Orchids Against The Fence

The thing is that here in South Florida, natural beauty is all around us.

Remember the place is named after Flowers after all .

Given the right conditions, a seed dropped on the ground will grow, flourish, and eventually bloom and bare fruit.   It’s fairly easy here to grow plants that people in London need to build a whole infrastructure around.

That Greenhouse is a bit of a trial to maintain, isn’t it?

Here, my orchids grow in a mundane spot.  They please me from my window in the kitchen.  They flower against the fence or the shed in the back.  I don’t do anything more than give them water every day.  I suppose I should fertilize them but I forget.

Every day at 7:30 in the Morning, I am outside inspecting my plants.  Inspecting them, fussing over them, tweaking their irrigation, getting myself soaked when I pull a sprinkler head, and generally enjoying the experience.

I was that “weird kid” that had set up tables in his pre-teen bedroom so that I could grow plants.  From the mundane to the exotic, simply because they pleased me.  I once had a thimble sized terracotta pot once that I managed to grow a Marigold that bloomed a little flower about the size of your thumbnail.

Now that I am in Florida, I can simply put a box with a little bit of mulch tied to my fence, drip feed watered daily for fifteen minutes, and wait for beauty to occur in different spots in different times of the year.

It is now June.  We are all here waiting for Hurricane Season to get started.  Doing our Hurricane Shopping for Hurricane Food and Hurricane Water (beer).  This season means that while I can enjoy those flowers, I will be looking over my shoulder and seeing if things are quite right to survive a tropical storm force wind.

Once in place, these plants and the others, do not like to be moved.  They grow their roots between the fence boards and become happy in their place.

They bloom where they are planted.  Hopefully we all can say that of ourselves.

May you bloom where you are planted.  After all, you can grow into the sunshine as well.  Now check your place and make sure it will survive a storm.  May as well, you just might find some beauty in a forgotten corner.

When Hurricane Prep and Corona Virus Planning Collide

If you look at things critically, we’ve been on a emergency preparedness footing since November.  We just didn’t realize it.

The first whisperings of a problem were around New Years, but here in South Florida we go through a twice yearly exercise.  In May or so, we begin to get supplies.  Hurricane season is coming, we need to keep at least two weeks of extra food in the house.  The assumption is that in a Power Down situation, what can you have handy to eat without anything to cook it.

Industrial sized Peanut Butter Jars, Massive bags of Crackers, Giant multi-packs of Tuna.  My own hallway has two cases of water bottles.

Mind you, here in Wilton Manors Florida, the Utilities Management staff is amazing.  The head here is “Honor Bound” to make sure there will be no problems with turning the tap and having water pour out with the exclusion of when the storm is at its peak for about six hours.  Its just prudent to have extra water on hand.  Nobody wants to stand under the drainspout to get a drink.

We have never had a problem here due to his success and his department.

The drum beat of “there’s something wrong coming” got louder in January and February.  Loud enough that by the first week of March, I managed to get to the Big Box Wholesale Club three times and stock the house for the rest of the year of those non-perishable.  Someone else was welcome to stand in line, I’ll have Spam for lunch.

Preparing for a hurricane which we are used to here, and a pandemic are similar but not identical.

What happens for a hurricane is that in May, now, we have a giant tree on the property that needs to be “thinned” as well as all the hedges and flowers have to be “rightsized”.  The hedges are fine, as are the flowers.  After all, my prize bougainvillea hedges might be nasty to work with having all those thorns, but I’d prefer to do all of that myself.

The Tree is a very different story.  It’s a Sea Grape.  Being a native species, we are not allowed to remove it, but there is no reason to have a monster 50 foot tall beast in the corner of the yard with dinner plate sized leaves.  Every year, we have it “lowered” or else it grows into the power lines.   I have had the limbs trimmed back about six feet every year, and they grow back about half that so it’s now a healthy 30 plus.

We’re about to go through that exercise.  They cut almost all of the foliage off the tree, and the fascinating thing is that the tree is evolved enough to accept that and thrive.  It almost all grows back by “next” year.  So shorten the longest limbs and allow it to adjust.

The problem is that half of my orchids were all shaded by that beast of a tree.  I had some that the elements had eaten away the pots and needed replanting again.  So pull all of them away from their home under the shed’s eaves and repot.  I was able to make an extra two pots out of the one largest plant and move them close to the house and out of harm’s way.

I guess all of this is an illustration of the “Butterfly Effect” where the flapping of a butterfly in the tropics stirs up dust that forms clouds that eventually form a hurricane.

That dust on my Jeep’s hood in the carport is from the Sahara Desert.  If I stand on the beach and look due east, my line of sight following the curve of the horizon skips over one small island in the Bahamas and then comes ashore in Boujador in Western Sahara.

You folks are welcome to the dust you lost, and here, have an orchid.

Involuntary Shamrocks

So do you like my weeds?

If you blink, Shamrocks happen.

Really, that was how these little gems came to be.

You see this was once my Mint Pot.  You never should plant mint in your ground because it propagates incredibly well.  Cuttings and seeds both will just grow and take over.

Your grass will be changed over to mint.

Mind you, you can always make tea out of the stuff, and I have.  It’s quite nice, this specific mint, and I will be restarting the pot in a while.  But it had died back, and there was one lone shamrock growing there.

I let it go.  Bad idea.  Now I have a pot where almost all the remaining mint has been choked out by these little plants.

That is what you get when a casual gardener gets lazy.  Lets call it “The Darwinian Gardening Method”.  What thrives is allowed to grow.

The flowers had caught my eye over the weekend.  I really did like seeing them there, especially since they require no care other than occasional watering.

I have heard them called Sorrel and the roots have small tubers on them.  The tubers can be cleaned, and have been used by the Native Americans to sweeten things.  I’m not sure that I am quite that brave, but I do know that people in the caribbean will drink Sorrel Tea.

If this is the same stuff and it could be since The Bahamas are only about 100 miles east of where I sit.

I guess you could call this “Stuff I Just Like” like a friend does, and call it a day.

 

Enjoy some little flowers in March wherever you are.

Bamboo Poles At The Back Of The Pool Or What To Do When It Gets Too Close To The Powerlines

Years ago at this point, probably about a decade, we went off to a Bamboo Nursery.

People in Asia love the stuff.  It’s used heavily in construction, cuisine, art and so forth.  I figured I would have a ready supply of Bamboo to do oddball things with it.

But this particular bamboo we brought home from the nursery has quirks.

We planted it further back, but over the years, it’s gone closer to the pool and readily drops nearly indestructible leaves into the pool.

As it matured, it has gotten thicker.  It started out smaller than my smallest finger, and was a clumping bamboo the size of a bucket.  Since we took the SUV to the Bamboo Nursery, we were able to stick the rootball in the back of the car, and have the greenery stick into the front of the cabin.

I remember riding back from Palm Beach County with my arm draped over top of it so the way home could be seen.

Now the thinner than my finger stalks have gotten thicker than my thumb, maybe two fingers wide.  It has gone from being a maximum of ten feet tall (3m) to growing taller than the highest supply lines on the electricity easement behind the house.  I’d say it’s at least 30 feet (9M) and growing.

We noticed, then panicked since you are constantly looking over your shoulder in South Florida at the next hurricane season.  Those two stalks had to be cut down.

We did, and laying next to the pool I realized it was longer than the 32 foot (9m) length of the pool.  Even if my math here is being a little off, my estimates stand.

Since the stalks we cut were too nice to throw away, I cut them into roughly 6 foot tall, shoulder length bits.  One of them is a handy Me Sized length and I am taller than 6 foot by another four inches.  (193 cm in new money).

But what to do?

At this point, I made an accent pot since putting plants at the back of the pool was a great idea until Hurricane Irma knocked my cactus into the deep end and all over the back of the pool.

I had a strawberry pot that I wasn’t doing much with other than collecting dust.

I Know, Let’s Put Together One Of Those Accent Pots!

Basically it’s the least I could do.  I cut them with the electric saw to roughly the same length and stuck them there, at the back of the pool.  I will water them as much as I watered the cactus, which is to say, Not At All.

The leftover bits are going to be chewed up by my parrot Oscar, and there are two little lengths that will be shot glasses once I sand them smooth.

Or maybe not.  At least they won’t create a circuit-to-ground from the high voltage wires!

The Thump Of A Monarch Butterfly

We have weirdly friendly wildlife here in the middle of the suburban sprawl that is South Florida.

I regularly see opossums on my back porch, well technically a Lanai, but I’m not that posh.  I don’t think they know what to think of me, but I do my Steve Irwin act and tell them that I mean them no harm and they should go about their business.

Bad Aussie sometimes included.

Besides they eat ticks and neither me nor Rack the McNab SuperDog (TM) like ticks.

There are flocks of white birds that land from time to time and pick through the yard eating grubs.

Flocks of Feral Parrots making a racket in the trees. just after dawn and just before sunset.  That’s the call to flock and it mirrors when Oscar the ornery Orange Wing Parrot that shares the house gets loud.

I give him a quarter of an orange and he’s quiet.

But the thing is that I really rarely know what I am going to come across.

One morning I was out back for the yard inspection.  Every day, skim the pool, check the irrigation, and consider whether I can take more cuttings for propagation to build up the hedges or some such.

I stepped away from the house and felt something thump on my head.

Strange.  The birds out there are not quite that bold.  They yell at me, I imitate them and they get more annoyed, but they almost never get closer than ten feet.

 

It could not have been a bird.

Going by the bougainvillea and the spa, my head got thumped again.

Ok, something is decidedly too friendly here.

Turns out that it was one of the Monarch Butterflies that are around the place.  I see one, at least, every day.  This one must have thought that yesterday’s Apple Shampoo meant something in its little insect brain but couldn’t find anything to eat.

Try my brains.  Brains good.  I’m not using them right now anyway!

It fluttered around the yard and ended up on the Bougainvillea behind my bedroom window.   He came to a landing and began to drink up his fill.   I say he because he had the spot on each of the back wings that denote that.

“Hey you little bugger, go have your fill!  That’s why I keep that plant there!”

I went back to inspecting the Rosemary that is starting to take root under the Bougainvillea.  Pizza Spice for Ground Cover.  At least it will smell good.

I have a constant churn of butterfly friendly plants in the yard.   The milkweed regularly gets eaten down to wee sticks, and the butterflies lay their eggs there.

I’ve got Poinsettia there, but the butterflies seem to ignore that.

As well as other oddball plants, it’s an overfull garden.

Just the way I like it.  I have never lived in an empty property where there is a question of how do I want to put in the hedges.  I simply maintain it.  Filling in where necessary.

The scent of Jasmine on the breezes, the flowers of the red Hibiscus, the Podocarpus all fight it out to determine where We begin and They end.

But plenty there for a wandering Monarch to land and eat.

And to thump me in the back of the head from time to time.

Confusing The Dog With The Haunted Poang

Having a routine is best for your dog.

They confuse so easily.

The UPS/FedEx/USPS drivers come through and I know that it happens because I hear a low grumble from Our Corner of the living room.

Rack the McNab SuperDog (TM) has gravitated to a specific spot.  Right next to My Chair in the living room.

My Chair in an All In The Family sense is where I sit.  My Spot.  So he sits there, on a pair of foam pads rescued from a long departed Poang chair that is wrapped in a blanket.  It’s right there at my feet.

We hold discussions, mostly about what I am (constantly) snacking on.  Whether he can be involved in what I am doing.  Whether he can get what I am snacking on.

I used to have the second Big Green Chair in that corner before.  It is moved for now into the middle of the living room because an Ikea Poang Chair just fits my 6’4″/193CM, 220 pound/100KG frame like a glove.

Nobody seems to like these chairs who visit us here.  I don’t understand why they all have to try them out and then bounce out to the couch or one of the big chairs either, but it works out for me.

This Poang is a new one which means it will probably live another 20 years in this house as My Rocking Chair.

I was at Ikea in Sunrise, FL with a friend who gave me the chair for Xmas because I refused to get out of the floor sample at the store.  I guess he got tired of hearing me talk about how comfortable they are “for me”.

This particular morning, I sat down in The Other Big Green Chair on the opposite side of the little table from Our Corner.  Using the electric razor I sat back.  Rack was on his bed in Our Corner happily grooming his oldest hedgehog toy.  It now looks like all the hair has been removed except a patch here and there, and he goes to that one over all the rest.

Our Boy Rack was lost in the Daddy Zone grooming that little hedgehog when I looked over at him.  He didn’t notice me as I reached over to the poang rocker.  I couldn’t see what he was up to so I moved it gently.

It was at this point where I confused Rack.  I might say freaked him out.

Chairs don’t move on their own.

Nobody was in the Poang Rocker.
Dad was in the Big Green Chair.

What was going on?

WHAT WAS GOING ON?!?!?

All that went through his furry black and white mind as every last bit of fur on his body went up on his body and he turned into a Looney Tunes parody of a scared dog.

He immediately forgot about his child, the mostly bald hedgehog.   Forgot about his comfort zone.  Forgot about being in the little corner with the little dog bed.

He basically ripped tire scrabbling across the floor to get away from my haunted Poang that fits my back and nobody else’s.

I had to stop shaving when I had 45 pounds of black and white dog hiding on my other side

from the weird pieces of furniture that moved on their own.

Looking down into those twin brown eyes, I had lasers burning into my soul imploring me to explain why things were moving on their own.

My own laugh was answer enough.  He visibly deflated and went off duty to gingerly walk back into his corner.

Laying down on his bed in the corner next to the Haunted Poang, he plastered himself against the far wall in that little space, returning to his old hedgehog and the morning routine.

The moral of the story is if you are going to Rock Your World, make sure your dog knows you are still in it.

Planting A Lemon Tree In A Stump – Video

(WordPress at my level does not provide inline video links.  If you want to see the time lapse, the link below has it.  My Blogger link has it as well here.)

Youtube has an amazing amount of videos on it.

Some of them are amazing.  I don’t really think this one is amazing, but it did give me an excuse to use the time lapse feature on the camera.

Then hacked a bunch of titles on to it.

So the slightly longer story is that I had a rather beautiful palm tree in the backyard.  It was about 30 plus feet tall and you could see it easily a block away.

I did say “had”.

It got sick, infected with some sort of fungus, and started to die off.

We removed the tree, and it produced a trash can lid sized stump in the grass that was begging to have something done to it.

In the meantime, I was growing a lemon tree from seed because we couldn’t find just the kind of lemon tree that someone wanted.

You know “Regular” Lemons.  Not Meyer Lemons or Stripey ones or giant ones.  Regular.

Since the yard is over planted, and I have zero room for anything else, I got the bright idea to grind the stump in the yard and create a planter.

Believe it or not, what gave me the idea was a Grizzly Bear.

Actually the Bear was a statue created by an Artist in Solebury Township, PA.

See, if you are heading to New Hope, PA from my old house in Chestnut Hill, Philadelphia, PA, you drive North on US 202 past Doylestown, PA.  Once you are getting close to New Hope, you reach a curve.  On the curve is an artist who makes things with chainsaws.  Believe it or not they’re quite nice, although I can’t see having a ten foot tall wooden Grizzly Bear on my little property up there, so I never got one.

The yard is way too small for a Grizzly Bear here, but if he can cut away a stump to make a bear, I certainly could hack my way through to make a hole to put a Lemon Tree Seedling.

Or it will be “A Tree” in five years or more.  Maybe we will get lemons from it, I don’t know.

To paraphrase the old parable, If you want to drink Lemonade today, You should have planted the lemon tree five years ago.

After all, someone here wanted one, and I figured I owed him something.  More than that little seedling tree at any rate and it is the right type of tree.

Besides, his birthday is coming up so while I won’t call this a birthday present, I will call it a “gesture”.

Happy Gesture, enjoy your little tree.

Oh, and there are two more that I have to find homes for, so unless you want me getting “creative” planting things, you may want to make a “sug-gesture” of your own.