This lovely bridal shower was inspired by A Midsummer Night’s Dream. A collection of hand made details such as the embellished silverware and hand decorated mini cakes made each table setting unique in its own way. Apothecary jars filled with flowers and topped off with ribbon made a romantic center piece and special details like hanging lanterns and netting from the large oak tree made for a stunning back drop. Click through our gallery to see all the details and tell us what you think in the comments below.
Container Rose gardening in South Florida: The good, the bad and the ugly.
One of the best ways to grow roses for many people is to grow them in containers. Containers offer many advantages for gardeners. Here are a few of the advantages container-grown roses offer to a garden.
Soil: Soil type is not something you need worry about when growing in containers because one can choose a high quality potting mix that is well balanced. More experienced gardeners can also create their own mix of potting soil to find a blend that caters to the rose’s specific needs. All roses need good drainage and a good amount of organic elements in the soil. But most roses will do well in good quality potting mix.
Location: Any South Floridian can tell you that the position of the sun changes dramatically throughout the season. A location in the garden that gets full sun in summer may be in full shade by wintertime. Container grown roses can be moved to follow a sunny location and continue blooming almost all year long.
Size Restraint: Although some may see this as a disadvantage, this might very well be a good thing for those with small garden space. Roses can grow to be very large particularly in sunny South Florida. And roses grafted on hearty roots can grow even larger than they would on their own roots. Sometimes even doubling in size! A rose grown in a container will remain somewhat in check and will never take over the yard. If you’ve ever had to prune a large thorny rose bush that has gotten out of control you will appreciate the constricted growth of a rose grown in a container.
Fertilizing: When growing in containers fertilizing might be needed more often, but believe it or not, less is more. When growing in containers the fertilizer goes directly to the roots so less is needed, just more frequently. Use a liquid fertilizer at half strength once a week for amazing results. We like Miracle Grow Rose Fertilizer.
The disadvantages of growing in a container are just as important to consider when choosing your roses for the South Florida landscape. Here are a few things one might consider when growing in a container.
Container size: A container suitable for roses must be quite large, as roses need plenty of room for root structure. Containers of such size can be costly and sometimes very heavy (remember in hurricane season they may need to be moved indoors). When choosing a planter however consider its height over its width as rose roots like to grow further down as opposed to out. Also be sure the container has good drainage, as roses do not like to sit in soggy soil.
Watering: Roses grown in containers will need to be watered more often than those grown in the garden. They may also need to be monitored for overwatering which is sometimes a problem during the rainy season. Use a two-inch layer of mulch in your container to help keep your soil from drying out too easily. If you find you need to water once every day you may be using too small a container. Terra cotta containers are good for roses that like more arid regions but may dry out too quickly for most roses, especially in the mid summer heat. Plastic containers are a good option to help save water, but stay away from dark colored pots. They can get too hot and essentially bake your rose’s roots in the dead of summer.
Growth Restraint: Container grown roses may not grow as fast or as large as roses planted in the ground. If you desire a large rose that will take over a fence or yard consider one of the old garden roses or Austin David roses. These shrub roses can be grown on their own roots and may be better suited for the landscape. Rambling and climbing roses are the best bet for growing large rose bushes that trail over fences or arbors.
Overall roses are well adaptable plants that grow quickly, bloom profusely and can be very heat tolerant. In our warm climate, roses may take a bit more effort, but the results are well worth it. A little knowledge goes a long way when it comes to rose growing in South Florida.
Continued from Part One
Choosing the right roses for South Florida:
Most roses purchased nowadays do not come on their own rootstock. Roses are grafted to different rootstocks for a variety of reasons, but mostly to make them more cold hardy and to create a stronger, more vigorous plant. Many old roses or china roses can be grown on their own roots because they have both evolved and survived over the years by basically having very strong root systems. But as luck would have it, it seems like the more beautiful the rose the more delicate and weak the plant is. The hybrid process itself sometimes causes this. Luckily the French discovered that they could graft the more delicate plants on to the rootstock of a hardier more robust rose to create a strong plant that thrives vigorously and hence the grafted rose was born.
There are now a large variety of roses that come grafted on to sturdier rootstocks and the University of Florida has determined the two best rootstocks to suite our South Florida climate.
Fortuniana: The first and most desired rootstock for South Florida is the Fortuniana rootstock. This root system is tolerant of heat and drought (by rose standards) and resists root-knot nematodes. It also does well in our somewhat sandy soil (although any roses you plant should be planted in soil that has been improved with organic matter). The Fortuniana rootstock is the highest recommended for South Florida, but its not always available or easy to find. Luckily we have a backup, and a very common one at that.
Dr. Huey: Dr. Huey is by far the most highly used rootstock in grafted roses. Luckily it does pretty well in South Florida as it too resists nematodes, and other root related diseases found in our soil. Most inexpensive roses are grafted on to Dr. Huey rootstock, but don’t be fooled by a low quality rose that may already be virus infected or stunted. All and all when Fortuniana rootstock cannot be found, Dr. Huey is quite acceptable, and widely available.
It is not recommended that we grow roses in their own roots in the South Florida soil unless they are old garden roses, china roses or David Austin English roses. But almost any rose can be grown here if you simply choose to grow it in a container.
Check back with Ask Denisa for the conclusion of our Ultimate Rose Guide: Growing Roses In Containers
Many gardeners in South Florida overlook roses in their landscape because they feel they are too high maintenance, or that South Florida can be too hot to grow roses. But, contrary to what some may think, Roses can be grown very well in South Florida and are actually extremely heat tolerant. Most major problems, such as the humidity, diseases and root knot nematodes in the soil can be easily bypassed by choosing the right kinds of roses for our region. Over the next few days we will be addressing the three major rose problems and how to avoid or remedy them to keep your garden roses happy all year long. We will also talk about rootstock and container gardening with roses.
Although roses are highly thirsty plants that require a lot of watering, they do not like to be wet. Rose plants which are constantly wet, easily produce funguses and other maladies that can quickly strip your rose of its good looks. By choosing disease resistant varieties and the right location for your rose, these problems can be easily avoided and ultimately remedied if need be.
What you can do:
Choose disease resistant varieties. Most roses sold at your local garden center will have some sort of known disease resistance. But be wary of inexpensive bag roses. These roses who disguise themselves, as bare root roses are usually virus riddled common roses that bare no resistance to disease. They are not bare root roses and they are of very little quality. These roses were not chosen for their ability to thrive in South Florida conditions and many times are mislabeled so when the rose blooms, it does not even resemble the rose you though you were getting. More experienced rose growers may be able to get one good rose bush out of say, three that were purchased; but do yourself a favor and choose a high quality rose to begin with. It will save you much money and heartache in the long run.
Choosing varieties that have been proven to do well the south are your best bet. Try the Earthkind series of roses like Belinda’s Dream (above). The Knockout series has also been noted as some of the easiest to grow and old china roses can thrive in almost any environment.
Avoid starting your roses in the dead of summer: Roses will do better if planted in the cooler dryer season where the amount of water they receive can be better controlled. January or September are both great times to start your roses in South Florida as most varieties are cold hardy by our standards. Avoiding planting in the full summer heat and humidity will help your rose to establish itself well before the challenges of a hot and wet summer arrive.
Avoid planting your roses too close together or near other plants. Roses need good air circulation in order to keep molds and fungi at bay. A good mulch around your rose can also keep moisture from collecting too close to the trunk of the rose and occasional pruning of dead wood or branches that cross one another can help keep black spot and other fungal diseases from forming on your plants.
Plant your rose where they will get first morning sun. This is a great way to insure that any dew formed on the leaves dries first thing in the morning, thus reducing the amount of moisture the leaves retain. Our Oklahoma rose grown in a container (above) gets the first sunlight of the day in on the south west corner of the property and is a great choice for our climate.
Sometimes you can’t control everything. No matter how much you try Roses will get black spot at one time or another. A rose wouldn’t be a rose without the occasional leaf drop due to the pesky fungus. But not all is lost. Although Black Spot can make your roses look (and probably feel) miserable, it rarely causes the rose to completely die. Luckily there are a number of products out there to help.
What you can do:
In our experience no product works as well as the Bayer Advanced rose care line. In particular their Disease Control for Roses, Flowers & Shrubs spray. This spray wont “cure” Black Spot, meaning leaves affected by the fungus will fall off and die eventually, but it will keep the new growth from ever getting the disease. We’ve also found that one good spray at the beginning of the rainy season is usually enough at really deterring the pesky problem. Although it says to spray every two weeks, once a month is more than enough in most areas if you follow our other rose growing tips. The bad news is of course it’s a highly toxic substance that you may not want to work with. This is why we try to avoid the problem to begin with. With roses, prevention in the first place is your best weapon.
For pest control Bayer Advance also makes a liquid systemic fertilizer and pesticide in one, which works wonderfully as well. Again, it’s a not something we would recommend over-using as many pesticides may have a negative impact on the environment. Unfortunately, more natural remedies have shown to be much less effective and a one or two time application of a product like Bayer’s may actually be less harmful than constant battling with other less effective products.
Challenge: Root-knot Nematodes
In South Florida, we suffer from a little pest called the Root-knot Nematodes. These little organisms’ larvae infect the roots of certain flowering plants and vegetables causing stunted growth and flower production and overall degrade the health of roses in climates where frosts are little to non-existent.
The best way to avoid these pests is to heat treat the soil in the summer before planting. This can be a lengthy process and not always practical for the home gardener, so the alternatives are to choose a rootstock that the nematodes are not interested in, or plant your roses in a container.
Check back with Ask Denisa for part two of our South Florida Rose Guide where you can learn what the best root kinds are for our climate!
See more photos of our home grown roses below!
If you live in South Florida and have yet to hear of the stranded pilot whales that made headlines when they were trapped in shallow waters on May 5th, you may need to pick up the Herald once in a while. News of the stranded whales and the necessary attempt to help them spread quickly through local news networks, statewide papers and the Internet.
Yet nearly a month into the project, which is far from over, interest has waned and the Marine Mammal Conservancy (otherwise known as the MMC) where the surviving whales are being rehabilitated are in desperate need of volunteers, supplies and donations to keep the operation going and save the lives of the four remaining pilot whales.
The pod of whales, which originally landed in Cudjoe Key, started off with as many as 21 in number, but have now dwindled to only a few survivors. 13 had already perished when reports first emerged about the whales and more soon followed, but since then two have been successfully rescued by the MMC and have recently been charted near South Carolina using homing device attached to the whales before their release. A good sign that they are fully recovered.
Yet four whales are still in urgent need of help. Two are currently in critical condition while two others are in stable condition but not ready to be released. A young calf is among the 4 survivors. All four are known to be suffering from pneumonia and are currently being treated with antibiotics.
What can you do?
The MMC is in desperate need of volunteers. The whales must be held safely in the water 24 hours a day and each whale needs four handlers. Lists fill up quickly on weekends during daylight hours but weekdays and night shifts are in dire need of help.
Key Largo lies just south of Florida City making it an easy commute to most South Floridians. But, supplies and donations are also needed for those who cannot spare the time.
If you wish to help directly, know that this is a no-nonsense operation. This is not a swim and greet with dolphins, it’s a serious rescue operation and volunteers must do exactly as they are told. Work shifts are in 4 hour blocks and signing up means you are committing to this amount of time without fail. Volunteers are also required to bring a wetsuit (none are available on site), protective shoes, food, water and sun protection (think hats and coverings, sun block is only permitted to be worn on the face as it may seep into the water causing further harm to the whales). Fingernails must be trim, clean and unpolished and no jewelry will be allowed in the water.
For more information on helping out visit the MMC website or call 305-451-4774 (Note that not all phone calls can be answered as they are currently short handed.)
Most questions can be answered on their webpage on volunteering including detailed lists on what to bring, instructions for volunteers and a list of supplies that are needed for donating.
To make a monetary donation click here.
Up north, where homes have fireplaces, it’s become custom for savvy gals to decorate their mantles to match the seasons. Home decor blogs such as Thrifty Décor Chick, The Lettered Cottage and Southern Hospitality all show off their seasonal mantels with pride and we admit we felt a twinge of jealousy that our South Florida home had no fireplace, no mantle.
However, lacking a fireplace was no reason to pout. We quickly realized that seasonal displays of art and beauty can be made anywhere in the home. Including the dining room table. So we set off to make a beautiful and colorful new table setting to brighten up the great room and bring the beauty of spring into our home. Now the challenge was doing it all on a budget.
My mother once told me that if you want your home to look expensive, you must look for inspiration at the most expensive designer stores and catalogs. (Then you sneak off to Target, Home Goods and Kirklands to do your shopping). This is great advice, but since we were looking for a somewhat trendy colorful look, we hit Z Gallerie for inspiration. (Not exactly “expensive designer” but they had the looks we were going for.) We were quickly inspired by a beautiful turquoise table setting with peacock feather place mats. The total cost for this set was a bit out of our budget, but this was the look we were going for so we set out to replicate it at a fraction of the cost.
Check out our inspiration gallery!
The total cost to replicate this setting at home would be more than $500 ($508.75 before tax to be exact).
See our look!
What we paid and where:
Turquoise Glass Jars centerpiece: $16.95 for the large, $11.95 for the small at Home Goods
Gold Globes For Centerpiece: $5.00 for the small ones, $7.95 for the larger ones purchased at Ross.
Runner: $9.95 at Home Goods
Capiz Shell Placemats: $7.96 each (on sale from $9.95) at Pier One Imports
Gold Chargers: Already owned ($0) but were purchased at Target, $9.95 for a set of 4
Lotus Candle Holders: $11.95 each at Z Gallerie (ok, we couldn’t leave without buying at least one fabulous thing).
Turquoise Dinner Plates: $14.95 for the set of 4 from Target
Tea Light Candles: 4 for $1 at Pier One Imports
As you can see, we scrimped on the glassware. We figured the table had enough color that we could get away with it.
The total cost for this look added up to $174.20 (about 1/3 of the cost).
Now that’s savvy!
Ask Denisa has the perfect recipe to keep you cool, and as usual, we’ve added a little Caribbean flare to spice up an otherwise ordinary recipe. Try our Passion Fruit Sangria. We guarantee your friends and family will be lining up at your door for more.
Denisa’s Passion Fruit Sangria:
- One cup of Passion Fruit Rum: We used DonQ Pasión but Malibu and Captain Morgan both make passion fruit flavored rum that may be easier to come by.
- One bottle of light white wine (such as Pinot Grigio) we used Barefoot Wine’s Pinot Grigio because it’s light, fruity and inexpensive.
- One can of lemon lime soda (diet can be used as well to cut calories)
- One can of Tropical Fruit Cocktail drained (this is optional and more of a garnish)
Note: If your sangria comes out too sweet substitute club soda for the lemon lime soda and add half a lemon.
Serve in a sexy glass with orange or pineapple garnish. Oh, and don’t forget the little umbrella, because this drink is hot hot hot!
As you may know, South Florida gardening seasons are almost the exact opposite here to the rest of the country. Some cool weather perennials are considered annuals in South Florida. Our summers are usually too hot to sustain most tender flowering plants unless they are a tropical variety. But during the wintertime we can enjoy a variety of plants that thrive up north. Recently we took a trip to Flamingo Road Nursery using a %50 off coupon we purchased at LivingSocial.com for some cool weather plants to spruce up our garden. Here are a few of the choices we planted in early December that are thriving right now in our garden:
Dianthus: Dianthus is part of the carnation group of flowers. They are very fragrant (a more flowery scent than carnations) and bloom in small clusters on tall thin stems with long thin leaves that sprout every two inches or so from a clump of tall grass-like leaves. They have long lasting blooms in shades of light pink, dark pink, magenta, white and red, and come solid colored, stripped or rimmed in white. They resemble little paper disks with zigzag edges about the size of a nickel. They make excellent cut flowers and attract all sorts of butterflies and pretty moths to the garden. They are also sold in tall and short varieties. We prefer the tall versions, which can be cut and brought indoors for long lasting bouquets. They are easy to care for and are disease resistant. Besides the occasional deadheading, ours have been maintenance free since being planted in the garden.
Delphiniums: Delphinium is a beautiful flowering plant with bright blue-violet flowers. The blooms are electric blue and almost seem to glow in the garden. They make excellent cut flowers that last and last when brought indoors away from heat and intense sunlight. They like full sun but will not do well in direct sunlight once the temperatures reach 80 degrees (non uncommon in South Florida, even in the winter time) so they do better in partial shade in our garden. Although they are considered a perennial up north, these lovely bloomers are used as annuals in South Florida, so don’t expect these beautiful plants to survive our intense summer season. But, do enjoy them during the cooler months of the year as they will continue to bloom repeatedly providing beautiful cut blossoms for indoor bouquets all season long; until the sweltering heat zaps them dry in late spring to early summer.
Trailing Lobelia: We purchased one small trailing lobelia to place in a hanging container on our garden arbor and quickly found out this little plant likes lots and lots of water. So far, it’s done well in a small container that does not drain (we find some of our hanging baskets and other containers dry out too quickly for this thirsty little plant), particularly in the dryer winter season of South Florida. The trailing lobelia looks best in a hanging basket or taller planter where it can cascade into a shower of tiny bright blue blooms. So far it has bloomed continuously since planted, but once the hotter season arrives it should be moved into the shade if you expect any chance of survival. We’ve read it can withstand our summer heat if provided with enough water and indirect sunlight, but only time will tell
Nemesia: This bright and colorful little annual provides hundreds of tiny snapdragon shaped blooms over bright green foliage. They come in almost an endless array of colors. Ours is violet/magenta with a yellow center. They do better in containers than they would in the soil. Put them in full sun for more constant blooming, but you may want to move them into partial shade once temperatures reach the high 80s as these delicate beauties may not survive the summer heat. They like to stay relatively moist and will wilt quickly if allowed to dry out, but luckily they bounce back if dryness has not persisted for too long. Choose them for their bright color varieties. Some of which can be very fragrant. They are inexpensive and provide moths of color throught the cooler season.
Pansies (and violas): Pansies are beautiful, no doubt about it. Whoever came up with the expression that a pansy was a weakling didn’t do their research, as they are some of the cold-hardiest plants available. In our mild winters they will thrive to say the least, but only until May or June comes around. The flat blooms make excellent pressed flowers and they come in every color of the rainbow except perhaps green. Violas are miniature versions of pansies. They have smaller but more prolific blooms. Pansies and violas are an old time favorite for a reason; these small plants give charm and class to any garden.
Snap Dragons: Snap Dragons are an all time favorite. These long standing blooms come in a variety of colors, are delicately fragrant and make excellent cut flowers. We’ve had much success with ours since planting them in the garden in October, but we’ve had little success achieving the same tall, bright blooms they had when first purchased. They are currently budding and the few blooms that have emerged are short 3-4 blossomed spears. Not the 10-12 blossomed spears they had on them when purchased. Perhaps a little research and fertilizer will help. We’ll be sure to keep you posted!
Diascia: Another family member of the snapdragon, diascia is a relatively new, short-lived perennial from South Africa. Similar to Nemesia in bloom shape and colors, the diascia is more of a trailing plant and works well in containers where its showy blooms can cascade downwards and sway in the breeze. Diascia blooms in the cooler months but will survive the warm summer months if watered amply and placed in partial shade. Come Autumn she should reward you with ample blooms once again.
Growing vegetables in South Florida is a little different than in the rest of the country. Just like gardening in general. In our Zone 10 climate, the dead of summer acts as our winter usually zapping most flowering plants and vegetables who cant handle our intense heat and humidity. But even in sunny Florida, cold air and frosts can make their way down south and put a chill in our tender plants mid winter. So how can we achieve a full growing season without risking the loss of harvest?
Planting our vegetables in containers.
Container gardens have both their advantages and disadvantages. For starters containers can be easily moved to receive more (or less) sunlight in order to keep your crop growing happily throughout the season. Containers can also be moved easily into a garage or indoors if a rare frost or cold front happens to arrive mid winter.
One major advantage is that pots and planters offer protection from root knot nematodes found in our warm climate soil. These pesky pests eat the roots of tasty veggie plants and kill the plant from the ground up. Another advantage is that you can choose a higher quality store bought soil which many fruit producing plants prefer to our native, nutrient-lacking, sandy South Florida earth.
Aesthetically speaking, veggies aren’t the most decorative or attractive plants. Planting them in containers allows for the flexibility of moving unsightly plants away from your main gardening oasis to a less visible part of your yard where they will be less of a focal point. This method also allows people with very little garden space or unpaved land to enjoy home grown fruits and vegetables of their own.
So why not plant your entire garden in containers?
Container gardening does have its drawbacks. For starters, a potted garden requires more care and watering to be sure your plants have enough water and are draining properly. You may also need to fertilize more often as soil in containers may not hold the nutrients as long as ground soil. Containers can be costly and although you can reuse them every year they can still deteriorate over time. (We like to re-use the old black pots our plants came in from the nursery, but sometimes-bigger containers are required). If you’re garden is out of sight (like ours is) you can use any type of container like old (thoroughly cleaned) paint buckets with holes drilled in the bottom for drainage; or the like.
Click through the gallery of our container garden for more tips and info on growing tomatoes and bell peppers in South Florida.
A note on squirrels and other rodents:
We recently had our homegrown tomatoes attacked by local squirrels. It was a sad and horrifying site to see the largest tomatoes eaten in half and left on the vines to rot. Quick action was needed to save our crop! A fast search on the web provided many suggestions on how to rid your garden of the pests. Everything from covering your garden in mosquito netting to using hot pepper sauce on your larger veggies to out-right shooting the squirrels (yikes!). We opted to cover our largest fruits with zip lock baggies (cut the corners off to let air circulate and rain water drain). This seems to be working well for us, although I do worry about fungi or mildew forming if they do not get adequate ventilation. Other suggestions include wrapping in pantyhose or other sheer fabric. This sounds like a better option since the fabric will breathe and stretch with the fruits growth, but we had baggies on hand so we’re using this method at the moment.