Six on Saturday – The Pits

This Saturday we are in the midst of the peak of hurricane season in South Florida. The cicadas are singing, the temperature and humidity are soaring, the plants are wilting and so am I. Oddly, the hurricanes are in New England and Mexico. Last weekend, Tropical Storm Fred dropped eight inches of rain at my house. The garden was happy for a while, but is thirsty once again. We are definitely in the pits.

The pit above is much more interesting and from the garden. I finally got one Nam Doc Mai mango from my tree. This is a Thai mango bred to eat for dessert, featuring a small pit, fiberless flesh and a coconut mango flavor. The pit is nearly as long as the mango (6 inches) and about 1/4 inch thick. Here is the mango with a cherry tomato. My husband and I ate most of it for dessert last night. Yummy.

Another interesting observation in my steamy jungle this week – the formation of new shoots on the Hard Cane Orchid I installed in my Gumbo Limbo tree this winter.

Another view:

The Orchid is putting out roots and hopefully will grow into the tree trunk and flower this winter. The sprays of flowers are supposed to be five feet long. Hopefully. I mounted the Orchid by tying it onto the tree with old pantyhose. There is a bit of Orchid soil mix in the hose that has supported the plant while it grows in. I was about to remove it when a swarm of large ants came bursting out..the hose are still in the tree, ants and all.

Another new shoot.

A new butterfly in my garden this week. This is a Mallow Scrub Hairstreak on a Sweet Almond Bush (Aloysia virgata) flower. A tiny butterfly, maybe an inch wingspan. Picture taken while crossing my fingers. The Sweet Almond is very popular with bees and butterflies.

That is it from the pits. To see more SOS posts follow the link and visit Jon, http://www.thepropagatorblog.wordpress.com.

Happy Gardening..

Six on Saturday – New Friends

I’m joining the Six on Saturday gang again with some new friends and growth in the garden. I select plants that butterflies and I enjoy. Above is a Gulf Fritillary that probably started out life as an egg on my large Passionfruit vine and has hung around the garden to sip nectar from the Tropical Red Salvia and Sapphire Showers Duranta.

A black swallowtail butterfly caterpillar. This guy started life as an egg on a parsley plant in a pot on my front porch. He ate all the parsley and I had to import some from another pot to feed him until he made the transition.

The Black Swallowtail caterpillar starting to form a chrysalis.

The transition complete, the butterfly will take 10 to 20 days to form. The chrysalis hangs from the basil plant in the same pot.

I finally caught the scent and flowers of the Moonvine. These are pollinated by night flying moths, I haven’t seen the moths.

A Red Shrimp plant (Justicia brandegeana) well known for attracting butterflies and hummingbirds. I rarely see a hummingbird here, they usually go down the west coast of Florida.

That’s it from me this Saturday. Hoping to see more butterflies shortly. To see more SOS posts visit http://www.thepropagatorblog.wordpress.com

Happy Gardening.

Six on Saturday – Mangoes and Monarchs

This is the first Monarch butterfly caterpillar in my garden. I have been attempting to grow its host plant, Tropical Milkweed, from seed since last summer. It seems planting the seed in late summer is the wrong season and late spring is the time. The Milkweed isn’t very big and this caterpillar is in its final instar before pupating (I measured and the length is right). During the final instar they eat like crazy, so I put some canned pumpkin out and the catepillar ate that until it dried out and then went back to the Milkweed. I pulled up another Milkweed and he or she ate that one, too. The final instar is supposed to last 3 to 5 days and I have been watching 4 days, so I hope the transition is soon.

I am joining the Six on Saturday crew today – six items of interest from your garden. To see more posts, visit http://www.thepropagatorblog.wordpress.com.

Before I wrote my post this morning I went to the beach for a dose of Vitamin Sea. Here is a shot of the Sea Oats..

The Mangoes in my garden are teasing me and not quite ripe yet…here is their current condition. They look like weird Christmas ornaments. I put net bags over the fruit to keep squirrels and greyhounds away. One of my dogs loves fruit and is tall enough to reach them.

The other Mango, Nam Doc Mai, put on a huge flowering and growth spurt and has dropped most of its fruit. This one in known for flowering more than once a year. So, hopefully another flush will happen.

Finally, a dreaded insect in the garden. The Lubber Grasshopper. These things have been eating holes in the Bromeliads. They can be drowned in soapy water or squashed. Vile things.

That sums up this Saturday in my garden. I bought a few butterfly plants last weekend and planted some new seed for some obscure plants I could not buy – Mountain Marigold (Tagetes lemmoni) and Perennial Leonitis (Leonitis leonurus)

If anyone grows these two I would love to hear about it!

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 – Odds and Ends

I had another Papaya for breakfast this morning. Several people commented about the size the Papaya tree attained in six years. Not sure everyone realized what a weird thing it is. It may be 20 feet tall, I am not sure. The tree in the background is a Thai Dessert Mango (Nam Doc Mai) it is about 10 feet tall.

I am told it is okay to chop the trunk of the Papaya off and it will grow another set of leaves and the fruit will be easier to reach. I am going to give this a try after the fruit is gone. The last crop of fruit was pulling the tree over with its weight.

The Mangoes are flowering and setting fruit. This is a Glenn Mango flower.

The fruit setting on the Glenn Mango.

The Bromeliads are making pups. November through March is the optimum time to move them around. This is a Little Harv Aechmea. It is so sharp I am moving them to a place where I won’t walk by and get stabbed.

My first Atala Butterfly sighting this year. These butterflies appear in January and June. He or she was scouting my Coontie Cycads, their favorite host plant. Still looking for the eggs.

Gardening experiment number bazillion. I find the tiny seed starting trays too fiddly and decided to cut water bottles in half for pots. This has worked well, making mini greenhouses. I have Calendula, Basil, Spinach and Cilantro in these. I can cut the bottles to get the seedlings out and then recycle.

That’s my Six for this Saturday. Check out http://www.thepropagatorblog.wordpress.com for more fun from other gardeners.

Happy Gardening.

A Week in Flowers – Butterflies on Friday

It’s Friday and the sixth installment of A Week in Flowers. I love butterflies in the garden and have been planting more (and stranger) plants to attract butterflies. The results have been fun to watch.

A Swallowtail nectaring on a Heirloom Penta.

Zebra Longwing on a Firebush.

White Peacock on Ixora berry..

Sulphur on White Geiger tree.

Gulf Fritillary on the Heirloom Penta..

That’s my Flowery Friday with Butterflies. To see more flowery posts, visit Cathy at wordsandherbs.wordpress.com.