Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Spring Keeps Coming!

My garden is looking more beautiful each day, with showy blossoms making a steady appearance as Spring's glory continues to reveal daily surprises.

Gaillardia, or blanket flower, is one of my favorites. It just looks happy to be alive. It is a great favorite of our bees as well.

Blanket flower seems to be one of those troopers that just keeps on blooming, no matter how hot or dry it gets. It also makes beautiful cut flowers for a vase.

At the very top of the preference list for bees again this year are our little East Palatka holly trees. Last year Rick and I were greatly amused by the swarms of bees that descended on the hollies when their tiny, almost inconspicuous white blossoms appeared. Would it happen again this year? You bet! For two weeks, the hollies were humming with bees from sunrise to sunset. We were sad to see the blossoms fade and fall.

I spent one Sunday morning with my face buried in the trees, camera shoved as close I could get to the bees, trying to take their picture, but this is the best I could do.

I did, however, find a more sedentary insect to photograph on my Shoal Creek chaste tree. Can anyone tell me what this is? I thought it was a stinkbug but at first, but that's not right. Perhaps a member of the praying mantis family? It has a lovely red proboscis, as you can see, and matching red-tinged legs. Quite fetching, I think, though I am not sure if this is a "good" bug or a "bad" bug. That workshop is coming up NEXT month at my library!

I continue to be pleasantly surprised at how low-maintenance our grass-free landscape is. We don't even seem to have the weed problem we had last year when we first planted everything. Our chores now consist of blowing leaves off our pathways occasionally (back into the mulched beds, of course!) and watering when needed. I enjoy strolling around with pruners in hand giving everything a touch-up too.

Of course, I am adding greatly to my gardening workload by refusing to let well enough alone. Now that I have discovered I can actually grow things, I can't seem to stop! So, I am continuing to add plants where the yard seems sparse, and to embark on any number of new projects. Does this sound familiar?

One of my new projects is nearly complete -- my bathtub herb garden. The clawfoot tub was a a Christmas gift from my husband, purchased for a song through Craigslist. We sanded it, then Rick drilled additional drain holes in the bottom (that was not easy!) and I painted it a soothing seafoam green. Because hot weather was rapidly approaching, I went ahead and planted my herbs in it, after learning from the Master Gardeners that most herbs need a bit of time to establish before Florida's steamy summer sets in. But I still intend to stencil dragonflies on the tub, once my artistic muse returns from wherever it has temporaily fled.

Now I have my favorite fresh herbs for cooking, all in one convenient place. I planted two cilantro plants, because I use cilantro more than any other herb. I also have mint, which is wonderful in iced tea or in salads; parsley; basil; sage; thyme; chives; and in a corner by itself because it likes more heat and less water than the others, rosemary. So far, so good, though past experience tells me summer will take a toll on some of the daintier varieties.

I have one more gardening project in the works, and will talk about that one in another blog post.

What new or ongoing gardening projects are on your Spring to-do list?


  1. Everything looks amazing! Love the bathtub idea!
    I'm just adding on little by little as I attend more native plant workshops.
    I so envy your lack of turf!!!!

  2. Love the bathtub herb garden! Your backyard is looking so inviting this Spring. Don't know your bug but he sure has an attitude doesn't he?

  3. Love that bathtub filled with herbs, and the color is great...so soothing and cooling which will be great during the summer months. Sounds like you're having more fun in the garden not worrying about mowing or weeds. Everything looks great!

  4. Daisy, I am trying to add more native plants as well, especially in my shady areas which are perfect for our native ferns. I love not having grass - I feel like I have a garden now instead of just a "yard."

    NanaK, I found instructions for making a planter from my clawfoot tub on the Internet. What did we do before Google? :-)

    Susan, thank you for the nice comments. I hope one day my garden will look as good as yours!


  5. The bug is an assassin bug. And it's a good bug to have. It eats other bugs including aphids.

  6. Thank you, Jacklyn-Rhea! It does look like an assassin -- glad it's on my side! I'm relieved because I thought it was quite attractive.