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.

What’s Growing in My July Florida Garden

It is so hot down here in Florida in the month of July that I rarely go outside.  This morning I scurried around my yard and took some photos until I just couldn’t stand being out there.  I think I lasted less than 5 minutes. The heat index says it feels like 100 out there. Add in tons of humidity, and you have Yuk.

So lets begin with the flowers. The crotons and hibiscus are loving the heat. They were made to withstand summer heat in this disgusting climate. Thankfully we are getting lots of afternoon thunderstorms that keep me from having to go out and water.

red hibiscus
Red Hibiscus

My rose bush hasn’t had any blooms for a while, but I noticed a small rose and bud today. It probably needs more attention, and more fertilizer.

small carnival rose and bud
Small Rose and Bud

I bought some Impatiens when I first moved into the house, and unbelievably they are still looking pretty good! I also planted my mother-in-laws-tongue, or snake plant, in the ground and it is doing well. I’ve put a few of the big seashells I’ve collected into the garden as decoration. The older, worn shells look good displayed that way. I had to put them out front, away from the raccoons, so they wouldn’t drag them off!

seashells decorating garden bed
Seashells Decorate the Garden Bed

The Persian Lime tree is doing great. It’s still in a pot, and has lost a lot of the fruit it started with, but I still have some good size limes coming. I’ll have to figure out when to pick the fruit.

persian lime fruit on tree
Persian Lime Fruit

I have 2 eggplant plants, but neither one is growing any eggplants. They flower, and lose the flowers and keep growing tall.  They are a good spot for ladybugs to lay their eggs and eat aphid infestations, but that is about it.

Maybe there aren’t enough bugs to pollinate the flowers. I need more flowering plants in and around my garden.
But I tried. I bought a bunch of marigolds because I always grew marigolds in New Hampshire. They usually became beautiful rounded bushes with tons of flowers. But that is not happening to these marigolds.

eggplant
Eggplant

The marigolds have been growing for months, and I only have about 3 flowers total. The stalks have grown very long and tall, without flowering. It’s very bizarre. Marigolds are good to grow near tomatoes and other vegetables because they will help keep certain unwanted bugs away.

orange marigold
Orange Marigold

On to the tomatoes. I have 2 tomato plants still growing, but neither one looks exceptionally good. Both have some small green tomatoes, and I don’t know if I will get red ones to eat before the raccoons decide to help themselves.

Green tomatoes
Tomatoes

I tried covering the vegetable garden with netting, and I think that helped. But a papa cardinal somehow got inside the netting and was trapped in the garden! I went out and freed him, but I had to cut the netting off in the process. He was really freaking out, so I left the garden uncovered.
I’m not trying too hard to garden these days. It’s too hot, and I don’t think the vegetables like it either.
……. Happy 4th!

Summer Blue Flowers on the Hydrangea

This years Endless Summer blue flowers are not impressive.

blue hydrangea flowerFinally I have a picture of my blue flowers on the Endless Summer hydrangea plant. It’s nothing too impressive I’m afraid. I don’t think my hydrangeas are getting enough sun to flower abundantly.

In fact, none of my hydrangeas in the front yard are producing many flowers. Usually by July I can see big flowers, as you can see in this post from July, 2013.

This summer – it’s July 12th now – I have two, very small, light blue flowers, one on each side of the plant, near the bottom.

blue flowering hydrangea plant
July 2015- Endless Summer Hydrangea

I believe that the problem is that I have two large burning bush trees in the front that shade my gardens. The Burning Bush is suppose to be a bush, but this house was neglected before I bought it, and the bushes were allowed to grow huge. Although I cut them back when I moved in, they have since gotten out of control once again. It’s difficult for me to contain the thick stems as they can’t be cut easily. I’m considering taking drastic measures and using the chainsaw to cut them down. The thing is, I don’t use a chainsaw.

The blue flowers are pretty, but small. Lack of blooms usually means there is not enough sun. We also had a bad winter which I think has affected my perennials adversely also.

On the other hand, my propagated transplants of the Blushing Bride hydrangea are looking beautiful. One has two flowers on it, and both have gotten really large.

My Blushing Bride White Hydrangea Transplant- One Year Later

Year 2 for the Blushing Bride hydrangea that was propagated in 2014.

baby hydrangea bush
New plant #1

Last year I dug up two offshoots of my Blushing Bride hydrangea. The shrub was becoming large, and as the limbs hung down to the dirt, they became rooted. After letting them grow this way for a year, I cut them off from the main plant and dug them up.

I ended up with two nice size little hydrangea plants. Both were planted in my backyard last spring and they are looking good this year.

One in particular is doing very well and has two flowers. I had named it #1, and it was samller than the #2 plant, but it’s doing better. I think it gets more sun than the other one, which helps with flower production. That is it in the first image, taken last year after it was just planted in June.

Below is how it looks in July this year – just one year later!

blushing bride hydrangea
Year 2 – new Blushing Bride

white hydrangea shrub

I’d love to transplant some new blue hydrangea bushes, but I can’t seem to get mine to grow enough to give me new baby plants. I’m also running low on space to plant perennials.

The blooms on my new plant are large and beautiful (picture below). In fact the original Blushing Bride plant has no blooms at all this year. The ‘baby’ looks better than it’s mom. It’s all in the location and sun exposure. Hydrangeas don’t need a lot of direct sunlight, but they do need a good measure to create flowers.

white hydrangea