Monday, April 19, 2010

Exciting Spring Planting

This winter was a hard one on Florida.  Normally 2-3 freezes (lasting only a few hours each) is the worst of our winters, but this year Central Florida had 13 hard freezes.  So many of our beautiful tropical plants have perished.  It's been a busy spring, cleaning up the dead plants and upgrading and replacing.  We have purchased a lot of plants, but haven't really come together on a planting plan.  First and foremost, we lost our gorgeous hibiscus, with its huge amazing flowers, so Mark bought three to replace it with.  The area we had the last hibiscus has grown two small oak trees, which Mark has kept small by trimming like boxwoods.  OUT THEY MUST GO!  I'll transplant the oaks into the back yard before we plant the new hibiscussesesesss.  Hibisci?  Hibiscue?  Hibiscus plants - yellow, peach and a red flowering beauties.

I started a large lot of bell pepper plants, which were growing wonderfully until I transplanted them in what has become clear to me - inferior soil!  Never again will I buy store brand!  MiracleGro is the best, no exceptions!  Today I plan on transplanting the healthiest  of what's left of my bell peppers.  I have six tomato plants, ready for a  bigger pot too.  I got one of those "upside down" tomato planters and will put one in that to compare how well this works.  Should I hang this from an oak tree's limb? Or should I hang it from the porch hook?  I'm thinking, porch, as I want to keep a potted tomato nearby for my control group to compare.

While collecting donated plants for this past weekend's family reunion in St. Augustine, FL, I was able to purchase a fig tree and two large trays full of sweet williams and petunias (maybe totalling 40 plants!) at a very low price, direct from the green house.  They usually won't sell to locals, but because I was there anyway...(I think the employee may have pocketed the $10 she charged me.)  A fern farm donated a bunch of small potted ferns, plus two huge hanging ferns.  Unfortunately for the reunion sale, the big hanging ferns wouldn't fit in the car with the dozens of other ferns, ivy, draceannae, gardenias, and orchids.  The two big ferns would have fit, but there wouldn't be room for the box holding the hot food.  Gotta bring a covered dish to the reunion!  This year I brought a large pot roast, cooked down to shreds with onion, garlic, and a larger amount of big mushrooms, all swimming in gravy.  If you don't like mushrooms, you wouldn't like this!  A second large pot was filled with Jasmine rice. 

After bringing so many plants to the reunion, I bought a datil pepper plant for myself, and I also bought one of the ivy's I donated.  The datil pepper will go into a big pot and hopefully grown into a small tree on my front porch, getting the morning sunshine.  All the proceeds go to the reunion fund for mailing and rental of the St. Johns County Fairgrounds.

Before I can plant the sweet williams and petunias, I want to transplant my many flowering lillies.  It's time to dig them up, split the lillies up, and make more.  After they're all dug up I plan on having Mark cut back the hedge.  I learned that this is the perfect time of year to prune my oversized viburnum hedges down to the small size they are supposed to be (to me), so our pretty house won't look like like a girl, hiding behind bangs that are way too long.  According to the plant guy, we should cut the bushes down a foot shorter than I want it to grow, then it will fill out and behave once again.  If only Mark can keep the hedge size under control in the future!

I haven't decided where to put the fig tree yet.  It's only a foot tall, so maybe in a pot this year to let it grow a little bigger.  I'm hesitant to plant it in the back yard, as the wild animals from the woods behind our house would eat all the fruits before they even ripen.  Mom says to plant the fig near a pine tree, which would limit me to back yard planting.  I'm just not sure I want it there.

I have a bunch of wild flower seeds and plan on having someone (David? Mark? A hired person?) clear the small tree saplings that have appeared at my fence line out back, and loading that area up with seeds and mulch.  It would be a good idea to mulch heavily so we won't have a repeat of weeds and saplings next year at the fence.  I want to be able to see the deer walk past!  I'd also like to mulch under the batch of oaks next to our driveway and load that up with wild flower seeds.  I used to plant them every year there and always got so many compliments.

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