Everything is blooming most recklessly; if it were voices instead of colors, there would be an unbelievable shrieking into the heart of the night. (Rainer Maria Rilke)

Sunday, September 29, 2013

The Ficus is Fudged!

That's right - Fudged!  As in royally!  As you can see, the hedge has dropped most of its leaves due to white fly damage.  By the time I noticed a problem, it was heavily infested.  Then the leaves dropped in a matter of days.  No exaggeration!

Not only is it unsightly, now we can see through to our neighbors yard.  And what's worse, they can see into ours! No more strolling the garden in my nightie, I guess!

This shows part of the Giant White-Bird-of-Paradise that fell during the heavy rains we had earlier this week.  Behind it is the ficus hedge on the other side of the yard that is still lush and healthy.  Although it desperately needs trimming and shaping.  Now, the smart thing would be to treat this hedge for white flies before they mosey on over and attack it.  Unfortunately, it's not cheap.  Research tells me it would cost several thousand dollars to treat a hedge this size (over 10 feet high and over 10 feet long), as it needs to be treated systematically and not topically.  *sigh*  Well, that isn't happening right now, so I'm sure it's just a matter of time before it's affected as well.  I don't even want to ponder the cost of removing these monstrosities and their heavy root systems.  AAAAARRRRGH!  

This is our yard from when we lived over on the Miami side of Florida.  We had ficus hedges on both sides of this yard too, which you can see in the background of the photo.  We didn't have any problems and they were quite lovely.  But this was before 2007, which apparently is when this particular white fly arrived and started to cause damage in south Florida.  What a tidy, little manicured lawn this was - I don't miss that gator infested lake too much.  We often had one basking in the sun on our yard during the wintertime.

On a brighter note, the fall bird migration is in full swing!

We've had a new visitor to our yard recently.  The Yellow Throated Warbler.  He's so little and cute and sings a happy song!  He flits around and is lots of fun to watch.  He's one of the migrating birds and will hang around until spring.

Most often, we see the Yellow Rumped Warbler, also known as Butter Butt.  He is cute and little and sings happily as well!

This shot shows Butter Butts butter a little bit better.

Soon, the Catbird should arrive.  He's a regular during the winter and I love his cat-like mews.

And of course, the Holy Grail is when the beautiful Painted Buntings arrive.  We didn't see them until January last winter, but I keep tabs at Corkscrew Swamp and when they start seeing them there, then I know they're in town and I'll put out the white millet in hopes of getting their attention a little sooner this year.

The Indigo Bunting is also a beauty and this year I'll try putting out some meal worms for them.  They're more of an insect eater.  They usually arrive around the time the Painted Buntings are here.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

When if Rains it Pours

This is going to be another one of those mish-mash posts because it's been raining like crazy for the last week or so and I haven't been in the garden.  Honestly, it hasn't changed much, except for being hideously overgrown and soon I'll have a lot of work to do to whack back the jungle!  I never appreciate a blog that strays too far from it's original idea and I apologize, but I do consider the creatures and wildflowers to be part of my garden.

I've found the Beauty Berries are living up to their name and are wonderfully abundant in the area.  I really want to get some for the yard as the birds like them and they're so pretty.  I'm not sure I've got the perfect place for it, but I'm giving it some thought.

I found these delicate pink wildflowers in the preserve that backs up to our backyard.  I had the name written down last year, but now I've misplaced it.  I'm trying to educate myself on the local wildflowers and I really need to put all my info in one place!

Here's another pretty wildflower from out back.  Also, to which I have misplaced the name ... *sigh*

Well, I know this is a Buckeye Butterfly on a truly adorable little white wildflower.

I caught this Gulf Frit coming in for a landing.

Here's a fly on a leaf.  I'm loving the green color a lot!

I have a hard time getting photos of Dragonflies as they seem to blend in too well with their background environments.  This poor guy is missing a wing - maybe he escaped from a bird attack.

Speaking of green, I found this beautiful pattern on the trunk of a palm tree in the yard.

I mentioned in a previous post I hadn't a photo of the juvenile Red-Bellied Woodpeckers that visit my yard every day.  I think I finally got one - I'm a bit juvie challenged, so I won't say for sure, but I'm fairly sure.  The female has some red on her head, the male has quite a lot of red on his head and the juvies don't have any red.  And yes, what a wonder that they're called red bellied when the red is on their heads!

Here's a shot of the male taken as the sun was setting.  I think the soft evening light is so lovely!

The Brown Thrasher has been hanging around the backyard a lot lately.  He says "Thack, Thack".

And the Carolina Wren has been singing - I finally got a pic, although not my best by far.

I'll wrap this up with this cute little guy that was teeny-tiny and hopping through the grass.  He stopped to say "Hi" and  I couldn't resist taking his picture!

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Chirpy Update

Yup, it's ANOTHER Chirpy post!  But only because he's done something particularly cute.

Chirpy is still coming every morning to the breakfast nook window and chirping for birdseed.

But this week he has started to bring one of the kids along and he lets her do all the talking!  I'm calling her Chirpette because she's dull in color while her brother is getting his adult plumage.  I'm just assuming this, since the females have less color than the males.

This shot shows Chirpette a little better.  She's on the Magnolia looking down at some seed scattered below.

Here's Chirpy and Chirpy, Jr.  Looks like he's going to be a young man soon as he's getting more adult plumage and his beak is starting to turn orange.

And here's Mom!  I don't see her very often, I wonder if she's on another nest.  I'm really not sure what's going on as I keep reading about several different types of behavior.  Maybe it makes a difference being here in FL on how many broods they have a year.  Anyway, I was worried they were becoming dependent upon me for food, but I've since seen Chirpy stalk, corner and eat a dragonfly against the pool cage and all of them are regularly in the Giant White-Bird-of-Paradise eating insects, I feel better that they are all learning to forage for themselves.

Oh, and look who else I saw in the neighborhood!  Mr. Gopher Tortoise!  I guess he wasn't as enchanted with me as I was with him.

See ya, big guy!

Sunday, September 1, 2013


Tillandsias are so cool.  They're epiphytes, taking their nutrients from the air and usually living on a host plant.  (But not always - you can look up the definition and variations if you're so inclined.)

This is what she looked like a couple of years ago when I bought her from the vendor at the local Farmers Market.

I also got this one and she blooms as well.  And I can't believe that I don't have a photo of her blooming!  Also, I see I'm referring to these as "she" - I don't know why - I just do....

I love their Medusa-like tendrils sticking out all over the place!  Now, I've gone and stuck them in the baskets of the Vanda orchids so they can hitch a ride during watering.  It might not be a good idea, and I admit I haven't taken the time to research it.  I hope it doesn't affect either plant and so far things look good. I probably could have called this blog the Nonchalant Gardener or maybe even the Lazy Gardener, as I don't always do what I'm suppose to!

Speaking of Orchids, in my previous post I forgot to mention the Cymbidiums that I have indoors.  I love the pretty mess the leaves form sprawling out and making for a huge statement centerpiece.  I put one on the entryway hall table that is smack in the middle of the floor as you walk in the front door.  Can't miss it!  After the flowers have spent, I stick in a couple of very realistic looking fake bloom spikes and the foliage lasts for months - even a year - before it starts to look a little wonky.   I find I can't put the Cymbies outside because it's too hot all year.  They need a bit cooler, but still humid and inside the house, the humidity is very low.  Soooooo, I'm having trouble keeping these flourishing.  I'm going to have to work on that!

I ended up just getting a new Cymbidium and this one has pretty pink blooms.

I felt crafty and such the other day and strung these cheap glass beads to make some "jewelry" for the orchid baskets.  The Vandas get the morning sun and I attached this to the basket to catch the sunshine.  I don't usually like shiny objects, but I do like glowing objects and in the sun, especially after the orchids have been watered, this glows quite nicely.

Here's a little closer view.  If you've started to think I'm a bit Bohemian, I'd say that'd be about right!

This photo has absolutely nothing to do with this post.  I just wanted to share something bright and colorful and happy.  This is one of the shops in Matlache, an artist community on the way to Pine Island here in SW Florida.  Hope everyone is having a wonderful Labor Day weekend!  Cheers!