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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, June 5, 2009

Bee Balm and Garden Views

More and more I'm convinced that the extraordinarily cold weather we had this winter prompted a few things to bloom this spring. Things that don't ordinarily do well in this climate.

Way in the back behind where the fun and airy cosmos are coming up from seed is one of the farthest away planting beds.

If you look through the layers of plantings that are readily seen from just about any angle in the back the pretty pink of the bee balm, Monarda didyma might catch your eye.

That's what happened to me last week. It was absolutely a total surprise.

It is one of those plants that never bloomed last year due to overshadowing by the squash plants in the vegetable garden. I realized it was a gamble when I placed it there as it is only hardy to zone 8. At the end of the season when it was still green and actually alive I moved it to the (mostly) sunny side of the back garden.It is just unbearable to throw away a perfectly good plant even when it is a less than stellar performer. Tucked under the citrus colored lantana that grows like a shrub, and next to yellow bush daisy, african irises, purple fountain grass, and blue plumbago it is a pretty addition now that it's blooming.

This is the kind of planting bed that provides the viewer with a unique visual depending on the angle one is looking. Now that I think about it that's the way a garden should be.

What a nice and welcomed surprise. This week all the blooms have flattened out to this interesting form. Love that green center. You just have to love gardening even more when you happen upon an unexpected flower.

Back Garden Views

Now that I'm back from my mini beach vacation with my sister it is catch up time in the garden. Mr. Meems graciously filled in for me picking veggies and keeping an eye on things while I was absent. He's learning a lot these days about watering patterns. It is a constant guessing game. We had days of rain and then a few days without it and then stormy, wind-blown rains with 3 inches falling in a short time.

Being away from the garden is never easy. Family is missed too. So yesterday I was so happy to spend my day with our toddler grandson. We did make a trip to the garden center together where he chats away about the colors and names of flowers as if he's a gardener himself. Even though he loves the garden mostly he likes to play.
Today, I've dodged the on again, off again rain while working in the garden. The landscaping seems to be happy about all the extra liquid for the most part.
The vegetable garden on the other hand seems confused and not so cheery about it. No mistake about it the bugs and worms are having a party and seem to be the most elated about this hot, steamy summer weather we are having at the end of spring.


  1. Oh my, everything looks so nice! I love it all. Yes, this weather has been odd, even for me in Indiana. But all the rain has been great for things from seed. I have the old fashioned red bb, but my mom has purple and pink. It looks so nice with my white house and navy shutters. It is a natural pest repelent and if you rub the crushed leafs on your skin, they say it keeps the skeeters away! Mine has to be pulled back or it would take the whole bed, just an FYI. ~Brooke

  2. Well,dang it all(don't I sound Southern?),my bee balm is growing by leaps and bounds,but no blooms.What's up with that?
    And the bugs are loving our veggie garden too.We are about ready to give some things up to the compost pile.Glad you got to have time with your grandson.That's always the best of times.

  3. You have a beautiful garden ~ wish I had that kind of yard to be able to grow some of what you have. We're down in far south Sarasota county and do not have any luck with azaleas but wish we did because they are so pretty and were so easy to grow when we lived in the panhandle. Guess it's just too hot down here ;-(

  4. Your sweet little grandson has a rough job, playing in the garden, but someone has to do it. The bee balm looks great now. Actually your entire garden looks great. It must be all that rain.

  5. Your yard and garden are truly amazing, Meems. I know what it means to not be able to leave your yard for a long time. We have the same problems with our yard... With 48 Hybrid Tea Roses, you can only imagine the amount of work we have to do.. BUT--I told George that I don't want us to be a prisoner when it comes to our yard. We still want to travel---so we'll just let Mother Nature take care of the yard for us.

    Your Bea Balm flower is gorgeous. The last picture you showed made me think of a bee hive (the middle).. Amazing. Glad it bloomed for you this year.

    I know that you and Marmie had a great time together...
    Don't miss my yesterday's blog--showing some of our roses.

  6. Love that pink Bee balm! and that last photo of the vegetables in the basket looks perfect enough to be in a magazine.
    You are doing such a fine job...keep up the good work!

  7. meems,
    i am sure you were glad to be back in the garden even with the little guy. it is truly exciting when you get those little blessings of finding the right place for a blooming plant. it was great to see it in your garden...i am hoping ours will bloom this year(not sure what colour ours is.) hope you didn't have too much damage in the back from that really quick storm that blew through. i have my work cut out for me in the needs some tlc.

  8. Beebalm is a great plant. I have the Scarlet variety and I love the red. Your gardens are lovely as always. Glad you had a good mini vacation with your sister, ya'll seem to have a special relationship. We have had constant rain here and my husband got to watch a tornado tear the roof off of an elementary school this past Thursday!!

  9. Meems I am amazed with all that growth. There is nothing like rain water.Like you I don't like to throw away plants that do not perform, usually it is in the wrong location in the garden. Sometimes we have to try a few places before we get it right. Am still trying with my day lilies LOL.

  10. I love reading about your garden, it always looks so beautiful! I was wondering if you had the name of the Ground Orchids that is posted at the beginning of your blog. It is a beautiful picture and I would love to try some in my yard in St.Pete.

    Thanks for sharing you garden with all of us.

  11. Those unexpected good surprises are one of the best parts of gardening...did the bees and butterflies enjoy the monarda, too? It's one of my favorites for just that reason. What fun to be at a garden center with a little guy who loves colors and plants! Meems, I am so glad you had time with marmee...will I see the beach photos if I go to your other blog? gail

  12. That's a lovely monarda -- goes well with your caladium colors.
    Your gardens look lovely, so I think Mr. Meems took good care of them while you had a vacation!

    My bee balm, Jacob Cline, is already blooming -- early for here. I just planted this red head in the fall, so these are the first blooms. It's the BEST red monarda that I've seen (IMHO).

    We're having on and off -- too hot to too rainy weather. I ended up working in the downpours yesterday as I had to get some clover out while the soil was wet. I also planted more asclepias incarnata (swamp milkweed) in anticipation of Monarch butterflies. They don't care about the blooms on this plant -- the caterpillars need to eat the foliage.


  13. That is a surprise, Monarda in Florida. I am learning by trial and error Meems. Maybe someday if my back doesn't give out first, my gardens will look almost as nice as yours. Our next project is a pond with a water cascade and then some raised beds so I can grow veggies. I have the pictures of your handyman building yours that you had posted. I don't always leave a comment,my yard looks so sparse in comparison to yours and I get tired and discouraged, but I always visit. You are still my gardening inspiration!

  14. Hi Brooke,
    Thank you-- I'm glad you stopped by. I'm going to try the crushed leaves because Lord knows we have more than our share of mosquitoes down here. Maybe they won't try to carry me away when I'm out there in the evening with my bee balm rub.

    Yes, very southern -- as in woods southern. LOL Honestly, I don't think bee balm blooms here... mine is fluke. My grandson is keeping me hopping again today. I was on the lookout for you this morning when we went to the nursery... thought by chance I might see you. :-)

    So happy you came by... I'm thinking YOU are in a climate that allows for so many tropicals! Azaleas aren't all that. :-) Here we have to cross our fingers in the rare times the temps dip hoping we don't lose our tender plants.

    Someone has to do it and he is really good at it. LOL I think you are right... the rain is keeping the plants happy. The grass is getting tired of being so wet but most of the plants are adapting.

    I like your attitude. Only I can't be so carefree when it comes to the veggies. If we let mother nature have her way they would be gone quickly. Fortunately I have a neighbor who looks out for things while I'm away. Your roses are stupendous. I love roses in someone else's garden. So beautiful they are.

    You are so sweet to cheer me on. The veggie garden is still producing beans, tomatoes and peppers. No more squash except the two plants I seeded in the back landscape... just for fun.

    Honestly, I thought I remembered the bee balm was supposed to be red. I would have preferred red... but since it is blooming I won't complain. It was so good to get out and clean up the rest of the storm damage and feel like all was tidy again. There's still caladium bulbs to plant and I made it back to the nursery this morning... woo-hoo... I'm getting a vision for that last project. I bet your garden was glad to see you too. No matter how the misters try they can only "see" so much. ;-)

    Thank you. I have a feeling the bee balm likes Tallahassee much better than Tampa. The red would be so lovely. All this rain is a bit crazy so early. We are getting periods of drying out in between. That is so important. Marmee and I did have a very special time together.

    I don't blame you for persisting with the lilies. At least they have pretty foliage even when they aren't blooming. It is a nagging thought in our gardener's brain when we know a plant is supposed to flower.

    Thanks for leaving a comment. It's always nice to get to chat with readers. Unfortunately my little nursery didn't have the orchid identified. I DO love the colors the flowers turned out... it wasn't blooming when I bought it on sale last winter. Immediately I split it in two before planting them.

  15. Gail,
    I do think the bees and butterflies are loving the monarda. That entire bed is full of butterfly and bee attractors so they have lots of choices.
    Yes, the beach photos are on my Florida blog... lots of them so brace yourself. :-)

    I just got more milkweed too for the very same reason. I thought all the little seedlings would be enough but not so. Those caterpillars are hungry critters. The only way I've ever seen bee balm sold here is in the 3" pots in the herb section of the garden center. There are no names... just bee balm. I don't honestly think it will be a great performer here but it has been fun to see it bloom for now.

    Florida Sue,
    It was a surprise to me, too. A fluke I think. I love the idea of a pond and water cascade... have dreamed of one for a long time. It will be a perfect addition for your garden.

    Just remember when you look at my yard... I've been trialing and erroring for over 25 years in it. That's a lot of mistakes! You will get where you want to go... enjoy yourself on your way! Thanks for stopping by... even when you don't comment. Have a great weekend.

  16. Meems, so glad your bee balm surprised you like that. It's a beautiful color. We never have to worry here about it returning and I'm so glad. If I lived in your zone, I might have to buy it every year ~ that's how much I like it! Your garden is looking so pretty. Love the rain lilies. I have often looked at them in catalogs but never tried them. Your neighbor has a fantastic border! It must be wonderful to live near another gardener ~ I've never had that happen!


Have a blessed day,

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