Friday, April 30, 2010

It has been a slow recovery....

But we are slowly making progress after a bitter cold winter here in Central Florida. Garden ornament.....I salvaged this "planter" out of my daughter's home being totally renovated in Pt. Saint Lucie, Florida. It certainly adds "my touch" to the landscape. Actually most visitors to my garden hardly notice it until I point it out to them.

This is a "baby" from my Giant Kalanchoe Gastonis Bonnieri, Donkey Ears, that I photographed extensively and posted about, probobly until I bored my readers silly. The poor mother plant is gone...a victim perhaps of the glorious bloom it produced and then followed by the freezing weather. And yes during the cold days and nights she was moved into my lanai and covered. It just got too cold. But this little baby protected by other plants did make it. Hopefully by fall it will be ready to bloom for me. I did give away several other babies.

I have pots of assorted flowering plants scattered around to add color and interest.

And I have added a small water feature to my garden, because I just love the plants that can grow in it. But once again the cold weather made victim of several of my flowering water plants. The "lettuce" plants survived and I recently added Papyrus, or "Little Tut" as it is commonly known. The Papyrus is a native of the Nile River, and are the plants the Egyptians used to make the first paper.

The addition of flowering annuals add accent and draw the butterflies and birds.

I have several large Stag Horn Ferns which did fairly well. Several of the fronds were burned from the cold, but new ones are filling in quickly.

I do not have a name for this vine that I purchased last season, but this is the first bloom which I imagine will attract butterflies, at minimum.

My Bird of Paradise is doing well under the canopy of the large trees, and was not at all affected by by the Florida freeze.

Several varieties of Bromeliads did well, I just need to remove the burnt leaves and separate the clusters.

Shrubs are starting to produce their flowers adding more color.

Some more flowers added for color.

Moving out to the front yard, my big brown spot recently the topic of another post is filling in quickly. I am real pleased with the Asiatic Jasmine. My front beds have everything filling in and looking better finally.

My Crinum Lillys which looked like wilted spinach after the cold are coming back beautifully. As noted in a previous post, I have moved them 3 times from different homes here in Central Florida and do really "baby" them.
Since they are in pots, the Red Bird Cacto Cardenal was moved inside my covered lanai during the freeze and did still end up dropping every one of its red color showy leaves, but they are just starting to come back now. I will be patient and it will be worth it.
The little sign displayed reads: A garden of friends is always in bloom!
Ah, now to my "new" favorite plants......My edible landscape, growing in 2 raised beds, using the square foot gardening method. Seen here in the rear is Kale and up front is Zucchini. Other plants I am growing include: beans, several varieties of tomatoes, cucumber, eggplant, green & red peppers as well as hot pepper, squash, broccoli, cabbage, several varieties of lettuce and carrots.
Cherry Tomatoes are abundant on this plant with the first ones ready to pick in the next day or so.
Here are 2 Spaghetti Squash seedlings just emerged from seed. I think that the tomato crop will be very abundant from what I see now. I have about 5 different varieties. I also grow herbs which I love to have for cooking. Once you cook with freshly picked herbs you will never be happy with dried or even the "fresh herbs" you purchase in the grocery store. I am currently growing Basil,Chives, Dill, Ginger, Lavender, Marjoram, Mint, Oregano, Parsley, Rosemary, Sage, Tarragon and Thyme....I think that's it. I even love the scent of the herbs when I water them...........which is what I think I need to do now, since it did not rain.

Keep Gardening.......

Make every inch of your property beautiful, productive and delicious!!!!

Saturday, April 24, 2010

The new Breakfast of Champions.....

Breakfast....the most important meal of the day!

We have all heard the old saying that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, but do you know why? Obviously, food is fuel and energy for our bodies and without it we spend the day stumbling around in a fog and fighting off a headache and a bad attitude. Breakfast is literally just that, breaking the fast that your body is in from the night before.

Some people consider a cup of coffee and or a cigarette their breakfast....not good. While others must have something to eat immediately upon waking up and stumble into the kitchen to get that bowl of cereal before doing anything else, you know who you are! Remember, "Wheaties the breakfast of champions"? We did believe this for so long, because that is what the manufacturer told us.

I have never been a "breakfast person", in fact in the morning I do not just sit down to have something to eat. I have my morning ritual of tasks that must be completed. So several years ago, I got in the habit of grabbing my banana and eating on the run. I really did not know just how good for me this little breakfast ritual was. Now, I will say that I don't mind on occasion sitting down to a big breakfast, or omelet stuffed with all kinds of good veggies....however this would not be a typical start of the day for me.

So back to why breakfast is the most important meal of the day. The consumption of an early morning snack increases the metabolic rate (how fast you burn calories) and kick starts your body into gear, telling it what to expect the rest of the day. If breakfast isn't eaten, your body doesn't process your next meal as quickly and tries to hold onto those nutrients. Since it didn't get any morning fuel, it tries to hold onto the afternoon meal as long as possible — instead of burning it right away.

Studies have shown that weight loss can be more difficult and weight gain more prevalent in folks who opt out on the morning meal. Those who skip breakfast have a tendency to consume more food than usual the next chance they get to grab a bite to eat and also have a higher tendency to snack on high-calorie foods to keep hunger at bay until then.

Just last week I received an "email forward", you know what I mean, we all get hundreds of them weekly. This one however laid out the benefits of the banana. I was so impressed that I wanted to share this information here. (source of this article not available)

A good banana tip: Never, put your banana in the refrigerator!!!

This is interesting. After reading this, you'll never look at a banana in the same way again.. Bananas contain three natural sugars - sucrose, fructose and glucose combined with fiber.

A banana gives an instant, sustained and substantial boost of energy. Research has proven that just two bananas provide enough energy for a strenuous 90-minute workout. No wonder the banana is the number one fruit with the world's leading athletes. But energy isn't the only way a banana can help us keep fit. It can also help overcome or prevent a substantial number of illnesses and conditions, making it a must to add to our daily diet.

Depression: According to a recent survey undertaken by MIND amongst people suffering from depression, many felt much better after eating a banana. This is because bananas contain tryptophan, a type of protein that the body converts into serotonin, known to make you relax, improve your mood and generally make you feel happier.

PMS: Forget the pills - eat a banana. The vitamin B6 it contains regulates blood glucose levels, which can affect your mood. Anemia : High in iron, bananas can stimulate the production of hemoglobin in the blood and so helps in cases of anemia.

Blood Pressure: This unique tropical fruit is extremely high in potassium yet low in salt, making it perfect to beat blood pressure. So much so, the US Food and Drug Administration has just allowed the banana industry to make official claims for the fruit's ability to reduce the risk of blood pressure and stroke.

Brain Power: 200 students at a Twickenham (Middlesex) school ( England ) were helped through their exams this year by eating bananas at breakfast, break, and lunch in a bid to boost their brain power. Research has shown that the potassium-packed fruit can assist learning by making pupils more alert.

Constipation: High in fiber, including bananas in the diet can help restore normal bowel action, helping to overcome the problem without resorting to laxatives.

Hangovers: One of the quickest ways of curing a hangover is to make a banana milkshake, sweetened with honey. The banana calms the stomach and, with the help of the honey, builds up depleted blood sugar levels, while the milk soothes and re-hydrates your system.

Heartburn: Bananas have a natural antacid effect in the body, so if you suffer from heartburn, try eating a banana for soothing relief. Morning Sickness: Snacking on bananas between meals helps to keep blood sugar levels up and avoid morning sickness Mosquito bites: Before reaching for the insect bite cream, try rubbing the affected area with the inside of a banana skin. Many people find it amazingly successful at reducing swelling and irritation. Nerves:

Bananas are high in B vitamins that help calm the nervous system. Overweight and at work? Studies at the Institute of Psychology in Austria found pressure at work leads to gorging on comfort food like chocolate and chips... Looking at 5,000 hospital patients, researchers found the most obese were more likely to be in high-pressure jobs. The report concluded that, to avoid panic-induced food cravings, we need to control our blood sugar levels by snacking on high carbohydrate foods every two hours to keep levels steady..

Ulcers: The banana is used as the dietary food against intestinal disorders because of its soft texture and smoothness. It is the only raw fruit that can be eaten without distress in over-chronicler cases. It also neutralizes over-acidity and reduces irritation by coating the lining of the stomach.

Temperature control: Many other cultures see bananas as a "cooling" fruit that can lower both the physical and emotional temperature of expectant mothers. In Thailand , for example, pregnant women eat bananas to ensure their baby is born with a cool temperature.

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD): Bananas can help SAD sufferers because they contain the natural mood enhancer tryptophan..

Smoking &Tobacco Use: Bananas can also help people trying to give up smoking. The B6, B12 they contain, as well as the potassium and magnesium found in them, help the body recover from the effects of nicotine withdrawal.

Stress: Potassium is a vital mineral, which helps normalize the heartbeat, sends oxygen to the brain and regulates your body's water balance.. When we are stressed, our metabolic rate rises, thereby reducing our potassium levels. These can be rebalanced with the help of a high-potassium banana snack. Strokes: According to research in The New England Journal of Medicine, eating bananas as part of a regular diet can cut the risk of death by strokes by as much as 40%! Warts:

Those keen on natural alternatives swear that if you want to kill off a wart, take a piece of banana skin and place it on the wart, with the yellow side out. Carefully hold the skin in place with a plaster or surgical tape! So, a banana really is a natural remedy for many ills. When you compare it to an apple, it has four times the protein, twice the carbohydrate, three times the phosphorus, five times the vitamin A and iron, and twice the other vitamins and minerals. It is also rich in potassium and is one of the best value foods around. So maybe its time to change that well-known phrase so that we say, "A banana a day keeps the doctor away!"

In my kitchen, my bananas are a staple. I always make sure that I do not run out of several things from the grocery food, coffee, toilet paper and my bananas. Anyone entering my home will always find my bunch of bananas sitting on my counter.

A banana a day keeps the doctor away!

Bananas, the breakfast of champions!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

The show that never ends.....

Hard Rock Casino in Tampa, we come! March 31, 2010 some of the residents of Savannah Court & Savannah Cove, a senior living community located just off of I-4 in Orange County on Maitland Boulevard in Maitland, Florida, were taken on a day trip to the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino. As a volunteer, I attended as a chaperon.

The bus ready to load with happy and excited residents.

Hard Rock Hotel and Casino, we have arrived, are you ready for us?

Does Miss Y look ready to get at those slots?

On the bus anxiously waiting to hit the casino for a day of fun.

This was actually the 2nd trip to the casino so it was highly anticipated.

Cameras are not permitted in the "gambling areas".....oh well, my mistake!

Believe it or not we finished the day with a couple of winners. Mr. R at the slots with some of our ladies.

"Welcome Back My Friends To The Show That Never Ends"

- Emerson Lake & Palmer

The words on the sign as you arrive....and it truly is the show that never ends. Looking for a great place to observe people, this would be the place. Want to learn to play blackjack just for fun? A lady that I met while at the casino provided me the following free website on Blackjack strategy.

On a serious note, April 19-25 is National Volunteer Week, to celebrate ordinary people doing extraordinary things. Do you do any volunteering? What can you do to make a difference?

Make a difference by leaving things a little better then you found them. A kind word or gesture goes a long way and often costs only a few minutes of your time. Whenever it feels like you have nothing to offer, remember that even the smallest favor can affect someones life in ways you could never anticipate.

By doing a kind gesture or helping another actually help yourself!

Sunday, April 4, 2010

The Big Brown Spot.....

Several weeks ago I received a letter in my mail from the property management company of my Homeowners Association asking me if I was aware of the "big Brown Spot" on my front lawn. Interesting I would miss this!!! After noticing several varieties of weeds, sedge and crabgrass with the possibility of Cinch bugs, I decided to spray the entire area to eliminate everything before my entire front yard was wiped out. It is just amazing how healthy, invasive and fast growing all the weeds become. Due to the uncommon cold winter, this big brown spot was left as is much longer then I would like it to.

I decided to not replace with St. Augustine or any other type grass which is a water guzzler and go with Florida Friendly plants that would easily adapt to the Central Florida climate.....extreme heat & humidity and that would survive sub-freezing temperature as we had this past winter.
Here you see a single row of Loropetalum in the rear. I usually start with small specimens as they are easier to plant and less expensive.
Despite the fact that it is written in the homeowners docs that sod must be replaced with sod, Florida Statute has changed due to the water shortage...... which is good news for homeowners.
State of Florida Statute makes it unlawful for any municipality to prohibit "property owners from implementing Xeriscape or Florida-friendly landscape, as defined in s. 373.185

(1) on his or her land

(2) "Xeriscape" or "Florida-friendly landscape" means quality landscapes that conserve water and protect the environment and are adaptable to local conditions and which are drought tolerant

(3) Local government ordinance may not prohibit any property owner from implementing Xeriscape or Florida-friendly landscape on his or her land." As I was working this area for planting, I dug up this "little guy" almost 2 inches tall. I suppose back about 10 years ago when my sod was installed some little child's treasure got buried and became unofficially my "Yard Man". So as I completed my planting I put him right back where he came from and he will remain my "Yard Man" till eternity.
A mature Loropetalum in my yard produces an abundance of vibrant pink fringy flowers in the Spring, sporadically during Summer and again in the fall. Some people shave them boxy like a hedge....I prefer to allow them to grow natural.

This shows a "pot bound plant". The roots of this plant need to be loosened and broken open before planting creating a happy environment for the new plant.
For contrast in height and look, I planted a row of "recycled" plants next from my own yard that had multiplied. I am currently at a loss as to the name of this plant, but they are hardy and produce a pretty blue ball shaped flower.
Drought & disease free as well as freeze tolerant Walters Viburnum, "world class", were placed next in a triangle arrangement.

Close up view of this showy, flowering native plant that will produce small clusters of flowers in winter and early spring.

Here I took a break and went to take a rest and cool off at the pool at my local YMCA, the J. Douglas Williams Family Center, in Longwood Florida.

I believe there may even be a lounge with my name on it......yes there it is, look closely.

Asiatic Jasmine plants in front. 54 little plants in total will creep together providing a dense green carpet of greenery and a great replacement for the space once occupied by a St. Augustine Lawn. Done finally, no more big brown spot.....It has been replaced with an easy maintenance Florida Friendly landscape.
Right Plant.......Right Place.......Get Planting!!