"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, 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! 

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Here I Present The "Oskar"

My amaryllis "Oskar" is blooming!  This is the second amaryllis in blooming out of my five newly purchased bulbs.  It already had flower stalk the time I purchased.  The first one 'Apple Blossom' bloomed about 10 days ago, and it now has faded away.

Although I wish this one also can have three or more flowers like 'Apple Blossom", I do love its rich red color.  It looks so showy in my fall garden.

This is my first time to grow amaryllis, and currently they are all in their individual containers.   I don't know if they will bloom again in the spring.  Maybe there won't be enough time for the bulbs to restore the energy for reblooming.  We shall see.  Should I plant them in the ground after they finish the flowers?

Looking forward to gain some experience of my own to grow the amaryllis...

The weather has been so nice in South Florida recently.  I enjoy the cool breeze when working in the garden at night.  Yes, I usually work in the garden at night.  With a day time job, dinner and kids homework after work, night time is my time to be in the garden, relaxing and happy.   Although I also realized that I probably should have planted more white flowers so that I can enjoy more of my garden under the moonlight.  Especially after the daylight saving time ended a couple of weeks ago, I often found myself come home in the dark.

That made the morning walks in the garden even more precious.  I managed to take some pictures of my new bloomers during some of my "quick" morning garden walks.

Well, this doesn't have the flower, but this variegated Devil's Backbone is showing its pinkish seasonal color.  I guess gardeners know more about season changes in Florida.

This double layered hibiscus is the one I started from a cutting.  This is its first bloom.    I don't know its name, and I am not the fan of the peach color.  But my camera found it quite eye catching today...

Double layered impatiens...  They love the cool weather as much as I do, and started blooming prolifically recently.  When taking the close-ups, they resemble the red rose so much.

Kalanchoes also are the cool weather bloomers.  I have three different colors of Kalanchoes, and this golden yellow double layered one is my favorite.   Ok, I guess now you know I seem love double layered flowers of any kind, although I think I also love their single versioned counterparts as well.

First helliconia flower!  With a tiny garden, I am a little afraid to grow helliconia since they tend to take up lots of space.  This one is still in the container. Anybody knows if this one could spread wider and bigger as well?

This Seemannia sylvatica (formerly Gloxinia sylvatica, 红岩桐) is a new addition to the garden.  Love its showy red-orange tubular flowers.  It is also called as Bolivian Sunset Gloxinia.

I don't have a vegetable garden, but finally I tried to grow  hyacinth beans in three containers about two months ago.  They are supposed to be the summer vegetables, but in Florida, we are lucky to have long period to grow different vegetables.  Look, it is already producing the beans!  This bean is what I loved back in China.  Stir-frying them with pork stripes taste delicious.  This experiment also adds a little more interests into my parents' daily life here.  Checking the beans every day in the garden becomes a fun part of their garden walk.

To my friends in United States, Happy Thanksgiving! 
To others, Have a good week ahead!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Garden Odds

One walk in the garden  revealed some garden odds.

I started these Indian Blanket flowers (Gaillardia pulchella) from a seed packet this spring, and most of them came out just like what I expected.  Here is the odd I found on one of the plants:  The flower looks like two or three flowers connected together.   You can tell this from the flower head on the left,  that is not fully opened yet.

Here is one plant coming from the same seed packet, and is what I considered as "normal".

The other odd I found is on this yellow ground orchid (Spathoglottis).  Can you see a green seed pod hanging from the left bottom flower spike?  I did not see any other seed pods from my other ground orchids spreaded in the garden.  I was quite excited when I first saw the seed pod since that could mean I can propagate more orchids.  However, after I read further more, it seems not an easy task since the orchid seeds require some special fungus to germinate which might only be possible in a lab environment.  My best bet could be sowing the seeds directly on the base of the mother plant since the mother plant might have those needed fungus for the seedling.   I will try this way once the seeds mature.  If I ever succeed, I will give an update later.

Speaking of the ground orchids, the ones located in the partial shade area are still blooming strong, new spikes are still rising up.   The ones in the more sunny area are not performing as well, maybe those areas are also not receiving enough water.  I think the ground orchids love partial shad and moistured location.  I so love these ground orchids.  Once established, they are care free. Their long soft foliage add the texture and green lush into the flower bed, and the flowers last for months.  I have three colors for now, yellow, light pink, and deep pink.  I just saw another lovely color of the ground orchid in a local nursery recently.   Hmm, should I bring one more home?  Just feel a little guilty since recently I have been plant shopping a lot, and I still have more on my list waiting...

Here is another plant I am in love with... "Angelonia angustifolia ".  The original small plant in the five inch pot has been thriving into a nice mound in the side partial shade flower bed.  This white one together with the Cats' Whiskers on the background, and the yellow ground orchid create a lovely scene under the moon light.

This is the purple version of Angelonia angustifolia .  I am thinking to plant more in another more sunny location.  Not sure if they will do as well as they do in this partial shade area.    Even it usually is marked as "full sun" plant, but I found out in South Florida, even the sun loving plants do better in an area that at least get some protection from the intensive afternoon sun. 

Here is the side garden these two Angelonia angustifolia are located.  If you still remember my post about opening this new flower bed back in August, you can tell how fast the plants could grow in Florida!

The small tree located in the middle of this side bed is another Angel's Trumpet's(Brugmansia)  from my friend at work. It only had two branches when I planted it in the ground, now it grows so big, and is already producing the 12 inch long pink trumpet flowers!

To end this post, let me include another combination that I am admiring these days.  This plant stand is in the front patio area.  The philodendron 'moonlight', the blooming Dendrobiums orchid, and the rod iron wall decor are looking nicely together, and made me smile every time I open the front door.

Parents have been amazed with my fairly new gardening passion since they came.  They did not know how their daughter suddenly became a gardener!  I am happy they too are enjoying my garden as much as I do, and the cool weather we are having made their daily morning walk around the garden even more enjoyable. 

Monday, November 15, 2010

Early Blooming of Amaryllis

When I wrote my bulbs craziness in my previous post, I did not expect that I can provide one picture of my own of one of those bulbs this soon.  My Amaryllis 'Apple Blossom' has bloomed! 

This was the bulb I picked up from Lowe's about 10 days ago.  It already had flower spike when I brought it home.  In short 10 days, it opened three gorgeous flowers!

Yes, I know this seems a little too early for Amaryllis blooming, but I don't mind enjoying this early arrival at all.  As a matter of fact, I have been so exciting that I can not help myself snapping its pictures since the day three buds burst out of the pod.

I love every aspect of this flower, white base, pink stripes, and the green center.  It does remind me of a "Apple blossom".

I did go back to pick up three more of Amaryllis bulbs after I purchased the initial two ('Apple blossom' and 'Oskar').  The other three are:  'Susan', 'Star of Holland' and 'Christmas Story'.  'Oskar' also had flower spike when I purchased, so I guess it will be the next in blooming.  'Christmas Story' just produced one flower spike from the base.  Looks like it might bloom before the Christmas, and its pure white color might be the reason of the name .   'Susan' and 'Star of Holland' only have leaves now.  It would be so much fun to see them blooming one after another.  I will make sure you will not miss seeing them blooming in my future posts.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

I Am Going Bulbs Crazy

I am going bulbs crazy recently!

Living in South Florida, I know I can not grow those bulbs popular up north, such as Tulips, Iris, Alliums, Hyacinth, Crocus and Daffodils.  After having read my fellow Floridians' blogs for a while and the information from the Internet, I found we also have our fair choices of "tropical bulbs".

After failing to find those bulbs in the local nurseries, I turn to "Wild World Web", and luckily found lots of them.  To avoid paying high shipping cost for each individual item, I had to order in batches.  I know it is a little risky considering I almost had no experience with growing bulbs.  But this is a risk I am willing and can not resist to take.

Here are the list I ordered so far.  Some have arrived, and some are still on the way...  Can not wait to receive them all!

For my own record, I borrowed the pictures from those sale sites to go with each item:

Ranunculus asiaticus (20 bulbs/roots, mixed colors)
Sparaxis tricolor (50 bulbs, mixed colors)
I seem have not seen much Floridians are growing the above two, but since they are marked for "Zone 10", I decided to give them a try.

I lost my only Daylily in the summer, so this new purchased one will be my another lonely Daylily.  It is said to be evergreen and suitable for planting in South.  We will see...
RASPBERRY daylily ( 1 fan)
white spider lily ( 1 bulb)

Red Spider Lily (5 bulbs)
 These crinum Lily bulbs are marked as blooming sizes, hope this means I can see the flowers in the near future.  The flowers are supposed to be huge. It would be a gorgeous view when they are blooming!
Ellen Bosanquet Crinum Lily ( 5 blooming size bulbs)
The following pink spider lily was marked as "Rare".   Anybody is planting this same one?
Pink Spider Lily ( 1 bulb)

When I visited one of big box stores this weekend, I surprisingly found they have Amaryllis bulbs for sale for $3.98 each! The bulbs are in nice size.  Usually this size of Amaryllis bulb could cost about $10.  I bought one "Apple Blossom", and one "Oskar",  and think I should go back to grab more before they are all gone.

Apple Blossom

Oskar Amaryllis
 Today I planted some of arrived bulbs, and expecting the rest of them arriving in the next two weeks. I am curious to see how all these would perform in our climate and my garden.   I know some of them may even not bloom for several years.  So, I would practice my patience, and learn to be a patient gardener.

Any Floridian who have grown these bulbs, I welcome you offer any tips/experience/lessons learned.  I will also periodically update the progress of these bulbs.

I will continue searching for the bulbs that are great for our climate and hopefully buy more when pocket allows... Am I being bulbs crazy?
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