Hortipopia on Google+

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When I went about searching for garden geeks in the world wide web the past several months I was amazed at the size of the garden/horticulture community on facebook, twitter, and other social media platforms . Now, I’m  exploring the social realm of Google+ to interact with other botany buffs and flora fanatics.

Are you on Google+? If you are, make sure to +1 Hortipopia’s G+ page!

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Ich Liebe Boktoberfest

On my fourth visit to Bok Tower Gardens, first time without the company of classmates and instructors, I experienced pure joy. The Boktoberfest Plant Sale was everything I expected it to be and a lot more. There were just so many activities planned to suit everyone’s tastes and preferences: food and beer for the foodies, plants on display in the gardens and for sale in the vendor’s marketplace for the plant enthusiasts, several examples of fine architecture for the design-minded, Bok Tower’s carillon and lederhosen-clad musicians at the Oktoberfest Show for those with an appreciation for all kinds of music, tree climbing demonstrations for the daredevils, and horticultural seminars for the life-long learners.

With so many options, what did I do? Well, I’ll let the photos tell the story…

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“Make you the world a bit better or more beautiful because you have lived in it.” — Edward W. Bok

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Autumn’s Herb Garden Collection

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Just because the leaves are starting to fall for some of our distant neighbors, doesn’t mean that all plants will be going through a dormant period. Just like garden mums, the following herbs can be grown during Florida’s autumn.

Basil (Ocimum basilicum)

Sweet basil is sensitive to the cold so this herb will fare better in a protected environment in northern FL. But let’s be real for just a second, seems like cold winters in the sunshine state is a thing of the past so I guess basil will do just fine down here. In the off chance that Florida does experience some hard freezes, your extra effort in protecting your herb garden will yield some home-grown basil leaves to enhance one (or several… I won’t judge) delicious margherita pizza. Bon appetit!

Dill (Anethum graveolens)

This herb is a proud perennial plant in Florida’s zones which pretty much means you can consider Dill a staple in your edible garden. Just make sure you plant it where it will receive the most sun light it can get. Also, being that dill pickles get their name from this herb, you may want to include cucumbers as a companion plant in your garden. I sense a homemade dill pickle culinary project is in your future.

Parsley (Petroselinum crispum)

Parsley is an annual or biennial herb that grows well in Florida and quite versatile in cultivation. The leaf parsley cultivar is used for many culinary uses including my favorite of all – Tabbouleh salad. There is also another cultivar that is commonly used for its roots, which looks similar to the parsnip with a different taste, as a cooked vegetable. For those interested in Parsley’s usage beyond the kitchen, this herb attracts some butterfly species as well as smaller birds like the goldfinch.

Thyme (Thymus vulgaris)

Thyme grows best during the summer but it can take hard freezes and tolerate drought conditions. This herb is available year round as a greenhouse crop so if you have (or can create) a greenhouse-like ecosystem in your backyard, this is the plant for you. Thyme is used fresh and dried, whole sprigs with stems or just the leaves. Also, there are medicinal values with oil of thyme commonly used as antibiotic and antiseptic remedies.

There you have it!

Go on with this knowledge and grow yourself your very own herb garden. If you’re a confident gardener, you can start the experience from the seedling stage. If you’re more about instant gratification, visit your local garden shop to purchase a tray of fully emerged herbs and plant them in your garden. Whatever methods you wish to choose make sure to share your photos on Hortipopia’s facebook page or tweet me @victorculturist.

Happy gardening!

Category: Autumn Gardening 1 Comment

The Mums Are Here!

For the past three years I’ve had the pleasure of welcoming autumn and the month of October by installing garden mums (Chrysanthemum morifolium) in the gardens of my workplace. Mums are one of the four signature crops in our seasonal rotation, and to complement their beauty, the team adds decor and hard-scape elements in the workplace’s garden beds. Some of those elements include pumpkins, gourds, hay bales, straw… Pretty much anything that gives you the sense of autumn.

Mums by the barn.

Mums by the barn.

Garden mums are also known as hardy garden mums but if you ask me, they are more fragile than robust when I’ve worked with them. I have to be extra careful in handling them because they will fall apart just by looking at them. Though, work requires me to install 2,000 garden mums in a conservatory-like interior garden (4 acres in size) with thousands of guests walking around in a given day.

Maybe garden mums are better suited outside in a smaller garden. I’ll have to try that theory out in my personal garden one of these days.

Do you have a personal story about garden mums you would like to share? Would you be so kind to offer any tips? Leave them in the comments section below.

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Central Florida Garden Scene: October Edition

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I like plant sales too, squirrel buddy.

October is seven days old already? Sheeeeeeesh.

I have my work cut out for me and I need some fun activities to balance out the work-to-fun ratio. The timing of this realization seems perfect because there are several garden-related community events planned for this month. Here are a few of them:

Boktoberfest Plant Sale: October 19

One of my favorite botanical gardens, Bok Tower Gardens, is hosting their annual plant sale infused with all of the great aspects of Oktoberfest. Boktoberfest Plant Sale promises to be more than just the average plant sale with the availability of food and drinks in this event. Done. Say no more. I’ll be there on the morning of Saturday October 19th.

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Ghost Stories: October 25

Orlando’s Harry P. Leu Gardens will be hosting an evening of eerie stories the Friday night before Halloween. Their collection of camellias and Leu House Museum will serve as the backdrop for Ghost Stories. Organizers have even included a warning for this event so it seems like the fear factor is legit. Bring it on!

Honorable Mentions: varied dates

The other outings for October don’t have set dates…

I’ve been wanting to visit the Winter Park Farmer’s Market for quite some time. Hopefully, I’ll sacrifice sleeping in on a Saturday to venture over to the good ole city of culture and heritage.

Next is the Epcot Food & Wine Festival. Believe me, Epcot makes it easy for me to make this wine and dine event into a plant-related activity. I’ll share photos to prove it.

Lastly, and don’t be alarmed, I’ll be visiting a cemetery for research related to a blog post I’m working on for Halloween week.

Happy Monday, y’all. The comments are yours.

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Blogger Fun at FLBlogCon13

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I commemorated the last day of summer with 300+ fellow bloggers. Sure — I could have gone to the beach or finished off some project around the house, but none of those activities would have given me the wealth of information learned after a full day at the 2013 Florida Blogger and Social Media Conference (FLBlogCon13).

This was my second time attending the conference. Last year’s FLBlogCon (along with the first conference in 2011) was actually CFLBlogCon but attendees traveled from all parts of Florida to be part of this amazing gathering of bloggers. With that newfound information in mind, organizers gracefully retired the C of CFLBlogCon in favor for a more geographically inclusive title – FLBlogCon.

With the prospect of the third annual FLBlogCon being the biggest ever, I made sure my friend Stephanie over at Everyday Ephee joined along in the blogging fun and I came equipped with fancy business cards to share with my new blog amigos.

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Expectations were high after last year’s conference and believe me when I share with all y’all that the team behind FLBlogCon13 did an awesome job planning the conference. Full Sail University served as the host venue and they were almost flawless at that role. The breakout sessions were informative and served as supplements for the notes I gathered from last year. The whole conference, again, was simply a fantastic experience.

It has been only been 9 days but I already miss FLBlogCon13. So to relive the day, here are the key takeaways that will encourage me to live out this year’s conference theme – Aiming for Awesome.

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142 Days

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I hope all y’all enjoyed your Summer as much as I did because the 142-day long hiatus from blogging is officially over.

Yep, that’s right. Hortipopia Gardenblog is fired up and ready for take off.

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A Grand HORT Love Affair

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My love affair with plants began when I was a tiny first-grader. Inspired by some gardening tips printed on a pack of yogurt, mom enlisted my brother and me to help start a mini vegetable garden using seeds, soil, and yogurt cups re-purposed as garden containers. Mom didn’t know at the time – heck, I didn’t either – that her son’s newfound appreciation for plants, would endure the test of time and lead him to his current career as an up-and-coming horticulturist.

As exciting as that garden project was, though, I thought of it as nothing more than just a cool hobby to partake in with the family. Six-year-old me had other career aspirations, like growing up to be a Pizza Hut pizza maker. Ambitious, right? Oh, to be a kid again. The middle school years ushered in another career change (to become a news anchor) and high school was dominated by my dreams of becoming a meteorologist, a recording engineer, or working in the film industry.

But on one fateful day, I changed career paths once again…

For the first time in my young life, I had actually enjoyed studying for something and was bothered when an adult told me to stop.  The adult was my FFA adviser acting as the chaperone for me and my classmates participating in a series of Florida FFA 2004 State Career Development Events (CDE).  Being part of the Floriculture CDE, I was studying through flash cards with notes and images of all the possible ornamental flowering plants which I would be tested on. So here I was, surprised at my reaction to stop studying plant facts and features. The reemergence of my love affair with plants solidified on the day of competition when a 17-year-old senior new to the CDE competition circuit armed with an entry-level FFA Greenhand degree outperformed and outlasted the formidable students from Florida’s rural heartland with a Top 15 individual finish. On a chapter/team level, the suburban kids representing an FFA chapter from Miami placed third in the state. Now, working with plants was not just a cool hobby to pass the time. The signals were clear: I was fascinated with the subjects of floriculture and horticulture, and kicked butts and took names during the competition. On that day, the love affair with plants revealed itself as a promising career path in horticulture.

If the seeds were sown on my first garden project, and if a seedling emerged from the soil with my participation in the floriculture competition, then my completion of a bachelor’s degree in 2010 and subsequent start of a career in the horticulture industry represents a plant taking shape with its roots spreading underground.

This blog, a web-based garden project I call Hortipopia, will serve as a platform for me to express my love for gardens, nature, and green spaces open for the public’s enjoyment. And from this day onward, Hortipopia’s general purpose is to serve as fertilizer for the figurative plant specimen I consider my life.

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Gal Pal Wants a Garden Wedding

I’ve reached the age when engagement and pregnancy announcements are all the buzz in my news feed. Don’t get me wrong, I’m sincerely happy for each and every one of those lovebirds and parents-to-be.  But out of all those notifications from the past year, the one which stood out the most was from my long-time gal pal Casey.

Months have passed since the news broke on Facebook.  She also made time to share the news personally over a lunch date in a Winter Park pastry shop.  Sweet, right?

It doesn’t seem like much but I’ve experienced a series of wedding invitation snubs over the years.  Why do I care? I think it’ll be a hassle to get fit, dress up, and find myself a strictly platonic date — but you know what? The blood, sweat, and dedication will all be worth it to witness the momentous day.

In the off chance Casey’s engagement didn’t excite me enough, she’s commissioning my garden design [slash] horticultural expertise for her backyard wedding in a maybe-soon-to-be purchased home. Even if Casey and her fiance’s plans to own a home is pushed back for later in life, I still believe a garden-themed wedding will be a strong contender for any type of venue.

Though planning for the wedding may still be in the developmental stage, it’s never too early to start researching, right? I wish college-aged me had that kind of work ethic.

Anyways… Let’s get to business. Here’s what I found, so far, from the lovely world wide web (mostly from a single source… Thanks Ruffled!).

1920’s Garden Wedding

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 [Hat Tip: Ruffled / Wedding Location: Salisbury, UK / Venue: Larmer Tree Garden / Photos By: Lisa Dawn]

Peacock Garden Wedding

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[Hat Tip: Ruffled / Wedding Location: Austin, TX / Venue: Mayfield Park and Preserve / Photos: Gabe Aceves]

I’m sure there’s more out there for me to explore all things garden-style weddings. If you can offer a tip with links or suggestions, I’d greatly appreciate it.

Until next time…

Category: Garden Projects 4 Comments

Celebrate Earth

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Happy Earth Day, y’all!

The treehugger [slash] green-thumber in me believes in celebrating our planet on days beyond April 22.  For some of my buddies, it’s easy to keep mother nature low in the priority list.  I’m looking at you and your F-450, Bubba.

Stow away your guilt because I have a list of local (Florida) and national organizations you can follow or down-right commit yourself to commemorate the greenest of all holidays. Sidebar: does it count as a holiday if I had to show up to work this morning? Ugh.

Here’s my list…

Sierra Club: Founded by John Muir, America’s most renowned and influential naturalist, Sierra Club is perhaps THE organization to join if you’re serious in your pledge to Earth.  Sierra Club is a national organization advancing environmental causes from the grassroots level and there are state-level chapters you can join as well.

Florida Native Plant Society: The mission of the Florida Native Plant Society (FNPS) is to promote the preservation, conservation, and restoration of the native plants and native plant communities of Florida.  I’m sure there are similar societies like FNPS beyond the sunshine state.

American Community Gardening Association: If you’d rather get down and dirty with your new best friends, the American Community Gardening Association (ACGA) is a fantastic resource to build community and expand your social network (sans the interwebz) through the power of gardening.

So there you have it! Three out of a multitude of associations to help you perk up your green credentials.  Feel free to add any of your favorite organizations, or share your tips on how to become a better ambassador for our planet, all by leaving a comment below.

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