Thursday, October 21, 2010

Edible Gardens made easy: 11th Street Annex Restaurant

Just a tad south of the hustle and bustle of downtown Fort Lauderdale off Andrews Avenue there is a gem of a restaurant with a fantastic edible garden. This hidden gem is called Church Side 11th Street Annex, located next to Trinity Church and Trinity Churchside Garden.
When Jonny Altobell and Penny Sanfilppo created their restaurant 11th street annex, one requirement of their front entryway garden was that they wanted something special. “Everything to be medicinal, edible or smell good.” According to Penny. Luckily, her boyfriend happens to be the noted BCC plant guru, and nursery owner David McLean.

There are many very interesting unusual trees in the garden. There is large tree called the strawberry tree, which hails from SE Asia. There is a cinnamon tree. The cinnamon comes from the bark. There is a mulberry tree, a line berry tree and a mango tree. A large bay rum tree and lime berry tree rise up within the garden.

Naturally there are plenty of fresh grown herbs. There are some unusual plants also, notably the Chinese Fisheye Jasmine. There is a tree called lolate, in the piper family. The leaves are similar to grape leaves and they can be stuffed and eaten.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Amazing Secret Gardens of south Florida # 7

Located off Fort Lauderdale beach, Richard’s secret garden has a unique tropical charm. The entryway offers visitors the opportunity to sit on a swing and watch the world go by. The front yard has just enough grass to keep the dogs happy, and it’s the only grassy area on the property.
The side yard has a lush tropical atmosphere with flowering hibiscus, gardenias, night blooming jasmine and more lining the edge of the property line. Hanging potted plants are decorating the slide walls of the house. This is a nice area for entertaining since the hot tub and BBQ grill are here as well. Turn the corner and here is an amazing surprise.The back garden’s main feature is a beautiful pool, with a water fall. A palm curves out and over the pool and the lush tropical garden wraps its way around the back yard giving privacy. There are palms, flowering bromeliads and a multitude of orchids hanging from the house.
There are unusual art works throughout the property as well as some garden whimsy here and there. An alligator rests at the edge of the pool. A set of lions frames the front of the property. A large wood sculptured table holds a bonsai collection.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Fabulous tropical palms

What makes south Florida unique in the United States is the amazing assortment of palms we are able to grow here due to our unique climate. At Fairchild Tropical Botanic Gardens in Miami, they have collected over 700 species from all over the tropics that grow here as well.

There are about 10 or so native palms from Florida. Our state palm tree is the Sable palmetto, or cabbage palm. In order for officials to pick a state tree, it had to be able to grow throughout the various temperature growing zones. North Florida is practical Georgia, so the climate is much cooler. Here in the south we can grow cold sensitive palms that would freeze there.

In certain cultures, palms are dominant as a food source, housing, fiber, oil and many other uses. Here we see the fronds utilized for the roofs of tiki huts. Street vendors sell ice cold coconuts on street corners with sipping straws for cool summer refreshment.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Collectable caladiums, superstar plants for your garden

Caladiums are grown for their colorful elephant shaped leaves. The plants are started from bulbs. Now is the time to add them to your garden. Caladiums thrive during sweltering South Florida heat and provide a great colorful tropical look to your patio or garden.

Wholesale growers plant the bulbs in the winter. The caladiums are ready for sale by early summer. Landscapers often switch out the heat sensitive impatiens, petunias and pansies for the heat tolerant caladiums. Visit your garden center for a bountiful selection.
Caladiums are easy to grow and can be placed in partial shade to full sun. They can be transplanted to the ground or into larger size pots. Do not keep them in the containers they came in. The roots will soon become pot bound. The pot will not hold water well and the plant will decline.
When repotting the caladiums make sure you untangle the root ball. Do not tear off the roots; just loosen them so they can grow out into the larger container or ground. If you leave the roots all cramped the plant will not grow as well.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Going bananas!

Going bananas
South Floridians love bananas and there are many to grow here. There are ice cream bananas, red banana, finger bananas finger banansas and more. In fact, there even is a nursery called Going Bananas located in Homestead, Florida. Homestead is in southwest Miami.
Katie Chafin is co owner of Going bananas. When asked which her favorite banana was, she replied “Whatever is ripe!” With over ninety two different varieties to choose from, it is understandable why one would never tire of them.
Here in South Florida, many people without gardens get their bananas mostly in the supermarket like everyone else does elsewhere in the country. We buy the same ones imported by the big name producers located in Central American and the Caribbean Islands.
Many back yard gardeners also grow their own bananas. They are best started by shoots from the mother plant, divided up by digging the new shoots. If you have a friend with a banana you can get suckers from them, or buy plants from a local nursery. Backyard growers like to try varieties not found in stores.
The top sellers according to Katie:
• Gold finger- is a disease resistant large variety. This hybrid was created in Honduras.
• Nam wa- originated in Southeast Asia and has a delicious pineapple banana flavor.
• Raja puri – has a superb flavor but warns Katie, “You need to feed it like a teenage boy, you can’t feed it enough.” This Indian variety requires heavy feeding for the plant to thrive.
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Saturday, July 31, 2010

Fairchild gardens mango festival a great success

The record breaking heat would not keep hundreds of cars lined up before opening early Saturday morning. By mid day, thousands of people were piled into the normally serene Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden. The quiet as a library environment instead was alive with sitars and tablas playing, babies and mothers giggling with delight tasting the mango ice cream.

India was the theme of this year’s mango festival and the air was filled with the aroma of mango curry. Bollywood dancers performed. Yoga classes were taught for children and adult. Vendors were aplenty, featuring mango this, mango that. Rare spices were featured as well as rare teas.

Free samples of Mango salsa, mango cake, and mango creampuffs were offered. Local bakers such as Joanna's Marketplace local chefs like Chef Allen were there signing books and handing out salsa. Local soap maker had mango soap, along with plenty of others. Macy’s handed out mango cannolis while promoting their catering service. A pie maker from Georgia offered samples of delicious mango pie.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Secret gardens revealed # 1

Nestled among charming homes in the Bell Mead neighborhood, Steve Hagen’s garden is unique. There is not a blade of grass. “Why grow and mow grass, when you can smell the roses! Not that I have roses, but most plants, bushes and trees store much more carbon than any blade of grass.”

When walking down the sidewalk, most of the other neighbors have grass and neatly boxed high maintenance cut shrubs. Steve has a wonderful tropical English style garden. Shrubs, trees and grownd covers converge and produce an amazing symphony of color texture and depth.

There are plenty of native trees and shrubs, mixed in with colorful flowering shrubs and palms. The meandering pathway to the front door leads us to a covered sitting area with inviting chairs
The backyard is a tropical paradise. There is a large fruiting mango tree, vines flowing up the palms and a wide assortment of shrubs and groundcovers as well. A stepping stone pathway meanders through the garden with a small wading pool off center acting as the focal point.

There is no sprinkler system in this lush paradise; the plants have to make it on their own. Steve hand waters when he has to on occasion. Many of the plants came as cuttings and samples from friends' gardens. Steve is the past chair of the Parks and Public Space Committee of Miami Neighborhoods United.

He is living proof of the magic that can be accomplished with a small amount of space without spending a king’s ransom. (Politicians take note.)

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Best summer flowers to plant in the garden or patio

The summer heat is frying the delicate winter annual flowers such as impatiens, petunias and pansies. With much tender loving care, you may be able to cut back your impatiens, relocate them to deep shade, and keep them alive over the summer.

Several summer favorite flowers to plant now are colorful and can live up to the challenges of the heat. Perslane and portulaca both do well this time of year. Often confused, the perslane has the larger, flatter leaves. The portulaca has the rounder, cylindrical leaves. Both flowers close up at night and open mid morning.

Pentas do well year round and are always a welcome addition to any garden. The red and pink varieties attract the most butterflies, followed by the white and purple. The red and light pink grow the tallest. The purple stays the shortest. They can last for a few years and are considered perennials.

Caladiums are grown in the summer for their showy colorful leaves. There are a multitude of variations in color. However, the nurseries only stock a few of them. They proudly show off their leaves until the autumn, when they start to decline. Do not throw them out, the bulbs revive again in late winter.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Ultimate Green Father’s Day gifts

Father’s day should be different this year. We really feel helpless with the oil spill in the gulf. Fathers traditionally are the providers, the head of the household and all that goes with it. Dads are Mr. Fix it. We want to do something to fix the gulf but feel it’s too far away and too deep down in the ocean to help.

Fathers can control their kingdom, their garden. They can mow, prune, fertilize and water. A great father’s day gift this year is to go green. Plants that is. Give Dad a tree to plant. Give Dad plants to start a butterfly, vegetable or herb garden. This gift for Dad will be appreciated by the whole family and everyone will benefit.

Dad can proudly say to his neighbor, “Look at this wonderful oak tree (fill in the tree name) my family bought me this 20 years ago and looks how big it has grown.” Can Dad say to a neighbor, look at my wonderful underwear my family bought me! Not in this lifetime. Forget about those old tired gifts of underwear, slippers and ties.

We are lucky to have some wonderful choices locally to buy Dad a special plant or empower Dad with a gift certificate to one of the following nurseries in the tri county area:

Meadow Beauty Nursery: Specializes in Florida native trees, shrubs and wildflowers. Note, the nursery is opened to the public on Saturday’s only. An amazing place to see loads of butterflies and see how the potted plants will look years from now: the nursery is nestled alongside their personal garden. Owners: Donna Leone and Carl Terwilliger
5782 Ranches Road.
Lake Worth, FL 33463
(561) 969-9250

Living Color Nursery: A wonderful nursery that also has a vast selection of pottery, garden statuary, wind chimes, stepping stones and so much more. Owner Mark Herndon
3691 Griffin Road
Fort Lauderdale, FL 33312
(954) 985-8787

Casey’s Corner Nursery: A wide variety of unusual plants including palms, trees, shrubs and natives along with Susan, a wonderful woman who knows her plants! Owner: Susan Casey
31877 S.W. 197th Avenue
Homestead, FL 33030
(305) 248-7284

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Royal Poinciana Blooms Amazing This Year

A special treat greets those visiting South Florida this time of year, the Royal Poinciana tree. Due to the coldest winter in years, scientists say that is the best bloom in decades. The brilliant red blooms of this tree are so spectacular, it’s also known in some Latin American countries as the Flamboyant tree.
Originally from Madagascar, how it got to south Florida remains a mystery. David Fairchild, the famous plant explorer who has a garden named after him in Miami planted one in 1917. Early settlers of the areas used to plant the trees to cool their homes in the summer months with their shade. Since they are deciduous, by winter time the tree canopy is bare, so the house gets warm from the sun. The trees look like they are straight out of a Dr. Seuss book. They have a large stout trunk and an enormous canopy that is often shaped like an umbrella. The leaves are fine and compound. The tree is in the Leguminosae family and has relatives such as the Tamarind and Mimosa trees. The seed pods are mature to a dark long 12-18 inches and when shaken sound like a maraca.

So important is the tree to Miami that in 1937 the mayor declared a special day to be Royal Poinciana Day. In 1938 they started a Fiesta and had concerts and our poet laureate of Florida Larimore Raider wrote a special poem dedicated to the tree called Peacock Proud. Every year a Royal Poinciana Queen is appointed. There are special events and tours of the most beautify trees.
The popularity of the Royal Poinciana is exemplified by the numerous local landmarks named after it, notably schools, streets, shopping centers and developments. On the FIGI Islands, the trees bloom in the winter. They call it their Christmas tree. It also grows in central and South American as well as Hawaii.

The trees need a lot of room to spread out so keep that in mind when planting. It is suggested to plant thirty feet away from the house. They can be seen along roadsides, in older neighborhoods as well as in parks, schoolyards and botanical gardens.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

If April Showers Bring May Flowers, What Do The May Flowers Bring? Pilgrims!

Let’s check what is blooming now in the garden. The wonderful Tabebuias, both in pink and yellow are making a wonderful show of their trumpet shaped blooms. Up north the forsythia starts off spring like a lion, and here in South Florida the Tabebuias bring us wonderful color as well. The wonderful bougainvilleas are giving us bountiful blooms, see below.

Although bougainvillea blooms off and on most of the year, this time of year their colors blend nicely with the other blooming plants. Vines are also starting to pop with color, including the popular bleeding heart.

The record heat wave of late is causing the potted plants to dry out more quickly. The pansies have already withered away. The petunias and impatiens are struggling while the caladiums are gorgeous as well as the crossandra. The tomatoes are still producing although the greenery is dying off. This is our end of the vegetable season except for the hearty collards, okra, peppers and the like. The heat and humidity are here, the snowbirds (tourists) are gone. When late fall arrives, the cool weather returns along with the snowbirds.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Lets Have a Spring Fling!

Happy spring! Enjoy those crocus, tulips, hyacinths, and daffodils popping up with vibrant bursts of color. Here in South Florida we only see them in the supermarkets as potted plants for Easter!
Having grown up in New Jersey I really miss the wonders of the changing seasons, especially spring. Luckily I have some wonderful photos, but it’s so much better to see the evolution from winter to spring in person. It’s like a butterfly metamorphosis, in that winter is the chrysalis and spring is the butterfly. Here in South Florida we have a subtle change. Instead of the vibrant yellow forsythia bushes, we have the brilliant yellow tabebuia trees blooming. Although we do not have the gorgeous vast array of flowering bulbs, we have the amaryllis coming up soon and the native agapanthus in the summer. Lilacs do not bloom here either, but we will have the pretty crape myrtles later this summer. We do have the flowering silk floss tree that will be putting out a display soon as well. Enjoy your Easer and Passover, and let’s be thankful for whatever we have.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Shamrocks Going WIld!

Shamrocks grow wild in the South Florida gardens and there are a couple of varieties popping up in my garden right in time for St. Patrick's Day. In Ireland, fresh shamrocks are worn and sent to loved ones. The formal name or Latin name is Oxalis. The flowers are beautiful. The smaller leaved shamrocks have yellow flowers and the larger leaved shamrocks have purple flowers. The following gardening site is a wonderful resource direct from Ireland!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

St.Patrick's Day: The Ultimate Green Holiday

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St. Patrick’s Day is a gardener’s dream holiday; they do not call Ireland the emerald Isle for no reason. The country is greener then the usual green we see in the United States. Its rich earth provides an abundance of root crops such as potatoes, turnips, parsnips and carrots. The above ground crop of cabbage is king. Carrageen, edible seaweed is made into a jelly. Irish stew is made with mutton, onions, potatoes, parsley and thyme.

Now the shamrock! St Patty originally was born in Roman Briton. He came to Ireland and brought Christianity with him, creating schools and churches. He used the three leaf clover to demonstrate the holy trinity. Have you ever found a four leaf clover? As children my friends and I would spend hours looking for them. One time I did! It was so exciting. I kept it in-between two pieces of paper. After several years, it disintegrated! Wish I knew about contact paper then.

Now for the nature craft, it’s fun and easy. All you need is some clear contact paper, scissors, ribbon or wool, a whole puncher, and clover. Normally it is good to press a leaf or flower in a book or leaf press first for a week. This takes the moisture out. Due to time constraints, this year it’s not possible. . Laminate the clover in the contact paper. You can use this to create a necklace, luggage tag or book mark.

Sing some Irish songs, dance and have fun!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Secrets to Grow Great Roses

Last weekend I had the privilege of touring Jeff Chait's amazing garden that included six hundred rose bushes. This was organized through the Tropical Rose Society of Miami. Growing roses anywhere can be a challenge. Growing roses in South Florida for many is even difficult. The poor soils, the wet/dry season, the heat, the lack of a dormancy period all combine to make it very challenging.
Jeff is a consulting Rosarian and a rose show judge. He explained all the fertilizers needed, fungicides, insecticides required to grow roses successfully. For hybrid roses it is good to use Fotuniana or Dr Huey rootstock. Jeff suggested a 7/4/5/ acid fertilizer to be purchased at J & M in Homestead. Neem oil can be used for insects but not in summer. Jeff even gave out cuttings of certain roses that that do not need special rootstock. These roses are sometimes called heirloom or old fashioned roses. Thank you Jeff for a wonderful day.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

How to Create Romantic Chocolate Roses: A Special Valentine’s Day Treat That Keeps on Giving

This is a wonderful creative nature craft. A chocolate rose keep sake is a gift that keeps on giving after the Valentine’s Day holiday is over. Place this eternal beauty in a bud vase for your viewing pleasure.

Supplies Needed:
Chocolate Kisses
Silk wired leaves
Floral tape
Floral wire
Gold pipe cleaners
Red plastic wrap
Clear tape.

Pull out four inches of wrap, cut in half so you have about a four by four square. Place two kisses flat end back to back to make the rosebud. Pull and cover the bud with the wrap. Tape up any loose ends. Cut floral wire into six inch length stems. Push end of wire into chocolate rose bud until it can not go in any further. Make a slight cure in the wire leaves. Place one leaf near rosebud and wrap the thin rose wire down the wire rose stem. Take the second leaf and place it an inch below the first leaf on the opposite side. Wrap the wire around the stem. Cut off about eight inches of floral tape. Starting at the top, cover the wires and stem with floral tape. Starting from the top of the stem, wrap the gold pipe cleaner around the rose stem.
This rose never needs watering, and will never die! Enjoy and happy holiday!

Monday, February 1, 2010

Follow These Easy Steps To Formulate A Garden Club

There was a need in our community for a garden club. People had many plant questions and needed information and some motivation on how to get their gardens in tip top shape. I posted a message on the facebook page of our association. See the post below. Just pick out a topic, you can teach it or have a guest speaker, someone who is a garden guru. We will meet at a different homeowner's garden each month. Refreshments are served. (Everyone loves a snack!) Give yourself about 20 minutes for a garden tour, 20 minutes for the lecture topic and 15 or so minutes to eat. Then give out cuttings from the garden or small seedlings you started. At some meetings they have plant raffles or everyone brings in plants, they sell tickets (.50 cents a piece) to defray costs of the meeting; (Mailings, handouts and refreshments.) To keep costs down each person can bring refreshment and use the internet instead of mailing. You can get people from your church or synagogue, PTA, gym, or people from work to start a garden club.

Example of Announcement:

Poinsettia Heights Garden Club
Sunday, January 31, 2010 - 10:00am - 11:00am
Attention all green thumbs we are starting a brand new club called the Poinsettia Heights Garden Club. We will meet on the last Sunday of the month at 10:00 am starting this January 31st. This is for beginners or experienced gardeners. Each month we will meet at one of our neighbor’s gardens. A new and exciting topic will be presented. Be prepared to learn a lot, take home cuttings to grow plants,and make new friendships. Refreshments served.
We will have the first meeting at: Your house, address and telephone number to RSVP

Have fun with it and let me know how it goes!

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Basil Art Show: Inspirations From the Garden

Extacy Almond Blosom by Mustata Hulugi at gallery Gavlak TR Beyoglum in Istanbul.

Trees have been created in a multitude of ways such as on canvas, carvings, bronze. Here is another representation. Check out these neon leaves. This really takes you by suprise as you approach from afar. Mennour, Paris.

Mobiles are back in a big way at the fair, here is a representation. This garden scene appears to be pouring out of the paint can!

Gardens Inspire Artists At Basil Art Fair

This mobile was amazing, with these detailed moss balls floating down. Each small "world" had beautiful layers of different kinds of moss.

Artist Ruud Van Enpel Stux Gallery, NYC.
The most important contemporary art fair in the United States was held in Miami Beach. As usual the art was amazing. There was a vast array of galleries representing artists from all over the world.
Artists throughout time have chosen to express their creativity through their experiences with plants, flowers and landscapes. The following art is a very small representation of the dozens of artists to choose from.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Go Green with Homeland Security

Homeland security begins at your home. How secure is your property from being burglarized? How can you safeguard your house and be green at the same time? Often security professionals tell us to keep visibility high around the house. This may be practical for a security perspective but,ugly to an avid gardener. A great way to keep burglars away from your windows it to plant horrible thorny plants. A drugged out burglar wanting some cash for his next fix is less likely to mess with getting all bloody trying to break a window with a cactus plant blocking easy access. Thorny roses are also effective as well as the bougainvillea vine. With one inch thorns, these cause a lot of unwanted pain Certain palms are notorious for their massive thorns, such as the ubiquitous pygmy date palm, or Phoenix robeillini. A cactus in a large clay pot is an effective deterrent against crime as well. I call these green security guards. Be well and be safe.