Not Shopping for Tropicals

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This afternoon I have been glued to the television watching Hurricane Michael make landfall about 500 miles north my garden. The sheer size of these storms always amaze me. I can feel the hot breath from Michael flowing through my garden if I step outside. Praying for those in the storm’s path.

Earlier this week I went plant shopping – heading south to the numerous nurseries supplying South Florida. Much of the plant material grown in this area is too tropical for my garden, though I enjoy looking. This is ‘instant effect’ plant material, the above Heliconia is about 15′ tall – prices are not displayed.

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This is a hanging basket filled with Medinilla myriantha, 3 or 4 feet wide and tall. These plants are famously difficult to keep. Usually a very expensive flower arrangement.

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This is a pink and yellow unnamed Heliconia psittacorum. I could probably grow this one, but couldn’t lift the container it was in!

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Huge, grey Bromeliad.

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A Starfish Plant, variety lost to me.

 

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Tiny Aloes.

I bought nothing at this nursery, but gained an idea for a palm tree with boots I was planning to remove (growing into power lines)

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I can have the top removed and keep the trunk, then tuck Bromeliads, Ferns and Orchids into the pockets left by the boots. Like this:

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A stumpery – in tropical mode.

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In A Vase on Monday – Fall, Actually.

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I am aware I have been, well, complaining about the extreme subtlety of seasonal change in South Florida. As I was putting this arrangement together today, I realized this really reflects the seasonal change in my garden. As the weather cools, a few more plants produce berries – other plants flower. With the exception of the varigated foliage (which is year round and (I know, weird) a foundation plant. The balance of the arrangement is what comprises fall color in South Florida.

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The red flowers anchoring the arrangement are Turks Cap (Malvaviscus penduliflorus); the berries are from the Firebush (Hamelia patens); the off white flowers are Wireweed (Neverlearnedthe latin); yellow and red lobsterclaws, Bromeliad Aechmea blanchetiana flowers; dark foliage is from Copper Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare ‘Purpurea); amazingly still living after supporting several generations of Swallowtail Butterflies and my flower arrangements; varigated foliage is from Mammey Croton (Codieum ‘Mammey’)

Last weeks vase is still holding up and displays more of Florida’s actual fall colors.

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Not bad for Desperately Seeking Seasons.

In A Vase on Monday – Many Miniatas

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The garage sale Bromeliads continue to amaze me. The red flowers are from Aechmea miniata, a Bromeliad I stumbled upon at a garage sale a few years ago. Five bucks is my limit for a plant unknown to me, as this one was when I found it. Bromeliads tend to run anywhere from 12 dollars for a small unnamed mystery plant at the Big Box stores to $100 and up for a named, big, lush specimen. The problem with these named, expensive plants is generally no one can tell you where they will grow “move them around til you find a place it likes” or “I think it flowers”. I am too frugal for this sort of nonsense and think if a plant is sold for prices like that you should get some reasonable directions. Or at least knowledge of whether it flowers. More Florida gardening nonsense. The market here demands nothing.

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I have been trying to decide if the flowers look more like trees or broccoli. Neither, really. The flowers are crunchy and last about two weeks in a vase. The green swirling fern is a cutting of Asparagus Fern I twirled around the base of the Miniatas.

20180819_132030-1The Miniatas are flowering madly and have been for a month or so. The tree that shades them got a fairly major pruning after Hurricane Irma last year.  The normal olive colored foliage has burned from the sun (or lack of rain) but has been bravely sending up flower after flower. Time will tell what happens next should be interesting, the other Garage Sale Bromeliads are producing pups – I should have hundreds of dollars worth of Bromeliads shortly. Unfortunately, I hate having garage sales.

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Sad news from my garden this week. I lost my sweetest, spotted Greyhound to bone cancer on Friday. Farewell, faithful Charles.

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Charles

In A Vase on Monday – Gift Bag from Zeus

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Zeus, I am told, is the Greek God of Rain. He gifted my garden with several gentle showers this week. I, in turn, was rewarded with flowers from my thirsty garden. The glass handbag was a thrift store find I happily filled with flowers.

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The white flowers are Bridal Bouquet Frangipani, made especially happy by the rain and flowering in earnest. I cut these to use in arrangements as they are very prolific, but a bit different in form from other Frangipanis that tend to be small, deciduous trees. These are a little more than a foot wide and planted to screen my neighbor’s fence. The fragrance is subtle, first thing in the morning when the dew is burning off the flowers – the scent (in front of my garage) divine. The foliage is also semi evergreen.

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The rest of the flowers are:

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From the left side: in red and yellow Parrottflowers (Heliconia psittacorum); in orange, Mexican Bush Honeysuckle (Justicia spicigera); pink are Rain Lilies (Zephyranthes, no clue on species, but another Greek God); red flower, Miniata Bromeliad (Aechmea miniata, from last week). A few of my favorite indestructible ferns for accent.

Happy Gardening and I hope Zeus is kind to all gardens this week.

In A Vase on Monday – Tropical Blues

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July in South Florida can give any gardener the blues. The temperatures have been in the mid 90s with a similar amount of humidity and it has basically refused to rain here despite the calendar’s insistence this is our rainy season. The tropical plants with big leaves are scorching, actually the weeds anywhere not served by our irrigation system are scorching, withering weeds incite a gleeful response from me and offset the gardening blues to a certain extent.

The summer blooming tropicals I have sited properly (always a good trick) are coping well and flowering, the others are, well, scorching. My blue vases are from the happy tropicals! The tropicals not getting quite enough water are really blue. And scorched.

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The big red, green and yellow bud is from Heliconia rostrata, Lobsterclaw Heliconia. I decided to cut this just to see how long it will last. Waiting for the flower to open seems to shorten it’s vase life. It will be interesting to see if it opens as it usually takes a week or so to get this:

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The small footed vase holds some Firebush flowers and Parrottflowers (Heliconia psittacorum) The Parrottflowers are having a tough year and seem a bit shrunken. Drought does not defeat Firebush here and they are feeding my butterfly brigade. Here is Zebra Longwing enjoying the nectar.20170608_152406-1

The blue violin holds a Miniata Bromeliad, the huge tree that shades this ground got a haircut from Hurricane Irma and yes, they are a bit scorched, but have graced me with a flower accompanied by a bit of Asian Sword Fern.

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The blue vases are all heirlooms, the violin belonged to my grandmother, the bottle is from my mother and the footed vase belonged to my in laws. No one was scorched.

That I am aware of.

In A Vase on Monday – Winter Wonderland

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Winter Wonderland usually brings images to mind of snow and fir trees kissed with white frost. The Wonderland of Winter has a whole different meaning in South Florida. It caused me to  have the oddest thought yesterday, after looking at the 10 day weather forecast, I thought “I wish February would last forever” Suffice it to say we have clear blue skies and the temperatures are nearly perfect for spending time outdoors.

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The Hong Kong Orchid (Bauhinia purpurea) tree is in full bloom in my front yard, so I liberated a few purple blossoms. The white flowers are from a Sweet Begonia (Begonia odorata), a few Asian Sword Ferns for foliage and the purple green leaves in back are from a Moses in the Cradle (Rhoeo discolor, I think somebody changed the botanical name- generally people call them Oyster Plants) also blooming and I can see the reason for the name.

Moses?

Purple Oyster Plant

On Sunday I celebrated by going to a plant sale at a local botanical garden. My karma was so good (may need to save more Greyhounds!) the first plant I set my eyes on was exactly what I was searching for – a Pickering Mango, a dwarf mango tree that fruits reliably and after only a couple of years in the ground.

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While this was a great find, the deal of the day could have been this Bromeliad. Another unnamed Neoregelia – for $5.

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I am not sure the photo does it justice, the Bromeliad is probably two feet wide, chartruese and hot pink and budding.

Winter Wonderland, indeed.

In A Vase on Monday – Completely Different

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And now for something completely different! The theme from the past week or so around here. It has been oddly, well, cold. The greyhounds are perplexed, a lovely nap in the backyard sun has turned unpleasant and I have had to rethink my attire.

My personal definition of winter clothes – short sleeve shirts instead of tank tops, shoes, never and God forbid, socks. The middle of last week I found myself in my closet, searching for long pants, sweatshirts and shoes and the detestable socks. I haven’t put coats on the dogs yet, they are somewhat offended by canine jackets.

The good news, warmer weather is returning tomorrow. We had a low temperature of 38, nothing was damaged that I can tell. The garden still has Salvia, Beach Sunflower, and some other sort of regular things flowering – I decided to look for something different.

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I am not sure how much more different one could go. The plants in my different arrangement are in Salmon, a Bromeliad flower, Aechmea weilbachii forma viridisepala, Yah! a new friend from my garage sale collection-bought a couple of years ago for a few dollars, having no idea what the flower might be..In off white, Sansiveria (Snake Plant, Mother In Laws Tongue, etc),  The burgundy striped foliage is from a Ornamental Pineapple, Striped foliage from a Pandanus spp, fluffy fern – a volunteer Asparagus Fern.

Another different scene from South Florida, the Winter Vegetable garden, a few people have asked about the Potager, so far, so good. We have from the left potatoes, garlic, radishes, green beans, red peppers, tomatoes, snow peas, papayas. I am planting spinach, arugula and romaine lettuce next week.

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