- Gladioli are growing nicely
- We just planted some New Guinea Impatients and some
- We also planted some more pentas
- Pansies are fading due to the summer heat
- Crape myrtles are beautiful but not in bloom yet
- Lilies are coming out - we have 5 out of 12 right now
- The Passion Vine has reached the top of the fence but hasn't bloomed yet - we're waiting
- Cannas are still in bloom
- Peppermint is spreading rapidly
- We've planted some vincas around the clematis which just finished blooming
- Strawberries are still fruiting
- Melons and Cornichons are growing nicely
- Onions are also growing and beginning to bulb
- Our tomatoes are starting to set fruit; the older ones set fruit a week ago
- One of our cherry trees might actually bud; we thought it had died
- Verbenas are spreading and blooming; we also planted 2 new ones
- Lavender is in bloom; climbing roses too
- We now have two oranges left on our young tree; let's hope they make it
- The hydrangea bush is covered with flowers; some are huge
- We finally replanted impatiens in the planter; the lily-of-the-valley's just re-appeared, which means they're not dead?
- We also planted a new buddleia; the old one had died mysteriously
- Up to now, we've had more than 9 inches of rain this month, although we are in the dry season. We were supposed to get 1 in,
but the thunderstorms of April's last week only brought us 1 in, 5 in, and 2 in. Add that to what we had before and you've got
more rain than we get in July! -- March had been the driest in years, too.
We just bought several Lantanas "New Gold". Lantana is a native plant of Florida. We also added
a yellow Dwarf Canna to our collection. We also bought two pear trees, the only two that grow here in Florida:
Hood Pear and Flordahome Pear. We'll see how they do. They will all be planted tomorrow.
- The passion vine has started blooming, one flower at a time.
Flowers only last a day. Then they close back on themselves, leaves
and all. This is truly a wonderful show. One of the flowers is now
turning into a fruit.
- The gladioli are now ready to bloom ... anytime.
- Tomatoes are growing fine if it weren't for the hornworms.
We're trying to take care of the problem. Fortunately for us,
they seem to be in the pupa stage. Therefore, spraying Bt should be
effective. We have started eating the cherry tomatoes. They're
delicious. Our other tomatoes now suffer from blossom-end rot.
Let's hope that's not going to affect many of them.
- Melons and cornichons are doing great and are starting to
flower. Onions are almost ready.
- Our sunflowers are growing, but they're still only about 1 ft. tall.
- Lilies are all out and have stopped growing in height. They should
now be ready to bloom. One of them has actually started already. The rest should
- It's the end of the pansies and snapdragons. The weather is getting
hotter and they won't hold much longer.
- We still have two oranges. We are now under a quarantine in Hillsborough
County due to a Mediterranean fruit fly invasion. However, our oranges
are still very much green. The County will start spraying Malathion
over two areas of Hillsborough County.
- Crape Myrtles are starting to bloom very nicely.
- The hibiscus bushes should be blooming by now. The white one has already
- The hortensia bush is thinking about going pink but hasn't
made up its mind yet.
- We're still getting some strawberries
- The dahlias and daisies should bloom in the next few days.
- The Cape honeysuckle has stopped blooming for no apparent reason. More
on this later.
Note from the author: I've finally gotten to the point of doing a REAL garden diary.
I know it's getting a bit long but I hope you like it.
This summer has been unusually wet. And I mean, really wet! It's not that
hot, around 90 F, but the humidity makes it feel much more, in the hundreds!
Usually, in the summer, we have the ever-present Florida thunderstorms. It
rains half an hour to an hour, then the sun comes out, the ground dries and
it's back to normal. It rains about every other day or about once every 3 or
4 days. This year, it rains every day. It's been like that since mid June
(before that, we were complaining we had no rain at all!). And instead of
raining in the late afternoon, it rains in the morning, at noon, even at
night (which is rare). Sometimes, it rains in the morning, at noon, AND in
the evening. Anyway, it's been trying for the plants, many of which like
rain, but not in such quantities. Some plants are being affected. Others
love it. But I guess it's better than no rain at all. First of all, it
cools the atmosphere (at least for 15 minutes!) ... and you don't have to
water anything !! I think that's great :-) Of course, it's not very varied.
For the weatherman, it's always the same thing: highs around 90, lows around
80. Chance for thunderstorms: around 50% any time of day. Easy.
The papaya tree has now reached over 10 ft. in height. The question is: how
exactly do you "prune" a papaya tree ?? :-). It's lovely, though.
I'm happy to report that the banana tree is doing very well in its new
location. For those of you who are new, or if I never put it in writing, the
banana tree used to be in a shaded corner of the house. It was great for
keeping it alive all winter and protected from the winds, but it wasn't
growing ... (duh :-) so we moved it IN THE SUN !! It's growing at a pretty
fast rate !
Our grapevines are doing very well. In fact, they seem to love the hot, humid
weather. So far, we've only had a few grapes... and I'm being generous. I must
admit they're only a year old, so we can't really expect much yet. The fig
tree, on the other hand, has given us a normal-size fig. According to my
mother, it was delicious.
On the citrus front, our navel orange tree now has 2 oranges !! The
first ever. Right now, they're still green, though. Patience ...
The tangerine tree has one side that is overdeveloped. The other side is still
short. It's a funny sight. Everything is concentrated in that one huge branch
that points toward the sky. No fruit there.
The japanese plum tree is growing nicely. I hope it can give us some fruit
soon. It's getting so big I don't think we'll be able to cover it this winter.
Finally, (:-) the peach trees are just getting by with just a few leaves and
no real signs of activity.
The gladioli have finished blooming a month ago. So have the pansies and
snapdragons. Out with the old, in with the new. This summer, we've planted
celosia plants (the celosia seedlings are still in pots), balloon flowers and
vincas. All have done very nicely. The cape honeysuckle apparently blooms
in the spring. It hasn't bloomed since then, but is growing like a weed.
We've also planted sunflowers and harvested the seeds to give to the birds
(who did not bother to pick them directly from the plant). The rest we
replanted. Sunflowers are beautiful, but they get to be a nuisance when they
age and bend over until they drag on the ground.
The daisies finally gave us some flowers this season. Not many, but it's a
start. As for the mint, it's been squeezed by the weeds around it for a long
time, so it's not doing that great. It's still growing, though, I think...
The lilies have finished blooming a month or two ago. They were lovely.
Hope they come back next season. We're going to leave them in the ground
over the winter. The ground never freezes over here, so they should be fine.
The lantanas, verbenas and pentas are in full bloom. Quite a lovely sight.
In fact, the lantanas are spreading so far and so rapidly that they're
crowding out the newly-planted phlox.
The geraniums, on the other hand, are not looking very good. A few still
produce flowers, but most are dying. I should mention that they have been
there for over 3 years !
The lavender doesn't seem to be liking this wet weather. It's looking rather
average. We'll have to watch it before it goes the way the previous lavender
Bushes and Small Trees
The hibiscus bushes are growing nicely. I've fertilized them. The pink
hibiscus is at last blooming quite well. However, the red hibiscus which is
now about 2/3 the height of the fence, has not yet bloomed. Well, O.K., one
or two blooms. But nothing much. I'm thinking of fertilizing with something
that pushes it to bloom more heavily. The white hibiscus is blooming
heavily, although it is not as strong as the red one, leaf-wise. The orange
hibiscus is surviving.
The butterfly bush is much stronger than the one we used to have before is
was replaced. It is now in bloom and often visited by ... oleander moths!!
Fortunately, this is not your ugly grey-brown moth, but rather a nice-looking
moth, with blue wings and white dots, with bright red wing ends. It moves
like a wasp, though. Speaking of oleander moths, the summer is a never-ending
battle against the pests. They turn up by the dozens on our oleanders. My
sister is in charge of the spraying and I must say she's doing a great job of
The crape myrtles have for the most part finished blooming. So have the
forsythia. As for the rubber plant that we have in the screened lanai, we have the same
problem we do with the papaya tree. How exactly do you prune a rubber plant?
It's getting so huge, the support stick actually fell, pulled by the plant itself.
Oh well ... And finally, those ugly red plants are doing better than ever. And since the
rest of the family seems to think they're better than nothing, we're keeping them.
They're like a mat against the white wall. I guess when they're pruned, they
do look kind of nice. I won't say anything more.
The bougainvillea is growing strong, but it's too humid for it to bloom. It
likes to bloom in dry weather. From what I've said about the weather above,
it's no wonder it's not blooming.
The clematis is also growing very well. In fact, it now has several flowers.
It's only a year old!
After weeks of research, we have at long last found an allamanda plant. Before
that, we had only been able to find dwarf allamandas. So we concluded that
this was not the right time for it. Apparently, now is the time. Finally ...
The mandevilla is in moderate bloom. I think it needs to be fertilized. It's
just not growing very much or producing many flowers.
The passion vine was doing really well... until the caterpillars came in. At
first, we thought they were oleander caterpillars, but on a closer look, we
realized they look slightly different. I discovered, after research, that
those could be caterpillars of Zebra Longwings or Gulf Frittillary, or both!
So we let them stay, hoping the plant would be able to survive all the way
through the caterpillar phase. It would not have. We ended up spraying part
of the plant, so that the caterpillars would at the most occupy 2/3 of the
vine. It worked. The plant is re-growing on that side. So all is not lost.
Unfortunately, it doesn't look as good as it did before. The part that has
been eaten is literally destroyed. There is nothing left of it. It's a sad
sight. On the other hand, we're starting to see chrysalids. So that's a
good sign. We've also seen a few adults of both butterflies. So the dilemma
continues: passion vine or butterflies?
Right now, we're trying for both. Let's hope is works. Next year, we'll do
cuttings of the vine plant them around the garden, and move all of the
caterpillars there. We'll spray one plant that we'd like to see in bloom.
August 10, 1997 Butterfly Update
The butterflies have emerged and the garden is now filled with dozens of Zebra
Longwings (striped yello/black), Gulf Fritillaries (spotted orange), and Cloudless
Sulphurs (pale yellow). I could watch them for hours. They hover around the
passion vine and flutter in the marigolds and around the crape myrtles. It's
a beautiful show. At least, our passion vine did not suffer in vain. Actually,
after spraying a side of it, it is now growing new leaves. The problem is:
Now that the caterpillars have developed into beautiful butterflies, how long
before we get new caterpillars and new headaches? But let's not think about
that now and enjoy the wonderful show they're giving us now.
In the Vegetable Garden
Now is the time to start planning those winter vegetables. The tomatoes
stopped producing and died at the end of June. We've prepared the vegetable
patch for the winter crop. This year, it's going to be mainly green beans and
lettuce. Green beans did very well last year. We've never had much luck with
peas. They don't like our climate. The basil seems to want to stay. It's
about 2 ft tall and blooming (!) One more amazing fact: we've been able to
keep our strawberries alive! If you're from a northern climate, that doesn't
seem too far-fetched, but here in Florida, strawberries don't usually make it
through the summer and are taken out of the ground in the late winter after
harvest. They're grown as annuals. Let's hope they live until next crop.
Here's the thing... I re-read my first garden diary (which I started 2 years ago already... can you believe it?), and I thought I should really start a new one. I mean, things have changed, and our garden has evolved: new plants, etc. And of course, the more we add stuff to the garden, the longer the diary gets. This one is particularly long because I'm trying to catch up on the last 2 years!!
This month has been officially the driest month on record. Two days of rain, which gave us less than 1 in. of precipitation!! I think we only have 2 or 3 in. for the year!!! Of course, this means that the plants are suffering. Constant watering is required, and even that doesn't spell success.
Anyways, here it goes (this is in random order):
- The papaya tree started growing right
after the freeze at the beginning of this year. Now, it's literally
developing branches. We've also planted 4 new seedlings of it, that we had
grown in pots. We then realized we had about 3 dozen minute little
seedlings growing at the base of our large papaya tree. The seedlings we
planted are about 12" high. They've started to grow just at the end of the
month, and now they're growing very fast! We planted them in the Cannas bed.
- We have planted some celosias and new guinea impatiens (again!). Both are doing well. This time, we put the new guinea impatiens in the sun, so they're blooming a lot better.
- The hibiscuses are starting to bloom. Painted Lady has a few blooms each day; President has finally decided to bloom... let's hope it continues!, and the white one is blooming well, averaging 10 flowers/day.
- We have planted a new little annual called Nemesia Fruiticans 'Compact Innocence'. The 2 plants we bought are blooming profusely (and have been for over a month!) and don't show signs of wilting!
- This year, we've planted even more
vincas and pentas. We planted some between the Redtips, and also in the bougainvillea bed. The vincas are coming around, but the pentas are having a very difficult time staying alive. I guess it's the heat, but we didn't have that problem in previous years, even when it was hot... I don't know what's going on. They're basically small and not growing. Some days, we even think they're dead! Anyway, the ones between the Redtips are doing well.
- The same goes for marigolds. They were literally dying. So we watered like crazy, and after a few weeks, they looked like they had been saved. Well, now, we're losing them again... Marigolds are usually so heat resistant! Maybe it's because of the lack of ambient humidity... We'll see what happens. In the meantime, I'm going out to water them. :-)
- The crape myrtles have been growing like crazy since the end of winter. Now, they're putting out their first flowers. Gorgeous!!
- We've planted snapdragons again this year. All were doing well, until one mysteriously died... well, almost! There is one branch that is doing very well... but the rest of it has dried up completely. 80% of the plant is gone (in one day!). It hasn't recovered yet. I suspect some kind of insect or bigger animal. Let's hope this only branch can carry the whole plant. They are deep red this year, with a hint of yellow in the center (that wasn't there when we bought it, but it's nice).
- The mandevilla basically froze to the ground last winter. Since then, it has started growing from below soil level. Now, I don't why, but the leaves aren't rounded anymore, they're now pointed. Could it be that it was grafted somehow?? It hasn't bloomed yet, so we'll see how it comes out.
- The allamanda, on the other hand, has been growing a lot because we were able to save it this winter (with the help of light bulbs). It has reached the top of the fence, and we expect flowers soon. The brown buds are already there.
- Bougainvilleas are just growing right now. They're coming back after the last freeze we had earlier this year. It's too bad we lost them then... they would have been in bloom by now otherwise... especially with the drought we're having. They like it dry to bloom.
- Lilies haven't come out yet.
- The passiflora is in full growth and just starting to bloom. It's just beautiful!!! It has already covered most of the fence we allow it to grow on.
- The climbing roses have basically gone down to one. The others have been suffocated by the lantana, which is everywhere (it's lovely, though). The roses do have a lovely fragrance and pretty long stems for climbing roses. The other roses sometimes bloom.
- The morning glories we planted last year (which died) are now coming back better than ever. So are the clematis. Hopefully, they'll bloom "profusely" this year! Anything above 2 flowers would be most appreciated. ;-)
- Since the morning glories and the clematis had died, we decided to plant the urechites lutea (wild allamanda) near the garden arbor. I guess it's going to have some competition now. It's been doing well, though, giving us quite a few blooms already. We transplanted it last month.
- The honeysuckle has finished blooming
due to the hotter conditions. It likes to bloom in the (cool) spring and
fall. As soon as it gets hot, or very cold, it stops. However, it's
growing like crazy (as usual) and already out of bounds. We'll have to
prune it shortly.
- Cannas are now blooming! First time of the season. More blooms to follow... We have also planted brand new cannas, including Pretoria. The original cannas (the ones that are blooming now) started out as 6. They subsequently divided themselves, and this year, we have about 20!! I find that amazing. No need to get them out of the ground, divide them, and re-plant them... they do it all by themselves. And they're scattered thoughout the bed, which means that after dividing, they move too!
- Our tomatoes are finally doing a lot
better. They had been suffering from the drought that hit Florida this
year. We have watered them A LOT. At last, they're developing normally and rapidly. We can already see healthy tomatoes forming... and no sign of hornworms :-)
- The grapes are looking very healthy, and there are already bunches that hang from the plants. Right now, they're
still green, but they're getting more plump by the day. And for the first
time, the leaves are the size they're supposed to be... with is huge!!
- This year, our herbs include basil,
lemon balm, parsley, and mint. All are doing well, and we use them in
- The aloes we were given a year ago have been dividing at an alarming rate. Each plant produces TONS of others.
We're not really sure what to do with them. The patio looks a lot better since we transplanted them to a planter :-)
- The kalanchoes keep re-rooting themselves... will it ever end???
- The Christmas cactus we received last Christmas (and which bloomed last month) has refrained from blooming again. Wonder if it's going to bloom again this year...
- The amaryllis and gloxinia are surviving but not doing much...
- The butterfly bush really seems to be doing well this year... let's hope this keeps up. It hasn't flowered since we brought it back from the store, but it's strong and healthy.
- Our northern fruit trees are growing their new leaves right now.
- The majestic palm is doing well. It's still very small, though (palm trees grow rather slowly), but it's putting out new palms. And it's even still green!
- The banana trees (pups from last season) are growing nicely and developing new leaves. They're not very tall, though, so I don't think we'll get any bananas this year.
- The nasturtium we planted at the base of the citrus trees are doing well. They're in bloom right now with red and yellow flowers on variegated leaves. They are about 6" high and 5" across.
- The peach trees are also doing well. The old peach tree has produced about a dozen flowers this spring. Unfortunately, they all fell. No luck. The new peach tree is happy just living.
- The fig tree is now loaded with figs,
which haven't ripened yet. We're waiting.
- The Navel orange tree has about 50 oranges that are starting to grow. They're still dark green, but the "navel" has already formed on many of the fruits. The Murcott tangerine tree also has fruit, but it appears it has less than it did last year. Still, it should produce a fairly good crop this year.
- The loquat harvesting season is over.
We have eaten the last bunches of fruit earlier this month. We had an
excellent crop this year, and our tree is getting quite big. We were lucky
to have only one freeze that didn't go down much below 30°F. This tree
freezes only at 28°F, so it had an excellent winter this year!
- The lantana have again invaded our flower beds. The purple blooms have decrease with the hotter weather to make room for the yellow ones. These things know the meaning of "blooming
profusely"!! I keep them pruned periodically, but otherwise, there is no
work involved. They're self-deadheading and make a lovely flowering mat.
- The hydrangea bush is doing wonderfully well. It's full of vitality, and is getting bigger. It's now about 3-4 ft. high and very bushy. It should bloom shortly.
- The confederate jasmine that hangs from our neighbor's fence has been pruned, and is now about 2-3 ft thick! It covers the fence completely and is just about to bloom... actually, it's starting this week! And that heavenly fragrance!! Aah... summer!
- The coleus are doing very well. We just pruned them last month, and planted those cuttings in the gaps, between the others. They really liven up the area!
- The texas sage plants are blooming nicely. The red one blooms best, followed by the white one, and the pink one far behind. What a lovely plant!
- The azaleas finished blooming early
this month. They gave us a magnificent display again this year. We also
bought some new ones - to plant in the spaces where they were lacking - and
some dwarf ones to put in the patio, next to the dwarf white ones we have
- We've finally decided to improve the area in front of our oak tree, which is delimited by a low brick wall. We've added geraniums (pink and red) as well as verbena (pink, red, and deep purple). The pink geraniums have been blooming like crazy, and the verbenas, which are basically flush with the wall, are already creeping on it. A lovely sight...
- We were just given a lavatera plant,
some lemon balm , more cannas (which were planted already), and wedelia plants. We'll finish planting these
- This month, we also planted the 2 philodendron
cuttings I had made in a protected location that is
in total shade and where not much wants to grow. We were able to populate
this area with coleus and philodendron.
We'll see if we can add more.
- Vincas have finally filled in the space that was left between them. They now form mounds of purple/fuschia flowers!
- There are a few gladioli that keep popping up every now and then. Right now, we have 2 or 3 white ones and a pink one. After so many years...
- Unfortunately, the new guinea impatiens that were next to the hibiscus have died, probably from the heat. There is nothing left of them. We'll have to replant something there.
- The amaryllis is doing great. It has at least 6 leaves. Now, if we could just get a flower...
- We have planted the wedelia under the bottlebrush tree. It seems to love the place. It has already spread quite a bit and puts out a few yellow flowers each day.
- Next to the wedelia, we've planted some daisies. This time, they should get partial shade. I think we can say it's been a success. Out of the first two we planted there, all have bloomed and the flowers are normally formed. They're beautiful! The other 3, we planted a few weeks later, so we'll have to wait and see.
- The hibiscus bushes are doing better. They're all blooming nicely now.
- Unfortunately, the butterfly bush has again died. I'm starting to wonder if there isn't a curse there ;-( It was blooming and doing just great. Then, one day, it starts to get brown. And in less than a week, it's gone. Strange...
- The crape myrtles are in full bloom now. They're just gorgeous!!
- So are the allamanda and mandevilla, which finally bloomed a few days ago.
- The bougainvillea still isn't blooming. It's not dry enough. It's very vigorous though.
- The nemesia were transplanted to make room for vincas. Actually, we thought they were kind of dead already. Well, turns out one of them was. The other has survived transplant shock and is even blooming now. It's actually more bushy than before.
- Morning glories are now past the top of the arch and are blooming like crazy, although when I see the flowers, they're always closed... I'm not a morning person! The urechites is also blooming quite well, and it has reached the top of the garden arch.
- The passionvine is vigorous as usual, but the caterpillars have now found it and it's partly eaten. This is fine, though, because 1) we know they'll become butterflies (gulf fritillaries) and 2) the vine is growing so rapidly, there's plenty to eat there without it affecting the plant too much.
- The caterpillars have also found the oleanders . These are the ugly black-tufted, orange oleander caterpillars that do not become butterflies. Rather, they become polka-dot moths. We have proceded with manual elimination of this pest.
- The adult papaya has recovered very well after last winter's freeze. It is currently producing fruit. Also, the base of the tree (well, herb, really) is covered with little papaya shoots from last season's fallen seeds.
- The 4 little papayas we planted in the back of the cannas bed (the ones we had germinate in pots) have grown some. They're now about 6 ft. tall. 3 of them are producing flowers (2 male; 1 female). The 4th one hasn't flowered yet. These are behind the cannas.
- Speaking of cannas, we currently have several that are blooming, including one that we got through an online message board. These are red. Most of our cannas are about 6 ft. tall. They have to be if they want to compete with the little papaya (see above) for light. In addition, we have just planted some heliconia in that bed, in the middle where there was kind of a hole. This is not the "loster-claw" kind of heliconia. It is one that has orange/red flowers that kinda look like thin canna flowers. I think they'll blend in very well. Can't wait for them to bloom.
- The veggie patch has now become abandoned. It has actually been invaded by weeds, which are blocking entry into the garden. We'll have to clear it out to make room for next year's crop... or just to make it tidier.
- The fig tree is also producing fruit. And in the last week alone, it has gained height. It is now about 4 ft. tall.
- The majestic palm is doing great. It's still green and puts out new palms all the time.
- Speaking of palms, last month, we've harvested "pups" from our 3 king sago palms, which are actually cycads (false palms). I decided to plant these in pots to see if they would grow. They had no leaves them and were kind of egg-shaped. Well, to my surprise, they did grow. A few tentative palms first, then a full-fledged set of sturdy, very pointy palms. I can't believe they made it! I'm so glad I tried...
- Vincas are just magnificent... it's like a carpet of flowers!!
- There are a few gladioli that keep popping up every now and then.
- Since the new guinea impatiens have died, we have replanted an orthosiphon in their place. This is the famous "cat's whiskers" plant. It does have flowers that look just like cat whiskers. Right now, it's just been transplanted, so it's just starting to bloom. I think it likes the location.
- Still no flowers on the amaryllis... but a very healthy plant, nevertheless.
- The wedelia has spread a lot since we planted it. And it now has more and more flowers.
- The daisies keep on blooming and they're just beautiful. I'll have to scan a picture and put it on my main garden page.
- Very few flowers on the hibiscus right now. I'll have to fertilize again. Unfortunately, it seems I've lost the fertilizer somewhere in the garage. I guess I'll have to buy some more... now which one was it again???
- The crape myrtles are done blooming. Now, it's time for fall.
- Allamanda and mandevilla are still in bloom.
- The bougainvillea has finally decided to bloom a little bit. It's not very impressive, but it is better. The one we have in the lanai (potted) is also in bloom, but this promises to be magnificent. I must say that we get it under the roof every time it rains!
- The nemesia that survived is healthy, but is not blooming. Since I'm not sure when it's "supposed" to bloom, I'd say it's going dormant??
- Morning glories are still blooming like crazy.
- The urechites is also blooming quite well, but it is being bothered by caterpillars. What's amazing, is that they seem to be the same caterpillars we find on the oleanders. I didn't know they could eat urechites too!! They also act the same way, sucking away at the plant's leaves and eating the flowers. Manual elimination of these is the trick once again. But the thing is, they're much harder to find on this plant, because the leaves are rounded, not pointy, so that the caterpillars don't really hang outside the perimeter of the leaf. The only indication we have is sick-looking leaves.
- The caterpillars have also found the oleanders . We have proceeded with manual elimination of this pest. We have to do this at least 2 or 3 times a week. What a pain! It's a good thing the beauty of the trees compensate for that! We often find either a group of freshly-laid eggs (or a moth still busy laying eggs, for that matter!), or a brand new crop of tiny little caterpillars (about 20 at once). In a case like this, the whole leaf goes (into a bucket full of soapy water; not very painful for them; they seem to die instantly).
- The passionvine is vigorous as usual. There's a good number of caterpillars right now, incl. gulf fritillaries and zebra longwings. That means a lot of butterflies hovering around the plant as well... And it's still putting out lots of shoots all over the yard.
- The adult papaya is now producing fruit. Also, the little papaya shoots at the base are growing well. I will add that someone (or something) came and tore out 2 huge leaves from my tree. I found them on the ground. I planted them, and one is still alive today, but I don't know if it's going to make it. I'm thinking for leaves of that size... human, opossum (although a little small for the job), or raccoon.
- The 4 "little" papayas we planted in the cannas bed are now about 7 ft. tall. 3 of them are producing flowers (2 male; 1 female). The 4th one hasn't flowered yet. The female papaya doesn't seem to be able to hold its flowers.
- Cannas are blooming. Some are about 5 ft. tall, and some have reached 6 ft. Tomato hornworms have once again become a nuisance, and we regularly open up the leaves to uncover these pesky creatures and crush them. The heliconia is putting out leaves, and is close to flowering.
- The veggie patch has now become abandoned. It has actually been invaded by weeds, which are blocking entry into the garden. We'll have to clear it out to make room for next year's crop... or just to make it tidier. Now, these are BIG weeds that shoot to 8-10 ft. tall. I mean, they're huge!! They look like pea plants. They have spikes of pea-like yellow flowers that are followed by empty pods that turn brown in the end. Actually, they do look kinda nice from far away. It's like a cloud of yellow flowers. So of course, we didn't have the heart to remove them. In a month or two, they'll be dying anyway, so we'll remove them at that time. There's also passionvine everywhere in that area. It was originally on the net around the veggie garden, but since then, the net has fallen inside the garden, with poles and all... so that the passionvine is growing wild among the big weeds. Nice combo: yellow and purple... actually, the veggie patch seems compromised this year. No time to plant now, and no time to maintain it, so ... maybe next year??
- The majestic palm is doing great. It's green and puts out new palms all the time.
- Speaking of palms, last month, we gave away the 3 "pup" king sago palms. They were doing well, but getting a bit yellow, so I added some magnesium sulfate. Last I heard, they were doing just fine.
- Our Christmas cactus has been setting
blooms for over a month now, and these are just starting to open. They're
gorgeous! and each "branch" has a flower at the end. Last year, we only
got one flower. This year, we'll have about 30. I never knew a cactus
could be so beautiful.
- Our pear tree has flowered, and from
these flowers, 2 remained on the tree. This is especially unusual because
you're supposed to need 2 trees for cross-pollination, but our second tree
kind of died. So how could it set fruit by itself? Actually, one of these
"fruit" fell to the ground the other day. The second one is still there.
Time will tell if it does anything interesting.
- The cape honeysuckle is giving us a
gorgeous show again this year. As soon as the weather cooled, it started
putting forth an abundance of orange flower clusters. In fact, the ground
is littered with orange flowers. This is just incredible. And it's
probably 10-12 feet tall right now!!
- The hibiscuses are still blooming.
Actually, they're doing better than they once did. The most prolific
bloomers right now are Painted Lady and our white one.
- We have finally decided to take cuttings of the philodendron. First, because it is humongous,
and secondly, because someone has asked us for one. Now, we don't want to
take too many cuttings so we don't weaken the plant too much. But right
now, I think it can take it.
- The japanese plum tree is now
flowering. Looking at the number of flowers on that thing, I'd say we'll have an
- The citrus trees still boast their
impressive number of oranges and tangerines. We'll have to be careful to
cover them well if freezes occur. This is also lemon season. Our own half
of the lemon tree is giving us quite a few lemons this year, so we've
started to add them to our culinary concoctions. Florida lemons are round,
just like oranges, and they're between yellow and orange in color. They're
also a lot sweeter than store-bought lemons. They're actually halfway
between a tart orange and a lemon.
- The fig tree is almost done with this
year's crop. There are just a few figs left on it.
- The oleander caterpillars seem less
aggressive when cold weather settles in. However, as soon as the
temperature rises, we find new bunches of eggs under the leaves and entire
leaves eaten up. The fight continues.
- The wedelia have expanded a lot and
now cover the major part of the area at the bottom of the bottlebrush tree.
They also give us little yellow flowers continuously. Really dresses up
- The false roselle hibiscus has started
its blooming season. In the morning, there are quite a few wine red blooms,
but they close quickly as light diminishes. Still, what an striking (if
somewhat odd) mix of colors... red wine flowers on reddish leaves and
- The morning glories are basically done
blooming (should I say living?) for this year. What a wonderful show they
have given us! The cannas are also finished blooming.
- The tall weeds that were giving us
yellow flowers in the veggie garden have now died for the most part. The empty
pods are black now, and the weeds are just falling over the old netting that used
to border the veggie patch.
Too bad, I kinda got used to those things, although I don't doubt for a
minute that they'll be back next year. Judging by the multiplying factor we
got this year (we only had a few last year and got hundreds this year), next
year should be out of control!
- The big papaya tree has quite a few
papayas that are green right now. The 4 "small" papayas we planted this
year are about 7 feet tall now, and one female tree actually has one papaya
in store for us, but it's growing very slowly. It is their first
- We have been able to bring the impatiens back to life! They were planted in
the planter a long time ago, and, due to a lack of proper watering, they had
almost died. Well, we watered them again, and, lo and behold! we've got
flowers! I'm so glad they're back!
- Finally, we have just bought a peace
lily. It wasn't my fault. They actually had a botanical garden
sale right at my place of work. Of course I had to buy it! Well, it's
going to go where we used to have one, which is in the small garden that is
walled on three sides, along with the other coleus and philodendron we
planted. This is a shady, damp area.
- The nemesia is still alive (and that's
already reason to celebrate), and it's even putting out a few flowers. Who
- The orthosiphon blooms regularly, and
it is beautiful. We have had to remove some of the morning glory that was
using is as a way to get up to the hibiscus! I'll just have to remember to
cover this plant this time around. I'm not going to lose another
- Things that are still bloom continuously: vinca, lantana, and allamanda
More to come! I will try to keep this
page updated as much as possible.
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Last updated on November 30, 1999