Six on Saturday – Mangos, Tortoises and Moonlight

I find something of interest every week in my garden and share it with others gardeners via Six on Saturday. To see more interesting items from other gardens, visit Jon at http://www.thepropagatorblog.wordpress.com.

Above is a Gopher Tortoise, ambling down my shell driveway. These tortoises are endemic to Florida, large – this one is probably 18 inches long and long lived, 50 to 60 years. They are known for making gigantic burrows and sharing them with all sorts of other animals, rattlesnakes included. I am not sure where this one lives. They are not known to travel very far from home and shouldn’t be moved unless necessary. He turned and went back up my driveway and continued down the street.

This morning I noticed the scents of summer are coming on. Several of my neighbors have large Arabian Jasmine shrubs and they are at their sweetest in the moonlight and early in the morning. I don’t have one, don’t need one! In my garden the Tropical Gardenia (Tabernaemontana diviricata) – above and Sweet Almond Bush (Aloysia virgata) – below are flowering and there are buds on the Moonvine.

I planted my summer veg – edible Hibiscus. These are called Roselles (Hibiscus sabdariffa). The leaves and flowers are edible. These grow to about four feet and the flowers are harvested in the fall. The calyx of the flower is harvested and used to make tea, jam and jelly – tastes a bit like cranberries. Young leaves may be used in salad similar to Arugula.

I have harvested and eaten my first Glenn Mango. These are good, low in fiber and have a coconut mango flavor.

This is a Pickering Mango. It is still ripening on the counter. I had these last year and they are yummy.

That’s all from my garden this week.

Happy Gardening…

In a Vase on Monday – Symptoms of Summer

A friend of mine who has lived in Florida for a long time claims Mother’s Day is the bitter end of snowbird season. Another friend says the rise in humidity make the tourists skedaddle. I think both are right, the humidity went up this week and Mother’s Day is next Sunday. Another symptom of Summer is the flowers and scent of Frangipani and Gardenias in the air.

I was standing on my back porch Sunday morning, keeping an eye on Zepp the Greyhound, who is tall enought to eat Mangoes off the tree and just might do so. He is a fruit eating dog and has been sniffing and licking the unripe Mangoes. This is our first fruit from this particular tree and I want to eat it! Anyway, while dog watching I noted the wonderful fragrance of a nearby Frangipani. The Gardenia is more fragrant at night.

A closer view: In white, Tropical Gardenia (Tabernaemontana diviricata); in yellow, Frangipani (Plumeria spp.) I have no idea the name of this Frangipani, a friend gave me a cutting and this one is fairly common around town – a small tree with pink buds opening to yellow. The purple flowers are from Mona Lavendar Plectranthus, seemingly a relative of Coleus and Creeping Charlie houseplants. I have been enjoying the flowers for months and am interested to see how they fare as cut flowers and through the summer. The purple striped foliage is from Transcandentia zebrina, one of the groundcovers called Wandering Jew. This plant is so prolific I have been making compost with it. The vase is a thrift store find.

The Mona Lavendar in situ.

Well, I love the color and have enjoyed it even if it fries in the heat shortly. It is sharing a container with Begonias, I had this odd idea Bronzeleaf Begonias made it through anything…except South Florida Summer.

Happy Gardening to all and Thank You to Cathy at http://www.ramblinginthegarden.wordpress.com for hosting. To see more vases follow the link to Cathy’s blog..

Six on Saturday – Summer Whites

It’s Saturday again and summer is still in full force in South Florida. Hot and humid. Heat index over 100 Fahrenheit this afternoon. I am joining The Propagator for his weekly meme, follow the link for more fun.

As summer is seemingly haunting me, I decided to feature ghostly summer whites. First up, the flowers on Cattleya Orchids that were buds in last week’s post.

A little fragrance for my short trips into the garden. This is a Sweet Almond Bush (Aloysia virgata) – I have been pruning it slowly, so many bees buzzing around the flowers they get angry and I have to stop.

Another fragrant flower, the Tropical Gardenia (Tabernaemontana diviricata). These are not a fragrant as Gardenia jasminoides, releasing a subtle fragrance at night.

This is (to me) a bit of an obscure plant. A Tree Spinach (Cnidoscolus chayamansa) considered a superfood – supposed to cure varicose veins! Also toxic unless cooked 20 minutes and creates intestinal distress if cooked in aluminum pans…I have not eaten any. I planted it because it is a butterfly nectar flower, supposedly supplying protein to butterflies. A friend gave this to me about six months ago as a cutting and it is 3 feet tall now.

Tropical Red Salvia (Salvia coccinea) is a stalwart in my garden. Oddly, it occurs in several other colors. The white version…

Salvia coccinea again, the pink and white version.

Hoping for some cooler temperatures next week. No more haunting from summer, only fall fun in the garden…

In a Vase on Monday – Flaming Gardenias..

Flaming Gardenias sounds like a polite curse from women of a certain age, myself included. No cursing here, except maybe about the heat or politics, but the garden is not involved.

The red flower in the arrangement is a Flaming Torch Bromeliad. These do their name justice and appear at the apex of the hurricane season – another common name is Hurricane Bromeliad. The latin name, Billbergia pyramidalis. Here it is in the garden.

The Gardenias are the tropical kind, sometimes called Florida Gardenias although they are native to India. Tabernaemontana diviracata is the latin. The shrub is at least 10 feet tall and the fragrance, subtle and mostly noticeable really late or really early in the morning. During the Five AM Greyhound romp, I am enjoying the scent of Gardenias, the dogs..Armadilloes or something. It’s a group effort.

A closer view:

The backdrop, I do love a little foliage with textural contrast. The big leaf is from a Seagrape (Coccoloba uvifera) and the ferny bits – Asparagus Fern that pops up in the garden. The cobalt glass bowl, a gift from my brother, years ago. I love it with white flowers.

To see more vases from gardeners around the world, follow the link to Cathy at http://www.ramblinginthegarden.wordpress.com.

Happy Monday and Happy Gardening.

In a Vase on Monday – Wedding Bells

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It’s June, the most popular month for weddings in the US. I put together a big vase of fragrant white flowers and greenery, was ready to call it ‘Go Big or Go Home’ – then realized there were bells on the table and the crystal vase was wedding gift from a dear friend that worked with both my husband and me at the architectural firm where we met. The bells, year round residents on the table, are temple bells my father brought back from India after being stationed there during World War II.

I started to use Bridal Bouquet Frangipani but the stems are too short for this vase. What could be better for a June bride than a big bouquet of Gardenias? A closer view:

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The Gardenias are Tropical Gardenias, sometimes called Florida Gardenias – like the temple bells on my table, these hail from India. Their botanical name is Tabernaemontana divaricata. Adding to the fragrance from the Gardenias, the white spikes are Sweet Almond (Aloysia virgata). A spray of chartreuse flowers from the Adonidia Palm is hiding in the foliage. The rest of the foliage is Asian Sword Ferns and a few errant palm fronds from seedling Sabal Palms (Palmetto sabal).

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My foyer smells good enough to hold a very intimate wedding ceremony there. The need for witnesses might present a problem due to spatial constraints.

To see more vases from gardens around the world visit Cathy at http://www.ramblinginthegarden.wordpress.com

Happy Gardening!

In a Vase on Monday – Tropical Treats

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One of the few benefits of increasing humidity in South Florida is the appearance of the more tropical flowers. Their scents perfume the garden and I am currently enjoying them indoors, sans humidity. The fragrances of tropical Gingers, Frangipani and Gardenias are floating through the air. Ever so lightly.

The vase is a Crate and Barrel candleholder from the 1970s. Bought during my husband’s first marriage and similarly has lost its mate. Though I do love it (and him) for the occasional vase. Another view of the vase:

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A close up of the flowers. The yellow and pink flowers and buds are Frangipani (Plumeria) A friend gave me a cutting a few years ago and I have no idea what the name of the variety is. This one is more fragrant at night and before sunrise (my greyhounds love this time of day, me, not so much – chasing rabbits and armadilloes are low on my life  priorities). The white flowers and most of the green foliage is from Florida Gardenia (Tabernaemontana divericata – or something like that); these are not from Florida, India I believe is their real home and they are mostly deciduous here. The pink flower is Shell Ginger (Alpinia zerumbet) – these flower off and on year round and it is nearly a pleasure to prune them for the fragrance.

 

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I am hopeful everyone has enough food and lav paper (I love the English term) – our supplies are still a bit weird. My husband, who has never joked about the quality of the paper – is doing so. And we are  both laughing as circumstances are so, well, absurd. I am hoping not to be attempting to grow Papyrus for personal use this fall.

Happy Monday and Happy Gardening.

Amy or Amelia – I answer to both.

In a Vase on Monday – The Shrimp Boat

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This vase is my grandmother’s gravy boat – it exhibits a bit of family history, my father broke it (probably in the 1930s) and was made to fix it. He glued it back together, I wasn’t sure it would hold water but it does! The patina on this old piece of Blue Willow is extreme. The inside repair is visibly cracked, the spout is deeply chipped and the glue has turned brown – I don’t use it for gravy but keep it on a shelf to enjoy the history.

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The shrimp? It’s the Red Shrimp Plant in the vase. The Red Shrimp Plant is one of the more indestructible plants in my garden. It grows in sugar sand, no fertilizer and if you forget to water it that’s not a problem. Flowering off and on year-round and it has an interesting flower. The plant is kind of gangly, but its benefits far outweigh the ganglies. Does it look like shrimp? Not to me.

A closer look at the rest of the arrangement:

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The red flowers on the left side are from the Coral Plant (Jatropha multifida) – a novelty plant by some accounts though it does look like coral. Red Shrimp Plant (Justicia brandegeana) lounging around the end with white Florida Gardenia (Tabernaemontana diviricata); yellow daisies are Beach Sunflowers (Helianthus debilis), off white spikes at the end are Juba Bush (Iresine diffusa)

I have a feeling my grandmother would think this was a pretty weird thing to do with her broken gravy boat. But, you never know!!

Happy Gardening and Happy Monday. To see more vases follow the link to Rambling in The Garden MOREVASES

In a Vase on Monday The Wrath of Grapes

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I have been dreaming of a stumpery garden for years. I was inspired last week by the Orchids I posted on Wordless Wednesday and realized the booted Sabal Palm in my garden offered the perfect opportunity to add some orchids and ferns to its trunk during the summer for establishment during the rainy season.

The  orchids:

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The booted Sabal Palm (as I remember it)

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The current state of the palm:

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These are our native Muscadine Grapes (Vitis rotundafolia) grown up the palm from my neighbor’s fence in a period of six months or so. This happened while I wasn’t looking. Welcome to Florida. My only excuse is I am not as tall as the vines and didn’t look up. Sigh.

The wrath of grapes. The grapes are pretty, but inedible (big seeds with bitter flesh). I decide to cut some for an arrangement.

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The brown pods and green ferny leaves are from Senna ligustrina, a native butterfly plant; the chartreuse foliage is from ‘Alabama Sunset’ Coleus; white flowers are Tropical Gardenia (Tabernaemontana diviricata) and with the yellow eye, Bridal Bouquet Frangipani (Plumeria pudica). I can’t resist the fragrance, especially with the sour grapes.

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In A Vase on Monday – A Southern Classic

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In college, I took a class about perennials and designing perennial gardens. The teacher was Bob Hill, he has a Siberian Iris named for him – a deep purple. He was a true Southern plantsman and longtime professor, teaching Planting Design and Plant Identification. My guess is, by the time I took his class, Mr. Hill, in his 50s, had one too many smarty pants student say something annoying. He did not suffer fools gladly and you did not want to be the fool. A good teacher, if you listened. I was lucky to have the perennials course, it was rarely taught and I sincerely doubt the powers that be would even consider such a course nowadays. God knows you don’t want to teach Landscape Architects how to landscape anything. I’ll stop there and save my opinion about Landscape Architecture schools for another time.

Here is the point! We were taught the correct color scheme for a summer perennial garden is cool blue, pale and lemon yellows and pure white. This was supposed to be cooling and soothing in the summer heat. White gardens were brought up as a possible alternative and one wasn’t supposed to use hot colors until the fall and then pastels in spring. I suspect Bob Hill is spinning in his grave if he has visited my garden from the great beyond. A garden he worked on:

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The vase is blue and white china, very popular in the South (probably approved by Bob) and I collect it. This teapot is English and one of my favorite pieces. The colors are Southern Classic per my college class. Here is a close up of the flowers:

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The blue is Blue Plumbago (Plumbago auriculata), a stalwart shrub of South Florida gardens and nearly indestructible. The bud and white flowers are from Tropical Gardenias (Tabernaemontana divaricata), the white flowers with the yellow eye are from Bridal Bouquet Frangipani (Plumeria pudica), pale yellow verging on apricot flowers on from Zinnias “HomeDepotensis”, the ferns are native Boston Fern (Nephrolepis exalata).

This teapotful of Classic Southern Summer color smells heavenly – and I do feel a bit cooler.

Hopefully, Mr. Hill understands and approves.

In A Vase on Monday – Summer G’s

 

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Summer began on Thursday here, complete with thunderstorms and wet blanket of humidity slapping me in the face when traveling from air conditioned space to the great, sweaty outdoors. Summer flowers are a consolation for the weather.

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The G’s are Gardenias and Gallardias, the Tropical Gardenias are stalwarts in my garden. They thrive under dreadful conditions and supply flowers off and on all summer long. The plant is probably ten feet tall and I struggle to reach the flowers, having jettisoned more than one across the vegetable garden by letting go of a long branch too quickly. Oddly enough, the buds last a really long time in the vase, but the flowers don’t. I love the graceful lines of the buds, when hanging over (and around) the side of a contrasting vase, the summer garden is looking fine indoors.

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The first G is Florida (or Tropical) Gardenias (Tabernaemontana divaricata), semi deciduous, in my experience and not particularly hardy to frost. The other G is Gallardia (Gallardia pulchella), a native wildflower I have been trying to establish in the Pollinator Garden. The third plant in the vase is a Penta lanceolata, a plant known to serve as a nectar plant for butterflies. I have noticed the butterflies sipping on the flowers, hoping for offspring.

Speaking of pollinators, they are back for summer – these are caterpillars of Gulf fritillary butterflies chowing down on my ‘Lady Margaret’ Passionflower vine. Lady Margaret has been perverse in her unwillingness to flower in my garden, so I don’t mind if the Gulf fritallaries eat her up.

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Here are the Gulf Frittilaries from last year. I hope to get better pictures this year,