My Florida Garden in Spring grows food for the soul

"What I know of the divine sciences and Holy Scriptures,
I learned in woods and fields. I have no other masters
than the beeches and the oaks."
- Saint Bernard of Clairvaux - 1090-1153

Welcome back

Many of you saw my garden last swaddled up in old comforters, blankets, flannel sheets, old towels and anything else that came to hand in my hub Freezing in Florida, I have complaints. Then you may have visited again in February with My Florida Garden in Winter.

The past couple of days, while I've been out watering, transplanting, weeding -- all those tasks gardeners lose hours to, I've thought of you, my readers, and decided to invite you in for another look around.

Still here

The filibustering toad still holds a place of honor under the two spreading oak trees that shelter this end of the garden. Normally, he would be in the garage by now, and I'd be on the road heading north.
The filibustering toad still holds a place of honor under the two spreading oak trees that shelter this end of the garden. Normally, he would be in the garage by now, and I'd be on the road heading north.

Sure as the most certain sure .... plumb in the uprights,
    well entreated, braced in the beams,
Stout as a horse, affectionate, haughty, electrical,
I and this mystery we stand.

Clear and sweet is my soul .... and clear and sweet is all
    that is not my soul,

Lack one lacks both .... and the unseen is proved by the seen
Till that becomes unseen and receives proof in its turn. 

To elaborate is no avail .... Learned and unlearned feel that it is so.
-   Walt Whitman, Leaves of Grass, Line 40-

How's the weather? you ask

For a few weeks now the highs are in the nineties and lows in the high sixties or low seventies -- hot, humid but cool at night. I'm normally gone by this time of year so my neighbors delight in inquiring "hot enough for you?" and seem dreadfully disappointed to find me comfortable. I still don't use my air-conditioning.

How about those five months I spent in Africa on the Gulf of Benin barely north of the equator? or the three weeks in June in Rio? or the entire month of August in New Orleans? Contrary to the picture most people carry in their heads about Canada, those summer days in Manitoba can be every bit as hot and humid as anything Florida can offer. My visiting Florida friends complained about the heat in July in Alberta. Canadians can deal not only with the bitter cold of our winters, but with the searing heat of summer. We're tough. Excuse me while I adopt the appropriate  muscle-popping pose.

In other words, I can handle it.

And I'm grateful to all that came together to allow me this experience -- my first summer in Florida; what an adventure! And a huge thank you to my husband, Jim.

So this year, I have not put everything away, turned my tomatoes over to my neighbor, transplanted all the potted plants to the ground, placed all the orchids into a tub of moss, put all the garden furniture in the garage, and finally abandoned all to the tender mercy of the elements. No, this year I stay.

Ferns

Those of you who read My Pet Ferns will recognize some of my pets now outside in the garden.
Those of you who read My Pet Ferns will recognize some of my pets now outside in the garden.
Young ferns, root cuttings from the mother plants in a sheltered area in the shade of the oaks getting a good start in life.
Young ferns, root cuttings from the mother plants in a sheltered area in the shade of the oaks getting a good start in life.
A Boston and two sword ferns, divisions made three weeks ago, happy under the eaves, just outside the guest suite.
A Boston and two sword ferns, divisions made three weeks ago, happy under the eaves, just outside the guest suite.

Come and enjoy the garden

"Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have
into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos
to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast,
a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Gratitude makes
sense of our past, brings peace for today,
and creates a vision for tomorrow."
- Melody Beattie

Ferns

The sun rises higher in the sky as the spring solstice nears, and the oak trees are in full leaf. The lanai is now too dark to house my ferns and as the summer rains near, they are better off outside. I have divided many of them, particularly the unruly Bostons -- what was once two ferns is now five, and taken root cuttings of others and started them in pots. To the right we see a "many fingered fern," a "lady Victoria fern," and an "Australian sword fern," all juveniles.

I divided the mother plants further into a number of clumps and replanted -- here are three hanging under the eaves of the house -- clearly happy, as they've tripled in size in a few weeks.

Two divisions from one Boston Fern still living in the backyard in pots on stands by my front door. Did I mention Boston Ferns are native to Florida and have nothing to do with Boston at all.
Two divisions from one Boston Fern still living in the backyard in pots on stands by my front door. Did I mention Boston Ferns are native to Florida and have nothing to do with Boston at all.

Herb Garden Flourishes

Last pictured in February, here are my herbs flourishing in the humid heat (and requiring water every day -- hope the rains start soon.) Parsley, lemon balm, sage, oregano, rosemary (in pot) -- all growing well.
Last pictured in February, here are my herbs flourishing in the humid heat (and requiring water every day -- hope the rains start soon.) Parsley, lemon balm, sage, oregano, rosemary (in pot) -- all growing well.
Rosemary in a pot (I grow three kinds) and basil plants amongst the lirope (a native grassy plant the provides shelter to the delicate basil.)
Rosemary in a pot (I grow three kinds) and basil plants amongst the lirope (a native grassy plant the provides shelter to the delicate basil.)
Bay leaf tree (Laurus Nobilis) growing in the shade of a rosemary shrub.
Bay leaf tree (Laurus Nobilis) growing in the shade of a rosemary shrub.
Thyme in a basket hanging off a stump.
Thyme in a basket hanging off a stump.

"Even before I could speak, I remember crawling through blueberry patches in the wild meadows on our hillsides.
I quickly discovered Nature was filled with Spirit; I never saw any separation between Spirit and Nature.
Much later I discovered our culture taught there was supposed to be some kind of separation -
that God, Spirit and Nature were supposed to be divided and different. However, at my early age it
seemed absolutely obvious that the church of the Earth was the greatest church of all; that the temple
of the forest was the supreme temple. When I went to the sanctuary of the mountain, I found Earth's
natural altar - Great Spirit's real shrine. Years later I discovered that this path of going into Nature,
bonding deeply with it, and seeing Spirit within Nature - God, Goddess, and Great Spirit - was
humanity's most ancient, most primordial path of spiritual cultivation and realization."
- John P. Milton, Sky Above, Earth Below

Anyone who followed the hubpages health contest noticed a huge number of articles dedicated to the goodness of herbs. My herb garden is geared to the culinary uses of herbs, as I love to cook (good and fresh foods) and love to eat. One of the best things about life in Florida is the abundance of fresh vegetables and fruits in season available at Farmers' Markets at all times.

Is anything more devine than the marriage of fresh, ripe tomatoes from the vine, still warm from the sun paired with minced garlic, dressed in fresh basil leaves and driggled with extra virgin olive oil? Ah -- nirvana.


Speaking of tomatoes

Food for the body

The cherry tomato vine is six feet high now, and setting fruit at an amazing rate.
The cherry tomato vine is six feet high now, and setting fruit at an amazing rate.
Cucumber vines -- but they need a lot of water in the sandy soil despite the addition of compost.
Cucumber vines -- but they need a lot of water in the sandy soil despite the addition of compost.
Now that it is settled I am to stay, I have started some new seedlings. This stump on the east side of the house is my favorite nursery -- on top and in the rich earth that surrounds it.
Now that it is settled I am to stay, I have started some new seedlings. This stump on the east side of the house is my favorite nursery -- on top and in the rich earth that surrounds it.

"Wherever you are is home
And the earth is paradise
Wherever you set your feet is holy land . . .
You don't live off it like a parasite.
You live in it, and it in you,
Or you don't survive.
And that is the only worship of God there is."
- Wilfred Pelletier and Ted Poole

We've eaten fresh cherry tomatoes since early April, but in the the heat of the last few weeks, the tomato vines have grown to ridiculous proportions. Although you can't see it here, they are very tall now, and I, at five foot, seven inch must reach up to touch the top.

I'm told that while the vines thrive in the summer heat, it becomes too hot for the plants to set blossoms (must be under 80 F at night for blossoms to set, and the fact the nights will be this warm is a little daunting to this Canuck about to live through the summer here) therefore no fruit.

Too hot for tomatoes -- now that's a new thought. Just like the other day when someone yelled at me to shut the door, I was letting all the cold air out. This really is new to someone who spent her life trying not to let the cold air in.

I must adapt.

The cucumbers are growing rapidly, flowering and beginning to set fruit, but their demand for water in this heat is amazing -- starting to wilt two or three times a day unless watered. Planted against the west wall of the house and receiving the hot afternoon sun, and with their roots in the raised bed of sandy soil to which compost has been added, a watering doesn't seem to last long. I hope the rainy season starts soon.

"God Almighty first planted a garden; and indeed, it is the purest of human pleasures."-- Francis Bacon, Viscount St Albans -- 1561 - 1626 Essays, no.46,'Of Gardens'

Gardening in the shade of the oaks

A pony tail palm happy in the half-shade at the western edge of the shade garden.
A pony tail palm happy in the half-shade at the western edge of the shade garden.
Young orchids amidst the native ferns and a water supply for the geckos, anoles, birds and garter snakes that seem to love this section of the garden.
Young orchids amidst the native ferns and a water supply for the geckos, anoles, birds and garter snakes that seem to love this section of the garden.
On the eastern edge -- ferns and azaleas (another shade lover.)
On the eastern edge -- ferns and azaleas (another shade lover.)
Around the smallest tree.
Around the smallest tree.

What I love most about this property are the towering live oaks in the backyard -- southern exposure -- that bathe my house and the yard in dappled shade. When the thermometer rises to the mid nineties on the west side of the property, the east side stays a good ten degrees lower. For most of the day, the shade of the trees and the ceiling fans are enough to keep the house comfortable and only on the hottest of days do we need to use air conditioning for the late afternoon hours when the sun strikes the west side of the house.

Much of my backyard is devoted to shade loving plants and I've tried to recreate the forest floor (albeit a more orderly version) with ferns and shrubs (but no strangler vines.)

The end result is a cool and peaceful escape from the heat of the sun.

Climate control by God. Thank you.

Here, one of my favorite poems as food for thought:

           Earth Is Enough

"We men of Earth have here the stuff
Of Paradise - we have enough!
We need no other stones to build
The Temple of the Unfulfilled -
No other ivory for the doors -
No other marble for the floors -
No other cedar for the beam
And dome of man's immortal dream.

Here on the paths of every-day -
Here on the common human way
Is all the stuff the gods would take
To build a Heaven, to mold and make
New Edens. Ours is the stuff sublime
To build Eternity in time!"
- Edwin Markham

Another I enjoy:

"Many things grow in the garden that were never sown there." ~Thomas Fuller, Gnomologia, 1732

And now for one of my favorite of garden quotes, and I hope we all give this one the thoughts and consideration it deserves:

"A garden was the primitive prison, till man with Promethean felicity and boldness, luckily sinned himself out of it." ~Charles Lamb, 1830


Of course my garden grows flowers

Hibiscus
Hibiscus
Allamanda
Allamanda
Bougainvillea
Bougainvillea
Vinca
Vinca
Plumbago
Plumbago
Myrtle
Myrtle

"A certain day became a presence
to me; there it was, confronting me — a sky, air, light:
a being. And before it started to descend
from the height of noon, it leaned over
and struck my shoulder as if with
the flat of a sword, granting me
honor and a task. The day’s blow
rang out, metallic — or it was I, a bell awakened,
and what I heard was my whole self
saying and singing what it knew: I can.”
- Denise Levertov,
Variation on a Theme by Rilke
(The Book of Hours, Book I, Poem

And that's how it happens -- eureka! the moment of understanding. I know this. Suddenly, everything begins to make sense as though a fog is lifted and life becomes clear, sometimes only for a moment, and other times a truth comes to us to carry us through the rest of our lives. All I know is this: these moments come more often in a garden than anywhere else.

"After a few hours of sweating with dirt all over me and insects buzzing around the upper half of my body, I may begin to get a sense of being in tune with nature. It's at these moments where I take note of a worm that is maneuvering its way out of the dirt or a butterfly that silently lands on a bush next to me. With subtlety and a total lack of self consciousness, I come out of myself, look around, marvel at the majesty of what I am experiencing and begin to take note that I have entered some type of altered state of consciousness."
- Fran Sorin, Exploring Spirituality

There are times when I am out there, caring for these green things -- children of God, like us -- watering, weeding, feeding, examining, when I realize I am happy. That's all, simply happy. I have no worries, no concerns -- somehow the bills will be paid; that agent will either like my book or she won't: who cares? It' s of no importance compared to the feeling of being one with God and tending to her children.

"Although weeding, cutting back, and transplanting are activities that 
may seem repetitive and never-ending, when seen as a necessary and 
integral part of the overall unfolding of the garden scheme, they become purposeful rather than boring. In fact, what may appear on the surface 
to be tedious physical work may, in the actual doing, be spiritually 
liberating.  In taking time to contemplate the small — in observing the 
details of our gardens — we can experience life on a manageable scale."
        
-   Marilyn Barrett, Creating Eden:  The Garden as a Healthy Space

My roses -- even though inflicted with black-spot disease, they bloom like there's no tomorrow -- we can learn from them.
My roses -- even though inflicted with black-spot disease, they bloom like there's no tomorrow -- we can learn from them.
Orchids hanging under the oak tree as close to God's intent for them as possible -- looking happy.
Orchids hanging under the oak tree as close to God's intent for them as possible -- looking happy.

"I did however used to think, you know, in the woods walking,
and as a kid playing in the woods, there was a kind of
immanence there - that woods, a places of that order, had a
sense, a kind of presence, that you could feel; there was
something peculiarly, physically present, a feeling of place
almost conscious ... like God. It evoked that."
- Robert Creely, Robert Creely and the Genius
of the American Common Place (Tom Clark), p. 40

I start each day with a walk around my garden, a cup of coffee in my hand, still in my night wear, teeth yet unbrushed, hair yet uncombed. The birds greet me; the lizards scamper away from their pursuits afraid I've come to do them harm. A big, black racer snake leaves the walkway where he suns himself and becomes only one more rustle in the bush. This is my prayer: Oh God, that makes us all, let me be worthy to garden this one corner of your world for you.

"There are sacred moments in life when we experience
in rational and very direct ways that separation, the
boundary between ourselves and other people and
between ourselves and Nature, is illusion. Oneness is
reality. We can experience that stasis is illusory and
that reality is continual flux and change on very subtle
and also on gross levels of perception . . ."
- Charlene Spretnak

More by this Author


Comments 43 comments

MissusSmith profile image

MissusSmith 6 years ago from Montana

What a beautiful hub, Lynda. And I'm so very jealous! Montana is still a muddy cold mess -- sigh! I'm going to have to come and visit you -- get a lift. Got room right now? Sue


lmmartin profile image

lmmartin 6 years ago from Alberta and Florida Author

Thanks Sue, and come on down. My granddaughter is with me, but she'll gladly share. She says Hi. Thanks for the comment.


resspenser profile image

resspenser 6 years ago from South Carolina

Nice job. You claim not to be all that computer literate but you did an excellent job on the layout and photography on this hub.


EnLydia Listener 6 years ago

I enjoyed your garden pictures...I hate to say I am envious...but I love things that are green...especially herbs.


Nellieanna profile image

Nellieanna 6 years ago from TEXAS

That is an inspiring hub! Thank you. I love the sprinkling of poetry and the pictures are gorgeous - but mostly it is your personal love of it that makes it shine!


"Quill" 6 years ago

Well done Lynda...love the Hibiscus...beautifully written and thank you for sharing...I have some Dandelion pictures of the growth so far...

Blessings


Ultimate Hubber profile image

Ultimate Hubber 6 years ago

You have some beautiful happy lants, I must say. Loved the plants. Now I want to get some ferns. :)


suziecat7 profile image

suziecat7 6 years ago from Asheville, NC

I love the way you use the trees as a focal point to your garden. Really enjoyed this Hub.


Highvoltagewriter profile image

Highvoltagewriter 6 years ago from Savannah GA.

Hello Immartin! Thanks so much for sharing your garden! Your tomatoes are amazing! Up here in North Florida, my tomatoes are way behind yours and yet, our weather has not been as hot as yours...YET! It will come though! I am glad to see that you are still hanging out in "The Sunshine State." I have not been around much for I had some computer problems that I write about in my latest hub. I wrote to try to help people avoid some of nasty spyware that attack my computer. You may care to read it, it is my latest one.


lmmartin profile image

lmmartin 6 years ago from Alberta and Florida Author

Hi Highvoltagewriter and sorry to hear of your (and your computer's) misfortune. I will certainly check out that hub. I am glad to be staying on this year -- will be a big adventure. Thanks for dropping by.


Hello, hello, profile image

Hello, hello, 6 years ago from London, UK

Lynda, nobody in Florida needs to suffer the heat -- send it over to England. Gosh it is all grey because of that rotten cloud and cold and windy. Thank you for sharing you wonderful garden with us and an enjoyable read. It was great, as always.


lmmartin profile image

lmmartin 6 years ago from Alberta and Florida Author

Hi hello,hello -- sorry to hear of your grey skies. Well, you could always come to Florida for a vacation -- it's the off season now and quiet and peaceful. Thanks for your comment. Lynda


BkCreative profile image

BkCreative 6 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City

I'm so glad you included every single photo. I am a big fan of your ferns by the way. Ah, this is how we are meant to live with a garden providing everything we can possible want, including food and beautiful flowers.

I enjoy all your garden hubs. Lovely. Thanks so much!


alekhouse profile image

alekhouse 6 years ago from Louisville, Kentucky

beautiful garden...so many nooks and crannies. Love the ferns. I know they must be flourishing in that tropical humidity. Thanks for a lovely hub.


Rafini profile image

Rafini 6 years ago from Somewhere I can't get away from

Gardening is one of those things I was looking forward to in becoming a homeowner. What I'm learning is - I have a lot to learn!! I no longer have the green thumb I had when I was a teen but I still hope to have at least a minimal amount of success at it. Thanks for sharing the inspiration and beauty of your garden with us and good luck sleeping through 80 degree nights. ;D


jayjay40 profile image

jayjay40 6 years ago from Bristol England

Hi Lynda

Beautiful hub and photographs. Love the way you say that your garden is 'food for the soul.' What a lovely way to express what a garden means.


TheSablirab 6 years ago

A wonderful read! Thank you for sharing! Love the photographs; makes me wish I could be there to enjoy in person.


lmmartin profile image

lmmartin 6 years ago from Alberta and Florida Author

Hi BKCreative -- yes the space around us to make our own corner of the world is something we are all meant to have, I believe. I understand Brooklyn was one city that was a pioneer in the community gardens movement a few decades ago -- is this still going strong?

Hi Rafini -- yep, we all learn by doing. Gardening is one of those things it's hard to get wrong -- so long as it grows. Good luck and don't give up.

Hi Jayjay -- I know your gardens there in England are superb -- you've shown us all photos (or were those not of your garden?)

Hi Sablirab -- who's stopping you from being here in person?


Nan 6 years ago

Your plants are beautiful and in bloom. I have not set out my plants up here north of Chicago, it's too cold. We still have 40o weather and sometimes colder at night. I have a hanging plant that grows tomatoes upside down, and I'm going to try growing them. There is something about loving plants and watching them grow. I don't know how you have time to garden. You are in touch with the beginning of the universe. Your pictures are beauriful.


itakins profile image

itakins 6 years ago from Irl

Really lovely hub-I enjoyed visiting your garden very much.Gosh your plants are so much further on there-this would be a Summer garden here.

I like your style of gardening too:)


lmmartin profile image

lmmartin 6 years ago from Alberta and Florida Author

Thanks for your comment itakins. Yes, this is definitely a different climate than I'm used to. Enjoying it though.


FGual profile image

FGual 6 years ago from USA

Beautiful set of photos. You are so lucky to enjoy that big garden. In the summer afternoons it may be unbearable, but morning and evening it will be heaven. Enjoy.


E. Nicolson profile image

E. Nicolson 6 years ago

Lovely garden; lovely hub. I'm envious of your ability to garden almost year round. Northern Ontario had 5 inches of snow last weekend! I wasn't impressed, but I was thankful I had not put the transplants out. Thanks again for a great hub.


lmmartin profile image

lmmartin 6 years ago from Alberta and Florida Author

Thanks for your comment Fgual. I most certainly will enjoy the shade.

Hi E Nicolson. It seemed to me in Manitoba and even more so in Alberta, that the chances of late spring snow were directly related to how many things I'd planted. The Victoria Day weekend was usually the milestone for setting out the tomatoes and peppers, but on more than one year, snow came as late as June, and once in Alberta, on the first weekend of August. Yes, Florida is a big change.


Ann Nonymous profile image

Ann Nonymous 6 years ago from Virginia

You must really have a green thumb, Lynda. Everything is absolutely beautiful and lush. I recently did some yardwork in my small fenced in lawn and now after reading your hub am inspired to do more! Thanks so much for sharing your garden tales with us!


lmmartin profile image

lmmartin 6 years ago from Alberta and Florida Author

Thanks Ann -- and I do have a green thumb but thinks that's got more to do with mould growing in the heavy humidity than anythings else. Glad to be an inspiration -- always wanted to be one. Thanks again.


Dark Lucy 6 years ago

I don't have a garden of my own, but your pictures and passion for yours have galvanised me into booking a train to go and visit my mother, so that I might purloin hers for a few hours...and possibly partake of her home made rosehip wine... a lovely heartfelt and serene article.


lmmartin profile image

lmmartin 6 years ago from Alberta and Florida Author

Thank you for the fine words of praise, and enjoy your sojourn into the natural wonders in your mother's garden.


Beata Stasak profile image

Beata Stasak 6 years ago from Western Australia

Love you garden, my dear Lynda, you are inspirational like always...thank you so much for visiting my hub, did not mean to make you feel guilty or sad...sorry and I am not offended not at all...but very, very grateful for honest comment...I think my writing is just like our life, dark and bright, happy and sad...If you care about something too much you start to be judgmental...thank you my dear friend...try to be more uplifting next time...love from Beata


lmmartin profile image

lmmartin 6 years ago from Alberta and Florida Author

Thanks for coming by Beata. Will talk to you soon --- been too long. And glad you took my comments as they were intended. We cannot always focus on the dark side of life. A garden is good for reminding us of that fact.


Springboard profile image

Springboard 6 years ago from Wisconsin

Ooh, do I hate the weeding part. They seem to be what I'm good at growing at no matter my efforts to the contrary. Your garden looks great.


lmmartin profile image

lmmartin 6 years ago from Alberta and Florida Author

Thanks springboard, though my weeds flourish as well. Lynda


PegCole17 profile image

PegCole17 6 years ago from Dallas, Texas

Absolutely stunning pictures, poetry and produce. Loved it all so much. I'm aching for my former home in Florida although I never had a garden this awesome.


lmmartin profile image

lmmartin 6 years ago from Alberta and Florida Author

Thanks Peg. I'll have to do another one soon -- "my Florida garden in summer is full of huge spiders" -- and noisy day and night. Cicadas in the day, frogs and crickets at night, and birds from sunrise to sunset.


Pollyannalana profile image

Pollyannalana 6 years ago from US

Very nice of you to share, I know God would want us to share our blessing and if you shared with just one and everyone did who has been blessed, just maybe it would save many from the coming catastrophe.


lmmartin profile image

lmmartin 6 years ago from Alberta and Florida Author

Lovely thought Pollyannalana and thank you. Lynda


katrinasui profile image

katrinasui 5 years ago

I love to grow food in my garden. Actually i love gardening. Your garden is very beautiful.


lmmartin profile image

lmmartin 5 years ago from Alberta and Florida Author

Thank you. I hope you do a hub on your garden. Lynda


lmmartin profile image

lmmartin 5 years ago from Alberta and Florida Author

Thank you. I hope you do a hub on your garden. Lynda


frogyfish profile image

frogyfish 5 years ago from Central United States of America

Awesome! It was delightful to visit your special garden with all those colors, scents, coolness under the oaks...

Thank you for the walk!


lmmartin profile image

lmmartin 5 years ago from Alberta and Florida Author

Very welcome, Frogyfish


amybradley77 profile image

amybradley77 5 years ago

Voted up, again!! Wow, wonderful page, delightful flowers and plants all. Really enjoyed your use of the potted plants, I do quite a bit of that myself here in the Springs. Great pictures! A.B.


lmmartin profile image

lmmartin 5 years ago from Alberta and Florida Author

Thanks amybradley. Springs? Which ones? Lynda

    Sign in or sign up and post using a HubPages Network account.

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No HTML is allowed in comments, but URLs will be hyperlinked. Comments are not for promoting your articles or other sites.


    Click to Rate This Article
    working