Thursday, September 24, 2009

Key West Weird

Key West always so magical and…well, weird. For those of you that don’t know this island city, well, Google is your friend. Let me just say that from a tropical plantsman’s point of view this odd city is without compare in the continental United States.

First off, this town is populated by an eclectic group of folks. Throw-back hippies and wealthy sports fisherman bend elbows together at any number of watering holes. The examples could be endless but one thing is clear – normal rules don’t apply here and that goes for landscaping as well.

When I first began landscape design and installation there were a myriad of guidelines that seemed correct to follow and are, for most places. Key West is different, huge Ficus trees dominate postage stamp yards, their aerial taking hold in tiny sidewalk cracks and lifting the concrete slabs. Plants jammed in on top of one another with the law of survival firmly in place, except no plant ever seems to give up but finds it own little niche to survive in.

The gingerbread festooned Conch houses are the perfect backdrop to this riotous form of tropical gardening. When I’m out and about seeking pix for this blog I usually try to key all signs of human habitation out of the frame, however the often the wooden shutters or shiplap siding of Key West homes add a certain charm to the images.

I had to run down to Key West the other day to take care of some business for the youth oriented nonprofit org. that I am the Exec. Dir. of…my day job, when not masquerading as a simple garden blog writer. This gave me the chance to grab some images I thought I might share. Welcome to Key Weird…

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Stunned.. Award Nomination?..Stunned

Stunned…I think that’s the correct word, stunned. This blog has been nominated for the Best Florida Blog Award by some of the good members of Blotanical. I’m a new kid on the block and have already been deeply gratified by the warm, favorable comments and messages that have been posted. I’m amazed to find my blog #3 in the Most Visited Blogs and #1 on the Blogs on the Rise page. But now when I open the 2009 Blotanical Awards there is an image of Liz & the Professor under the Florida heading. I’m stunned…

I’ve thought of writing about writing a post regarding the Blotanical directory but I felt it best to wait awhile until I was a more familiar fixture there, yet, now seems a good time.

I was surfing the net looking for FL. gardening blogs when I came upon Blotanical. Hmmm…I thought seems like a cool place…maybe I’ll join…click.

The next morning were warm welcomes from members in my messages, I politely replied thank you and suddenly I noticed more hits on my site meter. In a couple days I received my first fave…very cool, I thought. Then there began this gratifying kinda ground swell of people viewing my blog and commenting. I started writing back and picking lots of blogs to view. I began recognizing names, seeing what blogs were the type to pick up tips from, my writing habits became less formal …it seemed like I was leaning across the garden gate talking plants with friends. Ok…now this is very cool.

In a relatively short period of time, thanks to you folks, I have regained a vibe, a warm feeling, that I had when for 8 great years I had the honor of being the President of Big Pine Botanical Society…a group of laid back Keys folks with dirt under their finger nails who all loved gardening.

So thanks Blotanical, thanks to Stuart and to the members that make it happen. I was absolutely correct that first day I found the site…it is a cool place to hang out. To everyone out there, it’s a standing invitation, stop by my virtual garden gate, chat a bit in the shade and enjoy the Keys sea breeze for a minute.

Stop by Blotanical

See ya, Scott

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Butterfly minds

Gold Rim Swallowtail (Battus polydamus lucayus)
I’ve written about my rather poor skills at butterfly photography and so I submit these rather fuzzy images as proof.

White Peacock (Anartia jatrphae)
Photographing trees - no problem, Key Deer and iguanas – nothing to it, flowers – check (except for the sometimes bothersome wind and the fact that without my glasses I sometimes can’t see what is in focus)…

Mangrove Skipper (Phocides pigmalion okeechobee)
But butterflies…it’s like their little ectoskeleton enclosed minds merrily think of ways to torture me.

Firey Skipper (Hylephila phyleus)
So I now subject you, my gentle reader, to the mental anguish of wondering is your monitor out of focus, do you need to buy a cheap pair of reading glasses?

Queen Butterfly (Danaus gilippus)
Nope, it’s just Scott, publishing crummy, blurry butterfly images. Sorry about that, folks.

Monday, September 21, 2009

It's All My Garden

For 25 of the 32 years I lived in the Lower Keys I was a professional in the horticulture biz in one way or another. I’ve been out now for awhile and in fact turned my back on gardening for a few years. Let me tell ya it’s nice to rekindle the interest.

This little blog has helped, in that, I have been cruising some of the neighborhoods to grab images to share with you. As I drive, I come across so many properties that I once landscaped or maintained. It’s kind of strange, in tropical landscaping things change fast…REAL fast.

Hurricane Wilma sure didn’t help, not that much wind but much of the Lower and Middle Keys were overwashed with salt water. So many plants died from saltwater intrusion. Now we have the invasion of the
iguanas. Gardens have had it tough down here.

Hmmm… back to the point… the gardens I once thought of as mine have changed, the owners have changed but in some way they are still mine. Sort of like an old flame from high school, you remember them the way they were, appreciate them as they are now and you still care…even if just a little bit. So I hope you understand me when I say…it’s all my garden.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Orchids and Hermits

After the normal mundane chores of the weekend I had a bit of time to look about the garden and found an orchid that I had forgotten about.

This dendrobium was a gift from a friend that I had divided and stuck one half in a Buttonwood tree (Conocaprus erectus). The half in a pot bloomed at the same time as the one in the tree but the flower spike only lasted about 2 weeks.

The tree dweller has been bloming for at least a month now. Guess it's happy and suprise...the iguanas haven't found it.

This Common Land Hermit crab (Coenobita clypeatus) was literally hanging out in one of the bromeliad blooms. How he made up there is still a mystery.Not such a common crab to me!!