March 23, 2017

Another gardening first . . .

Last night Philip and I were hiking on one of our favorite trails here in Lakeland . . . 

. . . and I spotted my first red admiral of the season (albeit a little tattered and torn).  I've seen these in my garden before, but rarely.  However, each year I let the pellitory grow ~ which isn't easy given my OCD ~ in hopes that I'll be lucky enough to attract them.

And guess what?

Today during lunch, this little beauty worked her way around the entire garden laying eggs!  A gardening first for me ~  I'm so happy I let those weeds grow! 💖

The crazy winds - that I hope are bringing us a little rain this afternoon - made getting any decent photos tough.  But if you've got Mexican tithonias in bloom, you're bound to get at least one decent shot.  😊  And I've had non-stop blooms for over a year now.  ***Daisy, if you would like some seeds, just let me know.***

As I was leaving for work this morning, I spotted these birds (Ibises I believe) on the side of the house.

Every time I see them in my yard grubbing for food, I am so thankful that I gave up on chemicals and pesticides years ago.  Do I have weeds?  You bet.  Do I care?  Not in the least.

Nikki doesn't care either.

May you find a little joy in every day,

"I value my garden more for being full of blackbirds than of cherries, and very frankly give them fruit for their song."  Joseph Addison

March 18, 2017

New spring time additions to the garden ~

It seems like every time I go to the Spring Obsession or Fall Extravaganza, I find myself saying, "There just doesn't seem to be as many vendors as last time."  Of course every time I go, my garden is even more full than the time before, so I don't really need much.  This year I only found two plants to add to my garden.  However, I found a number of garden art pieces on Wayfair that I just had to have!  😀

I love this piece.   When Charlie (Jr.) was little, he had a playmate that he played with for the first 4-5 years of his life (until we moved) ~ her name was Sarah.  They played together most days of the week and more often than not, when he saw her, he would give her a big hug and a kiss ~ usually knocking her down in the process.  I doubt he even remembers it, but I'll never forget . . . so cute.

These are a couple of other additions - I bought two different fire hydrants  ~ a shout out for the dogs.  Of course they're girls and wouldn't ever use it, but I thought they were cute.  Plus they add a little color to the garden.

And I didn't want to discriminate against my neighbor's cat who calls our front porch home .  . so I added the piece on the left.  Kind of looks like a raccoon, but it really is a cat - and that plant it's next to is a jasmine plant I bought at the spring fest.  The pic on the right is a photo of a new bird bath/feeder (not really sure what I'll use it for) sitting next to the second plant I bought - a purple firespike.  I have a few red ones and the hummers love them so I was happy to find this one (and they only had one which is why I always go early - like right when they open!).  😁

And lastly, this guy - I bought him at the spring fest - not Wayfair.  He's made the same way my see-saw dogs are made.  I like him and he is a colorful addition to the garden as well.

And that's it.  I'm pretty much done with the garden as far as garden art goes.  Well - plants too.  I forgot to take a picture, but I also added a large gardenia bush (I'm known to kill these too).  But it's by far my favorite scented flower so I'm giving it another whirl.

Now as spring approaches,  it just a matter of maintenance, maintenance and more maintenance.  I am working in the veggie garden though, but I'll save that for another post.

May you find a little joy in every single day,

"I think that no matter how old or infirm I may become, I will always plant a large garden in the spring. Who can resist the feelings of hope and joy that one gets from participating in nature’s rebirth?"  ~Edward Giobbi

March 13, 2017

For the love of rain . . .

Is there anything more soothing than the sound of rain (maybe that of a fire)?  Ever since I was a child, I have loved the sound of a good thunderstorm.  Now that I'm a gardener, I love a good storm for so many reasons . . . but mostly because nothing makes my garden grow quite like rain ~ and I still find the sound so comforting.

Our time in the garden this evening was cut short by a few rain drops ~ with the promise of much more to come tonight.  But we were able to sit out for a spell . . . surrounded by so many wonderful fragrances - orange blossoms, jasmine, almond spice bush, and my banana shrub.  I imagine that's what heaven smells like.  💚

My banana shrub blossoms are working double duty providing us with an amazing aroma . . . and storing food for the birds.  😁  I find peanuts in all kinds of strange places as the birds drop them in flight, from the trees, etc.  The dogs love it when they hit the ground - snack time!

I want to share something Philip made for Jr. this weekend:

My boys LOVE fishing and when you combine Philip's love of woodworking . . . well, you get stuff like this!  He has so much "scrap" wood in his shop and when he can create something from it, he gets pretty excited.  I think that's a pretty cool cardholder.  👍  Of course I may be his biggest fan.

My Mom was also a huge fan of Philip's . . . she loved him dearly (I think more than me sometimes!).   But that's okay . . . he's that lovable!

Today is Mom's birthday.  This photo was from our last family trip together.  She had a ball - she was sassy and spunky . . . she was Mom . . . and she is dearly missed. 

May you find a little joy in everyday.

"Losing a mother doesn't happen in a moment.  It takes years to appreciate the impact of what's gone."  Baker

March 10, 2017

A rose is a rose is a rose . . . .

My Mom loved roses ~ and I like them too.  I especially like them in my dried flower arrangements - where I can't kill them (found a lovely shop on Etsy where I splurged a little this past month -Summer Sweet Boutique).

I also, against my better judgement, splurged on another rose bush.  I gave my others away last time - before I killed them.  But this one - well, I created a bed out front just for it.

Double Delight Hybrid Tea Rose
And I'm going to put some real effort into keeping it alive.  I had Philip pick it out on Valentine's Day ~ so it's my Valentine's rose . . . a special rose bush . . . one I will take care of and one that smells absolutely amazing.

. . . but a rose bush is not all I bought.

"The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago.  The second best time is now."

Avocados are so good for you and our kids love them ~ so I figured I couldn't go wrong with the addition of an avocado tree.  It's planted out front since the back garden is no longer excepting applications.  In fact, it has pretty much cried uncle so I'm forced to venture to the front yard.  There's lots of room out front.  👀

And guess what tomorrow is?  OUR ANNUAL SPRING OBSESSION!  I got my big wagon all ready and I'm so excited.  Don't need a thing . . . but boy do I have the "wants".  

Image result for munn park spring obsession 2017

This past week I made my first batch of bi-colored soap (organic coconut oil, palm kernel oil - ethically harvested, and organic juniper berries).  The brown stuff in the middle is the ground up juniper berries.  The top coloring was done using a touch of green french clay.  Isn't it pretty?  Oh and it smells wonderful.  I used a phthalate free fragrance oil - coconut island.  Ya mon!

Well that's it for today.  We are so looking forward to the weekend.  High Five!  Thumbs Up!

May you find a little joy in every day,
"A little madness in the spring is wholesome even for a queen."  Emily Dickinson

February 28, 2017

Tidbits from eli

Our mild, ever so sweet winter continues here in Lakeland, Florida.  

The garden blooms have been endless . . . and beautiful ~

~ still providing nectar for the handful of butterflies who have stuck around all winter long.

Some plants seem a little confused with this year's winter though.  My tabebuia trees started to bloom last month ~ putting on a scrawny show . . . stopped . . . and then started blooming again in late February.  This makes for a less than awe-inspiring show leaving me quite envious when I drive around our little town seeing all the magnificent tabebuia trees just loaded with flowers.  They are quite the sight when in full bloom.  But no complaints here as I'll take what I can get.  Maybe this year I wont have an enormous amount of seeds settling all over the place.  I am constantly pulling up tabebuia seedlings through out the year (kinda of like the Everglades tomatoes!), 😀

My tabebuia trees aren't the only ones confused as my Christmas cactus is having a funky bloom cycle as well.  I bought it in December full of blooms and by mid-January it was done.  And now this . . . perhaps it wanted to show off one more time this year.  

And speaking of show-offs ~ and I have a few this post ~ look at this abused, neglected hoya.  This monster of a plant used to reside in my back garden.  It was so large that the thought of moving it from the table where it had completely intertwined itself around (and everything else in its vicinity) was a chore I definitely wasn't up to.  And when we were having our "rat issue" I saw Philip eyeing it a time or two ~ a perfect rat's nest.  So when we poured our very last garden pathway, which was next to said monster, I had Philip move the hoya out of the garden and to the side of the house in the arms of my Hong Kong orchid tree.  Really more like into the feet of the orchid tree as it sits in the V of the two main trunks very close to the ground.  I think the plant felt like it was one step away from being roadside because it has done nothing but bloom since we moved (and kinda neglected) it.  And I'm happy to report there were no rats living in it - just wasps.  Bad, bad, butterfly caterpillar eating wasps. 😡

 Oh how I love my weekends!

Every weekend (and most evenings) you can find Philip and I sitting here in "my" corner.  It remains my favorite spot in the garden and it's where I do a lot of thinking.  It's also where I enjoy my wine . . . and read . . . and write in my journal.  It's my special place . . . that I share with my best friend.  And not a day goes by where I am not thankful ~ for both ~ for our blessings . . . and especially for our family.

Carved in the bamboo section of Hollis Gardens ~ along with hundreds of others!  

And our family just got bigger . . . meet little Daisy.  She is Charlie and Hannah's newest addition (the pup in the middle with the pink collar).  One more and they will have caught up to us!  💓💓💓

Our amazing runner . . .

So last month our Jenn got engaged (a first) . . . and this month is another first for her ~ she completed a 15K on Saturday followed by an 8K on Sunday.  And she did it solo as her fiance was out of town.
To say we’re proud is an understatement!!!

Guess what else happened this weekend (on Friday actually)?  Mr. Hart was freed from his cast.  Finally, after 10 long weeks, he can drive again!  😁 And soon we'll be able to hike again.  But really, I'm just happy he can drive!  And if I'm happy, you can imagine how he is feeling.  

Well, that's it for now.  I've added a couple of new plants to the garden but will post about those later.  My Bones is nibbling at my elbow reminding me it's time for her morning walk.  She's so demanding (and so very loved). 💗

Take care ~ 

***If you are not barefoot then you are overdressed.

February 16, 2017

It just never gets old . . .

Mother Nature . . . a million blooms . . . and that million and one is just as spectacular.  ❤

Carolina Jessamine (Gelsemium sempervirens)
My Carolina Jessamine is buried beneath the ever growing, super aggressive Dutchman's pipevine ~ but every year it works and works to put out a handful of blooms.  And every year I'm thankful for those few showy yellow flowers, especially when they appear in the middle of winter.

This past weekend I was doing some serious trimming around the garden and found a chrysalis on a branch I was hauling roadside.  I clipped it off and brought it on the patio . . . and yesterday morning, before work, I spotted this beauty.  I've probably seen hundreds of emerging butterflies, but it never gets old.

I didn't want him to be stuck on the patio all day, so I transported him to the butterfly garden to finish drying and by lunch he was long gone.  Today I had two monarchs fluttering about.  I'd like to think he (or she) was one of them.

I have been a nature lover my whole life . . . and even after all these years . . . I still think it's magical!

February 8, 2017

Garden art, veggies, and a new plant!

From a gardener's standpoint, at least one who is trying to grow tropicals in a non-tropical zone, this has been a wonderful winter season so far . . . not a single day of frost (knock on wood).  I have a mango tree full of mangoes, Mexican tithonias that have never stopped blooming, and butterflies already laying eggs.  I know all that can change next week, but for now ~ I am very thankful.

I've stayed fairly busy all season long ~ adding new garden art (I've become a recent fan of reading statues) . . . 

. . . and keeping up with the veggie garden.  This past weekend I had both the kids over helping themselves to kale, broccoli, herbs, etc.  It warms my heart to see them out there harvesting stuff to take home.  Even with a mild winter, my cold season veggies have done exceptionally well.  So yep, already have my spring veggie seeds ready to go.  :-)

My resident hummer left sometime in early January with no sightings in February either.  But there are plenty of blooms to provide nectar (being enjoyed by the bees) and I still keep the feeders out (also being enjoyed by the bees).  :-)

This past weekend Jen came to visit and we took a trip to the farmers market.  Since Philip broke his foot we haven't been in weeks (at least 3 more weeks to go too!).  There is one plant vendor there that I just love as he always seems to have something new . . . or at least something I "need".  This weekend it was something new - a rose allamanda (Strophanthus gratus).  This one is trained as a shrub (they can also climb) ~ and the blooms smell amazing . . . like a cross between an orchid and a rose.  I had never seen one before so home it went.

While at the farmers market, we also hid some painted rocks.  Here in Lakeland (and other cities too) there is a group of folks on Facebook called "Lakeland Rocks" (30,000+ members).  The idea is to paint rocks, hide them, and also hunt for them too if you'd like.  It's a pretty big deal - with the City even getting involved.  I like it because it gets people (especially kids) out and about - and away from their electronics.  I also find it very relaxing to paint the rocks, although I'm not much for finding them.  Some of the really large rocks (bigger than a softball like the one above) I've painted and placed around my garden.

And others, like these sugar skulls, I've hidden around town (or given to Jen as she LOVES anything sugar skull).  :-)  This was started by one family . . . and has really turned into a huge community project.  Such a great idea ~ and so much fun!

Well, that's it for now . . . counting the days till spring (40).  💗💗💗

January 15, 2017

Big News for the Hart Family


Our Jen and her boyfriend flew to Denver on Friday to go skiing . . .

. . . and then this happened ~ on a mountain top!  💓

Congrats Jennifer and TJ!  We love you!

January 10, 2017

Winter garden surprises . . . and other stuff

I ate my lunch in the garden this afternoon ~ quickly ~ so that I could get up and tinker.  And it's usually when I'm "tinkering" that I discover something.  Today it was a few somethings . . . unexpected somethings . . .  😊 ~ like these first blooms on my giant milkweed transplants I started last spring.  Love this plant!

I also really like my clerodendrum wallichii (photo of blooms can be found here) and although most clerodendrums seed (and spread) easily, I was actually surprised to find one (and only one) seed on my plant today.  This particular clerodendrum has long stems of cascading white flowers - stunning when in bloom ~ and was sold as a plant that attracts butterflies.  I never saw any pollinators near my blooms, but it's still a keeper.  I might try and start a few plants via this seed ~ only because I love planting seeds.  I guess I should do a little research first to see if it's even possible.

Here's my biggest lunch hour surprise!  Nothing says a warm fall season (and so far a frost free winter) like a bloom spike on my Clivia miniata.  I forgot to cover this plant earlier in the week when we had temps dip into the 30's for a couple of days.  Today I was checking for damage, but instead found blooms.  How cool. 💞  You can bet I'll bring it in before the next cold snap!

Now this isn't a surprise as I have native Everglades tomatoes popping up EVERYWHERE (the birds love them).  But I wanted to share how early these start producing.  This is a tiny plant that's randomly growing in the gated garden.  The entire plant is not much bigger than my hand and yet it already has two sets of blossoms forming.

And not far from that tiny plant is a larger bush growing among the banana trees.  This plant has over a hundred little tomatoes forming ~ some just beginning to ripen.  It takes a major frost to hurt these guys ~ such a great, carefree choice for cherry tomatoes.

Other volunteers that have appreciated our warm weather are the Mexican tithonias.  These are as giving as the tomatoes as they sprout up all over the place too.   I let them go to seed because I read that the birds will visit the seed pods/flower heads . . . I've yet to see that happen, but I sure do get a lot of volunteers ~ and that's a good thing . . .

~ since we still have some winged visitors.

Moving on . . . 

This past weekend I went to visit Philip in his workshop with a special "asap" request . . . I needed a letter holder.

The next day he gave me this - made out of scrap cedar and oak wood.  I just LOVE it!  💓  

Prior to my "asap" order, I requested a table for the family room.  What I love most about Philip's creations, besides the fact that they are made from local trees, is that they are perfectly imperfect.  I think it adds character and charm.  This photo doesn't do it justice . . . it really is a beauty.

Well, that's all I've got.  Not really . . . I always have something I want to write about.  I could write forever . . . but I'll refrain only because I don't want to completely bore you.  I will mention I'm going to be making some organic beeswax candles soon.  Oh - and those 100% beeswax candles I ordered from Holy Nativity Convent (which can be found here) were amazing.  So much so that I placed another order.  So why am I making my own?  Because I have two pounds of beeswax I need to use up.  Making beeswax candles isn't the easiest thing to do because they want to crack . . . but I'm going to give it one more whirl.  They can still be used with cracks, they just aren't as pretty.

Happy Tuesday!