"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

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Sedum Hybrid Florida Friendly Gold: "Over-used" Plant?

Have you ever wondered that you might have over-used some plant in your garden, but you just can not stop using it anyway?  That is how I felt the usage of "Sedum hybrid Florida Friendly Gold" in my garden.

I came to know this plant first from Riverview Flower Farm's Florida Friendly Plants website.  Here is the description of this plant: "Sedum hybrid 'Florida Friendly Gold' TM is a great new plant from a European strain introduced in 2005 that has proven to be tough as nails in Florida. It takes the South Florida heat and humidity and is not bothered by cold we get in North Florida. Florida Friendly Gold stays 3 inches above the soil and spreads and stays full and lush throughout the year. It grows great in full sun and also performs well in a surprising low amount of filtered sun or partial shade and still holds that great chartreuse-gold color."

When I opened my first new flower bed in my current house, I bought a 9-pack tray of this plant from Home Depot, and have spreaded it around my garden (and my friends' gardens) since then.  Oh, how glad I am I made that purchase!

I used it as a ground cover in front of a flower bed (this is the result of three 3-inch packs planted last September):

For some reason, I have not found the right plants that can perform well in these three layer planter.  The bottom layer holds 'Trailing Lavender Lantana', and the the center of the top layer is the Petunia.  Before I could find other plants to put into this planter, I thought I just "temporarily" use the Sedum to add some color and textures.  Quickly, they spreaded like this.  Not bad looking considering I really did not design for it, huh? 

They also do a good job to fill this swan planter quickly.  The recent freeze seems have turned its color to a little reddish, but I am sure it will recover to its chartreuse-gold color pretty soon.

Here it is again with Flax Lily and Pertunia in a planter. 

They are also in my favorite froggie planter!  This is a picture taken before the January freeze we had in Florida.  Notice how the color and texture of the leaves look differently from the ones in other planters? Seems this plant did react to the weather to self-protect.  Should I care, as long as they still look beautifully, and performe well?!
I am very impressed how tough this plant is, really lives up to its promise: "tough as nails"!  One section of the plant broke and fell into this 5 inch pot when I was moving around my plants in the three layer planter.  I just let it sit there without giving any special attention.   Until one day, I noticed this pot full of Sedum in the corner.  Do you think I could just throw it away? 

No, I tucked this whole pot into one of my front porch containers.  Such bright color added!  I love how this color contrasts with the purple in Persian Shield.
Since the front porch gets shade for the most of the day, and the containers were protected during the freeze, you can again see how the leaves show differently.

To satisfy my curiosity, I took two close-up pictures to show two different kinds of textures of this plant.  The first one is located in full sun area, and got no protection from the freeze.   The color has a little reddish brown added, and the texture is more tight, fleshy succulent looking.  The second one is located in partial shaded area with freeze protection.  The texture is more weeping and skinny, and the color is close to its true color:  chartreuse-gold.

If you have this plant in your garden, do you notice the same thing as I do?

Okay, now here is the question:  Have I over-used this plant?  Why I don't feel ashamed of it?  hmm...

Thursday, February 25, 2010

My Favorites for the Month (February)

Simply Susan came up the idea for the favorites of the month.  Thanks Susan for the idea, and the tip to use Google Picasa to create the photo collage!

This is the very first bromeliad bloomed for me in my new garden (not counting those that were already in blooming when I purchased from the store).  It natuarally becomes one of my favorites for this month. This is a pass-along plant from my friend.  I was told that it is an ornamental pineapple, with red color, and won't grow much larger than the one in the picture except that the flower spike will be stretching taller.  Any idea what is its name?
Red and pink flowers are most appropriate to be my favorites of the February, for Valentine's Day, as well as Chinese New Year celebration.   (Dragon Wing Begonia, Petunia, Stock and Red Geranium).

Click the picture to enlarge

I can not forget those "little" flowers that have been adding interests and life to my winter garden. 

Blue Salvia has not stopped blooming since last November.  I love the pureness and the smile face of the white voila.   The dwarf chenille plant seems very happy tucked under the sago plam tree with their red fuzzy flowers.  The purslane is another non-stop bloomer in my garden.

Click the picture to enlarge

My most favorite of this month has to go to the Double Delight Rose I newly purchased this month! These are the same flower in their different stages, can you tell the order? The color changes from creame white, to red, and to crimson as the bud unfolds.

Click the picture to enlarge

I can not believe February is almost to the end...  Spring should be just around the corner now!

Monday, February 22, 2010

A Busy Weekend in the Garden

I have been busy in the garden this weekend! 

For the past a couple of weeks,  the weather in south florida has been on the cold side (Majority of days' temperature was in 50s, and nights in 40s, or even high 30s),  some very cold tender plants in my garden again show some sign of cold damages.   So, with this weekend's warm weather (day temperature in 70s, and night went to 60s), I just can't help staying outside in the garden as much as I can and get my hands in the soil again! Hmm, felt so good!

Friday night I potted up some cuttings I previousely put in the water, including three Angel's Trumpets cuttings from my friend at work, and some double layered hibiscus cuttings. We will see if I can be successful on these cuttings.

On Saturday, when we went shooping at Costco, I was hoping to find some new plants there, and I was not disapointed!  This is what I came home with:  Two boxes of two-root dormant rose bushes!

The type in the left box is called "New Day".  Here is the description on the box: "Bright , clear yellow roses of good form and spicy fragrance that bloom continuously through the season.  medium-sized bush. Everblooming Hybrid Tea Rose".  Yellow is missing in my rose collection, and the spicy fragrance is an extra bonus.  So, I have to have it :)

The type in the right box is called "Peace". Here is the description on the box: "Magnificent blooms of soft, clear yellow edged with pink, on strong stems, large, dark, leathery foliage. Vigorous. Everblooming Hybrid Tea Rose".  The bicolor again is something that led me to buy it.  I hope it lives up to its promise.

I know, I know, they are not on the rootstocks (Fortuniana and Dr. Hughey) that are perfect for Florida climate, but with the color this lovely, and the price so tempting ($11.99 for one two-roots combo), I just can not resist buying two combos!  If not because my limited garden space, I might have bought more colors.

On the way home from Costco, hubby needed to go to a store to buy something for the swimming pool, and the Home Depot JUST happens to be nearby.  So, I asked him to drop me off there first to JUST take a look :)  They had lots of plants stocked for the spring, and I really could not JUST take a look.  As a result, these two pots of Ground Orchids (Spathoglottis) followed me home...

They are in two different colors.  The first one is kind of purple, pink combination (not as purple as 'Grapette').  I guess it is "Sorbet".  Any thought? 

The second one is more on pink side. Who knows what is the name of this color in Ground Orchid family?
When we finally came home, it was almost the dinner time.  After I fixed a quick dinner for the whole family,  I headed out to the garden to start dividing the orchids.

The original plan was dividing each pot into two sections.  However, I quickly discovered each pot has very big clumps of plants.  I ended to divide the purple one into three sections, and the pink one into four sections, total seven divisions out of two containers (total cost of $29.98)! Not a bad deal, huh? 

Although it was said that Spathoglottis plicata needs full sun to bloom, but in Florida, it prefers to getting some afternoon shade.  With this in mind, I planted three of them in the west side of the front yard, same flower bed as the African Iris.  They are under a small oak tree, which I hope will provide some shade to the

After planting three orchids, it was already around 10:00 at night.  So I decided to call it a day.  When I went on bed, I was locating a right spot in my garden in my mind for the rest of four plants...

Sunday, my kids had academic competitions and a field day at Sunday Chinese school.  The only time I can find for gardening is again after the dinner :)

I eventually decided I will plant the rest of orchids in the backyard.  The only spot I can find that has partial shade in the afternoon is west flower bed, at the corner that close to the house.  After moving out two Devil's backbone plants (Pedilanthus tithymaloides) to a near by location, and two pineapple plants to a more sunny place, I finally got the space for two of ground orchids.  I think they look quite good behind the stock (Matthiola) plants in bright pink color.  You also can see the devil's backbone at the left bottom corner.

There are still two divisions of ground orchids not planted in the ground yet.  I potted them up for now until I can find some other places in my garden.  I think I might need another flower bed on the sides of the house, so that I can have more plants that love partial shade.  That will be on my to-do list for this year.

As for those four newly purchased dormant rose bushes, I will leave them in the box until next weekend.  So stay tunned :)

How was your weekend?  Hope you all had a very relaxing, or fullfilled weekend!

Monday, February 15, 2010

Another Rose for Me

This Valentine's day I received a gift from my hubby (I bought for him.  LOL), a Double Delight Hybrid Tea Rose!

Growing roses in Florida garden is somehow challenging due to our hot and humid weather in the summer.  All of my three rose bushes suffer black spots from time to time.  Although I tried to use the rose spray to control them, they always manage to come back.  Fortunately they seem have not affected the roses' blooming yet. 

I learned that there are two kinds of rootstocks are excellent for Florida's climate: Fortuniana and Dr. Hughey.    So, when I saw Home Depot has Fortuniana rootstock roses for sale, I grabbed one right away.

I love this rose especially for its bicolor, creamy-white and red to crimson.  Is it gorgeous?!

Friday, February 12, 2010

Celebration Bouquets for the New Year

Do you know this Sunday, Feburary 14th,  is not only the Western Valentine's Day, it is also Chinese New Year Day?!

Chinese New year or Spring Festival is the most important traditional Chinese holiday. The festival traditionally begins on the first day of the first month in the Chinese (Lunar) calendar and ends on the 15th; this 15th day is called Lantern Festival.

Because the track of the new moon changes from year to year, Chinese New Year can begin anytime between late January and mid-February. This year it is coincident with western's Valentine's Day, and it is the Year of the Tiger according to Chinese Zodiac.  If you were born in 1938, 1950, 1962, 1974, 1986 and 1998, you most probably are a tiger (with the exceptions of those who were born early January since it could fall into the previous year of the Lunar Calendar). You can find your exact sign here.

Chinese people loves to use abundance of fresh auspicious flowers such as peach blossoms, narcissus, orchids, and chrysanthemums and fruits such as oranges and tangerines to decorate their house. A home with a plant that bloom on New Year's Day signifies a year of prosperity. For this reason, before Lunar New Year, the city streets will look like a florists shop.

My sister, who is a professor teaching Botany at College in China, also loves gardening in her own backyard(of course!), sent me a group of photos she took at her local flower market on the street.  I thought I will share with my fellow gardeners here, and hope you can share my joy through all these beautiful bouquets with me.  I also included some of Chinese common names here, so if you can not recognize some characters, just ignore them :)

Oranges, tangerines, or Calamondin are symbols for abundant happiness. Tangerines with leaves intact assure that one's relationship with the other remains secure. For newlyweds, this represents the branching of the couple into a family with many children. The second picture shows Calamondins.

Branches full of Peach blossoms are sold as bundles.  Peach blossom is not only the symbol of prosperity, but also is believed will bring the good luck to a person's love relationship.  So families who have unmarried grow-up children would put these bundles in their house to wish their kids will find their true love in the new year.

Japanese Ardisia (紫金牛).  Those red berries make this plant a perfect holiday decoration!

Chaenomeles speciosa (Flowering quince, 贴梗海棠): This ugly duckling of the garden spends most of the year as a shrubby tangle of branches and nondescript foliage. However, for a brief few weeks in late winter to early spring, it transforms into a ravishing beauty. 

The plant in the middle (adore that planter!) is one kind of Orchids, Cymbidium Hybridum Hort (大花蕙兰).  Seems they are mostly found in Asia.  Have any of you seen this one here?  

Notice the Bromeliads and phalaenopsis orchids around it?  Their bright blooming colors made them very popular as New Year plants. You also can see the variegated Ginger plants in the background, which are often found in Florida garden as well.  My sister lives in a city (Shen Zhen) south of China, and its climate is very similar to Florida. 

Chrysanthemums: The name Chrysanthemum comes from the Greek 'chrysos' (golden) and 'anthos' (flower). Florist Chrysanthemums are native to China. The wild plant bears small yellow flowers. They have been cultivated in China for over 2500 years.  The flower is considered a symbol of happiness, long life, cheerfulness, optimism, rest and ease.

The Narcissus flower is perceived quite differently in the east than in the west. Whereas in the west, the Narcissus flower is seen as a symbol of vanity, in China, the same flower is seen as a symbol of wealth and good fortune.  I remember when I was little, most of my neighbors grew Narcissus in their home.  Certain variety has heavenly fragrance.

Dahlias (大丽菊):

Azaleas (杜鹃).  I especially love the Azaleas with delicate pink colors.  Oh, I also spoted my favorite Fuchsia plants next to the pink Azaleas.

Reiger Begonia (玫瑰海棠).  I recently saw that they were sold at local Costco center.

There are still some more flowers which are quite common here as well, such as Hawaii Ti, Wax Begonias, Bird of Paradise and some house plants for foliage use.  I won't bore you with more pictures.

It is just amazing that seems all those common plants are connecting the two sides of the world together.  No matter what culture you hold, the bloomings never fail to touch the soft spots of people's heart.

So, if you celebrate Chinese New Year. Happy NEW YEAR! For the rest of you, Happy Valentine's day! Or, just simply have a good day!

For me, we will have feasts with our Chinese friends here.  Phone calls will be made tomorrow morning (New Year Eve of China time) to our families.   This is a day we will always hold near and dear to our hearts, no matter how far and how long we have travelled away from home....

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Pink in my garden

I have never been a big fan of pink when it comes to choose for my clothes.  However, when comes to flowers, pink definitely is one of my favorite colors!

Come along with me on this saturday morning to see what pink blooming we can find today in my garden.

I have three rose bushes, and they are all in different shade of pink.  These are two of them blooming.

Pink Vinca.  This is a self-sowing.  I did not take it out figuring my garden can use some more color in this winter.

Pentas.  They are planted in front of the African Iris (Fortnight Lily), which green waving foliages give this plant a nice background.

Even the blooming is not as prolific as it was in the summer, the Desert Rose has been continousely blooming since I brought it home last summer.

This Dipladenia pink is another non-stopping bloomer in my garden, even after that two weeks near freeze
weather. It was sheltered under a coconut tree and next to the fence during the freeze.

Kalanchoe.  Oops, I did not plant this one.  My husband found this hidden among the pool pump equipments two days ago.  Don't know how it got there.  Of course, as a "good" gardener, I dug them out and potted them up :)

Bromeliad (Update: Tillandsia Cyanea).  Hmm... does this count?  There is a blue flower shooting out of the pink bracts.

Zinnia:  Another self-sowing plant.

Of course, I can not forget this Brazilian Red Hots (Alternanthera) in recovery from the freeze damage.

This snapdragon (Antirrhinum) is new to my garden.

Stock (Matthiola), another new plant I introduced to my garden after the freeze.  Love their brilliant colors!

Thank you for coming along with me!  Hope you enjoyed all these pink bloomings as much as I did.  Have a  beautiful weekend!
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