Papaya progress

Monday, March 30, 2009

Papaya dwarfs my desk
Originally uploaded by sassycrafter
The papaya that I keep on my desk has been growing like crazy. It flowered a few weeks ago, as you may recall from my earlier blog post, and the resulting fruit just keeps getting bigger and bigger. 

Jen insisted that I blog again about the papaya's progress, so here goes.

Here's a photo of the fruit on March 11, about a week and a half after the flower first opened.

Papaya fruit?

And here it is on March 30, the day it got transplanted.

Papaya fruit keeps getting bigger

I wanted to hold off on transplanting until the fruit had matured, but the plant just seemed like it couldn't wait any longer. I had a bit of trouble finding the right sized container. While the new pot may look huge, it really is the next size up. As you may recall, the previous container was tall and narrow. This was the only pot I found that was not only wider than the original pot but also deeper.

Here's a picture of Bart (who generously offered to help me) coaxing the papaya out of the old pot.

Coaxing the papaya out of the old pot

And here we are checking the height of the plant in the new container, before backfilling with potting media.

Checking the soil height in the new pot

Finally, here is the plant after it was tucked into its new pot and given a thorough soaking.

Ta-da! The transplanted papaya in its new pot

Thanks again to Bart for his help!

Gardening at night

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Gardening at night
Originally uploaded by sassycrafter
Last night was a busy gardening night. I stopped by Home Depot on my way home and picked up new pots for my papaya and bird of paradise, both of which desperately need to be transplanted. I was expecting to settle for pots that were boring or so-so, but their selection of colorful resin planters blew me away. And, they were even affordable.

Then I went home and started the new seeds I ordered, since they came in last week. Here's a picture of me misting them under the glow of the porch light. It made me think of that R.E.M. song that I used to like so much.

I do still like the song, but unfortunately it has been stuck in my head since last night. Don't you hate when that happens? My old trick for getting a song out of my head was to sing it to my sister, and then magically it would get stuck in her head. Hmm... maybe I'll have to give her a call today.

Weekend surprises

Monday, March 23, 2009

New plants
Originally uploaded by sassycrafter
I bought these plants this weekend at the Kanapaha Garden Festival. Both should be evergreen here in North Florida and will provide the bones that keep the front bed interesting through all four seasons.

I was told that the purplish-grey ones are Dyckia 'Silver Dragon' and the yellowish-green ones are Yucca aloifolia 'Variegata'.

I thought that the yuccas would only get 3-4' tall, or at least that's what the gal who sold them to me said. I looked them up once I got home and realized that I'm in for more than I bargained for. These are supposed to reach up to 7' tall! Gulp.

Looks like I should reevaluate where I was planning to put them. Maybe I'll put just one in front and save the other two for the back yard. Of course, I could put all three in the front bed and just create a fortress look!

I also need to double-check the identification on the bromeliad. I looked in the Bromeliad Society International online cultivar database and couldn't find mention of 'Silver Dragon'.

Either way, I do love this brom. It has fabulous purple foliage covered with silvery scales, which makes it so interesting to look at. And isn't that orange flower spike luscious, especially in contrast with the purple? Oh yes, mine will be a colorful garden.

And funky, too. Check out the bench I also bought at the show. I'm calling it a funkified Adirondack chair.

New garden bench

I wasn't planning on buying a bench until later in the design process. In fact, I had dedicated all of my current budget to getting unique plants. But hey, sometimes life throws you unexpected surprises that are too perfect to pass up.

Heck, it even has built-in ledges for me to rest a beer on as I sit in the garden on warm summer evenings. The only thing missing is a built-in fan to keep me cool and push the mosquitoes away.

I may add a coat of colorful paint down the road, but that depends on how much color I get from the plant palette. A plain white bench might allow the plants to shine even brighter.

Picking plants

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Yesterday I ordered a bunch of seeds from  Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds in preparation for planting the new bed in my front yard. Here is the list of the seeds I ordered, many of which are both edible and ornamental. Don't you love multi-tasking plants?
  • Gobbo di Nizzia Cardoon (AR103)
  • Garden Mix Castor Bean (FL280)
  • Double Purple Queen Datura (FL313)
  • Lime Green Nicotiana (FL521)
  • Mexican Sunflower (FL729)
  • Royal Purple Zinnia (FL806)
  • Lime Basil (HB103)
  • Cilantro (HB125)
  • Lemongrass (HB162)
  • Leonitis (HB167)
  • Hill Country Heirloom Red Okra (OK112)
  • Thai Red Roselle (RS101)
  • Green Zebra Tomato (TG103)
  • Cherokee Purple Tomato (TP101)
  • Japanese Black Trifele Tomato (TP107)
  • Striped Roman Tomato (T105)
I figured it would be cheaper to start some of my own plants from seed rather than buy established plants at a nursery. We'll see -- I guess it depends on how successful I am at growing plants from seed!

The tomatoes and cooking herbs will go in the backyard, and I may not end up using all of the others in the front bed. I just couldn't decide.

I do still plan to buy a few plants from the nursery to help give the front bed some good bones. I don't want it to look too empty in the winter. The options include:
Banana in Terra Nova Nurseries garden
The next things to do are to make a sketch of the bed so that I know how the plants should be arranged and look into buying limerock that I can use to edge the bed.

March--Garden Bloggers Bloom Day

Monday, March 16, 2009

(Apologies for the non-standard font. Blogger and I got into a fight today.)

As part of Garden Bloggers Bloom Day, here's a run-down of what's blooming in my garden right now.
Initiated by May Dreams Gardens, countless bloggers now participate in Garden Bloggers Bloom Day. They simply create a post on their blog to showcase what's blooming in their gardens and then link it to the current GBBD post at May Dreams Gardens. No rules. No requirements. Just good garden fun.
(click photo for larger image)
Orange blossoms"
My sour orange tree is in full bloom and is generating the most heavenly scent imaginable. I sat in the backyard the other night after work, just drinking in the fragrance. Sometimes I wish I had a tastier type of orange, but the fragrance alone really does make the tree worthwhile.
'Spice and 'Louis Phillippe' Roses
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Old garden roses
My 'Spice' and 'Louis Philippe' roses are both blooming -- true to form for old garden roses. (Sorry this shot is slightly out of focus. I think I still had the camera set on macro.)
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Azalea Pale pink azalea flowers White azalea flowers
My azaleas are still blooming. Admittedly the one in the top photo could definitely use some pruning, but I wanted to wait until after it was done blooming.
Sweet viburnum
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Viburnum getting ready to flower"
The sweet viburnum hedge on my property line is getting ready to bloom, which I'm not really looking forward to. Their "sweet" odor doesn't smell so sweet to me.
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The pink camellia is now flowering. It's nothing compared to what I saw in Dave's yard but it ain't half bad, especially considering that I don't give it any care.
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Many people consider this plant a weed, but I love it.
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Technically this bromeliad isn't blooming, but the throat did turn from green to red so I decided to post a photo anyway. And thanks to Tom who originally gave me this plant!
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New loropetalum leaves"
And technically this loropetalum isn't blooming, but I just loved the new burgundy foliage so I had to take a picture.
Other plants blooming around town include dogwood and redbud, and Carolina jessamine. Spring redbud blooms

A garden coach is a gal's best friend

Thursday, March 12, 2009

I'm one of those gardeners who easily gets paralyzed by too many options. I've been known to sit and ponder what I should do with a certain corner of my yard for years, never to take action. But all this has changed -- I'm finally digging in!

This transformation is all thanks to my newly found garden coach, Erin. I first heard about garden coaches at the Garden Writers Association convention last fall.

I've got plenty of plant knowledge and DIY gumption, so I never felt like hiring a landscape designer was the right thing. But at the same time, I wasn't making any progress in transforming my yard. It turns out that a garden coach was exactly what I needed. Having someone else to bounce ideas off of has been a huge help and has lifted my decision paralysis.

Case in point: my front yard.

For years I talked about installing a bed that paralleled the street. I wanted less turf and more plants. And, I was tired of mowing around the pindo palm, so it really needed to be part of a bed. However, I had a hard time deciding what shape to make the bed. And I also had a hard time believing that my crude vision of a plant-filled bed could become a beautiful reality.

Enter Erin. She came over a few weeks ago after work. We looked at the yard and used a garden hose to lay out a few bed lines. We settled on something we both though looked good--a deep bed that left only a ribbon of grass that would lead the eye to the back corner of the yard.

New front landscape bed

We marked it off with surveyor's paint (image above) and then sprayed Roundup to kill the turf (or more truthfully, the weeds). It took awhile for the area to turn brown, but it finally has. I'll probably do another application before I install any plants.

And speaking of plants, I've got a list of contenders started. Of course, I have plenty of old plant lists collecting dust around my house. The problem has been that I never decide which ones I actually want to install. This time I'm going to run them by my garden coach and see what she thinks of my options. Problem solved!

But as long as we're talking plants, does anyone have any bold and beautiful plants that they think would work well? The bed stretches the length of the house. I need mostly shorter plants close to the driveway but can use some taller (10-12') plants on the other side of the pindo palm.

I already have the 'Queen Emma' crinum and would like to play off of its burgundy foliage. Some of the top candidates include Ensete (no surprise there), brugmansia, castor bean, silver saw palmetto, red zinnias, kniphofia, and 'Forest Pansy' redbud.

Oodles of camellias

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Originally uploaded by sassycrafter
My friend Dave knows that I dig gardening and sent me a text message to let me know that his camellia bushes were in bloom and suggested that I stop by to see them.

I stopped in after work today and was blown away. Dave must have close to 150 different camellia bushes tucked into his yard!

They were all there when he bought the house in the early 1990s. Apparently the house used to belong to Bill and Birdie Carroll (sp?). Dave says that Bill was a horticulture professor at UF, which explains all of the camellias.

At any rate, the place was just amazing. Dave let me take several blooms home, and I took a few photos of other ones around the yard.

Here are some close-up shots of the ones I took home, moving clockwise around the photo above. I don't know the cultivar names for any of them (sorry). You can click on each photo to see it bigger.

This one was cool because the variegation was so smooth--like when you work wet-on-wet with watercolors.


This one was jam-packed full of petals. At first I thought it was a cluster of several flowers, but it really is just one flower.


I think this one was my absolute favorite. It reminded me of a candy cane.


Here's another beautiful variegated variety.


And here's a deeper pink variegated variety.


I also took some photos while we were walking around his yard, though they're not that great. I took them with my phone and the light was fading, neither of which makes for great photos.

Here's another candy cane one.


And look at this one! It had red stamens! I've never seen anything like this before on a camellia.


I couldn't get over how uniformly the petals aligned on this one.


And here's one last vignette. Dave floats the blooms that fall to the ground in his birdbath, changing out the colors and styles of blooms as he sees fit.


Papaya in bloom

Monday, March 2, 2009

papaya flower
Originally uploaded by sassycrafter
My papaya plant is blooming! I'm so excited. It has had flower buds on it for about a month now, and one of them finally popped open on Friday. I noticed the flower just as I was getting ready to leave for the weekend.

I got this 'T.R. Hovey' papaya as a tissue culture plug over a year ago (thanks, Tom!). It sits on my desk right next to a window and gets direct light in the early morning and then indirect light the rest of the day. I water it regularly and fertilize it occasionally.

papaya flower

When I came in this morning, the flower petals had curled backward exposing the unique, antler-like structure that I think is the stigma (see it close up). I don't see any stamens (the male, pollen-bearing structures). My pictures in my Botany Illustrated book makes me think it's a unisexual flower, but then I'm not sure how it could bear fruit. Tom says it's a bisexual flower, which would make sense if it's able to produce fruit on its own.

papaya flower

Secretly, I think Tom envies my papaya. He left his papaya outside and it's looking somewhat sad right now, since the colder winter temps caused his plant to drop a lot of its leaves. Mine not only has flowers, but also plenty of leaves. For once I have out-gardened Tom!

papaya plant in bloom