Six on Saturday – Little Surprises

It’s time for SOS again. This Saturday I am focusing on six fun things I found in my garden this week. Follow this link to see more Spring surprises from gardeners around the world – http://www.thepropagatorblog.wordpress.com

One of the aspects of gardening I enjoy most – the little surprises along the way. Above is a pot with miniature pineapple, graptosedum, and flapjack kalanchoe all doing their thing at the same time.

A surprise Amaryllis I never planted. There are red and orange ones nearby.

First Blue Larkspur in my South Florida garden.

Buds on the never seen before Nigella.

A very early Glenn Mango. This tree flowered in January, it is usually March. I may have one Mango in April.

The White Geiger tree (Cordia boissieri) in full bloom. This is an oddly shaped tree after getting blown over by a hurricane. Some of the more tropical woody plants tend to grow in a tangle and this is one of them. Contemplating the pruning.

Voila!

Happy Gardening!!

Six on Saturday – Spring Prospects

March is roaring like a lion this Saturday in my South Florida garden. We had a tremendous thunderstorm yesterday that arrived with a cold front. Very little rain has fallen in the past few weeks so the precipitation was a welcome relief and the dragonflies were hard at work as I was walking through the garden. So many things to look forward to this spring.

The bud has lengthened on the Hard Cane Dendrobium Orchid in the Gumbo Limbo tree. The bud is about three feet long currently. Very excited to see the flowers on this. Purple flowers on the tree in background are from the Hong Kong Orchid tree (Bauhinia purpurea)

Flowers and petals from the Hong Kong Orchid tree have been scattered throughout the garden like fallen leaves.

The Painted Fingernail Neoregelia Bromeliad is starting to flower and is sporting a few orchids as well.

Guzmania Bromeliads starting to flower in wok container. The flowers last a few months and have been in this container for years. I rarely do anything to this.

Pineapple has set fruit, these take a couple of months to grow to edible size. Then need to be carefully watched as the critters enjoy the sweet fruit as much as I do.

Nam Doc Mai Thai Mango has set fruit. Sometimes it is too windy for pollination and no fruit is set despite flowers. I should be eating mangoes in 100 days! Fingers crossed.

That is my Six for this Saturday. Visit Jon at http://www.thepropagatorblog.wordpress.com for more SOS posts and some different perspectives on spring.

Happy Gardening!!

Six on Saturday – Patience Rewarded

I am joining the International SOS crowd this Saturday featuring a selection of of six plants, flowers and buds I have been looking forward to. Follow the link http://www.thepropagatorblog.wordpress.com to see more Six on Saturday posts from other gardens.

The Roselles (Hibiscus sabdariffa) are finally flowering! The flowers don’t last very long, the duration is morning. And that is it. I was trying to get pictures and it has to be done before lunch or they’ve closed. When the flowers began to make seed it will be time to harvest the calyxes. I planted the seed in April, the plants are now six feet and over and getting floppy.

Buds on the Medinillia cummingi. This is an orchid like plant that grows in trees in Tropical Asia. A friend gave me a rooted cutting this spring and said it would take two years to flower, so I am excited to see the buds. I think the flowers will look like pink grapes.

The succulents are finally filling the strawberry pot. A view in elevation:

The dark green plant in the top is Haworthia, the greys are an Echeveria, the charteuse one I can’t recall, though it has white flowers. The big leafed plant on the side is Flapjack Kalanchoe. The grey fine leaved plant is a native Tillandsia Bromeliad and the bigger leafed one is a Graptosedum. I keep this pot out of the rain.

First flower on a Desert Rose (Adenium obesum) I grew from a cutting.

Another pot of succulents on the porch. Purple Queen (Transcandentia pallida) in purple. Gold Moss (Sedum ‘some Florida Friendly BS’) – I find it virtually impossible to grow this Florida Friendly Sedum in the ground. Which annoys me. The big leafed plant is Flapjack Kalanchoe – it grows anywhere with well drained, sunny spot. It took ages for the Sedum to fill that little corner.

That is my Six for this Saturday.

Happy Gardening!!

Six on Saturday – Reds and Purples

Another Saturday morning tour of my garden featuring six items of interest to join the SOS crowd at http://www.thepropagatorblog.wordpress.com. Follow the link to see more posts.

I have a lot of hot colors in my garden and fall is no exception. The red and purple flowers and foliage are out in force.

The Aechmea blanchetiana Bromeliads are in full bloom. These are almost five feet tall and last for months. A neighbor gave me a start of these and said “the flowers last so long you get tired of them.” I enjoy them!

The Red Shrimp Plant (Justicia brandegeana). This is a very happy plant and flowers a lot. One of my favorite old reliables and a gift from a neighbor.

The Roselles (Hibiscus sabdaiffa) have reached five and a half feet in height and are setting flower buds. Eventually I will pick the red calyx of the flower to make tea or holiday cocktails. I planted the seed in April. Most of the plant is edible.

Purple Queen or Setcresea appears randomly in the garden. I prefer to call it Purple Queen, Setcresea sounds like a skin disease.

A new container I put together this week. The Bromeliads are cuttings from existing plants in my garden. In red, Fireball Neoregelia, varigated, Bossa Nova Neoregelia. Draped over the side is a Fish Hook Senecio and the plant in back is a Cardboard Palm (Zamia furfuracea). The Bromeliads should spill over the sides eventually.

The Milkweed devoured by Monarch butterfly caterpillars is making a remarkable comeback. I was amazed at the amount of foliage they ate – all of it and about one third of the stem.

That is my Six for this Saturday.

Happy Gardening!!

The Bag Garden

October brings the vegetable gardening season to South Florida. I started tomatoes from seed about a month ago and started work on a new concept for growing vegetables. Last year, my most successful vegetables were grown in containers and I decided to build on that. The soil in my garden is beach sand and while it can be amended, it is virtually impossible to get it to retain enough water for good vegetables. And then, there are root knot nematodes (bad nematodes) that love vegetables. They infested my tomato, snow pea and pole beans last year, slowly starving the roots by consuming the nutrients conducted by the roots, eventually destroying the plants.

On to containers!

I used 7 gallon containers to grow tomatoes last year and decided I wanted something a little bigger. I searched and found plastic pots weren’t that cheap and then I had to store them somewhere. While searching on Amazon, I found fabric grow bags, lots of grow bags. I have seen these around – but never tried using them. These are available in pretty colors, I almost succumbed to bright purple, green and orange grow bags then realized filling them with black soil mix would render the colors ugly. Basic black prevailed. I bought 8/10 gallon and 8/5 gallon bags for $25 delivered.

Here they are. Shipped folded – they open into something that looks like a handbag.

The 10 gallon bags hold 1.5 cubic feet of soil. I used the 10 gallon bags for tomatoes and bigger vegetables, the 5 gallon bags for cut flowers, herbs and smaller vegetables. I decided to try this organic soil mix, which is not recommended for use in containers. Since this is a spun fabric bag that breathes; I opted for the heavier soil mix and added a bit of compost from my pile.

During the course of filling the bags (they are a bit wiggly) it occured to me I was creating a rabbit height smorgasboard. I had leftover sections of rabbit abatement fence from last year and used the reeds like tiger (bunny?) sticks, this has worked on other delectables in my garden.

This week, I planted tomato and zinnia seedlings and seeds for bush beans, criollo peppers, radishes, dill, zinnias, sunflowers and nigella. When the weather cools, I will plant spinach, lettuces and snow peas.

The bags are currently in a half day of sun location, out of the wind, while the seeds sprout and the seedlings acclimatize. I will move these to a full sun location with a hand cart. Tried it and it works! Saves my back and the soil is stable enough to move.

The experiment continues… Hoping for bouquets of zinnias and lovely salads.

Six on Saturday – Fun Stuff

It was a chilling 85 degrees Fahrenheit in my garden this morning, so I worked outside gearing up for the fall gardening season. Taking note of some of the fun stuff that survived summer in South Florida.

The Monarch butterflies finally found the Milkweed in my garden. Here are two caterpillars munching away. Aphids are eating the other plant.

Another vegetable and flower garden experiment is at hand. These are cheap grow bags that breathe. I am certain these would be a disaster in summer so I am trying them in winter – using heavy garden soil (not made from peat!) lightened with 30 % of my oak compost. Planted tomatoes and radishes this morning. Herbs and bush beans are on the agenda next followed by cooler season peas and broccoli in a couple of weeks. I was surprised to read Nigella can be grown here in winter as well as Zinnias. Those seeds are also being planted shortly.

Coral Plant (Jatropha multifida) flowering. This is considered a novelty plant in Florida, it is pretty funky.

Pot o’ Bromeliads in the front garden. Grey varigated foliage is Aechmea fasciata, these have pink flowers like Dahlias. The burgundy with chartreuse spots are Luca Neoregelia, red foliage is Fireball Neoregelia.

Another pot in the front garden with Miniature Pineapples, Flapjack Kalanchoe and a Graptosedum hanging over the side. The pineapple plants flower and bear tiny pineapples. I use them in flower arrangements, I have heard they can be juiced but a field would be necessary to get a full glass.

Another flower to anticipate this winter. The hard cane orchid I mounted in the Gumbo Limbo tree has produced a bud. This should be very interesting.

That is my six for this Saturday. To see more visit http://www.thepropagatorblog.wordpress.com.

Happy Gardening…

Six on Saturday – Signs of Spring

I am joining the SOS gang this Saturday with six items of interest from my garden. Mine are always a bit different as I am borderline tropical in my South Florida garden. It seems odd but South Florida is still considered subtropical, though the area I am in is often referred to as Tropic Florida. My opinion, I am on the northern edge of tropical.

That said, it occurred to me the signs of spring in the garden are relatively universal. Mine include dirty feet, fertilizer in the foyer, plants waiting to be planted, garden beds renovation…and more.

To see more signs of spring – it is double SOS, Six on Saturday and Signs of Spring! Visit The Propagator at http://www.thepropagatorblog.wordpress.com

I am changing a vegetable bed to a butterfly garden. The is the anchor plant in the bed, a Sapphire Showers Duranta. The butterflies found it about 10 minutes after I planted it.

The bed, under construction. The Sapphire Showers is to be underplanted with Bush Daisy (Euryops pectinatus). Bush Daisy is a South African native that is supposed to attract butterflies and thrive in well drained soil and summer heat. I have plenty of both. This is my first experiment with Bush Daisy.

My feet are perpetually dirty. This container has been changed from spinach and cilantro to Petunia exserta and Red Alstromeria for summer. The Red Alstroemeria originated in a college friends mother’s garden went to my mother’s garden, then to another friend’s garden – who eventually brought some to me. They have suffered in either the heat or the soil; so I decided to try them in a container in part shade where I might remember to water them.

Summer veg seedlings on the porch so I remember to water them twice a day. My summer veg is a little different – the seedlings are Roselles, a Hibiscus with edible flowers. Not visible yet, Greek Columnar Basil and Blue Pea Vine for the butterfly garden.

Pots of lavendar Pentas await planting in summer containers.

Newly planted Sunshine Mimosa (Mimosa strigillosa). This is in the butterfly garden, it is a native perennial groundcover with pink powderpuff flowers and attracts butterflies.

A sign of spring in South Florida, buds on the Frangipani. The humidity has kicked up a notch, not quite to its full summer power yet, but this is a definite sign that summer is on the way. The sweet fragrance from the flowers will be perfuming my nightly forays in the backyard with the greyhounds.

My six signs of spring this Saturday, Happy Gardening!

Six on Saturday – Fruits and Treasure

I potted my mini stumpery this week, using my treasures found by the roadside. The pot is a lamp base I inherited from my parents. The stump found by the roadside has native Southern Needleleaf air plant (Tillandsia setacea) growing on it. These have purple flowers and turn reddish at some point. I added a purple Cattleya Orchid to the branch and underplanted it with Fishhooks Senecio.

My other find, the repurposed planter, had holes drilled in the bottom and was filled with Bromeliads, then placed in a dark corner of the garden. The silver one is a Aechmea fasciata; purples are Luca Neoregelias; the small green and red ones are Fireball Neoregelia. These should grow together and spill over the pot. The Aechmea has a pink flower.

My tomatoes are steadily bearing fruit. I have learned (the hard way) I have to pick them before they show too much color or the birds pick them for me. These are Yellow Pear and Riesenstrube tomatoes. I would grow both varieties again. The San Marzanos were a bit of a washout, though the soil is better when these are growing. I always have better luck with cherry tomatoes.

The mangoes are coming along. These are Glenn Mangoes, they are still dropping some of the smaller fruit. Hopefully the rest will grow to full size.

These are Nam Doc Mai, a Thai dessert mango. They are flatter and longer than the Glenn Mango and nearly fiberless. A coconut flavored Mango. Very good to eat.

The butterflies are at it again. I think these are the eggs of a Florida White Butterfly. Reviled by cabbage farmers, these beautiful white butterlies with purple markings host on members of the brassica family – this is Arugula, at the end of its season in my garden. Soon to be consumed by hungry caterpillars.

That’s my six for this Saturday. To see more SOS posts of increasing variety from the world over visit Jon the Propagator at http://www.thepropagatorblog.wordpress.com.

Happy Gardening!

Six on Saturday – New Things

It’s Saturday again, I am joining the SOS crowd at http://www.thepropagatorblog.wordpress.com. I have some new blooms in my garden this week.

This is a Zinderella Peach Zinnia – these seeds are open pollinated, the flowers are fully double, semi double and single. None of them look like the photo on the seed package.

First ever buds on the Rangpur Lime tree. My neighbor planted the seed five years ago – it is seemingly well known it takes five years from seed to fruit. I have a Cuban Avocado tree the same age, they flower until April. I am watching the Avocado daily, leaf buds so far. I am excited about limes from the garden. The holes in the leaves are from Giant Swallowtail butterflies, citrus are the larval host plant.

The Jurassic Begonia is flowering..it is really a Lotusleaf Begonia (Begonia nelumbiifolia). It is easily four feet tall.

A Ylang Ylang tree (Cananga odorata) acclimating to sun, waiting for determination of its final location. This is the flower that supplies the fragrance for Chanel No. 5 perfume. The directions stated it takes one, two or three years to flower. Waiting some more….

A new spring container planting. This has brightened my day everytime I see it. In purple, Mona Lavendar Plectranthus, the chartruese is another Plectranthus (can’t we just call them Coleus!?) Peach Impatiens, a white Begonia and a bit of Graptosedum for the spiller.

My first Nasturtiums, I kept planting them at the wrong time of year..going to try some poor mans capers from the seeds. Should be another first.

Six on Saturday-Porch Pots

I am joining The Propagator this Saturday with six items of interest from my front porch. I use my porches for propagation and composed containers. Above is one of my containers with Zinnias, Gold Sedum and Flapjack Kalanchoe for the summer.

I found a strawberry pot by the side of the road and decided to plant it with succulents. Here is a Graptosedum taking hold in the side pocket.

The top of the strawberry pot has a Haworthia along the edge. A friend gifted me this one, I am not sure which Haworthia it is, I hope it flowers.

The Neoregelia Bromeliad in the pot is in mid pupping, the mother plant on the left side is dying as the new pups takes over the container. The Graptosedums also have some offspring.

Here is a close up of the Dwarf Cheniile Plant (Acalypha pendula). This plant can be used as a groundcover here, but I have it planted as a spiller in a container.

I propagate plants on the front porch as well. From the left, a bit of ‘Song of India’ Dracaena I found by the side of the road and three Desert Rose cuttings taken while pruning bigger plants I have in containers at another entrance to my house. The Roses are slowly rooting while leaning on the wall.

That is my six for this Saturday, join the meme or see posts from around the world at http://www.thepropagatorblog.wordpress.com.

Happy Gardening!!