Archive for the ‘Random Thoughts’ Category


Friday, April 6th, 2012

I don’t remember a spring like this in a long time – started early with a very mild winter, has stayed cool, and we even had some soaking rains! For the last decade, seems like every spring has been droughty, and warm weather set in long before May. People are loving it, getting outside and enjoying nature and outdoor sports like kayaking and hiking. The plants are loving it too. We’re getting luxurious growth on all our crops, they’re finishing quicker, and product is flying out of the nursery.

John Q. Public seems ready to spend money on plants and landscaping again. The drought of confidence in the economy seems to be over.

When we were in the depths of the recession, people put off replacing their old cars or moving into new houses or buying themselves unnecessary extravagances (like plants). We did okay selling edibles, because folks thought they’d save money if they could grow their own food. Atavistic survival instinct kicking in?

The car died and had to be replaced. The refrigerator kicked the bucket and you were forced to buy a new one. Now your garden’s a mess, and you need new plants. After paying for all the things you had to spend money on, is there anything left to pretty up your yard with.

Let’s hope so.


Wednesday, September 21st, 2011

…at least when my college football team is winning.

No, just kidding – fall is my favorite gardening time of the year in spite of a few Gator losses.

A Saturday morning in the garden can be wonderfully chilly and brisk and breezy. You’re not dripping with sweat or scratching mosquito bites after a half hour’s digging. The weeds have slowed down and you can finally keep up with them, pulling escapees as you come across ’em. Spring is a time of drought, but fall usually brings regular rains as the first winter cold fronts roll through. Plants can develop roots all winter even though the tops are dormant or even totally brown.

I lived in South Florida until I was eighteen. There was no change of season, so our tropical landscapes looked pretty much the same year round. Now I live in northern Florida, and am amzed that the tree leaves change color with the first frost, ornamental grasses turn brown and make crackly noises as they blow and rub in the wind, fall-blooming perennials show off with bursts of oranges, yellows and reds.

My favorite fall-blooming perennials are Odontonema (Firespike), Russelia (Firecracker Plant), Tecoma Stans (Yellow Bells), Senna bicapsilaris (Cassia), Clerodendrum paniculatum (Pagoda Plant), and Asters like ‘English Countryside’. Cool season annuals like Violas and Snaps are popular, but more people should try Nemesia, Diascia, and Erysimum. They take the cold as well and make a bigger splash as they grow, spread, and bloom continuously.

So remember that the old slogan “Fall is for planting” is really quite true. You’ll feel wonderful just being outside exercising your muscles. In this less hectic time of year, the landscape dons its spectacular autumnal hues, flowers produce fireworks and then go to seed, and the cooler nights harden the plants and prepare them for a winter’s rest. 

Anyone for a cup of cocoa?


Thursday, January 14th, 2010

We registered 12 degrees at the nursery Monday morning at 6 a.m. The nursery was covered with frost blanket for two solid weeks. We finally uncovered yesterday.

For the first time in a number of years, cold protection techniques were not adequate, and we suffered defoliation and damage to tops of many normally hardy plants. There’s nothing more disheartening than seeing a bunch of wilty plants on a frosty morning. We’ll be spending a lot of time cutting back damaged crops come spring. This will delay their saleability in a year when it would be nice to have everything looking good earlier.

My home garden, filled with hardy perennials, faired better. I expect plants to freeze down there, and I am used to the routine of hacking everything back to the ground each winter, using either gas-powered shears or a small chain saw. Gotta love the power tools – I have too much to cut to do it any other way. The St. Augustine grass in my yard has turned brown in spite of the canopy of pine shade that normally protects it.. One of the pleasures of living in Gainesville is watching all the dormant plants spring into bloom come March. And, despite the brownness of much of the landscape, we still have camellias flowering their little heads off.

The strangest effect of all this cold was seeing frozen sap exuded from the split bark at the base of salvias on the earliest cold mornings. Looked and felt exactly like snow. Who said it never snows here?

Top Ten Reasons Gardening Is Fun

Tuesday, November 17th, 2009

10. Does not require a remote control.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      9.   Has nothing to do with politics.
8.   You can blame the weather for anything that goes wrong.
7.   Looks enough like work to assure solitude.
6.   Legal to exterminate your enemies.
5.   Right to bare arms – and bare legs.
4.   Allows you to turn your junk into art objects.Felder's yard - tire sculpture and american flag
3.   Does not require fluency in Latin.
2.   You can bury your mistakes in the compost pile.
1.   You won’t be arrested for ignoring “the rules.”

Added bonus: You can drink (in moderation) while you work.

Photo coutersy of Felder Rushing taken on his front porch