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Come to My Garden and Share the Fun 2011

My earliest cassia is starting to bloom, but the bush by the street and the tree by the door should be in their prime by then. It is aptly named golden showers and attracts yellow butterflies and their yellow catterpillars.

For a few years now I have said, "This may be the last Open Garden. Or maybe not."

During the same time period I have been working on a new book: Citrus: How to Grow and Use Citrus Fruits, Flowers, and Foliage. It is at the printers and may be available by then, but I am not holding my breath.

Such work does keep me out of the garden sometimes. So I fear that without this event, both garden and gardener would fall apart.

Here are some of the things to be sure to see when you come. My compost garden is up and growing. I wrote a column about Robert Dickey's invention (May 12, 2010). My sons gave me the fencing and Philip helped me set it up soon after that. It took me a month to fill it with at least 30 layers of green stuff (weeds, grass clippings, etc) and brown stuff (mostly leaves). Then it sat all summer, hopefully heating up and then cooling down. (I don't have a compost thermometer.)

Robert Dickey kindly gave me quite a few pieces of PVC pipe in which to plant and I realized what a great gift that was when we started cutting more. Even with husband David's help, it was quite a chore. And most of the first Roma bean seeds I put in did not sprout! Maybe the pile was still too hot or perhaps the outside was. But Robert had planted beans in August and had some blooming when I started. I just kept planting until all my pipes were full: green beans, a few southern peas, some red mustard, lettuce, one mint, some Swiss chard, and lastly some spinach seedling and some strawberry plants.

But guess what! My compost garden, which seemed to be in as much sunlight as I have anywhere in the spring and summer, is definitely not in enough sunlight now. So the plants and I are making the best of it and looking forward to spring.

My first floating garden, however, is in full sun in the front and has been thriving since about Oct. 1 with two tomatoes and two cups of Swiss chard from seed that is doing very well, even in this time of absolutely no rain.

Be sure to see the new path along my back fence through what has been no man's land.

I haven't had the full tour at Neem Tree Farms, but I know that Vicki is going to let people dig certain plants to take home, so you may want to put a shovel in your car if you are going both places, but don't bring it out at my place. We are, for those two days, at least, a no-dig spot. If you see something you want that I obviously don't need, ask or email me later, and we may set up a limited dig day when we are not so busy.

This year my friend Vicki Parsons is also inviting folks to see her Neem Tree Farms at her new location at 602 Ronele Drive, Brandon, 55311. To get there, go south from SR60 on Kings Ave. Go to the second light past Lumsden and turn left on Ronele Drive. 602 is the first large house from the corner on the left.

See the greenhouses where they raise neem trees that are shipped all over the country. Learn about neem and its many uses and the many personal, pet, and garden care products made from neem. Everybody who visits there will receive a free butterfly milkweed to take home and grow for monarch butterfly caterpillars and a free sample of our neem Anti-Itch Formula.

So you can come to both places and make a morning of it. Or come to one on one Saturday and the other the next. We all look forward to seeing you.

The pagoda flowers, Clerodendrum paniculatum, do come back whether you want them to or not. They are spectacular in bloom, but invasive. There will be some to take home if you really want them.

The pinecone ginger is blooming this year as never before.

I thought I'd lost the candy corn plant, but it has come back, not this abundantly yet, but it should be fine by next year. This is one that is very hard to start from cuttings.