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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, January 8, 2010

A Raw Day

Floridians are (in general) a bit on the dramatic side when it comes to cold weather. Even using the term cold is relative. What's cold here is many degrees above normal for many of our northern friends.

The phrase "It's going to be a RAW day" has been used and over-used by the forecasters here to describe what Saturday's weather will be.
You'd think a blizzard was coming to listen to them. The rumors of snow and sleet are swirling around in everyone's conversations. Everywhere I went today it was being discussed. It is highly UN-likely this far south.

Granted the weather has been out of the ordinary for us. This kind of long-lasting (a whole week) cold-spell doesn't occur here but once in 20 or so years. But really. A raw day?
If it weren't for my garden (and the farmers) I would be thrilled with the change. I actually LIKE the cold weather. It's a welcome change from so many months of summer.
Bundling up to brace against the cold or shivering when we walk outside without a jacket is kind of nice. Wearing boots, scarves, sweaters, and coats is a real treat for a few days out of the year.

So what's all the hype about this 'raw day'? Tomorrow it is not going to get warmer than about 43 degrees. The sun will NOT be shining like we are so accustomed to. Even on the coldest days this week it faithfully warmed us up.

Chances are the day will bring drizzling rain and tomorrow night it might get down to 28 degrees (colder in other places... but 28 at Hoe and Shovel).
Yes, all of this is unusal ... but raw? I don't think so. I mean we aren't shoveling snow out of the driveway. THAT would be raw.

I admit, without a doubt, I'll be glad to quit playing the guessing game about how low the temps are really going to go. And it will be a big relief ~~when once again (after the next two days) we do warm back up to the 60's and 70's ~~ not to wonder what plants in the garden have suffered damage from the frost and cold.
The cool weather veggies don't seem to mind all this "cold" at all. Harvests of lettuce, greens, and radishes just keep coming.

The Cordylines are all still standing along with the Giant Crinum Lilies and the Australian Tree Fern. So far, so good and I'm ecstactic about it. Even though I haven't covered them this week they will get a blanket tomorrow to brace against the next two "raw" nights. There are some other plants that have been damaged but not so much that they won't come back fairly quickly.
I've got high hopes for the garden to get through the last of this cold-spell without much more damage. Then we'll settle into some beautiful Florida winter days.


  1. Hi Meems, Hope you do get to see some snow. That is rare down there for sure. BUT--I don't want the orange crop damaged!!!!

    People here PANIC when snow is mentioned. On Wed., the stores were FULL of people stocking up for the 'big' snow we had (maybe an inch)... ha ha


  2. gosh Meems, 28 is awfully cold. I hope all survives in your garden. Enjoy the cold weather. It would be amazing to see snow sprinkling over your tropicals.

  3. Cold is a relative term, isn't it? It's been the main headline in the news the past few days along with all the snow we've had. This morning the thermometer read -6 here. But at the same time, we are used to this in the winter, and I don't expect to see anything growing in my garden at this time of year. That's why I do sympathize with you and especially with all the citrus farmers in Florida. It would be awful to lose a whole season's crop.

    Stay warm--and if you do get some snow, I hope you'll take pictures!

  4. I live in North FL. When I was young the temperatures were this cold here all winter. I actually owned and wore heavy sweaters, jackets and leg warmers. My grandmother lived in Miami and she would complain she was freezing if the temperature dropped below 60 degrees (although it felt like she kept the AC set that low). Now that I have gotten used to warmer winters,I find myself complaining - lol.

  5. You're far enough south to suffer less from what really felt RAW here yesterday, out in the wind. We expected 19 last night, the lowest we saw was 25. That's cold enough to kill back everything except truly evergreen foliage. Even little viola faces look pinched and cold. I'm tired of freezing temps that go on and on for days.

  6. Hi Meems....Pretty little bird....lovely colouring.

    Your garden looks stunning......
    I wish we had your this moment in time I would do a swap without any hesitation.

    We are having heavy snowfalls as I type and there is a strong north easterly wind.
    I have cleared my parents and mother in law's drive this morning......I have lost the enthusiasm to start can wait until tomorrow.

    Can't wait for this 'white stuff' to disappear.......

  7. Hi Meems, one person's raw is seasonable I guess. The temps here too are out of the ordinary with our low today of 2F and our high @ 22F. I'm sorry about your citrus crop though.~~Dee

  8. Meems,
    The weather "person" usually gets it wrong. The other night they said we'd get 1-3 inches of snow. The next night 1/2 inch, then the event came barely any rain at all. A waste to even report it.

    Hope all goes well and not much is lost because of the colder weather.

  9. I personally can't take the cold. Growing up here made me thin-skinned. Same way some northerners never adjust to the heat, I guess.

    Love the tufted titmouse! Great pictures! And so cheerful on this dreary day!

  10. I actually heard the weatherman on WTVT use the word "Brutal" last night. Someone needs to transfer him to Chicago for a while.

  11. OK...I like some cold too, although, this is not why we live some is "RAW". My horse was shivering this morning. He is whimpy, me too!

  12. Aw, we understand that you guys aren't used to cold weather and it might feel raw to some. You can pretty well guess that anyone you see running around in shorts this week would be Canadians! I am still hoping the citrus crop doesn't get bashed.

  13. Ha, here when it gets to SIXTY FIVE people carry on about how its "freezing" how they have to wear sweaters and sleep with blankets! So this is very much warm weather people behavior LOL. Actually tourists from the East coast US and England also start carrying on about how its so cold!

  14. Thank you everyone for your well wishes for our weather. It is more difficult to accept the damage done by these out of the ordinary days since it is well... out of the ordinary.

    Today the weather forecasters are using the term "Frigid Florida". By our standards it IS very cold and the cold air is pushing hard from the north reaching way down here to cool us to the twenties for two nights: Saturday and Sunday.

    The UPDATE at Hoe and Shovel: I've just spent the last 3 hours (yes, I couldn't stand it another night without giving in to the urge to protect as much as possible since the forecast is looking SO very bleak for two nights in a row) staking, covering (as many tenders as possible), harvesting (lettuce and tomatoes), and even digging up some bromeliads ro bring into the garage. There is absolutley NO WAY to cover everything that might freeze. But the Queens are wrapped up and I feel much better about that.

    The best thing about temps getting this low is that hopefully it will kill off all the Eastern Lubber grasshoppers and mosquitoes. We would be so lucky.

    I sure hope you are all staying warm and snuggly this weekend. I know it is cold everywhere.

  15. Meems,

    I love, love, love your garden! As a gardener only one zone away (Jacksonville, Florida), I am so impressed with what you are doing. I look at garden pictures all the time, but many yards look too “busy”, like a Disney World of plants, with so many one-offs that don’t really fit together. You have a wonderful sense of design and composition, along with repeat groupings, that pulls everything together. I could (and have) looked at your photos for hours.

    I have been keeping a list of questions for you – would love to hear your thoughts as you have time. You don’t need to reply to all of this in the Comments section. Maybe these thoughts could be used for future blogs.

    1 - Most important request: would you please add an archive with a linked index to all of your previous posts? Currently, it seems that the only way to go to previous posts is to scroll to the bottom of each page and click on “Older Posts”, one page at a time. So the only way to jump back several posts is to repeat this process over and over. I know the search function at the top is available, and I know there are links to some plants are on the right-hand side, but I would like to go back and methodically read all of your posts. I have been bookmarking the post I am on, so that when I go back, I can start where I left off without all that scrolling, clicking and waiting for page to load. A good example of an archive would be the one on this blog (right-hand side): It would be nice to have a linked archive if you think it is something you would like to do.

    2 – I’ve seen photos of your magnolia tree’s flowers. Help me - what do you plant under your magnolia? I have had so much trouble getting any kind of plant to grow under my Magnolia Grandiflora. With the dense shade, heavy leaf drop and thick roots, I have not had much success. And when I drive around, I see many with bare ground underneath. What do you have underplanted beneath your magnolias? I would love to see photos.

    3 – What is your method of plant propagation? I would love to see photos and discussion of how you are propagate pentas, impatiens, begonias, etc. In water? Little pots? Baggies? Inside the house, or outside in the shade? Some plants are so easy, but I have not had much success with impatiens or begonias and would love it if you would blog your secrets. You must propagate a lot for a yard so big. And I know behind all of those beautiful photos, you are hiding a potting bench and work area. Please show us your pot ghetto sometime!

    4 – How do you go about planning a new bed? What is your process? Do you map it all on paper first? Graph paper? Do you have a “blueprint” of your yard? Do you go outside with a tape measure and pad, measuring the distance between areas so that you can plot it accurately on graph paper? (Yes, I have done that but I would love to know, if there is a better way.) Do you use Roundup to remove the grass? Or a sod-remover? Add topsoil before planting? Add any other amendments (manure, compost, peat, etc)? Do you work it in by hand, or rent a tiller? Or maybe you own a tiller?

    Turns out I am limited to 4,096 characters so this is Part 1 of 3.

    Jacksonville, Florida

  16. Part 2 of 3:

    5 - How do you maintain such nice sharp edges around your beds? What tools do you use? An electric or gas edger? How often do you edge - weekly? And I have to ask – do you mow and edge your own yard? I mow and edge my own yard mostly because I don’t want someone mistakenly cutting or mowing something important to me. But I don’t edge the beds every week like I should. Your yard shows that those clean edges really make the garden look great. Note to self!

    6 - Aztec grass vs. variegated liriope vs. flax lily blueberry – I saw where you blogged about switching over to the flax lily as an edging material. How do you like it so far? It looks lovely and a bit more durable than Aztec grass, but I wonder if it is too tall for some of the impatiens and some shorter varieties of caladium when planted behind? You’ll have to let us know.

    7 – I’m surprised that I don’t see these plants in your yard (or maybe I haven’t gotten to the blogs where you talk about these!) I wonder if these do not fall into your overall vision/scheme, are not to your liking, or if you just haven’t acquired them yet?
    •Amaryllis/hippeastrum – I’ve seen a few, just tucked in here and there - - but they do so well in the ground in Florida
    •Birds nest fern
    •Brugmansia (Angel’s trumpet)
    •Brunfelsia (Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow)
    •Camellias – perfectly suited for north and central Florida
    •Citrus?!!! No citrus?! Any other fruit trees?
    •Foxtail palm (or any palms?)

    8 – Do you have house plants, too?!

    9 - Would LOVE to see a “floorplan” or aerial drawing of your property – how are the beds laid out; where do the footpaths go, where is the vegetable garden, the street, the house, the driveway, etc. I have tried to put all of the pieces together in my mind, but I’m not sure I have it. I would love to see how your home looks from the road. I’m certain that it must have absolutely stunning curb-appeal!

    Jacksonville, Florida

  17. Part 3 of 3:

    10 – What kind of fertilizers do you use, how often and how do you apply? Do you like Miloganite? I have loved it in the past, but it has gotten so expensive. I have taken up buying time-release fertilizer in December when the big box stores put it on sale. Then I have to remind myself in the spring that it is not doing the plants any good if it sits in the garage. LOL!

    11 - Did you get a new camera? Your old one took such wonderful photos – why the switch? (Do you want to sell the old one?)

    12 – Florida Map – wish I could see it better – couldn’t really tell what part of Florida you were in - but figured it out from the newspaper articles. Wonderful articles, by the way.

    13 – I noticed that you put down some pine straw mulch. I think in the past, I think I read that you relied primarily on all of your oak leaves. Why the switch? Was it for just a particular area or plant? Or a change in your gardens?

    Thanks for all of the valuable information and juicy eye candy you provide. I have been gardening in Florida for about eight years, and really paying attention to OPY (other people’s yards) for about seven years. Nowhere have I seen one quite as gorgeous as yours. It is very inspiring. Thank you so much for all you share!

    Jacksonville, Florida

  18. I'll have to say it's been pretty 'raw' here Meems.....High today 38 with wind cutting through you. If not for the wind, I wouldn't mind it...13 days now of this....?

  19. Meems,
    we are watching the news from sunny Santa Monica and cannot believe the cold temps in the south!

    Hope your beautiful garden gets through the cold snap without damage.

    Take care,

  20. HI from the Caribbean. Just stopping by to say how much I love your blog. I read it all the time.

  21. meems,
    just seeing the sunshine in your garden on the birds and plants warms me. "raw day"...where do they get these things. it sounds like "rare" with a terrible accent.
    we too are having well below normal temps. i didn't even go out today at all. thank goodness for my canadian husband who fed all the animals...he doesn't seem to mind but says it is rather chilly out there. not this fl girl...still not used to it.
    i am really hoping it doesn't do so much damage down your way. we all do love our citrus and strawberries.
    btw...i love that feeder you featured with the titmouse.
    happy cold january.

  22. Carol,
    So nice to converse with a fellow Floridian. I will do my best to come up with some answers for you either here or in a separate post. Will let you know as soon as I have a few extra minutes. Thank you so much for your great enthusiasm and thirst for answers.

  23. Darla,
    I can imagine it was MUCH more RAW where you were. Even a couple of counties north of us it was VERY cold and wet and bits of snow and ice were everywhere. Stay warm. I like your attitude of seeing what the garden had to offer after all this cold. I'm trying to embrace... really I am.

    You had the best plan of all us. Leave it all behind for the sunny Westcoast.

    Thanks so much for letting me know.Always welcome new folks.

    Rare with an accent gone bad... you make me laugh. It has been RARE indeed. Not this cold in a very long time - not for this long anyway. Tuesday we are out of the woods~~~ back into the 60's and 70's. But I have to say today is bright and sunny and full of blue sky. You'd never know it is only 43 degrees until you walk outside... which I'm getting ready to do ... again. (Oh, that feeder is right next to the birdhouse you gave me.)

  24. RAW! This is definitely RAW! Ice that last more than a couple hours after sunrise just ain't right! I keep saying I want to move back home, but now I'm thinking maybe the Keys... (*;*)

    Hey, do you get Groupon emails? They have some great discounts on all sorts of interesting things/places in the Tampa area. Wish they had some deals up here. (I'm becoming more and more disillusioned with this whole 'black hole' area). Bloom where I'm planted. Bloom where I'm planted. 8-}

    Have a JESUS-filled day! ^i^

  25. Yes, those weather forecasters are a bit over the top and quite dramatic. Your yard looks good as of this posting, but I wonder if it survived the the weekend...when the temps were really "raw!" :-)

  26. Meems, I know we're spoiled here in S Florida. I'm a native midwesterner, transplanted only 5 years ago. I'm supposed to be "used" to this weather...I'm not and I don't like it. But, I agree that it's not been "RAW". I hope your plants are still standing tall after this last weekend...much of mine resembles wilted lettuce.
    Your bird photos are wonderful! I love them! Even in Chicago, the tiny chicadees would sing and dance cheerfully in the dead of winter! I'm definitely a fan of these sweet creatures!

  27. I'm originally from Chicago, now living in Jupiter, FL. The problem with the cold is our heating system is so weak we can't get our house to warm up past 67 when the temperatures are in the 30's. I miss Florida.

  28. Sophie,
    Tallahasse had 14 degree weather this morning... another record low. Brrrr... No, I'm not aware of Groupon... would love to know more.

    Sadly last night finished off some plants that were already fried with temps down to 26. Many plants that were okay until last night got hit hard in just that one dip down to the twenties. For the first time ever I actually dup up some plants out of the ground (begonia, bromeliads) before last night to be sure to preserve them. It is not a pretty sight ~~ I'm glad I took these photos when I did ~~it's already hard to remember it looked like that a few days ago.

    Wilted lettuce is the vision of the day... sorry to report. If only last night didn't have to dip so low we would have been alright... some damage but not anything to worry too much about. But last night was brutal!!! The assessment is bleak.

    So happy to meet you. I didn't realize it got so cold so far south. I hope your garden is okay after this blast from the Arctic.

  29. Your garden looks so lush and tropical - I love the tree fern.

  30. Meems, you can check out Groupon here. And I promise I didn't know they had referral rewards till after I mentioned it to you. 8-]

    Have a JESUS-filled day! ^i^

  31. I like your attitude, Meems :) I've been wondering how your garden is faring with the extra cold temps and am so glad to hear your gorgeous Cordylines fared well (hope that's still true!), and so many other things too. The fresh veggies sound so good!!
    Those low 20's temps would certainly feel raw to Floridians. They even feel pretty raw to us, especially when the wind blows along with them.
    A Fl friend send pics of snow on his sago palm (which survived quite nicely). Not sure where he and his wife are located, but apparently not in the same area as you.
    Glad you're enjoying the cool change even if your garden isn't :)

  32. Hi Meems, our weather is warming too. What a relief to get some temps above the teens. It may actually reach above freezing later in the week. The whole eastern 2/3 of the country has been unusually cold

    Wonderful photo of the little titmouse. I'm seeing them on everyone's blogs lately. This year is the first time I've had them at my feeders.

  33. Hi Meems, I hope your garden fared well through the chill.

    It's almost tropical here today. We're expecting above-freezing temps, and the snow is melting. It's a welcome relief from the sub-zero wind chills we've been 'enjoying' so far this month.

  34. Garden Lily,
    Why, thank you... it was more lush a tropical a week ago... now we could say it is MUSH and well... I'm not sure what the second word should be.

    Thank YOU... I believe you. :-)

    Well, I sure tried to be as positive as possible knowing the forecasts are typically hyped up. I err on the side of not panicking. So much so that I didn't cover anything for several days then I started believing we were in for a big dump of freezing cold air that my garden would not like. Many things I covered were bitten anyway but I'm sure I saved the roots by covering. It will all be a memory by the middle of summer when I wishing for the tiniest breeze of cool air.

    I heard a couple of days ago it was out in the midwest than it was here. Now that's got to be a new one. Enjoy the titmouse... they are quite unique in their cute habits. Love their little squeak.

    Your climate is why I can't complain. I just don't have the imagination for such weather you are accustomed to and endure quite cheerfully. Sub-zero... yikes... not for me.


Have a blessed day,

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