A Chick Does Tropical Garden

Monday, November 22, 2010

Paradise is Still Blooming

I'm sitting here on facebook, reading about how my Seattle friends are experiencing their first snowstorm of the winter.  WAIT!  IT'S NOT WINTER!!! 
Monarch Butterfly on Blue Mist










It's so weird to me that they are getting so much snow up there -- when I was growing up we hardly EVER had snow. How did you guys DO that?  I could never figure out how to make it snow when I wanted to.  Last year was crazy with snow, and this year it looks like it might be the same.  Now, don't get me wrong, I love an occasional snowstorm.  But, in NOVEMBER?  As my friend, Terri, posted:  "This is insane!"  I hope all of my friends stay safe up there!  Maybe you can at least enjoy the sun by osmosis...
Batface (Cuphea)

Bird of Paradise
Queen Butterfly
Right now in Houston,we are still experiencing a balmy, sunny season.  Today I went on a lovely walk with my spanky new Skechers Shapers (you gotta get some of those) around one of the neighborhood lakes.  It was perfect weather, a little breezy, and still warm, but not humid.
Alamanda

Rabbit Ears (Acanthaceae)
Gerbera Daisy
In the garden, my flowers are still bearing their lovely heads and going gangbusters.  (Which means I still have to water...) The only one that seems to want to take it's winter nap at the moment is my Hybrid Hibiscus.  The Bird of Paradise is still going strong, (with 4 blooms and one more still to shine), as is the Bougainvillea, the Alamanda, the Knock Out Roses, the Ruellia, the Rabbit Ears, the Blue Mist, and the Gerbera Daisies.  I'm sure there are more, but it's dark outside and I can't see them right now.  Just going by memory.  Not only that, but the butterflies are butterflying, and the toad frogs are still toad frogging. 
I'm know it's paradise to snow lovers (and most in Seattle) to have the snow and cold weather and it's a welcome sight.  I love snow, but I love the sun shining in my window even more.  Of course, once it gets closer to winter, the snow might be a welcome scene to behold in Texas (it does happen -- it did last year!)  But, right now I am just going to enjoy the psuedo tropics here in my little sliver of paradise.

Oh.  P.S.  It's supposed to freeze here this weekend.  Go figure.






Back to Blog for the Tropically Challenged
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, November 12, 2010

Barbara's Friend, Edith (and...enter The Gecko)

My garden buddy, Rebecca, called me and told me that she had some news for me.  She then explained that she was sure that she found Barbara the Spider's long lost friend, Edith (see previous post).  She said, however, that Edith had to be a northern spider, due to her coloring and personality -- she appeared to be a little more "pasty" in her coloring (as us Pacific Northwest Natives tend to be due to lack of sun), whereas Barbara's coloring was more vibrant.  Edith also appeared to be a bit more reserved and not quite as social as Barbara (as many northerners are).  Of course, I had to come see.

She is quite the nice looking spider, and it appears that this little gecko felt the same way...he kept eyeing her -- wondering if he would get a nice tasty lunch.    Pretty soon, however, he scurried away, realizing that Edith was well protected by her new large friends.





These spiders (Orchard Orbweavers) have such a lovely color -- they look almost like stained glass.  And, depending upon how the light hits, their color changes dramatically...
 







Much like the little gecko, who changed from brown to green as he hurried on his way...

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

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Butterfly Frenzy!

Today my garden buddy, Rebecca, kidnapped me and took me to one of the wonderful nurseries around here -- Enchanted Gardens.  It had been a while since I had been there, and it was as great this time as I remember.  However, there was one thing that I didn't remember from my other trip out there, and that was the BUTTERFLIES!  Loads of them!  They were all frenzied around the "Blue Mist" shrubs that were in the middle of the garden.  I saw Monarchs, Queen Butterflies, Red Admirals, Viceroys, Swallowtails, Cloudless Sulphers and Gulf Frittilary.  I have never seen so many types if butterflies in one place other than the butterfly petting zoo.  It was remarkable!  I would like to share the photos I took (click on each one to enlarge):


Monarch and Queen Butterfly Frenzy!
Classic Queen Butterfly


Two Queen Butterflies


Monarch Butterfly

Queen Butterfly


Red Admiral Butterfly with part of its wing bitten off by something


Monarch in front

Queen Butterfly

Monarch Butterfly
Butterfly Frenzy!

 Needless to say, I bought the Blue Mist plant.

T
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

From Where I Sit

Ahhhh...such a lovely morning!  My favorite time of day here in Houston during the fall...nice cool mornings, warming up to the 70's or 80's.  My morning routine includes taking my son to school, coming home, grabbing a cup of Starbucks Via, my glasses, my Bible, my cell phone --  and the dog is my shadow.  We head outside where I take in God's beauty, listen to the fountains, read about God's greatness.  I love my mornings!



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

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Winterizing!!! It's True!

Winter, 2009 (No, it isn't snowing here right now!)
Well, here in the Houston area you would not think that we would need to winterize.  Au Contraire!  We do get below freezing here.  And, last year was a real bugger, with a very harsh snowstorm that destroyed many a plant!(See photo.)  However, most of my plants came back, with the exception of the angel trumpets I had in the ground, the plumeria I had in the ground, and a couple of my pygmy date palms.  My potted plants survived because I spent endless time bringing them into the garage and out again, or covering with plastic -- which in itself was a pain in the youknowwhat.

This year, instead of traipsing out in the cold and wind and moving my pots inside, I have devised a new way to winterize.  Since many of my plants already sit under the awning and under the posts of my arbor, I went to good old Home Depot and bought several 9'x12' blue tarps with grommets.  Then, I also bought some hooks.  My son and I went outside yesterday (it was a beautiful day, mind you, with no freeze in sight), and drilled some holes into the awning overhang and screwed the hooks in 36"  apart, as that is the width apart of the grommets on the tarps.  Now, when I know it is going to get cold, I will just grab my ladder and hang the tarps onto the hooks, and then will have to secure the tarp to the ground (probably by placing it under the edge of a pot) and made sure that the tarps don't fly around (because typically when we have cold here in Texas, there is also wind.)

I will now need to do this with my arbor...any plants not under one of these protective coatings will need to be moved under one of them, but that's a whole big much better than moving them into the garage.

I'm also going to get some rope to tie them up -- kinda like a roman shade -- for the days when it's supposed to freeze again that evening.  I'll let you know how that works out!

ONE WORD OF CAUTION:  When you do put tarps over your plants, DO NOT leave them on during the day after the freeze if it is hot outside and warms up.  The tarp will act like an oven and cook your plants.  If it does stay frozen, make sure that the tarps are AWAY from the plants and that there is air circulating underneath them.  You do not want to lose your plants this way!



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, November 5, 2010

Isn't this the COOLEST Spider??? I call her "Barbara".

This is an Orchard Orbweaver Spider (thanks, Melinda, for finding the name out for me!)  I think she is fascinating looking!  Creepy, but fascinating.  And, her web is wonderful!  I've named her "Barbara".I got this name from my Aunt, who gave the name of Barbara to a spider that would show up on her bathroom sink every morning.  
Barbara has the most remarkable color and makes these amazing webs.  Every time I go out to visit Babs, she is tirelessly working on that web.  I'm just glad I've never walked through it!   I keep thinking that Barbara will disappear, but she's still there, enjoying the home she's made for herself.  I enjoy it too -- at least watching her in it.  Personally, I think it would be a lonely life, only living for the next meal to make it appearance in your web.  

Enjoy these pictures of Barbara!  You can click on each one to enlarge it.







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, November 4, 2010

Bamboo Madness

I LOVE bamboo!I'm mad about it!   I wish I had a large enough garden to have every single variety!  Too me, bamboo is the quintessential tropical plant that every tropical garden should have!   I actually think that EVERY garden has room for a bamboo plant or two.

Bamboo is actually a type of grass, but easier to take care of -- no mowing required! It is one of the fastest growing plants in the world.

There are two different types of bamboo -- the "running" and the "clumping" kind.  "Running bamboo" sends out "runners" through the soil, which causes the bamboo to spread quickly and can also become invasive.  It is tough to control running bamboo, so unless you have a huge piece of land that you want filled with it, I would recommend you keep running bamboo in pots.

"Clumping" bamboo stays confined to a smaller area and does not send out runners.  It it perfect for a smaller garden.  Depending upon the kind of bamboo, the base will not get much larger than 10 feet in diameter.

Oldhamii Bamboo
My garden has three different types of "clumping" bamboo.  My favorite is "Oldhamii", (pronounced "Old Hammy-eye" -- sounds kinda like a monster).  It is also known as "Giant Timber" bamboo.  This bamboo gets up to 5" in diameter and the branches do not grow all the way down to the base of the bamboo as some other bamboos do.  I do, however, trim back any leaves that grow on the culms (stalks) up to about as far as I can reach, because I love to see the bamboo culms.  Here are a couple of photos of Oldhamii.  It is fairly cold hardy and will handle temperatures below freezing.

Each year the culms emerge from the ground larger than the year before.  When I first got this plant, it had 2 culms, about 2" in diameter -- about 3 years ago.  Now the culms emerge at about 3-1/2 inches.  Some this year came up smaller, but I think that was due to the very bad freeze we had this year.  Hopefully next year they will come up thicker.

Here is a closer view of the culms of the Oldhamii Bamboo.  This particular bamboo can get up to 55' tall. Right now the base is about 5 feet in diameter.  It will eventually begin to grow into my yard, but then I will just have to move the garden boundaries.  I wouldn't care if this thing took over my yard!

Here is another photo of Oldhamii -- from a distance so you can see its height and width.  I have it growing close to a palm tree, but I love the look of palms and bamboo growing into each other -- reminds me of the plants growing naturally in the hills of Hawaii!








Below is a photo of a little hummingbird perching in the bamboo.  For some reasons, these little creatures loved sitting in my bamboo.  I loved watching them!



Another kind of bamboo in my garden is called "Doli Green Stripe".  This bamboo could get up to 3" in diameter.  Right now the culms are only emerging at a about an inch thick.  I think this is because I have moved and tried to divide the plant, and it didn't like it too much, so has taken a while to "take off".  I love the look of this bamboo, though -- more yellow in color with wide leaves, and a very distinct green verticle stripe on the culms.  Here are a few photos:

The last kind of bamboo in my garden is Weaver's bamboo.  This bamboo is very graceful looking and the culms can get up to 3 inches thick.  The first year I had this plant, I pulled it up from the ground and divided it with a hatchet and planted part of it in another corner of my yard.  Like I said, I'm pretty rough with plants.  Both plants survived!  It was hard work, but worth it.  I have both of these plants planted next to queen palms and love the way it looks.  They create a very "jungle-y" look to my garden.



I got all of my bamboo from Bamboo Texas.  I had also previously had a tropical black bamboo, but it could not withstand the freezes and alas, was short lived.  That one was one of my very favorites (and also most expensive).  You can also find out more information about bamboo at the Texas American Bamboo Society Website or Bamboo Web.

Just one more thing:  Go MAD about Bamboo!

T





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

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

It's Raining Outside and I'm UP

Up early.  Actually, I've been up for a while, because the hound dog needed to go potty outside.  And, it's raining.  With thunder and lightning.  I LOVE thunder and lightning.  This will cool the weather down a bit -- but I hope not too cool.  I'm still so glad that we are in the 80's during the day.  That's what I love about living in the south -- SUNSHINE.  But, I also love the remarkable lightning and rain storms down here.  We haven't have a good one for a while, so my plants have been tolerating my measly attempts at watering and care -- but they love it when God Himself sends it their way.  Me, too.  Like a refreshing drink after I've toiled in the garden on a 95 degree day.  A friend of mine is fine just holding the cold glass of ice water when she's hot -- personally, I have to drink it to get refreshed.  (Kinda a private joke -- I have to kid "A" about it.)

This photo is a picture I took during a previous thunderstorm.  I love the view between the palm fronds.  To me, its all a part of tropical gardening.  And, all a part of the majesty of God.
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