What’s a Gardener to do?

The holiday season is over, all the decorations are packed away and a new year is in full swing.

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You enjoyed all those guests who came to share the joy of the season with you, and many came with gifts. Some living gifts, that need care long after the holiday season.

Like any gifted gardener, you have been able to keep your holiday plants in good health while the have added beauty and delight to your Christmas decorating. Now, you wonder, what do I do with them? Do I throw them away, mix them with my other potted plants, or plant them in my garden?

Although I don’t save the seasonal plants myself, many of my friends do. And they always ask me what to do with them.

The answer is pretty simple: treat them like any other foliage plant you may have. But there are a few things that you can do to promote blooms for the next holiday season.

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Poinsettia’s require altered daylight in the fall to set their beautiful red colors. With the  combination of daylight savings and the right location, they will do this with no extra help. Planting in the ground on the East or North East of your property will give the plant the lower light when they need it. Go ahead and cut the plant back when the threat of cold weather is over, and give it a feeding of good fertilizer.

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Christmas Cactus loves bright light, but will burn in our hot summers. Be sure to place this plant in a protected area. Hanging from an oak tree is perfect. Then, come late summer, make sure it is also in a location where it will receive the benefit of low light from daylight savings. Fertilizing with a blooming plants blend at this time will also promote flowers.

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Norfolk Island Pines are a popular alternative/addition for the traditional Christmas Tree. They are perfect for small homes or tabletops, often decorated with small ornaments and lights. After the holidays, they make a great potted plant. BUT, I urge you to consider the nature of this plant before you plant it in your yard! This sweet little plant can grow into a tree over 40-50′ tall (in their native land over 100′). This plant has now become a major part of your landscape.  If you decide not to plant it outside, then it will do very well as a houseplant, reaching heights of 5-6′. As a houseplant, it will need bright light, even moisture and normal fertilizing.

These are the 3 most common Christmas plant that will give you the benefit of becoming year-round plants.  I wish you the best with them, and hope you will have many years of holiday colors with them.

 

 

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Be The Garden Reporter

Congratulations!

 walsh-bedsPhoto by Botanical Concepts, LLC

 You’ve decided to add gardening to your lifestyle. The first step you need to take is to act like a reporter and answer the 5 questions every reporter knows will make for a great story.

Five one word questions-you’ve heard this before: Who, What, When, Where and Why.

 This sounds silly to apply these questions to gardening, but— if you think about it— it makes sense.

 Who? Who are you planning the garden for? For your own enjoyment? Or perhaps to enhance your landscape so your neighbors will enjoy it and meet the codes of the community.

 What? What is the goal of your landscape design? Are you trying to hide or enhance a view, are you trying to create a pathway and direct traffic? Or are you trying to add color and interest to a mundane landscape?

When? This can be extremely important. When are you planning on doing the Landscaping? During the heat of Summer? If so, watering will be a critical issue. If you’re planting in the January/February months, then you have to anticipate the possibility of a frost which might affect your new growth on her new plants.

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Photo by Botanical Concepts, LLC

Where? Where do you want to spend your time gardening? In the privacy of a small courtyard garden. Or maybe where you can enjoy the natural view of the ocean or river as you work. 

Why? This is the most personal question of all. Why do you want to go through the hard work and effort of adding to your landscape? It could be a monetary reason such as trying to improve your property value. Or, perhaps it’s merely for your personal enjoyment. Maybe you want to attract butterflies and birds.

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Once you determine the answers to those five questions thing you ready to start your quest for a new landscape look.

Happy Gardening!

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Southern Flower Time

Down here in Florida, this the time of year when flower beds are getting a punch of color, container gardens are getting spruced up and folks are enjoying time outside.

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The heat of the summer is gone and the humidity is at a manageable level. Evenings are cool and the flowers love it. While our family and friends up north are pulling out their flowers, raking leaves/shoveling snow (poor souls!), we are basking in 70-80 degree weather.46795772_s

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Mums and Pansy’s can be used in the flower mixtures down here now, but remember Mums have a short life span and the Pansy flowers will not enjoy the weather when it works it’s way up to 80.

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Enjoy those traditional flower selections such as Geraniums, Impatiens, Salvia, Marigolds;  all our favorites from up north. But don’t be afraid to mix in a taste of the south. Hibiscus, Bromeliads, Bird of Paradise , Orchids. These are all excellent flowering plants that will add a exotic feel to your plantings. Using them in the proper location and mixtures will help ensure their proper growth.

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Don’t be afraid to experiment with your plant mixtures. After all, having fun in the garden is what it’s all about.

 

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Thankful…

Everyone goes through the threats of dangerous weather, but until you face it yourself, it’s hard to image all that you can go through.

Over the last week, we have prepared, endured and are now cleaning up after Hurricane Mathew. All I can say is God was graceful to us.

Plants can be trimmed, replanted or replaced. Buildings can be repaired. But my friends and family were blessed to escape with minimal damage and no injuries.

So I wanted to express my thankfulness and extend my prayers to those in other parts of the eastern seaboard that were not so lucky.

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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.

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Sharing Your Garden

After a day of gardening…

There is something very satisfying about working hard in your garden, and then sitting back to reflect on your hard work. You might be sore, sweaty and tired, but that garden looks good!

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123 RF Stock photo #41765534

And that earns you bragging rights. It seems most of us gardeners love to talk about how well our garden is doing. Or what problems are plaguing us, what obstacles we have tackled and over come.

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123RF stock photo #59004202

It isn’t at all unusual to strike up a conversation with a perfect stranger while browsing the garden center. Advice is freely given about plant selections, and recommendations are shared about the news gardening tool or trend.

There is almost a badge of honor to lean against your shovel, wipe the sweat from your brow, and talk to your neighbor about the newest plan for your garden. We excuse our looks, because we’ve earned every dirty smudge or drip of sweat rolling down the center of our backs.

But there is another way that is enjoyed for sharing your garden. A celebration of sorts. Entertaining that same neighbor or visiting family member in your garden. A small table and chairs, under the umbrella or canopy of overhead trees with a ready pitcher of ice tea and frosty glasses are perfect for spending time together.

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Now is the time to relax and enjoy your hard work. Listen to the birds, watch the butterflies and breath in the scents on the afternoon breeze.

Now compare your gardening tales in comfort and style as you share your garden.

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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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