Friday, May 24, 2013

15th Flaunt My Friend Friday! Lara!

Welcome to the 15th Flaunt my Friend Friday! Today I'd like to introduce my friend Lara to you. She was part of my very first moms groups. She's one of the first people I met, I remember thinking when I first saw her... oh I hope we'll be friends! And we are, yay! She has quite the green thumb, and I just had to share her with you too! Please give her a warm welcome. 

Her family, but not her yard ;)

Hi everybody!  I’m Lara and Tyson and have been friends for a thousand years.  I have three boys as well so we always have a lot to talk about.  I have never blogged before so thanks for the chance, Tyson.  Hopefully nobody rolls their eyes too much during my maiden voyage. 

 Anyway, I like gardening.  A lot.  I grew up in the Midwest and learned to garden there somewhat from my family, but mostly trial and error after I got married and we bought a house five hours away from said family due to my new husband’s job.  Two years ago, the hubs’ employer shipped us to the southeast.  We love it here and don’t plan to move again but in many respects, gardening included, living here couldn’t be more different from the Midwest than possibly moving to Jupiter.  So I had to start over, not only with planting things in a yard that was only grass, but also with everything I knew.  Here gardens are made up of what are houseplants in the Midwest.  Even the grass here is a weed everywhere else and most of what I had in Illinois would cook.  So I’m back to trial and error but am having a good time with it.  I’ve had some stuff in the ground for about a year so none of it is very big, but I’m pleased to report it’s bigger than it was when I planted it.  Yay!  I’m not going to tell you how to garden, in the southeast or anywhere else.  I just thought I would pass on some tips I have learned that go slightly beyond the tag on the plant, but I always read the tag on the plant.  I am not trying to insult your intelligence, but I know that I am not the sharpest knife in the drawer and if I am getting basic information on something and I know ANYTHING that is involved, I’m a little proud of myself.  (Quick side note, sorry the pictures aren’t that great.  I should have written this in July when everything is blooming!)

  I love the leaves on this Tropicanna.  I have it in a pot on my patio and all I have to do it hack it down to about six inches in the winter.  In the summer it’s six feet tall with big orange flowers.


I also like color.  Ask Tyson, my house in Illinois looked like a crayon box.  I like the red hibiscus with the purple queen at the bottom and my blue pot with herbs in it.  And a tomato because I didn’t know what to do with it.  The massive grass expanse in the background belongs to my neighbor.  It takes him a long time to cut all that ninja weed grass.

OK, the first thing you need to know is where you live so you can choose something that will grow well there.  If you don’t know where you live, I’m impressed you have internet access.  J  If you live in the US, you can check out this plant hardiness map,  to find out your zone.  Another big deal is to know which way your house faces.  The south side always gets the most sun and the north side the least.  Obviously, the east side gets morning sun and the west gets afternoon sun.  These sun statements are only true, however, if you don’t have a big tree already there.  You definitely want to make sure you are planting your chosen lovely in the right sunlight.  Just about everything else you can fix.  Then you have to decide if you want an annual (will not live through the winter unless you bring it in the house) or a perennial (comes back year after year).  I prefer perennials mostly because I’m lazy and cheap but also because I like to see the growth from year to year.  

This is my favorite thing in my yard that I didn’t plant—a white bird of paradise.  I put my hand there so you can see that the flowers on this thing are about a foot across.  Plus they look like that.  This beast will get to be 30 feet tall.  I love it but pruning it is a lot like exercise.

Then get thee to a nursery and buy thyself a plant!  Read the labels or ask the people who work at the nursery to find out how big plants will get, how much sun and water they need, what kind of soil they like, if they flower and if they need to be pruned (cut back to promote new growth).    I like the wild and wooly look and low-maintenance plants.  (You can actually ask for low-maintenance plants.  Sometimes it even says that on the tag.)  Beware of plants that need to be “deadheaded”. This means you will have to cut off spent flowers to promote more blooms.  To me, it’s fine to have a few of these (because most are stunning) but you may not be super thrilled deadheading several eight-foot-tall rosebushes.

This is my gardenia. I carried some of these in my wedding bouquet. I have to deadhead it but it makes my whole patio smell good for months so I think it’s worth it.

So you buy your plant and bring it home.  I’m going to pretend it’s a perennial because I like them.  In some areas of the country you need to call and have your utilities marked before you dig a hole so you don’t damage any pipes or cables.  If you plan to “amend the soil” at all (buy compost or other goodies to mix with the existing dirt), now’s the time.  Then you can pick your spot and dig your hole.  Lots of plant tags say to dig the hole twice as wide as the container.  I don’t.  Your call.  If you bought granular fertilizer, follow the directions and apply it now.  Stick your fingers in the bottom and sides of the root ball to loosen up the roots a bit.  Put the plant in and make sure it is level, with the side you like best facing the way you want and the top of the root ball level with or slightly above ground level (depends on the plant).  Then fill up the hole with dirt and water with the hose on low for about one minute.  Dig your shovel in around the root ball so you try and minimize air pockets and then water it with the hose on low again for 10-15 minutes.  Then mulch the base (unless you planted a citrus tree.  Citrus trees “breathe” through the tiny roots at the top of the root ball and if you cover them with dirt or mulch or let too many weeds get in, the tree will suffocate.  I’m really sure.) according to the directions.  Most plants like two inches of mulch that doesn’t quite touch the stem.  If the plant is very near your house, use cedar mulch so you don’t invite bugs into your house.  If it’s just out in the yard, the cheap stuff is fine.  Mulch keeps water in and weeds out and protects plant roots in the winter so you may want to “fluff your mulch” (move it around with a rake) or add more in the spring and fall.  Water according to the directions until the plant is established (I have found a month is good unless it’s really hot and dry).  Then hope for the best and watch your plant grow! 

We went on vacation when I was a kid and I saw a bougainvillea and told my mom I wanted one.  She told me I would have to move to where they grow so as soon as we did, I got one.

I liked it so much I got a purple one too.

And if it doesn’t, you are not alone.  I’ve killed just about every plant there is, even the ones that are supposed to be hard to kill, but I still love gardening.  Having fresh flowers in my home from my yard makes me smile.  Having my kids help me plant stuff and then seeing their faces when what they planted flowers or fruits or gets taller than they are is spectacular to me.  Just looking at some small successes (so far!) in my yard gives me a lot of satisfaction and makes me feel like my time was well-spent.  I don’t pretend to be good at it.  I just really enjoy learning and adding more and planning and planting (not so much with the weeding though) and I hope that my garden will always be a work in progress.  Much like myself.

Thanks for reading.

Thanks Lara! I loved reading about it all. You've encouraged me to get some plants soon, and not to worry so much about what's right/wrong/etc! I think you leave us with a good lesson to at least try, right? You might come up with a hobby you enjoy and love (and bonus it makes your living space more livable)!

1 comment:

Jeri Slater said...

I too enjoy planting flowers. Being from the Midwest, I look forward to Spring each year so that I can watch things pop up and bloom after being dormant for the winter. I'm so glad to hear that you follow your passion no matter what climate you find yourself in.