Just another December day in FL

So much for hoping for a chilly winter. We’ve had some days here and there, but here in Florida we usually don’t see our coldest temperatures until January and February. And even then…

It’s not always that I hope for a cold Florida winter; lately though I’ve been craving seasons. I want more of those fall colors, more of the chill misty mornings that northerners know so well. I crave damp cool air where my breath leaves my body in little white puffs.

But hey it’s Florida and I should at least be thankful that I don’t have to deal with snow.

So what does a Florida girl do when it’s warm out merely 2 days after Christmas?

Garden work!

I went out and bought myself some new herbs and flowers, and I’ll be damned if I didn’t use the lovely warm weather to clean up and reconstruct what used to be my herb spiral.

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It is a medicine wheel now. ๐Ÿ™‚ I cleaned and prepped the bed and soil about a week beforehand, and my new little herb corner should do lovely!

That’s how Florida natives roll. We’re either decorating palm trees for Christmas or working in our gardens in December!

 

Happy Holidays!

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Through the Garden Gate

Memories seduce me as I tread upon the moist ground that weaves through these Florida flowers. Music is on my mind, a melody upon my lips, entrancing and requiring an emotion I’m not quite sure of.

The feeling plays over me like a wave, shimmering tears from the corners of my eyes. My Grandmother is gone. One can never be quite prepared, no matter how many years pass. She was ninety-eight. Passed through Death’s door during the Solar eclipse, at a time between the changing to full spring.

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Bittersweet is the only word to describe it. I’d already begun to miss her, as if who she was had already died under the onslaught of dementia several years ago. That time was the time I had already begun to let go.

This final end to biological life is the last puzzle piece. Of course I miss her, but I have missed her, and of course I grieve, but I have grieved.

But I also celebrate.

We are so fleeting, so infinitesimal. Our lives are but fine silk threads that can be snapped, cut off, in a split moment. Even though Death is merely another part of the journey, the conscious life we are given is such a fragile thing. Memories are reminders of this very fact.

The flowers greet me in happy colors, yellows and blues and purples, nodding soft petals and bright foliage in my direction as I step through some of the overgrowth of the trees and shrub of the butterfly garden. Insects of dreamy hues flit from blossom to blossom, reminding me to still myself.

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Meditation beneath the grapefruit tree, surrounded by healing plants, listening to my breath, the breeze, the life. Memories.

We are conduits to our Ancestors. We are conduits to our descendants. But we only have moments. Only moments to live and love and die.

So I still myself. I plop right down and let everything else fade into the distance as I listen to my self, my life force, my mortality. I close my eyes and justย be.

And I emerge refreshed, renewed, awakened and ready for my tasks and responsibilities. In the clean air and morning light, when the dew sparkles as brightly upon the fresh growth of ideas as it does on the Florida primrose at my feet, goals are clearer. Purpose is crystal.

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I have my Grandmother to thank for such discipline. To use what she taught me about my sense of self to seek inward reflection and assessment. To look at each beautiful thing and to be thankful to be alive and breathing.

And to always use our fleeting time wisely, in all things pursuing a way to better myself and those around me.

A little bit of Summertime Magic

The weather has been absolutely heavenly, and things are growing and thriving in the garden and around the yard. DSCN2872.a1_markedMy dandelions have been plentiful, perfect for making cosmetics and tea. These babies pack a punch of all sorts of vitamins and minerals, and are a very rich source of beta-carotene, which the body converts to vitamin A. Some of the other vitamins and minerals found in dandelions include Vitamin B-complexes, Vitamin C & small amounts of Vitamin D, fiber, potassium, iron, zinc, magnesium, and phosphorous.

Dandelions are also a great source to get trace minerals and organic sodium (table salt is baaaaad news!) A bitter plant they can be, but these babies can be mixed with sweeter greens and fruits for a wonderful salad. Minus the ants! So clean before eating & using.

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I don’t believe this particular species of milkweed is native to FL, but it sure as hell helps nurture, support, and harbor my monarchs! I got to watch the monarch’s life cycle from caterpillar to butterfly with my little girl, and it never fails to amaze me!

(This is a great page, easy to read information about FL’s native milkweeds and monarch facts.)DSCN2847.a_marked

Here she is emerged from her chrysalis, posing for a picture. Nature is amazing, the Earth Mother always gifting us with moments to share love and joy with every living being. With moments like these, magic truly does exist.

Summer Blessings Xo

Bee-friendly gardens w/ FL native plants

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In light of the tragedy of the 37 million bees found dead in Canada, I wanted to include a little blurb (late though I am) about planting bee-friendly gardens that are composed of FL native plants/flowers.

Keep in mind that bees are going to be attracted to brightly colored flowers that have petals that splay open, exposing pollen and nectar that these insects thrive on. So a good tip as far as flowers are concerned, have a variety of brightly colored blossoms that produce decent amounts of pollen.

Remember that bees are very important to the care-taking of the agricultural industry as well as being the means that most plants/flowers are able to be seeded and spread. Bees also make honey–duh–and in order to prevent harm and to keep the bees hanging around, please, by all means, NO pesticides. Not only do they get into some veggies and herbs (this is why you thoroughly rinse any veggies/fruits/herbs you purchase from the supermarket that aren’t organic), pesticides can be the nemesis of some very garden-friendly and beneficial insects that are those ”good guys” in keeping the true pests at bay alongside maintaining the health of the garden.

A great article provided by Mother Earth News on organic pest control

**Again, bees will be/are great for helping your herbs and fruit/veggies! There are a number of FL native flowers that are also beneficial for companion planting with many fruits and veggies, as well as herbs.**

Five great FL natives to include in your garden/landscaping plans to attract more native bees:

  • Azaleas (Rhododendron genus) such as common, pinxter, and FL flame azaleas, attract butterflies, birds, and bees. These are FL natives(with the exception of some common rhododendron species) and offer a variety of colored blossoms, depending on which species are planted. These plants are perennials.
  • The FL blanket flower/Indian blanket flower (Gaillardia varieties)ย is a common native found in wildflower patches and in gardens alike. The daisy-shaped flower is perfect for landing bees and they love this flower’s nectar and pollen. This is also a perennial with some species natives, and some not. These little flowers are very hardy, perfect for growing in virtually all regions of FL, from north-central, all the way down to the FL Keys.
  • Milkweed/Butterfly weed (Asclepias spp.) is another beauty that will attract the bees as well as butterflies. Some species are non-natives, but this is another hardy plant that can be grown from north to south FL. Another perennial with flowers perfect for landing bees.
  • Purple coneflower (Echinacea purpurea)ย is not only a FL native completely, it also has medicinal value as well. A great addition to any FL friendly garden, this blossom will attract a variety of wildlife including native bees, butterflies, hummingbirds and other species of birds as well. This is also a native perennial and hardy in virtually all FL regions.
  • Swamp sunflowers (Helianthus angustifolius)ย and beach sunflowers (Helianthus debilis)ย are both FL natives and perennials. These attract a multitude of species, including birds, butterflies, and bees and are super easy to grow. These spreading flowers are hardy in all FL regions.

I just wanted to include some of my favorite FL native bee-friendly flowers that can be incorporated in your own FL garden. Remember that most flowers that attract butterflies will also attract bees. FL native plants will most of the time be the only source of food for FL native bees, but the native bees may sometimes feed on exotics as well.

Some related blogs that I found useful:

Central Florida Gardener

NE Florida’s Native Bees

FL Native Plant Society

Our Native Bees — a word about this blog, it’s not about FL at all, but there’s some great information regarding bee keeping, attracting native bees to your garden, etc., which follow the same principles for attracting and maintaining a FL native landscape for FL native bees.

Some awesome FL resources for bee friendly landscaping/gardening, info on wildflowers and FL natives, etc.:

FL Friendly Landscaping

UFL’s FL Natives and Landscaping Guides (PDF)

Sarasota Sustainability: FL Native Bee Information (PDF)

Michelle Patterson, St. Lucie Master Gardener (PDF)

Bees of Florida

of Wild Roses and Fading Dreams…

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Last night my dreams took me to an ancient and serene river, where I stood on the bank looking upstream to where the first bend curved to the North. It was warm and calm and I could smell the scents of the forest behind me.

I remained silently standing, frozen in time…watching. A shadow stirred in my left-hand peripheral vision, beckoning my attention. I think it was my sister that stood to my left; her presence was comforting…I returned my gaze to the river, and scanned everything, and I noticed a plastic Ziploc bag floating down the currents toward me…I remember being curious…

The bag flowed on the currents up to the river bank at my feet. I reached into the water to scoop it out and wonder at its contents. I opened the bag and pulled out what looked like old and forgotten papers…papers with my name on them…like I had signed for a package or insurance policy many years before…

…Then I saw the message. It was a message from an old friend. The words so clearly written in his handwriting asked are you content living the life of a soldier?I didn’t quite understand that question, because I’ve never been a soldier…

The dream shifted and I was riding passenger with my father in his old Jeep as we journeyed through primordial wooded wilds. The light was grey, as if this world would hold no color beyond the deep greens of the mysterious woods surrounding our dirt path. We drove for eternity and yet, only a second in time, and finally arrived at my friend’s house…I said something to my father, and then he was gone, leaving me standing alone before an unfamiliar place. Tall and ancient trees surrounded everything.

The dream hazed and turned again, and I was swimming in a pool with my friend. We swam, watching each others’ blue eyes, knowing this would not be the last time we met in dreams.

He said he was sorry, and I embraced him. He still felt the same…I breathed him in, and his scents still held familiarity inside my nose and throat.

…Then the rain fell and we ran inside. His home was unfamiliar to me…two stories with a balcony ringing the whole living room, looking down. It felt…I don’t know…ancient, in a way…The room upstairs held a computer atop an antique stout wood desk, and every piece of artwork I’ve ever created was displayed lovingly on the walls. He said he saved this spot for me because he know how much I loved to create things of beauty.

The dog came to me and he reminded me that she never really took to anyone but me since I went away. She sat down at my feet, smiling up at me.

Then we were in a garden of tangled herbs and flowers breathing in the scents of a place neither of us had been to before. He handed me some seeds that I couldn’t identify, and I planted them at our feet. Wild roses started creeping up out of the wet black soil, seducing us with their scents. He took my hand then, and said he was sorry once more. He told me your daughter is beautiful, just like you. You’re welcome to stay here…I can’t remember if I said anything back…

…I remember being choked with tears, looking into his blue eyes, and smiling sad smiles. We hugged tightly again…

When I woke up from the restless sleep of this dream, it was raining outside. It had been raining most of the night into the morning. I could tell because the steady rhythm was constant, and the scents were too wet to have been a short rain. I couldn’t get his face and voice out of my mind for a while that morning.

No, that rainy morning was meant for lighting candles and sweet incense, and sending sermons and prayers of remembering, of love, of younger days when things should have mattered more.

As we grow older and learn more, it becomes the smaller packages in life that we are most afraid to open and accept…and this small package of mineโ€”a faded dream of symbolic referencesโ€”I have been afraid to revisit for fear of the thoughts and visions it pulls back to mind.

But Spirit has subtle yet blindingly powerful lessons that adhere themselves to those little packages we are so afraid to accept. Whether this is a past dream, or one yet to come, dreams are mine, and this one does not lie.