Tuesday, October 28, 2008

These are the other liriope pictures.
Well the are coming when I can figure out what I am not doing correctly. The Blue fruit is what it is all about any way

Liriope Mystery

Above are 3 pictures of mystery Liriope. No one has been able to identify the species or hybrid. As you can see, It has no fantastic quality when the whole border is in bloom. But WOW does it have striking blue fruit. I have also included a closeup of the buds. No one has been able to identify this despite the best efforts over the years of the now retired garden editor of the local paper. It spreads rhyzomatously so it has filled as an outside border for a wooden border of a butterfly garden. It gets no special care.
Matt Cohen

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Elvis Lives

I've been bad having taken a hiatus from blogging which at the time seemed to be consuming more and more of my time, particularly trying to keep up all my other responsibilities while traveling. I had hoped to edit the photo to read 'Matt Lives' but decided it is implied, in as much as I took the photo recently on a trip to the Boerner Botanical Gardens, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA. It is always nice to see a sense of humor exists among plant breeders. Hostas do well here (Zone 9) when the shade is considerable and the watering frequent and with considerable pesticide use. My record of success is abysmal because I am unwilling to fight the vegetation predators that so abound in the heat of summer. I have more travel pics and a lot more of my own garden pics as the last few months bring a perfusion of garden changes. Matt

Friday, April 25, 2008

Comment from Sparkling Lotus-Land about Zen of Watering Your Garden book

pure loveliness

This morning's post office run yielded something that I've been rather impatient to receive. The book pictured above contains my first published photograph! The fact that it's a gardenia flower makes the basic accomplishment all the more satisfying and meaningful to me.

I met Matt Cohen through his wife via Flickr. The way he described his book really intrigued me and I was thrilled when he decided to include my photograph of a very special petal-friend. The book is LOADED with truly gorgeous images and I think it would make a lovely holiday gift for any flower lover/gardener. The text contains musings from a variety of sources including Frank Lloyd Wright, Marc Chagall and Matt himself. Click on the photograph to read the poetic fragment that compliments my picture. Quoted poets range from Emily Dickinson to Allen Ginsberg. There are also applicable insights from prose writers of antiquity through to the present present tense. And yes...the list includes my special-favorite local boy, Thoreau.

Matt says this about the book: Zen of Watering Your Garden took me several years to produce, and demanded considerable intensity and focus in the past six months...many kind and generous people...were a part of helping me complete this project, some in ways I anticipated and some I never thought of when I started...The collective generosity of so many from around the world has greatly enhanced my pleasure in the project and I hope now that the book can do the same for them and many others.

When Matt first let me know he wanted to include the gardenia photograph, I was struck hard by the fact that this allowed me to resurrect a dream I had buried in my late teens - a dream about communicating through photographic images. The incident, and my delighted acceptance of it, opened the doorway to other interest in my images and some creative collaboration that's as nourishing as it is invigorating.

Click here to explore the book further through its Amazon profile. Said profile is quite well done and worth seeing for yourself. Now I'm off to properly savor this treasure...
Acey http://www.sparklinglotusink.com

Sabal Palm

The State of Florida Official Tree, oddly, enough the orange tree is not. Instead it is the sabal palm known botanicallyas the sabal palmetto. These are found state wide. They grow under most any Florida conditon including in sandy and salty ground. They Can grow over 60" feet tall . These are also known as the scrub palm or cabbage palm. The picture is not on my property but in my area as one approaches the Gulf coast they are abundant in pine uplands. Additionally, theya re used every where as landscape addition. depending on the situation they may be 5' to 60' tall

Monday, April 7, 2008


This is a good picture of some oranges , up close and personal and ready to pick or at least to watch carefully for readiness by the feel of the fruit and the smell. Despite their association with Florida as I said before the orange tree is not the State Tree. That surprise will be in the next post.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

The Florida Song

Florida has adopted more things as official State this and that then any other state. For example as a child in elementary school we sang the Orange Blossom song daily.

I want to wake up in the morning where the orange blossoms grow,

Where the sun comes creepin' into where I'm sleepin',

and the song birds say hello.

I want to wander over yonder, Pick the fruit that's hanging low,

I want to make my home in Florida where the orange blossoms grow.

But surprisingly the orange tree is not the state tree. In the next week I will reveal the name of the currently Official State song, tree and flower. And l'all can see what happens when politics fools with common sense.

Monday, March 10, 2008

I'm in Tallahassee, Florida, a Unique Set of Environmental Zones

I'm in Tallahassee, Florida, a Unique Set of Environmental Zones. Though far from the Appalachian Mountains. My county, Leon county named after Ponce de Leon who wintered here his first trip seeking the fountain of youth has a Unique set of Flora and Fauna ( but i don't know much about the latter) scattered between the Apalachicola and the Suwanee rivers. The southern extension of the Appalachian Mountains is known to extend into North Georgia some 400-500 miles north of this area of Florida. Yet there are some unique flora not found anywhere else in Florida in these river basins, estuaries and the land in between. But I believe as do others that though the elevations extend from sea level to only about 350 feet this area is unique

More than 1,500 plant species have been identified within the Apalachicola drainage basin with 107 of them listed as threatened or endangered. Also, the largest stand of tupelo trees in the world is found in the lower Apalachicola River flood plain. A variety of vegetative communities, such as coastal scrub, dunes, pine flatwoods, oak hammocks, marshes, ponds and sloughs are found on the reserve's islands. Vegetation in the salt marshes is made up primarily of black needlerush, smooth cordgrass and saltgrass. Freshwater ponds and marshes are dominated by sawgrass and cattail.

The Apalachicola National Forest is the largest U.S. National Forest in the state of Florida. It contains 564,961 acres. It is the only national forest located in the Panhandle of Florida, extending into the Big Bend region. The Apalachicola National Forest contains two Wilderness Areas, Bradwell Bay and Mudswamp/New River. Integral to the Apalachicola National Forest are a number of special purpose areas: Camel Lake Recreation Area, Fort Gadsden Historical Site, Leon Sinks Geological Area, Silver Lake Recreation Area, and Wright Lake Recreation Area.
The most unique tree is the Florida torreya (Torreya taxifolia) . It is also the most endangered species.That grows only along the banks of the Apalachicola River. It is a mystery tree despite being studied for years. Florida torreya is dioecious. Female flowers are produced in March and April and the ovule develops in a sessile, arillate structure. At the end of the second season, the fertilized ovule forms a single, nearly globose gray-blue fruit 2.5 to 4.1 cm (1.0 to 1.6 in) long, 1.9 to 3.6 cm (0.75 to 1.4 in) wide, which matures as early as August or as late as early November. Staminate cones are also initiated in March and April. These are small, globular-ovate, and bear four pollen sacs on each scale. Torreya taxifolia first produces male and female cones at age 20.

The park is one of the few places in the country where the endangered Few-flowered croomia (Croomia pauciflora) can still be found. Other endangered species in the park include the feathery false lily of the valley, Canadian honewort and bloodroot.

Primary forest types found within the reserve are pine (slash, sand and loblolly); pine and mixed hardwoods (sweetgum, sugarberry, water oak, loblolly pine); mixed hardwoods (water hickory, sweetgum, overcup oak, green ash, and sugarberry); tupelo-cypress with mixed hardwoods (water tupelo, ogeechee tupelo, bald cypress, swamp tupelo, Carolina ash, planer tree); tupelo-cypress (water tupelo, bald cypress, ogeechee tupelo, swamp tupelo); and pioneer (black willow, swamp cottonwood).

I wish I had good pictures of some of these trees particularly the torreya. But the last time i went hunting was before I had digital equipment. I will post some public access pictures and a map if I can find it- or go to www .dep.state.fl.us/gwt/guide/regions/panhandleeast/trails/torreya.htm for a series of maps that show how this attempts have been made to save various part of this unique ecosystem. I fully expect more acreage to be added as the State acquires parcels through its endangered lands acquisition program. Part of the above is gleaned from Wikipedia and various State university publications.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

In our area of North Florida there are two very unusual trees that occur naturally–the blue hophornbeam (Carpinus caroliniana ) and the hop hornbeam ( Ostrya virginana). I believe this is the former. They never grow very big maybe 25 feet tall. What distinguishes them is nothing during the Spriing and Summer or at least that is how I view them as just some understory tree. But in the Fall and particular the winter, they are the only understory trees that retain their leaves which hang downward and stay that way. Until one day in the Spring when they drop all the leaves and the new leaves start. i have never been able to catch that day. I’m not a botaanist and ca’t tell them apart except that I thinned my front forest and have two of each as part of creating some diversity. You can tell this is the Deep South because the photo above has a bit of Spanish moss–which is not a moss but I will discuss that some other day. The treesare known for their very strong trunks as “ironwood.” They established themselves quickly when planted out of 3 gallon pots and receive no special care.

Friday, February 15, 2008


Nandina is a plant introduced in our area for landscapes in the 1970's. It comes China and Japan. It is called heavenly bamboo because its stems are long an bamboo like but the leaves are small and splotchy reds to green so it is attractive. It does not get dense dense growth like the Burford holly. It is planted for its showy bloomis, unusual foliage contrast and its racemes of abundant green berries that turn to bright orange and last months. Each about 4mm in diameter. The plant can get as high as 8 feet though now their are dwarf varieties tht grow onl to 5ft or ultra dwrf to just 2'3 feet. It can grwo in shade or full sun and tolerates various soils. There are numerous hybrids to show off different leaf colors and even different berry colors.The problem with nandia is not that it sends rhyzomes a spreads locally (filling in an area of landscape or more ) but that birds love the berries and they seed lage areas. It has become quite invasive. But because it isnot as dense it does not cause the same problems as ardesia which I will discuss next.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Burford Holly

Burford's holly
(Ilex cornuta 'Burfordii') I widely used a s a landscape plant. It lends itself to trimming into shapes which is what most people do to give their front yards a more formal look. This is unfortunate because they trim after blooming which are tiny innocuous scattered clusters. The berries will form without pollination. Though most people like the hedges, I like the fruit and let my one plant grow wild near a pasture gate. It has long lasting red berries It tolerates abject neglect in nearly full son. In the winter the leaves are quite dark and the berries also a deep red.

Though their are hollies native to North Florida, currently I am not growing any. I am trying to switch to more and more native plants. Burford is from Asia. There are a number of hybrids so that their are now dwarf varieties and variegated leaf varieties of several types though all have the distinctive 8mm dark berries. Though birds love the berries, for whatever reason, like the pyracantha these are not considered 'invasive.'

Thursday, February 7, 2008

It is hard to believe it is winter here as this is the second day ofmid-day temps in the 70’s, But it is winter One of the things that ismost outstanding this time of year are the red berried plants . There arefour that grown in this area of Zone8-9 surprisingly, none is native.Two are considered invasive one terribly so. Commercial nurseries are discouraged from selling it ( see Ardesia in a soon to be posted note).
Today I will discuss the pyracantha. It is grown though out the South as ashrub or against walls. This is due to its hardiness and ability togrow so fast that it does well leaning on walls. This particular plant is a closeup of a well, but infrequently pruned shrub It shows the typical berry color is a brilliant red orange. seen on what the natives call scarlet firethorn. The berries are 6mm in diameter.(Pyracantha coccinea). The plants have thorns. They have tiny whiteblooms in dense clusters (corymbs) in the late Spring.Pruning should be done in the late winter before the blooming to maximze the berrry production. The plant tolerates full sun to partial shade. The more sun the more flower Though the berries are usually this color there are hybrids from red to yellow. I fertilize once a year with balanced fertilizer in the Spring. like everything I grow it gets well mulched. It tolerates neglect quite well. Though non native it is infrequently invasive. And though birds are attracted to large shrubs to nest they don’t prefer these red winter berries to the extent they do some of the others, conssequently they make for along showy winter display.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

You can't start them early enough. If it was not winter the hose would be running. It is quite clear that even well before 15 months of age a child (young Homo sapien)will mimic a parent or at least try persistently even when they can not stand for very long. I doubt she is having a Zen-like experience though she is trying to hand-water. Teach your children well.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Newspaper coverage

Today, I and Zen of Watering Your Garden were the subject of a full page story in the Tallahassee Democrat our local paper, Circulation about 150,000. The story was right on point in terms of the purpose of the book.

Originally published January 17, 2008
Find peace in the garden
A Tallahassee doctor publishes 'Zen of Watering Your Garden'
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You know to slow down and smell the roses.

But what of the quiet pleasure of watering your garden with a hand-held hose?


Semi-retired Tallahassee physician Matt Cohen has plenty to say on the latter in his recently published "Zen of Watering Your Garden" (Sunbelt Publishers, $21.45).

A small coffee-table book, it offers 141 pages filled with beautifully reproduced photos of flowers, plants, fruits and water. Cohen, who has lived in Tallahassee for more than 30 years, took some of the photos himself (using a Canon camera) while others were taken by photographers from around the world.

The book also contains brief quotes about nature and life from thinkers such as Emerson, Frank Lloyd Wright and Lao Tzu as well as the 58-year-old author.

Cohen (who said he gained about 25 pounds while at the computer writing the book) got the idea for "Zen of Watering Your Garden" while driving around listening to tapes by Natalie Goldberg, a well-known writing teacher and the author of books such as "Writing Down the Bones" and "Old Friend from Far Away." Goldberg is also a longtime Zen practitioner.

As Cohen listened to Goldberg discuss the expansive mind-set of Zen, he said, he realized that he experienced a similar mental state in his garden.

"When I am watering my garden, I am one with the garden," he said.

"There is Zen in the garden. It's in the flow of water, the droplets, the sparkle, the smell of how the soil changes."

Then, too, there's the magic of watering drooping plants.

"You turn around, and the flowers have picked themselves up from the earth."

Gardener Lynn Barrera gave Cohen's book a big green thumbs up.

"I love the photos," said Barrera, who has known Matt and wife Leslie Cohen, an art teacher at Chiles High School, for many years. Barrera grows fruit (figs, kiwi, satsuma tangerines, grapes and persimmons) as well as seasonal vegetables in her home garden.

Maxine King, a neighbor of Cohen's, is also a fan of the book.

"I have really enjoyed it," King said. "It's a beautiful book, and the text is well chosen."

After getting a copy for herself, the 79-year-old King said, she decided to order five more as gifts. She enjoys the way the photos trigger almost forgotten memories. A picture of a watering can brought back memories of her grandmother, she said, while another reminded her of a yard she once played in as a girl.

Cohen, who also grows orchids, hopes that others will find mental, emotional or spiritual illumination in his book, too — or perhaps discover for the first time the pleasure of watering their own gardens.

Although he has self-published other books, none are like this one. His other self-publishing ventures have been practical guide books for nurse practitioners and others regarding established medical protocols for treating common problems such hypertension, ear infections, etc.

"This was a labor of love," he said. "It may be a fiscal failure, but c'est la vie. I am proud of the way it came out."

Copyright the Tallahassee Democrat 01-17-2008

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Japanese Maples in the Winter

The Japanese maples grow very well in our area of Zone *. They allseem to do well, those that grow to 20 ft and those that are ultra dwarf. I do nothing special. Mine are planted in simple beds of border grass which probably keeps them from drying out during droughts. I do not bother to drag the hoses to them as they fram the corners of the beds in the front of the house. The bare tree is beautiful for its delicate branches. The Autumnal tree creates a proverbial or biblical burning bush (but I will hold those pictures for a later time. NOW i WILL JUST REVEAL THE BEAUTY OF THE EMPTY BRANCHES AND OF THE LEAVES THE HAVE FALLEN ON THE BORDER GRASS.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Violas as a String Quartet

Despite a hard freeze somehow my violas which look wiskered but could easily be considered a 'strung with gut' survived as a string quartet and greeted me with a late morning song.