Six on Saturday – Fall Flowers

It’s Saturday again and time to join The Propagator in his weekly meme about six items of interest in your garden. SOS. To see more of SOS, visit http://www.thepropagatorblog.wordpress.com.

The weather is finally turning lovely, I have almost finished planting my vegetable garden and fall flowers are showing their colors.

First up, the mad tropical Candy Portea Bromeliad is about half open. My neighbor says these look like sea creatures.

Second, the flowers of the Roselle, an edible Hibiscus. The cranberry colored calyx of the flowers is eaten and tastes like cranberries, these are not ripe yet.

Third, the flowers of the native Senna (Senna ligustrina). These are larval host plants for Sulphur Butterflies. If the caterpillar eats the flower, they are yellow, it they eat the foliage they turn green. The butterflies are always yellow.

Fourth, Blue Porterweed (Stachytarpeta jamaicaensis). Another good butterfly plant for nectar. I think the abundant rainfall has made them extra beautiful this fall.

Muhly Grass (Muhlenbergia capillaris) is a true sign of fall, likely my favorite fall flower.

Finally, the mystery plant. This came up in a pot with some other seedlings. I think it is an Agastache or maybe Holy Basil. I did not plant either. The foliage has a light anise scent. Does anyone know?

Happy Gardening!

Six on Saturday – Veg and Vermiculture

The humidity in finally diminishing and I had my first celebratory glass of Chardonnay in the garden yesterday afternoon. Celebrating the solarization, addition of a vermiculture bed and rabbit fence installation in the vegetable garden.

We have bad nematodes in South Florida – I have root knot nematodes in the vegetable garden. These are microscopic worms that feed on the roots of tomatoes and other vegetables eventually killing the plants. They are common in sandy soils and I was interested to learn recently adding compost and worms to the soil deters the nematodes. Solarization also helps. I solarized the bed during August and September, covering the bed with clear plastic held down with all kinds of junk.

This week I took the plastic off and figured out how to add a worm bed – digging a trench in the middle of the bed, then adding chopped paper, raiding my refrigerator for rotting vegetables (there are always a few) and sending my husband to the bait store for red wigglers.

The red wigglers come in containers and are kept refrigerated. I let them warm up and then put them in the garden to devour the yummy rotting vegetables. They dug right in.

The red wigglers enjoying old Romaine lettuce.

The next thing to do is add seeds and plants and water in with food grade diatomaceous (4 tablespoons to the gallon). The DE also deters nematodes. There is some conflicting info on how it affects the good worms so time will tell. The rabbit fence is made of reeds and is 24″ high. The rabbits ate what the nematodes didn’t get last year.

Cheers to the veg and red wigglers!

Happy Gardening.

To see more Six on Saturday posts, visit Jon at http://www.thepropagatorblog.wordpress.com

In a Vase on Monday – Meadow Munchies

After the events of the past couple of weeks of (fill in the blank, ugh) I decided some whimsy was in order. My cow vase came off the shelf and was filled with flowers from the imaginary meadow where porcelain cows munch on flowers all day long. My imaginary cows produce strawberry and chocolate milk.

The view from the front and a closer view of the contents.

The ‘grass’ in the back of the vase is from Varigated Flax Lily (Dianella); orange and peach spike flowers are from Tropical Red Salvia (Salvia coccinea); peach flowers are Profusion Zinnias; two tone flowers at the edge are Gallardia (Gallardia pulchella); purple foliage is Setcreasea; lavendar foliage and flowers are from Arabian Lilac (Vitex trifolia); the gracefully bendy white flowers are Juba Bush (Iresine diffusa); textured stems are from Blue Porterweed (Stachytarpeta jamaicensis). These porcelain cows have a sophisticated palette.

I would like to thank everyone for their kind words about Alan the Greyhound. Alan is still here; his squirrel chases severely curtailed. My vet decided he had strained his back ( bouncing off the sliding glass door while chasing squirrels) and medication would help. After a few days on dog Ibuprofen, he is feeling much better. He still has bone cancer, in the early stages, but is resting comfortably on the lawn and many soft places in the house. I have not quite managed to convince him to leave the squirrels alone.

Happy Fall and Happy Gardening. Thanks to Cathy at http://www.ramblinginthegarden.wordpress.com for hosting. Follow the link to see more vases.

Six on Saturday – Orchids in the Gumbo Limbo

I am joining The Propagator today for his meme. Six on Saturday. Posting six items of interest from your garden, any six things. This week I am all about things I am finding in the foliage. To see more posts, go to http://www.thepropagatorblog.wordpress.com

You may wonder what is that and why is it wearing old pantyhose? This is a Hard Cane Dendrobium Orchid, a gift from a neighbor. The stem is about the size of a leek, a big leek at that. These are native to the South Pacific and grow in trees. There are over 2,000 varieties – I have no clue what type this might be. It could be a Dendrobium – Phaleonopsis that produces flower sprays about 10 feet long.

And it requires sun. I found this out after installing it in the wrong tree – the Strangler Fig in full shade. Oops, the Orchid spent one night in the Fig. The next morning I moved it to the Gumbo Limbo in my much sunnier front garden.

On to the Gumbo Limbo. I added some orchid bark mix and peat moss in the control top of the pantyhose and placed the roots in the mix. This will give the roots some nutrition while they grow into the trunk of the tree. Here is the Orchid in its new home.

It is mounted into the crotch of the Gumbo Limbo tree about six feet above the ground. It has a bud and I am hoping to see some flowers, though it seems these are summer bloomers for the most part. Fingers crossed.

Eventually the Orchid should put roots into the tree trunk and the pantyhose will go away. But, they do almost match the color of the trunk. I found a couple of other items of interest in the foliage this week.

This is a Stick Bug in the Beautyberry. Eating the foliage on the Beautyberry. I left him or her there to continue dining.

This is a Treefrog – this guy did not want to leave the Firebush I was pruning and finally jumped off on my bare foot. Feeling very reptilian to the touch. There are numerous types of Treefrogs that live in South Florida and I can’t tell them apart.

Happy Saturday from South Florida and Happy Gardening.

In a Vase on Monday – Fall Favorites and Fish

Fall is not really a thing in South Florida. I like to search for seasonal signs in the garden. The weather doesn’t give clues, the heat index today was over 100 degrees Fahrenheit. My favorite local writer (sports and fishing), Ed Killer, wrote about seasons in the morning newspaper claiming the mullet run is a season in Florida. The mullet are currently running in South Florida. A link to the article https://treasurecoast-fl.newsmemory.com?publink=261ae094c_13437fc

For Florida novices, mullet is a small baitfish that heads south for the winter swimming down the Atlantic coast of Florida. It is a seasonal marker. Traveling en masse in 1 acre sized schools of fish – an acre is 220 feet by 220 feet – that’s a lot of little fish. The mullet can be seen jumping from the water in late September and fishing gets good when all the bigger fish give chase looking for a mullet meal. A season in the land without seasons.

I look for fruit on the Beautyberry, the occasional turning red leaves on Red Maple trees, fruit on the Firebush and the flowering of the Juba Bush. These are my fall favorites and they are in my vase this Monday. All South Florida natives, unlike me, and seasonal signs of fall in the garden. Maybe if we throw the whole mullet run thing in there is actual fall here.

A closer view. The orange flowers are Firebush (Hamelia patens); purple berries, Beautyberry (Calliocarpa americana); white flowers, Juba Bush (Iresine diffusa). The Blue Willow teapot is a favorite of mine, an English teapot and long ago find in a flea market…

The other side, berries and flowers on the Firebush.

Happy Monday and Happy Gardening, I hope fall sends more compelling clues in your garden. To see more seasonal vases, visit Cathy at http://www.ramblinginthgarden.wordpress.com.

And, no, I have never eaten a mullet. They are an oily fish and supposedly good smoked over citrus wood.

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 – Cattleyas on the Rocks

My garden had a stormy weekend. Hurricane Sally passed within about 100 miles, hurling bands of drenching rain and wind in her wake. The air is so saturated with moisture it is difficult to describe; imagine air having a presence. I think of it as feeling the evil, hot breath of the tropical Atlantic Ocean. My slightly curly hair is literally standing on end, bigger by the moment. Given the humidity and knowledge that another hurricane is headed towards the Gulf coast, I will most likely look like I stuck my finger in the electrical socket on Monday.

The White Cattleya orchid opened on Sunday morning and was being buffeted by the winds, so I decided to cut if for a vase. The rocks are in the base of the glass vase holding the orchids in place. The title sounds a bit like a cocktail; I am trying to dream up something that tastes like an orchid, this one has a sweet fragrance and always blooms in pairs. Limoncello, Coconut Rum and something? Tonic water? Club soda? Hmmm.

Here is the bud from Saturday. I am surprised it opened so quickly and with little sunshine.

A closer view of the Cattleya, I have no idea of the variety, my neighbor gave me the orchid and I am trying not to kill it. Orchids usually meet an untimely end in my garden. Anything that needs fertilizer every two weeks is destined for demise. This one has been around for at least two years – though it is turning brown..sigh.

Happy Monday and Happy Gardening. Thinking positive thoughts for those in the path of Hurricane Sally.

Thanks to Cathy at http://www.ramblinginthegarden.wordpress.com for hosting this addictive meme. Follow the link to see vases from gardens around the world.

In a Vase on Monday – Labor Day

Today is a holiday celebrating the American worker. Labor Day was created as a national holiday by President Grover Cleveland in 1894. The creation of Labor Day ended an ugly chapter in American history. Striking workers demanding better pay and working conditions burned trains and disrupted travel; eventually the government sent troops to restore order. There were casualties on both sides. Follow link for more history https://www.history.com/topics/holidays/labor-day-1#:~:text=Labor%20Day%20pays%20tribute%20to,a%20federal%20holiday%20in%201894.

Beware a rant, I am not given to writing political posts. Skip to the next image if you don’t want to hear about it.

This sounds a bit familiar. The players and reasons are different, but the situation, eerily similar. I was unable to read our local newspaper on Sunday morning, just did not want to read anymore about what is going on in America. Our local congressman was just outed for making sexual jokes about 15 year old girls. This is not the America I grew up in, not the American that helped our Allies win the World Wars, who are these people? What are their values?

These people go all the way to the top of our government. People we elected on both sides of the aisle. Some of the behavior I have witnessed from our leaders over the past few years, appalling and pervasive. So pervasive that politics has trickled down to my garden blog. Which is sad. Before anyone makes America great again, they are going to have to make America whole again.

Enough with my political rant.

We had a lovely rain shower on Sunday morning that cooled my garden down to a tolerable temperature and I was able to enjoy selecting flowers for a red, white and blue palette for my vase.

Here is a closer view:

Red flowers, from the left – bell shaped flowers are Firecracker Plant (Russelia equisetiformis), at edge of vase Coral Plant (Jatropha multifida); blue and red panicle, Miniata Bromeliad (Aechmea miniata). Fragrant white flowers on the left side, Bridal Bouquet Frangipani (Plumeria pudica) and hanging over the edge, Tropical Gardenias (Tabernamontana diviricata). The blue flowers – at the top, Plumbago (Plumbago auriculata); the darker blue stemmy flowers are from Blue Porterweed (Stachytarpheta jamaicensis).

Happy Fall, Ya’ll.

I forgot to thank Cathy, at ramblinginthegarden.wordpress.com for hosting In a Vase on Monday, and my late mother in law, Joan, for crocheting the flag.

Six on Saturday – Growing Toads.

Florida, the southern part, is backwards on summer gardening. We do it in the winter. I am trying several new ventures in vegetable gardening this year. Growing toads was not my idea, but I found one sitting on my tomato seedlings this week. I am hoping this is not a Bufo Toad, very poisonous to dogs and mine are always, ears up saying “What’s that” This toad hopped away before I could get a good look at it.

A Riesentraube tomato seedling, I put these in the sun to germinate and the seedlings are much sturdier than the first batch. This is a cherry tomato – from Germany!

San Marzano tomato seedlings, these were leggy, so I read up and followed suggestions to replant the seedlings deeply in new, fluffy seed mix. Seems to be working.

A new seed starting tray, arrived with a dry pellet in each cell that is soaked with water before planting and then self-waters from the bottom. I decided to forgo the plastic roof as the humidity outside should suffice. I put it in on my front porch, a sunny spot with bottom heat from the pavers. The seeds were planted on Monday. Parsley in under the foil, I have Verbena bonariensis, Nasturtiums, Zinnia ‘Zinderella’, Borage, Pink Double Click Cosmos and Apple Blossom Snapdragons. I have had very little luck seeding these directly in the garden. Borage, Zinnias and Cosmos have germinated.

The area for vegetables is currently under solarization to get rid of bad nematodes. Summer vegetables can be planted around September 15 here, the cooler season lettuce, peas, etc a bit later. I will plant bush beans, radishes, snow peas and some lettuce in here. The tomatoes are going into pots this year. The rabbits ate most of my crops last year, so I have a 24″ reed fence to put around the vegetables, I have a bad feeling about putting Borage within rabbit reach.

Another fall chore, pruning the Bougainvillea. While pruning, I spied this native Tillandsia growing on the trunk. The Boug, severely pruned a week ago has already started to put out flowers.

That is my six for this Saturday. To visit more gardens with six items of interest on Saturday, go to http://www.thepropagatorblog.wordpress.com.

Happy Gardening.

In a Vase on Monday – Taming Miss Alice

Miss Alice lives beside my front porch. An seemingly obscure variety of Bougainvillea I am training to a column on the porch, she is known for being nearly thornless. Other Bougainvilleas have 2 inch long thorns, I was pruning Miss Alice barefooted and stepped on a cast off branch – ouch! not thornless but I wasn’t punctured. The white flowers are from Miss Alice, a result of a fairly hard pruning as the Bougs transition from vegetative to flowering states. Day length drives the flowering cycle – native to areas near the equator Bougainvilleas flower most when daylight and night hours are equal. I did not realize I could use them as cut flowers, they seem to be lasting. So far, so good.

Here is a closer view:

The white ‘leaves’ are bracts and the actual flowers are the white and green tubes in the center of the flower. Lurid purple berries are from Beautyberry (Calliocarpa americana) which has been producing masses of berries this summer. They are so heavy with fruit the branches fell to the ground. Ferns are from my weedy Asian Sword Ferns and a seedling Sabal Palm (Palmetto sabal) frond completes the backdrop. The vase is a roadside find.

Miss Alice before and after she was tamed.

Happy Gardening and thanks to Cathy at http://www.ramblinginthegarden for hosting this weekly meme.