Monday, April 26, 2010

Latest Projects, Plant Nabbing, Ladybugs, etc

Wow,  it's been awhile since I've posted anything.   I've got spring fever and I've been working on one of my other loves, gardening.  My gardening style could best be described as...Jungle meets English Garden.  Ever since I was a very young child I've been drawn to anything English. Now back in those days I didn't know it was "English", I just knew I liked it.  I adored Agatha Christie,  The Secret Garden was another favorite, The Hobbit, C.S. Lewis books, books with large manor houses surrounded by gardens and moors covered in heather.  Later I was to discover through genealogy research that the majority of my ancestors came from England, Ireland and Scotland, so it might be some kind of genetic thing.  In any case, I'm happiest when surrounded by a jungle of flowering plants, birds, butterflies, ladybugs, and of course garden cats that come to visit and "help".
       My style is very informal, I want my garden to look a bit on the wild side.  I love the "old fashioned" flowers but many of them just hate it here in Florida.  At times Florida can be very dry and other times it's like a rain forest.  I've learned I need to be really open minded when selecting plants.  Things don't always want to grow where I put them.  In my area there are a lot of spots that I've learned are called "ruderal" which basically means "disturbed".  I like to go to these "lots" to scout out wildflowers because to be honest at any given moment they could be mowed down.  I seem to have an uncanny sense of what is about to be demolished because often days after I "harvest" some plants, next thing I know it's been destroyed. So really, I don't feel bad about taking plants from spots like these.  A couple of weeks ago I discovered this amazing wisteria vine that had to be at least 15 years old.  It was surrounded by viburnum bushes covered with ladybug larvae and pupas.  I made many cuttings off the wisteria and collected hundreds of ladybug larva and pupas to bring home.  Ladybugs are one of the most amazing natural pest controls so I really wanted to encourage them to live here.  I put the larva on different plants in the yard, and put the pupas (ladybug cocoon form) in a clean jar. As the pupas hatched I placed the ladybugs on the plants outside.  It's been so interesting and amazing.  I'm still working on getting the wisteria rooted, but it takes several weeks so I won't know if I was successful for a few weeks.  ANYWAY!  Yesterday I noticed that the wisteria vine had been cut down and REMOVED! The viburnum shrubs covered in ladybugs had been drastically cut back to skinny little "trees".  I felt sick to see what had been such a happy hub of buzzing life, destroyed as if  it were garbage.  So to be honest, when foraging for plants upon "ruderal" sites, I'm going to take what I find because very few people in this area really care about wildflowers and wildlife.  They just care about tearing stuff down to build yet another business that will stand empty in 6 months.  I found a huge number of sundew (similar to venus flytraps) plants sparkling red in the sun next the lake.  I felt a little guilty taking one, but there were so many, I took my husband back to show him, but some doofus had driven a tractor all over them and ripped them to shreds.  Some might survive, but most were unrecognizable as anything other than red sludge.  Mine, however, is doing fine.
I couldn't have saved them all.  I know this, but every time I have someone knowledgeable "clucking" at me for taking a wild plant, I remind myself that to some people if a plant didn't come from Home Depot, it's a weed, and my town is FULL of those kinds of people.  So I'm thinking they just assume I'm a little off my rocker for putting weeds in my garden.  Weeds like coreopsis,  passion flower vine, royal poinciana, wild lupines,  lantana, tradescantia, blue-eyed grass, asiatic dayflower, blanket flower to name but a few.

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