A Chick Does Tropical Garden

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Morning Garden


I LOVE going out into my garden every morning -- to take in the fresh air and see how the sun hits each wonderful thing.  The fall sun is lower in the sky, so it gives the garden the perfect glow.  This is the view of my arbor and rock fountain as I enter my garden: 





And, I found a little "friend" swinging in the bamboo.  Now, I don't like spiders much, except to just look at -- they fascinate me.  This one is gorgeous:
It's pretty cool outside this morning, but will warm up to 80 degrees today.  The perfect fall (summer?) day.  I always say, falls in Houston are like summers in Seattle -- except our falls last longer.

I wish I could stay out here all day, but I've got some work inside.  Gotta go market my book.




GROOVY COOLNESS GADGET


T.K. Goforth is a musician and author of the well-received book "Chord Piano is Fun!" She also writes a music blog called "Chord Piano Chick's Mostly Musical Musings.
Chord Piano Is Fun

Friday, October 29, 2010

Beautiful Bougainvillea


I have ALWAYS loved Bougainvillea, and assumed that once I moved to Houston I would be able to grow it easily.  WRONG!  Not wrong because it's not possible, but wrong because I just didn't know how to do it.

I've discovered that Bougainvillea, at least under my watch is very picky.  I would buy some, only to be disappointed when it wouldn't bloom and only put out green leaves.  I would try to fertilize, water, etc., but still -- no flowers.  I even asked a nursery guy how to get my bougainvillea to bloom and he said he heard that you take off all of the leaves.

Huh????  Now THAT would be pretty.


After the absolutely irresistible "have-to-buy-it"  bougainvillea that I bought at the nursery with my friend Rebecca stopped blooming, I wondered if I had made a major gardening error.  [It is good that Becca was with me though -- if I had gone plant shopping without her and she found out about it, she would have said I was cheating on her.]  But, I was bound and determine to get this thing blooming again.

Well, after quite a bit of research, I read that bougainvillea need to be pruned, pinched, and not overwatered.  I got a lot of my information from BGI (Bougainvillea Growers International). In fact, they like to almost "wilt" a bit. When I got this through my head and started following the instructions, my bougainvillea started to bloom:  

After the "have-to-have-it" had finished blooming (when I bought it was gorgeous), and refused to do so again, I trimmed the branches back to about half.  Then, once it started putting on new growth, I started "pinching" the middle leaves off that came out of the end of each new growth.  Hard to explain, but here are some photos of me "pinching".   

New growth that needs to be 'pinched off"

Me pinching it off
Then, after THAT, I fertilized with a specially made bougainvillea fertilizer that I bought at Home Depot.  ALL of these things have created amazing results!  However, I think that the pruning and pinching is really what helped.  Now, I have so many blooms coming out of the areas where I pinched off the middle leaves. Here are some photos:




I'm so excited!  I did it!  I did it!  You can, too!


GROOVY COOLNESS GADGET


T.K. Goforth is a musician and author of the well-received book "Chord Piano is Fun!" She also writes a music blog called "Chord Piano Chick's Mostly Musical Musings.
Chord Piano Is Fun

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Perfect Plumeria

There is no more perfect plant to me than the plumeria.  I didn't realize it, but it is also called  "frangipani".  My mom used to buy these unbelievable smelling candles at Christmas time with the frangipani scent.  I had been unable to find this scent, but then somehow discovered that these two plants are one and the same.  Now, when I look for scented candles I try to find a "plumeria" scented one.

Plumerias are the plants that Hawaiian lei's are made out of.  In fact, all of the plumerias in my garden I got directly from Hawaii on my visits there.  They come in this little sack and it just looks like a foot-long stick.  You just cram it into the ground or a pot and watch it grow.  Well, sometimes it grows. 
This plumeria is called "Candy Stripe".  It's the only one of my plumerias that bloomed this year.  I think I have discovered that it might take a couple of years for a plumeria to bloom from the "stick" that you buy in Hawaii.  I got this one over a year ago.  However, I think that potted plants that you can buy at Houston Garden or any other nursery might bloom that year.  I don't know because I haven't tried.  However, once the plumeria blooms, it goes on, and on, and on.....  and the scent is remarkable!

This plumeria is a red one that I also got in Hawaii.  When I bought it, it was just labeled "Red Plumeria", but after a bit of research I discovered that the name of it is really "Kauka Wilder."  Unfortunately, Ms. Wilder passed away in the harsh frost we had last year.  It made me very, very, sad.  But, I know of a nursery who carries this, (who also provided me the correct name) and I'm going to buy another because it is GORGEOUS.  It, too, did not bloom the first year that I got it.
Plumeria (front)
I've found that my plumerias don't like the direct Houston sun.  They seem to do better if they are out of the sun a bit, but not completely shaded.  They do love the humidity, though.  I think that you could probably grow these in Seattle, as well -- just make sure they get plenty of the sun when it comes out.

I'm not sure that fertilizing them helps any more to help them to bloom...I've tried some Superbloom, and still only one bloomed this year.  I will try it again next spring and see if that might help.  I will also take more care to cover them or bring them inside in the winter when it is supposed to freeze...the red one was in the ground, so now all of my plumerias will be going in and staying in POTS.



Plumerias won't create "branches" from the "stick" until they bloom.  Once they bloom, you can get two or three branches off of each area of bloom.  The plumerias that I bought had already bloomed and so the "stick" was one that had a separate branch off of it.  Here is how the plumeria looks, branched out:

I'm looking forward to seeing what happens next year!  I'm sure this plant will grow in leaps and bounds, and I'll be sure to bring it inside during a freeze!







GROOVY COOLNESS GADGET


T.K. Goforth is a musician and author of the well-received book "Chord Piano is Fun!" She also writes a music blog called "Chord Piano Chick's Mostly Musical Musings.
Chord Piano Is Fun

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

My New Favorite - Bromeliad

Brilliant Bromeliad!
This is my new favorite:  Bromeliad.  I've just bought a bunch of these this week to put in my garden.  They are "air plants", which means they get their nourishment from the air, rather than the soil.  I've put several in some of my palm trees by just sticking them in the "pockets" and tying them in with fish line.  One of them I just wrapped in the palm tree fiber and the others I kept in a bit of the dirt they came in.  To keep them healthy, you just need to keep water in their lower "cups".  If you just give them a misting every day it should be fine.

I picked up these colorful ones from Home Depot -- I think they are promos.  Each plant was no more than $12.00.  The smaller ones were $6.98.    I also got some from Houston Garden for $4.00 during their 70% Off Sale (going on now!)

The plants I put in the ground I left in the pot so that when it freezes here (yes, it freezes in Houston) I can just pick them up and put them in garage.  Easy as pie!  (Although I have never been that good at making pie -- I'd rather garden!)  The plants are so gorgeous and vivid and bright.  I don't know why I didn't try them in my garden before!!!




 
Bromeliads also propogate themselves with little "pups" that grow up from the sides of the bromeliad.  These can be removed (cut off or pulled off carefully) and planted separately to create a beautiful new plant.  Bromeliads only bloom ONCE, but the new pup will bloom and when mature create its own offspring.  Below is a photo of a "pup" that I pulled off it's mother plant and put in a pocket of a palm tree.  I wrapped the bottom with some of the palm fiber (you can also wrap it in spanish moss) and stuck it in the tree, securing it with fish line.  Fun!  I'm looking forward to seeing how it grows.                                                                          
The pineapple is actually a type of Bromeliad!  A fun thing to do with your kids is to pick up a plain old pineapple from the grocery store, cut off the top (with a bit of the pineapple still attached) and plant it into the ground with the "crown" sticking up out of the ground.  Make sure that the pineapple gets lots of sun, and it will grow into an actual plant!  Have fun!





 

GROOVY COOLNESS GADGET


T.K. Goforth is a musician and author of the well-received book "Chord Piano is Fun!" She also writes a music blog called "Chord Piano Chick's Mostly Musical Musings.
Chord Piano Is Fun

Fall in Houston and my Bamboo Arbor

Fall is my favorite time of the year.  It was when I lived in Seattle, and it is now that I live in Houston.  But, for different reasons.  In Seattle, it's when I could stop watering the plants and not work so hard.  No built-in sprinklers there.  In Houston, it's when the weather is absolutely perfect and Houston Garden has every single plant, including palm trees, on sale for 70% off.  Gotta LOVE that!

By fall in Houston, the tropical plants have gone gang-busters because of the heat and humidty, and it is starting to cool down so that some of the spring blooming plants also peak out again.  The weather in Houston in the fall is like Seattle in the summer -- it's just that we have better weather longer -- in other words, for longer than two weeks.  Right now it's in the low to mid 80's for highs and mid 50's to low 60's for lows.  Ahhhh...window opening time.  Great for listening to my outdoor fountains and not needing the air conditioner.

This fall, my SWEET husband put up a WONDERFUL arbor for me made of bamboo.  (Did I mention I love bamboo?)  It's framing the great fountain I found at Nelson Water Gardens (I wish everyone could go to that place -- it's remarkable!)   I wanted it to "break up" my backyard a bit to make it more park-like.  I also added my "Fred Flintstone" bench that I bought in North Bend, Washington, when I lived in the Seattle area.

It looks better in person than it does through pictures, but you would love it, too.  I bought the bamboo through Mainlanders, and I really wanted it longer than 8 feet, but anything longer would have to be freighted.  So, I settled for 5"x8' bamboo and it was UPS'd to me.  It took some time to figure out how to put it up without sticking it directly into the ground, because we don't want it to rot.  So, my hubby put two 4"x4" stakes in the ground (which he had to "whittle" down a bit to fit inside the end of the bamboo) which he then concreted in,  and then we slipped the bamboo over the top of these and screwed them in.  Before that, we had to screw the crossbar to the two "posts", but that wasn't too difficult because he used 10" lag bolts.  Just measure and drill and screw the bolts in and voila!  I used 3/8" sisal rope as "ties".  Did I say that I love it?  Yep.  I do.  I've got more photos of the process, too, if you would like to see them.  Just let me know!
GROOVY COOLNESS GADGET


T.K. Goforth is a musician and author of the well-received book "Chord Piano is Fun!" She also writes a music blog called "Chord Piano Chick's Mostly Musical Musings.
Chord Piano Is Fun
T.K. Goforth is a musician and author of the well-received book "Chord Piano is Fun!" She also writes a music blog called "Chord Piano Chick's Mostly Musical Musings.
Chord Piano Is Fun