Feeling Hot, Hot, Hot

Sunshine Palm

What’s wrong with me? In a few days, it will be Labor Day, the unofficial end of summer, and my inner New York clock is telling me that I should be able to smell the first hints of an approaching autumn. Here in south Florida, however, summer is still the name of the game.

As I realize how much time has passed since my last post, I am aware of how frustrated and edgy I’m feeling. It has been an incredibly long time since I truly gardened.

When Joe and I first left New York as per my doctor’s orders, it was the tale end of a brutal winter and the garden was frozen under snow and ice. Upon arriving in Zone 10, it was the tale end of a delightful subtropical winter, just weeks before the start of the rainy season — which is a nice way of summing up heat, humidity, and sudden downpours.

Adonidia palm seedlings.

Adonidia palm seedlings.

Sure, I’ve tried to do some gardening. I’ve rooted some hibiscus clippings and potted some small Adonidia palm seedlings that had sprouted in the lawn — but by 10 a.m., I must retreat inside to get away from the heat and humidity and to look at the world through a window.

Many of the local nurseries seem to be wilting under the sun’s heat, as well — and the farmer’s market has dwindled considerably for the moment. Even the local garden club has taken a break in August. There just doesn’t seem to be too much happening in the gardening world down here.

So I busy myself by visiting other garden blogs and celebrating the blooms of my northern gardening friends. I only wish I had something to share.

Banana Leaf.

Banana Leaf.

If I didn’t know better, I’d say that I have cabin fever — but it seems ridiculous to even say such a thing. That affliction, which I’ve had, is more appropriate for northern gardeners during their snow-bound winter months.  In fact, a local urban farmer, Michael Madfis of Flagler Village Farm, suggested I think of summer in south Florida as my winter, which means — according to this idea — that I now have spring fever, when it isn’t even spring.

It also means that part of me feels I should be gearing up for raking and bagging leaves, while another part of me should be getting ready to start seeds for winter planting. Never mind plants vs. zombies — it’s me vs. me.

Personally, I think I have Multiple Garden Personality Disorder — one gardener with two gardening experiences in two different zones, each wrestling for control of the gardener’s new situation.

Here is the moment when it became very apparent.

One especially hot morning, I was staring through the window at all of the greens — from vibrant green to dusty green to all shades of green in-between. Although there was the occasional dot of color from a hibiscus or bougainvillea, it occurred to me that I was living in a green desert.

The dusty fronds of Bismark palm.

The dusty fronds of Bismark palm.

I so badly wanted to step outside and work in the dirt — but to what end? The yard was a disaster, the result of a major building project. The heat was unbearable; no place for a young plant or someone with a heart condition. So I remained inside and wondered if I was perhaps experiencing a tropical depression.

Just then, the air conditioner clicked on and I felt the cool air hit the back of my neck — and suddenly those greens didn’t look so different from the newly emerging greens of a Long Island spring.

I lowered the thermostat even more and turned on the ceiling fan and — maybe it was a mirage, a figment of my overactive imagination, wishful thinking — but it actually felt as if a refreshing April breeze was blowing through an open window.  I believed that it was spring. Two seasons battled for control of my mind.

Yes, I thought, this was the perfect day to seed, weed, clean, and design. I reached for the doorknob, turned it, and opened the door a small bit. As quickly as my air-conditioned air raced through the opening, so too did my grand plans for the day burst into flames.


In the time that I imagined that April breeze until now, someone had moved the Earth several thousand miles closer to the sun. I was blinded by the glare, my eyes burning in their sockets. My skin became crispy. My clothes clung to me as they became soaked with perspiration. The air was sucked from my lungs. I was like Claire in Outlander, only I wasn’t falling through time. I was falling from the frying pan into the fire.

Every Florida gardener I meet tells me to be patient. This is the final hurdle and my gardening days will be here. As if to demonstrate that point, a local nursery is getting a fresh coat of paint — and although I sweated just watching the painters, I felt that thrill inside of me — the same sort of thrill I felt in New York when the garden centers began to stock up to get ready for spring.

In the meantime, I keep looking for signs that cooler, gardening friendly weather is coming. In a few days, the forecast is calling for highs no higher than 92 degrees.

And that’s a start.

Look for an upcoming interview with urban farmer, Michael Madfis.

38 thoughts on “Feeling Hot, Hot, Hot

  1. perhaps you can sent some heat my way ? t’s been so cold we have the central heating on , Autumn starts on September 21 st but it is here since the beginning of August ! happy weekend !!!

    • I wish I could, Gwennie. 🙂 I’ve spoken with family and friends in New York, and they’ve also said summer was especially cool — only a handful of days when the temperature reached 90. Personally, I like my summers hot — but it’s still too hot for me to be outside working. I’m ready for 80 degrees and lower humidity and less bugs. 🙂

  2. “I was falling from the frying pan into the fire.” Good God —That is exactly why I can’t live in the south any longer..boo hoo! I love to visit in the spring and fall though.

  3. We just returned from Ft Lauderdale and all my aches and pains that disappeared in the sunshine and warm waters have returned. We had 52 degree temperatures last night! But except for the abundance of tomatoes , it looks like a fall garden. The asters and goldenrod are blooming but everything else is done. But I love all the various shades of green Florida foliage. But I’d miss the glorious fall foliage.

    • Hi Amoore. I must say that since spending time here, the aches and pains have disappeared — and as much as I might feel some discomfort with the heat and humidity, I do not miss the cold weather. Snow is not for me — and as much as I love fall colors, there’s is little magic left in leaf raking. Stay warm! 🙂

  4. Indeed, I get cabin fever every summer down South. The breeze blows in the tree tops and it looks so beautiful outside…BAM that’s no refreshing breeze, that’s a convection oven. So yes, as a southern gardener, I can say it is a good time to draft and scheme, to drool over seed catalogs and pour through the inspiring posts of northern gardeners. I do hope your “spring” comes soon. I fudge ours in a few weeks, but don’t feel it truly comes until the first week of November.

    • Hi PD. Time in Florida has definitely been a learning experience — and talking to other gardeners has been a wonderful part of my education. That being said, I am telling myself, “I can feel a change coming.” I think that’s just a way of soothing myself. 🙂

      • When I first moved here from the PNW I kept waiting for the rain to come. Labor day passed and it hadn’t started. My birthday was sunny. Halloween was hot. Thanksgiving was warm. Christmas was dry. Then when it was almost February it rained for a few days straight. It took me all that time and all that waiting to have it really sink in that the rain wasn’t coming. The ten months of wet grey drizzle hadn’t followed me south. I went out and danced in that rain.

      • Hi PD. I can only imagine what that must have felt like! Here, it seems that rain comes in rapid buckets. Then it stops. Sun returns. Steam rises. Next day: repeat. Someday, Mother Nature will get all of the weather just right, everywhere. 🙂

    • CHERYL!!! Glad to be back. I think I was moping and having a bit of a pity party — but I’m hopeful that more posts will be around the corner. 🙂 Be well!

    • Ho Dorris. I’ve read that Great Britain has had a chilly summer — and family and friends in NY have had similar statements about summer there (although it will probably get quite hot in time for the start of the school year). I’m sending you warm thoughts!

  5. Living in zone 6, August is truly a test of this gardener’s will. For the past three weeks, I have faced outdoor painting/staining tasks, all the while watching the dew point and weather forecasts. Truly a challenge, as this gardener only enjoys 75 degree temperatures. Ha! I have had to complete these chores beginning at 2 PM for three hours, in full sun and exhausting humidity.
    Central Virginia is a hot, humid, buggy bear during August, a month I truly abhor. Yet, garden clean up begins in August, as the powdery mildew attempts to settle in on the peonies, a condition I no longer fight…I simply cut down and ship out. When flowers fade, I deadhead, until blooms are truly finished, then out they go.
    At least this year I have a man who will come and tote all my garden trimmings away to some distant burn pile, the only place for moldy, icky remains.
    I completely understand your frustration, as I too head indoors as soon as the sun rises during summer months.
    I do envy your zone come January!

    • Hi Diane. I just finished telling Joe that although I complain about the heat and humidity, I do enjoy it. That being said, I’m looking forward to weather that is more compatible with outdoor activities. By the way, like you, I was recently doing some painting outside — the pain was practically drying on the brush. Stay cool! 🙂

  6. Oooh, that heat sounds awful! Here in the Pacific Northwest we start to wilt when it goes over 80, which it has a lot this summer. Maybe summer in Florida is when you discover your new hobbies, any ideas?

    • Hi Elaine. Funny that you mention hobbies. I do play bagpipes — but that’s kind of noisy for inside the house, and Joe doesn’t think the neighbors are quite ready for me. I have walked to a nearby park to play at sunset — but that time is either a) too hot or b) too rainy. I think I’ll just have to read. 🙂 Hope all is well with you!

  7. Pingback: A Farm Grows In Fort Lauderdale | Nitty Gritty Dirt Man

  8. I can only imagine how it feels to be transplanted–you, not your garden. Because I’ve only lived in SoCal I can’t actually say that I relate to your feelings, but I do know what it means to look for signs of fall and still feel summer heat. I think the Floridians who encourage you to just be patient are right on. When you’ve lived in Zone 10 longer you’ll find and relish the subtleties in weather and growing conditions. I really hope you’ll begin to feel even more at home in your Florida garden and I’m guessing it won’t be long. Send me some of your rain, ok? 🙂

  9. Kevin, When you left Long Island in the winter, I had the idea that this was a seasonal move and that you would be back in New York for the summer; but that doesn’t seem to be the case. If you are living permanently in southern Florida, it would seem to make sense to think of the too-hot-to-venture-out Florida summer as the equivalent of the too-cold-and-snowy-to-venture-out northeast winter — which would still leave you with three seasons of gardening (just different seasons).

    • Hi Jean. I also thought it was to a seasonal move — but doctors and health issues had other ideas. As it turns out, I’ve spent the summer and will most likely spend the fall in Fort Lauderdale. And you are so right — there were many days when it was too darned hot to do anything worthwhile outside, other than walk from the air conditioned house to the air conditioned car to the air conditioned supermarket. I have a feeling you’re a bit cooler in your part of the country. 🙂

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