In this climate we plant our spring seeds in the fall and winter and I have been waiting for every leaf to fall from this tree.

In order to plant the seeds, I need to remove all the leaves to get to the soil. Unfortunately, because I have many plants that grow during the winter, I have to pick out all the leaves by hand. No raking here.

I have come up for an inventive way to keep leaves off seedlings in smaller spaces with picnic tents that are normally used to keep bugs from food. Cleaning the bed by hand takes a little more work, but many of these plants are not available in nurseries and only do well with direct sowing.

Bromeliad Update

This bromeliad was one of the plants I had in my Christmas post. I thought it was prefect for the holiday as the flowers of this first time bloomer were red and green. I was quite amazed when the flowers opened all the way and they were blue. The bromeliad was full of surprises this year.

Baby, It’s Cold Out There

The temperatures dropped and the gang showed up. Several flocks of little yellow birds arrived to chow down at the feeders and pick bugs from the trees. There were Pine Warblers, Orange Crowned Warblers, Yellow Rumps and Goldfinches.

As it turns out, the finches will only eat fresh Nyjer seed and I had to quickly run to the store to grab a bag. The knowlegable staff told me I could freeze the seed for next year. The Nyjer seed is expensive and the birds are usually gone before they finish a bag. Another feeder is full of sunflower seeds that give the birds the energy they need.

Another winter visitor that has been around for some time is a Rufus Hummingbird. I have enough blooming flowers in the winter to attact the hummer and I supplement with a sugar water feeder. On these cold days I make sure I have the feeder out before dawn.

A Wagon Load of Moses

My Moses-in-the-Bulrushes (Tradscantia spathacea), spent many years growing in pots as a houseplant. The plant and its offspring have been with me since the 70’s. It has never been so happy as it has been since moving to the South.

Moses drops its seeds that readily germinate and the plant will spread. I have never been one to throw out a living plant and as they grew too big for beds, I’ve had to pull them up and replant them anyplace I could find space. The Moses I just pulled from a small corner bed filled the entire wagon. My one little pot has probably multiplied to nearly one hundred.

*I wrote this a few weeks ago and the grass is not as green right now.

Christmas Miracles in the Garden

There has been a few small miracles in the garden. Nature somehow knew this was the year that something was needed to lift spirits. The bougainvillea has bloomed for the first time since it was brought home from the nursery many years ago. The plant didn’t put on much of a show, but it was enough to brighten the season with its reddish flowers.

This plant, which I believe is a Aechmea recurvata Bronze Age and if anyone can identify it please do, has taken a lot of abuse over the years. Rabbits have eaten it back and it had to endure flooding rains. But, this year the plant has finally decided to make some flowers.

The flowers are slow growing and I will update its progress.

Another small miracle, which is personal for me, was a flock of Robins that landed in the yard. The birds busily finished off the berries on the Yaupon Holly and headed to the lawn to look for bugs. Robins always remind me of my childhood up North. In the early evening when we were playing outside, the Robins were always hopping nearby looking for their last meal of the day.

I hope in this difficult year, you all have found a small miracle here and there to bring a bit of joy.

It’s All About Location

Location is everything, especially for plants. I have grown this Blanket Flower in another bed for years. The plant always makes a few blooms and is finished at the end of summer. I decided to throw some seeds into this small bed next to the driveway that is south facing and really heats up. The Blanket Flower loves it there and has been growing larger and blooming for months. It is so big now that it sets of the alarm on the car that lets you know when you are close to an object.

Location does make a difference.

Hyacinth Bean

The Hyacinth Bean, Lablab purpureus, has decided to bloom again. It has made stems of pretty little flowers.

The flowers are barely gone when it starts making seed pods.

I think the best part of this plant is its beautiful seedpods. This variety is called Ruby Moon which is a perfect name.

Salad Day

It is salad time in the Automatic Garden. The greens perfer cooler temperatures over our steamy summers. It is really nice to have a fresh salad in the winter .

Cold Snap

Snap is a good word to use when describing the change in weather here. One day we are in shorts with the air conditioner running and the next day we need to bundle up and turn on the heat. With temperatures dropping close to 30f, the potted tropicals needed to be moved in.

Both sides of the garage are packed with plants. I really thought I had fewer pots, but after moving all of them, maybe not or I’m just getting older. The plants that can take some cold are covered in frost cloth on the back porch. As this is the Gulf Coast, I will be bringing many back out in a day or two when the wind changes and the temperature goes back up. With all this work, who needs a gym?

So Tiny

How nice would it be to spend the day on a yellow bloom? A tiny baby brown anole enjoyed the sunshine on Bartram’s Oenothera grandifloria.