Category Archives: lifestyle

flowering croton

Getting Ready to Fill The Yard with Flowering Plants

February is the time to begin thinking about planting here in Central Florida. Not only vegetables, but replenishing the yard after the winter freeze. I’m still getting used to gardening in this weird climate.

In New Hampshire

I had gardening down pat in the north.  I had a yard full of wonderful flowers.  It took me a few years to get them going, but once the Monarda (Bee Balm) and Cone Flowers (Echinacea) began to grow, I counted on them bringing birds and beneficial bugs to my yard.  And they did.

Besides those perennials, I had wild blackberries and raspberries, lots of dandelions, some Queen Anne’s Lace, and other “weeds” which flowered as well.  And then there were the hydrangeas, lilacs, daisies and peonies that kept the yard pretty throughout the season.  If you live in a climate that supports these types of plants, put them in your yard!

nasturtiums in glass pot
Nasturtiums in pot – my photo

I knew what I could plant in my yard. I dug in the rich New England dirt, added some bone meal and fertilizer and the plants were happy. In winter they went to sleep and appeared again in Spring. They grew bigger each year.

Florida Growing is Not Easier

Now my growing knowledge is turned upside down.  I don’t know what to plant.  I live in a place without winter, but we do get freezing temperatures. We also get months of extreme heat which some flowering plants can’t handle. Nothing hibernates here. I think I’ve lost my beautiful croton this winter.  Yes, it’s in a big pot – and that makes a difference, but this one I can’t move indoors.

dead croton in a barrel
This was a beautiful croton and hibiscus

See how pretty this was on this page. Makes me want to give up on planting altogether.

I have to learn what to plant and what will live in 100 degrees and also in 20 degrees. I covered my outside plants this winter, and they died anyway. These tropical plants do best when they can be brought indoors overnight if temps will be dropping.

I don’t want a yard full of pots that I have to lug back and forth… I want a pretty flower garden. I’m not so sure it’s possible, but I will give it a try.

Since the “dirt” here is simply worthless sand, any time I think about growing something, I know I will have to build my own dirt.

At the present time my plan is to fill up some of my grow bags with a mixture of good garden dirt (from my raised bed) and bone meal or blood meal and plant something that flowers.

bird bath with cardinal
Female Cardinal in Bird Bath

For the birds, I already have a birdbath which I view birds using every day. In fact they sometimes fight each other over the water, to drink and bathe in.  Next I will add a tray feeder.  Because I live next to a lot that has not been cleared, there are plenty of trees and bushes where the birds can land and hide. They especially love the Dahoon Holly tree which is not in my yard, but close.

Black cat on white sheets

The Croton is Flowering, Cats, and Other Happenings This Saturday Morning

flowering croton
Flowers on the Croton

Before I left on my trip north, I checked (and watered) all my plants and discovered that my croton is flowering! Pretty fluffy little off-white flowers are shooting off the tops of the big-leaved stems. Long ago I may have seen croton flowers, but if so, I had forgotten that they have flowers.

It’s Saturday morning already. I lost a few days this week it seems.

All my mornings begin with me making coffee for myself. While the coffee brews I take care of the cats. My two black cats simply want to go outside. I change their water and make sure there is food in the bowl.

Then I deal with Earflap aka Mr. Mites aka Bitey. He is the stray who adopted us a few months ago. He manages to fill his litter box every night, so I empty that. He gets special canned food, so I serve him breakfast. The porch door stays shut overnight so the raccoons won’t come in and eat his dry food, so I open it and give him his freedom. Usually he goes back to sleep on the chair inside the porch.

stray cat on the patio
Earflap the stray cat

Two days ago I walked into the garage at 8AM and it wasn’t sweltering. I put the door up and a wonderful breeze hit me. As I walked into the driveway I stretched my arms and breathed in the air – something I haven’t done in months. Trying to breathe outside here in summer is like slowly drowning. Okay, I am exaggerating a bit but the humidity here is stifling – 24 hours a day.

With the breeze blowing for the past three days, the heat seems less and it gives me hope that cool nights are in the future. Daytime temperatures seldom stay cool, but overnight it can get nice. I’m thinking about gardening, and considering having a yard sale. Continue reading The Croton is Flowering, Cats, and Other Happenings This Saturday Morning