Around the Yard at The End of July

I just bought a new iPhone XR and wanted to try out the camera so I took a quick walk around the yard this evening. The no-see-ums were brutal so it was a quick photo shoot. Not all photos were taken with the new camera.

My caladiums are doing well. The white-leafed variety is not looking so good, but the red looks nice. Did you know they come back each year after winter?

red leafed caladiums
Caladium with red leaves

My bromeliad is shooting off some new little babies. I already started two new plants from this one and it looks like I will have more.

Bromeliads
Bromeliad with “babies”

The hot house hydrangea, which I planted in the garden, is doing very well! It is in the shade most of the day and I think that helps a lot. I just cut off the dead blooms to find new flowers hidden among the greenery.

hydrangea shrub
The hydrangea shrub is doing well!

The swallowtail butterfly has been busy laying her eggs on my fennel plant and I counted 40 worms, in all stages, crawling on the stems and chowing down on the flowers. The cardinals have grabbed some, but many remain. I hope some of them survive to become butterflies.

swallowtail worm
This worm will become a Swallowtail butterfly if it survives the cardinal attacks

Along the back hedge I spotted this pretty white flower which looks quite exotic. I believe it is an invasive species (it’s Florida, what else is new?) called the Japanese Honeysuckle. On the other side of the house I have the invasive Brazilian Pepper plant growing like mad.

Florida invasive species Japanese Honeysuckle
Japanese Honeysuckle?

The frogs were napping in their usual spot on top of my front door light. They make an awful mess, pooping all over the place. At night they travel over the window, front door and walls catching bugs.

If you look closely you can see the head of the third frog in the lower left of the photo. They are literally piled on top of each other. I believe this is an invasive species of frog which has killed off the beautiful green tree-frogs that used to be plentiful in Florida. I don’t know if these are Cuban tree frogs, but our outdoor security camera captured a possum climb the wall and snatch a frog off the light in the back yard! I also find dead frogs in the yard, so something is after them. The University of Florida has a page about frogs comparing the unwanted invaders with the cute green tree frogs which I never see these days.

frogs sleeping the day away
Frogs on my front light

Of course my two cats followed me all around the yard. They love having my company outdoors and since it’s usually too hot, I don’t do much outside with them. Below is Skittle who is always interested when I am pulling weeds.

Skittle the cat
Skittle

Beautiful Fontana is my older cat but she loves to be outside as well. Both cats spend most of their day sleeping outdoors even though it is extremely hot this time of year. I am home, and always let them in to cool off and fill their bellies, but they usually go right back out.

Fontana
Fontana

So that is my yard at the end of July. When we get through the next two months I will feel better. Nights will become cooler and I look forward to having a fan in the window at night. Aside from cutting the grass, not much is getting done in the yard. My vegetable garden is producing nothing much and my citrus trees are doing very poorly. I keep the bird bath filled and enjoy watching the birds that come to eat bugs and take baths.

One Year Since the Big Move

My daughter gave me a calendar for last Christmas.  She had gone through and written some things on each of the months and in June she wrote, “One year since you moved”.  At first, it doesn’t seem like a year has gone by since we packed up the Penske truck and took the 3-day (hellish) drive from New Hampshire to Florida.  But if I give it more thought, I can see all that I did within that year, and yes, it is believable.  In fact, I did pack a lot into the past 12 months.

pampas grass
Pampas Grass grew in my northern yard, but it died over one extremely cold winter.

I had hoped to find a house to buy with a good size yard and plenty of place for gardens.  But money, or lack of it, always seems to give so few options in reality.  Florida is no longer the super cheap place to live that it used to be.  Without money, you don’t have many options, and you have to end up settling for the best you can do.

One thing I am very grateful for is that I don’t have to move in the near future.  Hopefully I will never have to move again, but I know better than to plan on that.  At least the house is in good shape.  Aside from replacing the AC unit, there isn’t much to do until the fridge stops working, or something like that.  No major repairs needed (fingers crossed).

In Florida, summer is like my winter was in the North.  Winter was a time to rest (except for shoveling snow and lugging wood for the wood stove).  There was no yard work to be done (unless you count snowplowing the driveway).  And most winters it was manageable. (2015 was a bad one.)  It’s too cold to do much outdoors, and I simply sat at my desk and worked day after day.  I was much busier in summer with my gardens and yard work.

street sweeper
Street Sweeper in May

Summer in Florida is the time to stay inside.  It is NOT the time to garden, unless you want heat-stroke.  Believe it or not, it can even be too hot to go to the beach!  I’d love to have a pool, but since I don’t, I stay inside and sit at my desk and work day after day.  Now, I look forward to Fall, the way I used to look forward to Spring.  That is when I can get back outside and do some gardening / yard work.

Hydrangeas are beginning to bloom in the north.  Next month all my hydrangeas at my old house (none of it is mine any more, but I like to pretend it is) will be blooming.  One day I will go back and take a ride (or walk) past my previous home, just to look at how much the plants have grown.  They were my babies.  I planted them, and wish I could have stuck around to see them grow year after year.  Wishes mean nothing.

Robin in birdbath
An Evening Ritual, Robins Bathing

If I ever have hydrangeas here, they will have to be in pots.  No hydrangeas can possibly withstand the heat of these summers.  They would be wilted all the time.  I’m sticking with citrus trees and tropical plants.  The vegetable garden is still in it’s experimental stage, with netting over it to block the raccoons’ escapades.

So in a year I have done a lot.  (All photos are mine, and were taken while I lived in New Hampshire.)