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.

Dollarweed Makes No Sense


Dollarweed

When it comes to my lawn, I’m pretty much a live and let live kind of guy. If it’s green, it stays — and for decades my policy has worked.

I haven’t had to use poisons. Insects and wildlife seem to appreciate the blend of greens and flowering weeds. Most importantly, it’s the one aspect of gardening and home ownership that has remained stress-free.

I refuse to be a suburban slave to my lawn — at least that’s what I said until dollarweed entered my life.

Continue reading

A Weed By Any Other Name . . .


Weed all about it! Florida Pusley; Richardia scabra.  The multitude of small flowers close up at night and then reopen with the sun.

Weed all about it! Florida Pusley; Richardia scabra.
The multitude of small flowers close up at night and then reopen with the sun.

When it comes to my lawn, I’m pretty basic, following one important rule.  Be green.  I’m not too fussy about what’s actually growing — but as long as it’s green, it has a place in the lawn.

When I see that in writing, it sounds as if I’m a bit of a colorist, embracing one color over all others.  In actuality, though, the green weeds are welcome to bloom in any color they like.  I just find that my color requirement for admittance into the lawn is one way to keep me from having to resort to herbicides and liquid fertilizers.  I have no intention of having my little piece of suburbia become one of the stops on a national golf tournament.

Continue reading

Repost: A Labor Of Love — Lost


Black-Eyed Susan

In honor of the holiday weekend, here is a post that first appeared one year ago.  The photos still haunt me.  I recently returned to the nursery-that-was, and not much has changed.  Yes, the weeds have been mown and the random pots removed, but the structures remain (albeit a little more dilapidated).  There are also a couple of flatbed trailers parked on the lot, but the abandoned nursery remains, a testament to the loss of small, local, neighborhood nurseries and small businesses that can’t keep up with the onslaught of retail and box store chains, rising rents, and a lifeless economy.  

On this Labor Day, please visit a local nursery — and if you would like to open your own, I know a place that’s available.

Continue reading

A Labor Of Love — Lost


It’s Labor Day weekend – a time tailor-made for beaches, barbecues, parades, and speeches.  But on this particular holiday, I’m staring at the remains of a small, neighborhood garden center on Long Island.

I’m not sure exactly what happened here.  Did the owner retire, unable to sell the business?  Did some sort of illness interfere?  Was the small nursery unable to compete against the box stores that sprout like weeds?  Or perhaps, this nursery is just another victim of an economy that has failed to thrive?

It’s amazing how quickly the weeds and wildflowers have turned this once manicured plot into an overgrown prairie.  Slowly, however, it gives up its secrets.

Continue reading

Weeding Is Fundamental


I love a good weed.  It’s when I feel that I am most in my head, when I do my best thinking, when my imagination wanders up and down and sideways.

That’s the way it was this weekend when I knelt down to begin weeding the bed that’s wedged between a blue stone patio and a row of white pines growing in a bed of ivy behind a low stone wall.  In truth, I began working on this bed weeks ago, when I cleaned it, weeded it, and planted the Gomphrena “Strawberry Fields” that I had started from seed.

And that’s where the work ended.  Now all I see is the Gomphrena swallowed up by a new flush of weeds because I never had the chance or the time to place mulch.  It’s uncanny how the driest stretch of my yard, heated by the surrounding stonework, is the perfect home for weeds.   

As I pulled and yanked, my green world became black and white and I imagined myself in a 1940s film noir flick.  In it, I’m in a chair, a beam of light aimed at me and throwing the far corners of the room into shadows.  There’s a detective hovering above me, hair slicked back, hands on his waste so I can see his gun holstered under his jacket.

Continue reading

Extra! Extra! Weed All About It!


Weeding.  It’s one of those necessary chores of gardening, and generally, there are two approaches.  The first is, pull ‘em as you see ‘em.  I try to take this sensible approach as often as I can.  More than likely, though, I usually find myself in a weed-a-thon, removing a tangled jungle of inconsiderate weeds that continued to grow and spread despite my not having enough time to choose option one.

That’s how it is right now with this blog.  I’ve let several things build up and now it’s time to weed.

First, I owe Beyond Confessions an apology.  Weeks ago – yes, weeks – Beyond Confessions nominated me for the Versatile Blogger Award.  Although it is definitely an honor to be nominated, I feel kind of strange accepting it because I’ve received this award twice before.

When she informed me of her nomination, I posted a reply saying thank you – and that maybe she should nominate someone else under the circumstances.  I mean, let’s share the wealth a bit.  Besides, I really don’t know if I can handle the requirements of the award.  I’m all out of random facts about myself – or at least the random facts I feel comfortable telling you all about. 

As soon as I clicked send, however, the guilt struck me like a clump o’ mud – and it has been weighing on me, quite heavily.  No matter my logic for declining the award, the truth is Beyond Confessions should be thanked and her blog should be recognized.  Not only did she take the time to nominate me and 14 other sites, she also completed the award’s requirements while documenting her life as a new mom on her blog. 

So, here’s my compromise.  I have thanked Beyond Confessions.  I will not reveal any more random facts about me.  But I will  nominate blogs that I have recently discovered — because they deserve to be recognized.

  1. Daylily Soup – Beth is an Alabama-based gardener who fills her site with amazing words and amazing photos, all of which document her passion.
  2. Sods Law – Amy is a photographer first , and now she has a garden.  A match made in heaven.
  3. Vickie Szumigala Photo Blog — Vickie is a self-taught photographer who is looking to share tips on making this craft affordable and easy.
  4. The Word Hoarder — Rich is an Irish ex-pat now living, gardening, raising a family, and writing in North Carolina.  Join him on his journey.
  5. The Soulsby Farm — I am always impressed with the diversity of people’s lives out there.  Here Dan not only shares his family , but also the work he does on his small farm.  Fascinating stuff.
  6. This Modern Wife — Alanna shares much of her life as she seeks to redefine what it means to be a wife in the 21st century.
  7. Skeptical Gardener — A new homeowner and the responsibility of landscaping and tending to a garden.

My second bit of weeding has to do with so many of the comments I received during March – also known as St. Patrick’s Month.  Many of you requested a photo of me in full parade regalia.  I don’t show this sort of stuff to just anyone. . . but. . . here it goes:

This is me parading in a local parade on Long Island.  My friend Cathey captured me in mid-blow, jowls full of air.  Bagpiping may not always be pretty, but I do love the accessories.