Welcome to my Central Florida Garden Blog where we garden combining Florida natives, Florida-Friendly plants, and tropicals.
Sunday, September 25, 2011
Florida Gardening:: A Seasonal Re-Cap
It's the time of year when it seems Florida either has loads of rain or none at all. Our plants already have to adapt to sandy soil, sweltering temperatures, and unbearably high humidity. By this time, they've recovered fully from winter's random freezes, waited patiently (with help from irrigation) through our dry season (which is oddly during spring), and summer rains have kept them nourished in plenty. Plants and humans alike breathe a sigh of relief once the atmosphere is right for the 'hit and miss' pattern of rains to get started.
We learn to choose plants sutiable for our summer heat and humidity because we know at the outset they have to endure a long period of these tough conditions. Right plant, right place is a Florida-Friendly principle to practice for the greatest success rate in any Florida garden.
All the summer rain means the plants we chose to survive sunny, dry conditions (Mexican sage, bulbine, beach sunflower, sedum gold, achillea to name a few) can become very unhappy with days-on-end of rain. Other plants can suffer from the onset of fungus and disease with so much moisture.
Gardeners are well aware our fall season is likely to feel and act just-like-summer with the added factor of hurricane season in full force. Once in a while some of the cool air from the northern states might push its way this far south; then we enjoy some refreshing dry air for a brief visit. It's all random. The cool (dry) air doesn't stay very long.
Nevertheless, these September days are ever-so-gradually getting shorter and the sun is obviously making its rotation into the southern sky. I revel in the beauty of the autumn shifts in light and shadows.
The understated changes in Florida's seasons are keenly noticed by gardeners. Dormant caladiums that sprouted in March/April are gradually fading and going to sleep for the winter. Although the bulbs I planted in July/August remain perky and bright. That's why I like to hold some of them back to plant in mid-summer. It extends the foliage display well into fall.
Thanks to Classic Caladiums for giving me many new selections of bulbs to trial this year I've had a blast experimenting with them. Many of them are from their 'Sun Series' exclusive varieties which you can read more about here.
From the sun series 'White Wonder' has decidedly captured my attention and my heart. Giving it the ultimate test, by taking the chance it would perform exceedingly, I planted it in my front garden. More precisely, at the driveway entrance and along the roadside. It has not disappointed from any aspect.
This variety is bred for full sun exposure~~an amazing quality for any caladium. It has a mounding habit and tops out at 18" tall which makes it ideal for borders. They are planted on a slight slope where the soil drains rapidly. Flourishing with rainfall alone all summer and quite a bit of sun exposure 'White Wonder' passed the love-test in my garden. I will miss them greatly when they fade away for a winter reprieve.
Some beauties hold out for autumn to begin their bloom time. Such is the case with this young Brugmansia suaveolens grown from a small cutting that Chris from the Great Wall of Lutz passed on to me two summers ago. The first-ever buds on it froze in last December's early freezes. So this is actually the first time it has flushed out with success.
Intriguingly simple beauty from these complex trumpeted blooms.
After two weeks of virtually no rain we've gotten about 3 inches in the last 3 days (loads or not-at-all). I'm grateful and so are the plants that thrive on moisture like the magnificent Australian Tree Fern.
In the midst of end-of-summer dry/wet conditions and the continually high heat index ~~even though it is officially fall ~~ now is the time to crank up the vegetable garden again. It is always a guessing game depending on your location in the state. My green beans are putting on their second set of leaves. If it stays too hot they won't like it. A warm season vegetable that seems to like it less humid. Slightly cooler, drier air would be perfect for them to live a stress-free life. At least that's been my experience. Seeds are cheap so I keep trying even when conditions are not ideal.
[Take a look at this vegetable planting guide for dates of when and what to plant.]
Okra on the other hand respects the heat AND humidity ... growing well in the worst part of summer. It's a good thing we happen to like this odd vegetable. It's one that causes many noses to scrunch up in distaste at the mention of it.
The Cuphea ignea is taking up lots of valuable real estate in one of the framed beds in the back corner of the edible garden. Hummers and butterflies favor the long tubular flowers that bloom almost all year long. They visit frequently so the flowering shrub remains even though veggies would vie for that sunny spot. It's all about the choices we make.
Learning what grows well in our own gardens and placing them where they will be happy is what makes Florida gardening so thrilling. We do our best with the conditions thrown our way and we learn as we grow. All that said... I'm looking forward to some drier, cooler air... what about you?
** All photos are from this past week in my garden. Clicking on them individually will take you to captioned photos on my Picasa Website.