Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Blooming Bromeliads in October

Blooming Bromeliads were featured on this blog at the end August . . . the plant photos were taken from Busch Gardens in Tampa, Florida.  When we visited the gardens this month, I thought it would be interesting to chronicle the life cycle of the blooming bromeliads from one month to the next.

The title photo was taken in August.  One of those flowering bromeliads is gone and the pink flower is not as vibrant, actually almost done as seen in some of the following photos.  All in all, they are not as vibrant as they were in August, but still very beautiful in the landscape.

This one appears to be almost done!

Awesome placement of bromeliads between the rocks that form the waterfall.

Check out the following video made from photos taken from the gardens of Busch Gardens to enjoy the lush and tropical beauty of Central Florida landscaping in October . . . this is subtropical gardening at its finest!

More posts and videos to come on container gardening
 and specific plants in this subtropical paradise . . .
subscribe to this blog for updates!

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Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Tin-can & Glass-jar Lights

Set your backyard, porch or terrace
 aglow with these fun lights.

There is something about candle light in the darkness that is magical.  One of the things I love best is taking something that would normally be thrown away and make something useful from it.

I have also taken tin cans that I have painted and made candles directly into the can, placing them all over the yard on those inexpensive bamboo stakes.  At one time I loved using those tiki torches until I had one catch on fire and I swore to never use them again . . . this was my alternative.

Using citronella candles is best used in climates where mosquitoes are a problem . . . they do help!

This is a repost from Birds and Blooms . . .

Outdoor lighting doesn't have to be complicated or expensive to install. All it takes are some everyday materials and a little imagination to set your backyard, porch or terrace aglow. Below you'll find instruction on how to make both tin-can lights and glass-jar lights.

Tin-Can Lights

Step 1: Make a pattern of holes on paper to wrap around your can by using a photocopier to enlarge one of the three designs shown at right. You can also cut a piece of paper to size and copy a design onto it freehand. Or make your own original pattern!

Step 2: To copy the circle designs from the patterns, use a compass and pencil to draw concentric circles and mark equidistant points around the outer circumference. Draw lines from the center to these points to divide the circle into even sectors. A dot at each intersection indicates where a hole is to be made.

Step 3: For the diamond design, draw a small diamond shape made of two equilateral triangles, and enclose this in two proportionately larger triangles. Add dots to the outlines at evenly spaced intervals to indicate holes.

Step 4: Tape the paper pattern to the can. Place one end of the dowel lengthwise in the vise; slip can over the other end.

Step 5: At each dot on the pattern, make a divot in the can with a large nail (this will help guide the drill), and then enlarge with a 1/8-in. drill bit. Make holes for the handles near the top of the can in the same way.

Step 6: Make a handle by bending a 20-inch length of wire at its midpoint, then bending small hooks at each end to attach to can. Twist other end into a small loop for hanging. Paint cans if desired (avoid water-based or latex paints). Insert a candle.

Glass-Jar Lights

Step 1: Measure circumference of jar neck, add 3 in., and cut a piece of tie wire to this length. Bend the wire around the jar neck to form a loose circle, and use pliers to hook the two ends securely together. With a screwdriver, twist the wire to form two eye loops on opposite sides of the jar.

Step 2: For the hanger, cut another piece of wire, 3 ft. long. At its midpoint, use pliers to twist a loop for hanging.

Step 3: Thread 1 in. of each end of the hanger wire through the eye loops; secure the wire by twisting the ends back on themselves.

Step 4: If desired, embellish jar with glass paints, following the manufacturer’s instructions. Make a bed of sand 2 inches deep in each jar, and insert a candle.

Source: Birds and Blooms
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Composting autumn leaves

Leaf mulch made from the leaves of my oak trees make an excellent mulch for acid-loving plants like hibiscus. My method is ridiculously easy . . . rake the leaves and place in a garbage bag (shredding the leaves is recommended, but not necessary), water the leaves before sealing the bag . . . and let it sit. The back of my storage sheds were the perfect spot to line them up and let them "age" . . . if you have the room, it is an excellent use of those leaves.

Leaves are also an excellent source for the compost pile, if you have one. The following is an article on the process of adding leaves to the pile . . .

This article is a repost from eHow

Think about shredding leaves before you compost them. Shredded leaves are much easier to turn in a compost pile. These leaves will also break down much faster than whole leaves. You don't need to shred leaves, but it's easily done by running over them with a lawn mover.

Add your leaves to your compost pile. You should try to bury the new compost material deep into the pile, just like you do when you add any new material to it. Covering the leaves will help the compost pile turn into soil quickly.

See if you need to add manure or a supplement to your compost. If you have a new compost pile, a supplement like bone meal or manure can help speed the compost process. These materials are rich in nitrogen, which is essential for the natural composting process.

Turn your compost pile every 4 or 5 days. Using a manure fork, mix the compost so that the material that was on the top is now shifted into the middle of the pile. Also try to bring some of the compost from the bottom up to the top of the pile. Turning is much easier when the leaves are shredded before they are put into the pile.

Consider putting a tarp over your compost pile during the late autumn and winter. This tarp will help keep heat in the compost pile and keep moisture out of it. You'll still need to turn the pile every week.


There's really no limit on how many leaves you can put in a compost pile. If you want to add all the leaves in your yard, you'll really need to shred them first and add a nitrogen supplement to them to be sure that they all turn into compost.

Save some of the shredded leaves to insulate your perennials during winter. Shredded leaves can also be saved and used as mulch in the spring.

Add a tall wire fence around your compost pile. You need to keep animals like skunks and raccoons out of your compost pile. A fence is especially important if you are putting food scraps in your pile.

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