Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Holiday Postcards from the Garden

Nature is putting on quite a holiday show around the Bay-Friendly Landscape this year.

With another warm start to our winter, and a summer of abundant rainfall that sparked a hyperactive growth frenzy, our plants are decked out in some impressive holiday finery.
The wild coffee is laden with deep-red berries, much cherished by cardinals, blue jays and mockingbirds.

East Palatka holly
Berries also abound on our pretty east Palatka holly trees. The mockingbirds are especially fond of these berries. Now is a perfect time to purchase native hollies because you can tell which are female and produce berries. You can plant them now too -- they are very cold-hardy.

A bevy of bees zooms to and from the red passion flowers and the red pentas, emerging from the blossoms with pollen-dusted legs that make them look like they're wearing yellow hip waders. The passionvine, like our native firebush, typically dies back to the ground in winter, only to re-emerge with gusto in the Spring. Last winter was so warm neither missed a beat and bloomed straight through the season.

Passion flower
Even the cassia tree is still producing  blooms, a fact that has not escaped the attention of the sulphur butterflies  flitting about.

Although our plants have not yet decided to take a winter nap, Rick and I have definitely entered our dormant period. This is the time of year when yard maintenance is almost non-existent -- confined only to occasional weeding and blowing leaves in the walkways back into our landscape beds.

Cassia bloom
Now, finally, we can sit outside on our deck and enjoy the fruits of our labor without being drenched in sweat or eaten alive by mosquitoes. We can indulge in our favorite adult beverages while the wonderful scent of the newly planted sweet almond bush wafts over us. That is one fragrant plant!

Our backyard dressed for a holiday garden party

Winter may be coming -- in fact, I hope it is. I look forward to cold weather as a refreshing and welcome change.

But in the meantime, we're enjoying a real Florida Christmas. Hope your "decorations" are just as lovely!