Home Page
Order Books
Featured Plants
Seasonal Advice
News Columns
Other Work

Book Signings and Lectures
by Monica Brandies


Would you like to be notified of new books or website updates?
Join our Mailing List.
It is completely confidential and voluntary. You may Subscribe or Unsubscribe at any time.



Annual Autumn Invitation

Post planting: This rose pink mallow came from a cutting of Carolyn Wildes' much better-shaped bush, but how can I prune it when it keeps putting out one or two of these flowers almost every day. I added a mandevilla in front of the post for an echo. And the lavender potato vine finally came around to my side of Pindo palm tree.

Everyone is invited to come visit my garden from 10 am until 1 pm on Saturday Nov. 11 and/or on the next Saturday, Nov. 18. I'd make it all day, but I tend to collapse about 1:30 and my wonderful unpaid helpers can't stay much longer either.

If you even need motivation to get your yard looking its best, invite people to come see it. Once winter starts we can have frost damage. And by the time that grows over, we are facing the big spring drought of April and May. And then comes the summer heat and rains when most of us fall behind and spend more time in the cooler indoors. So for me, garden parties have to be in the fall.

Not that I don't enjoy the garden the rest of the year, but it just doesn't look its best. Once or twice it has looked rather grand in the spring, and would have done fine for a spontaneous party, but mine take months of planning.

The past year there have been more than a few changes in my garden. They started the very Monday after last December's Garden Open House when tree trimmers started a week of major changes in the adjacent yard. By pruning their hedge down below the fence line and their biggest tree back to the property line, they changed some sun/shade patterns in my yard drastically. Since I'd been needing more sun, I started new planting the minute the tree trimmers left.

I added more sunshine by some drastic pruning of my own. I also took up most of the ground cover on the south side of the driveway and planted larkspur and Nigella seeds and some mixed packets of seeds that bloomed with malvas around the Knock Out rose in the spring. The same cherry perwinkles, a new pink angelonia and a taller purple salvia have filled in since.

This little lizard, actually an anole, I think, took a sun bath on my geranium

On one of the beautiful spring days my grandsons were here when we found a lizard on the geranium flowers among the silver licorice. It even stayed there while I got the camera and took its picture. The grandsons also enjoyed the great butterfly project in late summer, the account of which is on my website: gardensflorida.com. The pipevine is coming back again.

Just before we left for a trip to Ohio in the spring, my jaboticaba bore its first fruit ever. I'd had that bush for over a dozen years and was about to give up on it. We picked some of the fruit and took it along. Most of the fruiting was finished before we got home.

In early summer we had the last section of the privacy fence on the north side replaced and Andy Stramel, who does all our building, put in a gate there. So this year visitors will be able to walk a full circle around the house. Of course, that meant I had a whole new section to spruce up with new plants. And while some of the front yard paths grew closed, we have opened up some new ones to new sections and planting and to the new gate.

Andy also built me a proper potting bench near the carport that has helped immensely. Come and see all of it and get some free cuttings and seeds. I can't wait to see you.

Bill Streit gave me this rare disocactus and it hangs and thrives near the front room window.
This bromeliad has been blooming for at least two months and I dare to hope it will last for the big days.

Now's the time to...

  • Assure you that there will chairs set about so you can rest and visit, and iced tea, lemon grass tea, and samples of pommelo by the front door.
  • Wear comfortable shoes and clothes and watch you step because some of the tree roots can trip you if you aren't careful. Tall people will have to duck under a bit of fruit. I'll pick and tie up what I can, but I can't bring myself to cut off what is almost ripe.
  • You'll see plenty of things wrong in my garden. I trust you'll overlook all that and see all the things that are good. Most gardeners are good at that and it's a good habit to hone.
  • Bring your pruning snips for taking cuttings--but, please, only of plants marked with lime green tape.