Not exactly the image the words “winter wonderland” conjure up? Welcome to South Florida and 2022’s first edition of Six on Saturday. To see more, probably wintry garden scenes from garden bloggers in more northern climes, follow the link http://www.thepropagatorblog.wordpress.com.
The flower above is a Billbergia Bromeliad, species ‘garage sale’ – though I suspect it is called ‘Purple Haze’. The foliage is purple, striped sideways sporting flowers of red, white and blue and flowering in January. Pretty trippy.
The next tropical surprise of the morning – ‘Chociana’ Heliconia (Heliconia psittacorum ‘Chociana’) I am still wondering what Chociana is. Note the bonus spider inside the flower.
I have been enjoying this magnificent Tropical Hydrangea for a couple of weeks. It is a Dombeya wallachii and about 15 feet tall.
The vegetable garden is doing well, I have been picking tomatoes daily for a week or so, the birds have beat me to them once, diligence is key.
Planning to thin my second crop of radishes this morning. These are my favorite, French breakfast.
Witnessing the first day of October always makes me happy. Trepidation about hurricane strikes lessens as does the humidity. The temperature is currently 86 Fahrenheit with 48% humidity, there is a breeze coming off the Atlantic Ocean and it feels like fall. Morning walks with the greyhounds have been very pleasant.
Fall foliage color is difficult to find in South Florida, though there are about 5 Red Maples nearby that turn red. I have to make an effort to seek them out. There are also lovely brilliant red lantern shaped fruit on the Tropical Goldenraintrees that I enjoy as fall color. Other autumnal tones must be found in flowers and I searched my garden for flowers that aspire to fall colors.
A closer view:
The red flowers at the bottom of the image are Nodding Hibiscus (Hibiscus malvaviscus); tubular yellow flowers above are Yellow Elder (Tecoma stans); red and yellow daisy shaped flowers are Gallardia (Gallardia pulchella); yellow daisies are Beach Sunflowers (Helianthus debilis); orange tubular flowers are Firebush (Hamelia patens).
The red and yellow tropical flower at the top is Parrotflower (Heliconia psittacorum “Lady Di”); this one is not quite perennial and crops up now and again. Green foliage is Asian Sword Fern, a verdant weed. The white flowers are from White Geiger tree (Cordia boissieri) – this tree flowers when it is in the mood, I am not sure what it’s season is or if it even has one.
The vase came with a flower arrangement last year, a nice, simple faux glass. I put it in the dishwasher once and feared it might melt so I took it out.
Heliconias are very striking plants. The fiery colors of the flowers inspired me to create this vase. The container is a antique French match holder. I envision lovely, fashionable people sitting in a cafe by the Seine in Paris using the ribbed surface to strike matches and light hand rolled cigarettes.
Do people still roll their own cigarettes? I have no clue. One whiff of smoke and I am history. Gone to find clean air.
The vase is designed to hold long wood matches. I added a bit of floral foam in the base. The foam would not hold the heavy Heliconias up so I wound some Bromeliad foliage around the inside of the neck to hold the flowers in place. Perhaps the first Bromeliad foliage shim ever…?
A closer view:
The orange “flames” are Parrotflowers (Heliconia psittacorum ‘Choconiana’); red “flames”, another Parrotflower (H. psittacorum ‘Lady Di’); red hot foliage is Piecrust Croton (Codieum varigatum ‘Piecrust’); white “smoke” (also supplying fragrance) Sweet Almond (Aloysia virgata).
Hoping this is the last hot blast of summer. Happy Gardening!!
Tropical Storm Fred is passing by the penisula of Florida this Saturday. Feeling the onslaught of tropical humidity in the air, I spent some time Friday planting a few things in the garden, checking on the edibles and pruning a bit to keep the inevitable gusty wind and rain at bay.
This is a Cuban or Catalina Avocado tree. The avocados are the size of footballs. A friend grew this from seed and brought the seedling to me in 2016. The tree is 12 – 14 feet tall and will hopefully bear fruit next year. To my knowledge, this is the only avocado that is true to seed (most are grafted). I pruned the Passionfruit vine out, it aggressively tries to climb the Avocado any chance it gets – the vine is on the left side of the tree.
The progress on the Papaya beheaded this spring. I am still not sure what will happen here. The trunk sealed itself and put out three new shoots – they don’t seem big enough to support the four pound Papayas.
Chaya (Cnidoscolus aconitifolius) or Tree Spinach. This is a tropical vegetable common in Central America, the leaves are cooked like spinach. A friend gave me cuttings two years ago, it is about six feet tall. The flowers are highly attractive to butterflies. I haven’t eaten any of this – it is toxic unless cooked properly.
Another tropical edible, the Roselle (Hibiscus sabdariffa). This is an edible Hibiscus, usually grown for the flower calyx that tastes like cranberries. The foliage can be eaten as well, new growth is like Arugula and the older leaves maybe be cooked as greens. These won’t flower for another month or so, but I should try the greens. I have eaten the new growth in salad (it’s good) but haven’t cooked any.
New to the garden, a Parrotflower (Heliconia psittacorum ‘ Choconiana’). These are short lived in my garden; they tend to spread wildly and then expire. I enjoy these cut, they are a long lasting tropical flower. And I will buy another one or two after a few years.
The Heliconias were planted beneath two Firebush (Hamelia patens) with a Martin Neoregelia Bromeliad and Alligator Lilies (Hymenocallis latifolia).
One of my father’s favorite summertime sayings “It is hot as blue blazes”. I have no idea where that came from. Maybe New England where he was from. I can confirm it is hot as blue blazes in South Florida in July, though there is a nice breeze coming off the ocean currently.
Above is one of my favorite summer flowers, the Parrotflower (Heliconia psittacorum)
Another Heliconia is flowering in my garden, the Lobsterclaw Heliconia (Heliconia rostrata)
I have been harvesting fruit. My first pineapple, cute and ripening on the counter along with Purple Possum Passionfruit. Say that 10 times fast..
The Bromeliads are doing their thing, some just looking great in summer colors and some flowers. This is an unknown Neoregelia.
The Blanchetiana Aechmea Bromeliads are shooting up buds, these are about five feet tall now and will get a little bigger and fully open in November. The flowers usually last until May.
Another Aechmea Bromeliad, the Miniata. These are very reliable July bloomers, many Bromeliads have a mind of their own when deciding to flower – the Blanchetiana above took about six years to decide to bloom…the Miniata start out red and then get cobalt blue tips. Interesting to watch and they last a long time as cut flowers. The foliage is a bit scorched from two weeks without rain and some wind.
There is more good in the garden than bad or ugly. But there is always some bitter with the sweet, it seems. I will start with the good. With at least 20 inches of rain in June – and more on the way, I am seeing a lot of new growth and weeds! Here is the new growth on my husband’s Glenn Mango. Planted last year in honor of his father, Glenn. New growth on Mangoes is usually bronze, this is different and a pretty red.
More new growth and a summer favorite, this is the bud of a Lobsterclaw Heliconia (Heliconia rostrata).
A freshly picked Pickering Mango.
Passionfruit ripening on the vine. This plant was misidentified when I bought it..should be an interesting taste test when ripe.
Now, the bad. Papayas dropping off the tree due to Papaya Fruitflies, sometimes called Papaya Wasps as they are as big as wasps – they lay their eggs inside the fruit and the larvae hatch inside and eat the Papaya. It is important to get rid of these when they fall as the larvae mature in the ground and eat more Papayas. I seem to get one round of these in the summer. I think the lizard knows what is in there.
The ugly, Papaya Fruitfly larvae escaping, I got this one just in time. Yuck.
This afternoon I have been glued to the television watching Hurricane Michael make landfall about 500 miles north my garden. The sheer size of these storms always amaze me. I can feel the hot breath from Michael flowing through my garden if I step outside. Praying for those in the storm’s path.
Earlier this week I went plant shopping – heading south to the numerous nurseries supplying South Florida. Much of the plant material grown in this area is too tropical for my garden, though I enjoy looking. This is ‘instant effect’ plant material, the above Heliconia is about 15′ tall – prices are not displayed.
This is a hanging basket filled with Medinilla myriantha, 3 or 4 feet wide and tall. These plants are famously difficult to keep. Usually a very expensive flower arrangement.
This is a pink and yellow unnamed Heliconia psittacorum. I could probably grow this one, but couldn’t lift the container it was in!
Huge, grey Bromeliad.
A Starfish Plant, variety lost to me.
I bought nothing at this nursery, but gained an idea for a palm tree with boots I was planning to remove (growing into power lines)
I can have the top removed and keep the trunk, then tuck Bromeliads, Ferns and Orchids into the pockets left by the boots. Like this:
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.
The big leaf in this vase is from my Papaya tree. Papayas are easily grown here, the time from planting seed to picking fruit can be as little as 9 months. But, it’s always something in the garden. I like Hawaiian Papayas, smaller like pears, pink flesh and sweeter than their bigger cousins from the Tropical Americas. I planted some seed last year from a Hawaiian Papaya I had eaten, numerous seedlings came up and I selected three to plant in the garden. Hurricane Irma took out two and I was left with one reasonably good looking tree. I was elated when it flowered recently and then nothing happened, raisin like bits fell out when the flowers were finished. Turns out seedling Papayas can be male, female or both. This one is female, so fortunately I was able to buy a self pollinating Papaya that should pollinate both trees. Next year sometime. Maybe.
Joining the Papaya leaf in the arrangement are: in white, lower, Bridal Bouquet Frangipani (Plumeria pudica); in white, upper, Sweet Almond (Aloysia virgata); orange tubular plants are our native Firebush (Hamelia patens var patens); in red and yellow, Parrottflowers (Heliconia pssitacorum); at the top a few stems of Tropical Red Salvia (Salvia coccinea).