Tuesday, July 29, 2014

The Latest & Greatest & Some New News!!!

Hope you all are doing well my friends!
It's been awhile since y'all have been by to visit the garden.
Boy do I have lots to show you & something important to tell you!

After much debate of whether to stay or start something new, I decided that after 13 years here at this wonderful little home, I decided to put it on the market.  If it sells then I will be very happy to know someone else can enjoy it too!   Now, I have to decide which plants come with me, lol.

I'm not sure how many more times I may get to blog about my little plot of paradise so let's have some fun while we can.   Since the thundershowers are coming and going on a daily basis and
it remains uber hot and humid outside...
it's a great time to take a virtual walk through the garden!

This is a view from the south walkway that links
the front & back yards.  You can see our new dog
Django under the huge Jamaican caper tree!

The picture on the left is dendrobium miyakei (I think)
Yes, the picture on the right is the same orchid flower!  The top picture is a week
after the blooms opened up & the bottom picture is what it looks like a week after the top picture.

Our front yard full of peanut flowers &
the Ellen Bosanquet crinum lilies in bloom

The above pictures show my spindle palm in it's place of eight years.
It grew so fast along with the adjacent trees that it had to be relocated.
Our contractor friend found a good home for this beauty on one of his projects.

Swallowtail butterfly chrysalis on our rue plant

My new favorite is this cutie beauty
michelia figo (aka. banana shrub).  You can smell this
from a distance as the super sweet juicy smell wafts
into your nostrils & your brain says "OMG what
is that delicious smell!?!"  To me it smells like
a banana now-and-later ;)

A fun artistic expression I made from an orchid picture.

My fiddlewood & American beautyberry
all full of berries the birds love to eat.

A view of part of our backyard pathway.

My longest lobster claw helicona ever!Très cool!

Beehive or Thai shampoo ginger

This is the back patio corner.
Thank you so much for coming by & walking through the garden with me!
Keep cool, stay hydrated, wear sunblock and enjoy some summer fun!
Happy Gardening & Best Wishes,

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Mango Season in South Florida

Cutting them up to store in the freezer
Mangoes are here!!!   Our South Florida mango season usually runs from June to part of August.   It depends on the variety of mango but some of them can have another productive fruit season during our fall months like the Thai variety 'choc-anon'.  How awesome is that!?!

We are very blessed to have wonderful friends that have bountiful harvests on their mango trees this year and have graciously shared their wealth.   Just a word of advice for those of you without trees, if your neighbor has a tree it is always advisable to ask the homeowner for a few mangoes before you take them.   Mangoes can make people do crazy things lol!!!   Our freezer is full of chopped mangoes ready to be made into one of my famous mango smoothie's or one of Kendra's infamous Mangorita's (OMG Good!) or my healthy mango salsa or my grandmother's mango bread or even mango popcicles (add rum or bourbon for the adults)....whew, the delicious list goes on!   I thought it would be a great idea to add a few recipes for you all to try.   So go out and get you some mangoes!!!

Mango Breeze recipe from my beautiful 2009 Bahamian Calendar.
These are beautiful works of art you can purchase every year for a great price!
Mango-Tamarind BBQ Sauce from my gorgeous 2010 Bahamian Calender
Thai-Style Mango Salsa
2 cups cubed mango (about 2 medium sized mangoes)
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1 to 1 1/2 Tbs. Thai sweet chili sauce
1 Tbs. low sodium tamari or soy sauce
1 Tbs. fresh lime juice
2 large cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1/2 tsp. sugar or to taste
salt & pepper to taste
2 recipes of baked wonton crisps
In a food processor with a knife blade, pulse the mango until finely chopped but slightly chunky.  Transfer to a small bowl and add the remaining ingredients, except wonton crisps, stirring well to combine.  Let stand about 10 minutes at room temperature for flavors to blend; stir before serving with crisps.
Baked wonton crisps

12 wonton wrappers
2 tsp Chinese hot oil, peanut oil, or plain sesame oil
garlic salt or table salt to taste
Preheat oven to 400F - Arrange wonton wrapper on large ungreased baking sheet & brush the tops with oil.   Turn over & brush with remaining oil. With a sharp knife cut wrappers diagonally in half.  Sprinkle with salt.    Bake at center rack for about 5 minute until golden, keep an eye on them so they don't burn.  Cool slightly & serve with mango salsa.
Our friend's mango trees at their family run marina in Deerfield Beach, Pennell's Marine
The mangoes in the picture at the top of the page are from these trees.

My mango salsa has black beans (I use canned black beans & rinse them), corn (either cut off the cob/frozen/canned; up to you), diced fresh tomatoes, finely chopped red onion or shallots, finely chopped jalapeno pepper (without seeds), diced avocado, diced mango, chopped fresh cilantro, fresh lime juice and salt & pepper.  All of the ingredients are to taste so feel free to add more of one than another.

My Grandmother's (Gisele Vermeire) Mango Bread Recipe (circa 1972)
½ c butter
¾ c sugar
1 egg
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
¼ c sour milk, I’m guessing this could be buttermilk?
¾ c golden raisins (I usually leave them out & add ¼ c more nuts & mango)
½ tsp grated lemon peel
2/3 c mashed ripe mangoes, which should be 1-2 mangoes
2 c flour
½ c chopped nuts
Cream butter and sugar, then add egg, butter milk; mix well then add sifted dry ingredients.  Fold in the lemon rind, mangoes, raisins and nuts until evenly mixed through Bake in greased loaf pan at 350F for 50-60 minutes.  Cool thoroughly before cutting.
Hope you are enjoying your summer as well as your mangoes!
Happy Gardening and Many Best Wishes,

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Mounts Botanical Gardens - Tropical Fruit Festival 2014

Well my friends, it's that time of year again...what!?!     Mango season you say???  

It's only on Saturday, June 28th from 10 am to 3 pm so be sure to put it on your calender!

Last year it was super hot, very humid & lots of sun!   So like with any outdoor event here in South Florida always come prepared.   Be sure to bring hat(s), sunscreen, sunglasses, camera, snacks, water & umbrella(s).    I also brought a hand fan & boy was I glad since their wasn't much of a breeze that day.  Also wear comfortable clothes that can breathe like shorts, t-shirts and 
walking shoes as there is lots to see! 

Their press release jargon goes a little something like this...
"Join us on a culinary journey around the world as we explore delicious tropical fruit.   Exciting activities in the Garden include cooking demonstrations, guided tours, tropical fruit display featuring over 100 tropical fruits, tropical fruit samples, plus fruit and fruit trees will be available for purchase.    Palm Beach County Extension Master Gardener Booth, Family and Consumer Sciences food displays, 
food trucks and live music by DYMiN."

Mounts Botanical Garden is located on the west side of the Palm Beach International Airport.

Let me know who is going so we can organize a "meet-up"!

Wishing everyone a great summer!
Happy Gardening & Best Wishes,

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Flowering Trees in South Florida

Ahhhh May, how we love this time of year...signaling spring has sprung here in So'Fla!  The weather is absolutely incredible today at 70 degrees F.  A very nice break from the mid 80's we have been experiencing.  Today is a perfect day for the beach or a picnic at your local park!  

Now is the time when many of So'Fla's plants are starting to get their grow'on while others are getting their flowerin'on.  Also, this is the time of year in many parts of the world flowering trees are bringing people from across the globe to see their beauty.  Atlanta just had their 78th Annual Dogwood Festival.  Beijing, China has their cherry blossom festivals throughout April into May, which are sure to impress any visitor.  As well as many of our northern neighboring states, like our nation's capital, Washington DC which celebrates the blooming of it's 3,000 cherry trees planted in 1912 as a gift of friendship from Japan.   

Here in So'Flo we don't have the cherry trees though we do have some pretty spectacular flowering trees that will be sure to stop you in your tracks!

So let's take a tour to see what's showing your their very best this time of year.  
Yellow tabebuia picture from Richard Lyons Nursery

Pink & yellow tabebuia picture from www.floridata.com

Yellow & orange poinciana picture from www.FloridaGardener.com

Apple blossom cassia picture from Terra Mirabilis blog
Rainbow cassia picture from Tree World
Rainbow cassia's actually change their colors as the flowers age.
I think this is a cassia marginata, Butterfly World has them in their parking lot.
A close up of the Butterfly World cassia's, cassia marginata?
Desert Cassia
Desert cassia picture from Plant Creations Nursery
Desert Cassia picture from Plant Creations

Jacaranda picture from UF/IFAS Okeechobee extension
Jacaranda picture from All Things Ruffnerian blog

African tulip tree picture from www.mgonline.com
African tulip tree picture from www.mgonline.com

Bulnesia picture from Plant Creations in Homestead, FL.
This gorgeous yet huge Bulnesia aka Verawood is in Deerfield Beach

Golden Shower Cassia picture from The Wild Papaya Nursery

Queen's Crepe Myrtle or Lagerstroemia speciosa
This incredible Queen's crepe myrtle is in Deerfield Beach.
Close up of the huge Queen's crepe myrtle flower, about 4-5 inches!
If you are considering planting a flowering tree in your landscape here are a few things to consider.   Flowering trees are usually considered a medium to large canopy tree, able to grow from 25-50 ft.

Flowering trees as beautiful as they are in bloom, the blooms have to go some where...yes, they drop to the ground, as you can see in some of the above pictures.  Plus most flowering trees are either deciduous or semi-deciduous, meaning they also drop their leaves 1-2 times a year.   So make sure where ever you plant the tree that you don't end up with flowers & leaves in your pool, on your cars and/or all over your patio.    Because we all have waaaay better things to do than pick up leaves & flowers on the weekend! ;)   

Lastly, you can figure that the root system of any tree is 2/3rd's larger than the width of the canopy.  So make sure where you plant the tree isn't going to pose any problems either with it's canopy and/or root system once it gets larger.

And with that my friends, get out there & enjoy your weekend...go on, get off the computer and get some sun on your face!
Happy Gardening & Many Best Wishes,

Monday, May 12, 2014

Landscaping With Native Plants in South Florida

Today I was thinking we could talk a little bit about using native plants.   When I first started gardening as a youngster (in the southern end of Miami now called Palmetto Bay) it was lots of fun visiting the plant nurseries with my parents picking out all kinds of cool stuff.   Upon our return I would either draw the leaves or emboss it by put a leaf under paper then rub over it with colored crayons leaving an imprint of the leaf and all it's veins.  They were fairly detailed even with their botanical names and everything.  Gosh I wish I still had those.  Any way the older I got the more I wanted to know about "exotic tropical" plants.  I would ride my bike around neighborhoods far-and-wide searching for unique species.  I would trade any of my plants I had multiples of for plants from other people's collections or ask for a cutting.   In my mind I was on my way to having to have the ultimate plant and orchid collection!  By the time I was a senior in high school, my parents allowed me to build a shade house in our backyard.  I had that thing so filled to the brim with plants and orchids that my parents thought for sure I would be a botanist.

Then in August of 1992 Hurricane Andrew came and left.  In it's wake were miles of destruction, devastation and parts of South Florida that were in complete desolation.  Within the previous sentence was also my shade house, my entire collection and lots of hard work....just gone, all within a few hours.  I had a few months before I had to be back at college, so our neighbor, also a collector, and myself decided to scout through the wreckage to see if we could find any of our plants.   This adventure lead us to amassing a brand new collection of plants.  We found plants among the wreckage though not our own.  We found our local Home Depot was actually throwing everything in dumpsters, yippee for us (even their wooden pot benches from the garden center).   People actually found us by word of mouth and literally gave us their orchids because they couldn't take care of them.  And we also unfortunately we found them in abandoned homes.
Our house after Hurricane Andrew came through August 24, 1992
The top picture was after we did weeks of cleaning & clearing.
The bottom two pictures were the day after.
My boyfriend (at that time) & I building my greenhouse (1989/90)
 & then after Hurricane Andrew made it into firewood (1992)
So why the long story about me...well, because even though I liked natives I didn't consider them something of value.  Back in the day my mind set was all tropical..."jungle exotics from afar, oh my!"  So speed up to present day, yup, you guessed it...my collection's a combo of tropical's and native's, the best of both worlds!   Believe it of not , natives are now becoming a hot commodity as much of our natural lands are being destroyed for a new strip mall or bank or gas station or coffee shop.  Hopefully this post will help those non-native folks think kinder thoughts and reconsider using them in their landscapes and/or help preserve the lands we have.  By the end of this post you are going to be surprised at how many beautiful native plants there are to choose from!

For conversation sake in this post, the plants will be native to Florida.

First, the best place I suggest you start is a field trip to visit some of the following.
While you are there take some pictures of the plants you like so you can look them up and/or talk to the guides/employees/rangers utilizing their vast knowledge as to what the plant species are.
- visit your federalstate and county parks to see what a natural habit in your area looks like and see what native plants are indigenous to your area;
take a hike and/or bike through some local trails;
- visit botanical gardens like The Deerfield Beach Arboretum in west Deerfield Beach,
Flamingo Gardens in Davie,
Bonnet House in Fort Lauderdale beach,
Miami Beach Botanical Garden on Miami Beach,
Fairchild Tropical Gardens in Coral Gables,
Vizcaya Gardens in Coral Gables
Pinecrest Gardens in SE Miami,
The Kampong National Tropical Botanical Garden in Coconut Grove,
Ann Norton Sculpture Garden in West Palm Beach
Mounts in West Palm;
- take a walk around your neighborhood to see what grows well in your area; if you see a neighbor's yard you like, strike up a conversation with them to get their feedback and experience with what worked for them;
- visit native plant growers like Plant Creations in Homestead or Native Choice Nursery in Boynton Beach, Living Color in Davie and Nuturf in Pompano Beach;

Now that you have picked out a few natives you thought would be great for your yard, lets go to the internet.  This is a good place to get acquainted with additional pictures of the plants, their names, their growing requirements, how big they grow and where you can purchase them.  Please note, not all plant nurseries carry native plants so it's best to call first.
Try looking for some of the following:
- gardening blogs;
- try using websites like Plant Real Florida to find local native plant nurseries in your area;
- native plant societies like Florida Native Plant Society and their blog, or just google 'Florida native plant societies' and you will be sure to find a local chapter you can contact;
- your local university extension offices like the University of Florida and your county agricultural departments like Broward, even your city will have information like Coral Springs and Pompano Beach;
- look to booksmagazines & websites to gain additional knowledge and inspiration;
- look for local gardening clubs like Boca Raton's, these are a great place to share information;
- also online forums like Dave's Garden Forum and Palm Talk are great places to learn from;
- talk to local landscapers with knowledge in natives and/or find inspiration from international landscape architects like Raymond Jungles;

Ok so we have educated ourselves on some natives we like, now it's time to get dirty.  We have to find out where in your yard will these lovely plants go?  A few questions will help us determine that.  For an example let's use the wild coffee, so far we found out that it does best in filtered sun as an under story plant, can sustain short dry periods and prefers moist forest type soil but can be grown in different soil types such as alkaline, acidic, sandy, loamy, etc.

We also found out that it has added benefits for/to the environment.  Wild coffee has berries that are staples to many birds and animals diet, many native butterflies like the zebra longwing butterfly drink the flower nectar and for you it is a very low maintenance plant, yippee.

We have already asked the question about the plants growth habit, "is this an aggressive growing plant?", "what is the maximum height and width this plants gets?", "does it drop it's leaves every year (deciduous plant)?", "is this the right place for this plant?".  With which we learned that wild coffee is an incredibly easy plant to grow with it's dense round shape growing to about 7 ft high by 4-6 ft wide.  It is an evergreen, meaning it does not drop it's leaves like deciduous plants do.  Wild coffee's are a very tame multi-stemmed shrub that stay put where you plant them.

So back to the question "where in my yard do I put this native?"  Through our small bit of research we know exactly where to plant the wild coffee...under the black ironwood tree along the perimeter of your property for a beautiful bright green low maintenance privacy hedge.  See you did it, yippee!

To quote the amazing Ms. Martha Stewart "it's a good thing" to use as many native plants specific to your region as possible whether you live in South Florida or elsewhere.  With a little bit of research, I am sure you can find some wonderful natives you will love.  So now that you have the tools to find native plants for your area, get out there and start planting and sharing your knowledge!

Feel free to contact me with any questions and/or comments!

Happy Gardening and many best wishes,