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…

Flower Trials Plant trials

Trials Pass with Flying Colors

American Farms in Naples runs new plant trials from numerous breeders around the world. They commit valuable production space and efforts to discover: How will they grow here, are they really improved, and lastly, do consumers like them? Here are a few outstanding plants from those trials that concluded in January, 2019.

My compliments to growers Justin Orion and Steffi Hugo and the many workers whose talents and labor go into producing this massive, beautiful crop of color.

FNGLA trade shows

Tropical Plant Industry Exhibit 2019

Once a year, for three days in January, people from around the nation visit Fort Lauderdale, Florida to see the natural beauty produced by local greenhouse and nursery growers. Over 200 vendors display their best under one roof for a tropical extravaganza.

fairy garden fairy house

Fairy House on the Rock

I made this miniature house as a gift for a friend who is retiring from sales and moving to Tennessee to build cabins in the woods. So I made a cabin out of woods.

He is a Christian and I was inspired by Jesus’ sermon in Matthew 7 “Therefore, everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock.”

So I started with a chunk of Tennessee flagstone as the foundation, mounted on a matching slab of Florida cypress. The oak door and windows were cut from a piece of recycled pallet.

One photo I forgot to take would have revealed the 30 miniature LED lights, both in the main floor and tower.

Fish Branch Tree Farm Florida palms FNGLA

Trees on the Go

November 29, 2018

Fish Branch Tree Farms in Zolfo Springs hosted the Trees on the Go educational seminar in partnership with FNGLA, Roots Plus Growers and ASLA Florida. Their nursery is a model tree farm emphasizing quality and consistency. 

Speakers: Dr. Ed Gilman (U.F. Professor Emeritus) on the state of the urban forest and early tree root training, John Conroy, owner of Fish Branch, about Grades and Standards, Lloyd Morgan about ideal handling and shipping of large trees, Joe Samnik, about legal issues regarding contracts/specifications (how not to get sued for negligence), Russell Adams about mass planting palms in difficult situations (Orlando highway sides), Mike Marshall, Marshall Tree Farms demonstrating grading trees and discussing the future of tree supply/demand.

Here is a link to the Florida Grades and Standards:

fairy house

Moon over Copper Roof

Here is my latest project: A “fairy house” with a copper roof surrounded with lots of wood. We mounted it outdoors as a welcome by our front door.

FNGLA trade shows

The Landscape Show, Orlando

I am a sucker for variegated plants. Long ago, when a gardener or plant breeder found a plant with white streaks or spots in it’s leaves, it was discarded as weak and inferior to it’s green-leafed parent. But, color sells and anything-but-green leaves turn heads. Also, a plant with less chlorophyll in it’s leaves tends to grow slower, driving up it’s price and demand.

Here are a few of the variegated leafed plants that stood out at this years Landscape Show held by the Florida Nursery Grower Landscape Association (FNGLA) in Orlando.


fairy garden fairy house

Log Gnome Home

I found this log at a place selling firewood in Plant City, Florida.  The rotted knot makes a perfect entrance to a “fairy house” leading into a hollow cavity. It took about three weeks to construct this little work of art. It’s heavier than most that I’ve built because of the solid wood and piles of rocks.  (But not quite to Dade County hurricane standards).



round up roundup

Roundup Reaction

08/10/2018. (Reuters) – “A California jury on Friday found Monsanto liable in a lawsuit filed by a man who alleged the company’s glyphosate-based weed-killers, including Roundup, caused his cancer and ordered the company to pay $289 million in damages…

…The jury at San Francisco’s Superior Court of California deliberated for three days before finding that Monsanto had failed to warn Johnson and other consumers of the cancer risks posed by its weed killers.”

Have you ever served on a jury? It was my duty to do so a few years ago. It was a civil case involving a car accident with injuries.

We heard evidence, the testimony of witnesses and lawyer’s arguments. We discussed, deliberated, and sent notes back to the judge twice. We almost forced a mistrial because we needed more information.  His Honor stated we have all we needed to give a verdict. After we gave the ruling, the judge cleared the courtroom, thanked us for our service and then we had a frank discussion.

“Why didn’t they give us an accident report? Did the police write a ticket? Was there alcohol involved?” we asked. The judge confided that both sides did not think presenting those facts would help their cases.

Ever since then I have heard of verdicts and awards that were extraordinary.  But, thanks to that brief inside experience, I will never question the outcome of a trial for one reason: only those twelve people have all the facts needed to pass a judgement.

My heart goes out to the gentleman who sued Monsanto. He is dying from cancer. No amount of money will cure him. No punitive damages will salve the hearts of his family.

One fact from this story surprised me: This man was a pest control manager for a school system and applied Ranger (generic, made by Monsanto) 30 times per year. Um, I know people who spray the stuff thirty times a day. (Although there were two incidents when he was “drenched” with the product because of a hose break.)

A key document that was referred to throughout this trial is published by the World Health Organization: International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC). “Evaluation of Carcinogenic Risks to Humans” This list ranks 1069 items by their possible effect on human health. Their system goes from one to four, one being the worst. Here is my summary of some of the common items. (I skipped many long-named, mysterious chemicals like cyclophosphamide, a chemotherapy drug in the Group 1!)

Group 1: The agent is carcinogenic to humans. (120 agents).
               Leather dust. Outdoor air pollution. H.I.V. Asbestos. Plutonium. Alcoholic beverages. Engine exhaust, diesel. Estrogen-progestogen oral contraceptives/menopausal therapy. Hepatitis B, C, (chronic infection). Consumption of processed meat. Salted fish, Chinese style. Solar radiation. U.V. radiation. Wood dust. Tobacco smoking, chewing, second hand smoke.
Group 2A: Probably carcinogenic to humans. (82 entries).
               Red meat (consumption).  Malathion. Napthalene (mothballs). Glyphosate. Diazinon. DDT. Hairdresser or barber (occupational exposure as a).  Malaria. Working nights. Very hot beverages at above 149 degrees.
Group 2B: Possibly carcinogenic to humans. (302 entries).
               Pickled vegetables (traditional Asian). Gasoline. Ginko biloba extract. Engine exhaust, gasoline. 2-4-D. Diesel fuel (marine).  Aloe vera, whole leaf extract. Carpentry. Talc-based body powder (perineal use). Goldenseal root powder.
Group 3: The agent is not classifiable as to its carcinogenicity to humans. …” evidence is inadequate in humans and inadequate or limited in experimental animals.” (501 entries).
               Many common pesticides (carbaryl, captan, thiram, atrazine, permethrin). Fluorescent lighting. Acetaminophen, saccharin, mercury, coal dust, coffee drinking, sulfur dioxide, hydrogen peroxide.

So, all kidding aside, according to the World Health Organization, if you drink wine, lay out in the sun, are on the pill, eat Spam, and smoke Marlboro’s, your days are numbered.

And the group 2A items are just as disturbing: Eating a steak, working nights and drinking very hot beverages can be as carcinogenic as glyphosate or malaria.

Look at group 2B: Have you ever touched gasoline or breathed car exhaust? They are considered as “possibly carcinogenic” as aloe vera and woodworking.

Whether there is a warning label or not: Protect yourself at all times.

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.