Perhaps this is my funkiest vase ever, I concentrated on unusual color and texture this week. One of my favorite aspects of planting design is combining different textures of plant material. Working with colors and textures enhancing one another. Tropical flowers are fun to play with as the textures of the flowers can be quite different. This is an array of unusual colors and textures from my summer garden.
The papery texture of the white Miss Alice Bougainvillea enhances the white parts of the Red Shrimp (Justicia brandegeana). The reddish Petunia exserta adds some color and reflects the color in the chartreuse and burgundy coleus. A few springs of Asian Sword Fern are always necessary.
My neighbor gave me the Red Shrimp Plant years ago. I gave her some Petunia exserta after reading about it from UK garden bloggers (Chloris?) and she grew some this year and returned one to me. The circle of gardening life.
More funky texture, pink fuzzies are a tropical groundcover, Dwarf Chenille Plant (Acalypha pendula). I grow this in containers as it tends to disappear in winter. This summer it is sharing a container with Medinilla cummingii, I am breathlessly awaiting flowers from both of them.
It’s not white hot in South Florida. Yet. The fragrant white flowers are in bloom and some soothing fragrance for the house seems necessary (read, for me!). I decided to add some hot colors for spice and put them in a crystal rose bowl from my mother. I am not sure it has ever held roses during my tenure, certainly not while in South Florida. Roses can be grown here, but it is a lot of trouble and I would rather have the tropical flowers. Honestly, I would never do the amount of tending roses would need here. Here is an easier and much more forgiving fragrant flower, the Bridal Bouquet Frangipani. Shove a few cuttings in the ground and they reward you with six foot semi evergreen foliage and fragrant flowers for months.
Bridal Bouquet Frangipani is a favorite of mine, and oh, so easy to grow. It joins some other fragrant friends in my vase this Monday.
The Bridal Bouquet Frangipani (Plumeria pudica) is on the right side. The fragrant friends, in white, are Tropical Gardenias (Tabernaemontana diviricata) hanging over the side and Sweet Almond Bush (Aloysia virgata) spikes in the background. The hot colors, in red, front and center, the Red Guzmania Bromeliad; the red bells are Russelia equisetiformis, sometimes called the Firecracker Plant. Purple flowers are from Mona Lavender Plectranthus, and the purple foliage is Little Ruby Alternanthera. The ferns, much as I enjoy them in vases are the weed, Asian Sword Fern.
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.
I had a bad run in with an Agave a few years ago. It resulted in a course of steroids and antibiotics as it seems I am allergic to the thorns somehow. I have one big blue Agave in front of my house that is easily avoided and kept as thornless as possible by pruning. The Agave in the pot beside my side entrance has been taunting me for years. Not very attractive, but I really did not want to grab a hold of it and pull it out. The handle broke off the shovel , the evil thorned one was not budging and loppers weren’t working. Then, a thought occured to me, lightbulb over head! I just had a trailer hitch put on my Jeep. Note the small rope tied around the Agave.
Before anyone asks if I have a Bulldog, no. The Bulldog is the mascot of my alma mater, The University of Georgia. The rope is tied to my trailer hitch-I pulled the Jeep into the garage and the offending Agave popped out. The other plant is a Firesticks Pencil Cactus, easily removed.
These days my side door is Agave free. I have thornless Desert Roses (Adenium obesum) in these pots underplanted with Flapjack Kalachoe and Fireball Bromeliads. The Roses flower in summer and look funky year round.
Living in South Florida requires ‘liking it hot’. The weather certainly is and in my case the colors in my garden. I like it hot. I will say a little moderation in the temperature would be meaningful. I have seen our current weather described as ‘Hell’s Front Porch’.
This morning my husband sent me this, I don’t think it was actually quite that hot. However, I decided to retreat to the air conditioning and leave the garden, letting the weeds take over a little more. We are up to 11.5 inches of rain for August and are expecting a few more inches from a nearby tropical system. The weeds are deliriously happy and reveling in the plentiful precipitation.
A closer view of the vase. The orange tubular flowers are appropriately named for the season, Firebush (Hamelia patens var patens) There is a botany war about the proper name of this plant. I decided that is its proper name.
The red spikes are from Tropical Red Salvia (Salvia coccinea), enjoying a banner year with all the rain, red flower at the base of the arrangement is Miniata Bromeliad (Aechmea miniata); white spikes are from Sweet Almond (Aloysia virgata) another great butterfly plant. There is a lot of foliage in this vase. The grey foliage is from the Barometer Bush (Luecophyllum); big green leaves at the base are from Sweet Begonia (Begonia odorata ‘Alba’); burgundy foliage is from a Copperleaf (Acalphya wilkesiana); two kinds of fern – Boston Fern (Nephrolepsis exaltata) and Asparagus Fern – both are volunteers. In the back some foliage from a Blanchetiana Bromeliad (Aechmea blanchetiana ‘Lemon’)
The Firebush with a friend. The Zebra Longwing butterflies have been enjoying its nectar this summer, I have seen five butterflies hovering around the flowers more than once. These are planted beside my front door, so I see them several times a day and enjoy the flowers and the Zebras.
Every Monday Cathy at ramblinginthegarden.wordpress.com hosts In a Vase on Monday, to see more gardens and vases visit her blog.
I decided to join the Six on Saturday meme at The Propagator’s blog this week. I live and blog in South Florida. Having been down here a while, I still think a lot of the flora is weird but cool. Here are six tropicals blooming in my garden this week:
Flaming Torch Bromeliad. A common and colorful addition to our late summer gardens.
Beautyberry, a native shrub with magnificent fruit.
One of my very favorite Bromeliads, reliable and so funky. And a great cut flower.
Late summer brings Cattleya Orchids to the garden, the next ones will be huge, white and fragrant. These grow in my neighbor’s Hong Kong Orchid (Bauhinia) tree.
Another common summer flowering Bromeliad. Little Harv.
Aechmea ‘Little Harv’
More Florida funkness, this is a Jatropha – called Coral Plant usually and considered a novelty, flowering off and on all summer.
Happy Gardening Saturday and thanks to The Propagator for hosting.
Palmy weather? It is indeed. Some, not all of the palms in my garden are flowering. The pale green flower in the center of this vase is from the Adonidia or Christmas Palm. I am not sure why so many Floridians feel compelled to cut the flowers off their palms. This one will bear red fruit at Christmas that looks like ornaments for the tree, hence the name. And the flowers are so unusual and eventually provide food for wildlife. More unsolvable mysteries for the Florida gardener.
Here is the flower as it first appeared, I cut it because it was broken somehow and hanging onto the trunk by a thread. My friend Eddie grew the palm from seed. It is now 10 feet tall and flowering, I am so pleased and can’t wait for the Christmas ornaments.
A closer look at the flowers. In pale green, the Adonidia Palm (Adonidia merrillii); the orange flowers with berries are from Firebush (Hamelia patens); long burgundy foliage is from Blanchetiana Bromeliad (Aechmea blanchetiana) and the burgundy leaves are from Copperleaf (Acalypha wilkesiana)
In addition to being Palmy, it is also pretty balmy here in South Florida. So far, I am enjoying the summer and the butterflies, mostly in the late afternoon looking out the window whilst having a glass of wine on the sofa.
I started a native pollinator garden last year to encourage butterflies. Planting host plants and nectar plants, concentrating on native annuals that will reseed themselves. Theory is native flowers attract native insects- the benefits to me; I won’t have to replant all the time and I hopefully end up with a meadowy mixed wildflower garden. And lots of butterflies. Thus far, the plants are sticking with their own kind and making big drifts, not mixing as of yet.
I recently decided to run my garden specifications through the Native Plant Society “let us choose your plant” web page. Thinking I might get some suggestions to add some other plants to the garden. Ironically, it said no wildflowers will grow in your garden. I guess I should let the butterflies and flowers know about this?
Here is a close up. The vase is someone’s cast off from pottery class I bought at GoodWill (charity shop) for $2, I have really enjoyed their work and use this vase frequently. The red and yellow Gallardia (Gallardia pulchella – Florida native) is going gangbusters in my gardens, cross pollinating and making new colors. The yellow and orange spikes are from Bulbine (not sure which one), the Bulbine has been flowering for a couple of months and doesn’t seem to be slowing down. This is a new favorite. The foliage and brown pods are from the native Senna (Senna ligustrina) – I planted this to attractSulphur Butterflies and they appeared soon after it was planted in the garden.
Here’s my new Gallardia color, pink! I am still chasing the Sulphur Butterflies around for a photo-op.
I was going to call this post swanning around, but there are way too many interpretations of that term to have it in a title. Mind boggling how many ways a saying can be taken from sexual to merely showing off.
The late summer daisies are showing off – in yellow, Beach Sunflowers (Helianthus debilis) the red ones are Gallardias (Gallardia pulcherra). The white flowers are Bridal Bouquet Plumeria (in full glory) and Sweet Almond Bush (Aloysia virgata) backed up by a few Asian Sword Ferns.
The Green Swan is actually a candy dish I inherited from my mother. She was a collector of swans and loved to say ‘Why, I’ll Swanee’ – the polite Southern lady version of I swear.
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.
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.
The rest of the flowers are:
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.