In a Vase on Monday – Fresh as a …

A Beach Daisy.

South Florida is experiencing another cold spell. I have been covering summer (ha!) vegetables and flowers at night due to temperatures hovering in the high 30s (F). One more night of cold seems to be on tap, followed by a warm up. The more tropical plants are sulking and browning, leafy plants like Heliconias look particularly unhappy.

Some of the native plants are looking, well, fresh as a daisy. I don’t recall the Beach Daisies (in yellow) ever looking so good in January. They usually flower madly during the summer, get moldy, and are asked to leave the garden (by the wheelbarrow load) due to their scraggly appearance. The new year seems to be presenting new gardening challenges. I will cover my plants one more night and hope for some zinnias in the coming weeks. There are buds!

The cast of characters:

Daisies first! In yellow, Beach Daisies (Helianthus debilis); in white, Bidens alba, sometimes called Spanish Needles; blue spikes, Mystic Spires Salvia; white and coral spikes, another happy native, Tropical Red Salvia (Salvia coccinea); finer textured white spikes, Sweet Almond Bush (Aloysia virgata).

Fluffy flowers and needle like foliage are from Muhly Grass (Muhlenbergia capillaris). The vase was left to me by my mother, made by the Ute Indians in the Southwestern US.

The happy Beach Daisies and Tropical Red Salvia in the garden:

I am hoping for warmer days here, but am grateful for the happy flowers in the garden. Thanks to Cathy for hosting this week and every week! To see more vases, visit http://www.ramblinginthgarden.wordpress.com.

In a Vase on Monday – Juba – lation

My favorite cool season flowers are starting to show their colors. One is the Juba Bush (Iresine diffusa). I am jubilant that the Juba Bush has reappeared. I thought it was gone. This is a native wildflower that I mistook for Amaranthus and left it in the garden only to discover its wonderful chartreuse to creamy white flowers. Juba is the name of an African dance that was imported into the Caribbean where these wildflowers are also native. The dance involves a lot of hip movement and swaying – the plant’s movement in the wind reportedly mimics this?! I wish this grew under my Gumbo Limbo tree, that would be perfect.

The Juba Bush. It is the creamy white flower; ‘Lady Di’ Heliconia is in the background.

The other fall indicator is the red Nodding Hibiscus (Malvaviscus penduliflorus) at the base of the vase. This is another volunteer that I have embraced as I love the flowers. Like many Hibiscus (it is a relative and Mallow family member) the shrub is rangy and not particularly attractive. For me, the flowers make it worthwhile and I enjoy them all winter. It also needs no supplemental water and the leaf cutting bees love it.

The Nodding Hibiscus:

The rest of the vase:

The orange flower is a ‘Choconiana’ Heliconia (Heliconia psittacorum); white daisies are the native Spanish Needles (Bidens alba); ferns are the evil invasive, Asian Sword Ferns. I keep the Sword Ferns at bay by using them in vases.

Thanks to Cathy at http://www.ramblinginthegarden.com for hosting IAVOM. Follow the link to see more vases.

Happy Gardening…

Six on Saturday – Natives and Friends

It is finally raining here, and in typical gardener fashion, I am going to complain – just a little too much. The weeds are going crazy and it is supposed to rain for the next several days. Fiona, the hurricane, not the greyhound. is supposed to meander by next week, undoubtedly bringing more rain. Fiona the greyhound is not terribly worried.

Back to plants and SOS. I am joining the SOS meme, hosted by Jon at http://www.thepropagatorblog.wordpress.com. To see more posts, follow the link.

This is a native Poinsettia (Euphorbia cynathophora). These pop up here and there and do not reseed much, so I enjoy the little pop of red in the garden.

Native Dayflower (Commelina erecta). Another one that just pops up in the garden and behaves nicely.

Native Bidens alba. One of the many common names is Spanish Needles, which leaves me wondering if the Spanish explorers of the Florida peninsula used the seeds for sewing. Not sure how, they are sharp, but maybe a half inch long. The one I love to hate. Reseeds madly, but so cute and the pollinators love it.

Another great native for pollinators, the Beach Daisy (Helianthus debilis). I am not sure what that bug is. These go mad during a rainy summer and once you have them in the garden (I planted them) they never go away.

The fruits of a native Spicewood (Calyptranthes pallens) Something about this is supposed to have a spice fragrance. I have yet to find it and have had this in the garden for seven years or so. Birds like the berries.

A nice, and not native to Florida, Saturday morning surprise. This is an unnamed Cattleya orchid that regularly flowers in early September. I thought it wouldn’t flower because of the dry summer – but here it is after getting some rain and a little fertilizer.

That’s my Six for this Saturday….Happy Gardening!!!!!

In a Vase on Monday – Berry Good

Signs of the approaching seasonal shift are unmistakable in South Florida. I heard the first Sand Hill Crane returning for winter this week (these are large birds with a very distinctive call, they look like pterodactyls flying by and summer in Nebraska) Purple Beautyberries are another sign. It seems odd to me that the berries ripen in August here. In my former much further north garden I had to wait until November for about a quarter of the amount of berries produced in Florida. Another odd thing about the Florida berries, the birds don’t really eat that many and I am not sure why – fear of stalking greyhounds? Anyway, my conscience is clear about stealing bird food.

All of the plants in this vase are native to Florida. Two I planted and two appeared, spread by wildlife no doubt.

The peach spike flowers are Tropical Red Salvia (Salvia coccinea), the flowers made peach by bees. I planted the red variety years ago and now have several colors. The white daisies are Bidens alba, not planted by me, and asked for the most part to leave the garden. These cute little flowers can produce 1200 seeds per plant and get out of hand quickly. The ferns, Boston Fern (Nephrolepis exaltata) are native to Florida, not Boston and appeared in the edging of our shell driveway. I leave them alone and cut them sometimes for vases. The vase came from the florist filled with professionally grown flowers!

I planted the Beautyberry (Calliocarpa americana) several years ago. I bought three and planted them in places with differing amounts of shade. To my surprise, the one with the most sun produces these huge sprays of berries. This time of year Floridians post their Beautyberry recipes on social media. They make jam, jelly and bread with the berries. Invariably, someone says these are so pretty but they don’t really have a flavor.

Here is a bread recipe and review. Evidently, Peggy wrote the recipe, though I am not sure who that is. I clipped it thinking I might give it a try, then read the review. Still considering it, but I think this is one of those things I would find in the freezer a few years from now and have to throw away.

Thanks to Cathy at http://www.ramblinginthegarden.wordpress.com for hosting iAVOM. To see more vases, follow the link.

Happy Gardening and I am berry much looking forward to fall!

Six on Saturday – Fab Feb Fleurs

Saturday morning has rolled around again and I took to the garden to find February flowers to join the SOS crowd. To see more February fun, visit Jon at http://www.thepropagatorblog.wordpress.com

Above is an underside view of a Shell Ginger (Alpinia zerumbet) opening. Eventually the flower hangs down from the branch. These flower every February and a few other times during the year at their discretion.

Long Island Mammoth Dill flower. I am not sure if I should cut this off or let it go to seed. The dill has been wonderful and is recommended for winter in Florida.

A perversely peachy Tropical Red Salvia (Salvia coccinea). One of my favorite reseeding flowers. Probably hasn’t had water in weeks.

Here is the red flower…Firecracker Plant (Russelia equisetiformis) I like the texture of this plant, though it is kind of gangly, and dangly.

Sugar Baby Watermelon flower. Hoping for some fruit! I am trying to grow these on a teak stool to keep them off the ground. Time will tell.

A blessing and a curse, white wildflower, Bidens alba. The blessing, an indestructible, happy prolific flowering plant. The curse, the same, and it can produce 1200 seeds per plant providing Bidens sod.

That’s it this week.

Happy Gardening from South Florida.

Six on Saturday – Kissimmee Prairie Wildflowers

Last Saturday I took a day off from my garden and joined a wildflower walk in the Kissimmee Prairie Preserve in Central Florida. The Prairie is the last dry prairie in Florida, encompassing 54,000 acres and is grassland as far as the eye can see. There are three seasons of wildflowers in the prairie and the butterflies are reported to be spectacular. Last Saturday was too windy and overcast to see the butterflies, though I did see amazing wildflowers. The flowers in the photo are Whitetop Sedge and Black Eyed Susans.

We saw several types of Milkworts, this is Yellow Milkwort (Polygala rugelli). Native Americans used this as a snakebite remedy.

This is Purple Milkwort (Polygala cruciata, I think) there are a lot of Milkworts. These are also called Drumheads.

Yet another Milkwort, these are commonly called Swamp Cheetos.

This is a Rhexia virginica, a Meadow Beauty. I think the common name is right.

A Purple Thistle (Cirsium horridulum) This this is a bit sharp, but a wonderful butterfly host and nectar plant. For some reason I have the much less attractive Yellow Thistle in my yard. It is usually asked to leave the garden.

That concludes my wildflower adventure from last Saturday. To see more Six on Saturday posts visit Jon at http://www.thepropagatorblog.wordpress.com.

Happy Gardening!