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.