Gardening at Sunrise

I spent a restless night at my mom's place while she got over a nasty case of food poisoning, and woke up to the sound of songbirds before dawn. I watched the slash pines through the windows as they slowly shifted from black into gray before taking on a purple glow. My mom is a landscape artist. She will tell you that slash pine trees are in fact purple around sunrise and sunset, and if you paint those trunks brown they would look boring, or worse, unnatural. As my eyes adjusted to the purple trees, I decided to take a walk.

Since the "Rainforest Garden" is thirty minutes away at my mom's house, I have never seen it at sunrise, instead relying on my mom's descriptions of the experience. Can you imagine seeing your garden in a whole new light? Literally? (Disclaimer: photos were taken with my phone on short notice. It did pretty well with low light levels though.)

Some of the first botanical friends to greet me were the morning glories, bright eyed, bushy tailed, and ready to strangle the garden alive. I've always dreaded the sight of morning glories since they tend to put a choke hold on the gingers and cannas despite their cheerful dispositions, but my mom's mornings are brightened by the sight of them through her window. Since that was why I started the garden to begin with, I suppose they'll stay.

After dodging doggy deposited land mines on the way to the front yard, I took a peek at my blooming Nidularium rutilans under the oak tree.

The courtyard garden has been dry lately, but that hasn't discouraged established plants like the bottlebrush and blood lily from blooming. These bromeliads can handle drought, but I have to flush out the cups so the water doesn't become stagnant and cause vase rot. I hate vase rot. Speaking of vases...

The blooms don't even end when I step back inside! We always have some cut flowers to enjoy up close. My mom made a nice arrangement with three reed stem epidendrums in vases stuffed with fig leaves, and promptly discovered that she was allergic to the milky latex that seeped from the cut leaves. The second arrangement was just a medley of different blooms around the garden at the time. Liatris, callas, Aechmea gamosepala and others were grouped together on a nothing more than a whim the other day. Flowers were meant to be enjoyed!

From inside, I watched gulf frittilary butterflies scout out passionflower vines to lay eggs on. They always try to rear their offspring at the tips of each vine so the caterpillars will have young growth to munch on. Sometimes the butterflies are deterred by what looks like a prior visitors eggs, but are in fact decoys that the vine produces to deter the butterflies! Isn't life grand?

Meanwhile, back home on the balcony, plenty interesting things are happening.

I'm starting lots of new plants in used takeout trays via seedlings and cuttings. They're excellent for keeping the medium moist until growth has begun, and they stack easily while you're waiting for something to happen. You can see Tipuana tipu and Tabebuia seedlings sprouting in one tray, and behind it are some vigorously growing orangeberry and starfruit seedlings. The other pots contain Crinum moorei and what I think is the offset of a spear lily.

These plastic trays are also nice for rooting rhipsalis cuttings to go in my Rainforest Drops! This specimen has established itself by now and is putting out roots all willy-nilly in the humid summer air. I've found that when I start small cuttings in the takeout trays with sphagnum, they get a head start before growing in the rainforest drop.

My balcony is my garden, just like the garden at my mom's house. I love to start the day with watering can in hand, visiting each plant one by one like a hummingbird. Gardening on my balcony in the morning is similar to gardening at my mom's house, except the singing birds are replaced by scurrying lizards, and there are no purple trees. With luck, in a few years my little seedlings will be trees too.


  1. Oh I love mornings in the garden, and both your gardens are looking great. Your rainforest ball is so cute - I keep meaning to gather materials together to make one of those....

  2. What a beautiful day and such wonderful things to look at! Everything looks wonderful.

  3. The courtyard garden is looking superb Steve! I always find gardening first thing in the morning pleasurable :)

  4. No better way to start the day than an early morning walk through the garden!

  5. Great pictures! Early morning in my gardens is my favorite time too. I try to go out there every morning in the summer before work and enjoy for a short time. The problem is that I never want to leave and go to work! Every Monday I cut a bunch of flowers and take them to work to enjoy for the week. I like to bring a part of my gardens to work with me. :-)


  6. Mornings in the garden are great. I hope your mom is feeling better now. Nothing like beautiful surroundings to help hasten the healing process.

    I, too, use plastic take out trays for my seeds. They keep them moist, safe from insects and rodents and using them this way lessens my guilt over having plastic in the first place.

  7. The courtyard garden is looking particularly lovely in the morning light. If your tree seedlings all take you're going to need a bigger balcony!

  8. The garden definitely is different in the early morning hours when the world is still peaceful. Your courtyard garden is looking very nice. It sure doesn't take long in Florida for a new area to become established. Hope your mom is feeling better.

  9. What a gorgeous post! All is perfect!!!

  10. Your mother pasture is charming. Do you use gas/oil/diesel or electricity and/or a push mower? Otherwise is ecologically incorrect.


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