florida gardening flowers

Four O’clocks at 8:00

florida gardening flowers

November Beauty

In South Florida we endure the summer so we can enjoy the winter. November temps average 50’s at night and 80’s in the day, lately. Here is a stroll around our yard.

florida gardening

Naples Botanical Garden Flower Show

Once a year the Naples Garden Club joins the garden in a flower-packed festival for two days. As a gardener I always appreciate living color, arranged tastefully. Here are some creations…

florida gardening

Royal Poinciana Parts

Large trees are best admired from afar. But this Royal Poinciana (Delonix regia) deserves a closer inspection to appreciate all its beauty.

I found this tree on the grounds of the Edison Ford Winter Estates in Fort Myers, Florida.

florida gardening Flower Trials FNGLA Tours

Harry P. Leu Gardens, Orlando

While at the Flower Trials we had time to wander throughout the 40+ acre gardens.

florida gardening Flower Trials FNGLA

Florida Flower Trials 2018

Two days, three locations and thousands of flowers. Once a year in May the Florida Nursery Grower Association sponsors the Florida Flower Trails. The purpose is to show industry professionals some new and improved flowering plants by breeders from around the world.  (Some introductions were from the Neatherlands and Australia).

The three trial grounds: U.F. Cooperative Extension office Orange County, Harry P. Leu Gardens. and Walt Disney World’s nursery.


container gardening florida gardening potting soil

Excellent Potting Soil

Here is my new, favorite growing medium: Hydra Fiber Foliage Mix (HFFM) made by Jolly Gardener/Old Castle in Florida.

I grow flowers and vegetables in the ground and in pots. But this year I am using a new soil-less growing medium that is a blend of Canadian peat, pine bark, perlite, and hydrafiber. This fiber is specially processed (shredded) pine that loosens the mix, improves drainage and yet retains water.

This blend is the lightest weight “soil” I’ve ever used. The weight is irrelevant, the way it behaves and the way the plants respond is remarkable. When you water, it does not puddle but drains right away. But then it holds just enough water so that roots plunge into it profusely.

I’ve used in in 10″ pots, seed trays and 15 to 25 gallon pots where I grow tomatoes and peppers. Although this media is called foliage mix, it’s fantastic for flowers and vegetables.

florida gardening hurricane Irma

One Man, One Day, One Stump.

Dear Big Game Hunters:

You are puny, spineless amateurs. You think taking a big trip and shooting a big animal with a big gun is big fun. Any brainless baboon with a bazooka can take down an elephant. But it takes genuine brawn, cunning, and backbone to bag this challenging trophy: A tree stump.

You don’t have to travel far to find this elusive game. Its natural habitat is underground. But, since Hurricane Irma, the stump is abundant in South Florida. It is open season and there is no bag limit…but very few burly adrenalin-junkies dare take the challenge of removing this denizen of the dirt.

Don’t let its silence and immobility fool you into thinking this will be easy. Its woody roots number in the thousands. You are outnumbered.  They travel wide and deep. The thick tap-root will often elude your sharpest spade. It will certainly put up a fight and resist your violent efforts to eradicate it from its home.

Often this prey will choose the shelter of foundation plantings making it impossible for heavy machinery to approach. Here is where muscle and prowess must prevail. Here is my step-by-step system to claim your next trophy, if you dare.

  1. Dial 811. Always call this number before breaking ground. These local people are better than a guide and they will come to your property and locate all underground utilities. You don’t want to discover your cable/phone/electric lines with a steel handled tool. PVC irrigation lines are replaceable. You are not.
  2. Protect yourself at all times. Wear safety glasses to protect from flying soil and wood. Wear leather gloves to prevent cuts and splinters. Wear boots. Sorry Floridians, Crocs with socks are not welcome in this crucible.
  3. Rake away all mulch and topsoil to reveal the surface roots. 80% of them will be in the top 12”.
  4. Cut the roots. Use loppers on finger-diameter or less. Use a saw on thumb size and larger. Use either a hand saw (not a cross-cut, lumber saw, but one for trees) or a reciprocating saw with a long blade marked “demolition, nail imbedded lumber”. Cut all around the tree creating a ball.
  5. A dirt shovel is fine but a thick-bladed, sturdy-handled spade is best. Every blow should chop more roots. Soil moves easily but you are carving live wood.
  6. Once you have removed the soil around the ball, then under-cut to sever any vertical tap roots.
  7. The root ball should now be free in the crater you have created. You can gradually bring it out by either back filling the hole a little at a time and rocking the mass upward or pull it out with a “come along” hand winch.

The most rewarding moment of this capture is wrapping a tow chain around this behemoth and dragging it into the sunlight. (Maybe now you can put that Range Rover into four-wheel drive for the first time and tug.) Here is a trophy that you won’t hang on a wall. But after the day-long struggle, you can claim it with a clean conscience.

Bob Cook

FNGLA Certified Horticulture Professional.

florida gardening flowers FNGLA

Florida Flower Trials 2017

What sort of person goes to Epcot, only takes pictures of plants, then leaves with a smile on his face? Any attendee at the Florida Flower Trials last month in Orlando, Florida.
This annual gardening exhibit is sponsored by the Florida Nursery Grower Landscape Association (FNGLA) Floriculture Division. The purpose is to encourage plant breeders and growers to bring to the table some of their new introductions for us in the horticulture business to admire and evaluate.
There were three locations in Orlando where these various plants were grown: Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival, Walt Disney World’s nursery, and Harry P. Leu Gardens. Here are some of the outstanding sights and plants, by location.

For more on this festival:

florida gardening irrigation

Bad Irrigation

We are enduring a typical April drought in south Florida. It’s hot, it’s dry and rainy season usually rolls in after Mother’s day in May. Until then we gardeners are painfully conscious of water conservation.

That’s why we get ticked-off by blatant water wasters. Yes, there are obvious scofflaws that water their lawns every night but at least their plants benefit. The greatest water wasters are people (and companies) who are clueless about their broken, inefficient sprinklers.

The first photographs are in a parking lot of a mall in Ft. Myers where the tell-tale ghost of a river of wasted water pumped all night from a broken head.

The second series of pictures are from the parking lot of a shopping center in Naples where the irrigation was spurting at 3:00 in the afternoon. Even if the system was effective, this is the most inefficient time of day to water: Nearly half of irrigation water can be lost from evaporation in mid-day. But, the clogged and bent heads were raining fresh water onto the pavement, draining, not onto shrub beds but rolling into the storm drain.