKWilliams

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 Southern Garden

The Gift of Rain

The Gift of Rain.

The gift of rain can do many things for us; water the crops so that we can eat, fill the lakes and ponds so that we can drink. The rain does much more than that and it truly is a gift.

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Have you ever noticed how some much-needed rain can change your whole attitude? It can wash off the dust, clear the cobwebs to refresh and renew you. Not only can the rain renew you, the rain can change your whole outlook. On a gloomy, dismal day the sun breaks out in amongst the rain and it can create a rainbow. But, remember, that rainbow wouldn’t be possible without the rain. The gentle rainfall can be relaxing and peaceful versus the thunder and lightning and pounding rain of a good storm can be frightening. Yet, without the change of rain types we would never be able to experience all the rain has to offer.

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Rain has many benefits as you well know. It opens the flowers, which produces seeds, which produces food. The results of a good rain will green-up your lawn and open the leaves on the trees giving this world the oxygen it needs. And the oxygen wouldn’t be there without the green plants and the green plants wouldn’t be able to survive without the rain; are you seeing the circle we live within? Sometimes the gift of rain comes in abundance and it’s almost too much for us to handle. Other times we find ourselves praying for rain to save our farms and livestock. Whatever amounts of rain we receive, we should always be grateful, because it means our world, our precious earth, is producing and growing and surviving.

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So, the next time you find yourself caught in a rain storm, will you moan and groan about the inconvenience?

Or, will you be grateful for the gift of rain?

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Posted in Uncategorized

It’s a cold start!

The start of 2018’s weather hasn’t been easy! Frigid temps, icy roads and record setting snowfall have made the celebrating the holiday season challenging for our northern friends and family.

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Even down here in the south, we are bracing for frosty weather. Heavy rains are beating against the windows as I write, to be followed by a cold front that threatens not only our comfort, but could also cause damage to our plants.

Many have gone to great lengths to get their gardens in tip-top condition for the holidays. We want our guest to enjoy the beautiful flowers of the south, and maybe even smirk a little because we can enjoy the tropics year-round.

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We can’t control the weather, but we can take steps to protect our gardens against the elements.

First off, don’t begrudge the rain. It’s helpful to keep the plants well-watered and strong against the beating winds. Be sure the pots are not sitting in water-you don’t want to create a situation where rotting can start.

Next, be thankful for a little wind. That will help keep the frost from settling on the leaves, flowers and fruit. But too strong of a frigid wind can burn the leaves, leaving behind brown tips and falling leaves. If you can move smaller pots out of the wind, do so. If not, try to cover them with a lightweight blanket or sheet. Try not to use plastic, it can often cause more damage than it protects by burning the plants as the sunlight magnifies through it.

Keeping the plants strong and in good health all year long will also help them recover quickly if they suffer from the cold. Remember, you may not see the damage until several days or even a week later.

After the cold has passed, don’t be in a big hurry to get out there and cut back the plants. Remember it’s only January, and there could be colder weather on the way. Instead, keep the falling debris cleared to make sure that bugs and disease do not have a place to hide, keep the plants watered and be patient. Often, you’ll notice new growth starting on within a week after a freeze. What you may think is dead can rejuvenate and become a beautiful plant again.

So, relax and view your garden from the windows until the cold passes. And be thankful we don’t have to deal with all that snow!!

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Posted in The Southern Garden, Uncategorized

Garden Envy

Every Gardener goes through Garden Envy.

That’s where you want other gardeners are growing. I think this is particularly noticeable between the North and the South. Even within the State of Florida we experience this. Why? Because we have a North and South and Central and the plants that are available in each of these three areas varies greatly.

I live in the northern part of South section of Florida (don’t laugh; we are very regional here!). This means I get to enjoy a little bit of the plantings that would traditionally grow in the center of the state and a bit of tropically plantings from the south.

 

 

When it comes to the South and the Tropics who can beat all the palms that are available. The coconuts swing over the beaches, and tropical orchids hanging from the trees naturally. Exotic Foliage that you can only dream of growing indoors in the North grow wild in the landscape.

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Then there’s the other extreme; Northern Florida.  Up there you even get a change of seasons. The Maple leaves will turn the bright red and drop. Some of the fruit you find in the Northern states will grow here, especially peaches. In the fall, the riot of fall mums is something we can’t get in southern Florida.

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When I think of Central Florida and I think what sticks out in my mind most are the azaleas. They will bloom prolifically, maybe because they don’t get the extreme cold will kill off the flower buds in a frost. One particular place that I love to visit is called Bok Towers. You walk the pathways up to the tower and it’s  a riot of different azaleas. There’s nothing more beautiful to enjoy on a March morning.

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Each of these three areas has specific plants that will grow there and, as a gardener, it’s up to you to know what region/zone you live in and what plants will grow best in your zone. There are many ways to find this information out the easiest of course is on the internet. Yet with some good old-fashioned trial and error you can create a garden to reflect the best of your regional plants. I know some plants that are tropical and will still grow  well in Central Florida. These plant need the right location; meaning a warm secluded area that is protected from the elements. Like every other gardener, you’re going to need to experiment and figure out what works best for your garden. Take into consideration not only the zone you live in, but the elements your garden is exposed to. Are you close to the ocean? You will need to consider the impact of salt. Are you in a high wind area? Then you need to worry about more tender plants that are fragile. Things like this will become second nature as you get more experience in your gardening.

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 Remember. you don’t have to suffer from garden envy! You can simply get in your car and drive to another section of the state and enjoy their Gardens.

About the photos:
Copyright: <a href=’http://www.123rf.com/profile_zocchi2′>zocchi2 / 123RF Stock Photo</a>   Azalea
Copyright: <a href=’http://www.123rf.com/profile_inyrdreams’>inyrdreams / 123RF Stock Photo</a>  Mum
Copyright: <a href=’http://www.123rf.com/profile_paulgrecaud’>paulgrecaud / 123RF Stock Photo</a>  Bird 
Copyright: <a href=’http://www.123rf.com/profile_nadil’>nadil / 123RF Stock Photo</a>   map

 

Posted in The Southern Garden, Uncategorized

One word makes a difference!

The word tropical brings many images to mind.

Swaying palm trees, fruity little drinks with umbrellas in them, romantic evenings on the beach. Fishing, swimming, snorkeling all of those wonderful things go with the word tropical.

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But if you add three simple words after the word tropical and you’ll find Southern Gardner goes into just a bit of a panic. Our heart beats a little faster and get out comes our checklist. Because add the words wave, depression, and storm and our work is cut out for us.

There comes an urgency for gardeners as we secure all the pretty little accent that we’ve added to our garden to make it look nice. The wind chimes, flags and spinners that we love to see in the gentle breeze are now a danger.

Bird feeders and plant containers are pushed into protected areas or even laid on their side; flat against something that will protect them. Debris is removed quickly and placed where it cannot blow, the garbage cans are secured. If it becomes more than a tropical storm, hurricane shutters are lowered and other emergency measures are taken.

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Anyone who lives down here along the Coast knows during the months of July through November  you keep your eye on the weather. Late August and September are the peak months for tropical weather.

Heavy pruning is done prior to August to ensure that no loose limbs are left. Larger trees like the Oaks are trimmed, not just to shape, but to allow air to flow through them. This is so when that wind hits its large masses of leaves and branches, it doesn’t uproot the tree, it simply blows through.

A gardener with more delicate flowers, like orchids and bromeliads or some of the more exotic  flowers, will hurry to find places that are secure to put them. I know personally, my garage looks like a greenhouse just before storm hits; tools and plants and garden accessories are now being stored there for the duration of the storm threat. Like many a Gardner, I’ll protect my plants but leave my car sitting in the driveway.

Now is the last week of August and there are four systems out in the Atlantic Ocean, being watched carefully by all. Not every tropical wave will become a depression and not every depression will become a storm. But if you watch them come off the coast of Africa and follow their path your heart races a little faster as it approached the outer Islands. You know at this point they can go in any direction.

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Once the storm clears we’re right back putting all of our things in the garden ready to wait for the next storm warning.

After all, this is our way of life!

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