Weekly Photo Challenge: Saturated

This week’s photo challenge calls for saturation of color. Not a problem! When tropical gardens reach peak bloom, deeply saturated jewel tones are everywhere!

First up, a Ruby Spider Daylily and Aloe Ciliaris from May, 2013..

Ruby spider daylily and Aloe ciliaris, 5/12/2013

Followed by reseeded sunflowers from 2011-12 amidst a newly sown packet of Burpee’s Autumn Beauty seeds. This is some seriously saturated orange!

Sunflowers, 5/12/13

Check out the electric pinks and greens in this caladium container!  (June, 2013)

Mixed Caladium Container, 6/19/13

Not even rain can diminish the bold purple/orange marbling in this unusual gladiolus from July, 2012.  (Saturated color saturation? ha! 🙂 )

orange glad july 23, 2012 ranchero

Sadly, this beautiful flower didn’t grow back in 2013, but it sure looked pretty next to the Dragon Tree aka  Dracena Marginata Tricolor,

That’s it for today, but stay tuned:  I’ve got some great bromeliad pics to share in Saturated Part 2.

Until next time…..

🙂 🙂 🙂

Last Call for Planting Sunflower Seeds!

It may be the end of summer, but Sunflower growing season can stretch as long as the sun keeps shining and the weather stays warm!  As a general rule, sunflowers bloom 60-75 days after germination; if your first frost is at least that many days away, there’s STILL time to plant (and bloom!) these cheery annuals!

Helianthus Annus, Sunflower, 8/26/13

The best thing about sunflowers is their ability to reseed. The sunflower in my rear cutting garden (above) is third “generation” from seeds originally sown in late winter.  In contrast, the plants in the photo below are first generation, sown during the intense heat of early July.

American Giants Hybrid Sunflowers, 8/26/13

Pulling the focus back a bit, you’ll notice the stressful conditions this group endures.

Solanum Diphyllum Tree with Sunflowers, 8/26/13

Unlike the soil in the rear cutting garden, this little plot on the west side of my house is extremely sandy, with no soil amendments.  A year or so ago, an invasive Solanum Diphyllum (aka Two Leaved Nightshade tree) sprouted near the fence. Birds love the berries, so I’ve let it grow, transplanting a few handfuls of Helianthus Debilis (aka beach sunflower) as surrounding groundcover.  Then in late June, I tossed some leftover “American Giants” sunflower seeds around the tree and let nature take its course.  Although this first round of plants is leggy, thin, and struggling, most should bloom and reseed themselves when the weather is a bit cooler.  Prediction: by this time next summer, the entire spot should be completely filled in! 🙂

If you’re laying in a fall vegetable garden, why not plant a row of sunflowers along the northern edge and see what happens?  Bear in mind: due to a reduction in daylight hours, sunflowers planted now may yield shorter plants that bloom quicker than those planted in Spring.

Sunflower in rear cutting garden, 8/26/13

In closing, I’ll leave you with two little known facts:

  • the head of the sunflower, often erroneously referred to as a flower, actually consists of 1000 – 2000 individual flowers.
  • The petals surrounding the head are called ray flowers.

Until next time……..


Weekly Photo Challenge: The Golden Hour

I was very excited by this week’s photo challenge. For as long as I can remember, the golden hour–when shadows are long and light is short–has been my favorite time of day. Ultimately, I couldn’t decide among 3 older pics, so I’m sharing them all, newest first.

From March, 2012:

Sunflowers: 7:55am, March 29, 2012

Sunflowers: 7:55am, March 29, 2012

From December, 2011

Jack raking on Christmas Eve Eve, 12/23/11

Jack raking: 5:10pm, Christmas Eve Eve, 2011

From July, 2010

My street, 8:15pm, July 29, 2010

The view from my front door: 8:15pm, July 29, 2010

As an FYI, I prefer the golden hours of evening to that of morning…maybe because I’m a night person at heart!?!  🙂  What about you?

Until next time….

🙂 🙂 🙂

Weekly Photo Challenge: Up (and the Weekly View!)

This week’s photo challenge is almost TOO easy. 🙂

Everywhere I look, the plants are reaching up, up, up, like this ipomaea cairica (aka mile-a-minute) vine:

ipomaea cairica, 4/25/13

…..along with budding passiflora and upward facing sunflowers just starting to show their faces:

Passiflora vine and sunflowers, 4/25/13

….remember T. utriculata from my Weekly View posts?   Up, up and away is now an apt description, as its bloomspike breaks free of the orange-tree canopy. 🙂


While I was looking up through the tree, I glimpsed a marvel of avian engineering, so apropos for today of all days!


How perfect! Finding a mockingbird nest on John Jay Audubon’s birthday (birdday? ha!)

You never know what you’ll see when you start looking up!

Until next time…..

🙂 🙂 🙂

Snakes and Flowers!

Just quickie odds-and-ends today with no particular theme. 🙂

Over the weekend, we saw THIS guy hiding in a narrow space between the driveway and garage door:

Pantherophis guttatus

After running around in circles and screaming like crazy-women, Maggie and I talked to local people and did a bit of Google research. I feel confident we’re sharing the garage with Pantherophis guttatus aka Eastern Corn Snake.  I raked it to the sideyard twice, (to where I previously herded the moles! ha! food source!)  but it keeps returning to this exact spot!  Wierd, right?

The gardens are popping with color on a daily basis:

Rear Cutting Garden, 4/24/13

The first “Red Sun” Sunflower opened this morning from seeds planted in January. Now look at the orange/red amaryllis behind it.  Today I noticed a second flowerscape  poking through the soil. 🙂 I like this development; last year it only produced one.

The next photo shows an unfurled white peace lily spadix (the first of the season!) behind a fully opened phalaenopsis last seen in March. Both seem happy with the bright filtered light at the base of the bauhinia tree.

Peace Lily Spadix and Phalaenopsis, 4/23/13

Each winter I make “mystery containers” by sprinkling unknown, left over seeds into random pots.  I’m not sure what else is growing here, but I recognize some portulaca:


A few of my recently planted lily bulbs have opened, like this red dwarf variety.

Carpet lily, 4/17/13

and this year old Ruby Spider Hemerocallis:

Ruby Spider Daylily, 4/18/13

I was very lucky to catch this next little gem, just before sundown on Monday, 4/22/13. Not only are Dietes Bicolor flowers short-lived, they’re rarely fully open AND for a very brief span of time:

Dietes Bicolor, Fortnight Lily, 4/22/13

I hope you’re all enjoying this wonderful season as much as I am!

Until next time….

🙂 🙂 🙂

Both sides, now!

We’ve been having a nice stretch of weather, so today I got outside to take some pictures and do a bit of digging and repotting. Because winter’s been quite warm, growth in the Ranchero is a good month ahead of what I’ve seen during my previous two winters here…..take a look:

Ranchero, Feb 2, 2012

This is a side of the garden from which I rarely take photos, and I’m surprised by how full it looks!  In years past, the curly croton (foreground) and dracena marginata (left-rear) have died back to ground level; the amaryllis had 2 leaves at most, and the cosmos were nowhere near blooming.  Ditto for a sunflower located on the other side of the purple oyster plants….see?

Cinnamon Sunflower

An open sunflower on the second day in February?  Surely this is a sign the ground is ALOT warmer this year…. and here’s another one, from a part of the vegetable garden you haven’t seen before:

Thai Peppers

Pick me!! Pick me!!

Thai Peppers! Red, HOT and definitely ahead of schedule….we’ve been pulling these off (and eating them) for the past two weeks!

Maybe the planting “zone creep” announced last week is real, or perhaps recent events in my garden are randomly anectdotal. Only time and scientific data will tell, but I guarantee this last example will have you thinking about both sides, now!

Just before Christmas, I took a cutting from my very well established almond bush, dipped it in root hormone and placed it directly in my rear cutting garden instead of a pot.  I’ve noticed this past month how big it’s grown;  in the past week it even set some small buds!.  Today I dug it up to have a look:

Almond Bush Cutting

Holy Canoli, Batman!!!!!  You are looking at the cutting (with extensive roots!!) being held above the spot on the branch from which it was snipped.  I was so completely astounded I decided to pot it up for a friend:

New almond bush

Tomorrow I go to Ivana's house!

I hope she likes it!

Until next time!

Weekly Photo Challenge: Simple

When I saw the title of this week’s photo challenge,  I immediately knew which picture to choose. Although my selection process shared everything with the topic,  the reasons behind it do not, and are best described by the caption:


Simple can be complicated!

An American flag, a sunflower, and marigolds on a bright day…July 4th, Independence Day to be exact, but what I saw in my viewfinder gave me time tunnel vertigo, that cartwheel-into-the-past disorientation that toys with calendars and realities. Sure, I saw the flag and flowers in front of me, but mainly as conjurers of sunny days and holidays past.

I had to remind myself, “This is July 4, 2011.”

Simple can be complicated.

Until next time.