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.

Bloomin’ Update 60: An Autumnal Interlude


If the transition from winter to spring in South Florida is subtle, the one between summer and fall is practically invisible. While autumn is already a few weeks old — according to the calendar and posts from northern gardeners — the weather forecasters in Zone 10 say that anything resembling fall (temperatures below 70) will not arrive until sometime in November — and that will most likely happen while I’m fast asleep.

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Bloomin’ Update 59: Twenty Years To Life


It’s difficult to believe that it’s the first day of winter, WordPress has added snow, the holidays are upon us, and 2017 is coming to an end. For many, this time of year is an opportunity to look back and reflect.

My day of reflection, though, happened on December 12, the 20th anniversary of my car accident.

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Bloomin’ Update 56: Going Bananas!


Banana

Ever since Joe first noticed the flower stem emerging from the crown of our banana tree, I’ve been singing the song “Going Bananas.” Madonna sang it during her Dick Tracey years and it pops into my head whenever I walk by the tree and observe the changes in the inflorescence.

Actually, I don’t even know the words — just the chorus, and even that’s a bit shaky. So all I really ever sing is “I’m going bananas” and then I add a few la-la-las and a couple of boom-chick-a-booms.

Simply put, I’m going bananas because I’m growing bananas.

Banana

Within a few days, the flower stem is pulled downward by the weight of the inflorescence, so that it’s peeking below the dark green foliage and looking a lot like the Audrey II from Little Shop of Horrors.

Banana Fact: This flower stem is actually the plant’s true stem, growing from the rhizome below the ground and pushing its way upward through the false stem or pseudostem, a very fibrous, water-filled stem of tightly packed leaf sheaths.

As it grows, modified leaves or bracts curl back to reveal rows of young fruit.

Banana

Each of these are tipped with a pale yellow female flower. The male flowers are contained in the reddish-brown bud at the end of the flower stem.

Banana

Soon, more and more bananas are revealed. Each bunch is called a hand, and each single banana is called a finger.

Banana Fact: Each hand can have between 10 and 20 fingers.

Banana

I’m so enamored of the plant’s structure, I find myself wanting to photograph it each day.

Banana Fact: because they are derived from a single flower with more than one ovary, bananas — like tomatoes, kiwi, and pomegranates — are berries.

Banana

Banana

The pale yellow flowers begin to fade.

Banana Fact: A banana plant is actually classified as a perennial herb.

Banana

Banana

And all that’s left for me to do is wait for the harvest.  (Notice the smaller male flowers at the bottom of the photo below.)

Banana

Banana

I’m not exactly sure when that harvest will be. All I know is the flower stem will continue to elongate, creating more space between the hands. At some point after that, it will be time to not only remove the fruit, but also the plant itself to make room for the pup that’s already sprouting next to the mother plant.

Banana Fact: Until then, rest assured, I’ll be going bananas.

Bloomin’ Update 55: Flapjacks For A Sunday Morning


Kalanchoe Flapjacks

There’s something special about Sunday mornings. It’s a time that’s built for reading each section of the newspaper, undertaking the crossword puzzle, and lingering over a breakfast that’s a bit more intricate than an eat-and-run weekday meal.  It’s a moment to pause and breathe.

For today’s Sunday breakfast, I’m serving up some flapjacks.

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Bloomin’ Update 54: My Mo-Bro In Slo-Mo


Bromeliad

I’m always stunned when something sneaks up on me in the garden. Not a snake or a bear, but a plant.  I mean, I walk around the garden daily — as I’m sure all of you do — and I like to think that I notice most of what’s happening among the plants.

And then this happens — a bloom that wasn’t there yesterday is here today.

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