Six on Saturday. Summer Tropicals

I decided to join the Six on Saturday meme at The Propagator’s blog this week. I live and blog in South Florida. Having been down here a while, I still think a lot of the flora is weird but cool. Here are six tropicals blooming in my garden this week:

Flaming Torch Bromeliad. A common and colorful addition to our late summer gardens.

Billbergia pyramidalis.

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Beautyberry, a native shrub with magnificent fruit.

Calliocarpa americana. 00100lPORTRAIT_00100_BUbeautyberry

One of my very favorite Bromeliads, reliable and so funky. And a great cut flower.

Aechmea miniata.

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Late summer brings Cattleya Orchids to the garden, the next ones will be huge, white and fragrant. These grow in my neighbor’s Hong Kong Orchid (Bauhinia) tree.00100lportrait_00100_burst20190710131119708_cover

Another common summer flowering Bromeliad. Little Harv.

Aechmea ‘Little Harv’

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More Florida funkness, this is a Jatropha – called Coral Plant usually and considered a novelty, flowering off and on all summer.

Jatropha multifida.

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Happy Gardening Saturday and thanks to The Propagator for hosting.

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Funky Florida Flora – Flaming Torch Bromeliad

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Right about the time the Hurricane season begins to peak, as in today! The Flaming Torch Bromeliads start to flower. Some people call these Hurricane Bromeliads for that reason. Most people call them Torch or Flaming Torch Bromeliads, the botanists call them Billbergia pyramidalis.

These are common passalong plants in Florida and possibly the most common Bromeliad in the landscape. Hardy to 20 degrees, reliable flowering and blooming in groups lasting for a couple of weeks in late summer makes this a good plant to gift a friend.

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Foliage is on the yellow side of light green, making a good contrast with the bright flowers. This plant is best sited in well-drained partial shade and will happily climb trees, converting from a terrestrial to an epiphytic plant.00100lportrait_00100_burst20190820135843791_cover.

In A Vase on Monday – Jar of Weeds

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This is my final Jar of the August garden, featuring the weeds- an inevitable feature this time of year. It has rained just shy of 11 inches in my garden since the first of August. The weeds are thriving and having a joyous outbreak of reproduction. ACK.

Recently, the mailman (a native of the Florida Keys) informed me that his mother would have pulled out all of the Beach Sunflowers in my front yard, pronouncing them weeds.  He thinks I am a gardening radical. These are the yellow daisies in the vase. I cultivate them in masses in my garden, they grow with or without irrigation in plain sugar sand and form a mat that reduces the less desirable weed population. I trim them with electric hedge clippers to maintain a low mass. 20190107_102831-1I suppose beauty is in the eye of the weed holder. Beach Sunflowers surround a Blanchetiana Bromeliad.

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A closer view of my weeds: the white daisies are Bidens alba, a native Bidens prolific (producing an average of 1200 seeds per plant) to the point of making it difficult to like the flowers as well as the bees do. The pinkish-white, small, lily shaped flowers are from Florida Snow (Richardia grandiflora) – a Brazilian native that reportedly blew in with the hurricanes from the early 2000s. A low growing perennial weed that infests lawn creeping through the blades of grass then flowering until it looks like snow on the lawn. I have pulled a zillion of these, they also reseed and will grow from cuttings (lawn mower cuttings)

Tropical plants also get loose in Florida gardens, purple foliage is from Oyster Plants or Moses in a Cradle (Transcandentia spathacea). I happen to like this plant, but it reseeds with vigor and is considered invasive. Purple striped foliage is another Transcandentia I like, T. zebrina also appears unbidden in shady areas. Ferns are Asian Sword Ferns, spread by birds and tending to take over our native Boston Fern. The red tipped leafy foliage is from Surinam Cherries (Eugenia uniflora) also called Pitanga. Pitanga is a small red cherry-like fruit with an (in my opinion) not so tasty tang of turpentine spread everywhere by grateful wildlife. The wispy flowers at the top are from a plant I am not recalling the name of, have a carrot like taproot and produce hitchhiker seeds that stick to my pant legs and greyhound noses. These have different colored flowers and can be pretty – but, are always asked to leave the garden if the soil is moist enough to pull the taproot out.

Here are the three jars of August – appearing in the same repurposed pasta jar – The first, flowers:

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The second, tropical flowers:

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And this week, the weeds.

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You may notice the weeds appear in more than one jar.

Maybe I am a gardening radical.

In a Vase on Monday – Jar of August Tropical Version

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My repurposed pasta jar makes its second appearance filled with the tropical side of August in the garden. This month has been steamily perfect for growing tropical plants; more than 6 inches of rain has fallen thus far and it is currently pouring down. The greyhounds are a little grumpy. The lightning show offshore at night has been keeping everyone awake.

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A closer view, the colors were a happy gardening accident. I do not consider myself a pink person, but there it is. Foliage in the background is two ferns that freely go wild in Florida. Asparagus Fern (Asparagus aethiopicus) and Asian Sword Fern (I think) – both are considered invasive – it would take a bulldozer to rid my garden of these. I have pulled out cubic yards of them.  The purple and silver leafy foliage is Wandering Jew (Transcandentia zebrina) – if there is a more politically correct common name, I am not aware of it, though I do wonder about all the wandering and why Jews? The yellow and pink spikey flower in the back is from one of my garage sale Bromeliads. I have no idea what it is; the foliage is very thorny and is grey with a pink cast. The purple flowers are Ground Orchids (Spathoglottis ‘Cabernet’) dreadful name but a lovely little perennial that flowers off and on year round. The last pink flower is Shell Ginger (Alpinia zerumbet). In white with yellow centers Bridal Bouquet Frangipani. The Frangipani keeps flowering and I keep cutting them, I love the fragrance and added some Tropical Gardenias (Tabernaemontana diviricata) to the jar for some additional punch. Recently I ran across a Ylang Ylang tree (a major part of Chanel No. 5 perfume’s allure) Finding they will grow in my garden I am plotting the perfect location. Not a particularly lovely tree, but the fragrance from the flowers is heavenly.

Both Jars of August for comparison:

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Last week

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This week – Tropical version.

Thinking I should do a jar of weeds next week. Some are attractive and a major component of the garden in August.

 

In a Vase on Monday – August in a Pasta Jar

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The Dog Days of Summer are upon us. August dawned with steamy tropical heat punctuated by thunderstorms followed by a deluge of rain that emboldened and enthralled weeds overtaking the garden. I try to keep all the seed heads picked off the most noxious weeds in hopes of containing their numbers. It seems things make seed earlier here taking advantage of the rainy season to establish a new generation.

My Beautyberry (Calliocarpa americana)  is packed with fruit and was blocking access to our irrigation controller so I trimmed a branch for this vase. Floridians make jam with this – I may have enough berries this year, although the universal reaction to the jam (from non-Floridians) has been ‘it doesn’t taste like much’. Probably best left for the birds. And I won’t have to engage my botulism phobia. This is one stem of a 6-foot shrub.

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The vase is an old pasta container that long ago lost its lid. While cutting flowers, it occurred to me I was getting a real taste of late summer in Florida without any of the imported tropicals. I left Frangipani, Heliconias, Orchids, and Bromeliads flowering in the garden.

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The contents of August in a jar: purple and green berries; American Beautyberry (Calliocarpa americana); white flowers, Sweet Almond (Aloysia virgata); orange and yellow spikes, Bulbine frutescens; red spikes, Tropical Red Salvia (Salvia coccinea); red star shaped flowers, Heirloom Pentas (Penta lanceolata); tubular red/orange flowers, native Firebush (Hamelia patens var patens); Daisies at the base; in yellow, Beach Daisies (Helianthus debilis); in apricot, some mysterious Zinnias and some native Gallardia (Gallardia pulchella). The Gallardia was thoughtlessly cropped out by me – it can be seen in the picture at the top of the post.

Maybe next week I will have a Tropical Jar of August!

In a Vase on Monday/ Not Hotel California

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Mirrors reflect the foyer ceiling

Pink Champagne bottle in Grandmas ice bucket

And she said, ‘we are all prisoners here of my Bromeliad vice’

Here is the real lyric verse from the song ‘Hotel California’ by 70s American Rock Band, The Eagles. I hope someone else remembers it.

Mirrors on the ceiling,
The pink champagne on ice
And she said, ‘we are all just prisoners here, of our own device’
And in the master’s chambers,
They gathered for the feast
They stab it with their steely knives,
But they just can’t kill the beast

I always thought Hotel California was a weird song, very evocative, but weird. This is another of my spa/hotel lobby arrangements.

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The pink flower is ‘Little Harv’ Bromeliad (Aechmea ‘Little Harv’) Little Harv was developed in South Florida in the 1970s and is a popular and easy to grow perennial. Ironically, Little Harv is relatively tall reaching about 3 feet. The Dwarf Pineapple (Ananas spp) is another Bromeliad I used in a vase a few months ago, it dried in this downward curve. The background is a Tropical Gardenia leaf (Tabernaemontana divaricata) and some Wild Asparagus fern. The pink bottle is from Champagne a friend brought to share at a dinner party and the crystal ice bucket is Fostoria from my grandmother.

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Here is Little Harv in bud and full bloom. I cut this one today as it is in a bit too much shade and our lawn mowing crew is very likely to run it over.

 

 

In a Vase on Monday – Palmy Weather

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Palmy weather? It is indeed. Some, not all of the palms in my garden are flowering. The pale green flower in the center of this vase is from the Adonidia or Christmas Palm. I am not sure why so many Floridians feel compelled to cut the flowers off their palms. This one will bear red fruit at Christmas that looks like ornaments for the tree, hence the name. And the flowers are so unusual and eventually provide food for wildlife. More unsolvable mysteries for the Florida gardener.

Here is the flower as it first appeared, I cut it because it was broken somehow and hanging onto the trunk by a thread. My friend Eddie grew the palm from seed. It is now 10 feet tall and flowering, I am so pleased and can’t wait for the Christmas ornaments.

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A closer look at the flowers. In pale green, the Adonidia Palm (Adonidia merrillii); the orange flowers with berries are from Firebush (Hamelia patens); long burgundy foliage is from Blanchetiana Bromeliad (Aechmea blanchetiana) and the burgundy leaves are from Copperleaf (Acalypha wilkesiana)

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In addition to being Palmy, it is also pretty balmy here in South Florida. So far, I am enjoying the summer and the butterflies, mostly in the late afternoon looking out the window whilst having a glass of wine on the sofa.

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