Honey, I’m Home


It’s funny to write that headline, “Honey, I’m Home,” because I’ve never really gone away. There have been a few trips — all crammed into a short span of time — but for the most part, I’ve been home.

I noticed my own absence when I realized the last piece I wrote for this blog was in April.  April! Nothing in May, and now June is over. I had ideas, just not the time nor the energy. I think I’ll chalk it all up to a part-time job that felt like a full-time job in the nursery department of a home improvement store — but that’s a post for another day — and a part-time job writing for an Internet marketing agency.

That means a lot has been neglected. For starters, there’s the blog itself and all of the comments that have been sitting there since Spring. I like to respond to all readers who comment, and to have them remain unanswered is . . . Well, let’s just say Miss Manners would not be pleased with me.

There’s also the matter of the garden. I’ve tried to keep up with it, but as I said, there were a series of trips in a short span of time — to Chicago for my birthday, to Orlando to see the Wizarding World of Harry Potter (a book and film series about which I know nothing), to Jamaica for my nephew’s wedding, and then to New York for my niece’s high school graduation.

When Joe and I returned home and looked around, all I saw was weeding, mowing, weeding, pruning, chasing the iguanas that took full advantage of my absence, weeding, and discovering new blooms . . .

Did I happen to mention weeding?

The front flower bed is in a state of transition. In other words, I stopped mulching it until I figure out my plan there. The weeds, as they often do, took advantage and grew taller than the coco plum hedge.

Iguanas!!!!

There are no words for the pain I felt when I returned home and saw the damage iguanas had done to several of my desert rose plants — the same ones I started from seed in May 2017. Iguanas are not supposed to eat desert rose — that’s why I planted them in pots surrounding the pool. South Florida, though, is overrun with these reptilian beasts, invasive eating machines without any natural predators. Their numbers are so large they’re eating plants not in their usual diet and even venturing into neighborhoods not on canals.

The Good Stuff

I believe this is an Epidendrum Orchid, given to me by a friend.

All I did was plant them — three bromeliads, planted close to one another, all blooming at the same time.

I moved these Shrimp Plants from pots in the front yard to pots in the side yard. It didn’t go so well — when I removed them, I literally had roots and no soil. Once transplanted in good garden soil, I cut them back and crossed my fingers. I think the finger crossing helped the most.

Note to self: Plant more Caladium.

Ground Orchids bloomed — and the iguanas haven’t noticed them yet.

Murphy . . .

Before I close, I also must mention something else that happened. In between trips, Joe and I had to make a decision to put our Tibetan Terrier, Murphy, to sleep. While that decision is never an easy one to make, it was for the best.

When we lived on Long Island, Murphy was always in the garden. She even had a brief fling with blogging stardom when an artist spotted Murphy and me on a bloggers and their dogs site. Naturally, Murphy stole the show, and the artist asked to paint her portrait for a fundraiser . . .

Somewhere between then and now, her legs and even her tail twisted and bent. The vet explained it was some sort of auto-immune disease that attacked her joints.

By the time we moved to Florida — Murphy loved the warmer climate — she needed to be carried everywhere. Somehow, she was always able to get into a squatting position to do her business, and she had different moans and barks to let me know what she needed: food, water, this room or that. She was Blanche and I was her Baby Jane.

So many people told Joe and me that we should put her down — but she was never in pain. Other than not being able to walk, she was as healthy as any other dog. The vets were even amazed. She was merely inconvenient, and that wasn’t reason enough to put her down.

Her will to live was remarkable, but eventually her body really rebelled — and we knew it was time.

When we received Murphy’s ashes, there was a note with a small heart attached to it: forget-me-not seeds. Eventually, Joe and I will bury her ashes and find the perfect shrub for her — but that small heart of pressed paper and seeds was a beautiful and timely reminder for me to get back in the garden and to be home.

22 thoughts on “Honey, I’m Home

  1. Dear Kevin,

    Thank you for this post. Looks great!

    By the way, do you remember my book, “President’s Gardens?”

    Well, I have another book coming out in October. This is a lavishly illustrated Garden biography on Bunny Mellon aptly named “The Gardens of Bunny Mellon.” It’s already on Amazon.

    Would you like to know more about it?

    Thanks!

    Linda Holden

    Sent from my iPhone

    >

    • Hi Linda. Thanks for reaching out — and yes, I do remember you. In fact, I was just going through some photo folders on my laptop and found some of the photos you shared with me from “President’s Gardens.” I will contact you via email. Thanks for thinking of me.

  2. I’m sorry to read about Murphy. Saying goodbye to a much-loved pet is always hard, no matter what the circumstances and leaves a big hole in one’s life. Plenty for you to do in the garden…I can’t get my head around the idea of having iguanas eating your garden. We have goannas here- they’re huge, but stay out in the bush and mind their own business!

    • Hi Jane. I just Googled your goanna — they look pretty scary! What a relief that they know their place. Iguanas look scary, but they’re surprisingly accustomed to people. Sadly, iguanas are an invasive species and their numbers exploded this year because we had a somewhat mild winter. If we had had a real cold snap, that would have brought down their numbers — but this is the subtropics, so the chances of that happening are slim.

  3. Welcome home! I’ve missed reading your blog. What a lovely little remembrance those forget-me-not seeds are. I am so sorry you and Joe had to say “good-bye” to your fur-baby. Stay well, and happy gardening!

    • Hi Aunt Pat. We used a vet that came to the house. The end was emotional, but peaceful — and I still have moments when I forget that she’s gone. It’s an adjustment. xoxo

  4. It was so nice to (finally) find a new post in the reader and to read about your (kind of) return!
    I enjoyed reading about your family meeting and events, I admired the photos of the colourful bromeliads, the Epidendrum orchid, the Caladium etc. very much and, of course, Iwas suprised of the fast growing weeds. I probably was as angry as you about the greedy iguanas – but most of all, I am so sorry to read the news about Murphy! I know sometimes it’s impossible to avoid such a decision. Nobody would like his pet to suffer torment and if putting to sleep is the only way you just don’t have a choice. My heartfelt sympathy …
    (PS:I like the idea with the seeds!)
    Wishing you a good start into the new week! – Michèle

    • Hello Michele. Thank you so much for your words of comfort and support. As for those iguanas, all I can do at the moment is hope this winter brings lengthy cold snap — but in South Florida, that’s not likely. Hope all is well in your part of the world. 🙂

  5. It is too hard to make the decision you did about Murphy Brown, but I think it would have been harder still to have done nothing. Murphy was a love. Our hearts join yours in holding her dear. Hugs, Cathey & Robert

  6. I’m really glad to hear that your blogging hiatus is attributable to simply being busy, Kevin. You’ve been missed here on the blogging circuit and it appears iguanas were very happy with your gardening neglect. I can’t imagine trying to outsmart them!

    I’m so very sorry for your necessary decision to put Murphy down. These dogs of ours crawl into our hearts and separating is always hard. I enjoyed hearing about her story. I do like the idea of planting the flowers in a bit of remembrance. Continue to be well, Kevin, even in your busy-ness! 😀

    • DEBRA!!!! Hope all is well in your part of the world and that you’re not in danger of any wildfires. The images are truly terrifying. As for Murphy (and many pet), that’s never an easy decision. I’m just glad we gave her a happy life and were able to provide a peaceful end. Glad to be back. Peace.

  7. Glad to see you blog post, I always enjoy reading them…I too am loathe to be away from my garden when things are growing and the weeding has been caught up and all the grass is mowed and I can just wander around, deadheading and pulling out the occasional weed. But then, life happens, and we have to answer the call to travel and when you return home it can be bittersweet to see what survives: and then, the cycle starts again and we get our gardens back into shape and the call happens again.
    Sorry to read about your dog, it is so hard to put an animal down, even though it is the right thing to do, but they leave such a void behind…time does heal the wound but the scar is always there.
    Thanks for sharing your gardening adventures and your life in Florida…

    • Hi Abigail. We may take vacations, but the garden never does. In fact, it merrily does it’s own thing without us. With the summer heat, I’m catching up bit by bit — usually getting an early start, moving inside, and then returning outside when the sun is a little lower in the sky. Such is the cycle in Florida. Be well.

  8. Beautiful post as always! Loved the pictures of your plants despite the iguanas! Murphy was a special furbaby and you and Joe were beyond loving furparents. You did all you could and then so much more. Take comfort in the memories.

  9. So sorry about your furbaby! It is so hard, and I still think about mine that have passed away. An iguana problem is one that I don’t think I’ve ever heard of in the garden! Very crazy! The caladium looks beautiful, and I hope the iguanas don’t like it.

    • Hi Indie. It sure isn’t easy to lose a pet — and yet, we keep bringing them into our lives. Sadly, iguanas love caladium, which is why they’ll have to be planted in the front yard, which is almost iguana free.

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