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by Monica Brandies


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Everyone Is Invited to Visit My Garden

The garlic vine is starting to bloom again.

Everyone who is interested and able is invited to come and walk through my garden on Saturday, Nov 10 and/or the 17th, from 10 am until 1 pm at my home, 1508 Burning Tree Lane, in north Brandon. Come and bring a car or a bus full of friends.

This our 8th annual event and we've never been rained on, but should it be pouring, we'll have it the next day, Sunday.

Last night I dreamed a man came and told me just how bad my garden looked, what all I had done wrong and what I had not done right. Worst of all, I knew he was right.

A few Saturdays ago, I finished my garden work early so I could go on the Plant City Garden Club's garden tour. The weather was still hot and I wondered how they had managed to get everything ready so early in the fall. Every year I work harder to keep up but I never do. My own garden was so full of blooms that I wished I could open it that early, but I still had much pruning, weeding, and sprucing up to do.

When I saw those gardens, I realized that they probably always did look nearly perfect. The Me of my nightmare might have been intimidated. Even the Me of my younger days might have thrown up my hands and canceled my own open garden. But I have learned to live with less than perfection and to appreciate the good parts of my own and other gardens without worrying too much about the work yet to be done. Actually, it would be a shame if we ever finished. What would we do for fun then?

So the annual autumn invitation goes out. There will be full directions on my website: www.gardensflorida.com and in the Now's the time to section today. You will see many plants: fruits, vegetables, flowers, herbs, and ground covers. I'll have about 100 of them labeled for easy identification. From some that will be specially marked you may take free cuttings, so bring your snips. I'll have plastic bags. If you haven't rooted cuttings before, check the article on my website on How to Root Cuttings for complete instructions with pictures of every detail. And you can see how I do mine beside the carport. If a plant is not so marked, please do not snip, as it is either something that won't root from cuttings or that isn't large enough yet to share.

The golden showers senna or cassia is blooming on schedule.

Wear comfortable walking shoes and step carefully, especially on the paths in the back where many roots have risen and could easily trip the unwary.

Some of my grown children, a few friends and a few Master Gardeners will be on hand to help me answer your questions as best we can.

I'm hoping some of the butterfly gingers will still be blooming because they smell so good. This year I've had a few of the pale yellow ones as well as the white ones. I count on the Golden Showers cassia out by the road to present its annual blanket of yellow flowers. Someone gave me one that was supposed to bloom in the summer. It grew from a cutting last year to a small tree this year that I've had to prune off the path again and again. It did not bloom in summer. The leaves are a little firmer and more waxy. And it did finally begin to bloom October 15 while the other ones were barely showing buds.

I got my first Stromanche and planted it in sight of the family room window in the back garden. It has done very well all winter and Kerby's finally had some smaller ones for $10, so I bought another one and dared to divide it into parts. I put it in even more shade and both are thriving.

We'll have lemon grass tea and regular tea with mint and pommelos to taste. Now that I know to cut them with a plastic knife, you should get more of the sweetness that faded so fast after contact with a metal knife. I had one fall to the ground and split Oct. 13 and it was a matter of cutting it up too soon or throwing it away. Wow! It wasn't too soon at all. It tasted wonderful. I never knew I dare eat them so early.

So come and walk through and visit and enjoy. I'm looking forward to seeing you.

Be sure the kids see the fish in the rain barrels.

Directions:    Come to Brandon taking I-75 exit for Highway 60. Go east past the Brandon Mall about a mile. Turn left or north on Lakewood and go to Windhorst Road, the second light. Turn west or left and go to the second right hand turn onto Estatewood Drive. This becomes Burning Tree Lane without any turns at the next block and we are on the left on the curve at 1508. There will be signs. Call 813- 654-1969 if you get lost or need further details.
Or go off I-4 at exit 10, go south on 579 to MLK Blvd (to the Race Trac just past WalMart) and turn right. Go to Lakewood and turn left. Cross the railroad and go about half a mile. Watch for signs at either Woodhaven or Windhorst, turn right, and follow the signs.


Right: My new bromeliad Blanchetiana is still a youngster. It will look better next year, God willing, but it shows promise even now.