Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Kanapaha Botanical Gardens

For $6 apiece, Marty and I spent a very pleasant time touring the Kanapaha Gardens near Gainesville.  For the price of your ticket you get bamboo gardens, rose gardens, herb gardens, smelly gardens, water gardens, cactus gardens...  The list is quite lengthy.  This is not a Disney production; there aren't a lot of high intensity labor things like annual flower beds and topiary.  Which made it more inspirational for me.  I love going where all the plants have little labels.  "Why don't you do this at home?" Marty said, looking around. "Put little stakes in front of everything so I'll know what they are."

Lots of overhanging live oaks; waterfalls here and there; lilies (confined with chains to little floating  pond prisons), and an incredible variety of bamboo -- with room for it to grow in clumps three feet tall and to spread all over the acreage.  I had some second thoughts about bamboo on my postage stamp.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

My New Pile of Dirt

Look at the difference between chunky twiggy mulch and the superfine stuff the city delivered.  It's dark and delightful.
This is what a cubic yard of "soil builder" mulch from the city looks like!  Isn't it gorgeous!!! I'm so happy!  When tired Janie came in the front door instead of the back because she couldn't get her car in the garage, I went out with my pitchfork to start clearing it away, and I couldn't pick it up with the pitchfork!  Went right through the tines, I had to use a shovel. My garden soil is in for some yummy times. Michelle kindly offered to truck some in for me for free, but weeding the beds and putting it down is going to be rawwwther a lot to do, so I was willing to pay for a little muscle.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

"Soil Builder" mulch delivery from City of St. Pete

 Tomorrow the City delivers 1 cubic yard of "soil builder" mulch.  I told them to put it right behind the garage so as to avoid the tragedy my neighbors and Helen suffered earlier from mulch deliveries.  Janie told me about the ticks in Diana's city mulch, and Bethia Marie spoke of rocks and broken glass, but I am optimistically hoping that the City, like the River Nile of yore, will rise up and deliver a rich alluvial deposit behind my garage that will enable my plants to thrive, create beautiful tidy garden beds, and handy walkways.  And all for $33 plus tax posted to Marty's utility bill!

Soil Builder order form

Friday, May 13, 2011

A Dionysian garden

From Stanley Silverstein:
It is true. Sometimes all it takes is a landmark and the natural gaze of the eye to decide where to plant a flower bed or other plants. I have found the introduction of objects like fences, concrete benches, bird baths and statutes are great starting points for plants. But mine is a different philosophy to some extent relative to where I live. I believe in the Tao of gardening. But even more so my wife Jill does. She lets the plants decide where they want to be.

By contrast, my neighbor's yard  is Apollonian. Form and structure in the way of straight lines and right angles. His palm trees and azalea bushes turn corners like soldiers in a parade. His grass, manicured, soaked with "roundup" greets you at the street.The sound of his lawn mower greets you Sunday morning.
My yard is ruled by the God Dionysus and is not meant to be viewed not from the outside but to be more experienced within. I am not saying my garden is better, but only that we worship at different temples.

Well Stan, if your neighbor soaks his yard with round up and has to mow every Sunday, I'm betting you do think your gardening technique is better. I do.

For those of you curious about what a Dionysian garden looks like:

Barbados Cherry -- I think.

Oleander, with bamboo in the back.

Thanks for sending me these great pictures, Stan!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Mrs. Greenthumb by Cassandra Danz

 “When you don’t know where to put a flower bed, look for an object in the landscape and plan the design so that the garden is between there and the place where you look at it the most, such as the backdoor of your house. For example, a path leading from the kitchen door to a garden bench is the first step to making a garden, even if it is surrounded by weeds. If you go ahead and enclose the area with a fence or a hedge and plant roses, flowers, or even vegetables along that path and around the bench, not only will you have created a beautiful garden, you will have made a new place to live."

A new place to live doesn't sound bad at all.  Janie's starting to bring home cat furniture. 

Sunday, May 8, 2011

"Yellow top" or flavia discovered at Twigs and Leaves

Claire kidnapped me for Mother's Day and took me to Twigs and Leaves in its new location next to Roco Traders, at 2131 Central Ave in that lovely new section of renovated midtown.  (I mentioned I wanted to go there for Mother's Day about six months ago and she remembered! So sweet) Always a pleasurable experience, T & L is definitely new and improved.  The plants looked better cared for, although the goldenrod I got was a bit rootbound.  BUT while strolling around looking at authentic & beautiful Fla plants, you also get to take in all the gorgeous planters.  Plus his helper was extraordinarily pleasant.  I fell in love with above plant, unlabeled "because of the rain."  "It's a Yellow Top,"  said the bearded youth.  "It's not a great butterfly plant, but it's excellent for attracting pollinators.  I saw six different kinds of bees on it last year." Wow!  I had to buy it. I knew it was really a type of goldenrod, but it's so lacy and pretty.

Update: Next year: Where's the flavia? It's just a memory now, disappeared from my yard and NOT self seeding.  And the spiderwort described below? Still all over my yard. Lesson: Don't buy things in pots.

And they had a pot of Florida scrub roseling from the spiderwort family for sale for $5.95 even though it grows in my yard like a weed.  "It's a lovely wildflower," said owner MIchael Manlowe huffily. And it is a wonderful blue.  So I resolve to cultivate it in the future; let it grow in the shade, where the blooms don't close so early in the day, and keep it small, because when the clumps get very large, the spent spires are ugly while its roots spread like octopus tentacles.