"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

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

My Favorites -- September 2010

I know I am very late for joining Susan and others to show my favorites of the month, but better late than never!  September is a month that I really don't want to miss to post my favorites. There are so many wonderful things are happening in the garden even this gardener has been hardly having time to take care of it recently.

When I just bought this cat whiskers (Orthosiphon stamenis), I did not expect this is such an easy grower by the look of the delicate flowers.  It grew so fast in our hot humid summer that I had to trim it to keep it in a good form.  The cuttings are so easy to root that I just stick those trimmed branches into the regular soil, and they just grow.  My friends will soon get this pass along from me.

Can you believe this plant was just a single plant in a one-gallon container three months ago?  This actually has been trimmed twice.

I have shown these ground orchids (Spathoglottis) for many times, and I think now they have reached their peak.  What a great performer!

I started this Plumeria rubra from the cutting early this year.  It has been growing leaves nicely, and finally it bloomed last week!  Are these flowers looking delicious?  This flower's Chinese common name is "鸡蛋花" (Egg Flower).  Hmmm, The white flower with the yellow center does look like the egg white and yolk!  Yummy! It also has the nice scent.

This Rose of Sharon (Althea, Hibiscus syriacus) was new in my garden.  Actually the pot contains two individual plants, one pink and one white.  When I bought it from one local nursery, the owner told me that I can twist both branches together, so when they grow bigger, I will have a nice bush with two colors of flowers.  The white one is much smaller, so I made its branches wrapped around the pink one.  Right now, only the pink one shows lots of flowers, the white only occasionally blooms.  Hopefully, next year, they can grow into a beautiful bush, or even better, a small tree. 

Love the effect that blue porterweed against the pink flowers too...

Orchids are always my favorites!  This Blue Fox Tail Orchid is blooming the second time of the year! 

This Dendrobium Orchid is a house warming gift from my friend last year.  I hung it on a palm tree.  It only gets the morning sun.  I only water it when no rain for a week, otherwise it just gets the regular rainfall.  I even stopped fertilizing it for months.  To my surprise, it now has six flower spikes on it!

Since I learned "Leave me alone" tip of growing orchids, I have gained more confidence.  I can see more orchids will find the home in my garden.  Here are two new orchid residents:

This Mexican Bush Sage (Salvia leucantha) was growing so big and it fell on the ground when I came back from China in July.  I trimmed it to one third of the length.  Now it came back better than ever.  The fresh flower is velvet and looks so dainty pretty!  I also found it is very easy to root the cuttings.  I think after it finishes the flowers for this round, I may take the whole plant out, and replace it with the young plants from the cuttings.  The flowers on the young plants just look so much better.

The tropical Lilac (Cornutia grandifolia) is also reblooming this year.  Since I put it in the ground, it has taken off so fast.  Not only the flower is pretty, but also I am loving the scent of the leaves.  Every time I pass by this plant, I can not help myself to rub the leaves between my fingers and smell it!  Seems not many people have seen this plant before.  I was hoping it producing lots of seeds, so that someday I can share it with my friends in the real life and the blogger world.  But for some reason, I hardly see the seeds out of it.  The few seeds produced often drop off prematurely.  Several attempts to root the cuttings also failed.   I really need to find a good way to propagate it.  Wish me luck, and wish someday I can share it with you guys!

 Firespike (Odontonema strictum) was also started from the cuttings this year.  I may start more cuttings later.  If it can survive this winter, I may use it to replace some of privacy hedges in my garden.  The flowers are so bright, and I wish someday it can attract the hummingbirds to visit them.

The last but certainly not the least,  my favorite zinnia in the garden!  This actually came from one volunteer from last year.  Now this single plant has grown so big that I have to stake it to support the heavy flower heads! 

Please also stop by Susan's place to see her and others' favorites of this month. 

I have been cutting my blog time recently due to my busy schedule.  I apologize that I have not visited your blogs and left comments as often as I wish.  I do hope I can find a little more time in the future. 

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Happy Mid-Autumn Festival

On the 15th day of 8th month in lunar calendar, Chinese and lots of people in Asia countries celebrate the Mid-Autumn Festival, which sometimes is also called "Moon Festival", since the moon is supposed to be the roundest and brightest of the year on this day. This year, the mid-autumn festivall falls to today, September 22nd, 2010.

As much as I like to give you a perfect explaination of the origin of Mid-Autumn Festival, I found myself is short of words, as well as time today. So, if you are interested in learning more about this traditional Chinese festival, you can read it here.  Also, Autumn Belle at "My Nice Garden" wrote a sieries of posts about "Mid-Autumn Festival", and I am sure you will enjoy her beautiful writings very well.

The full moon is also a symbol of reunion for Chinese.  So usually family would get together on this day to enjoy a nice dinner, and then go outside to look up the moon, eat the moon cakes and spread the good wishes to the loved ones.  We did eat moon cakes today, and I also took a picture of this full moon. 

When I looked up the moon, I was thinking about my family in China who was also looking the same moon (12 hours earlier though), and felt the closeness to them.

Chinese also think the Mid-Autumn Festival night is a perfect night for lovers getting together, so called "花好月圆夜"  (Hua Hao Yue Yuan Ye).  From the surface of the words, it means this is a night with beautiful flowers and perfect moonlights, therefore a perfect night for lovers to express their feelings in such peaceful and beautiful environment.

Let me contribute some flowers currently blooming in my garden to this beautiful Mid-Autumn Festival night without much wordings... I have purposely chosen those flowers with cool soothing tone to match the silver moon light tonight.

Happy Mid Autumn Festival, My Friends! 

Monday, September 13, 2010

Solitude Time in My September Garden

My schedule has been out of ordinary busy recently both at work and at home.  While I have very little time left to write and read the blog recently, I do make sure I spare a little time to walk through my garden everyday to unwind myself.  Even just spending a short 10 minutes in solitude is so important to me, only me and my garden, nothing else. 

Oh, you are welcome to follow me, quietly...

I am in love with my garden in September with so many colors, both on flowers and the foliage.  Here are some of my favorite spots or plant combinations in the garden...

White Christmas caladium and Persian shield in the container...

Chartreuse colored sweet potato with three different caladiums in another container....

Backyard west flower bed with Aechmea blanchetiana 'Orangeade', ground orchids, variegated devil's backbone, caladiums, Variegated Shell Ginger (Alpinia zerumbet 'Variegata'), vincas.

Bromeliads in this corner have setting pups.  Maybe one more year, I can have this space filled completely.

East side backyard with Agaves (Agave desmettiana 'Variegata', Agave Angustifolia Variegata , Agave lophantha hybrid ) and bulbines.  There are about half dozen pups growing out of Agave desmettiana 'Variegata'.  Burbines are ready to divide again.  I may give away some to my friends.

Flax lily with blue daze (Evolvulus)...

This bed has most butterfly favorites, zinnias, pentas, vinca and blue porterweeds, along with roses, purple fountain grass and diamond frost.

Mexican Bush Sage (Salvia leucantha) started blooming again after I cut it back to one third of the length two months ago.  Love its long blue/purple flower spikes. It makes a nice combination with pink vincas and Siam Tulips.

The new side bed has been filled in quickly...  My new favorite yellow ground orchid is also planted here.   Those white Cat's Wiskers almost bloom non stop, got to love that!

You can tell Coleus is becoming my new favorites in the garden...  They are adding so much color into the flower bed.

Here is one Coleus hidden in the above picture... 

They are also in this new shady garden.  Hmmm, looks like I am running out of the space of this bed already!

Acalypha wlkesiana (Copperleaf or Beafsteak) is blooming with those red fuzzy flowers.  They are rather insignificant compared to its colorful foliage.

This begonia does have both flowers and foliage that this gardener loves!    The flowers are clustered soft pink, and the leaves has the upside dark purple with a deep red color on the back.

Brazil Red Hots was frozen to the ground in January, and it is slowly recovering...  The color is so showy against other green foliage.

Well, maybe I spent more than 10 minutes.  I do feel recharged, and tomorrow is another day!

Do you like the solitude time in the garden?

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Something Old, Something New

Have been quite busy recently at work...   Meanwhile my garden has been enjoying the afternoon showers, and putting lots of colors to welcome fall season.  Although Fall in Florida is almost same as the summer, only with cooler mornings and evenings, and shorter days.

Let me show you something that caught my eyes recently... Something old, and something new...

I had purchased two ground orchids after our hard freeze days in January, the pink one has been blooming profoundly for a couple of months now. 

The dark pink one just started their show recently, but with stronger flower spikes and slightly bigger flowers.

This yellow one was a recent purchase. The color was so bright that it almost jumped out and shouted to me in the gardening center "Hello, bring me home!". How could I resist it?

I have heard from other Florida gardeners that ground orchids are not cold-hardy, so I will dig them out and bring them indoors if it ever reaches the freezing  point again this coming winter (oh no, please). 

This desert rose (Adenium obesum ) has been a great performer since early spring.   In my experience, this is such a carefree plant in the container.  Drought tolerant, and heat/humidity lover.  As long as you don't over water it, and bring it under the covered patio or indoor during the freezing days, this plant will reward you lots of flowers through the four seasons in Florida climate.
 My friend gave me some desert rose seeds, see what I got out of them!  Looks like more desert roses will reside in my garden!

My first Indian Blanket (Gaillardia pulchella) flower!  I planted the seeds in the spring, after a long waiting, finally it opened its first flower this past weekend.  I am counting on them for my winter garden color.

Another one of the garden firsts is on the way...   This frangipani (Plumeria) was started from a cutting early this year, now finally it shows its first bud.  Yay! At least I can see the flowers before it drops all the leaves in the winter.

This Bridal Bouquet (Plumeria pudica) is also a new resident in my garden.  I have seen this blooming beautifully with bountiful snow white flowers in the neighbourhood, and think it would look great in my garden too.  It has three of them in the container, and I planted them in the ground in a tri-angle setting, hoping they can form a nice cluster next year.  For now, I will just enjoy the flowers from this young plant.

Firespike (Odontonema strictum) also bloomed first time in the garden (wow, there seems lots of  "firsts" in the garden recently).  The scarlet flowers rise above the dark green foliage look so stunning.  No wonder it has another common name as "Scarlet Flame".   I am thinking to use this replacing some of boring hedges in my garden.  Butterflies and hummingbirds would love it too!


 Vinca (Periwinkle) is always one of my favorites, and blooms almost year around.  I put two of the self seedlings into this swan planter, and one chooses growing around the neck of the swan, and the other trails down.  I thought this looks very pretty especially I did not arrange them in that way on purpose.

Just bought this Rose of Sharon (Althea, Hibiscus syriacus) last week.  This flower seems have distorted, but the skipper doesn't mind it at all.

When the flowers are fully opened...

There are so many to do and enjoy in the garden. With the approaching cooler weather, I wish I can have more time to be in my garden.
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