OK, here's another shot at the garden diary... Notice how I always keep it up in the winter. ;-)
As I write this, we just a our first hard freeze of the season, which is in itself very unusual, as it is before Christmas.
We went down to 25°F last night, and by 8pm, it was already below freezing. It would stay below freezing for the next 12 hours.
Fortunately, we had covered many plants before the big freeze. This was the third freeze in less than a month (we had already gone down to 32° twice, and actually once to 33°, so maybe some plants had gotten used to it. Anyway, we did cover:
|• Philodendron||• Hibiscus|
|• Papaya||• A few vincas|
|• Jasmin||• Geraniums|
|• Various new seedlings|
|• Bougainvillea & cape honeysuckle: we put gallons and buckets of warm water underneath so the water would evaporate and warm the plants during the night (this is a new experiment) - not sure if it worked yet.|
Things that froze (some of these will come back in the spring):
|• False roselle (will come back from roots)||• Four o'clocks (will come back from seed)|
|• Firebush (will come back from roots)||• Banana (will be back)|
|• Crotalaria (will come back from seeds)||• Beans|
|• Allamanda||• Wedelia (should be back)|
|• Milkweed (will be back)||• Weeds (hah!)|
|• Porterweed||• Philippine violets (exposed ones)|
|• Cannas (exposed ones)||• Tecoma (partly)|
Things that we covered and made it, either entirely or partially:
|• Hibiscus||• Papaya (crown only)||• Vincas|
|• Geraniums||• Philodendron||• Jasmin|
Things that made it without covering:
|• Passionflower||• Mexican heather||• Palm?|
|• Citrus||• All fruit trees||• Oleanders|
There were a few other times we went down close to freezing, a dozen times in the mid 30s, but another major freeze, this time at 28°F killed
what little green had reappeared after that last one. Firebush, banana and bougainvillea are back
to being 'dead' for now. Gosh, I can't wait for Spring... Another month or so, and we should be done with this cold nonsense. ;-)
MARCH - APRIL 2004
There are lots of things going on in the garden. It is spring, after all... This is a strange month of April. As I write this,
we are preparing for another cold night... down to the upper 40s. Now, that may not seem very cold to most of my readers,
but believe me, here in Florida, this is really cold, esp. for April! Last week, we had temps in the high 80s, but I guess one
lonely cold front just wouldn't give up... The silver lining of course is that this front brought more than 2.5" of rain which we desperately
needed... that and another week without A/C (a big energy savings!)
EAST SIDE OF YARD
- The seeds that were planted next to the veggie garden fence last October are now producing healthy plants with abundant flowers. These are highlighted below.
- California poppies: The south side of the fence started blooming late Feb and is still in bloom today (and going strong; Stems are getting longer, almost to 2ft high now). The north side started 2 weeks later, and these were planted more closely. Currently removing between 20 and 50 faded flowers per day(!) I love this plant, especially in mass plantings! Will have pics on my main page soon...
- Wild Drummond phlox: Started blooming in March and to this day continues to bloom quite nicely. We have mixed colors (all shades of pink, purple, fuschia, white, and bi-color). The white variety seems to be the only slighly fragrant one.
- Red poppy: Started to bloom in mid-April. These are big & very tall. Transplanted better than expected.
- Now, for the "L"s: Larkspur is blooming (but shorter than expected), whereas the lupine is just producing leaves for now. Lavatera: There's one survivor (out of many seedlings). Right now, it looks OK, but it's still very short.
- We moved a milkweed & a philippine violet to this same bed. Both are doing well, but are not blooming yet.
- Added a clematis ('Polish Spirit') bought at Wal-Mart in early April. The other WM clematis, 'Ernest Markham', started blooming in early April. This is the last plant I'll highlight in this 'fence' bed.
- Canna: We re-did the whole bed in early March and added a few bulbs. The first bloom (yellow) appeared in early April.
- Tecoma: We pruned this one in early March, esp. its bottom leaves and dead branches so that it'll be more tree-like.
- Coral honeysuckle (over the garden arch): Bloomed all winter long (starting in Jan?). A cardinal's nest was built in it, then later abandoned :-(.
- Milkweed: In bloom since March, lightly pruned. Butterflies love it!
- Trumpet vine: Was removed sometime in March as it was becoming way too aggressive...
- Clematis ('Ville de Lyon'): Not as strong and early as usual...
- Mexican heather: Pruned in early March, it's already blooming (moved one that had sprouted outside the bed, inside).
- Roses: Pruned Feb. 15, one bloom each on the new roses ('Voodoo' & 'Apricot passion'?); Seems rather slow this year.
- Red porterweed: Removed (didn't care for the color, plus it freezes every year); Replaced by rosemary (tiny for now).
- Crape myrtles: Pruned at the end of January; nice new growth as usual.
- Allamanda: As of April, no sign of it (normal).
- Bougs: Pruned all dead wood & some lower branches at the end of March. Growing nothing but leaves, as usual...
- Hibiscus: Pruned dead wood in early March; a few buds are appearing, as of early April.
- Papaya: One fruit is hanging on (from before the freezes); nice flush of new leaves/stems/branches.
SOUTH SIDE OF YARD
- March: 2 plantings of beans (4 rows of Florence + 1 row of Blue Lake pole beans, 4 rows of Rocdor 2 weeks later); Caesar lettuce ready to eat (although not huge by any standards); Planted 4 tomatoes (puny; there are some more in the lanai -- see below); Planted 6 melon seeds
- April: 1 planting of Florence beans; Tomatoes look nice (flower buds in early April); 3 melons are alive (1 healthy, 2 puny)
- Daylight savings time: The bean patch (east side) gets full sun from 3 pm to 7:30 pm
WEST SIDE OF YARD
- Laurel oak: Pruned lower branches (very few, just enough to see below the tree)
- Pyrancantha: In bloom in late March/early April
- Cape honeysuckle: No major loss; bloomed a little during March-April
- Blue porterweed: Grew outside of the bed last year; this year, we mowed it. We'll probably move the clumps into the bed eventually.
- Pear tree: Bloomed in February; a few pears formed.
- Lemon: The last harvest was at the beginning of April; fairly large this year -- lemons are as big or bigger than oranges! and loaded with juice. :-)) -- There were lots of flowers in March.
- Surinam cherry: Bloomed in Feb-Mar(?); fruits forming at the beginning of April.
- Butterfly bush: Doing much better after the move last year; pruned a little this year, around February.
- Plumbago: Not much frost damage (we pruned is slightly); nice blooms from early April forward.
- Firebush: Was hard pruned to 1ft; started leafing out early (in March).
- Raspberries: Bloomed in Feb(?); fruits are growing now.
- Blackberry: Nice flowers, but no fruit so far...
- Apples trees: 'Anna' bloomed earlier than 'Dorsett' as usual, but this time, with some overlap!!! Apples on 'Anna' are growing nicely (none visible on 'Dorsett' yet)
- Oleander: Nice and big; started blooming in April. Those in the back are also both in bloom (after last year's move)
- Cherry laurel: Bloomed nicely around February; lots of leaves for privacy; green fruit in April
- Banana: One seemed very eager to bloom. It already had its flower in February (with no leaves, there was no time!); the others are growing leaves for now.
- Mexican sunflowers: These were planted in the middle of the yard toward the back. There are new leaves once again (this one grows back after each frost...)
NORTH SIDE OF YARD
- Fig tree: Leafed out in March; nice & healthy.
- Peach: Covered in blossoms most of the winter; lots of fruits in March; some ripening in early April; this has the potential to be the biggest crop ever!
- Tangerine: We're getting to the end of the harvesting season (around the beg. of April); had nice yield this year (on the west side of the tree only...); lots of blooms (on all sides) for next year
- Navel: The season ended in February; nice yield for orange juice (the best, yum!); very few blooms for next year (compared to usual), as we had to prune it a little, and it almost never stops flowering, so it's hard not to sacrifice fruit...
- Japanese plum: Nice harvest in mid March; still going as of the beginning of April
NEXT TO THE HOUSE
- Planted 4 gold lantanas next to the house ; pruned thunbergia (to oblivion?); planted amaryllis and iris around surviving bush daisy (leftover from last year).
- Arabian jasmine: Minor frost damage; nice leaves, a few blooms in early April, more are on the way.
- Short bed #1, behind the lanai: Planted 2 patches of pink glads, along with tropical sage (pink, red) -- all from seed -- and moved plants in between
- Long bed #1, behind the lanai: Daisies in the middle were leftover from last year & there are reseeded black-eyed susans; we moved a few other plants there, such as an old dahlberg daisy; planted 2 patches of purple glads and lots of seeds (blanket flower, cleome, cosmos, etc.) + vincas and viscarias transplanted from pots (originally from seed); we'll plant hardy hibiscus soon (can't remember to boil the seeds...). This should be quite a nice flower patch once it all comes to life.
- Long bed #2: Planted one patch of yellow glads, one patch of old glads (mostly red and white left); moved 2 milkweeds & one yellow-flowered unidentified plant to this bed; added lots of seeds (cosmos of all kinds & colors) + lobelias transplanted from pots (originally from seeds); alstroemeria to come (one of them's too little + need to re-seed 2 more).
- Short bed #2: Coneflowers are (barely) hanging on; four-o-clocks have been in bloom since March; in addition, we have one yarrow doing rather well, and another that is not; we planted some cornflowers in the Spring (unfortunately too late).
- Forshythia: After many years, it is finally its last legs... :-(
- Hydrangea: Pruned at the beginning of April (dead wood; some crossing branches). Some buds are starting to show.
- Lilac: We finally removed this one, as it had been near death for several years, and had never really developed into anything.
- Bromeliads (& other plants in that area): Everything's out of control, especially the spironema!
- Bamboo palm on the east side: We removed all but one (these multiply freely)
- Azaleas: Bloomed around February (too short as usual); nice blooms on new bushes in front.
- Christmas cactus: Was moved back to its shelf. This year, it bloomed well into January.
- Amaryllis: Will soon be moved back to its summer spot.
- Lavender: Planted some seeds. One sprouted and is still alive (though tiny, it does smell wonderful!)
- Made a rose cutting which was budding, but then died.
- The Easter cactus is in bloom now (mid April). Wow!
- Red Kalanchoe is in bloom now.
- Still babying the orchids (one week water; the following week liquid fertilizer; bath lasts anywhere from an hour to a couple of days, depending on when I remember I've got orchids soaking!!)
- There's a short, stubby thistle in bloom in the middle of yard. This thing's been blooming since the beginning of April, and it attracts monarchs like a magnet!! There are at least 4-5 purple flowers, and I've seen up to 6 monarchs flock to it at once! There's another very tall, elongated thistle in another area of the yard, and that one does not attract butterflies, although it does attract spiders. Yuck! :-(
- Tall (wild) lantanas have been pruned. Lots of blooms in late March. Still blooming now. Also attract butterflies.
- Removed all but one of the red hibiscus plants in early March (they apparently bloom all year on old wood; the one that was leftover is in bloom now).
- This spring, we have lots of monarchs, gulf fritillaries, yellow sulphurs... We've even seen one comma or question mark (as its wings were open, it was impossible to tell), a zebra longwing, and a few blue/white small butterflies (on plumbago).
More to come! I will try to keep this
page updated as much as possible.
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