Seeds In A Box


Every collection has a starting point.

When Pokemon was all the rage in the early 2000’s, I remember purchasing a starter set of cards to fuel my newly acquired (albeit short-lived) obsession of becoming a pocket monster trainer. Oh to be a teen with a vivid imagination again, right?! The same was true for the numerous collections I’ve started—I began with just one item. The days of Pokemon are long gone. Nowadays, my sights are focused on greener things. I have a garden space to maintain and a garden blog to keep updated so it’s only right if I start a seed collection.

I have two seed packets that are officially part of my seed saving project. The first is a packet of wildflower seeds provided by “Fresh from Florida” and the other packet of seeds—watermelon, to be exact—are one I received in the Epcot Flower & Garden Festival earlier this year.



I have three reasons for starting a seed collection and they all revolve around the purpose of my garden blog: to make the garden experience more fun, social and meaningful. My FUN reason was the easiest to identify, collecting stuff, especially seeds, is just F-U-N fun. From a social aspect, my seed saving project will empower me to contribute to seed libraries and maybe attend and/or host seed swaps in my hometown. By doing so, I hope to meet and greet other beautiful folks of the garden community. The last reason is more meaningful: I want to help with seed conservation by saving the most valuable seeds.



In addition to the seeds I currently have, I have a small cardboard storage box and a tiny empty vial that contained mints. What I need: resealable plastic bags and additional empty mint/candy containers (e.g., altoids tin) to re-purpose as a pocket seed bank.

How will I go about acquiring seeds?

Seed libraries, seed swaps & seed exchange groups, out in nature (responsibly), other gardeners, my own garden, independent small garden shops, local plant sales, and produce purchased from the grocery store. I definitely don’t want to just buy seed packets from garden centers (that takes away from the fun).

So there you have it…

My very tiny self-made seed collection starter kit. Let the seed saving fun begin!

Further Reading
MrBrownThumb: Guide to Saving Seeds
University of Illinois Extension, Cook County: Seed Collecting and Storing (PDF)

Category: Seeds 1 Comment

Wordless Wednesday: More Photos from Key West

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Plants of the Conch Republic

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My first visit to Key West happened in late July, in the peak of summer. Even though we are days away from welcoming autumn, I can’t stop raving about the southernmost city of the continental USA. I did the typical touristy things like the sunset celebration on Mallory Square; I strolled down Duval Street, and even waited in line to take a group photo by the Southernmost Point (most touristy thing ever). Snorkeling and a sunset “cruise” off the coast of Key West was the weekend’s main event, a moment with friends I will remember forever. On a personal level, though, the highlights of my trip to the Conch Republic mostly belonged to its flora. In between visiting high-profile attractions and partaking in other activities, I made sure to pause and enjoy the plant life.


If you really want to get to know a city, you need to walk its streets. That’s why I wandered about the key in a brief late afternoon garden walk, right after checking in to the guest house my friends and I were staying in. Key West is known for its relaxed way of life and I was pleased to sense it for myself on the very first day. You see it in the city’s motto (One Human Family) and flags of the Conch Republic proudly displayed everywhere. You feel it from the residents of Key West, welcoming guests from all walks of life. But the laidback lifestyle is truly personified in the private and public garden spaces visible from the streets. Each of the garden spaces were unique in one way—from its whimsical elements displaying the gardener’s personality to the use of specimen plants—but were all unified in the same types of plants used and how each garden contributes to Key West’s carefree state of mind.


Plants gone solo

In regards to Key West’s flora, I knew the basic stuff; like its hardiness zone number is 11 and the climate is subtropical. Chances were very possible that I would find the same types of plants I’m used to seeing in Miami. My assumption proved to be true by the following plants:


Roystonea regia – Royal Palm: Royal Palms are just more regal in Key West. They love it here and I can’t blame them, I fell in love with Key West as well.

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The Fabulous Names of Caladiums


Three years ago I heard a delicate voice call out a goofy name. “Miss Muffet… Where are you Miss Muffet?” It was the morning of my first participation in a color bed installation project at work. The horticulture work room was bustling with my fellow co-workers scrambling to find and unload the plants we needed from large mobile racks filled with caladiums.

“Where’s Miss Muffet?” The delicate voice belonged to one of my beloved co-workers. Bless her sweet heart. I thought to myself: Why are we looking for Little Miss Muffet? She obviously sat on her tuffet, right?

But then I found Miss Muffet and it wasn’t the little girl from the nursery rhyme. She was one of the many caladium varieties supplied to us for this aforementioned color bed install project. Since then, I haven’t gotten over the fact of how hilariously clever caladium variety names are.

Like for real… Here are some of my favorites!

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Category: Plant Du Jour 2 Comments

Blooming Plumeria


Every gardener has a success story, and if the gardener is blessed with talent, he/she will have several living achievements proudly displayed in their gardens. My lone garden achievement of the season is a Plumeria. This beauty is a gift my mother received from a co-worker. This member of the Apocynaceae plant family was a tiny little thing when we received it in 2009, coming in a 1-gallon container and was just shy of 14 inches in height. Since then, the Plumeria has gone through several moves in two different forms (first, transplanted a couple times into bigger pots and then in three different gardens as we moved from one part of the Orlando area to another), even when I finally settled in the current place, the Plumeria still had to endure several months (and by several months I mean a couple of years) in the mud pit that was my garden. The Plumeria has lived through some tough times but I have never seen it bloom since its first flowers emerged in 2011.

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It’s appropriate that the Plumeria waited until Gardenyard was beautified to bloom for the first time in forever. Now the Plumeria stands taller than me (I’m a tiny 5’8”) and is currently in a 7-gallon plastic container.

With these impressive stats, I believe my lovely Plumeria has earned an upgrade to a ceramic pot. Don’t you think?

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Poinsettias in July

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There are only green leaves now but these poinsettias will get their signature colorful bracts in time for the holiday season.

It’s July. What better time to pause and reflect the quick passage of time between Christmas past and Christmas future than during Christmas in July. In the southern hemisphere, Christmas in July is an excuse to spread holiday cheer during their winter months, since December for them is in the height of summer. I can sympathize with my fellow neighbors below the equator. In Florida our winters seems just as warm as our summers, albeit with less humidity and thunderstorms. The tourists love our winters but I really don’t because I love the cold air.

Christmas in July takes on a whole new meaning in my garden. Though they are still off-season, my poinsettias from last Christmas are making a nice recovery by showing off their dark green leaves.

Here are the poinsettias I have out back. Yes I still have them on display only because I have no space for a fancy greenhouse or a garden work bench. Sadface.

Knowing how fast 2014 is flying by, I’m sure the poinsettias’ colorful bracts will emerge in no time. For one thing, it’ll be easier to identify the varieties once that happens in the Fall.

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5 Things You Will Want To Know About Hortipopia

Hello friends!

Happy Sunday! Long time, no see, eh?

It’s been a busy hiatus for me. While I was away from the blogging world, adult life (read: work!) preoccupied most of my time. I spent some of my free time brain storming about Hortipopia and what I wanted from this experience to be for me and all of you who visit. After spending too much time sorting things out, I created an “About Hortipopia” page that pretty much sums up my objectives by answering the question: What kind of garden blog is Hortipopia?

In addition to the about page, I created a list of five things you’ll want to know about Hortipopia Gardenblog (HPGB for short).

Are you ready for the Q&A? Sweet! Let’s get to it.


What is Hortipopia?

One of the first challenges in creating a blog is coming up with a name. I must have gone through a hundred names before HORTIPOPIA came to mind. The first part of the name (HORTI-) derives from the latin word hortus, meaning garden. HORTI- is also associated with the word horticulture which is the part of agriculture that deals with the art, science, technology, and business involved in plant cultivation.

The second part of the name (-POP-) was included in the name to suggest the blog will be about gardening with a POP of life, culture, and everything else. The “everything else” will be covered later in the blog post.

Last but not least, (-IA)! The final part of the name HORTIPOPIA originates from two words that best describes my love affair with horticulture and life in the garden – Euphoria and Utopia. My beliefs are that the garden experience shall always be a euphoric one and that my garden, or any other green space, must serve as my utopia.

So let’s recap: I work in Florida’s horticulture industry to earn a living, my desire to grow my interests in leisure gardening led to the creation of this blog, and my belief that gardening must lead you to a euphoric state of min. Yes – I think Hortipopia totally deserves to be this blog’s name.

What do I mean by garden experience?

To most members of the garden community, gardening is more than just a chore, job, or hobby – it’s a way of life. The best way for me to possess that attitude is to consider leisure time in the garden a euphoric experience. An experience that will be well-rounded as my interaction with plants will not be exclusive to gardens since plant life does exist in natural and urban green spaces as well.

Why am I garden blogging?

I love plants and I’ve had blogs in the past so why not marry both by creating Hortipopia? All silliness aside, it’ll be a great way to document my garden adventures and connect with other gardeners and bloggers.

So in a way, I want Hortipopia to be more than just a garden blog. I’d like it to be a community of hort nerds, garden geeks, flora fanatics, and botany buffs who appreciate the fact that plants are EVERYTHING!

God Save The Kingdom Plantae!

What will I feature in Hortipopia?

Here’s a sample of the topics and features I will cover in this blog. Keep in mind that the names may be changed and the list is not extensive.

Beautifying Gardenyard: I have to tend to what I love so you can expect more Gardenyard beautification to take place over the summer.

Plants beyond Gardenyard: This feature will focus on plants I discover outside of my garden. I’ll wander into other gardens (private and public), visit urban green spaces, and explore plants in their natural habitat.

Gardenyard’s Plant Collection: A page and topic that will serve as an inventory of my garden’s plant collection

HPGB Seed Bank: A page and topic that will document the seeds I’ve collected.

HPGB Plant ID: This will be a multifaceted feature of different blog entries where I’ll identify plant species by their name and include some of their unique characteristics, a separate page that will serve as a reference for everyone’s plant identification needs, and a community-driven hashtag on social media (mainly twitter and facebook) to encourage a friendly tweeter help identify a plant for a fellow garden geek.

What is Gardenyard?

For those of you who are new, Gardenyard is the name of my small enclosed garden. Continuing the theme of blending words for a name, Gardenyard is a unification of two words, garden and courtyard.

So that about wraps everything up for now. If you have any more questions, please feel free to leave it in the comments section below. Better yet, find me on twitter (@victorculturist) and let’s start a conversation!

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Wordless Wednesday: The “Random Junk I Found While Removing Soil” Edition

Why was I removing soil? Refer to this post.




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Category: Wordless Wednesdays 1 Comment

Gardenyard Plant ID: What’s In The Reclaimed Barrel Planter?



After all the heavy lifting and tamping to get Gardenyard’s ground set into place, I mustered up some more effort and visited my local big box retail garden center to select the first crop of plants for my container garden. The stone floors needed some softening and plants were the best way to do it.


The yellow from these Marigolds act as the pop of the color.

The yellow from these Marigolds act as the pop of color.

Liriope 'Variegated Aztec' is joined by a Dusty Miller on the right.

Liriope ‘Variegated Aztec’ is joined by a Dusty Miller on the right.

Trachelospermum asiaticum 'Summer Sunset' will be filling and spilling once it grows in.

Trachelospermum asiaticum ‘Summer Sunset’ will be filling and spilling once it grows in.

The Arizona Cypress (Cupressus arizonica) brings some much needed height in this container garden.


In addition to the reclaimed barrel and plants, I relied on some other container gardening basics. The first and most important is soil. I chose a garden potting soil mix for this task. The other basic is aesthetic in nature and consist of three steps: thrill, fill and spill.

That’s it for now. I’ll offer more tips and advice as I get more comfortable getting dirty in the garden.

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Beautifying Gardenyard


We’ve reached the point of the year when a person reflects on his/her decisions made within the last 11 months. In spite of all the setbacks, 2013 was a slight improvement from 2012. There are two highlights that made this year worthy of fond memories. One being the creation and gradual emergence of this blog and the other is the process of beautifying my cherished courtyard. Both moments equally share the top billing of 2013 highlights but I will focus my attention on the courtyard beautification for the sake of this post.

Earlier this year I shared garden inspirations for the small yet cozy enclosed space my family and I acquired when we moved in to our current townhouse.  For those of you who need a mental refresher, here are the five ideas highlighted in The Gardenyard Project: use of vertical space, paver stones, containers, furnishings, and plants.

After going through a half dozen weekends spread across a seven-month period, the foundation of my beloved courtyard is laid. For this initial phase of the beautification, I focused more on paver stones, containers, and plants. Here are several photos, starting with some taken before beautification, to assist me in telling the story…

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Category: Gardenyard 3 Comments
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