About Central Florida Gardener

Welcome and thank you for visiting Central Florida Gardener. Florida is a unique state in which to garden. It can be frustrating but also rewarding for gardeners who persevere. This blog was created as a resource for Florida gardeners, both new and experienced, in search of information specifically for Florida gardens.

You are invited to participate by leaving your comments, suggestions, tips and recommendations relevant to Florida gardening - don't be shy! Thank you for dropping by to learn more about gardening in the Sunshine state. I look forward to hearing from you! Susan

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Growing Green Festival

Buffy at Green Paths Florida contacted me and asked if I would extend an invitation to all Central Florida Gardener subscribers to their first upcoming Growing Green Festival.

This free indoor-outdoor event features presentations, activities, resources, living plants, great food, horse manure, live music and even an award-winning Sundance Film Festival movie about dirt (http://www.dirtthemovie.org/).

Here's what you'll find at the festival...
backyard gardening - butterfly plants - community gardens - composting - container gardens - CSAs - exotic invasives - fruit trees - herbs - green garden design - kids' garden projects - native plants - rain barrels - veggies - wildlife habitats

Saturday, February 6th
Noon to 5 PM
Movie screening - 5 to 7 PM
Unity of Martin County
211 SE Central Parkway, Stuart

Sound like a lot of fun!

Friday, January 22, 2010

And the Survivors Are…

It’s been about two weeks since freezing temps dealt our plants a devastating blow. Enough time for us to see which plants made it and which ones didn’t. There’s not a lot to say about the plants that are brown and shriveled up, except that, given time they may recover once trimmed back. But don’t act too quickly…in this case, procrastination can be a good thing.

Here’s what a couple of experts have to say about what we should be doing right now:

Tom MacCubbin at Tom's Digs
Teresa Watkins at Earth Shattering Gardening blog

The best thing we can do is turn our attention to the future, and begin making plans to revamp our yards. In every “bad event” there’s always a silver lining. Our silver lining is the plants that braved the low temps and lived to bloom another day.

So, I’m looking for the “survivors.” And, as painful as it may be, I’m asking all of you to walk around your yard to see what perennials and colorful foliage plants survived.

Your participation is requested! Once you’ve done this, please either share your list of plants by adding a comment to this post, or create a post on your blog, and provide me with a link to it and I'll list it below. Together, we can create a list of hardy perennials and colorful foliage plants that will help all of us as we shop for new plants this spring.

Here are some posts I've found on plants that "survived" the frosty week.

The Dirt  -  Penny Carnathanis a co-writer for the Tampa Tribune in this blog.
Gardening in Peace - FloridaGirl in the Peace River area.
Simply Susan! - My list of "survivors."

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Florida Garden Blogs Growing in Numbers

There may not be much growing in our yards right now, but Florida garden blogs are growing in numbers daily. When I first started blogging it was rare to find other Florida garden blogs, so I'm thrilled to see that the numbers are growing steadily. All the blogs listed below have been added to our blogroll in the sidebar as well.

Hope you enjoy visiting these Florida garden bloggers...

The Rainforest Garden created by a Jax gardener who loves tropical flora.

My Garden Path by Nana K who gardens in the Tampa area.

Southeast Florida Garden Evolvement by Ami who gardens in Ft. Lauderdale.

Graceful Cottage Gardening by Tampa gardener Janis.

Our Jupiter Garden on the east coast.

Terra Mirabilis by Penny, formerly from the United Kingdom, now in S. Florida.

The Namaste Garden by Scarlett in Sarasota.

Florida's Native Orchids by Prem in Altamonte Springs.

Gardening Without Skills by Kate and crew in semi-rural Central Florida.

Pollywog Creek by Patricia who gardens in rural S. Florida.

**Update** Here's a couple more blogs...

Garden Adventures by Grower Jim in Orlando.  Thanks, Jim

Thanks to Kristen for the following two "new" blogs:

My Florida Backyard and Lepcurious: Tales from the Butterfly Garden 

If you're quietly standing on the sidelines reading this blog, and I haven't come across your blog yet, please leave me a comment, so I can include you here...that includes gardeners in north and south Florida.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Give your Blog a Fresh New Look

For those of you who have a blog, or those who are thinking about starting one, there are lots of ways to personalize the look of it. I read lots of blogs every week, and would like to pass on some of the great ideas I’ve come across.

The majority of bloggers use blogger.com to create their blogs. It’s an easy 3-step process and Blogger has added many new features in the last couple of years. While there are other blog interfaces you can use, I'm most familiar with Blogger and will focus on what they offer. Note: Anyone who uses Wordpress that would like to share some tips, is welcome to contribute an article as a guest blogger.  I’ll gladly post it here for others to read. Perhaps some of us might even decide to switch over.

The one thing Blogger hasn’t updated is their choice of templates. Their choices are limited but you can still personalize your blog by changing the background color, font style and size, uploading a photo to your header and adding gadgets.

Use a Decorative Background
If you want more of a decorative look you can find a background at a number of sites that offer them for free. The most well-known site is The Cutest Blog on the Block. But others include Hot Bliggity Blog,  Shabby Blog and Background Fairy. You select the background you like, then copy and paste the code into the “HTML/Java Script” gadget, and, voila’ you’ve got a brand new look. You can see two examples of background choices at Hoe and Shovel and Live to Garden that are nice enhancements to their blogs.
You can also get free template designs with 3 columns for a totally different layout. Blogger provides information for this in their Help Forum. The addition of these designs may require some html or Java Script knowledge.

Personalize Your Header
You can upload a photo of your garden or a beautiful flower to your header as I have done above with the hibiscus. Or, you can get even more creative and add a collage of garden photos such as Florida Girl has done at Peace in the Valley. These are two great options that allow you to change your look seasonally.

Blog Posts
People love photos, so include plenty of them. Meems at Hoe and Shovel does a great job of writing interesting posts, and she includes lots of great photos. She, also, has a bit of text at the top of her blog that shares some details about her garden. Post regularly, and you’ll attract visitors who look forward to returning to your blog. To the bottom of your posts you can add “reactions” (see mine at Simply Susan) -- which you can personalize-- that people can easily respond to. It's a fun addition! To add reactions go to layout - Blog Posts - Edit.

Add a Gadget
Gadgets are fun tools that really let you add a number of features to your blog. Among some of the gadgets available at blogger are photos, blogrolls, links, lists, text, labels, archives, followers, search box, html/Java script, slideshows, and polls.

Adding photos and text to your sidebar is a great way to personalize your blog. A series of photos can show different areas of your garden, or your favorite flowers or plants. Rusty at DragonFly Gardens does a nice job of giving you a look at his tropical flowers. There is also a slideshow feature that MOSI uses on their blog Lepcurious. And, Jacquie at Home Grown has included her Flickr photos in her sidebar.

About Me
I know many people are hesitant to give too much information about themselves, but do include something so the reader can get to know you. If you don’t feel comfortable naming your town, then use a broader term such as the Treasure Coast or southwest Florida. Name your garden style, favorite plant, etc. Cheryl at My Wildlife Sanctuary has crafted a creative verse that describes her gardening style.

Blog List
A Blog List (see ours posted in the sidebar) is a great way to keep up with blogs you follow and to provide a reciprocal link to other bloggers. Plus, it’s a great way for visitors to discover other great blogs. You choose whether to include a thumbnail photo (such as I have done here) or not, such as Meems at Hoe and Shovel has done. You can also select that only the title be shown (again, as I have done), or that a bit of brief text be shown such as Walk2Write in Florida has done. Other choices are also available. Be sure to update it regularly.

Link Lists
Create a list of links to your favorite garden websites or posts. Elizabeth at Elizabeth's Secret Garden has created a list of posts, she's done, on butterfly gardens she's visited.

Adding a list to your sidebar allows you to keep track of garden tasks, the names of roses in your garden, planting dates. Use this feature to add something you want to personally keep track of….the ideas are endless. Wicked Gardener created lists of plants she loves and plants that made it through the winter.

Search Box
Did you know that little search box located in the upper left hand corner of your blog allows you to search for specific information on your blog? That’s a neat feature that I just learned about myself. Now, there's a search box gadget you can add to your sidebar as well. You can configure this search box to find information on your blog and link lists, pages you’ve linked to and the web. Michael at Central Florida Gardening has used this feature on his blog. He has also imported his Twitter thoughts into his sidebar.

Subscription and Feeds
You can make it easy for people who use readers to keep track of the blogs they follow by adding the RS subscribe feature or by going to Feedburner to get an email subscription box. Folks who subscribe via email will receive your post updates in their email box. Kim at Cannas and Bananas has incorporated both of these options into her blog.

Life Traffic Feed

Feed Jit offers a fun little gadget called Live Traffic Feed that lets you see what towns and countries your visitors are coming from. The Great Wall of Lutz has one and I do, too on my Simply Susan blog. It's amazing to see where visitors come from and how they find your blog.

These are just a few of the things you can do to give your blog a fresh new look. I’d love to receive comments from some of you who have other ideas or suggestions. Also, if I don’t have your Florida garden blog listed on my blogroll, please let me know.

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Easy Way to Keep up with Florida Gardeners
The Florida Garden Blog list (in the sidebar) has now been updated and changed to a more functional and eye-appealing blogroll. You can easily scan through the blogs to find the latest posts...recently updated blogs will be listed at the top of the roll.

The blogroll contains a thumbprint photo, title of the recent post and when it was updated. Check it out and let me know what you think.

A couple of new Florida blogs I've found recently have also been included. They are:

Garden in Paradise by Kimberly who gardens on the Treasure Coast in S. Florida.

Garden in Peace by Floridagirl who is located in the Peace River region.

The Great Wall of Lutz which is obviously located in the Tampa Bay area. Sorry that I don't have her/his first name.

If I've missed any other Florida garden blogs, please let me know. Thanks!

Coming soon...Give your Blog a Facelift for the New Year