About SmallHouseBigGarden

Hello!! I'm Karen from http://www.smallhousebiggarden.wordpress.com Come along with me as i dig the Vero Ranchero!

TC’s Visit, Easter, and Garden Update!


Since my last post an entire week’s gone by…and what a mad dash of a week it was! My oldest son was in town, and he crams more activity in a single day than any other person I know.  Take April 12th for example: 10am we’re on the beach; Noon we’re in a restaurant; 2pm we’re racing home to shower/change; 3pm we’re at the Hibiscus Festival; 5pm I’m dropped back home; 6pm he and Maggie drive 2.5hrs across the state to a VIP party (hotel room included!) hosted by a co-worker.  Dance til dawn, April 13!

Carpe diem is how he rolls!


Rolling toward Easter Brunch: Carpe Diem!

The entire week was a definite BLAST, but Maggie and I were exhausted by Easter! Nevertheless, we rallied for our new family tradition: celebrating with brunch at the Disney Vero Beach Resort:

easter brunch 2014

Maggie’s fiancé took the above photo, so I returned the favor:


All the cool people wear shades…even when the sun don’t shine! ;)


While we were racing around all week, Spring snuck up on my back gardens:


Assorted Coleus and Cosmos, with a meandering sweet potato vine


2yr old Rex begonia, blooming for the first time.



Regal Darner Dragonfly (aka Coryphaeschna ingens)



Phalaenopsis (x 2) blooming VERY late!

For my beloved Amaryllis, a little slideshow!

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It’s looking decidedly like Spring, yeah?

Before I close, a head’s up on something I stumbled across at our Beachside CVS:


Seen at CVS Beachside, Rte A1A, Vero Beach, 4/19/14

I’ve NEVER seen flower bulbs sold at CVS, have you?!?  I purchased these on Saturday, and have since hit 3 other CVSs, but couldn’t find them anywhere! (and I scrounged the stores HARD!)

For all you gardeners, “keep an eye peeled” as my Irish Granny was wont to say!  You might get lucky, too!

Until next time…..

:) :) :)

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Wordless Wednesday: April 16, 2014 (Baseball!)

Last night my son and I caught the Jackie Robinson Celebration Game at historic Dodgertown’s Holman Stadium.  Nothing says Spring like an evening of minor league baseball! :)


Manatees vs Flying Tigers, 4/15/14, Holman Stadium, Vero Beach

20140415_184738 (1)

For other Wordless Wednesday posts, click here and on the Zemanta related links, below!

Until next time….

:) :) :)

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Monument

This week’s photo challenge asks us to share a local monument. While this might mean stone-based statuary in older parts of the world, in newly developed spots like Vero Beach, it means fiberglass!!


In 2005,the Mental Health Association of Indian River County used 52 eye-popping turtle sculptures to raise awareness and money for mental health services. Known locally as Turtle Trax, this public art project symbolized people coming out of their shells to seek help.  Each sculpture stands 6′ tall x 5′ wide, depicting a sea turtle with fins outstretched, as if peacefully gliding through water.


Another fiberglass monument, Patriot, the Horse, guards the entrance to Pocahontas Park located just beyond the Citrus Museum in the above photo:


The 9′ tall Patriot has been corralled at the park since 1960. ;)  In 2009, Perfection Paint and Auto Body donated their time and materials to restore and repaint this midcentury monument.  You can read more about their extensive project, by clicking here.

Before I close, I’m excited to tell you my oldest son is visiting through Easter Sunday!


I may not post much this week, but will definitely check in on all of you. :)

Until next time….

:) :) :)

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Wordless Wednesday: 4/09/14 (Raised Vegetable Bed)

As part of our Master Gardener training in 2012, we were required to do a group project demonstrating the impact of agriculture within the community. Hoping local residents would follow our lead, we constructed a raised vegetable bed abutting the front walk of the County Extension Office.

Here’s how it looked this past Monday:

Raised Garden Bed, Indian River County Extension Office, 4/07/14

A close-up of pineapple ( Ananas comosus) and cauliflower (Brassica oleracea.)

Pineapple (Ananas comosus,) Raised Bed, Indian River County Extension Office, 4/07/14Collards (Brassica oleracea L.) with eggplant (Solanum melongena Black Beauty) toward the left of the pineapple.

Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare Purpureum) in the right hand corner

Raised Bed, Indian River County Extension Office, 4/07/14

A view of the bed looking toward the street; note the green pepper plant (Capsicum annuum) on the lefthand side.


For instructions and a list of materials to build your own raised bed, check out this article at Sunset Magazine.  For other Wordless Wednesday posts, click here and on the Zemanta related links, below!

Until next time…..

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The Land Pavillion, Disney Epcot, 2014

On November 16 1965, Walt Disney announced his plan to build the utopian Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow (aka Epcot) on 27,443 acres of Florida swampland. In his own words, EPCOT will take its cue from the new ideas and new technologies that are emerging from the forefront of American industry. It will be a community of tomorrow that will never be completed. It will always be showcasing and testing and demonstrating new materials and new systems.” 

Unfortunately, Walt died in 1966, and when Epcot opened in 1982 the prototype city he’d imagined had morphed into a theme park, albeit one highlighting a future that promised new and exciting benefits for all. Nowhere is this more evident than in the attraction Living with the Landa 15-minute boat ride through four distinct greenhouses and an aquaculture facility. The Land, Epcot, 3/29/14Visitors glide past 60 different plants being grown via the Nutrient Film Technique in which enhanced waters are pumped from holding tanks into some VERY unusual garden beds. Some are slotted and sloped:

Hydroponic Lettuce Bed, Living with the Land, Epcot, 3/29/14

….others are spiraled

Spiral Hydroponic Beds. Living with the Land, Epcot, 3/29/14

while others are strung up like trees:

Eggplant "trees", Living with the Land, Epcot, 3/29/14

As the solution streams by, each plant takes what it needs and the rest is recirculated and reused.  The result is higher yields in smaller areas with water conservation, to boot! :)

The ride also passes through a separate greenhouse featuring tropical edibles:

Tropical Greenhouse, Living with the Land, Epcot, 3/29/14

Pineapples, pitaya and coconuts are growing in the picture above, with jackfruit and unnamed water edibles, below:

20140329_150735-1Plants in the Tropical Greenhouse are grown in sand using subsurface drip irrigation of the same nutrient water used elsewhere in the Land.  It was interesting to see some common Florida crops flourishing in these conditions:

Coffee and Bamboo, Living with the Land, Epcot, 3/29/14

Epcot’s horticulturalists are using innovative growing techniques and cross-breeding high-yield crops with the goal of sustaining our growing global population. To that end, a Biotechnology Lab operates in conjuction with the USDA, and we got a glimpse of that, too:

Epcot/USDA Tissue Culture Lab, Living with the Land, 3/29/14

The Land is definitely one of Epcot’s most interesting and educational attractions! If your travel plans take you to Orlando, I highly recommend it!

Until next time…..

:) :) :)

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They’re waking up! (Lilies, Amaryllis, etc., etc.!)

A week ago, I was bemoaning the late arrival of my amaryllis spikes and starting to think they might skip a season. This is my 5th spring of Florida gardening and always they’d appear during March, with a few of the early blooming varieties opened wide by now! Then suddenly yesterday, the Mead Amaryllis varieties shot up:

The Mead Amaryllis is the result of a USDA breeding program that took place in Central Florida during the early years of the 20th Century.  Drs. Theodore Mead and Henry Nehrling tested and crossed more than 3000 orchids, calladium, and amaryllis plants in what was to become Florida’s first experimental botanical garden. Of these, over 300 new and beneficial plants were introduced into Florida’s landscape. The amaryllis hybrids seen here are two such pass-alongs, and although not as showy or tall as modern Dutch hybrids, they are uniquely suited to our local conditions.  Walk down any Florida street in March (….ok….April! :) ) and you’ll see red and white beauties popping up all over!

This next amaryllis,  Hippeastrum cybister “Evergreen”, woke up FAST too!

Purchased as an indoor “force” for the 2012 holiday season, I planted H.cybister evergreen in the Ranchero when its bloom cycle ended.  All I can say is WOW!  It must prefer the outdoors, because it spiked MUCH taller than 2012!  I counted 8 separate blooms atop this first inflorescence and as I recall, it produced 2 more before going dormant last time. I’m curious what might happen this year, but Clarisse isn’t quite so enthusiastic. ;)


The first daylily of 2014 also arrived on April 1, waaayyyyy later than anticipated.

Hemorocallis hyperion, 4/1/14

Hemerocallis hyperion is a rebloomer and one of my original garden purchases.  When winters are mild, I’ve watched it flower sporadically all year, but that didn’t happen THIS season. Better late than never, yeah?  I’m happy to see it heralding spring!

Although technically not a “bloom,” I’m heartened by new shoots on this Dracena marginata.

This plant was so leggy, forlorn and cold damaged, I cut it in half so the upper portion could root near the original stem.  As you can see, both segments have adjusted and seem to be thriving!

Fortunately my orchids were in containers, so I brought them inside for the worst of our cold snaps. They’ve been back outdoors and shaded for the past month, and look just about ready to say hello.

Late winter is typically orchid time in Florida, so these phals are seriously behind schedule!

Spring is here, and it’s fantastic to be out in the yard and digging again!  Winter was tough all around, and I’m glad to see it go!

Until next time…..

:) :) :)


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Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival, 2014

One of the most welcome signs of spring is Disney Epcot’s annual International Flower & Garden Festival. Each year, Master Gardeners from Indian River County work as volunteers at the Festival Center located in the park’s Future World. (Note: more about Future World’s attraction “The Land” in a separate post!)

Thankfully, the Festival Center is enclosed, because Disney Orlando was under tornado-watch the whole time we were there! EEK!  It poured…and poured–with thunder and lightning–all afternoon:

Rainy Day at Epcot, 3/29/14

Terrible day for picture taking (esp with a smartphone,) but the displays were so intricate and beautiful, I persevered. This Tinkerbell topiary was one of 75 Disney characters made entirely of flowers. Look closely and you’ll see her pointing toward the Butterfly House, housing more than 600 native fluttering species!  Unfortunately it was closed due to weather! Drats!!!


HGTV was the major sponsor of this year’s event, and they outdid themselves with an inviting Garden Retreat.  Imagine this spectacular setting on a sunny day!?!


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More than 200,000 bedding plants were added to the park for this year’s festival. The floral design encircling Future World’s East and West Lake showcases over 60,000 of them.


….and here’s another group of thousands that caught my eye :)

20140329_153303It really was a shame the weather didn’t cooperate…I could have taken and shared sooooo many more photos!!!  Nevertheless, we all thoroughly enjoyed ourselves and chattered like a bunch of giddy kids on the 1.5hr ride home! :)

Until next time….

:) :) :)

P.S. I’ll be back in a few days with a post about the fascinating hydroponics behind “The Land,” my favorite Epcot attraction.


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Wordless Wednesday: 3/26/14 (Sunny Reflections)

I ran across this shot (taken during my first summer here) while searching my pics for yesterday’s Reflections post.  It seemed well suited for Wordless Wednesday, so here it is!

Backyard Queen Palm after a summer storm

NOTE: Look at the bottom left corner of this photo: the vacant lot next door wasn’t yet empty :arrow: that happened in 2011 and you can read about it here.

For other Wordless Wednesday posts, check out the blogger who started it all, and, of course, the Zemanta links below!

Until next time….

:) :) :)

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Reflections

This week’s photo challenge calls for images of reflections. Like the example shown here, my shots illustrate the topic in both literal and figurative ways.

Riverside Park is Vero Beach’s premiere location for festivals, picnics, and dolphin watching.  Walking under the stately live oaks it’s impossible NOT to reflect on nature’s beauty:

Live Oaks, Riverside Park, 2/2/14

Growing as they do from Virginia to southern Florida and westward to the Texas Gulf, live oaks are an ecological and cultural icon of the American Coastal South.  Four blocks from the Atlantic in Riverside Park, they are richly shrouded in epiphytic Spanish moss.

Under the oaks at Riverside Park, 2/2/14

Spanish moss (aka Tillandsia usneoides) survives on regular rainfall and high humidity, growing from trees as silvery-gray threadlike masses to 25 ft. long, densely covered by the gray scales which are a means of receiving and holding atmospheric moisture. When water laden, the gray scales glow brilliant white from the sun’s reflection:

Spanish Moss, Riverside Park, 2/2/14

The symbiosis of live oaks and Spanish moss inspired many a Southern Indian legend, some sweetly romantic and others….well….not so much!  As a final reflection , I’ve included this one from the Florida Memory Project Archives:

Legend of the Spanish Moss

For more information about this interesting epiphyte, check out The Beaufort County Library (South Carolina) Spanish Moss Website.

For other bloggers’ reflections on a variety of topics, check out the Zemanta related links below!

Until next time….

:) :) :) .

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“Sports Matter,” Dick’s Sporting Goods Ad Campaign

I typically DVR my favorite t.v. series to avoid seeing commercials, and I’m deeply in cahoots with my clicker’s fast forward button to breeze right past them!  Yes, I know ads are a necessary evil–someone has to pay the bills to bring me The Following, The Americans–and when I’m feeling particularly mindless–Dallas, but the commercials are all too often offensive and dumb and I hate wasting my end of the day brain cells on them!

Not so, this one, part of the “Sports Matter” campaign in which high school athletes (average kids, not necesssarily “stars”) are highlighted in a 1minute vid that gets to the essence of sports’ affect on the individual.  Take a look

Sports Matter was conceived by Anomaly Advertising for U.S. retailer, Dick’s Sporting Goods. Lauren Hobart, Dick’s Chief Marketting Officer described the casting call this way:
 “It wasn’t very hard to find these kids. For any given kid who plays sports…there are other things going on in life that are challenging them. We wrote the scripts after we found the kids. We were very flexible all the way through the shoot — very much in the background trying to just let real life happen.”

From our own family experience, I’m 100% in agreement with Ms. Hobart: kids have many difficulties in their home lives, especially boys with absentee fathers.  My middle son, Jack, is the fine man he is today largely due to team sports. Lessons about shaking off mistakes and focusing with renewed determination on the next play; subjugating the needs of the self for the good of the many; discipline learned by showing up for practice when you’d rather not; these are the benefits derived from youth sports, and the foundation upon which solid citizens grow. (I SO firmly believe this!)

Like all Ad campaigns, Sports Matter is an effort to build Dick’s brand, but with the wider purpose of raising awareness for the growing issue of underfunded youth sports.  An estimated $3.5 billion was cut from school sports budgets between 2009 and 2011, and by 2020, 27% of U.S. public schools may not offer sports programs at all.

Dick’s hopes to fund between 75 to 100 teams through a $2million matching grants process in which the teams raise half the money via a crowdfunding platform.  You can see more about the program (and what YOU can do to help) by watching this very short vid:

And finally, to illustrate how “sports matter” to our family, I’m including Jack’s college recruitment highlight reel. TC was studying video editting/production at the time, and pulled Jack’s best football plays into a great little package complete with soundtrack and the play-by-play announcements from a few games televised on local media.  Needless to say, I was very proud of their combined efforts, and still am! :)

Sports Matter!

Until next time….

:) :) :)

(thanks to Sara Melikian for the header pic, taken on 9/27/2008 in Worcester Ma.)

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