Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Miami Beach Botanical Garden is the crown jewel of South Florida

Miami Beach Botanical Garden is a spectacular garden located within the heart of South Beach a block away from Lincoln Road and Washington Avenue.  When you want to get away from the broiling heat of the beach or have done enough shopping, the garden offers  shaded tranquility for spending time with Mother Nature.  For both tourists and locals it offers a fascinating experience to explore exotic tropical plants from all around the world.


The garden is under three acres but seems much larger.  Within this tiny space you can explore a Japanese garden, fountains, meandering paths, sculptures, a social hall, gorgeous tropical trees shrubs and ground covers. There is always something in bloom at the garden as well.   I have visited the garden often over the years and always felt rejuvenated and energized afterward.


 In 1962 the park was created on vacant land in back of the Miami Beach Convention Center. In 1996 a group of garden visionaries created a nonprofit conservatory and the garden has blossomed into an cultural and educational center for both locals and tourists. A magical transformation occurred in 2011 when well known landscape architect Raymond Jungles elevated the garden to new heights.  The new design added more plants, fountains, sculptures, paths and vistas.

The foundation created a wonderful place for educational and cultural programing all year round.  Check the Miami Beach Botanical Garden website for upcoming events.
Due to the proximity to the convention center and hotels, the Miami Beach Botanical Garden offers a wonderful venue for corporate events, weddings, receptions and special occasions.  There is an ample sized room overlooking the garden for indoor affairs, as well as a multitude of areas within the outdoor garden for events.

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Friday, June 19, 2015

Create Magical Nature Projects Improve your Blog with GraphicStock

 Don't Desert the highway for a short cut.
                                            ~Old Irish Expression

 Graphic images can be utilized for pressed flower and nature print cards for birthdays, anniversaries, get well, miss you cards, etc. nature printing, posters, wall decorations, messages and so much more. Graphics for decoupage projects are ideal. Graphic images make ideal note paper as well. Having access to amazing graphic images can change your blogging life, business life and personal life for the better.
The joys of spring.


 There is an amazing company GraphicStock that is offering a free trial of their graphic designs. Remember that once you sign up for the free trial you should enjoy the benefits and if you chose to stay on, you will pay for the discounted membership of just $99 for the year, instead of the usual $588. Please cancel your subscription if you do not want to pay for the membership before the trial date is over.
Nothing tastes as good as homegrown vegetables. Now is the time to plant your garden!

I am not a tech geek. The good news is their site is easy to navigate. Since I am a highly visual person, I was like a kid in a candy store enjoying all the images. On the free trial, you are limited to 20 downloads a day. You click on the images you want and they download to your computer. You find them in your download files. Then you can utilize the images in a multitude of ways. 
A rose is a rose is a rose. ~ Gertrude Stein


 The above images are all from GraphicStock. They are just marvelous. Think of all the possibilities you can utilize these for your blog, business or personal use. Great news, there is a giveaway one year complimentary access to GraphiStock values at $588. All you have to do is:
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2) Complete your own project or give your opinion of the GraphicStock tutorial. 3) Comment on my blog about your completed project.

Friday, June 5, 2015

Mango Time in South Florida

Its time to celebrate when it is mango time in South Florida.  We eat them morning, noon and night.  We eat them over the sink, sliced up in oatmeal, yogurt and cottage cheese.   We chop them up for salads, salsas and baked with fish or chicken.  We bake mango bread, mango pies, mango cake and mango upside down cake.




This year there is a bumper crop of mangoes and homeowners are challenged as to what to do with such an over abundance.  Many people bring bags of mangoes to work every day.  Some people set up fruit stands in front of their house and sell them.  Other people bring them to food banks, churches and give them to neighbors who do not have trees.

Squirrels, tree rats, birds, insects love mangoes as well.  So do landscapers working nearby, mailmen, school children.  My seniors at work told me stories of how they would go to work during the day and return home at night to find their trees stripped of  fruit.  Below is a short video on how to pick fruit early from the tree.  Normally when they are ripe they fall down to the ground.



Many of us like to slice them up and freeze them for enjoyment after mango season.  The consistency is never the same as a fresh mango, but they are still great in smoothies.  Here is a short video on how to cut mangoes like a chef.


Fairchild Tropical Garden in Miami always has a spectacular mango festival in July, the height of mango season.  Mango season is from May to October.  Here are a few reviews of past festivals.  The festival is a three day event with non stop activities.  There are tastings, fruit sales, chef demonstrations,  displays, outside vendors, tree sales and so much more.  The Sunday mango brunch always sells out early to purchase your tickets in advance.  Mango Festival Information

Fairchild Tropical Garden Mango Festival a great success
Fairchild Tropical Garden Mango Brunch

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Saturday, May 16, 2015

A Taste of Peru

In the USA foodies delight eating out in Peruvian restaurants.  It is customary to start a meal with a pisco sour, a delicious alcoholic beverage.  Ceviche can be served a multitude of ways and the flavorful combinations always are intriguing. Flavorful soups abound.  Dishes of chicken, fish and steak prepared to perfection with garlic, cilantro, pepper and more are simply delightful.
Lets take a tour of Peru and check out their amazing agriculture.  The first stop is an agricultural research area created by the Incas about five hundred years ago. Each terraced area represents a different altitude.  Peru goes from sea level in Lima, the capital all the way up 14 thousand feet at Lake Titicaca.  Their research enabled farmers to learn what crops thrive at each elevation.  
They grow over four thousand kinds of potatoes and over two thousand kinds of corn!  Many colorful variations exist.  
After corn is harvested it is not preserved by canning or freezing like here.  It is more often dried and bagged.  
Bags of potatoes at a local market show the tremendous diversity of colors, shapes and sizes available. 
Amazing gigantic breads are a specialty of certain towns. 
Chef and restaurateur Gaston Acurio of Peru has over forty restaurants worldwide.  I will have to try one out, since there are two in Miami. 

 Peru is an amazing country rich in history, culture, beautiful countryside and wonderful people.

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Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Tasty Tomatoes and recipes

Out of all the vegetables we can grow, for most of us tomatoes rank high of the top five favorites.  It is peak tomato picking now in South Florida.  With temperatures reaching the mid to high 80's and the heat index in the 90's the tomato plants are showing signs of fatigue.  Mid day wilting requires watering both morning and evening to my potted plants.  As the plants mature, their leaves are turning yellow and brown at an alarming rate.  I pick bowls of both cherry and plum tomatoes every other day.  Their red ripe color contrasts with the leaves.  There are fewer and fewer green ones left on the plants.


I grow my tomatoes in large containers in full sun.  I never spay my veggies with any pesticides, fungicides, herbicides, nematicides or any other harmful chemicals.  I do use commercial fertilizers, a gentle one you add to water.  I buy composted manure and add it to my own compost and I mulch the pots.  I buy eucalyptus mulch which keeps pests at bay.  I always grow heirloom everglades tomatoes from seed.  I also supplement with various varieties I purchase at garden centers.  Here are some quick videos on how to grow tomatoes.



Quick and easy tomato recipes

Veggie omelette 
I love to saute onions, garlic and cherry tomatoes cut in half in a pan, and then sprinkle a dash of salt and pepper, some oregano.  Add beaten eggs and either scramble or make an omelette.  You will have a feast of a meal.



Summer pasta sauce
Make a summer sauce for pasta by cutting up plum and cherry tomatoes and add to a bowl.  Add fresh garlic, a few teaspoons of olive oil, a dash of salt, pepper and a hand full of chopping fresh basil leaves.  Let marinate on the counter a few hours.  Later boil pasta of your choice and serve with your sauce.  Delicious.



Israeli Middle Eastern Salad
Chop up cherry tomatoes into fine cubes.  Chop up green peppers in fine cubes. Chop up cucumber in fine cubes.  Add all together and add a dash of salt and pepper.  Marinate  with vinegar.  Serve cold.  Delicious dish traditionally eaten for breakfast in Israel.  You may serve as a condiment for a sandwich or as a side dish instead of cole slaw.


Enjoy your veggies right out of the garden as well.  Nothing tastes as fresh or delicious.

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Friday, March 13, 2015

Spring forward with new plants for your garden

Spring in South Florida is just around the corner and it is prime planting time for shrubs, trees, groundcovers and perennials.  Why is this the case?  Planting in the fall and winter is our dry season.  If you get ambitious during the weekend with a major landscape overhaul and then have a super busy work week and forget to give a deep hand water to your plants, you may be in trouble.  A few days of super hot and or windy weather could dry out the root ball of the plants and they may die.  Sprinklers never provide a deep enough soaking to newly planted material.   Ever try to revive a severely wilted plant?  It is hit or miss, especially for young plants that are not established in your garden.  A great resource for plants to utilize for your area is Monrovia Nursery.  Just plug in your zip code and the best plants for your area will pop up plus when you scroll down it will list the closest nurseries to buy the plants!  <img src="http://ooh.li/1c8a4ef" />

That is why spring and summer are best for major plantings.  We get daily afternoon showers that cool us off as well as our gardens.  The showers compliment our hose waterings of newly planted gardens.  Try to choose plants that will provide food for wildlife.  Certain flowers attract butterflies, some plants produce berries for birds, and dense shrubs provide protection and shade for critters.  Pick waterwise plants for an easy to maintain garden.

I enjoy beautiful easy Lantana for a burst of year round color.  Lantana thrives in the brutal hot summer Florida heat, and are great for our bees and butterflies.   I love the color combination of milkweed and Lantana, so will plant these together in my butterfly garden.

Another favorite are the Kalanchoes.  Their deep vibrant colorful flowers last for weeks and if you nurture them they will come back next year.  My Kale is nearing the end of the season, and as I remove the lower leaves for cooking, the plant is looking leggy.  Planting the Kalanchoes underneath provides vibrant color to my potted vegetable garden.  http://ooh.li/1c8a4ef



Thank you Monrovia for providing the plants for this story!  I remember first learning about Monrovia during college horticulture classes.  Their use of cutting edge scientific research, newest technology, and top quality growing conditions exemplifies why their plants grow so well in your garden.  Many garden centers such as Living Color, Perfect Choice and Lowes carry Monrovia Plants.

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Sunday, February 22, 2015

Secrets of growing amazing orchids

I have attended many orchid classes and orchid over the years.  I have purchased many orchids in as many years and many have died.  As a hobby orchid grower with marginal results for many years. I would like to share with you a success story.


For every expert orchid grower, there is another technique they recommend. Water with ice cubes, water only in the morning, spray the leaves, fertilize with epsom salts, fertilize with orchid food only, fertilize with only liquid, powder, granules, etc.  Some homeowners get amazing results by hanging their orchids in trees and forgetting about them.  Others put them on a strictly times regimen.     Lighting is another confusing variable.  Too little light and the orchids do not grow or flower.  Too much light and they get burned and or dry out and die.  Its confusing.


After reading up I discovered my vandas needed the most light, and mine get some early morning and late afternoon direct sun, with filtered sun mid day. Next come the oncidiums.  The dendrobiums and cattleyas require a bit less light.  The easiest to flower and to take care of are phalaenopsis orchids, which require the least light.  


In terms of feeding, I have the best results with regular weekly dilute feedings, or at least feeding most waterings.  I try to water once or twice a week in the winter since its the dry season.  During this time I only feed once a week.  In the summer when its the wet season water only once and feed only once.  


This last photo is from an orchid show, not my mine.  So beautiful!  Here is a video I did about the orchids.  




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