Friday, June 26, 2009

Summer happenings....

Look what's happening in the garden....June 2009
Do you think they are hungry?
For about the last one & a half weeks, I have been watching these Blue Jay babies in a neighbors yard. This nest is in a tree about 4 feet off the ground and is pretty much exposed and you can watch the parents go and come from the nest constantly.
There are 3 babies in this nest and they certainly let it be known that they are hungry......and they have really grown so quickly. Over the last several days I have been doing quite a bit of reading online about how to identify specific birds nests & bird eggs. I have come across Sialis, a very interesting and informative website on this subject and anything else you may want to learn about the Bird kingdom.
With a full belly the babies go back to sleep. What a life............

This photo shows how out in the open this nest is woven.
Several days ago while walking around my yard, I was looking at how much new growth appeared on my plants. I particularly noticed that I would have to cut this branch off my "Snow on the Mountain" bush, as it was totally covering a Bromeliad in a hanging pot. When I moved away that branch........look what I found! Hidden away, a perfectly formed and protected little nest housing 4 tiny, very newly hatched babies. I have not figured out the type of bird yet. The mother is very small about the size of my index finger and also pretty sneaky. She approaches her babies from behind coming off the fence so that it is difficult to see where she is going. Smart little bird! I know that I will enjoy monitoring this little family.
Back to whats growing in the garden. This geranium is looking great, healthy and full of flowers. I lost one in a different type of pot due to the tremendous amount of rain we have encountered over a short amount of time here in Florida. My Red Bird or Cacto Cardenal in the clay pot is doing really was much smaller when I first got it with it's showy variegated leaves and bamboo like branches which originally caught my eye. They do well in this type of clay pot and like sun or part shade. This is one of my plants that I refer to as being part of my "funny farm", inclusive of several odd looking plants that I have collected, including my Pencil plant and The Bad Hair Day plant (common name for real).
Yes, all is well in my little corner of the world. I will have to get out there soon and do some weeding and replace many of my herbs that did not do well in large pots with all the rain. I think that I am going to clear a new bed area and plant them in the ground this time. My basil is doing great in the ground. I love my fresh herbs for cooking.
Many of my plants were damaged by the frost that we encountered several times this past Winter, but like this one most everything is slowly recovering.
Nature is just incredible.....don't you think?

Sunday, June 14, 2009

It's not just about growing flowers.....

From left to right: Orlando Sentinel garden columnist Tom MacCubbin shovels up the dirt on gardening year-round in Central Florida. Tom MacCubbin is an urban horticulturist emeritus with the University of Florida Cooperative Extension Service. Maxine Thomas receiving certificate at MSG graduation and Resident Horticulturist and Master Gardener Coordinator, Dr. Al Ferrer of the Seminole County Extension Service.

June 9, 2009
Congratulations to the 2009 graduating class of Master Gardeners, Seminole County Florida.

Master Gardeners are not a garden club..............Master Gardeners are a public service. The Florida Master Gardener Program is a volunteer-driven program that benefits UF/IFAS Extension and the citizens of Florida. The program relies on dedicated volunteers who have an interest in gardening and in giving back to their communities.

Goal: To increase the availability of horticultural information for the community and to improve the quality of life for the residents of Seminole County through horticultural volunteer activities.

The 2009 graduating class of The Master Gardeners program of Seminole County, Florida, a non-profit, educational organization that operates under the auspices of University of Florida Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS). This class is an amazing mix of knowledge and interests.

I was a member of this program and attended class each Tuesday from 9:30 am to 4:00 pm for 15 weeks, in addition to several outside trips, in order to be given the title of Florida Master Gardener.

But these classes are just the beginning. The learning really gets going with interactions between fellow MGS and the public.

Each graduate is now responsible to do 100 hours of community service in the first year and 45 hours per year thereafter in addition to obtaining CE credit hours to maintain certification.

The position of Master Gardener is more valuable to the community in today's market then ever before due to employee cut-backs in this hard hit economy. Each new Master Gardener will need to provide service and might want to consider working the Help Desk, by taking phone calls at the extension office, Soil testing, working clinics, helping with classes, working in county demonstration gardens, working with children by helping with school &/or 4-H projects, interviews on TV/Radio, writing newsletters & bulletins and providing research based information and provide practical advice.

Personally, I have learned that now I know a little about a lot of topics with much more to go. I am looking forward to growth of knowledge while personal friendships flourish.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

It’s a wonderful time to purchase a new home now!

Let’s take a look at some of the opportunities for today and the future of Florida’s real estate market.

1. Great prices. Statewide, the existing-home median sales price was $161,200 in the fourth quarter of 2008; a year earlier, it was $216,600 for a decrease of 26 percent.
2. The time is right. Home sales volumes are rising again – a clear signal that today’s “buyers market” may be changing soon. In fourth quarter 2008, statewide sales of existing single-family homes were up 13 percent compared to the same period last year, according to FAR statistics.
3. High inventory levels. Conditions are ideal for buyers to find their dream home. Inventory is still plentiful in all price ranges. But as sales volumes increase, inventory levels are likely to shrink. That reality translates into this advice for buyers: Don’t wait too long.
4. Low mortgage rates. Mortgage rates are still at the lowest levels since the 1960s. Lower rates multiply a buyer’s financial power. Even half a percent can make a sizeable difference. For example, on a $200,000 home, half of 1 percent could save the homeowner about $815 a year. Buyers can get more home for the money, which is a perfect scenario for families looking to upsize.
5. Incentives to buy. Federal, state and local housing programs can help buyers make that big purchase. The U.S. Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2009 includes an $8,000 tax credit for first-time buyers. President Obama’s 2009 economic stimulus package also identifies and offers incentives to help home buyers with mortgages. Talk to a local mortgage lender about state and federal incentive programs.
How to get the $8,000 credit.
6. A long-term-growth state. Long-term economic and demographic trends continue to favor Florida. By 2010 economists forecast that Florida will be the third-most-populated state in the country. Florida’s population is expected to swell about 75 percent by 2030. Florida has been one of the 10 fastest-growing states in the U.S. for each of the past seven decades, and often the state has been in the top four, according to census data. Population growth will continue to provide a foundation for other economic development, such as new jobs and growing incomes. All of these trends are positive indicators for real estate growth.
7. A migration magnet. Even with a slowdown in economic growth nationally, projections call for Florida’s population to return to more normal growth levels of about 317,000 a year between 2010 and 2020, similar to the 1980s and 1990s, said Stan Smith, director of the University of Florida’s Bureau of Economic and Business Research. That’s a lot of new buyers coming into the market.
8. A favored retirement destination. Over the long term, Florida stands to benefit from the migration of the aging Baby Boomer generation, roughly 80 million strong. Demographic studies show that the Sunshine State’s mild climate and outdoor amenities continue to make Florida a top retirement destination.
9. Business-friendly state. Florida has always been a business-friendly state – no state income taxes, plus incentives from local municipalities encourage businesses to set up shop here. Even with the current economic downturn nationwide, Florida leaders continue to keep business needs in the forefront of planning for the state's future. The Milken Institute/Greenstreet Real Estate Partners ranked five Florida communities on its “Best Performing Cities Index 2008,” which ranks U.S. metropolitan areas by how well they are creating and sustaining jobs and economic growth. Florida’s business climate ranked fourth among executives and sixth overall on “Site Selection” magazine’s 2008 Top State Business Climate rankings.
10. Positive investment outlook. Every quarter, the University of Florida’s Bergstrom Center for Real Estate Studies conducts a survey of industry executives, market research economists, real estate scholars and other experts. In the third quarter 2008 survey, the investment outlook for various types of Florida properties remains steady. “People who have responded to our surveys have not lost their faith in Florida as a place to be and a place to invest,” said Dr. Wayne Archer, director. “We have 40 pages of comments from our respondents, and although the dominant theme is the disruption of financing, perhaps the second theme, as one person put it, is people being on the sidelines with full pads and helmets just waiting to jump back in.”
11. Homeownership has value. Realtors believe – and research supports that belief – that homeownership provides a variety of tangible and intangible benefits to the community and homeowners. Studies show that home equity is still the largest single source of household wealth, both for the individual homeowner and for homeowners as a group.
12. Greater sense of well-being. Owning a home leads to increased personal well-being. Research shows that people who own their own homes tend to show higher levels of personal esteem and life satisfaction, which in turn helps to make homeowners and their children more productive members of society.
13. Beneficial for kids. Studies show that children raised in homes owned by their families are more likely to stay in school and more likely to graduate high school. They’re also shown to have a higher lifetime annual income.
14. Community involvement. People who own homes have a strong financial stake in what happens to their community and tend to become more involved in community and civic affairs. Studies show that homeowners also interact more with their neighbors and communities. Compared to renters, homeowners join up to 41 percent more civic and/or nonprofessional organizations, such as the PTA or Scouts; vote in local elections 15 percent more often; enhance their neighborhoods with gardens 12 percent more often; attend church about 10 percent more often; and have a 3 percent greater chance of being interested in public affairs.
15. An unsurpassed lifestyle. Finally, let’s not forget the things that brought people to Florida in the first place, and will continue to attract them – beautiful beaches, fabulous weather and a friendly business climate, with no state income tax. It’s no wonder that Florida’s combination of temperate climate, outstanding recreational amenities and economic opportunity has consistently put Florida in the top three of Harris Poll’s “Most Desirable Places to Live” survey.
Why It's a Great Time To Buy Real Estate in Florida!
Pricing and Inventory: This is an ideal time for buyers to find a Florida dream home. Inventory is plentiful throughout the state and today’s lower prices offer true bargains for purchasers at all price levels.

© Copyright 2009 Florida Association of Realtors