How I Got Started

I started Butterfly gardening many years ago. My yard has been a progression over the years, and has made many transformations. Twenty years ago I experienced Hurricane Andrew. My yard and house were destroyed. We decided not to replace the pool screening and open up the backyard and put in some landscaping. That was the official beginning of my love for gardening in South Florida. I added a beautiful water garden years ago, and have been adding host and larvae plants for pollinators, mostly for the butterfly, for as many years as I can remember. I had my yard certified as a Natural Habitat, through the National Wildlife Foundation. To have a natural habitat you need to provide and meet certain requirements: 1. Provide a food source, 2. Provide a water source, 3. Cover, 4. A place to raise young. I try not to use any pesticides in my yard. I vermicompost and recycle as many of my food scraps as possible. If I had more land I would have a huge compost bin to recycle all my yard cuttings. Basically, I try to lessen my carbon footprint on this earth. In my own little world or backyard I try to provide an ecosystem in my water garden, provide birdbaths, birdfeeders, hummingbird nectar sources, feeders, puddling areas, host plants and nectar plants for butterflies and other pollinators. I am hoping to raise everyone’s awareness of the importance of saving our Butterflies, Blooms & Bees. Without them our world and food source will be in trouble. I hope you all enjoy my journey. I am not a Master Gardener, or Master Beekeeper, an Entomologist, or Journalists. I am simply a Backyard Gardener who is trying to lessen her Carbon Footprint of this Earth.

I hope you enjoy my blogs.

Friday, September 28, 2012

iPhoneography Part 2

I participated in the second week of the iphoneography class. We downloaded several other applications for this week’s class, HDR+Camera, Camera+, Bracket Mode, True HDR, and Auto Painter. We again were able to use the garden as our artistic canvas and got to take pictures in the butterfly garden. What better place to take pictures but in the butterfly garden! I was present many years ago when the garden dedicated this garden, the” Lisa D. Anness Butterfly Garden” This garden showcases plants that attract and sustain butterflies throughout their lifecycle. I did take notice that throughout the garden Native Porterweed was planted almost like a groundcover with the larger or taller plants planted sporadically throughout. I think as I redo my garden I will consider the native porter weed as a ground cover.

We again chose one of our pictures to use different “apps” to artistically alter the photo. Here is the picture of one of the passion vines in the butterfly garden. Look how cool each picture turned out. I could almost imagine a progression of pictures on a wall showing the changes in each flower. I really enjoyed this class, but for the purpose of my blog, I decided learning basic photography would serve me better. Maybe Santa will get me a nice DSLR camera for Christmas. I have been a really good girl!

Here is the picture of the Passiflora.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Should we be Building an Ark?

I was watching the Today Show on NBC this morning and heard Al Roker announce that Miami has had 30” of rain over normal this year. I was surprised because I know it has been raining like no other year I can remember, but I had no idea we could be 30” over normal. That’s a lot of rain. How many times have I been saying in my blogs how much it has been raining? I am surprised that the local news hasn’t emphasized this more. I heard them say last week that West Palm Beach may have the rainiest year on record, and Miami the 4th rainiest. Well it is official Miami has had 79.44” normal is 48.34”, Ft. Lauderdale 50.92” normal 48.08” and Key West which is normally dryer than the rest of the state had 41.81” normal 29.07”. Thirty inches of rain is a lot of extra rain!! No wonder my yard is so overgrown! I have felt so badly for my bees all year having to endure all this rainy weather. The other morning when I woke up they were in a frenzy. I thought at first robbing was taking place, but realized that they were taking an orientation flight from being cooped up from all the rain over the weekend.

I am hoping all this rain will go away soon. As a Miamian at this time of the year we are anxiously awaiting our first cool front. I just got done watching the weather, but it doesn’t look like we will experience that cool front anytime soon. As you know, all this rain has made my yard a jungle. The yard clean-up started on Monday. I have one yard guy working the clean-up instead of the crew that I was suppose to have on the weekend. He is doing a very good job, but it is a lot of work to do for one person. I get so depressed when everything gets cut back. I am also frustrated with myself that I haven’t been able to maintain the yard better. The bougainvilleas are always an issue in my yard. There is a part of me that would love to take them all out and replace them with something more manageable, but they do look so beautiful when they are in bloom. Several of them needed to be removed because they are falling over. They get too top heavy and the roots pull out of the ground. With the bougainvillea cut back the fence that is already in very bad shape looks even worse. Things right now are not looking very good in my back yard, but in a few months when things grow back I know it will look better. I am venting because I am just so frustrated. I keep remembering how beautiful everything looked in the beginning of the season and now everything is just a mess. I am sure I am going to need to replace many of the annuals and I really need to mulch again. I am not sure our finances will allow it all to be done the way I would like it to be done. Hence the frustration! The front yard is looking better we have a very large tree that has been totally overgrown for a while. Ruben cut the tree back and there is actually sunlight hitting the front of the house. I will try to get some pictures of the progress and destruction as the week progresses. Right now I am just trying to adjust to the changes and realize how much work I have to get it looking pretty again. First thing I need to fix is the fence, I should be able to nail some replacement boards so esthetically it looks better, but I also need to protect my little Chihuahuas from escaping through the open slots.

This is week two of the yard clean up. It is taking longer than I expected. I have spent a small fortune with just one person doing all the work. A crew would have been a lot quicker. Ruben has done a great job cleaning everything up. The problem is that with everything so overgrown, much of what I planted in the spring is looking a little leggy and a little spent. I am hoping that with just a few new plants I can make the yard look a little better. With the garden cut back and sunlight able to reach the plants hopefully the garden will come alive again. Whenever you start a project like this whether it is yard work, or house construction, there is always something that pops up and costs more money. I realized that the water garden was not working. I just bought a new pump in July. With things cut back I examined the situation more closely to discover that the old yard crew had weed wacked through the electrical cord of the pond pump. I was able to take it back to the pump store and they repaired the cord very nicely, and inexpensively. Then when I went to hook it up I also discovered a leak in the flexible tubing that carries the water up to the waterfall. That is not something I can fix. Now I need to call the pond guy, Ernesto. More Money!! It is always something. Next life I am coming back rich instead of beautiful. I am not saying that I am beautiful but I know I am definitely not rich or famous. Ruben is moving the Cat Palms from the West side of the house to various places throughout the yard. This is where I plan on putting my first time ever vegetable garden. The west side of the house looks pretty bad. There are gas lines and electrical lines running along the course of the wall. The air conditioner compressor is also located on that side of the house. The Cat Palms were disguising all the ugliness, but now it is all out there for everyone to see. I can make it more esthetic by planting a few Sunflowers or placing a trellis to have some vegetables grow up and hide the wall.

I have a lot of work to do in the yard. I think I learned a lesson which is never let things get overgrown again. Don’t be afraid to cut things back, after all, this is South Florida with all the rain we have had things grow very quickly. I have to remember that my garden is an ever changing environment with Mother Nature in control, and the gardener learning how to manage the change! I look forward to these changes, especially planning my vegetable garden.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

iPhoneograpy Class

On Saturday I took a class at Fairchild Botanical Gardens on iPhoneography. Since I have started writing this blog I have been researching cameras to help enhance my photography. God knows it could use some help sometimes. When I read different blogs on the internet one thing that really stands out is how beautiful some of the photography is in so many blogs. Many years ago when my children were younger I did take a few photography classes. At the time I was totally into scrapbooking. For many years, as the children were growing up most of the pictures blended together, Christmases, Birthdays, etc. all looked alike. When I started scrapbooking I was more aware of taking better pictures. I do think my photography improved. I have never owned an SLR or DSLR camera. I came very close to buying one this summer. Then I saw this class advertised in the newsletter for Fairchild Botanical Gardens. I decided that I would wait and take the class to see what I learned, since I take most of my pictures in my backyard with my iPhone. The nice thing about the iPhone is that it is always with you, it is very accessable. I hardly ever go into my backyard without my phone. I believe that one day the point and shoot camera will be obsolete, and my concern about buying a more expensive DSLR was, would it be accessable when I needed it. When I was reading about the different SLR cameras, quite often the iPhone was rated as one of the best cameras. I have learned that the iPhone is actually a powerful and artistic tool. It’s like having a camera and darkroom right in your pocket.

In preparation for the class I needed to download several applications for my iPhone. There are over 10,000 photography “apps” available. For this class I needed to download Hipstamatic, Perfect Photo, Dynamic Light, Blender, HDR+Camera, and PhotoStudio. The best thing about the class is that we had the gardens as our background. What a beautiful place to take photos. It wasn’t a beautiful day outside, as par for the course this year it was raining. There was a tropical low and a cold front that had stalled over South Florida, so again there was a deluge of rain coming down. It was raining inches per hour. Luckily, the weather did clear just long enough for us to go outside to take some pictures.

The instructor for this class, Shirley Drevich was very informative and her photography was amazing. So what are these “apps” all about? First of all I had no idea that these “apps” were so readily available. Welcome to the world of digital photography. I was truly amazed that my iPhone could provide such powerful tools. Basically from what I understood, Hipstamatic provides different lenses, film, and flashes for hundreds of different effects. According to Wikipedia, Hipstamatic is a digital photography application for the Apple iPhone. It uses the iPhone's camera to allow the user to shoot square photographs, to which it applies a number of software filters to make the images look as though they were taken with an antique film camera. The user can choose among a number of effects which are presented in the application as simulated lenses, films and flashes. Several of these are included with the application, while others may be acquired through an in-app purchase. Hipstamatic is part of a retro trend in photography, which has seen a rise in the popularity of cheap and technically obsolete analog cameras (such as Lomography and Polaroid instant cameras), as well as software filters and smartphone software that emulate such cameras.

The class continues next Saturday when we will learn to blend some of these effects to create and enhance our original photography into artistic photography. Here are a few of the pictures that I took at the garden that day. I will also show you the original photo and then the enhanced photo. Since this was all new to me I am not totally sure that you will be able to see the difference, but I think you can. The original photo taken with Hipstamatic is enhanced by itself. I think you will be able to see the differences.

I look forward to next week’s class and I hope it helps my photography for my blog.

Visit My Website:

Or Visit My Etsy Shop: