I decided to celebrate summer with a colorful vase after the garden served up a batch of bright colors this week. I think the garden is celebrating a few soaking rains. The difference between hand watering and rain always surprises me – it seems all the plants enjoyed it from the fruit trees to the succulents. The mango trees are covered with fruit, I managed to give them their summer feeding before the rains started and now they are putting out new foliage. The mangoes are beautiful, but still hard as rocks. More gardening patience required. The Brown Eyed Girl Sunflowers are back in action. I added them to two vases this week, this one and a birthday vase for my neighbor.
A closer view:
The vase is a crystal rose bowl that belonged to my mother. Gracing the rose bowl front and center are the BEG Sunflowers in yellow; salmon flowers with green tips are from Soap Aloe (Aloe saponaria); blue flowers are Black and Bloom Salvia.
The back of the vase has two colors of foliage from Pie Crust Croton, a mad tropical shrub about five feet tall currently. The yellow and green foliage is new growth and the darker is the mature foliage. The shrub resembles a psychedelic Aucuba. White flowers are from the stalwart Tropical Red Salvia (Salvia coccinea, the white version)
It’s time for the weekly visit with other SOS gardeners. My South Florida garden received plentiful rain this week, the plants enjoyed it and are starting to show their summer colors. Bromeliads in the garden change colors with the seasons. Some in the winter and others in summer. The color change I notice most is from green to red (and back). Markings on the foliage that change vary from spots to streaks to bands of color.
‘Jill’ Neoregelia climbing a palm trunk. The foliage tips and cups on this one deepen in color in the summer.
‘Hallelujah’ Billbergia. These tend to go a bit green in the summer. The purple color deepens in winter.
Aechmea ‘fasciata’. The bands of grey coloration sharpen with warm weather, these produce big pink flowers every other summer. Also known as the Silver Urn Bromeliad.
‘Luca’ Neoregelia, one of my favorites, is almost too dark but the chartreuse spots lighten things up.
An unknown Neoregelia in flower. This one has pink stripes in sunny areas and white in shady areas.
The bunny, we have had a banner year for bunnies. Fortunately, they like weeds and are eating something in the so called lawn while tormenting Fiona the Greyhound. This is a Marsh Rabbit. I am impressed with the camouflage, I could not see the rabbit as I was taking a picture of it.
That is my Six for this Memorial Day weekend Saturday. Thanks to Jim for hosting.
I am very pleased with my Plumbago shrubs this year, they have burst forth with a display of flowers like no other. Why this happened is another mystery of the gardening universe. They inhabit the “hell strip” – a dry area between the street and my driveway. There is no irrigation, I am pretty sure I forgot about the fertilizer and they are growing under some good sized trees. Yet they prosper. My neighbor gave me the original shrub about 10 years ago, offspring of the one her grandmother planted in the 60’s. I added a darker blue variety last year and that is what I have in the vase.
The two Plumbagos, the darker one on the left. The lighter blue one is at least eight feet wide and five feet tall.
A closer view of the vase:
I was taught in my college perennial garden design class (by a very old school design professor) that the classic Southern (the Southeastern US) summer color scheme for a garden is yellow, blue and white. I decided against the yellow in favor of grey green. I am pretty sure my professor wouldn’t consider Florida part of the south, so he is probably not spinning in his grave over the lack of yellow. The only yellow in the garden currently is daisies and the shape of the flower needed to provide some contrast as all the other flowers are daisy shaped.
The gray green flowers are the buds of the Adonidia Palm (Adonidia veitchii). The flowers eventually open, turn nearly white and then produce bright red fruit. The white flowers and glossy green foliage belong to the Tropical Gardenia (Tabernaemontana divaricata). The vase was a thrift store find I have enjoyed immensely. It is my favorite for the Gardenias as they lounge over the side so well.
I have two Indian elements in my vase today. First, the vase itself was made by the Ute tribe of Utah in the US. They still call themselves Indians so I think it is okay if I do. They also refer to themselves as the Ute People, which I like better. The second, the red and yellow daisies are called Indian Blanket (Gallardia pulchella). The flowers are native to the Great Plains in the US, though they have naturalized throughout the country right down to my garden. These reseed and required no maintenance and are relatively well behaved. What’s not to like? I was searching for a rust colored flower to accent the vase and was happy to find several groups in bloom.
The sage in the vase is not wisdom, but Salvia. Two kinds, Black and Bloom and Roman Red. The red exudes the fragrance of culinary sage.
A closer view:
Brown Eyed Girl sunflowers (in yellow) have reappeared after taking an extended break from flowering. I am reserving judgement on these. They were great for about six weeks, then stopped flowering for about the same amount of time and are loaded with flowers again. Time will tell. For those who were intrigued by the Golf Beauty Craspedia, it has passed on, leaving me to believe it is a cool season annual in South Florida. I will be interested to see the progress of others with Craspedia this summer. The deep blue flowers are Black and Bloom Salvia; the lighter blue flowers are Plumbago (Plumbago auriculata). Shiny foliage is from Wild Coffee (Psychotria nervosa), a native shrub I have for butterfly habitat. Evidenced by the botanical name, you can drink it, but shouldn’t.
The rest of the crew. Standing in back in red, Roman Red Salvia; white spikes are from Sweet Almond Bush (Aloysia virgata)
I am joining Jim and the gang yet again for a Saturday garden update. South Florida is slowly working its way to summer and some plants are a little early this year. This makes me worry a bit about what the weather gods are planning for the rainy season. For a world tour of gardens on Saturday, follow this link to Jim’s blog. htpp://gardenrumininations.uk.co
Torch Bromeliad (Billbergia pyramidalis) blooming very early. These are sometimes called Hurricane Lilies as they usually flower at the peak of hurricane season, the first week of September.
Mangoes are mostly a summer fruit. These are Nam Doc Mai, Thai dessert mangoes. I bought the tree in 2016 because it can produce up to four crops a year and is coconut flavored with no fiber. This is the most fruit I have had and it has always been this time of year. They are almost ready, turning a solid apricot color when ripe.
This is a Red Jaboticaba. A tropical fruit from Brazil. This one is a shrub, reported to grow five feet tall. These are usually trees that take forever to produce fruit. Interesting fruit. The flowers are borne on the trunk and the fruit is like a Muscadine grape on the trunk. The tree looks like the trunk is covered in swirls of purple grapes. Tasty. It took a long time for this to establish, four or five years. Maybe some fruit, someday. The Red Jaboticaba is supposed to set fruit earlier than the trees. There is some cold damage I need to prune out.
The Sweet Almond Bush (Aloysia virgata) blooming its heart out. This smells wonderful and is bouncing back from a severe prune.
Tree spinach (Cnidoscolus aconitifolius) flowering for the first time this year. This is a subsistence vegetable for tropical climates, growing without supplemental water and providing nutrition to those who know how to cook it. Poisonous to those who don’t. I don’t eat the stuff and planted this for its flowers – they provide a nectar source for many tropical butterflies.
Frightened frog hiding from Fiona. I walked out with Fiona the greyhound the other night and found this native tree frog sitting on an ottoman on the porch. Fiona started barking and the startled frog hopped under a pillow.
That is all from SoFla. Happy Spring to everyone further north.
South Florida experienced yet another crazy weather day on Sunday. Rain, thunder, tornado watches and warnings. Madness. I sat with Fiona the greyhound to gauge her reaction to all the weather warnings. She slept through it. A good sign and nothing happened except more water and leaves and debris down and probably more weeds will emerge shortly.
After all this weather, I decided to cut the orchid in the Gumbo Limbo tree so I could see it before it was smashed to bits. The stems on this orchid are about four feet long, as it is installed in the crotch of the tree it is a bit difficult to see anyway. Probably 10 feet above the ground. I dashed out into the rain and clipped the orchid. So satisfying.
This is a Schomburgkia orchid. Native to the mangrove groves on the shores of the Gulf of Mexico on the Yucatan peninsula. How it found its way here is a mystery to me. Based on its coloring, orchid, red and yellow, I decided to put it in my big red vase. My husband refers to this as the ‘I Dream of Jeannie’ vase. Hopefully, you remember the 1960s TV show about Jeannie or the Genie?
I thought some layers of tropical foliage and a bit of red would accent the vase and the orchids nicely. The red flowers are Firecracker plant (Russelia equisetiformis); the big leaf in back is a Split Leaf Philodendron (Philodendron selloum); the left green leaf is from a Lady Palm (Rhaphis excelsa); grey striped foliage is Inch Plant (Transcandentia zebrina)
Fiona on a sunnier day. Looking for sky raisins (my husband’s words again). She eats bees sometimes.
SOS time again! Six items of interest to share with fellow gardeners from all over. To see other SOS posts, follow this link http://gardenruminations.co.uk
Warm and cold weather fronts crashing together from the Atlantic Ocean and elsewhere caused some mad weather in my South Florida garden this week. Neighbors were saying a mini hurricane hit our area, evidenced by 85 mph wind gusts and flying lawn furniture. The rain brought about some welcome changes to the garden.
Schomburgkia Orchids burst into flower and managed to stay attached to the Gumbo Limbo tree.
Blue Daze Evolvulus finally in full flower. These have been in the garden for years and rarely look like this. I have been wondering what to do with them and I am thinking lots of water is the answer.
Native Purslane popping up in the flower border. A weed I like, I am told it is edible – but haven’t tried it.
‘Bossa Nova’ Neoregelia enjoys the sunshine following the storms. I recently discovered these are supposed to grow in full sun. I moved them and we will see. I am not sure why it just seems odd to grow bromeliads in full sun. To me, anyway.
Another bromeliad basking in the sunshine. ‘Fireball’ Neoregeli; usually grown as groundcover for their foliage colors – varying from green to red depending on light conditions. These are in a container with Brown Eyed Girl Sunflowers.
‘White Flame’ Salvia with a Red Cypress Vine growing up the side. I suppose I should separate these two. Black and Bloom Salvia in the background. The butterflies are starting to enjoy all of these flowers.
That is it for this week. Next week’s weather is looking good for gardening. I am hoping the dragonflies show up soon to eat the mosquitoes that came along with the rain.
I am joining the SOS gang this week with my latest garden adventure. Weather in South Florida is transitioning from Not Summer into Summer, rain showers have started back up, the humidity is up and a platoon of mosquitoes showed up this morning to interrupt my walk. I slathered myself in mosquito spray and braved the onslaught long enough to pot up the Frogfruit cuttings. Hoping for the dragonfly crew to show up soon and dispatch the mosquitoes.
These don’t look like much right now. I want to get rid of the St. Augustine lawn in my garden. It needs too much of everything, water, sun, fertilizer and I refuse to put weed killers – especially Atrazine on my lawn. Florida, as a state, has mostly ruined their local waterways with lawn chemicals and sewage. And people wonder what happened to all the sea grass that the Manatees eat, duh. Put enough grassy weed killers on the zillions of acres of turf grass on sand and it’s going into the watershed to kill other things, especially the animals that rely on sea grass. The Manatees rely on sea grass and are starving, so the state is feeding them Romaine lettuce. I am so disgusted with these people. So, in my garden the lawn is mostly gone. And really ugly.
Rant is complete.
Turkey Tangle Frog Fruit (Phyla nodiflora) is an evergreen, low growing native wildflower – or weed, depending on who you ask. It is recommended as a lawn replacement in places other than Florida (Texas and California). It is also a host and nectar plant for many butterflies. For some reason, it is extremely difficult to source. I ordered cuttings in January and they just showed up in my mailbox. Now I have potted the rooted cuttings after several days of rehydration. Fingers crossed they grow. Who knew it would be so hard to grow weeds, uh, wildflowers.
The “lawn” as it is. Ugly!
On to prettier things.
Three miniature pineapples and a lizard on a favorite bromeliad. The minature ones are more reliable about fruiting than the big ones, but you can’t really eat them. I have read they can be juiced, but how much juice could really be in there? I like to cut these and let them dry, they are fun additions to flower arrangements.
Another oddity, Coral Plant (Jatropha multifida) The leaves look like marijuana, though the whole plant is very toxic.
A plant combination I like. On the left, the foliage, Golden Duranta (Duranta erecta); grey foliage with yellow ball flowers ‘Golf Beauty’ Craspedia; ‘Mystic Blue’ Salvia and the small yellow flowering plant is a native purslane, I am not sure which one.
Flowers on a Lotusleaf Begonia (Begonia nelumbiifolia). The leaves on this begonia are easily 18 by 18 inches. It is a great coarse texture accent in the garden – considered a roadside weed in South America, where it inhabits ditches.
That is all from lawnless land in Florida. Thanks to Jim for hosting and..
I have been enjoying the Giant Dianthus plants that I have been keeping on my front porch. I expected them to burn out as soon as the temperatures exceeded 80 degrees. They haven’t, surprising me with fringed flowers in shades of pink almost daily. The snapdragons are still hanging on as well. Laziness and distaste for throwing anything away that might possibly flower made me keep the snaps around. I was rewarded with a few more flowers, dwarf when compared to the earlier ones, but a nice accessory to the delicate dianthus flowers.
The vase belonged to my mother. It was her go-to container for pansies and a perfect size for the dianthus. I am wondering if this was once a jam jar, it has a very jammy vibe. This vase has some wonderful scents, basil flowers, dianthus and salvia; sweet, spicy and herbal. I am enjoying walking by.
The close up:
Giant Dianthus in pink; yellow snaps; a few sprigs of Genovese Basil flowers; ‘White Flame’ Salvia and ‘Golf Beauty’ Craspedia in yellow.
Pink snapdragons, a few sprigs of Tropical Red Salvia in white with Asian Sword Ferns and Asparagus Ferns for greenery.
This is a spring mix of flowers from my garden. Spring mix is a kind of packaged salad greens I am not particularly fond of. Too bitter, I think it is the tatsoi I don’t like, or it is my husband referring to it as yard clippings? Anyway, there is no salad here and one of the cast members in this arrangement is poisonous, so we won’t be eating any of it.
I am pleased to have grown this poisonous Ranunculus, with the innocent sounding common name Persian Buttercup. This one looks like a tiny red rose and there is one more bud outside. This was a total experiment. I am supposed to be too far south to grow these and bought the bulbs at an end of summer sale. The bulbs arrived fried and I put them aside and completely forgot about them until they were desiccated shells. An old pot with soil in it appeared in the back yard and I had a ‘hate to throw things away’ moment and dumped the shells into the pot. An odd rainy, cold snap arrived, chilled and rehydrated the bulbs. Serendipity intervened and this is the first of probably two Ranunculus my garden will ever produce.
The rest of the mix..in blue, ‘Black and Bloom’ Salvia; white spikes, ‘White Flame’ Salvia; pink and white fringed flowers, Giant Dianthus; a little Pink Snapdragon; green Envy and pink Zinnias; the red Ranunculus; yellow ‘Golf Beauty’ Craspedia, and a few bits of Asparagus Fern. The vase was a gift from my older brother.