I’m not sure when my gardening mind turned to — for want of a better term — composted manure, but I’m pretty positive I know the exact moment I realized it. I was mowing the lawn, daydreaming while I worked, and an idea — one that was already well known to me, you, and everyone else, but seemed like a fresh discovery — popped into my head.
Trees can be grown from seeds.
A long time ago— May, actually — in a galaxy far, far away— just outside of the front door — an alien-looking seed mustache from space appeared on the tip of a desert rose branch. That was the general gist of an earlier post — but after a couple of months, my sci-fi fantasy that is South Florida gardening has become, “Captain, the pod doors have opened.”
Since moving to Florida, there are times when I feel as if I’ve landed on another planet — and it has nothing to do with the news items that have made the Sunshine State the punchline for late-night hosts. For me, the sense of wonder and bewilderment is the result of plants.
There was talk in the garden center, recently — a really juicy piece of gossip personally told to me by a customer. Now, I’m not one to gossip, but this is too huge to keep to myself . . .
Iguanas do not eat Desert Rose!
If seeds could talk, I wonder what tales they would tell.
I’m sure they would recite their perfect equation of soil, light, and water for their optimum germination. They wouldn’t even wait for us to ask. They would just offer that info up at the start of the conversation. Seeds are funny that way.
I wonder, though, if they would be willing to share with us their story? That perhaps their great-great-great-great grandfather hitched a ride on Paul Revere’s coat on his famous midnight ride? Or that they, in fact, escaped from a research lab looking to build a better seed?
It’s seed starting time — and by now, I should have flats of impatiens and petunias and geraniums planted in my Long Island potting shed, with dahlias, cosmos, and gazanias scheduled for the weeks ahead. But as I’ve said in previous posts, this is a season of a different kind — in so many ways.
For starters, I’m away from the potting shed. Instead, I have south Florida — and as my northern garden and gardening friends have shivered and shoveled during this winter’s harshness, south Florida has enjoyed exceptional warmth. By northern standards, it feels like summer.
Joe and I made the drive from New York to South Florida, and in 24 hours, we experienced three seasons. We began our journey in winter and then arrived in spring by the time we reached South Carolina. Once in Florida, it was all-out summer.
This trip is why I didn’t start any seeds in February. There would be no one to take care of my seedling babies during the final week of March. Needless to say, I missed working in the potting shed and watching geraniums and impatiens and petunias make their debut onto the world stage.
It’s the main reason why I’m taking this walk down memory lane, a repost of last year’s seed starting experience and a chance to reminisce. By the way, seeds will be started when I return to Long Island: zinnias, sunflowers, cosmos — seeds that like to be sown where they’ll grow. Now that I read that sentence, I like to think of myself in the same way. I like to be planted where I can grow.
What to do? It’s an early January day, one of those odd ones that’s wedged between cold fronts. On Long Island, that means it sort of feels like March, and there is an urge to bundle up and start spring cleaning — while the inner voice says, “Don’t be too quick. This is just a winter lull, and there will be icy temperatures at any moment.”
As if to serve as a reminder, there are the remnants of last night’s flurries (above) and autumn leaves encased in ice on top of the pool cover (below).
Florida? In summer? Are you nuts?
If you’ve read any previous posts, you already know the answer to that question. But in this case, there is a reason to the madness. In a nutshell — a coconut shell, that is — South Florida will someday be our new home. About one month before Hurricane Andrew arrived in 1992, Joe and I purchased a house. Each year since, we have traveled to Fort Lauderdale several times a year to do the most relaxing of vacation activities: yard work. And as we go about our palm tree trimming and bundling and bagging of debris, we do a lot of planning and dreaming.
It seems that quite suddenly, summer has brought the entire world into bloom — and that means hosting a whole bunch of guests to a bloomin’ banquet. There’s plenty to eat and drink — so, bring a chair, sit back, and relax.
First up: butterflies. I’m not sure what type of butterfly this is, but the garden is full of them. They really don’t socialize with the other guests, and can often be found in pairs, fluttering about in mid-air and playing among the lavender.