"Gardening is about enjoying the smell of things growing in the soil, getting dirty without feeling guilty, and generally taking the time to soak up a little peace and serenity. " ~Lindley Karstens

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Gifting Time

Hope you all had a very merry Christmas, and received perfect gifts you always wanted.

I love receiving plants as gifts for any occassion.  I know lots of gardeners would agree with me :)

This is a Christmas gift from my friend, who is also a passionate gardener.  The Neoregelia bromeliad is mounted on a tree stump at the base, and the Tillandsias bromeliad is attached to the twig wreath.  I am thinking to install a wall-mounted basket on the back porch wall, and then put this combination into the basket.  This would add such a nice vertical interest into the garden.

My Birthday is in December.  Part of my Birthday and Christmas gifts I received from my family were three Vanda orchids.

Vanda Sanderiana x Vanda Taweesuka

Vanda Kultawa, 'Blue'
The third one is a Vanda Sawita'blue', which has two flower spikes that are not opening yet.  Due to the recent cold front, I am diligently moving the Vandas outdoor during the day, and bring them indoor during the night.  Hope this won't impact its normal blooming schedule.  Vanda Sawita'blue' is supposed to be a sky-blue colored flower, can not wait for its blooming.

I also bought some Vandas to give to my friends as gifts.  This Vanda Leurcharusmee has maroon-violet flowers with white spots.  I know my friends would enjoy them for many years coming.
Vanda Leurcharusmee
Happy New Year to you all!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Garden Bloggers Blooming Day - December 2010

Talking about the cold weather and its impacts to the garden seems a trend on Florida blogs these days, thanks to our unusual December freeze or near freeze days these two weeks.

Last week, I was on a business trip in Phoenix when the first cold front hit the Florida.  Since I lived in south Florida, and the forecast showed the lowest would only go around 37 Fahrenheit, I did not worry too much.  I did bring all my orchids indoors though, and dug one clump for each color of my ground orchids from ground, and potted them up so that they can stay in the the garage.  The rest of the ground orchids were left in the ground.  I just could not take any chance on those beautiful ground orchids since they are supposed to be frost tender.   Parents also watered the plants during those coldest days for me to keep the overall health of the plants.

When I came home last Friday, I was happy that my garden looked fine, except for some cold tender plants, such as coleus, sweet potato leaves, and pentas had leave damage.  That was fine with me, coleus was about finished anyway, and sweet potato leaves will bounce back in no time once the weather warms up.  I also found that my Tropical Lilac's (Cornutia grandifolia) leaves were fried to crispy and fell off even with only two near freeze days.  I guess it was called "Tropical" for reasons.

Early this week, the temperature went down around 32 degree Fahrenheit, I covered the Agaves, tender bromeliads, ground orchids that are still in the ground, and the Tropical Lilac with old sheets.  I am happy that they seem have pulled through just fine, and the weather will warm up the rest of the week.

As a token of small celebration, I decided to join Garden Bloggers Blooming Day, hosted by May Dreams Gardens, for the very first time.

This coleus is planted under an Angel's Trumpet tree and next to the house wall.  Seems the protection of the tree and the warmth reflected from the wall did help this one survive.  The leave has more red than it had in the warm weather.

This Cigar Plant (Cuphea melvillea) also shows more red color in the cold weather.

My all time favorite in the garden, dragon wing begonias.  It is tougher than it looks, and the cold weather did not do any damages to it.

Another Dragon Wing Begonia...  Even when it is not flowering, I love its foliage.

This hawaii Ti is supposed to be cold-tender plant, but since it is planted against the house wall, and behind the Plumeria pudica bush, the leaves were untouched, and is still showing beautiful bright pink foliage.

The red salvia is perfect Christmas color, don't you think?

I noticed this pentas showing different shade of pink on the flower pentals, not sure if it is because of the cold weather, or the age of the flowers. 

This is my newest ground orchid, purchased two weeks before the last week's cold front.  I left it in its container, so that it can be brought indoor easily for protection.  Now I have four colors of ground orchids.  I can foresee this collection will grow more in the future.

Indian Blanket flowers don't seem mind the cold weather at all.  They brighten my Agave garden corner so beautifully.

Kalanchoe is the cold weather bloomer.  I had three colors last year, deep pink, light pink double, and golden yellow double.  This year, I couldn't find the pink double anywhere.  I wonder if the pink double turned to yellow double somehow.

The geranium is another cold weather bloomer returned from last year.

This is my first year to grow Dianthus, and they are quite happy to grow in the ground.  I did not do any covering for them in the cold weather, and they proved themselves as such little tough plants.

The red-orange flowers from Bolivian Sunset Gloxinia (Gloxinia sylvatica) are giving the welcome warmth to the winter garden and this gardener too.

My roses are obviously enjoying this cold weather.  They hardly bloomed during the summer, and now they came back to life, with bigger flowers.

Snapdragon loves the cold weather too!

Impatiens looked quite comfortable tucked in the container.   I love to have some bright color in the container, especially in the winter.

Hope you enjoyed my first GBBD post.  For me, it is nice to have a record for the plants survived our first two rounds of cold weather.  Although I hope the rest of the winter (or should I say the up-coming winter?) will be mild, I know I have to be prepared, and enjoy what I have now.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Admiring Tropical Beauties

While I am majorly using this blog to record my gardening progress and fun, I also love to use it to share the plants I saw during some garden visits or trips.  I admit that I don't know the names for most of them, but it does not stop me sharing them with you.  Maybe some of you can recognize them.

Today I will show you some of those tropical beauties I saw last month from several different places.

Last month, company had a team building activity at Zoo Miami (formerly Miami Metro-Zoo).  It turned out that this zoo not only has large selection of animals from around the world, they also have beautiful landscape filled with tropical beauties.

The team building event is Safari Quest.  Team was divided into 3-person groups to find the correct animal names based on some hints.  The list included the hints for 25 animals, and we had two and half hours to finish the quest.  The time was pretty tight even we got to ride a Safari Quest Cycle.  We had lots of fun to fulfill the quest, but you also can imagine that I did not get much time to admire the plants and take lots of pictures.  Here are some I managed to take.

Oh, I surely recognized this Floss-Silk Tree (Ceiba Speciosa) immediately since I have been admiring it from Floridagirl's blog for a while.  She listed its detail in her "Plant of Month: November 2010" post.  Who would not love it?

I was certain that somebody has shown this flower in his/her blog, but I can not remember its name.

It is no secret I love bromeliads, and I especially loved this placement of bromeliads near the zoo entrance.

I took parents to visit Flamingo Gardens during one weekend.  The following pictures were taken there.

This soft pink flower kind of reminded me Jatropha tree flowers, but I am not sure if  they are related.

This flower is so purely white, almost like snow. 

Aren't these two beautiful? Again, I don't know the names.  Sorry.

This has some similarity with yellow shrimp plant, but it is obviously not.

This also looks familiar, but no name came to my mind either.

Love the look of this soft yellow flower with white bracts, so delicate, yet stunning!

I don't how this tree formed the trunk like this.  Nature really creates magic.

Ficus Racemosa 'Cluster Fig'

I took the next two pictures from a local nursery.  The owner told me this is called "African Tulip" tree, and let me know that I was the first person who ever asked him its name.

While I can not grow this tree in my tiny garden, I was certainly admiring its bright red-orange flowers.  I am sure this tree would put on a fantastic show when it is full of the blooms. 
African Tulip (Spathodea campanulata)

Hope you enjoyed these tropical beauties as much as I did, and feel free to shout out some of those plants' names.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

The Hot, the Loud and the Proud --- My First Vanda Orchid Blooming

I have not joined Noel at Plant Fanatic In Hawaii for his "Hot, Loud and Proud" meme for quite a while.  I remember the first time I joined him was back in March.   I was excited about my first Cattleya 'Jewel Box' orchid blooming.  Guess what?  This month another my "garden first" bloomed just on time for this meme, and it is my first Vanda orchid!

This is a hybrid Vanda orchid (Kasem's Delight x Blitz's Heartthrob).  I bought it together with Cattleya  'Jewel Box' in January, right after our unusual Florida freeze.  It had a flower spike already developed when I brought it home expecting it would bloom very soon.  Sadly, after I hung it under the small oak tree in the front yard, that flower spike quickly dried and turned to brown.   This similar thing had happened several times before with my other orchids.  If the flower spike was still developing, or buds was just forming when purchasing, they usually withered after bringing from nursery.  My speculation was new environment might be quite different from the nursery environment that those orchids have been growing.

Anyway, despite of the dried-up flower spike, the Vanda has gradually adjusted to its new home, and I was happy to see it developed the new leaves and roots. Until about a month ago, I spotted a flower spike growing out of the leaves! Ten months' waiting is quite long, but it totally worth it!

For all other "Hot, Loud and Proud" presentations around the world, you can check out Noel's site.

Friday, November 26, 2010

My Favorites -- November 2010

Once again, I am joining Susan to post my favorites of the month.

This Heliconia is certainly the star of the month.  When the slim flower bud initially formed on the plant, I did not expect it could look so spectacular when it fully opens. 

This Hawaii Ti has been showing the bright pink color this month.   A plant with pretty foliage is always welcome in my garden!

I planted three Red Salvias in front of a white Angelonia angustifolia in the full sun area.  The color combination made me think this would be a good Christmas color scheme.   What do you think?

This might be the last flower of this Plumeria.  The leaves have started turning to yellow and falling.  Soon, they will go to the dormant stage, and wait for the next year to show its beauty again.

May I show you one more time of my ground orchids (Spathoglottis)?  The flowers have been standing since August, and I have the feeling that they may also soon fade away.

I bought six snapdragons in the terrible condition for 25 cents each from a big box store's clearance rack.  The leaves were all drooping and I could not tell what colors they are.  Now two of them are rewarding me with their velvet purple/red flowers.  I always feel excited when I am able to nurture some plants from near-death to the life.

Even these double impatiens are small, but with lots of them blooming, they are surely brighten my shady corner of the garden.

Datura metel (Devil's trumpet) was attacked by tomato hornworms back in August and lost all its leaves.  Now they not only survived, they have been blooming prolifically for quite some time.  Wanted to include it into this month's favorite in case any cold weather kills it for good.

This is the month that my pink Angel's Trumpet's(Brugmansia) first opened its flowers.  They look gorgeous in any angle.

I think these Indian Blanket flowers (Gaillardia pulchella) will remain as my favorite for months coming, especially in the winter, when not much are blooming...

Without any doubt, these two early arrivals of Amaryllis are my favorites of the month!

Amaryllis 'Oskar'

Amaryllis 'Apple Blossom'

Hope you all had a great Thanksgiving Day, and a great weekend ahead! 
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