Wilton Manors At Sunrise

I have to admit, I really do like walking through this town before sunrise.

The time is quiet.  I-95 is only barely audible.  The trains aren’t necessarily here and if they are here, I can pretend they aren’t.

When I am not talking to Rack the McNab SuperDog (TM), on a day like this with almost no breezes, all I am hearing are our footsteps and the ringing in my ears.

Thanks, Mom, all that aspirin you fed me left me a present.

I get to stargaze, and while I am looking up at the skies, sometimes I get to indulge myself.  This morning, since I am still trying to adjust to the time change to standard time, I lay in bed an extra half hour or so.  When I do finally get out there, the skies were no longer completely dark.  More of a purple.

Stepping outside, I let Rack walk to the front of the property so he could water His Rock.  I almost always look up and noticed that there were enough clouds out there to make things interesting.  Not quite yet, but later.

Rounding the block, Rack told me that he wanted a Short Walk by herding me one way.  A mere four tenths of a mile today.  Even though I have to break him of that habit, I could use the time to do other things.

We went down a residential street that had a good view of the skies toward the beach.

That is a good view once I stopped looking at what Rack was sniffing at.  I never did figure that out.

The skies were getting brighter and the sun was rising above the Bahamas at this point.  They really aren’t that far away from me.  When that happens, we get the undersides of our clouds lit up by the distant orange rays that are just beginning to peak up over the horizon.

Or so I tell myself.

Walking around the block I hear the neighbor ask “What-cha lookin’ at?”

“It’s a really pretty sunrise.  I’ll have to try to get a good picture of it!”

I may have ringing in my ears, but I have a very stable hand when it comes to photography.

“Good luck to you!  I have pools to take care of!”  As he went off looking for his pool scoop for the back of his pickup truck.

I walked down the block with my neck craned over my shoulder saying to nobody in particular “Yep!  I’m going to get that picture”.

I got a wag out of Rack for that.  He does that often.  Good, I have an excuse for talking and I’m not really talking to myself.

With light breezes and a pleasant temperature, this is why people live here.

It’s also why the Snowbirds come down here and drive stupidly on my roads.  Since it is currently snowing in the big cities up North like Philadelphia and will be in Boston, I’m thinking that the airplanes will be all full up very shortly.

Butterfly At The Pool

The thing about gardening is that you have a lot of visitors.

Through the years, I’ve been visited by various reptiles, more lizards than I can count, insects, and other neighbors.

Both two and four legged.

This morning, going out to inspect my nursery pots and see how my bougainvillea cuttings are doing, I noticed that there were literally dozens of monarch butterfly caterpillars happily eating my milkweed down to pegs.

As a gardener it is at once frustrating and pleasurable.  I would love some seeds from those milkweeds, but courtesy of a neighbor and friend here, I have a cage that I could put the plants inside so they would go to seed.

As one who enjoys nature, that is why I plant the milkweed.  It’s there so the butterflies come to my yard.   It is a rare day that I don’t see a number of those Monarchs on the wing, floating around, coming to a landing somewhere.

To paraphrase:  If I build it, they will come.

Home (plate) I guess is in my backyard.

I don’t wander around aimlessly back there, there’s a purpose.  Usually I’m being herded back to the back door by my boy Rack the McNab SuperDog(TM) after only a few minutes, so standing at the back door and taking one last look means I am trying to think if there is anything that needs to be cared for.

I let him back inside because I realized I needed to deal with a visitor.   This Butterfly was perched, resting, on my sad little Hibiscus that so often is ravaged by Iguanas.

Yes, we have herds of those beasts running around.  The Iguanas turn the neighborhood into something reminiscent of Jurassic Park, and usually result in my thinking “I hope there will be a solid cold snap this winter”.

Their muscles can’t function below 45F, and if it gets into the 30s it will kill them.

Good.

But this Butterfly seemed to be enjoying the rest and watching me go about my own stupidity.

Good.   They’re welcome here.    One of at least five different daily visitor species here.

If you’re seeing Butterflies in the yard and want more, the next step is to leave a little fruit out there for them to find.  The Fairchild Gardens in South Miami does exactly that in their butterfly house.  A little banana or orange goes a long way to help these beautiful creatures survive.

As for the Iguanas?  I hear they’re good in a Curry Sauce.  Chicken of the Trees!

Did you set your clocks back?

It’s that time again.  Here in Los Estados Unidos, we are setting our clocks back an hour in an effort to “save” daylight.

I am not fond of it.

Neither is my dog, Rack.

Personally I don’t care if it is 5AM when I get up, or 6AM.  I get up when I get up.

Here in Florida, they were going to make Daylight Savings Time permanent.  It was one of those non partisan things that the people in Tallahassee could decide on.  But with the gridlock that they have had in Washington since the Clinton Administration, nothing has happened about it.  It needs to be passed by the Federal Government apparently.

I think they’re preoccupied with getting some other trash taken out right now.

Regardless, I get up about the same time every day, gather myself and the dog up, and go for a mile walk before sunrise and will continue to do so.

See, there’s a lot of oddballs out there at that hour, along with the “early” dog walkers.

I have a nice conversation with the dog.  He does talk back, or at least responds with a hearty tail wag.  I have a Dog Directed wander around my block, or my neighborhood.  Do a little window shopping, and then come home for dog food, coffee, and breakfast.

I will say if they could Set It And Forget It, that would be great.   Make up your mind and set things right.

Won’t matter though.  Rack will be hungry at 5pm, er make that 4pm.  I’ll have to feed him when his time comes, regardless.

It’s like snipping an inch off a belt and attaching it to the other end and thinking you’ve saved something.

It also means that I have thirty clocks in this little 1200 sq foot (110 sq meter) house to set.

I’m not obsessively buying clocks, I simply don’t throw something out when it works. It takes decades for a clock to break and time pieces are a great “Guy Gift”.

I have one sitting on top of a shelf in my bathroom that was a give away back around 1984.  Chaz it says on the face.  Chaz was a brand of cologne that was mass marketed as a push to sell women’s cologne to men in the US.  It didn’t last all that long.

Reminds me, hey you get off my lawn, it’s too early for that!

Way too many clocks in this house.  Now I need to set some clocks, if you’ll excuse me…

Propagating Bougainvillea is Easy

The first time I propagated bougainvillea, i used what my family “on the farm” would call “Involuntary Propagation”.

There was a pot with a little pine bark mulch in the bottom, and a little soil.  It sat under the bougainvillea arbor that I have behind the house.  I came through one day and trimmed it back and a small bit fell in the pot.

I didn’t see or ignored the clipping instead of throwing it out.

Months later when I went to use the pot, I pulled the clipping out and it had begun to grow roots.

Bougainvillea is an amazing looking plant but it has thorns all over it.  Whenever I work with it, I end up having arms that look like I was trying to give a pill to a cat.  Shredded.

But it is one of the reasons why I bought the house.  Standing at the front window, you can see through the house to the arbor in the back, and when it is in bloom, it is a wall of flowers.

It also has a very thin bark that scratches off with a thumbnail to show a little green underneath.

Many plants down here are like that, and it is pretty easy to find a plant that I can propagate easily with better than 50% success.

With the bougainvillea, you will want to find a piece with green growth at the end and some leaf buds on it.

Cut the stem, and trim it to a 45 degree angle to make it easier to stick in the soil.

Treat the cut end generously with rooting hormone.

Push the stem into wet soil deep enough to allow the cutting to stand more or less upright.  Larger stems will need more support and will need to go deeper.

Once in soil, water generously until it is obvious that you have new growth and roots developing.  It can be as long as 3 to 6 months before the new plant can go into the ground, so be patient.

In one case I have seen new growth in about two weeks once all the old leaves had fallen to the ground.

Finally, the plant does not seem to care whether it is getting started in a pot or directly in the ground.  I have cuttings starting in both the soil and in pots on my irrigation lines.

Say Something Sunrise

Ironically this was one of my earlier wake up calls.

Not the morning in the picture, but today, when I am writing this blather.

More than two hours before sunrise, I was up walking around this same spot, a little more than two years later and thought to look East towards the sunrise.

Except it won’t be there for a while.

Coming home to sit in the dark house, I’m going about procrastinating everything that I needed to do and did “other things” instead.

Looking out the back window from my Poang Chair, through the bougainvillea, I saw the same colors starting to show in the eastern skies.  Orange tints began to appear, painting the large banana tree leaves under my mango tree back there.

After all, I’m in South Florida.  I think it’s a state requirement that you have at least one fruit tree on your property and since I know how to propagate plants, I have too many.  Too many banana trees is not really a problem, but the mango can get massive.

My mango looks like it has been mistreated lately, I hacked it down from 15 feet to a more manageable ten.  If you “lower” the top of the tree, you will end up with a skeletal look, but the plant is quite forgiving.  It’s putting out tiny little chartreuse leaves from the trunk just below where I butchered the plant.

That’s my yard, too many fruit trees in pots.  So many that when I look at it from “space”, I can see the trees around the pool.

But that picture.  I was standing at NE 7th Avenue and Wilton Drive in Wilton Manors, Florida.  Looking east towards the ocean two miles away and the approaching sunrise there was a sign flashing.

See Something
Say Something

I did see something.  A beautiful sunrise.  It was all for my benefit, at some level.  The city has not awakened on that day, June 24, 2017, at 6:14.  The warning sign kept repeating its mantra, and I stood there, my faithful sidekick, Rack the SuperDog (TM) looking towards the sunrise and up at my face.

“Isn’t it beautiful, boy?  It’s our privilege to be up this early and see the city like this!”

I got a wag or five out of him and he went back to looking at it.

“Well, lets go home, the house should be waking up soon.”

Rack stood up and began walking across the street in the general direction towards our house, tail wagging and leading the way.

Beautiful mornings should be shared.  My dog seemed to enjoy it too.

Now, two years later, I’m sharing it with you.

Get out of bed early once in a while, go have a look.  You never know what you’ll find.

Rack Wants To Grill Lunch

There’s an old line about Dogs Playing Poker that you probably have heard.

They can’t.  You will know how good a hand they have because they will show you by wagging their tail.

Rack, the McNab SuperDog (TM) is clearly one of those emotional ones.

I let him follow me just about everywhere on the property.  I’d take him with me in the car more often except businesses can get rather arbitrary as to what they allow in their stores.

Leaving a dog in a car is a definite no and since I have a soft top Jeep Wrangler, if we’re going somewhere, he’s got to come with me.

It’s a Jeep Thing.  You leave nothing that you would not mind losing in a convertible car where the windows are held on by slots, velcro, and zippers.

But at home, it’s open.  I walk around the property and he’s following me while I am doing things.  Actually, my Morning Yard Inspection, he comes out, and does his own thing until he gets bored.  He’ll keep coming back until he gets to go back inside.

I have a higher tolerance for “boring” things I guess.

I’ve told him before “Go do something, you’re just bored, I’m not ready yet” and he will wander off and snoop around the property line until something else looks good.

In this case, we’re getting ready to grill some burgers this morning, and he knew it.  Plopped himself in view of the grill and waited for me to bring out the sausages and the burgers.

Smart dog!  Have a Burger!

Besides, if I use the brush on him out back by the hedges, the fur will magically disappear and I don’t have to use the vacuum cleaner to pick up quite so much of it.

Morning Dew on Betty’s Vinca

I’m constantly clearing out my garden.

Down here if you are eating anything with seeds and some of it falls on the ground, you will have plants.

I need to remember that with some tomatoes and melons, preferably in the back on the drip feed irrigation chains.

There are a lot of pots on those chains, and they’re all watered in a measured way.  The orchids don’t hold water in their pots so they drip down into pots that are strategically placed.  I have two layers of plant pots in most places, sometimes three.  It all depends on what is back there.

The thing is that I have some plants that are just growing everywhere and getting leggy.

They would be Betty’s Vinca.

Betty was my Aunt.  She was a powerful woman, but in the best of all possible ways.  A person you wanted on your side.  She gave of her self readily, and was well loved by her family.

She had two places, one on Long Island, and the other North of me in Century Village.  Yes, it’s a bit of a stereotype, but sometimes stereotypes are there for a reason.

In front of her condo she had some flowers that she was quite proud of.   Proud as she was, she liked to share.  She insisted that I have some cuttings on my last visit with her and they made it to my yard.

The point with Vinca is that they are somewhat invasive.  Constantly blooming plants, they tend to spread if you don’t watch them.  I like them because it gives me a smile to think of Betty and how proud she was of her little garden and those flowers in them.

On the other hand, all of mine got very leggy so they needed to be cut back and replanted.

In a bit I’ll have pot after pot of these plants all over my back yard.  All blooming in the

morning dew, they’ll be there.  Spreading.

But if you are lucky, and the conditions are just right, these simple blooms are just beautiful.  In the golden hour, misted by the dew or my irrigation misters, they will do their best to shine.

I hope so, since they’ve now spread into my neighbor’s garden from the back of the yard to the front.

If he likes it, I have some mint that I need to repot.  We all know how that stuff spreads.