Avoiding the Technicolor Yawn

Red Hibiscus

Red Hibiscus Flower

One of my horticulturally oriented friends used to say “those annual beds look like Mickey Mouse threw up”. You know the ones; the aptly named “Cocktail Mix” Begonias backed up by Multi colored Caladiums. A kaleidoscope of red, pink, white and green so variegated you can’t focus and then start feeling queasy.

I realized the bed I was trying to use my entire assorted collection of plants waiting to be planted (that I bought because they were interesting or a great bargain or I had never seen one before or..) in was headed in that direction and decided to settle the colors down before I planted something ghastly. Colors were edited to this:

Then I added two green textures:



Pringles Dwarf Podocarpus

Pringles Dwarf Podocarpus

There is an ancient Red Hibiscus at the end of the bed (the top photo) it doesn’t bloom often, so I am hopeful no one ends up nauseated. My problem is I still have 10 or 15 assorted plants around and I just bought two more.


Weirdness Wednesday

Pygmy Date Palm Flowers

I was walking through my house this morning and glanced out the side door for a moment and spied a large bird walking down the driveway. Like four feet long. Upon further study, I realized it was a Peacock! Very strange. I grabbed my camera and went out the front door to sneak up on the bird and get a picture.

And the bird was gone. Vanished. Had I dropped some acid last night and forgotten?

I did see the Pygmy Date Palm flowering and took a picture of that (above) Because, well, that is pretty weird as well.

Later I realized that Peacock must have been one of the ancestors of Frances Langford’s famous flock. Frances Langford was a movie star who lived nearby in the 1950’s and had a Polynesian style resort with a flock of Peacocks.

No acid was taken here. I did have another cup of coffee.

Getting Thrown Out of the Girl Scouts

One of the Fiats, the Green one!

One of the Fiats, the Green one!

Earlier this afternoon, for some reason I told my husband about getting thrown out of the Girl Scouts. Realise we have been together for almost 25 years and he had never heard this story.

I call myself a recovering Southern Belle, this is probably a contributing factor.; as Belles are naturally former Girl Scouts. Girl Scouts are an American organization that hike, camp, earn badges and improve neighborhoods, according to their website. I imagine their goals were similar in the late 1960’s when I was dying to be a Girl Scout, have a green uniform and belong.

My mother, the venerable Miss Betty, I think was approaching her limit on driving children around (I was the fourth) and she had not learned to drive until the ripe old age of 35. Then, my father insisted that only a manual transmission car was worthwhile and bought her a series of peculiar Fiats. The suburbs of Atlanta, Georgia was not the place for any sort of foreign car in the 1960’s.

We lived in a relatively unfashionable area that still had Ku Klux Klan meetings, I can remember a building downtown with a giant cross on top where the meetings were held. And  I attended Elementary school with the Grand Wizards grandson. For some reason I turned out to be a mostly socially liberal person with numerous gay friends, go figure.

One day Miss Betty was selected to drive the Girl Scout troop around. Well, the Fiat had a stick shift and no one in the sticks of North Georgia had ever been in anything other than a Buick with a sluggish automatic transmission. The phone tree in suburban Atlanta lit up with concern about the maniac lady in the Red Fiat. Mothers were complaining that their daughters were terrified by the stick shift and the speed of the little Fiat that had an engine about the size of a really fast John Deere lawnmower.

My mother was appalled at the indignity of being accused of speeding and terrifying little girls and pulled me out of Girl Scouts immediately. I have never joined another women only organization.

Merry Kitschmas and Flapjack Plants


CAM00060-1If you are in search of kitschy Christmas decorations, South Florida should be your destination. Within walking distance of my house we have lighted Flamingo Santas, Santa on a surfboard full of presents crashing into a palm tree and my favorite, a full sized sled with Santa pulled by 8 Flamingos (pink, of course) Very festive and very kitschy.

I have to say I really love the Flamingos, having spent many years in the company of proper design professionals a few Kitschy Flamingos just make the holidays more enjoyable. The mascot for my Landscape Architecture class in college was the Pink Flamingo.

Tonight Santa arrives in my neighborhood in a convertible Mustang complete with Christmas lights and the stereo blaring Christmas carols, drives around and gives candy to the children in the neighborhood.

Blooming in the garden is another sort of kitschy plant, the Flapjack Plant. I had originally thought this was a variety of Jade Plant (Crassula, for botanical name lovers) The Flapjack Plant turns out to be a Kalanchoe thyrsiflora, hmmm, interesting. These are used as summer annuals further north,  but are perennial in South Florida. I had never seen one bloom, the flower spike makes the plant about four feet tall.

Flapjack Flowers

Flapjack Flowers

The foliage looks less like flapjacks as it gets bigger:

Flapjack Foliage

Flapjack Foliage

Kind of red and green in the spirit of Christmas?!

Happy Holidays, Merry Kitschmas, er, Christmas and Happy Gardening..


Holiday Hounds

For many years I have held a dream of taking an oh so cute picture of my Greyhounds with Christmas antlers and using it as a Holiday card. Here is the result of my latest attempt.

Charles not enjoying headgear

Charles not enjoying headgear

The cat was asleep so I tried it on her:

Cat not even wearing headgear

Cat not even wearing headgear

A few years ago I tried with two dogs, Bullitt and My Girl:


And they got bored:

Is there a treat in the house?

Is there a treat in the house?

I finally got one good picture of Bullitt:

Bullitt as Reindog

Bullitt as Reindog

Then realized the antlers should have been behind his ears. After thinking it over, perhaps this is the best solution:

The most cooperative Greyhound

The most cooperative Greyhound

Buy some cards and put the antlers on the concrete Greyhound.


Male Dog Syndrome

The first person who coined the term, male dog syndrome, was, in fact a landscape architect, a guy! I worked with who  had a similar sense of humor; he had worked for big and famous firms in the 80’s and had, unfortunately, been laid off multiple times. During the course of all these so called design projects  as a junior staffer he experienced the marking behavior. Oddly enough, this guy has been really successful in his own right and is probably peeing on bushes in the Western United States as we speak.

As a dedicated Greyhound fan, I usually have a couple of dogs around. Dogs do some weird things that would not have occurred to me prior to having dogs. Many of these peculiarities are urinary based.

My first Greyhound, Butler, was a male dog and having worked with men primarily for years in design and construction I was aware of “male dog syndrome” In life and business the last male to pee on the bush is King. And all the princes must pee on it as well. After twenty or thirty years, this gets tiresome in all respects; perhaps not to the men. I feel that, for men this is probably a lifetime dilemma. Even  Gen X and Millenial men must do this. I will have to say this slays me as it is totally counterproductive.  And then there is the ‘measuring’..

At least dogs don’t do that. On the other hand, it could be related.

One cold winter night around 2 am, Butler came into the bedroom, whining a bit and woke me up. I thought “Oh, he will be OK for a while he just went out” He came back in a bit later and proceeded to pee all over the foot of the bed and carpet. Oops, of course, I should have gotten up and let him out, but it was Thanksgiving, my parent’s fiftieth wedding anniversary and we were having 15 or 20 people over for dinner shortly.  I had been trying to live up to my southern cooking heritage all day and was exhausted. Thank God for the enzymatic carpet cleaner.

In the garden Butler had issues with anything Juniper scented. I suppose it it fortunate I detest Gin. My favorite Landscape Contractor had been singing the praises of Hinoki Cypress shrubs for years, so I decided to buck up and buy a big one as they are sort of slow growing. I am usually frugal in the purchase of plant material because, well, sometimes I forget about water and stuff. And I must always cope with my cheap Scotch heritage. This time I paid $150.00 for a really nice shrub not considering Butler’s Juniper issues. It was, in fact, a Cypress.

I suppose I should mention Butler was inevitably so intent on marking everything he often ran out of pee. Which was very frustrating for him, but really comical to watch. He would stand there back leg raised looking down to see nothing coming out and then try again. My husband always found this particularly amusing. Sort of a man thing, I guess.

So, I put the Hinoki Cypress in a place of honor. By the gate into the back garden. Probably a locational error on my part. However, it looked great shimmering dark green in the sun and already 3 feet tall with ferny chartreuse new growth. First time the dog went by, pssst. Second time and most anytime he wasn’t emptied by having been on a long walk. Sigh. Eventually the Cypress began to turn rust instead of green.

The Hinoki was only rust colored on one side, I had hopes for its survival. Then the voles came. I am not really sure I ever saw one. But, boy Butler could smell them and they were under the $150.00 Cypress. Crap. Maybe on some level voles are offensive to dogs; perhaps the male voles are marking?? At this point digging under the Cypress became necessary and the top of the plant began to turn rust