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"Possibility and promise greet me each day as I walk out into my garden. My vigor is renewed when I breathe in the earthiness and feel the dirt between my fingers. My garden is a peaceful spot to refresh my soul." Meems

Welcome to my Central Florida Garden Blog where we garden combining Florida natives, Florida-Friendly plants, and tropicals.

Monday, February 18, 2008

The Garden Gamble

Hoe and Shovel is taking advantage of our mild Florida winter weather to get ready for spring. For the past two weeks I have used every wonderfully cool day possible to trim back perennials, dig and divide agapanthus, irises and day lilies. I'm cutting the tops out of draceana and variegated schefflera and using them to propogate more plants. In a few weeks they will have enough root system to transplate.
I know it's a gamble getting started this early but the way I see it I have more to gain than lose. If there were to be a freeze I would still have to cover most of my plants whether I had cut them back already or not. The possibility of a freeze is highly unlikely. So I think I am fairly safe. And if by some odd chance it does happen I'll be eating my words. Hmmmm... won't be the first time that's happened. So I'm working while the weather is nice and taking my chances.
Meanwhile, is it okay if I say I used to think squirrels were cute but now... well let's just say, they are more of a bother than they are cute?
For some reason we had an enormous amount of acorns this year. I've read where there is actually a scientific name for this- of course I can't remember that part but oh my - acorns were/are everywhere. Now we have always had our share of squirrels to fend off from the bird feeders but THIS YEAR... it isn't unusual to have a dozen at a time racing through the trees. They trample across the roof of the house making the noise of what sounds like a much larger animal. And digging! They dig holes in the ground everywhere... even in the flower beds.

They look innocent enough don't they? I don't really let them bother me too much- just thought I'd rant a bit about their digging ways.

Caught sight of this unusual bug today. It is very small- sitting on the back of this petunia it isn't taking up too much space as you can see . I can't recall ever seeing one like this. Anyone know what it might be?


  1. Hi Meems - seems like despite being from opposite corners of the earth we've been doing similar things in the garden this week! We've been having very frosty starts here but glorious sunshine all day and it's been fantastic for getting stuff done in the garden and in those of the people I'm working for! Interesting also that you mention about the quantity of acorns - we had huge quantities here this year - supposedly it's a sign of a cold winter to come.. much like when there are loads of berries on the holly as there were also.. so far though... no snow but it's not too late!

    Off to cut lots of hedges today so better get going... enjoy your gardening and will visit again soon... Miranda

  2. Miranda: sounds like your gambling stakes are higher than mine for sure. What is your thinking for cutting back and trimming when you still have frost on the ground? I'm sure you feel comfortable taking the risk or you wouldn't be doing it.

    Guess the acorn prophecy of cold winter didn't really work out- it has been an extremely mild winter here (not counting the one night we dipped below freezing for a few hours).

    Enjoy your hedge trimming and your beautiful days!

  3. wow, i had no idea variegated schefflera tops could be used for propagation. I too recently potted the tops of the dracena. I'm near West Palm, and don't think the weather will hurt us. We'll see.

  4. ldybug: Thanks for stopping by hoe and shovel!

    Variegated Schefflera is very easily propagated. I have several pots of it rooting from cuttings. But to tell you the truth- many times I have literally just stuck it in the ground and kept it watered for a couple of weeks and ... walla... new plants. Saves lots of $$$.

    I think your location is VERY safe from the risk of freezing. Hope you are enjoying your great weather and gardening.

  5. Squirrels are still cute to me, but I'm sure it is because we don't have any around here to be a nuisance. :-)
    Now DEER on the other hand, are not so cute!! They nibbled my new fruit trees last year, so had to surround them with cages.

  6. Not really a money gambler, but willing to take a gamble in the garden, we cut things and prune when the weather permits and it is convenient for us. Sometimes the cold will do some top damage and last year a very late frost killed many things, cut back or not. So do it when you feel like it. And about those squirrels, we have to put bird netting, stakes and chicken wire on containers and bulb plantings to combat them, let alone the raiding of the bird feeders, not cute.

    Frances at Faire Garden

  7. Connie: We don't have deer but I understand those cute creatures can be damaging nibblers.

    Frances: gardening is the closest I get to gambling too. I remember that late freeze last year even though it didn't affect us...
    We are having some perfect gardening weather- glad you are getting out and about too.

  8. Don't know what the bug is, but are those his antennae? He looks like he could get Sirius radio on them!
    A lovely post, as always, Meems. We're far from doing this sort of garden-gambling, though I'm pondering what to do with my one hellebore in my current post.

  9. Jodi: yes-antennae are twice the size of its body...LOL definitely this little guy could get some 'serious' Sirius tunes without any difficulty. I agree, if you made this sort of gamble at this point it would be more like suicide ... but hang on it won't be long and your pruners will be working away too!

  10. Hi Meems - you were asking about pruning in frosty weather - most of the more robust shrubs in the garden will be fine as long as the frosts aren't too severe and during the day there is a bit of warmth - things like hedging, hazel, etc should be no problem too. The one thing I'd take care on in v. frosty weather is pruning fruit trees - particularly plum, peach and apricot as a few of the slightly less hardy.

    I've been pulling out a whole pile of Ivy from one are of our garden which is riddled with it - it's such a shame as there are loads of hidden plants in this area - this time of year you tend to disturb less plants and also the ivy tends to come out easily with the soil being quite damp too. It's fun discovering all the things that have hidden away!

    Anyway - time to go and get on - have a fun day... Miranda

  11. Miranda: you are so kind to give such great explanations. I understand about the Ivy- which I dearly love and use as ground cover but it can get out of hand and this is certainly a great time of year for that sort of tidying.

    I am also taking advantage of the cooler weather to move several plants/perennials to new locations- they do better when they can get established before the dreaded heat comes along and taxes them.

    Now I'm off to the garden for a few hours... enjoy your day!

  12. I love your blog! Beautiful photos! Please visit me on my blog :)

  13. I always start early. Partly because I need to get out and do something after a long winter and partly because I'll run out of time if I wait. Once the clean up is done I look for new growth - soon as I see it I start dividing and transplanting. I figure the plants are as ready for new growth as I am and there's no stopping them once they start.

    thanks for visiting my blog. The snow is still deep and we had sub-zero temps last night. So there's (s)NO(w) gardening being done yet. Soon enough our sympathies will be reversed. You'll have unbearable heat and humidity driving you back indoors and I'll be able to go outside all day without getting bundled up like a toddler.

    BTW I never say s--t in case I have to eat my words.

  14. Marie: thanks for stopping by - your blog is a wonderful collection of beautiful photos.

    Wiseacre:You are so right about reversed sympathies. I will be given a couple of morning hours to work -at best -when you are working all day in glorious temps. But I love looking at your snow!Thanks for visiting.

  15. Your bug looks like a young grasshopper of some sort to me. I can't be sure of that. Just a guess.

  16. lisa: I thought the same thing on first notice but then... don't grasshoppers always have wings? I don't know either. This is a macro shot which is kind of deceiving because this little fellow was barely 1/4".


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