Thursday, September 16, 2010

I'm addicted, it's a crisis...

OK, I think gardening has become an addiction.  Alright, not gardening...shopping for plants.  Yesterday I was driving home from work and I realized I needed an oil change.  I like to get my oil changed at a place I usually go for car work, except I had to cross a toll bridge and had no cash.  No problem, I told myself, I'll just stop at Walmart and pick up the body wash I needed and get cash back.  As I pulled into Walmart I saw a parking spot next to the garden center and figured it would be closer to the body wash than the front door.  As I entered the garden center I decided to browse their selections of plant since I don't frequent this Walmart often. 
BIG MISTAKE!
Their prices were so ridiculously low, and their clearance section was even better.  They had a beautiful Hibiscus that was braided and trained to grow like a tree.  I had been eyeballing these things for months at Lowe's for $24-35.  Walmart had it on clearance for $11.50.
WOO HOO
I also snagged a Canna (Canna X generalis for $2.25 and a young Pink Dipladenia for $4.  I'm going to make a beautiful potted display for my Mom's lanai with that plant and a trellis.
So, after I loaded up my cart with plants, and got my body wash, I decided that I couldn't get an oil change in this heat with a car full of plants . And I drove home.

I guess it's not the worst addiction to have...

...but I do get asked alot "Why do you have a [insert insect name] in your car?"

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Not all weeds are bad.

Weeds and naturally occurring plants in our yards get a pretty bad rap. There are weeds that take over lawns and flower beds and turn manicured landscaping into something unsightly.  Kind of like the weeds that are surrounding my Soap Aloe in the backyard
...and the weeds I just pulled out of my front garden.
But then every once in a while, something starts growing that you didn't expect. Maybe it's a offspring of a plant you already like. Or maybe it's something new that catches your eye. Like this weed that started growing up my Oak Tree.

It's a pretty neat looking plant, but I have seen these completely take over a telephone pole.  I don't think I want that to happen to my beautiful Oak Tree.

This next little thing started growing in a crack between the cement and my house, under the water spigot.  It was a neat shape.  The leaves pointed up and formed little square that got smaller up the stem. It was shaped similar to a pyramid.  It was pretty cool until I demolished it.
The following vine grows everywhere down here.  And it grows over anything. Fences, lanai cages, other plants, lawns, the list is endless.  While it isn't on any Florida Invasive Species lists (fleppc.org), I think it soon might be.  It's the Bitter Melon and it's medicinal uses can be found all over the Internet (and apparently, it's edible, too!).  I let it grow because during the summer it turns my chain-link fence into a beautiful green wall that is dotted with yellow flowers in the morning. The flowers fade in the full sun, but that green wall hides my neighbors' rather unsightly yard.


It gets these REALLY BRIGHT colored orange fruit that are edible.
Over the fifteen years that my parents have lived in their house the yard has changed so much.  The list of reasons it has changed is as long as the list of changes itself.  One change that was unexpected and welcomed was the growth of this Butternut Tree
Where the tree stands now used to be a row of Ixoras (Ixora coccinea).  The seed most likely blew in from across the street and started grow right in the center of one of the Ixora bushes.  Because of it's protected location, the seedling never got mowed down and was allow to grow large enough for us to realize what it was. My parents decided to keep it, especially since they had lost their mature Maple Tree because it was on top of the septic tank that the city ordered them to crush.  Eventually, the tree blocked the sun from the already scrawny Ixoras and they perished.  But now my parents have a beautiful shade tree again to help cut down on cooling costs...
all thanks to Mother Nature.


Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Labor Day Trip to Georgia

This weekend, instead of the usual gardening and yardwork around the house, I got to do a little farming at my father's hunting lease outside the little town of Abbeville, GA.
 
View Larger Map

The land is split into two areas.  One area the owner uses for some farming that he does on the side.  That is where our camp is, wedged between a cow pasture...
....a quail roost...
...and a little farm pond that was pretty full the last time I went...
...But is pretty dry now...
You can see how the high the water was on these Water Gum trees, but the ground was so dry that I was walking around with sneakers and it wasn't even muddy.
The thing I love the most about Camp Cow Patty is the wild flora that is nearby.
American Beautyberry (Callicarpa americana)
Morning Glories
Wild Flowers of many types.

Trumpet Creepers  (Campsis radicans)
I wish the color came out better on my camera with these purple flowers.  They almost seemed to glow against their green foliage.

Now, the other piece of property is mostly woods.  It's mostly the sandy pine flats that we have in Florida, except for one big difference...instead of palmetto bushes growing between the Slash Pines, other deciduous trees and bushes are growing.  They really are nice for woods...
...and our goal was to plant crops in the sandy areas in between to attract the deer for the upcoming archery season...
Luckily, the ATV made it easier.  Because, instead of raking the lime, fertilizer, and seed in, we were able to drag a piece of chain-link fence behind and achieve the same result.
The most wildlife that we saw were butterflies.  They were everywhere.  And there were so many types that I had never seen before.
This first one is a Gulf Fritillary



video
Well, this has been a long post, so I'm going to end it now.  I'm going to close with pictures of my Dad standing next to the biggest Slash Pine (Pinus elliotti I think I've ever seen.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Why I Garden

I just posted this as a comment to a fellow Garden Blogger.  It made me realize that gardening has much more emotion involved than I ever thought.
Sometimes, you need do some back-breaking work to get your mind off things. Sometimes, you just need to take a few minutes and examine the beauty of your garden in awe. Other times, you get excited because something new and amazing happened in your garden. Gardening definately helps me keep my sanity in this crazy world.

I promise there will be a new post, soon, with many pictures.
As soon as I find my camera
And get back from Georgia.
Ooo, there will be pictures of that, too.  Technically,I'm going up there to garden...well, it's more like farming...I'll explain after I get some pictures.