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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.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Red-bellied Woodpeckers

Scarlet Pimpernel

There is a flurry of activity going on these days in the garden. It seems everywhere I turn something else has made its way out of the ground... That overnight this or that has filled in, plumped out, bloomed up or some such. These are the days when the emotions of gardeners run very high as we make new discoveries by the minute.
Miss Muffet

There will be numerous blabberings over the coming months referencing my beloved caladiums. These are the wonderfully performing heart-shaped and multi-varietied leaf plants that I have come to depend on over the years here at Hoe & Shovel. I leave the bulbs in the ground all year and then sometime in spring - usually after we've had a spell of warm weather- they emerge once again to brighten the landscape. Just thought I'd give you a peek at the first sightings. There will be more!

Yesterday, just when my excitement over the lettuce bounty was sending me over the moon, my attention was diverted by all the vocal activity of birds coming from my front garden. I knew I was hearing red-bellied woodpeckers and it sounded as if there were lots of them. This blue jay was perched close by watching me thin out the lettuce so I returned the admiration and snapped his photo.
Just as I was wishing his attractive blue feathers would show up in the photo- he did a little hop onto the next branch so we could get a good look at his full attire. Blue jays are very common around here but pretty none-the-less.

It was as I suspected. The red-bellied woodpeckers- male and female- seem to be having a play- date in the trees that canopy our street. As I made my way to the end of the driveway to get a closer view there were six or seven of them flying back and forth from the oaks to the Jatropha tree in my front garden.
Little did they know they were putting on quite a visual and musical show for me. I was trying so hard to get two of them at one time but they were having too much fun with their flirting games to stay in one place for very long.

Believe it or not every one of these shots is of a different woodpecker.
Oh, the love of gardening! Everywhere our eyes can see and our ears can hear there is beauty and wonderment to embrace. I don't want to miss a thing!


  1. meems, Wonderful photographs! woodpeckers are my favorite birds, even when they peck big holes in the trim looking for carpenter bee nests. Do you have Pileated Woodpeckers visit?

    Every garden has their stalwart plant or two, mine has been the wildflowers each spring and phlox and rudbeckia during the hot months of summer. It will be a delight to see your 'beloved' caladiums fully up and lightening your have beautiful varieties, I don't think I have ever appreciated them until looking at the lovely ones in your garden.


  2. Your garden already looks so beautiful Meems. I can't wait to see more. LOVE your woodpeckers. We have the downy and hairy woodpeckers here (and flickers) but that's it. It's wonderful to visit around the globe and see the variety of plants & wildlife.

  3. Wow...I've never seen such fancy caladiums...I love that Miss Muffet. Now I'll have to watch and see if we have anything like that around here! And those are great photos of the woodpeckers...I've only seen Nuttall's n my yard.

  4. I love the blue jay and woodpecker shots. We have a pair of of pileated woodpeckers at our house and I so enjoy them!

    I haven't seen blue jays in our yard in years, but I saw one this week in our garden eating the freshly planted seeds. I was so excited about the blue jay, that I didn't mind the seed robbery.

    We also seem to be a haven for cardinals. We have a very pretty male with a harem of females that follow him around. I don't know if that's unusual or if it's young females that just haven't left their parents yet.

    BTW - my caladiums from last year are popping up also!

  5. What fun Meems. Your enthusiasm is contagious. I have been outside pulling weeds all morning and I am sore and tired. ha.. I really like that spring time tiredness. It feels good. The sun has even decided to shine now.

    I love caladiums. I found that they did well in my window planter box last year. They don't mind the shade and they were close to the hose so they got watered well. I will look for some of the same ones you have around here so I can think of you and your lively garden when I see them growing in my garden.

  6. Meems, beautiful bird photos! I love caladiums! This winter I tried overwintering some in my basement 'greenhouse.' They've been unfurling small leaves all winter. Hopefully they'll come to life when I can put them outside, probably not until late May.

  7. You have some great birds in your garden and you photographed them beautifully, as well. Everything looks lush things are just starting to wake up, a few weeks late this year.

  8. Gail:I'm very fascinated with the ways of the woodpeckers too. We do have Pileated all year long... I did a post not too long ago with some photos of one. (you can copy and paste this link if you want to see it)...

    I got to see huge medians filled with phlox growing wildly along the roads yesterday as hubby and I traveled to north Florida for the weekend... what a welcome sight! I must check out this rudbeckia you speak of... I'm not familiar. Have a great day!

    Kathleen: Hi and welcome and thanks I'm tickled you like my garden and wildlife. We also have downy (have posted vidoes on here previous of their activities)... haven't spotted the hairy although they do inhabit Florida. Flickers don't visit us... I just have to enjoy those on other blogs around the world. :-)

    Leslie: Oh it is actually much more outstanding than the photo let's on IMHO anyway. As it matures it will turn a brighter lime green and with her brilliant magenta freckles she has become my favorite of faves. I plant bulbs by the hundreds every year. Check out for great prices... much more economical than buying the plants in a nursery... unless of course you are only interested in a few. Enjoy your Saturday!

    Emily:And I thought blue jays were everywhere... they seem so common... just goes to show what I know. Cardinals are everywhere here, too. Seems to be an equal amount of male and female though. They sing the prettiest songs, don't they?

    You are much more forgiving than I-- I think I would be irritated if any birds messed with my seeds. In my seed sowing I don't think the word got out fast enough that Meems was doing something new this year and fortunately nothing disturbed my seeds. :-)

    Ah, Lisa, that's the best kind of sore isn't it? (well you have to tell yourself that so you'll get back out there the next day)I remember seeing your window box with caladiums when you posted it... they DID do well. I pop caladium bulbs in all my containers come spring for some great filler that usually is replacing a spent winter annual. They are just great anywhere you want to put them. Can you tell I love them? What a kind closing remark... I love the way certain plants and plantings give warm feelings of another gardener.

    garden girl: I have a feeling your caladiums are just waiting to burst into full showy display once you get them into the sunshine and warmth. How smart of you to overwinter them!

    connie: Thanks. I'm still longing for a DSLR that will capture those birds faster and clearer. Until then, I just have to get pretty close and try to keep really still. In my excitement most times that's a tall order sometimes.

    Here's to your spring remembering what season it is and you having the time of your life in your beautiful cottage garden!

  9. Hi there! Can you give me some tips on caladiums? They take forever to germinate but I was wondering if there was any way to make it happen faster? I agree these are the days our emotions and stress and tiredness levels run very high indeed. I used to think fall was my busiest season, no more after this spring.

  10. Caladiums are my kind of plant. Actually, any store bought plant that survives my gardening conditions is my kind of plant.
    Your garden is amazing and per the previous post ... I have the same dilemma thinning lettuce and the same solution.
    Home grown lettuce is a wonderful treat!

  11. Hi Tina: I'm assuming you re: slow to germinate after planting bulbs... The bulbs tend to wake up after the soil is warm. I'm not sure if you leave yours in the ground all year but if you do, I would imagine you could expect to see your caladiums popping up in May or June. Here we leave them in the ground all year...we have had some warm days AND nights already so they thought they'd start appearing. I don't know that there are any tips to make that happen sooner. I've ordered more caladium bulbs and will wait until the end of May to put them in the ground -- those will come up quickly for me because the ground will be nice and warm both day and night by then. Hope that helps although I'm pretty sure I didn't tell you anything you didn't already know. Hope you've had a great weekend.

    FC: Caladiums are the answer for any level gardener IMO... they just make life in this heat easier.

    YOUR lettuce looks amazing! I'm wondering if mine is even supposed to get that big??? It is a delightful thing to eat lettuce straight from the garden... I think I'm hooked.

  12. Thanks Meems, I will have to try to warm my soil inside as this caladiums have been planted for two months and still aren't up! I never knew this about them as I never tried to start them ahead of time. I can't leave them in the ground because they don't return. boo hoo.

  13. Tina: ahhh, I didn't realize you were starting them inside... I'm impressed! Hopefully the warmth will make them think it's time to show up for you. I'm curious which variety you have chosen for your garden?

  14. Hi again Meems,
    I choose Candidum? Not sure the spelling. All white. 24 bulbs. I LOVE caladiums as they make a nice splash. I just wish they were hardy here. We had a freeze last year before my dug mine from last year, I hope they will retun but doubtful. I could not believe they disappeared so fast! Sigh.

  15. Hello there,

    What a cheery uplifting blog you run here. So much to see.
    Just found out that I definitely do not live in Caladium country: the UK is far too cold. So I won't bother getting envious of yours ;-)

    Your top picture is an Oleander, is it? Also out of bounds. But we do have the lowly cousins: Vinca's major and minor.

  16. tina: I am partial to white caladiums, too. I typically plant Jackie Suthers or Aaron as they can take the sun as well as shade. One of the reasons I use them in vast quantities here is they are wonderfully hardy in our heat and last into the fall months.

    joco: Thank you. I think you might be thinking what you are calling an Oleander is the pink Diplademia I have featured under the welcome? It likes lots of sunshine in order to bloom... some call it Mandevilla but Diplademia has different leaves with much the same bloom and vining habit. Thanks for visiting Hoe & Shovel.


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