I continue to be very busy in the garden these days, with a lot of major changes underway. What can I say? It’s how I cope.
My first plumeria
I bought my first plumeria over the weekend. I say “first” as I hope to acquire several over time, as soon as I can figure out where to put them. This one is relatively small, so I am placing by our front door. Its fragrance is magical.
Sky flower tree
I also bought a Duranta erecta ‘Sapphire Showers’ (Picotee Sky Flower) tree, which I have planted opposite my orange royal poinciana tree. It should make for a very attractive contrast. The picture below is from a nursery, as mine is just a little guy right now (though they grow rapidly). The sky flower gets a yellow-orange berry on it that should also bring out the colors in the royal poinciana. I also ordered a mango tree.
Sandy loam and pests galore
I have learned that over the years we have been in Florida, I have successfully created sandy loam, which is pure gold as far as gardeners are concerned. Being right on the ocean, much of our soil is naturally sandy, with a small bit of clay mixed in the further down you get.
But I have been heaping organic material on top of it a few times a year through compost and mulch. This has produced the healthiest soil I have seen anywhere we have lived. If you rake the new layer of mulch out of the way to plant something, you automatically see dozens of worms (even before you start digging!). I am very proud of what I have accomplished.
I get a lot of questions about the products I use on my plants from friends and neighbors. The truth is, I try to use as few products as possible and focus on building healthy soil and managing water. Much like Big Pharma has created endless health disasters in our human environment, “Big Landscaping” has done the same in our natural environment. A lot of people who get into chemical fertilizers and pesticides get trapped in a doom loop of fertilize – nuke – fertilize – nuke precisely because they have depleted everything that is healthy about their soil. When I do fertilize, it is likely to be fish or seaweed fertilizer.
But it is difficult when you have incredibly healthy plants to keep critters from seeing your garden as a giant bowl of salad. My two biggest problems have been deer and what seem to be leaf-cutter ants. I didn’t think leaf cutter ants made it here, but my plants suggest otherwise.
I have found a couple organic solutions that seem to work well. The first is Deer Scram. The second is Dr. Earth Final Stop, which you spray directly on to leaves that are being munched on. Deer Scram is super expensive, but then again so is replacing flowering plants after deer devastate your garden.
I have a large shady area under a grove of magnolias that I am going to mow down and bring in a lot of top soil, and put down a path through it. I have ordered hundreds of caladium tubers from a caladium-specific nursery I found in South Florida called Caladium World. You can buy caladiums individually or in bulk. In my case, it’s bulk.
I plan to mix Kathleens and Aarons, which both have large leaves, to create a lush area to hang out.
I have also been reading a lot of truly fantastic books on gardening and botany. At some point, I am going to post a reading list here.