Bloomin’ Update 61: Seeing Red, White, Purple, & “Green”


I can’t think of a better way to celebrate the arrival of spring than with a display of vibrant colors, a site for eyes sore from the dreary grays of winter. Even South Florida, often accused of not actually having a change of seasons, wants to get in on the spring act.

Perhaps I’ve been here long enough to notice the subtle changes as winter slips into spring. Perhaps I’ve been here long enough to feel that 83 degrees in spring is warmer than 83 degrees in winter and cooler than 83 degrees in summer.  Whatever it is, though, there is something definitely in the air. Orchids and flowering subtropical shrubs and a book that’s perfect for all seasons are all putting on a show.

Since moving to Florida, I’ve noticed other gardens where orchids were tied to trees, their colorful, showy flowers cascading downward. This past year, I gave it a try.

The first step was to choose orchids not in flower. I selected plants given to me by friends or the ones I found after raiding the clearance racks in the garden center of the box store where I worked.

I used floral tape to secure an orchid to the tree, packing some moss around the roots of the plant and making sure the plant would not be in direct sunlight. Then, I had to be patient.

If the orchid is happy, its roots eventually take hold of the trunk — creeping downward and around, absorbing moisture from the air and rain.

This spring, I was rewarded when one of the plants bloomed.

In a nearby tree, another flower spike appeared and a white orchid opened.

On a shepherd’s hook, an epidendrum orchid also decided to send up a flower cluster of miniature flowers.

Orchids, though, were not the only plants putting on a show for spring. In a recent post about my aging green thumbs, I mentioned that I’m using dwarf varieties of flowering shrubs.

Dwarf Jatropha.

Dwarf Chenille.

Dwarf Powderpuff.

And the gout plant also decided to share its waxy cluster of flowers.

Pineapples — both ornamental and edible — all seemed to have the same idea this spring.

Ornamental Pineapple.

Edible Pineapple.

Perhaps the biggest news I have for this first full day of spring is that I have self-published a book of some of my most favorite blog posts and photos, Seeing Green: Life Learned In The Potting Shed

When I first thought about compiling blog posts into book format, my hope was to create a book that I would like to read. I wanted something that could carry a gardener through the frozen days of winter and the sultry days of summer. I wanted a book that could inspire, a book that could make readers laugh and nod along — and I wanted it to have pictures.

For self-publishing, I decided to go with Blurb, a format known for photo books. The quality of Blurb’s print-on-demand service is clearly evident on the 144 pages. The pictures are clear and colorful, and the words are easy on the eyes — and in the end, I think I accomplished what I set out to do.

Now for the fun stuff — the nitty gritty, if you will. There are two ways to get your own copy of Seeing Green, which is available in hardcover and softcover.

To win a copy of Seeing Green, just leave a comment about spring. What do you love about it? What are you looking forward to doing? How do you prep your garden? Do you have a spring gardening hack you would like to share? What is your favorite spring memory? If it’s about spring, just let me know — and you have until April 16 to do it. A winner will be randomly selected.

To purchase a copy (or more) of Seeing Green, please visit my Blurb store.

Thank you for your support and encouragement, your wisdom and comments — and thank you for following me in my New York garden and for joining me on my new adventures in Florida.

30 thoughts on “Bloomin’ Update 61: Seeing Red, White, Purple, & “Green”

  1. The best way to celebrate Spring is to buy a copy of your book and read it in the company of one’s garden. Your words give profound insights into all the living things that share this planet with us, and even into our very selves. Congrats on such a beautiful endeavor, Kevin!

  2. Spring is here and so is your book. What a nice way to kick off the season. 144 pages of gardening inspiration.

    What I love about Spring (in Florida) is all the orchids bursting open this month in my garden.

  3. Congratulations on the book! I have enjoyed the blog since the beginning, and know I will enjoy the book, too! So very proud of you! Love, Aunt Pat

  4. Look what you did!!!

    I only remember two of the winters I spent in the Puget Sound area of Washington. I remember one when I needed, NEEDED, to be outside. It had been more than six months since I’d seen a blue tint in the sky and I’m a Vitamin D junkie. It was not good.
    I went outside, tried enjoying shooting hoops, tried enjoying clearing pine needles from the driveway like North Eastern folks clear snow. And then I saw them. Little spikes of green. A little row of a spiney back of spring rising from the moss-padded, brown needle strewn earth.

    Daffodils.

    • Hi PD — I know that feeling well! When I lived and gardened in NY, there was always a rush when I could spot the smallest hint of green. It meant a return of color, warmer weather, and promise. 🙂

  5. Brilliant job. I cannot imagine how exciting it must have been to have found your orchids are flowering. For me spring is all about bulbs: snowdrops, crocus, Hyacinth and daffs. The delight they bring seems far greater than the arrival of any other blooms. Oh unless you count the mega excitement when the blossoms arrive. This year I am hoping to see them for myself in Japan and my excitement about those blossoms is off the scale. Official!
    Great about your book. I should love to win.

    • Hi Bonnie. I think this spring has been especially colorful — I don’t know if the “cool” winter temperatures or a little bit of extra rain during the “dry” season had anything to do with it… but both edibles and ornamentals are all producing all at once!

  6. Congratulations! I was expecting a collection of blog posts, but your book seems more like…. a book!
    You have a talent for putting thoughts to word, and I’m just imagining the dull how-to manual I would have put together. Great job.

    • Hi Bittster. Thank you for your kind words. I did think about putting a how-to book together, but gardening is often more than just planting. I often use it as a meditative escape, and I wanted a book that could somehow capture that for gardeners in any season. Again, many thanks!

  7. Well, my birthday is the first day of spring so I identify happy thoughts with its arrival, but after this untypically wet and cold winter I’m just dying to get out in the garden and transform some areas that don’t look very good! And I need more color!

    Your orchids are amazing, Kevin, and I’m delighted for you to have published this beautiful book! I’ve won before so take my name out and of course I will want to purchase a copy. I’m not in town right now but will be soon!

    It’s been interesting to me that although climates and conditions may differ, other gardeners inspire me nonetheless. This dreary winter I’ve devoured every British gardening show I could find on Netflix and I could feel my energy boost. And the English climate isn’t remotely similar to Southern California. Your book will also inspire! Congratulations!

    • Hi Debra. The orchid thing is amazing me — and so many others — this year. They seem to be blooming everywhere all at once. It’s the same thing with the edible and ornamental pineapples. I’m not sure what happened, bu I’m not complaining. It must have to do with the weather — and I completely agree with you about finding garden inspiration from around the world. I think gardeners are a special breed of people — planters, dreamers, nurturers, educators, sharers. 🙂

  8. Kevin, I would like to know more about how you went about publishing your blog with Blurb. As I slow down as a blogger, I think I would like to do same…to preserve my work in case I stop blogging all together. Would you share Blurb tips with me? Thanks, Diane

    • Hi Diane. It’s funny that you mention it — because I’ve been thinking about writing a post about the process of putting the book together and using the Blurb format. When I first thought about putting it all together, I was living in NY and had attended a self-publishing conference. At the time, the Amazon format through CreateSpace could not accommodate photos — and I knew I wanted to have a photo-heavy book. It was during the conference that I attended a Blurb workshop and I was blown away. It’s a print-on-demand service that is known for books that included lots of photos. All that I really had to do was log into Blurb, set up an account, and download their publishing format to my computer. At the time, it was called BookSmart and in the middle of my process, it was upgraded to BookWright. For the most part, it’s very user friendly and customer service was a big help. The only think I really couldn’t figure out was how to make each post its own entity. In other words, if I made a change on page 10 in one post, that would alter words and spacing on every page and post that came after it. It meant a lot of proofreading, reviewing, nail biting, hair pulling, screaming, and walking away. The program was also very good at keeping a tally of issues — for example, a photo that would be too pixelated in the printing process. In the end, I’m very pleased with the result — and thanks for the question. I think this may have to be a longer post. Good luck with your project!

      • How affordable are these books? I looked briefly at their site and prices were steep! How can one resell with those costs. I have over 200 posts with plenty of photos. Thanks for your reply. Diane

      • Hi Diane. The prices can be steep! With a print-on-demand company like Blurb, they pretty much set a price for to cover their costs. This all depends on options: paper quality, hard or soft cover, number of pages. In fact, when I started my project, I had it packed with photos and this added tons of pages — and the Blurb price was astronomical! I wouldn’t even buy my own book for that amount of money! So, I downsized and edited and streamlined and brought the book back to a more realistic price. I also opted to have the book available in hardcover with an image wrap or soft cover, and the pricing reflects that. To make a profit, the author adds an amount to the Blurb’s price. Also, Blurb is pretty good about having regular promo codes — and if the author buys in bulk, there is a discount per book. When I started this book, I knew it wasn’t about the profit. I really wanted to have a keepsake for me and to make it affordable for others. If you have any questions, let me know. 🙂

  9. Good God, Kevin — your writing is FABULOUS! Every. Single. Word.
    You paint a picture of the beauty of your garden that could be a Monet; you do it with words. You never disappoint. Then you add your photographs which are fantastic, The colors are soothing and often invigorating! Just beautiful. Thank you for sharing the beauty of the work you do. XOXO –K

  10. Pingback: Scenes From A Tropical Plant Sale | Nitty Gritty Dirt Man

  11. Kevin, Congratulations on your new book. How exciting. I must say that I’m swooning at the idea of getting orchids to grow on your trees. What am I looking forward to about spring? As I sit looking out at the snowy April scene outside my study, I’m looking forward to its arrival 😉

    • Thank you, Jean. Oh, my gosh, I feel for you. I really do. I remember those days and how frustrating it would be to see winter while the calendar said spring — if only nature and calendars could work together! My fingers are crossed that spring will make its gentle arrival to your part of the country very soon! 🙂

  12. I couldn’t be happier for you, Kevin. I was out and when I returned, there was a package from Blurb! I couldn’t wait to open it. Your book has a place of honor on my coffee table.
    The photos are gorgeous and, as always, your writing is outstanding. Thanks so much for bringing me into your incredible garden. 💚

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