Friday, April 6, 2012

Happy Easter 2012

The perimeter plantings:  Hibiscus, Jatropha, Crotons , Dietes, Mexican Sage,Liriope and a few bromeliads 
Normally at this time of year, I would have written about snow or winter bulbs or gray weather or some of the other related spring phenomena.  Well, this year I am no longer in a place where gray is the abundant color and cold (even as mild as this winter seems to have been) is the norm.  In fact I am a little off kilter because the seasons are very limited here.  Winter, spring and fall here are quite wonderful and pretty much the same and then there is summer which is not.  I should clarify that as I have only lived here for little more than a year and I am not used to the summer which everyone else seems to love for the wonderful heat.  

What we have plenty of here is sunshine and thanks to it plants grow at incredible pace.  Little cuttings that I made by walking around the neighborhood or receiving gifts from friends of unusual or rare tropicals seem to grow by the day at alarming rates.  Even for my trained eye, I may have miscalculated the proximity of plants to one another as they are growing with incredible vigor.  Above is one of my potted amaryllis from New Jersey now ensconced in the garden like any other plant and blooming profusely.

Similarly, a cutting of a red passion vine from a neighbor's garden has not only managed to grow but also to bloom in no time at all.

A visit by my friend Vori who came to celebrate the joining of the 60's club gave us an opportunity to discover new ground in the area.  Have I told you how beautiful it can be around here!  We took a drive to another funky neighborhood like Tarpon called Safety Harbor home of artists and hippies alike.  Originally it was the enclave of one of the earliest settlers, a Frenchman who did some wonderful things.  Some of his estate now remains as the Live-Oak rambling woodlands known as Phillipe Park on the edge of Tampa Bay.

Odet must have been quite a character to come here so far from La Belle France.

This is also the time of year I would have been writing about the Philadelphia Flower Show, but helas no more.  A change in management has shaken up the the show and I was not invited back this year after over a dozen years of wonderful experiences.  Quite frankly living in Florida made it more complicated and it was time to move on and do other things for me and allow new people to have a crack at the show.   I will miss my old colleagues. But just to show you that there is a constant show around here I offer a couple of tidbits discovered in recent outings.  Above at the Leepa Ratner Museum in Tarpon Springs a literal  Watch-dog!

Back in Safety Harbor and an assembly of Whimsy.  The Whimsy house is located at the corner of 12th Avenue North and 3rd Street.  It is the home of artists Todd Ramquist and  Kiaralinda.  Here artistry and plant material (real and created) form a magical mix of wonderland with a whimsical Michael Graves flavor.  The neighborhood seems replete with others expressing their own artistry.  What is unusual walking around the neighborhood is that the normal houses stick out like a sore thumb rather than the other way around.  Unlike the Flower Show these gems are forever evolving and can be seen any day of the year.  

A neighboring house showed just as much whimsy and an incredible sense of color.  These projects I am sure have been in development for many years.  Below is the garage and guest house to the above property.

Of course, being Florida the bugs are a little eccentric too!

Well, I guess I am a glutton for punishment as the saying goes, but maybe not.  My friends Vange and Terry gave me an unusual gift this year for Christmas.  It is in my refrigerator as I write and has been in it for over a week photographed between bell peppers and a squirt bottle of Japanese mayonnaise (much nicer than Kraft).  This translucent cylinder filled with a layer of vermiculite that covers 5 seeds in a soil-less mix holds a potential invader to the east coast if I have my way.  The seeds are the potential progeny of Giant Sequoia Redwoods.  

I have no aspiration or hope that they can survive here in Florida but in Tryon North Carolina they may have a chance.  They are due to come out of their winter hardening sometime next week.  What they will do then is any one's guess.  With any luck in due course something green will sprout.  I am planning on keeping them in my kitchen window until they are ready for their future home.  If I am successful, next Christmas, I will return to Tryon with something we can plant in one of those heavenly pastures at Vange and Terry's. These could be the beginning of a Grove of Giant Sequoias on the east coast for the benefit of generations two or three hundred years from now!  Happy Gardening.

PS.  Happy Easter