Wednesday, June 30, 2010

the recycled garden - plant a toilet

Most of the plants in our garden are in terracotta pots.  Potted plants can be moved around until they find their happy place.  We're still working on making planting beds which is a lot of work in this sandy Florida soil.  It's much easier to find a pot, fill it with medium and put the plant in it.  I used to mix my own planting mix using top soil, manure, some peat moss soaked in water and vermiculite, but now I'm lazy and just buy bagged potting mix for all but the orchids.

My handy husband, Wayne, is a yard sale meyven and has, more than once, found a bonanza of clay pots at a sale.  We have them cleaned and stacked in a shed and under the orchid tables waiting for just the right plant. Recently, our favorite family run nursery, Duncheon's, ran a "buy one get one free" sale. Wayne went there every weekend for the month of the sale and picked up at least two beautiful pots each time, mostly glazed in cobalt blue, my favorite color.  Here are some of the yard sale finds waiting under the orchid table...
From Garden
When clay pots break, fix them. You can Frankenstein them with a drill and some wire. Wayne fixed a bunch more cracked pots and experimented with copper and steel wire twisted together. Copper wire alone was too soft, but twisted with steel, was aesthetically pleasing and strong enough to hold.
From Garden
From Garden
From Garden
We put butterfly attracting annuals in the cut off bottom of an old compressor tank.
From Garden
Just about anything you once used in your house to hold something can be used in your garden to hold a plant...colanders, those 3 tier wire hanging things that you put your onions or bread in, fire place grates, cans, teapots, bathroom fixtures. Great examples of this can be found in Garden Decoration from Junk by Leeann Mackenzie. My neighbor, Melinda, has herbs planted in an old bathtub in her backyard. And what exactly do you do with the circa 1969 turquoise toilet you had to replace with a white low-flow model, because they don't make them in turquoise? Put it in the garden and plant flame ginger in it. I'm still thinking about what I want to plant in the top part of it. It has to be something that likes shade and will cascade over the sides. I'll put cans in the bottom of the tank, so it won't take so much soil to fill it. Caliope gives the toilet her seal of approval.
From Garden
I mentioned in a previous post the cool chiminea we saved from a neighbor's trash. It holds a candle and has an orchid on top. It's a nice place to display any of our orchids currently in bloom.
From Garden

wednesday blooms

It's raining. It's a wet, humid, drippy, gray day. But the garden loves it. Here are a few orchids blooming now. First is a Paph. St. Low x Paph. haynaldianum. It's a slipper orchid with 4 blooms on one stalk. Then the fantastic Bulb. Marv Ragan, the lip of which is on a tiny hinge so that it rocks in the slightest breeze in order to attract a pollinator. Third, Den. Coernlea Blue.
From orchids
From orchids
From orchids

Friday, June 18, 2010

furlough friday

We have five furlough days this fiscal year. Next year, the library will not have furlough days. It's good to know people believe the library is important enough to complain and make the county commissioners keep us open. I'm spending my unpaid holiday learning to use imovie.

I've used Movie Maker previously. iMovie is far superior. Apple has fantastic tutorials on their website. I made a short movie using clips of the cats in our life. Then I brought my imac flowers. I love you, imac. Now I'm working on a movie using some of the bazillion clips I have of our grandson, Krue.
From Blogger Pictures
From Blogger Pictures

Thursday, June 17, 2010

the recycled garden - rocks, stones, and bricks

When we bought our house in 1992, the yard was a wasteland.  Literally.  It was awful.  If it hadn't been for the great neighborhood, and the big family room with 2 sets of french doors, a fireplace and a 1953 Brunswick regulation pool table that came with the place, we would have passed.  The yard needed a lot of work.  There were no plants except for several large oak trees and a camphor tree in the front.  There was no grass, just sandy dirt and a big burn pile in the back.

One of the first things we wanted to do was create beds.  A dear neighbor gave us a whole pallet of bricks.  She and her soon-to-be-ex had purchased them, but didn't use them before they had to divide property and sell their house. Pam just wanted them out of her yard.  We dug trenches and laid the bricks to edge beds, setting the tops level with the ground so that mowing would be easy.
From Garden
Thank you, Pam, for the bricks. Neighbors Bob and Donna had a stone waterfall feature built onto their pool and had leftover stone. We bought their leftovers and used them to enhance our koi pond. Aaron and Denise built a terrace and had a bunch of pieces of pink brick leftover.  These were cut bricks with all different sizes and shapes and they were going to be discarded, but Wayne had an idea.  He took all of the pieces and made some "mosaics" with them.  
From Garden



From Garden



From Garden



From Garden



From Garden
We're on the lookout for more free hardscape.  Every trip we take, I bring back rocks.  On a plane back from visiting our son, David, I had a bunch of rocks from the desert in Las Vegas in my bag.  Checking it in, the airline desk clerk asked me, "what do you have in there, rocks?"  "Yes, rocks."  Now, my answer might have delayed our leaving Las Vegas and had me go through the dreaded detailed security check, or not...I don't see rocks on the prohibited list.  

Eventually, we want to whittle down the lawn space and have less grass to mow.  The lawn actually looks pretty good right now.  The rainy season is just beginning.  We never use chemical weed control or fertilizer on our lawn.  There are cypress swamps and lakes and ponds to think about around us, and we don't want that crap running off into those delicate ecosystems.  

I'm constantly bringing gardening books home from our library.  Here is a list of books that inspire us, and in Andy Goldsworthy's case, awe us (not strictly gardening, but definitely artistic inspiration). 

The art and craft of stonescaping: setting and stacking stone by David Reed.
Garden stone: creative ideas and practical projects, and inspiration for purely decorative uses by Barbara Pleasant.
Infinite spaces: the art and wisdom of the Japanese garden based on the Sakuteiki by Tachibana no Toshitsuna.
Natural stonescapes: the art and craft of stone placement by Richard Dube and Frederick Campbell.
Stone, rock & gravel gardens by Kathryn Bradley-Hole (gotta love that name).
and my favorite nature artist:
Wood, and also Stone by Andy Goldsworthy (his work is amazing).

If you have a great idea for using recycled rocks and stones in your garden, I'd love to see them!

Sunday, June 13, 2010

sunday blooms

This afternoon, Wayne and I headed out to the USF Botanical Gardens for the last few hours of the annual Butterfly and Herb Fair. We scored a six pack of assorted flowering butterfly plants to fill a planter Wayne made out of the bottom of an old compressor tank. We found a Tibouchina to replace the one we lost in the freeze, and an amorphophallus bulbifer. Since the voodoo lily bloom, I've wanted more of these. This one will eventually have a jack-in-the-pulpit type bloom.

After the hot and sweaty work of planting our finds, we sat on the patio with a cold beverage to enjoy the view.  Here are a few pictures of what's blooming now.  Clicking on them will give you descriptions and bigger pictures.

From orchids
From orchids
From orchids
From orchids

Saturday, June 12, 2010

bugged

Florida is heaven for bug lovers. I do not love bugs. I like some of them. I like the ones I've recently found outside my house. I do not like bugs inside my house.

With the exception of the praying mantis, I do not know what these are. I tried sending a picture of the big yellow/brown moth to What's That Bug? but my photo failed to upload. Maybe I'll try again, unless someone can comment and tell me what it is.  It's about 4 inches wide across the wings. The little green moth, or is it a butterfly? on the white phal just came out of a tiny cocoon, also in the picture.

The praying mantises are, I think, mating. I call this picture "doomed" because sexual cannibalism is common with mantises. According to Wikipedia, "The female may start feeding by biting off the male’s head (as with any prey), and if mating had begun, the male’s movements may become even more vigorous in its delivery of sperm". Yikes.

From Garden


From Garden


From Garden

Monday, June 7, 2010

the recycled garden - mirror, mirror

Almost everything in our garden is junk.  Junk is good.  Junk is mostly free or very cheap.  Throw nothing away.  It can almost always be used for something else.  Our kitchen scraps become compost to feed the plants, banana peels are tossed into the hanging stag horn ferns.  We use water from a rain barrel.  We are not too proud to pick up neighbors trash.  Well, I'm a little shy about that, but I'll tell Wayne about the clay chiminea a neighbor has sitting out for trash collection and he trucks right down there to ask her if he can have it.  It had a chip out of the top.  It's just amazing what people will toss. We put the little chiminea out on the patio with an orchid sitting on top and a candle inside.  Someone else's discarded baker's rack is now a plant stand.  Orchids sit on an old chair.

I've found lots of great ideas in Garden Decoration from Junk by Leeann MacKenzie.  One idea we've put to use is to hang old mirrors Wayne's always bringing home from yard sales on our stockade fence.  They create an illusion of more space and allow us to see our garden from a different perspective.  Sometimes the mirrors look like a window into another space entirely. We've aimed one so that we can see from the patio who's coming around the other side of the house and be prepared with a friendly greeting or a baseball bat.
From Garden
From Garden
From Garden