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I love tropicals.  We are very lucky to be able to grow many in this climate.  I got my first banana tree 2 years ago from one of our “You should grow that” Plant Swaps. It is awesome.

Well in two years time, logically, it grew. It grew so large it was taking over the steps on my deck.  People couldn’t get down them without moving some giant leaves.

So it was time to move it.  But first I had to create space.  I moved one of my shrubs to a lonely bed on the side of the house.

Then with shovel in hand…I dug it up.  Boy was it heavy, I totally overestimated how much it weighed. Imagine me…little 5ft 2 inches tall trying to move this banana tree that was at least 7 ft tall and as big around as a barrel.  I didn’t want it to fall because it would crush the leaves.  So I dug a hole about 3 feet from its original spot…and got my”drag” on.  Yep…I had to pull it to its new place.  Then I used my shovel as a prop and filled in the dirt around.

Now it is in its happy new home.  It has plenty of room to grow up and even out, although I will need to lob off some shoots ongoing.

The Big Banana Move complete!

Happy Gardening

melissa

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This is what I woke up to this morning…

Big Pink Hibiscus

I love this BIG pink flower.

A huge hibiscus flower in my jungle-like tropical garden.

I was lamenting the other day how my garden has truly overwhelmed me this summer…not necessarily in majesty, but the thought of all the work that needed to be done in this crazy hot and humid summer.

And then the hibiscus…

The lesson I took away from this is you should let it go.  If it is too hot and humid to enjoy working in your garden.  Just don’t do it.  There is always fall, winter and spring here in NC to work on that garden.  The other lesson….your garden rewards you and inspires you when you need it most.
How about you? Has the summer reduced your garden passion? How do you handle being overwhelmed by your garden? What inspires you in your garden?
Happy Gardening.

m


Big Splash in my tropical garden – the plant everyone wants to steal.

What a name! Bear’s Breeches…being from the south “breeches” reminds of my grandma.  It is a common word in her vocabulary.  For those who may not know what it means…breeches are pants.  You use it in a sentence like this – “Your breeches are too big and are falling off of you.”

Now that we have had a southern language lesson, let’s get on to the plant itself and why you should grow it in your garden.

Just look at it…it rocks.  It is big…big leaves, showy stalk-like flower shoots.  Every time someone comes to my house and has a festive beverage on the deck, I can almost guarantee they will comment on it.  What’s that? I want one…

Acanthus Mollis is the latin name. It is natively found in the Mediterranean.  It likes partial sun and good soil.  It is a perennial so it comes back every year.  The flower stalks are taller than me…I would estimate almost 6 feet tall.  The leafy part of the plant is about 2 feet tall. It does require watering in the summer…but this plant is worth it.

You should grow your own Bear’s Breeches. It will be all the rage in your garden.

Happy Gardening.

melissa

PS: It would make a great Mother’s Day present.


Post Hurricane Irene, I am reminded of my days in tropical places like Jamaica or Belize….ahhhh, I have such fond memories of sipping cool drinks and relaxing beach-side.  But you don’t have to fly or cruise south to have a tropical garden to preserve those memories or make your own.  Planting a few hibiscus will do the trick.

I have several kinds, and if I labeled properly, I could tell you the latin names….(still working on that one), but they are part of the mallow family. But I have fantastical pics to share and inspire you to grow hibiscus.

 Blooms aren’t the only feature to this beauty.  I adore the pods as well.

Bargain hunter that I am, most of these were bought actually this time of year or later in September when they look almost dead and are literally 50 or 75% off.   Most people pass by the discount tables because they fear it is a bad investment…Not me…I embrace the challenge.  Plus, I usually buy from local nurseries instead of big box stores…a little tip you should keep in mind.

Hibiscus is a cinch to grown.  They are fairly maintenance free.

  1. Plant in the fall or early spring for best results.
  2. They like nutrient rich soil and good drainage, although my flourish even in this NC clay.
  3. Add fertilizer early spring to maximize blooms.
  4. Remember, they aren’t evergreen, so landscape accordingly, (one of my neighbors has a fantastic front yard in the summer, but in the winter there is nothing b/c no evergreens.)  Consider a good mix to create a year-round garden.
  5. Cut back in mid-winter when all foliage is gone and stems look dead.
  6. Enjoy with your favorite festive beverage on a hot summer day or over coffee on a cool fall morning.

Go tropical with hibiscus–Dramatic and easy!

Happy Gardening!

melissa



Yes, yes…I went to this year’s NC State Fair and I won’t disclose all my food transgression here, but I will share a new plant discovery–the Caster bean, Ricinus Communis. Several of the featured gardens showcased this native African plant.  I guess it isn’t out of the ordinary for me to instantly be attracted to this one…it is a tropical.  It would make a great addition in my tropical bed.  It is so dramatic.  And you are probably saying to yourself…does this plant have anything to do with the old home remedy Castor Oil.  I only heard of the stuff and the stories from my grandma…you know like those cliche stories of walking a mile in the snow to school…It does.  One in the same.

Anyway, back to the plant profile–

  • It has these giant robust stalks with these mini palm like leaves with 8 points.  I especially like the variety with the mix of deep green with purple or reddish brown coloring.
  • It is a splintering perennial zones 8+ that can grow to 6-9 feet the first year and then up to 39 feet. It is NOT cold hardy. So in zones 2-7 it is more like an annual.
  • It produces these spiny, greenish (to reddish purple) capsule containing large, oval, shiny, bean-like, highly poisonous seeds. Yeah..I was all jazzed about the grooviness of this plant, until i found this out…it only takes 11 beans to kill a dog. Keep away from children. Kind of scary, huh? Many gardeners harvest the beans to prevent children or pets from accidentally ingesting them.   BTW–the sap may cause an allergic reaction too, so handle with care.
  • Plant in rich, well drained soil.
  • It is a heat  and humidity lover. Keep moist and mulch well.

Plant this bean with caution. Consider it…just know the risks and responsibilities when going in…   It was the lasting plant impression from my garden tour at the NC State Fair.  If you go to the Fair this year…don’t skip the gardens.  They are super cool.  And you might find a fav of your own.

Consider the Castor bean for your garden.

Happy Gardening.

melissa

A long-time gardener and a passionate beginner share the dirt on their NC gardens-

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