Friday, December 21, 2012

Merry Christmas!

Today is the end of the Mayan calendar, the first day of winter, the shortest day of the year, and maybe the end of the world! Looking ahead, Tuesday is Christmas. I always feel like I'm rushing to keep up with Christmas. Thankfully, I have my beautiful (mostly) garden to calm my nerves.

Jude the Obscure has produced this big fat globe of a bloom. I love Jude's bloom form. The scent of this rose is probably the strongest in my garden. It smells very lemony to me. 


Heritage isn't as strongly scented as Jude, but the quality of the scent is one of my favorites. I'm not good as describing scents, but it has a sweet smell to me that is just divine.

Easy Does It

Hawaiian Sunset Vine and Mr. Bee

Sunday, December 16, 2012

What's Blooming Now

In Florida Christmas is the time for more than just Poinsettias, although there's plenty of them in the big box stores now.

Behold Princess Alexandra of Kent! What a nice leafy bush!

And the Flowers!

My new rose $7 bargain rose Ch-Ching is doing great and I'm really more pleased with it than I expected to be. My nailpolish even matches the apparently non-fading blooms.
The Hawaiian Sunset Vine is Blooming.
When the sun streams through these flowers they really do look like a sunsets.  The vine grows so well it gets out of hand, but I don't have the heart to prune it with all those buds on it. I should also mention that the vine stinks. Really, it smells like cat litter to me. Its good looks makeup for the unpleasant aroma.
Can anyone guess which of these three photos is of Gruss An Aachen?
Answer: All of them!

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Cooler Weather Brings Out The Florida Blogger

I know I've said it before, but I'll say it again; It's hot in Florida in the summer! I haven't been in the mood to work in the garden, write about the garden, or even look at the garden for a while. A recent and dramatic change to cooler weather has revived both me and my garden. Flowers are blooming and bees are buzzing again. At last!

Determining the ripeness of a watermelon is the subject of this, my first post of a new season.  I have several varieties of watermelon vines growing in my Earthbox. One of the varieties, Cream of Saskatchewan, has been sitting on the vine for a while, and I decided to review my standard ripeness tests. As you may know, it is often difficult to decide when to pick a watermelon. In the past I have researched and uncovered the following tests: the calendar test, the shriveled tendril test, the fingernail test, the thumping sound test, and a personal discovery for me today, the exploding watermelon test.

To use the calendar test you simply add the days to maturity of your watermelon variety to the date you planted it. I'm usually unable to use the calendar test because I'm just not organized enough to keep track of when I first planted the seeds. I'll skip that one.

The shriveled tendril test says that your watermelon is ripe when the tendril closest to the fruit turns brown and shrivels. The trouble with this test is that it's not always reliable. Sometimes  my tendril has shriveled while the fruit is still growing. The tendril on this particular fruit shriveled several weeks ago, but I didn't want to pick it too soon.

The fingernail test says that the rind of the melon should toughen and resist slightly when you push into it. My watermelon failed this test. My fingernail went right into the rind.

The most mystical test is the thump test. The thump test states that if you slap the fruit on a watermelon, a ripe fruit should sound different than an unripe one. I understand it has something to do with the water sound inside the rind. I call it mystical because I've never been sure exactly what it's supposed to sound like. I dutifully thumped my melon, but did it really sound just right or not? This leads me  to my new indisputable test, the exploding watermelon test.

As I was thumping away at my watermelon I noticed something didn't sound exactly right. I thumped again and the fruit exploded in my hand! The whole thing cracked in the center 3/4 of the way around the melon. I guess it was ripe after all.

Cream of Saskatchewan is a small white fleshed variety. I thought it had a mildly sweet taste with none of the acidity of a normal watermelon. In the background I did taste an actual creamy taste. Maybe it's my imagination, but I don't think so. The rind is very thin and nearly the whole inside of the melon is edible. As you can see, it was tasty enough for me to eat it into the shape of a bowl with my spoon. I still have a few more left to enjoy as well.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Harvest Time

I am starting to harvest lots of pretty tomatoes from various places in the garden. I've lost a lot to birds, wind, and various other creatures, but these have managed to survive. Hurray! Something to show for all that work!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Blooms of the Day

Last week my garden received two inches of rain! Hurray! Sadly it has already been used up and I'm back to watering daily. It's a good thing I have these pretty flowers to keep me going.
Alnwick Rose
Souvenir de la malmaison
Princess Alexandra of Kent

Young Lycidas-older open bloom and new bud

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Indigo Rose Tomato

I am trying a new and unusual tomato this year, Indigo Rose. Indigo Rose has a striking purple coloration on its skin. The purple color come from anthocyanins. It was bred at Oregon State University by researchers in an attempt to make tomatoes with more antioxidants. A tomato named OSU Blue has been circulation in tomato circles for a while now.  Indigo Rose is the strain, variety, selection, etc... of OSU Blue that the researchers decided to release to the public.

So far it has been very productive although it is a smaller type tomato so this is not a great achievement. It's very pretty and the the purple color shows more in areas that are exposed to the sun. I'm waiting to see what they look like when they ripen.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012


I still grow edibles even though you wouldn't know it from all my rose posts lately. So far this has been one of the best tomato growing seasons ever for me. The disease and insect pressure is low probably due the dry weather. They all have lots of flowers and one has some tiny fruit. The varieties I'm growing this year are: Indigo Rose, Green Zebra,  Paul Robeson, Isis Candy, Woodle Orange, Solar Flare, AAA Sweet Solano, and a few others whose names escape me right now.

I've also grown my first successful cauliflower in the Earthbox. Hurray! It is an heirloom purple variety that I grew from seed. I still have a few other varieties that I hope will make it in all this heat.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

EPCOT Flower and Garden Festival 2012

I made my first visit to the 2012 Epcot Flower and Garden Festival this week. I always enjoy seeing all those lovely impossible plantings. This year was even better than the last. Here are some of the sights:

Monday, March 19, 2012

Queen of Sweden, Jude the Obscure, and Young Lycidas

 I have new beauties in my garden this Spring. Three more Austin roses have bloomed. Young Lycidas is similar in color and bloom form to Munstead Wood, but more "mauvish" and a little larger. The scent is also a nice medium strong old rose. 


Jude the Obscure sure earns its unofficial title of the best smelling Austin rose. It smells strongly of citrus and fruit in my yard. The bloom is a lovely large globular yellow that isn't too quick to open. I don't see any peach on the blooms yet. Maybe it needs colder temps to show those colors?
Queen of Sweden has these wonderful upright facing blooms that are densely packed inside and large and cupped on the outside. I saw a bee today trying to burrow into the flower. It has a nice unusual medium light scent.

I am very happy with all of my new Austins. Sadly my Abraham Darby has left the garden. It wasn't doing well and I pulled it out to discover a disease in the graft. It really isn't a mark against the variety though. There is some sort of cane fungus in one area of my garden that is lethal to roses. I think I've learned my lesson and won't put any more there. I will be getting another AD if the cuttings I gathered don't root. It was a great rose.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Port Sunlight

It's a double post day because Port Sunlight also bloomed. These have a really lovely yellow apricot color that reminds me of...sunlight! The only negative I can mention about the flowers is that they seem to open fast and probably won't stick around long.

Munstead Wood

Today Munstead Wood bloomed. It lost a few buds to the dreaded oak tree worms, but it's still very impressive. The color in the photo is close to the actual color. It reminds me of a larger, scented, and more dense petaled version of Burgundy Iceberg. I hope it doesn't also acquire the propensity for black spot that Burgundy Iceberg had. The scent is a very traditional old rose scent, which I like.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Princess Alexandra of Kent Rose

It's been a while since my last post. Even though I haven't kept this blog updated, things in the garden have still been growing. The weather has been rain free and unusually hot for this time of year. Remember my bare root roses in the last post? They are all thriving and coming into bloom now. Princess Alexandra of Kent is the first to bloom and is the fastest grower. The flowers are a warm medium pink and are darker on the reverse side of the petal. The scent is nice and noticeable sort of  an old rose smell with something else added.Stay tuned to see the other roses.

Princess Alexandra of Kent with Souvenir de la Malmaison

Thursday, January 26, 2012

David Austin Rose Order

I came home a week or so ago and found a large box of David Austin roses waiting for me. This is my late Christmas/early birthday present. I have six new baby roses! After much consideration, I ordered Munstead Wood, Port Sunlight, Jude the Obscure, Princess Alexandra of Kent, Queen of Sweden and Young Lycidas. 

Those of you from Florida know it has been unusually warm and very dry lately. My plan was to try directly planting these bare root roses into amended beds, but for various reasons I wasn't prepared and the weather wasn't the best. On the Austin website I read that bare root roses may struggle to get established in temperatures consistently over 70 degrees. I just don't want to experiment with these expensive and dear treasures, so I decided to give them a year in large pots before planting in the ground. Maybe I'll try planting one of those cheap bare root Odd Lots roses to see if bare roots can thrive in Florida.

The order came wrapped together in a plastic bag. I think it benefits me to live close to the distribution center in Texas and to get one of the first shipments of the year. All of the roses were fresh and most were in good condition. One rose, Port Sunlight, had some pretty serious damage to two of its main canes. Poor little thing is sending up many basal breaks to try to replace them. It looks like a vigorous trooper. I did contact customer service though because I was worried it wouldn't make it, and they promptly took care of the problem to my satisfaction. All of my new babies have broken dormancy and have tiny sprouts all over them. I am all anticipation now