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Monday, October 20, about 25 of us from the Mandarin Garden Club descended on the home of Jacksonville’s Jim Love who is retired from Ace Hardware Nursery. His back yard is full of cacti and succulents and a few other plants that strike his fancy. Most of his backyard was in shade but he found that he had no trouble growing his plants in low light. Mr. Love admitted right away that he doesn’t landscape his succulent garden in the conventional manner but everything was laid out in interesting arrangements and a lot of it was permanently set up for winter protection – plastic that would roll down when released.

Jim Love

Jim Love

The first stunner to catch your eye as you walked into the backyard was rhapsalis. It looked like a weeping pencil cactus with long streamers and an occasional tear.

Rhapsalis

Rhapsalis

Cacti

Cacti

Same cacti - front view

Same cacti – front view

Hanging baskets inside a concrete step structure painted to look like adobe

Hanging baskets inside a concrete step structure
painted to look like adobe

JL - succulents 2-5879

Cacti and succulents

Succulents

Succulents

Agave Maculosa

Agave Maculosa – almost looks like a bromeliad
really caught my fancy

Agave - Century Plant

Agave – Century Plant

At the end of our visit, he put three trays of succulents on a table and gave each of us a ticket for a drawing. He used his cap to hold all the tickets and make the drawings. It turns out that we ALL had winning tickets — everyone went home with a succulent. Cacti and succulents are not available in any great numbers at local plant nurseries so I was in awe of Mr. Love’s collection. I keep trying to grow the simple ones and I keep killing them off.

If you know someone undergoing radiation treatment for cancer, Mr. Love, along with the Men’s Garden Club of Jacksonville, has grown 1400 aloe vera plants for patients with radiation burns. The Jacksonville Zoo has graciously donated a 100 by 100 foot plot for growing the aloe vera. The Men’s Garden Club is asking the community to donate aloe vera plants or “pups” to the project. They do not have to be in pots; bare root is fine. As I understand it, they want the soft, light green aloe vera like this:

aloe vera

aloe vera

Duval County has garden members in several different areas of town who can pick up the plants. If you are in radiation therapy and need a plant, clear it with your doctor and call (904) 635-7318 for information.

cat food bowl-5845

I bought three of these glass bowls at a garage sale to use as pet food bowls. Notice the pretty gardening design in the glass.

Why spend $2 or more to buy a PLASTIC pet food bowl when you can easily find glass bowls at garage sales for 25 cents each? Our beloved pets have no more business eating out of plastic than we do. Plastics are endocrine disruptors with chemicals resembling hormones that interfere with normal hormonal processes. One of the best articles on this subject, A Clear & Plastic Danger appeared in the September 2008 issue of Natural Solutions Magazine. Please take the time to read it and remove as much plastic from your home as possible.

 

The Southern Rural Route is a deep, narrow lot at least 400 feet in depth. I live about 200 feet into that depth.

Front driveway from gate

Front driveway from gate

In order to leave the property, I must lock and double bolt my door, cringe in pain (2011 auto accident) as I heave what’s left of me down 3 steps. I then walk 50 to 80 feet (guesstimate) to the garage, unlock it, raise the garage door, back my car out, turn it around and drive 45 feet or so (another guesstimate) to the front gate. Get out, open the gate, get back in the car, drive it through the gate, get back out of the car, close the gate and THEN I can leave the property.

If, at that point, I discover my shirt is on backwards, I sure as cotton pickin’ ain’t going back home.

No fooling, this happened to me the other day. I briefly thought about yanking the shirt over my head right there in the car and made one of those furtive glances around the neighborhood trying to determine who might be home peeking out the windows.

In the end, I decided it wasn’t worth the drama. Living on the wrong side of trouble, as I do, about the time I had the shirt over my head, the po-leece would roar down the street, sirens blaring, and scare the pea-picking living daylights out of me. It could happen. We had a burglary on our street just last week and with my luck, indecency trumps burglary.

I made the very wise decision to proceed to the store where I gave the clerk the battery I needed for my garage door opener while I headed to the restroom. It took me about thirty seconds to fix my shirt and only two clerks at the battery store knew I had started my day wrong side out.

Other News

Poppie and I had been working in the yard yesterday and were resting our bones in the rocking chairs when a red fox came streaking through about 20 feet in front of us.  I was so excited I hollered, “A fox!” We then discussed how we haven’t seen foxes out here in 15 years or more. Poppie thinks Homer’s tractor prompted the fox to seek safer ground. We watched him run all the way down Mr. Golf Cart’s fence line and duck into the woods.

Yesterday was also my day to pick up limbs so Poppie could mow and I found another interesting mushroom. I looks lacy to me but I suppose some folks will think it has a skin disease.

 mushroom white lacy2-5835

Let me confess. I got a new kitty and even though kitty does no gardening, he must be introduced as the newest resident of Southern Rural Route.

With my cat allergies and vet bills being what they are, a new kitty was not the wisest of acquisitions. But, Poppie took over the care and expense of Big Foot and my other stray, Whiskey, preferred to stay down at Poppie’s to beat up on Big Foot. I went from 2 cats to no cat company at all. You understand.

I decided the solution was another Snowshoe Siamese to replace Bat Cat, who passed to his kitty rewards in 2006. I had secretly been looking for two years but it didn’t work out which is just as well because I didn’t want to hear the wrath of either Momma or Priss.

Zorro was 6 weeks old when I got him on September 6. He is part Persian and part Siamese. I couldn’t see the Persian at all. His fur was very fine and his tummy was all but bald.

I had a hard time naming this kitty. I first started with Tawny but knew that wasn’t a good name because he would be tawny for a year, at most. Names were suggested by friends. Finally, I settled on Zorro because he will have a mask around the eyes just like Bat Cat (named for Bat Man).

Here are a few facts about kitty:

  • Zorro is fearless.
  • Zorro has the attention span of a butterfly.
  • Zorro can beat me into any room by a good 6 feet even if he was behind me when I headed into that room. I am envious of his boundless energy.
  • Zorro insists on eating whatever I am eating, except bananas. He turned his nose up right royally at banana. He likes ice cream and even a pinch of Twix bar. I didn’t think about the caramel in the Twix bar until I noticed him struggling with it. For a frightening moment, it looked like I was going to be on the giving end of a Heimlich.
  • Zorro is incensed when I scoop the contents of his litter box into a plastic grocery bag. He bats at the grocery bag trying to get his poop back. I’m probably scarring the poor kitty for life. If he needs therapy, I can’t afford it. He’ll have to live with poop issues.
  • Zorro agrees with everything I say. This is probably a trick.
  • Zorro moves things around. One of my gardening gloves went missing from the laundry room and I found it under the dining room table.

Zorro has also been responsible for dishing up a little Cat Karma on Whiskey. Zorro takes numerous flying leaps onto Whiskey’s neck or backside. I searched around in my ice-cream lovin’ heart and could find no urges to come to the hollerin’ Whiskey’s aid. It seemed right to allow Whiskey to experience karmic justice for the 19 months he has tormented Big Foot.

And now, without further delay, the kitty photo gallery:

Zorro on September 9<br>at 6 weeks

Zorro on September 9
at 6 weeks

 

Zorro on September 10

Zorro on September 10

 

Zorro on September 10

Zorro on September 10

 

Zorro on September 17at 7 weeks

Zorro on September 17
at 7 weeks

 

Zorro on September 26 at 9 weeks

Zorro on September 26
at 9 weeks

 

Zorro takes a break from badgering WhiskeyOctober 1almost 10 weeks

Zorro takes a break from badgering Whiskey
October 1
almost 10 weeks

 

 

Mexican Sage Photographed 9-17-14

Mexican Sage
Notice the bloom about 3 inches down – looks like a little face
Photographed 9-17-14

I have lived in Florida most of my life and was certain it was paradise on earth. Now, cough—choke—sputter, I’m not so sure.

Those signs proclaiming “Welcome to Florida, the Sunshine State” really don’t tell the whole story. “Sunshine State” sounds like Paradise, of course, but I’m here to tell you that it’s possible to get too much of a good thing. All that sunshine creates heat and humidity that make Florida summers the frying pan of the South.  The August heat nearly wore out my skin. I was taking two showers a day even when I wasn’t working in the yard.  I can’t stand sticky skin. Even my cat, Whiskey, howled at the door for admission to Blessed Air Conditioning.

“Sunshine State” also means you won’t be able to grow even half of what you see in gardening magazines. Cross the state line and you enter Zone 9. Just forget about blue spruce, astilbe, hosta, peonies, and that’s just the short list. Down in these parts, there is an encyclopedia of plants who pull up their own roots and commit suicide because there is no air-conditioning in the great outdoors. Bugs, on the other hand, love the tropical heat. We have a plethora of bugs and critters sufficient to creep out the most committed Bugologist. Thus, it would technically be more honest for the State of Florida to revise that welcome sign to “the Bug and Sunshine State.”

I just about gave up gardening the past two months. The August heat nearly finished me off then all that sunshine turned liquid in September. We had ten inches of rain. My fall veggie seeds were probably washed away to the next county.  Glub, glub … water everywhere … wall to wall mushrooms…

Yellow mushroom

Yellow mushroom

 

Tall mushroom

Tall mushroom

 

Pink mushroom

Pink mushroom

 

Folded mushroom

Folded mushroom

 

Almost folded mushroom

Almost folded mushroom

 

Brown spotted mushroom

Brown spotted mushroom

 

drum mushroom

Timpani drum mushroom

 

Small brown mushrooms

Small brown mushrooms

I hope to feel better about the Sunshine State in November.

 

MGC goodies-2311

Flashing Blue Light Special for all you Jacksonville natives. The Mandarin Garden Club at 2892 Loretto Road is having their Trash to Treasure Sale this Saturday, October 4th from 8:00 am to 2:00 pm.  Furniture, electronics, glassware, household goods, jewelry, toys and you-name-it will be on sale inside their Clubhouse.  Stop by to find your treasures, have a free cup of coffee, and visit the Garden Cafe for homemade baked treats.

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