coming out of my shell

coming out of my shell

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Another one bites the dust


The other day our once beautiful gardenia succumbed to disease. We have such a hard time growing things in Central Florida. It is kind of weird. Some things we planted last spring are growing in leaps and bounds. But many other plants have died for one reason or another.

Most of our new plants were lost in the moist heat of the summer; during the 3 summer months it rains nearly every afternoon. I blame the rainy season for many of our plant deaths, but wet soil is not what killed the gardenia. It was fine during the rainy season

One thing I am learning is you cannot "baby" plants down here.
It is standing-water-wet and steaming hot in the summer, dry as a bone the rest of the year, and can generate the occasional frost overnight in the winter. Plants must be a certain kind of hardy to live in this climate and survive the extremes in moisture. I am on board with that concept in theory, I have always been a survival of the fittest kind of gardener.  I have lost plenty of plants to cold winters up north.  But in practice it is always hard when they die.

I loved the idea of having a gardenia. That is my problem, really - liking the "idea" of a plant rather than settling for a plant that will actually grow in our back yard. Still, I thought the gardenia was going to make it. There are lots of them thriving in Leu Gardens about 25 minutes from us in Orlando.

When it was still healthy our gardenia grew steadily, bloomed at the appropriate time, and was both beautiful and fragrant. Then it was attacked by scales and developed sooty mold.  It seems both are common pests with gardenias, camellias, and azaleas.  Had we noticed the scales earlier we probably could have caught it.  By the time we noticed, it was seriously infested.  We had been treating the gardenia for weeks but it did not get better, it got worse.  The scales spread to the Desert Rose Plant.  We started worrying about our camellia and azaleas.  T chopped it into pieces on Halloween and stuffed it into a garbage bag.  Big gardening sigh.


Florida can be so harsh and cruel! 

Is Central Florida someplace I would have chosen to move given free will and full choice?  Absolutely not.  I only moved here to be near my grandkids and help our daughter and son-in-law out with the occasional babysitting gig.

On the other hand, yesterday (November 3rd) we
took a dip in the pool. We are having a hot spell that is prolonging the pool season this year, much to our delight.  The water was 81 degrees (cold by our standards), but the temperature was 89 degrees outside.

Nearly e
very day throughout the year we are able to ride our bikes
and see wildlife and wildflowers, or bike downtown to mail a package or drink a latte. I never have to do any white-knuckle driving on snowy roads
People are friendly and drivers are courteous.  I see my daughter and her family on a regular basis. The grandkids will know me and have stories to tell of their old grandma. 

I am finding it
hard to stay mad at Florida for too long.  



25 comments:

  1. I'd send you our frangipani which I am certain would really do so much better in your humid hot summers and it may even flower. Instead, it just grows and grows and out of sheer frustration and disgust drops its leaves thrice a year.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Drops its leaves 3 times a year? So odd. It sounds like it is confused. I have been reading about them this morning after getting your comment. They sound kind of tricky to grow. I found one page that seems to specifically addresses the issue of dropping leaves: http://homeguides.sfgate.com/plumeria-drops-leaves-95950.html Hope that helps. Sometimes, though, I wonder if certain plants that have been under stress for a long time just become as psychologically unsound as the rest of us! Good luck. I hope you can turn it around.

      Delete
    2. Thanks for that link.
      We are nowhere near an appropriate climate for that plant and I fear our frangipani is suffering from depression. I am attached to it as I grew it from a massive seed I imported from a reputable dealer online, if there is such a thing.

      It drops all leaves when we take it in for the winter, regrows them beautifully indoors at around Xmas, drops all of them again when it's time to go back outside in March/April and regrows plenty once more beautifully and drops most of them when it gets too hot and dry - possibly due to spider mite or whatever - and regrows with fervor once again, often adding another branch here and there.

      It just keeps telling me that this is not the tropics.

      Delete
    3. So interesting. Now that you have explained the cycle, it all seems like a reasonable reaction to a challenging life. Doesn't leave much time or energy to focus on generating flowers, though. Oh well. We do what we must. I still give this plant an A for effort, flowers or not.

      Delete
  2. Being where you are needed and loved trumphs gardenias, any day.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You are SO right. I thank my lucky stars that I am here to help out with raising those kids. It has given my life new meaning, and keeps me young(ish). I am sure you know what I mean.

      Delete
  3. I know how you feel when losing a plant that you have cared for and had great hopes for a long life. Mother Nature plays her tricks and nothing we can do can save them. The only thing we can do is try again next year.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, and it gives one something to look forward to - waiting for spring to try again.

      Delete
  4. So sorry about your gardenia! Finicky creatures they are, though! And once mold sets in, it is so hard to dissuade it. And I LOVE the idea of a warm climate. We live on the prairie and while I love the beauty of Autumn, I DETEST WINTER. I am not a fan of snow.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I do love the warm climate down here. It enables us to stay active and bike most days - such a pleasure. I miss autumn and the magic of spring, but the snow really got me down more and more each year. I hope you stay warm this winter.

      Delete
  5. Sounds lovely, the no snow bit. It's snowed once already and it was beautiful, thankfully it didn't stay but it's coming. It would be strange having to get used to a whole new set of gardening problems but interesting too. And having your grandkids nearby is the best feeling.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I do actually miss the first snows of the season, they were always a little magical. It IS strange getting used to gardening down here - some of it is counter-intuitive to me after years of improving soil and gardening with abandon up north. Being a routine part of my grandkids life makes all the change worthwhile.

      Delete
  6. I also could not live faraway from my grandchildren, i can understand that.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Grandchildren are a joy, that is for sure. Love is the best part of living a life. If only more people understood that.

      FYI, I am sorry you had a hard time posting earlier. I have my comments set up to review before I manually publish them (for all the unfortunate and obvious reasons...). When I checked this morning I got 3 or 4 from you. Not sure why they were returned to you, but I did get them.

      Delete
  7. Ok Colette, thank you, i got a little paranoid because all the trolling around my blog. sorry.

    ReplyDelete
  8. I always feel nervous when I read your plants and flower posts... because I'm a Californian. Our geography has been deeply changed transplants... and I don't mean just the plant kind... I mean people... who were homesick for the plants of their homeland... plants which need a lot of water... LAWNS... which don't work here. Now we are depleting an aquifer which began in the Ice Age and which will not refill for millennia... not to mention we don't have a lot of water from snowmelt because of the drought. Please consider planting only native Floridian plants... and going back "home" sometimes to visit the plants of where you grew up. Florida is being devastated in so many ways... by human intervention. I have a good friend who is a native Floridian and an environmentalist. It's a tough row to hoe out there. So many transplants out there who are not concerned about rising seas, Climate Change, the loss of swampland, etc. They just want somewhere warm to live out their final years. It blows my mind that Florida has laws blocking homeowners from installing their own solar panels. http://www.latimes.com/nation/la-na-no-solar-20140810-story.html In general, I sense and hear about a deep disconnect between many (not all) of the people who live in Florida and its natural geography, power, flow, beauty, etc. So long as people resist a place, they will fail to truly benefit from it and will bring about its destruction. That's what seems to be happening in Florida... to my eyes, anyway. Sorry to be such a "wah-wah"... that's why I feel nervous when I read your posts.. because I feel all that I just expressed welling up inside me... as well as a deep grief that so many on our planet want to change where they live rather than enjoy, work with, benefit from it. This failure to see the good in where each of us lives is bringing about a lot of bad... that affects the poor first and foremost but which will eventually affect everyone. As it affects folks, though... those with money will be able to move away... whereas those of us with fewer resources, including money, will be stuck... This is already happening all over the world. Your wonderful grandchildren will benefit from your efforts to see and work with the natural beauty that is Florida. Is it different from the natural beauty of the Northeast? Sure. Is it any less beautiful? No. It's just different. As are we all.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Thanks for taking the time to write, Tree C. You have made many good points. Because I am unable to view your profile and because for some reason I am unable to reply directly to your comment, I am a little nervous about publishing your comment.

    If you read all my gardening posts you will see that I am in the process of adjusting to the changes you urge me to make and my gardening posts are just an honest attempt to write about it and display my humanity and humor in the process. I am actually working on a post about Lake Apopka and the efforts to save that dying lake. I think you might like it and it may ease your anxiety a bit. Contrary to popular belief there are a lot of good people down here. I AM a little concerned about your stereotypes about older people who retire to Florida, though. Ageism is just as offensive as any other kind of ism.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Colette. Sorry! Don't know why you can't view my profile... maybe I didn't set one up? I'm a teacher and I do a lot of blogging and social media work for public education. I have not done a good job of separating everything out. I have several emails, etc. But all my blogs, etc. are tied to Google... that's why I went with "Tree C" versus using my name. As you know, Blogger wants you to comment with some kind of Google-identified-thing.

      Anyway, I am a real person living in California! A single mom who is a teacher, has done a ton of advocacy for public ed, and who has friends and relatives in Florida. I also lived in Orlando for about a year.

      What I wrote about non-native plants and approaches is based on my experience in California and my observations of the same thing elsewhere.

      What I wrote about retirees and transplants is based on my experience with both, also. I have worked a lot with seniors and immigrants. I understand the deep need for the familiar in both. It is super hard to make giant changes. For me, too!!! When we make those big leaps geographically, we long for familiar foods, vistas, plants, people. Sometimes we plant them in our front lawn, lol.

      I sincerely apologize if I didn't provide better context in my remarks. I came into this world with a deep feeling for the planet. I don't know why. That's just how I came. I was always ahead of the curve. Again... why? I don't know. I just was. In 1970, I tried to get my class to recycle all their cans and bottles. Kind of impossible since there were few recycling centers in the little country town where I lived, lol. In the early 80s, I recycled the restaurant where I worked as a server. I couldn't bear to see all the cans and bottles thrown out, so I asked my co-workers to help me save them out back and once I week, I drove them to the recycling center.

      You get the picture.

      .)

      Delete
    2. Out here in California, many folks are not in touch with how water works. On a summer vacation in Yosemite last summer, my daughter and I were admiring a (tiny) waterfall, standing next to another family. We struck up a conversation about the drought. He lived in Big Bear. That's in So Cal (where I grew up). It's a mountain area where So Cal folks go to play in the snow or vacation in the summer. I asked him where his water came from - meaning, from a natural local source (aquifer) or from the big source for the LA area (combo of Colorado River and eastern side of Sierra). He responded, in all seriousness, "from the usual place." I thought he meant the Colorado plus Eastern Sierra. BUT TURNS OUT HE MEANT THE FAUCET! Honestly, this is how 70% (or more) Californians think. So don't think I'm singling out Floridians or retirees for my harsh criticism! I get frustrated with everyone for not being more aware and/or trying to become more aware. We all need to be aware of where our water comes from, how our sewage is treated, where our electricity comes from, the price of that electricity in both dollars and Climate Change, how Climate Change will affect our local area, how development will affect the environment and Climate Change, etc. These should be questions we are taught to ask in school.

      Sadly, they aren't often enough taught!

      Finally, I'm 55. I'm guessing your are not that much older than me.

      My frustration is about folks who don't see the value and beauty of natural ecology whether they are 5, 55, or 105, whether they are locally born or transplants.

      I am not anti-immigration or people moving to new places. Quite on the contrary, actually. I AM for folks learning about the new place where they live. I AM for locally born and raised folks learning about the place where they were born and grew up!

      Thank you for making the effort to love and appreciate Florida, native plants, Lake Apopka, to share your humor and humanity on your blog, and to respond to my comment.

      Sincerely, Cynthia (last name withheld since as noted, I do too many things, wear too many hats... it all gets complicated... my name is already out there one zillions times in the Googlesphere with my public ed work

      Delete
  10. I don't know anything about plants but I just read about your phone. I am one who carries her smart phone in her hand, everywhere and I read it as I walk along the street, checking everything as I go. I stopped answering my landline years ago and unplugged it. I only plug it in to make outgoing calls. I don't see the need to have it taken out and I need Internet connection. I always figure that people who know me and really want me will ring my mobile in any case. I will follow your posts more closely now Colette.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Rachel. It means a lot to have your support. You most certainly have mine.

      Delete
  11. Mother nature always wins in the end, sad about the plants, but with that weather it'd be hard for any form of growth to occur. Only the strong survive it seems.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Blogoratti. True, true, and true.

      Delete
  12. It is difficult to fully embrace Change, it is a Process. Though we only moved across the Valley, everything here is so different than having lived in an Older Neighborhood and a Historic Home. I am Embracing some of the differences, which are Wonderful, and Missing those things that are different in a way that makes me have a harder time Letting Go of the Old Homestead, which I have yet to completely clear out and put up for Sale yet. I know it will be easier when I make a clean break of it... it's been a long seven months of Transition and being between two places... too long. In keeping with your Gardening Theme this New Home doesn't have Acreage like the old one and had been Professionally Landscaped and even has fake grassy areas... never thought I could say I'm LOVE all of that, but it's so pretty and easy to maintain that I'm "All In" with less to do on that front! *smiles* Dawn... The Bohemian

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The older I get the harder it is to make changes.

      Delete

So, whadayathink?