From My Florida Patio Garden
From My Florida Patio Garden
Okay, I have been taking flak from my family all winter because I live in Florida… Well, it’s time to set the record straight.
Yes, I live in the only warm, perfect little piece of the United States.
Yes, I have year-round sunshine, plenty of rain for my flowers and just a few cool nights when all the plants have to come in the house.
Yes, I have a yard full of tropical flowers that are gorgeous and there are no gardening limits beyond my imagination.
Yes, we have flowering hibiscus trees in every color. Yes, the blooms are as big as a salad plate.
Yes, I have a pool that now has a solar heater so I that I can swim year-round because I am NOT getting into 60 degree water!
Never mind that I swam in the ocean in New Hampshire with water that had permanent icicles for thirty-six years.
Never mind that my sister and I once streaked naked through that ocean in November. My body has changed and it does not like cold.
Still, I would stand beside you all, stand right by your snow drifts with you, if I could.
With all that said, let me tell you what I have been through this winter.
I have been snowed-out while you are all complaining about being snowed-in. I have been kept out. I have been kept out of Maine, New Hampshire and Oklahoma. I have been stopped from visiting my sisters and their families, my son and his wife and their new baby, my brother, my granddaughter and her baby boy, my newly found niece and my daughter.
I have been trapped in this sunshine and it hurts and I don’t want to hear no more hoo-haa about living in the land of sunshine while you are a living in the land of six-foot snow banks and having to put your kids out in the parking spaces with cones on their heads to save your parking spaces after you shovel.
No, I don’t have to shovel but I have to sit here and miss everybody and I am snowed-out.
You know, we have problems here in Florida too. We are expecting a cold front tomorrow, record lows in the 70’s.
So, the next someone says squat when I post my pictures of flowers glowing in the sunshine, they are going to get a smack upside the head because I miss you, my family and I am snowed-out.
It’s not my fault. I tried to move back to New England. I sold my house. I put a contract on a house in Laconia, NH. Both deals fell through. I would have been moving January 31st, just in time for the first big snow storm, but God said, “No, you just stay right where you are little Missy,” and that’s the way it happened…
Family, I love you, I miss you and I would love to be snowed in with you instead of being snowed out, I promise.
So please shut up.
Well, if you follow me, you know I love butterflies and they generally love me. They dance and pose for me and they visit me out back every morning. However, I had a front yard butterfly dilemma this past month when huge brown and orange caterpillars began to feed on one of my favorite plants, the Dutchman’s Pipe. I planted it two years ago and have babied and nurtured it into a six-foot tall, full, gorgeous vine that was producing tons of these flowers. Although it is a tropical plant, it even survived a Florida winter, where we do occasionally get a frost.
When I saw the ugly caterpillars, I didn’t know what to do. Obviously, I couldn’t kill them since I love butterflies. Well, I picked some of them off the plant but then decided to wait it out because Monarch caterpillars live on my Passion Flower vines and that plant has done well, even if the leaves do get chewed. I did do research and learned that these new caterpillars would be Goldrim Swallowtails and they don’t eat leaves, they suck the sap from the vines.
Now, I was worried. Eventually they turned into butterflies and flew away, not even one photo op. The vines were weakened but with some pruning and plant food, the plant seemed to recover. What I wasn’t expecting was another big old batch of caterpillars, but that’s what I got. I knocked as many off as possible, but when I left for a few days and came home, the vines were dead with only a few leaves left alive. Again the caterpillars had blossomed into butterflies, but I never even saw one of the murderous beauties. Gone. No thank you, nothing.
I was so sad that the caterpillars had destroyed such a beautiful, healthy plant, a plant that I really love. I have been feeding and nurturing it again, but I don’t think it’s going to recover. Although a few leaves remain, the twisted vines are brown and withered. I went out there today and a large butterfly flew around me and I instantly recognized it from the research I had done on the caterpillars.
It wouldn’t hold still for pictures but it actually let me hold it and it stayed in my hand for a minute. It was pretty, but I wanted my plant back. I told the one returnee that it better not be dropping off more babies, but it seemed to have a devil may care attitude and it didn’t show any remorse for having killed the Dutchman’s Pipe. I am going to try to find another Dutchman’s Pipe to plant but I don’t know if I can protect it from these ravenous creatures. It flew around my Ivy plant, which also has vines and checked it out for a while. I don’t think so. That plant is coming back in the house.