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"Where better to care for the soul than in the details of our daily lives?....The soul has an absolute, unforgiving need for regular excursions into enchantment. It requires them like the body needs food and the mind needs thought... An enchanted world is one that speaks to the soul, to the mysterious depths of the heart and imagination where we find value, love and union with the world around us. As mystics of many religions have taught, that sense of rapturous union can give a sense of fulfillment that makes life purposeful and vibrant." ~ Thomas Moore.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Gardening Again and Loving it

Hello Ladies,

*warning. long post, lots of pics......time for a tea mayhaps?

I want to post a gardening post since I have done the entire gardens over, not that this is a big deal or ''estate'' or anything, but this little cottage home is well cared for and a beauty to enjoy. Others who do come find it magical and very pleasing and beautiful too.

This is the purpose of gardens,         

to delight and offer sharing of beauty.    

Last year there was an extreme drought, a tiny tiny pocket of Florida was in the red and I was in it,

and though we watered with the hose everything died anyway, plants just don't like 'only' city water, they have an uncompromising need for natural rains and all the nutrients and life forces they bring, including oxygen and electricity. However the weeds did grow and took over.
Also when I planted my heirloom seeds only the first planting came up with seedlings and only sparsely. The next 4 plantings from the same packets produced literally nothing, and I could not figure out why they didn't even sprout. Then around 50 packages of my beautiful collection of heirloom seeds so nicely organized were stolen over night by critters in their packages and all....this added to the depression. I had all the sections in this organizer filled with seed packets which the critters had taken, eaten and dragged away. Over night. One night.  Quite creepy.


I will soon go out and buy some seeds again, as that is my preferred way of growing. For now I had to buy little seedling plants from the store for some veggies to replenish now bare gardens.

I did have to clean out and replant all of the back and all the veggie beds except one which I haven't decided what to do with yet.
I am also tired after so many years of gardening, tired of seeing so many plants die year after year, expire, not do well, not produce veggies, or flowers, etc....all the things that can go wrong including insects who eat them, that I had to figure out how I wanted to work in a garden from now on. I also knew I was bone weary tired, and bending was not something I do without meditation first, so gardening had to be made easier. I wanted no-care plantings, ever greens, neatness and simplicity, yet produce and some flowers.....having ideas which were born of seeing gardens from around the world. I spend my free time watching gardening videos, namely the series by Monty Don - Around the World in 80 Gardens, and I watch them over and over and study various things about what he presents from gardeners the world over. There is lots and lots to learn from in that series.
However at this time, my goals for having an entirely edible and floral gardens were officially over. Unless one has lots of money and endless energy, its not doable here.

I had no idea how I would do this or what I would change until one day I needed to see some beauty, flowers and plants and went to my favorite nursery for something of interest that may peak my spirits. I had gone all around the nursery and on the way out there is a section I usually pass as they have succulents there and I like them only as accents and only some times, but I decided to walk through as their colors can spark some inspiration, and they had no succulents but something far far more interesting and shocking.....they had huge lavender delphiniums! And we in South Florida never see those and because I am spoiled coming from New York and being a florist and seeing most of the flowers there are to see in the world, I missed them so much as I do most northern cool needing flowers and trees. I could not believe these were here, and knew they were only for show, only temporary as are the hydrangeas here and roses, but I just had to have them. I bought 4 at $8.00 each, and came home with 3 foot tall huge spikes of delphiniums. I bought some white alyssum too as they were so beautifully full, drapy and smelled soooooo good! and the bees there were all over them and I wanted some bee action on my own space. I planted them in ''the'' Urn which is designated as a garden showpiece and it was magical. All else on the property was in shambles but this pot......this pot was full of magic.


 The magic of these flowers, their colors, shapes and whimsy, the beauty of the pot, the scent of the alyssum.....inspired me, and I mean INSPIRED me, and the energy I needed to get to work on the whole of this property front and back was begun. I quickly came up with a plan and set to work.



"The Plan" as it is, was simple, no more struggling, ease was priority as I discovered even though housemate John 'said' he liked gardening, he didn't, and never did it, I have to do everything on my own. And this needs to be considered when planning a garden and how much help one has or does not not have. The Plan also was that I no longer wanted to replace so much every year, but to watch things grow every year, and that I only wanted to replace the veggie beds and the rest must stay neat and pretty. In short something like a Meditterean Garden which can take heat, is lush, will do ok with rain or no rain, and produce edibles and stay alive greenery year after year.
So. ease, simplicity, and only veggie plot refreshing each year. (Wait, wasn't that 2014's  plan?!) Nevermind!

I worked daily, 7 hours per day effortlessly pruning first getting rid of the all the huge overgrowth which in South Florida is the thing that is a must, weeding out everything and seeing what was left, deciding I would finally use mulch for the first time ever and buy for the first time ever some soil to build up the veggie plots to give the plants I did buy a good home base, instead of adding yearly only my own compost.
I will not go into all the details of the work. I worked section by section.

But by now I have done so much and I have some pics to share and to chronicle for myself for future reference, (which is actually why I started this blog), and for posterity.

Welcome to the Garden.

I would go around the Garden in order, but I uploaded all the pics and they were not ''in order'' so I am simply commenting on the pics as they show up.
This is the arbor which is seen straight out the back door. It has a lemon tree and an almond bush which is wonderfully fragrant in the summer, and beneath it is now mulched with amaryllis bulbs planted which should come up each year.

This is the "Bridge" section, I have names for everything, but the bridges broke down after a year or so and needed reinforcing or replacing and this was annoying not finding anything anymore that was affordable so a new idea had to be born for making ''The Bridge" area still a pathway that was unique.

I wanted it to be permanent, not rotting nor needing I went with bordering it with wood and adding more flagstone, to keep with the rest of the garden and now anyone could actually walk over this without walking around it afraid they would destroy the bridge (as people had been doing) and this doesn't need replacing. Sigh. Grass will grow and fill in blank spots.

I'm in love with lavender, blues, and purples in flowers and this year I bought only those shades.

This is a first. On my dill I went to cut some for a potato salad and found lots and lots of little caterpillars on it, and I immediately looked it up and learned these are black swallowtail caterpillars!

I am growing butterflies, literally, bought plants to support them, and they are cocooning and growing. But the monarchs which are endangered here cannot get enough butterfly weed and I cannot keep enough here for them to eat, but I did buy 8 plants just for them. The zebra butterflies love passion vine and I bought one for them


and they are growing in numbers and delightfully sleep at night on the spanish moss I have on an old oak tree.

I bought all new plants. It just so happened that when I went to another nursery for a specific plant, they had just in some herb plants and other things, and I had a field day there, spending my grocery money on lots of herbs, hanging dreamy Rainbow Fern plants for the front porch

colors are best seen here.......

and some blue flowers for a specific hanger.

This is the herb garden. Totally weeded  out, removed the sweet potatoe vines and ate the sweet potatoes in a soup YUM!, bought organic top soil, some mushroom compost, added my own compost, John bought wood and cut it and I wanted it doubled to raise it for the added soils, then mixed and planted then mulched as usual with straw/hay.

The herbs are growing. I have picked off all the parsley so far and made 2 dishes for two, and it grows back! THAT is what I love!

They are doing well, actually growing healthily!

I added some yellow Dahlias as John loves yellow and when I saw these in the nursery they screamed at me "JOHN!" so I bought two and planted them in the Herb Garden for some delightful color. They ARE cheerful, and when you keep them deadheaded, they do continue to bloom.

I don't know if any would remember this but it was my Magical Winter Wonderland Portal.......

But that has expired, though it was very enchanting sparkling in the sun for a couple of years! I kept it for something else and I wanted to use the tillandsia's I had in a basket, and display them nicely and use what I have. Love using what is onhand to make something lovely!
I just sat the larger air plants on top wedged into the curly things, and the smaller ones are sitting snug in some seashells I had that I tied some fishline to to attach to the hanging thingy.....some spanish moss and its done. I really like it as a ''floating'' work of art. It takes up the blank area of the arbor until the Heirloom Sally Holmes rose grows and fills that part out, hopefully!

This is also under the arbor and showing a rose that went from sticks to lots of green leaves after a stiff talking to, pruning and fertilizing.........and the new mulching of this garden.

You cant see this well, but those blue pansies sit in 5 hanging pots and give delightful magic hues.

The ever perennial Catteleya Orchid with lots of blooms. I keep it on the potting bench as I can enjoy it from inside my kitchen. Its getting a special wooden hanging basket later today.

These gorgeous fragrant yellow roses were destined for the front Lattice Garden in front of my window as the bougainvillea there had to be taken out. I'd never seen an ugly misshaped bougainvillea in all my years, except this one which grew too awkwardly leggy for the first 8 feet then bloomed over the roof where we could not see them. I pruned it twice only to have it do the same so it had to go as I was also tired of being stabbed by its long thorns. So I opted for the elusive rose, and these happened to be in the store when we went for some netting/fencing ideas for pests, and I loved them so much and their scent was so heavenly I didn't want to keep them in the front where I hardly go, so they had to come into the back gardens and I made space for them. They have yet to go into their patio pots. But we are enjoying their crazy beauty and scents every time we're out there.

This is a section of the garden I never knew what to do with. It is difficult to work in when the bridge was there, and I did not want to work this section anymore so wanted something that needed no work but looked good and though I rarely need to ask anyone I asked John for ideas and he quickly suggested a spiral topiary since he always liked it and I said perfect, thats what goes there, and it will need two topiary balls for some balance and I will fill in the spaces with what I have left from everything else, and it will be mulched too so I don't have to worry about it anymore, it will take care of itself. And we went to get the topiary's in a nursery which I know to be cheap, and it worked out well, it is one of my favorite areas now. The flowers in pots are a perfect accent and when they expire I will simply remove the pots and if I feel like replacing flowers will do so, if not that section is the Topiary section with the passion vine there to take up the fenced wall space and feed the zebra butterflies year after year.

These giant begonias Begonia popenoei, come back every year and their beautiful flowers delight me every year.

This is the semi shade patch called Lettuce Patch, and I cut the tops of the lettuces for salad and they keep growing back! Thats what I'm talking about people!  These I also grew in a pot one year and they were simply GORGEOUS, and I hated cutting them, but did, since that is the point is to have fresh garden greens.
But I highly suggest growing your own lettuces either in a patch or pot as they do continue to produce for a long time and the freshness cannot be described, they are nothing like bought in a store. It is totally worth it.

I have this bed mulched with leaf mould, which I am glad I discovered/learned, and have been collecting the leaves fallen from the trees, keeping them in a bin and slightly moist, they break down and become this rich smelling woodsy lovely soil when completely broken down which can then be added to soils as conditioner and fertilizer, or if not entirely broken down used as mulch as I did here. I am finding it works beautifully to keep in moisture which is a big deal here with our too strong sun and for the plants themselves to have something cooler to sit in. It also provides nutrients they need as I'm finding the plants mulched with leaf mould are staying greener longer. LOVE !

Well, one of the things that grew in with the weeds were some tomato seeds since I keep throwing heirloom tomato seeds from fresh tomatoes into this Tomato Garden and they did grow some but we couldn't see them for the weeds, but once weeded out, there were mature tomatoe plants in this plot and I staked them with bamboo and was delighted that shortly tomatoes of all kinds were growing including small plum ones, dozens of them and my fav large heirlooms which is the best thing in gardening for foods is the heirlooms! But.....something was getting to them, and though I counted dozens of small cherry plums and 13 large heirlooms, they were being eaten. I didn't want to go through all the gardening, pains, and time, energy and work to feed rodents who can eat anything else, so I wanted to protect them and so I put mosquito netting around them as I did once before, but that didn't work.

I also had some strawberry plants wanting to grow so I pulled them out from the weeds into two large pots and they were growing happily and needed to go into something else more attractive, but they were trying to produce strawberries finally. So I planted them in two hanging baskets and soon realized they too had to be covered from blackbirds and squirrels.

I wanted the strawberries to be lush this summer filled and covered with the plant so I inserted plants into the sides as well.




But that didn't quite keep pests away either, so I decided to tie the bottoms of the netting on each hanging basket.

The tomatoes needed protecting it appears from rats....for the first time since I'm living here......and so I bought metal window screening so I can cut it and cover each cluster of the large heirlooms. However they chewed through the netting and then chewed through the metal screening and my heart was broken, as they ate dozens, every single cherry plum tomatoe and into the large heirlooms I had planned for several lunches. I can only imagine the devastation of spirit that happens when farmers and gardeners who grow all their food have it eaten by pests and they have no other way of eating. I feel their pain.
Even though I can go to the store, that is NOT what I am doing this for, I am wanting to teach myself and to train myself to grow my own foods as I do not like being dependent on sources that are producing more and more toxic foods in such large impersonal agricultural industrial capacities that the quality of food is lost to being merely physical substance that fills our stomachs but does not offer nutrients. I want truly nutrient dense alive foods. I have suffered enough from chemicals and food allergies.

So drastic means are necessary, though I was sick with this as it felt like attack, I still realized it was a common problem. Either I forego the growing of tomatoes and leave them to the pests, or I invest in serious protection. In my anger and frustration and not wanting to succumb to rats or failure, I opted for heavy duty coverage, though this cost John $90.00 and me some sweat, blood and tears, and I do hope I can get at least half that value in tomato produce this summer!!!!!!!!!.......I sent him that night for rat proof fencing which I had to research online and then we had to build a cage that night before I lost the remaining heirlooms..........they will not be able to get into this, but it turns out neither can I.

I always try to do things simply but efficiently and this fencing was brutal to work with, we have many cuts to prove it, and it is galvanized, but I wont' be able to get into this without going through some tough effort, but still, with all the flower buds I saw on these plants I realize that they want to produce more tomatoes and so I will give them the chance and protect them for us. This was no fun.

Roses flanking the caged Tomatoe Garden, softening the lurid reality of the dark side of gardening.

Ok some fun......whilst going through all the gardens and picking out what is not blooming, fruiting, or vegging......I had a lot of amaryllis bulbs which I planted every year as they used to rebloom each year and I'd cut and bring into the house.....but grasshoppers loved them and ate through many and we I had to devise a plan to be rid of those who were eating my only perennial flowers. And so I did, the grasshoppers were easy to catch as they first come out, and we'd catch them all, bag them and relocate them elsewhere with plenty of bush and no people to object. This has worked just fine, as I didn't want to kill them, I just wanted my own plants to be left alone. The injured bulbs grew back but still they never bloomed again. There had to be a reason. The leaves were green all year, never died but just stayed the same. I know that daffodils and other bulbs need to feed off their leaves to store energy for the following years blooms, and then the leaves turned brown and dies, but these never turned brown nor died. I decided to dig them all up and plant them under the lemon and almond trees since that would be bare once weeded.
Once dug out, I decided to cut the leaves anyway since they were in the way, they didn't do anything and maybe the bulbs would wake up. I left them in the basket for days and the leaves quickly began to grow again and I realized they did need this intervention. I planted them and within days the leaves were growing on all of them, and they grew BUDS!!!......yes, they all started to bud and are some are flowered and opened now and I still have 5 more buds on the it turns out, that amaryllis will come back year after year, but since the leaves do not turn brown on their own, they need to be cut and then they will rebloom!

I'm hoping my favorite whites and pinks will come up and that those were not the ones destroyed by the grasshoppers as red is not my favorite color, though the effect in the garden is great.
What is interesting is that this one planted in this pot years ago, also finally bloomed without me touching did another in another pot that I didn't touch. This to me demonstrates the collective "one mind" of often I speak to a species, and they all respond in kind at the same time.

This has three opened and five more to come.....will be something soon!

And last but most important to me too, was the need for trees, trees that stay green, don't have browning or yellowing dying fronds which need constant pruning, trees reminiscent of Europe or the north of anywhere. And what I've been in love with for decades are the Italian Cypress trees,
image from google images

which they do sell here, but they all look sparse, dull green not like Italy at all, and are way too expensive. However, in my absolute determination to have ''trees'' here besides the old oak, something that made this garden look like a garden, I noticed in all gardening places the world over, and in those beautiful scenic movies, there is always at least a couple of tall thin cypress of some kind, I searched and I searched and found one nursery that sold something a bit better in my opinion, something that was greener and lusher, whose growth was also tall but more curvy and lush, was the Juniper Torulosa. I fell in love with it on sight, even as they stood next to the Italian Cypress, my love all these years. I talked to the housemate as my funds for plantings were gone and I wanted him to contribute to this project that he would no doubt enjoy, so I explained the need for the tall cypress, showed him examples of gardens with it, and why every picture we liked had them in it, and he said to me I've been talking about them since he met me and I painted this house Italian Tuscan Terracotta because of my love for those Italian gardens, I decided it was time to get this desire out of head and into my garden. This was to make up for the disaster of 2015. I took him to the nursery and showed him the trees and we compared this Juniper Torulosa to the Italian Cypress and there was no comparison, the Juniper won on all counts including its price. He bought two. And we I found 2 nice terracotta pots for them to go into, and I love it.
I love walking out there and seeing ''trees'', evergreen trees which will stay a rich green, and not need pruning, only staking......I love seeing them in pots like European gardens.

John thanked me later, saying ''thanks for making this garden a Mediterranean style garden with trees''........
''you're welcome''
. Sigh.

A view........

A very young Sally Holmes Heirloom rose, trying to do its thing, but not too well. I have given this plant all it could possible need, so I am waiting for it to realize this and show me the beauty of what it is supposed to look like.....I am still stubbornly hoping to be able to grow roses in hot/humid south Florida......some people I am trying still......

but I just loved this rose which is supposed to look like this......

Sooooo......that's my gardening story for this year so far..... I have not given all the details at all, there is more, but this post is long enough and I must stop.

I hope to simply enjoy for the rest of the year the growing, the produce and flowering aspects which is the fun part, watching it rain, and watching things bloom and produce.....this is what I am hoping for. Happy Gardening!

Thanks for visiting.

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  1. Oh what a wonderful, heartfelt post this is! I enjoyed every word! You put your heart AND soul into your gardens, and you are reaping what you have sown. Through all the trials, you keep going, and hoping that your hard work will bring beauty...and it does!! You are creating a paradise to be enjoyed.
    Love to you, dear one.

    1. Yes, I write and speak only from my heart, it keeps life simple :D. I am still putting so much into the earth, as I believe She listens and returns much much more in the form of beauty, foods, scents, butterfly and bee magic and all those ineffable things of the Divine realms. Thank you. How are your 'dry flower gardens' coming along? thanks for writing.

  2. Wow what a beautiful garden you have. I love the flowers and your lettuce. There is nothing like a fresh salad. :)

    1. Thank you. It means alot when someone can see the beauty here.

  3. What a beautiful garden you have created, and what an amazing amount of work!
    xx Fiona

  4. Your weather must be wonderful that far south in FL, aside from the drought. BEautiful! Thanks for sharing at Home Sweet Home!

  5. Your garden is just gorgeous!! You must be in heaven every time you go outside!! Thank you so much for sharing your beautiful photos! I'm in Awe!!
    Hugs, Jody

  6. What a labour of love...both the garden and your! We live in a similar climate to yours and you are spot on with the maintenance. Yes, you have to be realistic about the time you have to maintain, prune, mulch, fertilise and plant. We made several mistakes over the years, but we are in a good place garden-wise, now. Yours is stunning. Love, Mimi xxx


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