the weather at the beginning of the week was less than perfect with gloomy, grey skies and abnormally higher winds for three days due to TS (now hurricane) Noel hanging around off the coast of miami. but as it turned out - the weather was quite manageable for working outdoors.
today is another story. it is picture perfect here in this beautiful state. crystal clear blue skies, no humidity (which is so rare) with slight movement in the air. truly heavenly all morning. tomorrow is predicted to be the kind of day that brings the tourists here by the droves this time of year.
so... you might be wondering 'what in the world have i managed to do in so many hours'? way too much to explain- and besides much of it was the fall clean-up kind of stuff that isn't real exciting for the onlooker. but i will share some highlights of some of my progress.
i pulled this photo out of my 'june folder' just so you could see the pile of debris in the back left corner. that pile is one of those 'uglies' we gardeners don't like to include in our photos. it is a pile i have wanted to move all summer but made much more out of the task in my mind than it actually turned out to be. you know the kind where you have figured out how difficult it will be and how long it will take and how hot you will be while doing it. so my excuse to myself was that i was waiting for cooler weather. truthfully what motivated me even more to go ahead and get it done this week was purchasing the two fire bush plants that needed that very corner to be their new home.
with pitchfork in hand and my trusty wheelbarrow it took me about 6 loads to remove the pile. one of my other excuses for procrastinating was that i was sure there had to be some snakes living in that perfect habitat. sure enough as i was heaving one of the last loads i caught the underside of a snake out of the corner of my eye.
turns out there were two - both about this size and both some sort of rat snake i think. i guess they are happily under some brush near my compost pile now but they gave me a startle because they blended so well with sticks and leaves. while we are discussing snakes, the very next day there was a small (water?) snake in the pool skimmer. another two inches and i would have been face to face with that one. i let out a scream when i realized i was poking my head in the skimmer hole looking right past the snake that was curled up along the edge of the hole. i don't think it could hurt me, but i don't really ever want my face to be that close to any snake.
on to the pretty stuff. it is a daunting task to imagine replacing the hundreds of caladiums that grace my garden with so many colors and forms in the summer time. so each fall i do things a little differently. everything i plant at this time of year is taking the risk of frost and freeze damage. it doesn't happen often but still... it is a risk. with that in mind, i decided to put annuals in focal places and wait for spring to plant more of an abundance of annuals and perennials.
i chose these coleus for their vibrant garnet and green (goldish) variation. there were 30 of these i planted in two of the front beds. my hope is they will bush out for a bright display of color mixed in with the foundational plants of xanadu, variegated liriope, marble leaf and some volunteer impatiens.
pink impatiens were not my first choice for the largest curving front bed. but after ten days of shopping around and not being able to find my preference of white impatiens and red salvia ... i re-designed my ideas and put a combination of 48 plants including these and variegated pink new guinea impatiens right behind a row of variegated liriope along the front border.
what drew me to these new guinea impatiens is the deep, rich magenta tones of the foliage. the foliage is as striking to me as the two-toned flowers. turns out they make a very nice contrast and blend all at the same time with the lighter impatiens.
i still haven't gotten around to removing that dead grass i killed a while back... not looking forward to it but i am looking forward to the plants i've already purchased to put there. hopefully tomorrow morning...