From self-described ‘lazy’ gardener Cope, in Florida:
As someone with scant interest in or skill at growing plants, I submit these pictures as evidence that anybody can be a Garden Chatter. I have posted before that one of the perks of living sub-tropically is that some things just grow pretty much on their own.
Top pic: Sometimes, plants are just pretty (who knew?). These yellow guys are incredibly prolific. I have posted other pictures of them before and somebody kindly told me what they were but I forgot.
These ferny plants have taken hold in the smallest pocket of organic debris on top of this 700 pound piece of coquina limestone that sits in our front yard. Just a little bit of water and they spring up, all green and planty. A day or two without rain or hose, however, and they shrink into sad, brown dead looking things. Dr. Malcolm did tell us that life finds a way.
This angry plant, whatever it is, loves its location by our front door, right under where water cascades off the roof during thunderstorms. I’ll bet my wife could tell me what plant it is.
Some years ago, in what proved a partially successful effort to ignite in me an interest in growing things, my loving wife bought me several Serrano pepper plants. I have been growing peppers for several years now, eagerly awaiting new crops to make hot sauce or hot giardiniera or even pickled peppers. This Serrano and a couple of its siblings are destined to become ingredients in my next batches of refried pinto beans and salsa.
A couple years ago, I added habanero peppers to the mix and have had some pretty good luck with them. They play well with others, happily sharing pots with my Serranos by the front door. Having my pepper plants where I see them all the time is a good hack for being sure I am aware of when they might need some attention. However, I once read that stressed pepper plants are more prolific so sometimes, I’m not always as quick to quench their thirst as might seem prudent.
The latest addition to my collection of spicy, edible plants is again thanks to my wife’s initiative. In the depths of quarantine (remember that?), she sent off for some Fresno Chile seeds. Seeds! I’m telling you, I haven’t grown anything from a seed since wrapping navy beans in wet paper towel in 9th grade biology. Anyway, some of the seeds became tiny plantlets and then actual plants that we have placed in several containers around the yard. They’re kind of cute because the peppers themselves grow up from the stem, not hanging down like the other guys.
This planter box represents the greatest single expenditure of my energy toward the floral world ever. After delivery, I hauled the materials inside, assembled them into the planter box, dragged it outside, leveled it, added many bags of dirt and planted things in it. Then, after a year or so, I removed some of the phase one plants and moved some others from the backyard to this planter by our front walk. I believe the distressed nature of the wood on the front of the box is due to our neighbor’s cat but I have never caught him in the act.
Sadly, my last picture was not meant to be or I am too lazy, one or the other. We have a couple of citrus trees that were a riot of intoxicating blossoms just a couple of days ago when I was picking oranges and pink grapefruits. The trees were festooned with flowers and bees and I vowed to return to get close up pictures of plant/insect sex but by the time I actually got around to doing it, all the petals had fallen from the blossoms and the bees had flown home to trade fertilizing stories. Maybe next year…
Anyway, it’s Sunday, so feel free to go back to bed and have a bit more of a lie-in before committing to facing the dangerous world out there.
We successfully procured some pansies last Sunday, just in time for the (hopefully) last really cold snap of the season. Yesterday was back to ‘seasonable’ (mid-50s) weather, so I started planting them out. Along with the Magic Fountains delphiniums, the Hot Lips salvia, and the Georgia Peach Pie dianthus that Burpee decided this week was a good time to send me. (At least they held off shipping the Fragrant Falls begonia, which was the main reason for my order.)
First of the white daffodils are starting to bloom, but the forsythia hasn’t yet…
What’s going on in your garden(s), this week?
ETA: Thank you, Germy!
— Science Videos (@quotewordstory) March 31, 2022
Life will find a way. We know this, but it’s still amazing to see it in time lapse photography.
It’s such a miracle and such a gift.
I have never been first to a garden chat, or even 10th. Not sure what the rest of you are up to this morning? Those peppers that grow straight up from the stem are crazy! I have never seen a plant that does that, so that’s really fun.
You have a T-Rex? You will have a T-Rex?
@germy: That’s amazing.
No matter how much we think we understand nature, it’s always astounding to see it in (sped up) action.
@germy: “Wake up! Time for science!” -Adam Savage
Dorothy A. Winsor
Nice pics. It seems you chose photography over gardening as a skill!
I have practically given up on doing the garden things I used to do. Seems my skin doesn’t hold up as well to handling rough things, nor do my sinuses appreciate the allergens in the soil and plants. Time to get help from a gardener for hire, though I can barely afford someone to mow!
@Betsy: Agreed! Woohoo!
@germy: I recall a science-fiction story where people were slowed way down, and could perceive how vicious the plant kingdom is. One of them was nearly strangled by a morning glory, IIRC.
(Though it’s more likely they’d suddenly find chunks missing, as every passing predator and scavenger thought “Meat, and it’s not moving….”)
The peas I planted a couple of weeks ago are finally showing a bit of green above the dirt, which makes me very excited. And my blueberries are leafing like crazy, and also showing a few baby flowers.
The strawberries seem to be celebrating Spring by inviting a bunch of weeds over. Sigh.
It’s been a crazy spring here in Western PA, what with the temps being in the teens and 20s one day and near 70 the next. But our daffodils and forsythia are going gangbusters. All beautiful yellows and cream colors make me happy even as I see snowflakes falling on them one day. I know the next day the sun will be shining on them and they will wave in a warm breeze. It always makes me hopeful.
Not a cure-all, but good gloves that let you feel things really help. And I discovered, accidentally, that K95 masks *also* protect against oak mold & tree pollen (when I remember to wear the one I’m now keeping in my tool belt).
@Betsy: If you can get even a little good help from someone else, gardening would be much easier for you and you could still enjoy it
@Betsy: What about gardening gloves and masking up while gardening?
I see AL beat me to it.
And everyone can learn from Garden Chat! I got one decent walk in last week and among the many other early spring flowers were clumps of glory-of-the-snow! I’ve walked this neighborhood since 2007 and thought I’d memorized every flower and tree, but there’s always more to see and learn about.
ETA: I have to add that the cold weather destroyed the magnolias’ budding this year. This is a very sad thing.
@Betsy: Your original post was about North Carolina?
After reading my way through the harrowing overnight Ukraine thread, “Life will find a way” is exactly the reassuring message I needed to see. Thank you, AL. And thanks to Cope for the vivid photos, and to Germy for that “Wowza!!” time-lapse video. That’s really fun to watch.
@Geminid: I would add that while experienced gardeners can be costly to hire, you would not need more than an apprentice-level gardener if you could work alongside them.
Whiplash season here in NE Illinois. After a warm period–50s/60s–we’re back in the 30s/40s and yesterday it snowed for most of the day. It should all melt today but roofs and grassy areas are still coated, as is my deck.
But the Pink Fizz hellebore has pushed up through the leaves–many pink buds–and a few daffs and crocuses have formed buds. The forsythia is still lagging–it’s only a few years old and hey, I got it from Aldi. But some of the branches have an arching, waterfall shape that is so pretty. I hope it’s just slow because of the whiplash weather.
Good Morning, Everyone???
Mike S (Now with a Democratic Congressperson!)
The cute little fern is a Pleopeltis polypodioides (Resurrection Fern). They are often epiphytic (growing on trees0 as well as on rocks. Native to most of the SE USA. (Here is the range map.) Unfortunately it isn”t quite hardy for me here in PA (yet.)
Great post Cope. Thanx for the stories as well as the pix.
@rikyrah: good morning!
The pictures are great. I’m inspired to put some spicy peppers in the VegTrug this year. Although now I that I think about it, we put some jalepenos in last year and only got like two before the deer came through and ate the plant down to a stub. At least they leave the tomatoes and herbs alone!
@Anne Laurie: I am seconding your comment about KN95 masks and pollens/mold. They really seem to help.
O. Felix Culpa
@sab: Same. We’re at high juniper pollen season, and mask wearing helps make it [somewhat] bearable.
Thank you, AL, cope, and germy for this post!
Gorgeous photos cope, especially that yellow flower in the first pic.
OT About five years ago my spouse bought an outdoor grill that requires a natural gas tank etc. I am a luddite and the whole thing was too complicated for me. So he grilled for one summer and then lost interest. ( I think he realized that he, not I, would be the cook all summer.) Being primitive, I use a Weber with charcoal brickets.
So anyway, we haven’t used it since. It has been sitting in the yard for years.
If I put it out on the curb “free to a good home” a couple of days before trash day will I be accidentally enabling neighbors to blow themselves up by a poorly maintained grill, or giving a neighbor a nice grill for free?
Forgot to say thanks for the pics. I love the planters, and ferns growing out of rocks make me happy.
You could add a sentence about that to your “free to a good home” note.
How to extend your home with a ‘garden room’ – in pictures
If’ns anybody is looking for ideas.
@sab: Good question, the answer is likely, “Both.”
@sab: <a They aren't all that complicated, if the hose isn't cracked someone whoo knows what they are doing will be fine.
Only the Johnny Jump-ups are blooming so far, but all the perennials are stirring – catmint (nepeta), salvias, lavenders, sedums, strawberries. I have ordered some tomatoes and peppers that should show up next month (can’t really set out plants that need warm soil until early May). Have some new perennials coming too.
This time of year it’s mostly raking up the leaves and doing some trimming on the shrubs.
Thanks to all for the kind comments and observations.
Since I took all those pics, I have harvested almost twenty habaneros and several Serranos. The orange guys went into Rick Bayless’s recipe for habanero hot sauce and the Serranos went into Emirl’s piri piri sauce. It’s not really peri peri sauce because it doesn’t have African peri peri peppers but it’s great stuff. When the Fresnos are red and ready, I’ll be looking for recipes that make the best use of their gifts.
Florida was named by explorer Ponce de Leon. The name “Florida” comes from the Spanish word “florido,” which means “full of flowers. Ponce got this right as Cope’s photos suggest. And, given what I recently observed concerning the local gentry’s octogenarian mating habits, Ponce might even have been on to something concerning the fountain of youth.
My southern sojourn was brief. Having spent most of my life in the lint lined belly button of the nation in the shade of towering grain silos, to encounter this foreign, feudal, frenzied Florida culture, in the spring time of my dotage, shook the smithy of my soul. Dazed and confused, some claim my natural state, I prematurely retreated back to the frozen tundra of the plain plains.
All that previously expressed in some scribblings posted here, this old corncob was very impressed with the Sunshine State’s ubiquitous flowery paeans to Eden.
@Betsy: Are you near a community college? There might be botany/ag students who would like hands-on practice and maybe even could fulfill interning requirements. Or an alternative high school. Every year our local Parade of Homes features a house built by high school students, generally those interested in the construction trades; maybe you can find someone interested in landscape design/horticulture. Faculty in those areas would know of individual students who might help. Also, Eagle Scouts? 4-H programs? Garden Club? All might be sources of affordable help.
Also, cope, great photos/stories!
@raven: Thanks. So ” check the hoses”?
Yesterday I finally finished the last of the rock wall building for border beds, converting the entire backyard from grass to waterside flower beds. It’s taken a full year of hard labor. I have one last bed to install the in-line 1/2″ drip emitter tubing, then I can plant a mix of native from the local 100% native plant nursery and the rest by mail order and seed starting.
Just a bit more sod to remove from that pathways between the rock walls, and then installing decomposed granite as the pathway material. We were going to get 6 cu yards of that free as salvaged material but someone got to it before our friend was scheduled to dig it out; we’ll have to buy it now so that adds at least $1000 in costs unfortunately. Flagstone is prettier, but that would be over $10,000 here because it comes from so far away, so that’s a big NO.
I’d planned on doing more outside today before the big winter storm hits, but my morning started with a migraine, the 3rd in a week. Seeing the doctor next week about the sudden return then uptick in migraine frequency; it sucks.
@sab: Yes, “check the hoses” is the right thing to put in the free notice.
wombat probability cloud
Might the yellow-flowered plant at top be Ochna thomasiana, a “Mickey Mouse” plant so-named because of its fruits? Native to Africa but I see at least one nursery in Florida that offers it: https://www.rareflora.com/oserrulata.htm
Yellow flower photo: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Turnera_ulmifolia
wombat probability cloud
@Jeffery: Thanks, you nailed it. I knew that I had seen it before and that it was an uncommon plant family.
@Betsy: I had to make a serious adjustment after a near fatal encounter with a wasp. I now wear heavy gloves up to my elbows, ( plus full clothing & a veiled hat). The gloves seem to stop everything, maybe those with a mask could do it?
It’s a drag as I’m in Florida and used to be in tshirt & shorts but its worked so far
@StringOnAStick: Can you get by with less decomposed granite? 3 cubic yards, 81 cubic ft., will cover 324 square feet at 3″, 486 square feet at at 2″. Once 3″ got rained on some it would compact to ~2 1/2″. Three yards ought to weigh about 4 tons at a ton per 20 cubic feet.
The delivery charge might make 4 or 6 yards more attractive, though. You probably can use any excess. Some people use rock dust as a mulch, and it might not be a bad soil additive where you are, depending on the ph of the soil..
My wife and I spent some time visiting the gardens on the Growing Native Garden Tour this weekend. Incredibly generous for these families to open up their yards to welcome strangers. I learn something new every year. This year, I learned California Poppies come in white.
Thank you all.