Garden Bloggers Foliage Day -Succulents

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I have a number of succulents in my garden. I like them for their interesting foliage and textures. Some I planted and some just appeared. The plant above tends to materialize in sand seemingly out of nowhere. And can’t be moved or disturbed, the one charmingly located itself on the front edge of a bed and got to stay. The common name for these Kiss Me Quick is also charming, a native Portulaca (Portulaca pilosa).

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This is another favorite with a mad texture, a Pencil Cactus, Euphorbia tirucalli ‘Firesticks’. I have a few of these in the garden as propagating them is as easy as breaking a piece off and sticking it in the ground. Instant plant and difficult to kill. The Pencil Cactus is underplanted with a Soap Aloe (Aloe saponaria) both thrive in my unirrigated Rain Garden baking in a bed between the house and driveway. Here is the Soap Aloe:

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The Soap Aloe blooms quarterly with orange and green candelabras.

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This is a Graptosedum a friend gifted to me. I have no idea what variety it is, but again this thrives in an unirrigated bed beside the mailbox. In the same bed is the Blue Agave below, happily growing with only rainwater and the occasional trim to remove the spiny tips. This is the type of Agave tequila is made from, again grown by a friend.

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The Agaves have an Architectural character to them that I love.  Here is a Green Agave, I found growing behind my garbage cans and rescued.

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Last but not least, another really easy to grow plant, the FlapJack Kalanchoe. These are popular as summer annuals but live year round in my garden.

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In A Vase on Monday – A Fine Kettle of Heliconia

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A fine kettle of fish seems to be an expression indicating you have gotten yourself in a dilemma or odd situation. The dilemma involving this old copper kettle was how to put flowers in it – it is so old there are holes in the bottom. Problem solved by cutting down a milk carton to fit inside the kettle. The result – a fine kettle of Heliconia. No fish whatsoever.

The copper kettle is a favorite of mine, bought at a flea market in the mountains of North Georgia possessing such a patina I feel as though I am the kettles steward rather than owner. Obviously handmade and repaired many times it sits in different places around my house, currently in the foyer filled with flowers.

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Our oh so dry spring has turned into a rainy summer, normal for South Florida. The tropical plants are loving it and the Parrotflowers (Heliconia psittacorum) are blooming like mad. I had to cut a bunch and then decided to use coppery and white hues in the kettle. Joining the Heliconia are natives Galllardia (G.pulchella) and Beach Sunflowers (Helianthus debilis) hanging over the side. The white flowers are tropicals, bigger flowers with yellow centers are Bridal Bouquet Frangipani (Plumeria pudica) and the buds hanging over the sides are Florida Gardenias (Tabernaemontana divericata) Not sure why they are called Florida Gardenias as they are from India! Rounding out the kettle as green foliage accents the Asian Sword Fern.

Here is my interesting/weird tidbit for the week. This is the bud of a Night Blooming Cereus Cactus – the white fuzzy thing, first ever, can’t wait to see the flower.

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In A Vase on Monday – Butterfly Power

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Florida by any account is filled with natives. The people are very proud of staying around where they were born and advertise their ‘native Floridian’ status with car decorations, bumper stickers, decals, etc. The plants, not so much. Exotic tropical plants from around the world are much more popular than what grows here naturally. I am, of course, as guilty as the next gardener for using exotic tropical plants.

In an effort to help native pollinators and power our Butterfly population I am planting a native wildflower border.  The border is about halfway finished and the resulting butterflies have been fantastic thus far. In the border I have seen Monarchs, Gulf Fritillaries, Zebra Longwings and several orange and yellow butterflies I have yet to identify. I am not sure what happened to the Black Swallowtail caterpillars that were in the post from last week. Hopefully they appear in the border soon.

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This vase started with an interesting branch I pruned from the native Firebush (Hamelia patens var patens). I decided to continue the native wildflower theme and used the firecracker flowers in the middle from the Firebush, to this I added Tropical Red Salvia (Salvia coccinea), the purple flowers are Beach Verbena (Glandularia maritima), the royal blue bits are from Porterweed (Stachystarpeta) – people call this Vervain, which sounds a lot better. At the bottom of the arrangement, the mixed colored flowers are Gallardia (Gallardia pulchella) – a flower I have grown to love in a short period of time. The small sunflowers are Beach Sunflowers (Helianthus debilis)

I am currently finding myself lurking through the shrubbery trying the photograph the elusive Butterflies. Here are the first successful images, a Zebra Longwing tasting the Firebush.

 

In A Vase on Monday -Summer Bouquet

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I was missing last week due to attending a family wedding in Atlanta. As unusual as it seems, I found no vases along the way, although late spring was in full swing and all the gardens and especially the wedding arrangements were glorious. And pure white.

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I arrived home to find Memorial Day truly marking the onset of summer. As if on cue,  precipitation started and the weeds burst forth with a joyous and bountiful overtaking of the garden. I am still feeling surly about this and have bought a vast quantity of landscape fabric and cardboard to choke them out. Fifty square feet at a time. Fingers crossed for a victorious outcome. I have, thus far, never defeated the weeds in summer.

I was pleased to see my native plants and the tropicals flowering prodigiously with the onset of wet weather. For whatever deeply buried design reason I am shy about combining these plants – this week I have thrown caution to the wind and come up with the madly mixed Summer Bouquet.

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An old friend of mine, from design school and embarrassed to be ‘a posy poker’ (in reality a very talented designer of floral arrangements and gardens) would have called this a plop arrangement.

Go into the garden, cut whatever strikes your fancy to a similar length and plop into a vase. Simple. My plop this week is in a smoky grey glass vase from the discount store. The members of the cast include in white, Sweet Begonias (Begonia odorata), the daisy shapes are Gallardias (Gallardia pulchella), native to Florida; deeper red and white flowers are Red Shrimp Plants (Justicia brandegeana), The orange trumpets are from my native Firebush (Hamelia patens var patens), red and yellow flowers are tropical Parrotflowers (Heliconia psittacorum); the blue flowers are Porterweed, another native. In green, Asian Sword Ferns, true native plant enthusiasts think this fern is evil. The good side reappears with the red spikes from the native Tropical Red Salvia (Salvia coccinea)

I may eventually recover from my mixing natives with tropicals neurosis as I kind of like this plop. Here is my latest unusual creature discovery. It is a Black Swallowtail Butterfly caterpillar eating the end of my Parsley. I hope to see the Butterfly.

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In A Vase on Monday – Finally

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I have succeeded in coaxing a Lobsterclaw Heliconia to flower. Finally. It has taken four years and two different types. This particular one is Helconia rostrata, native to South America. I found two years ago at a Master Gardeners plant sale and snapped up. It was doing fine until Hurricane Matthew blew by last year and bent it into 2 plants on an angle. Then I forgot about it for a while and let the dried up leaves hang on the plant instead of trimming them off. Viola, the secret, don’t trim the dead leaves. I read somewhere the flowers are easily cut off during trimming and now I believe it. The other one, a Heliconia ‘Splash’ four years old steadfastly refuses to flower, but it was always trimmed. Now it looks awful and I am hoping for some flowers! The Splash flowers are twice as big as these, apricot with wine colored splashes.

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A closer view. The Heliconia is accompanied by a flowering branch of a Sea Grape (Coccoloba uvifera). The Sea Grape flowers eventually form a long chain of blueberry sized ‘grapes’. One of my greyhounds likes to eat them, but I don’t.

 

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Happy Monday

In A Vase on Monday – Mother’s Day Melange

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Putting together a Vase for Monday usually makes me think of my mother. I am sure she was the genesis of my interest in gardening. This is her crystal Rose Bowl filled with a mixture from my garden. The wood thing in the background is a cake form I picked up in Japan some years ago, used for making Mung Bean Cakes, I think. I like the cake pan, but can easily forego the cake. My friend who lived in Japan called them Modeling Clay Cakes.

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The Rose Bowl is packed with flowers. The orange tubular flowers are from the Firebush (Hamelia patens var paten), I have used orange Ground Orchids (Epidendrum), white Tropical Gardenias (Tabernaemontana divaricata), Sweet Begonias (Begonia odorata), a few Parrotflower Heliconia (Heliconia psittacorus), Red Shrimp Plant (Justicia brandegeana), the seed stalk is from a Dracaena reflexa, and a bit of Asian Sword Fern.

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Here’s the latest thing of interest from my garden:

 

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The Nam Doc Mai Mango tree is fruiting! Hoping for some Mango Melange soon.

In A Vase on Monday – Delicate Tropicals

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Sunday morning found me installing a crushed shell walkway in my Wildflower/ Salsa Garden. Shoveling shell and wheelbarrowing it around was taking its toll, so I sat in the shade of an old Rosewood tree in our backyard to drink some water and cool off. Finding a seat on the garden furniture strewn about waiting for the garden to be finished, I nearly turned myself and the chair over on the not quite even ground. When finally situated  I ended up face to face with the flowers of the Rosewood tree, lovely, delicate and creamy white.

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These are that kind of Rosewood (Dahlbergia sissoo) used to make fine furniture. They also make fine street and shade trees in many tropical places. Just not Florida. In Florida they are considered invasive because they do too well and take over. The Rosewood came with the house, part of it has been removed once or twice and the other part is not on my property so I am stuck with it for the time being. I had never noticed the delicate flowers before and decided to try to find some similar flowers to incorporate into a vase.

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The orange flowers are from a Ground Orchid my neighbor gave me. This is some variety of Epidendrum, a member of the not sure which group of plants. This little orchid has amazed me, for some reason an Armadillo has a death wish for it and has dug it up countless times, I keep replanting it and it is bravely sending up flowers. As I was installing irrigation and using pins to hold the tubing down,  it occurred to me I should pin the Orchid down. Next on my list!

The vase is a thrift store find and the last bit of foliage is from Asparagus Ferns.

The bird visitors this week were some slightly blurry Ibises. They seem to be eating grubs from the lawns. I frequently see Ibis walking along the tops of hedges eating insects.

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Happy Monday!