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.