Saturday, April 21, 2012

Down to Earth

Earth Day is this weekend, and our new green gladioli apparently decided to bloom just in time to celebrate!

We bought our bulbs at a local nursery, but you can get them from American Meadows, where they're currently on sale. Glads bloom late spring through fall in Florida, and now is the time to plant.

This is our first year trying glads in My Florida Backyard. We have several hundred bulbs waiting to be planted, in a variety of colors, just as soon as we can find the time. Anytime through May is good for planting summer-blooming bulbs, so we have a little time still. In the meantime, we'll enjoy the glads we have so far. Happy Earth Day!

Friday, April 13, 2012

Little Gem

It's been a really exciting week here in My Florida Backyard, as we've logged hummingbird sighting after hummingbird sighting! In the last few years, we've spotted the very occasional hummingbird - literally one or two a year at most. This week, though, we've seen both males and females every day... and we even managed pictures!

They're not great pictures, admittedly, but we're so excited to have hummingbirds that it really doesn't matter. Ruby-Throated Hummingbirds (Archilochus colubris) migrate through central Florida in the spring and fall each year. Some people see them in great numbers as they pass through, while others see them only rarely. 

Once you're on the radar though, hummingbirds will often find you more consistently and in greater numbers. Interestingly, even though we put up a hummingbird feeder, the little birds have been consistently ignoring it in favor of nectar plants, like the Mexican Sage (Salvia leucantha) in these pictures. Coral Honeysuckle (Lonicera sempervirens) and the new Salvia 'Wendy's Wish' we got last year have also proven very popular.

This is a male Ruby-Throated Hummingbird. You can tell by the dark patch under the chin. When the sun hits it at the right angle, it glows a brilliant ruby red. In other lights, the patch appears black. Females are much lighter underneath in all lights. We've seen both males and females this week.

I'm sure that for many of you hummingbirds are regular sights. For us, though, they're still rare enough to generate a lot of excitement, making this a really fun week in My Florida Backyard!

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Always Spring

Just when we thought summer weather had arrived for good, spring came back again! Cool nights, soft breezes, and sunshine that's warm on your back instead of making you sweat... these are the days we love in My Florida Backyard. We've even had a few good rains over the last couple of weeks, so the the gardens are blooming and thriving.

With spring comes the amazing scent of Confederate Jasmine in bloom (Trachelospermum jasminoides). The vines along the north side of the house have prospered amazingly over the last four years, filling in the latticework to provide a living privacy screen just as we hoped it would.

Our jasmine perfumes the whole neighborhood when it's in bloom, and my only regret is that it doesn't last longer. Still, the shiny leaves are attractive year-round, and the nearby Coral Honeysuckle (Lonicera sempervirens) has spread over the latticework too, making a really nice mix.

We've even had the gift of a hummingbird over the last few days, though we haven't managed to snap any pictures. She's been enjoying the honeysuckle and mexican sage (Salvia leucantha). Fingers crossed that we may get a picture or two before she continues her migration to the north. As for us, we're staying right here in My Florida Backyard, where we hope spring lasts and lasts and lasts.