Six on Saturday – Tropical Weather

Tropical weather is on the menu this week in Florida. Two forecasted hurricanes are lurking in the Gulf of Mexico, an unheard of meteorological event. Both are taking aim at the Gulf Coast of the US. Batten down over there. This weather brings downpours that can dump 3 inches of rain per hour in my garden – even hundreds of miles away from the storms. I am joining the Six on Saturday crew at http://www.thepropagatorblog.wordpress.com. Follow the link to see more posts of six items of interest from gardens around the world.

I am featuring my more tropical plants today. This is a Blanchetiana Bromeliad ramping up to full flower. The flower in back is about seven feet tall.

The flowers on a Java White Copperleaf (Acalphya wilkesiana). These shrubs should reach at least six feet.

A Travelers Palm (Ravenala madagascariensis) I planted these last fall to screen a telephone pole behind my house. They will grow to 30 feet. They have just reached eight feet. These are planted as a sign of hospitality in the South Pacific. The stems hold a great deal of water and a thirsty traveler can cut one for a drink of fresh water.

Fruit forming on the Papaya tree. I am hoping the moths are done with my tree for the year and I get some fruit this winter. The tree is at least fifteen feet tall, so I will have to wait for the fruit to fall off.

The new Papaya planted last year from seeds of the tree above. Papayas are very short lived, so I started this new one. The tomato cage is for protection from my lawn guys

Leaves of the Pink Ball Tree (Dombeya wallachii) This is sometimes called Tropical Hydrangea and flowers during the winter. The shrub grew 9 feet in less than two years.

Happy Gardening!!

In a Vase on Monday – Braving Isaias

The impending path of Hurricane Isaias has been big news this week in Florida. A friend is calling this storm Hurricane Unpronounceable. Research tells me Isaias replaces the name Ike, retired after a particularly disastrous storm in 2008. They downgraded Isaias to a Tropical Storm before it reached my neck of the woods.

Ordinarily I would not cut flowers during a tropical weather event. This one was mild enough that I walked my greyhounds this morning. Alan, the weather phobic hound, did not take notice of the weather. During the walk I avoided the house with Coconut Palms – the coconuts are still hanging on the tree. We had winds up to 30 mph, off and on, and very little rain. The pots on my porch had to be watered. It is interesting to note the change in direction in the winds, especially when not scared witless. The circular wind direction can be felt and noted by watching which way the palms are swaying. Just stay away from Coconut Palms.

What Hurricane?

The vase! Oddly, my husband received flowers recently for helping someone and this is the vase from his flowers. I used it to collect a hot color palette of what is flowering in my garden.

The foliage in the back of the arrangement is Varigated Flax Lily (Dianella tasmanica ‘varigata’); yellow and orange spikes are Blanchetiana Bromeliad (Aechmea ‘Blanchetiana’) flowers; peach and red spikes are from Tropical Red Salvia (Salvia coccinea); red and blue tipped panicle flower is Miniata Bromeliad (Aechmea miniata); orange flowers in the middle of the vase are Mexican Honeysuckle (Justicia spicigera); orange flowers hanging over the side are Firebush (Hamelia patens); and a few unnamed Zinnias. The Zinnias are grown in Miami and are my favorite (because they survive) summer container flower. I would love to know the name if anyone can share that information.

It is late Sunday afternoon and while the wind is still blowing it has died down considerably. Fingers crossed for the rest of those in the path of this storm.

To see more vases from less tropical climes visit Cathy at http://www.ramblinginthegarden.wordpress.com.

Happy Gardening and hopefully sunny skies…

Six on Saturday – Preparation H

My husband and I spent last night and this morning securing our house and garden in preparation of the arrival of Hurricane Isaias. It is quite literally a pain in the ….here he is installing storm shutters:

Every window on the house is covered with corrugated aluminum shutters secured with pins cast into concrete window frames and wing nuts. Anything loose in the garden has to be turned over to catch the least possible wind. The teak coffee table has assumed dead cockroach position near the house. I have turned all the garden furniture over, then picked up all the loose bits and nursery pots I have left lying about.

Why, oh, why do I have so many cushions?

For the porch furniture and seating for greyhounds, of course. Piled up to avoid wind gusts.

I ran across this map recently, we live on the Treasure Coast of Florida, so named because of all the shipwrecks just offshore. Caused by – you guessed it, hurricanes. And lack of Preparation. People find gold coins at the beach from time to time.

I have one pretty flower for this Saturday, this is called either a Flaming Torch or Hurricane Bromeliad. It’s a Billbergia pyramidalis. Appropriately prepared for the hurricane.

Isaias is predicted to pass by here tomorrow, time will tell how the garden fares.

I am joining Jon the Propagator and gang for Six on Saturday; sharing six pictures of what is going on in my garden this Saturday. To see more Saturday posts, visit Jon at http://www.thepropagatorblog.wordpress.com

Happy Gardening from the Treasure Coast!!

In a Vase on Monday – Love/Hate Relationships

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The oh so subtle signs of fall are appearing on the peninsula of Florida. Hurricane Dorian was one unmistakable sign, the hurricane season peaks on September 10. My husband declared hurricane season over and took down all the storm shutters. Signs in the garden include the formation of fruit on Beautyberry and Firebush and I have seen three (yes, 3!) Red Maples sporting red fall color. It is exciting.

My garden came through the brush with Hurricane Dorian mostly unscathed, the Beautyberry had their leaves blown off (the berries were untouched) and the Avocado tree’s leaves have windburn. A few branches down here and there, but that is about it. I wonder if I have sited the Avocado in a less than the optimal place as the leaves usually burn from one thing or another.

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The vase is an old florist’s vase I found by the side of the road in my neighborhood. I am guessing at least thirty years old as I vaguely remember these in the 80s. Most of the plants in the vase I love for their flowers but hate for their voracious appetite for space in the garden.

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The most incorrigible of the lot, in white, Spanish Needles (Bidens alba) possibly the best native pollinator in the garden – however, these reseed to the point of annoyance. In orange and red, Firebush (Hamelia patens – varieties botanically undefined) I love these shrubs, but once they get going watch out. I was told one was dwarf (4 feet) sounds great – it is probably closing in on 12 feet and still growing. Also soon to be a tree form as I love the butterflies nectaring on it (5 different butterflies seen while cutting branches for the vase). The red fruits are also from the Firebush, I have two types, the red one produces fruit that grows little plants in the garden – the orange one never does. Grey foliage is from Barometer Bush (Luecophyllum) I prune and prune and never have a dense hedge, purple flowers occasionally make it worthwhile. The purple berries, Beautyberry (Calliocarpa americana) which I love right now but not so much for the foliage. Ferns are Asian Sword Ferns, they could take over a gas station parking lot. Enough said.

My vase from last week is holding up well with the exception of the Orchid, that was asked to leave and unceremoniously composted. Here are the two vases together.

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Maybe there is fall color in Florida. It is just totally different.

Six on Saturday – Some Rescues

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Every Saturday The Propagator (click on link) invites us to share six items of interest from our gardens. Hurricane Dorian passed within 100 miles of my garden this week and we came through the storm unscathed. Physically, unscathed – mentally I was scathed. I did bring a few things inside before the winds howled by. Above, Papayas nearly ripe on the tree. I picked the Papayas and left them on the counter to ripen.

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This is a fungus on a Norfolk Island Pine stump, the tree was removed because they tend to topple in high winds.

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A Gulf Fritillary butterfly on potted Zinnias.

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New growth on a Miniature Pineapple.

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Flower of a Neoregelia Bromeliad.

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The Cattleya Orchids flowered. Thinking the flowers were too delicate for the winds, I cut them and brought them inside. They grow right outside my Living Room window and I usually leave them as they last longer on the plant.

Happy Gardening on Saturday!

The Hurricane Report

Several people have asked what goes on during a hurricane. I have written about my hurricane experience, having recently been missed by ongoing Hurricane Dorian. This experience is not a recommended addition to anyone’s bucket list.

Here is the report:

First, days or weeks before the Hurricane actually forms, it pops up on an NOAA Map like this:

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X marks the spot where a tropical depression might or might not form, percentages are the chance it forms in 2 days and existing hurricanes and storms are on the map. Tropical depressions are the genesis of the hurricane. By looking further on the website you can find tracks of all storms and see where they are predicted to go, many go out to sea, never a threat to land. The #3 disturbance is worrisome because this time of year many hurricanes originate there, and end up in the Caribbean, the Gulf of Mexico or the Atlantic coast of the US and Canada. These are called Cape Verde hurricanes, named after the nearby islands.

We started watching Dorian a week or so ago when it passed by Puerto Rico as a tropical storm, and kept heading our way. As the days go by the cone of probability (basically a graphic of the current idea of where the hurricane might make landfall) The cone (current idea) goes from place to place as the weather forecasters push and pull their modeling forecasts. These can (and do) vary by hundreds of miles as the storms and computers meander. I read at the start of the storm season that the new tracking software made them 20 miles more accurate than last year. Not feeling better about that. The Weather channel’s ratings go up, drama ensues. Inevitably, the storm ends up going through my Living Room at 130 mph at some point. (on the cone computer graphic)

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We put up our hurricane shutters when things start looking dicey.  Dorian got dicey at the end of last week. The shutters are aluminum and are screwed on to threaded posts embedded in the window trim. All windows and doors that are not hurricane rated are covered as well as screen porches. It is a huge pain to install all this stuff. The clear shutter is so you can see what is going on outside. In addition to shuttering the windows, it is necessary to stockpile food and water and a gas-powered generator is a very handy thing if the power goes out, of course then gas is needed. We were very well prepared. And the power did not even blink. It was too windy to go outside off and on for 2 or 3 days, all grocery stores, make that all stores were closed (except one gas station with a deli) and bridges to the barrier islands were closed.

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The wind swirled around our house at 30 or 40 mph off and on for a couple of days. The constant high pitched whine and the wind rattling the metal shutters get a bit nerve-wracking after a while. Fortunately, Hurricane Dorian’s extremely high winds stayed offshore, here is where we are relative to the storm:

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Too close for comfort. Way too close. My garden is surprisingly unscathed. I did pick the Papayas fearing smoothies on my house instead of in my glass. The Papayas are still ripening on the counter.

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We are feeling lucky and blessed. And collecting things for those poor souls in the Bahamas who lived through days of Dorian’s wrath.

Send some thoughts, good vibes or items to the Bahamas.

In a Vase on Sunday – Flowers by Dorian

IMG_20190901_105215 Who is Dorian, you may ask? Dorian is the hurricane currently lashing the Bahamas that may or may not be lashing my house on Monday. This hurricane has been lurking around for at least a week and we are still wondering where Dorian will land.

We have had so much time to prepare I did not really have anything left to do and decided to make this wildly funky vase with flowers that would likely be destroyed by  high winds. I had to take the vase outside to photograph it – the windows of our house are covered with the steel shutters seen behind the vase and it is dark and sepulchral inside. Too dark to photograph the nearly 4 foot tall arrangement, the vase is resting on my bath mat.

00100lPORTRAIT_00100_BURST20190901105508924_COVERHere is a closer view. The orchids are Cattleyas, gifted to me by my neighbor. I may have saved them from an uncertain demise, they were being consumed by tiny ants, Not to mention potential hurricane winds. The orange and red flowers are the bud stalks from Blanchetiana Bromeliads (Aechmea blanchetiana) these will usually survive a hurricane and continue flowering but are bent over. The purple berries are Beautyberry (Calliocarpa americana) not sure if the berries will survive the wind. Time will tell. The foliage is a big leaf of Heliconia and two variegated Pandanus leaves.

Happy Gardening…Hope we meet next Monday. The winds are howling already.

Six on Saturday – Waiting for Dorian

I live on the Atlantic side of South Florida and for most of this week, we have been watching now Hurricane Dorian forecasts. Our area has gone from obliteration to partial obliteration, currently, the storm is predicted to not hit us, no obliteration! At least for this morning. I took photos of things that might be blown away by the wind.

First, my Dombeya, it is a tropical version of a Hydrangea. I have been pruning it into a tree form all summer. These flower in December with pink balls hanging below the branches.

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Second, a pink Tropical Red Salvia (Salvia coccinea) – these can flower white, pink, red or neon orange. I enjoy the little color surprises from the seedlings.

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Next, the Blanchetiana Bromeliads in bud. These flower stalks are about 6 feet tall and will survive high winds, blooming while bent over later this fall.

 

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Fourth, the Red Shrimp Plant (Justicia brandegeana). These are a Florida passalong plant that came from my neighbor, they bloom off and on year round.

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The flower of Setcresea pallida, Purple Hearts, these tend to appear in the garden and I enjoy their purpleness.

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Last, the native Chapman’s Goldenrod (Solidago chapmanii, I think) Chapman was an early plant explorer in Florida and many native plants carry his name.

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Happy Gardening, I hope all these plants are here next Saturday.

In A Vase on Monday – Ahhhhtumn is Here

 

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Sometime during the month of October there is a collective sigh of relief from the inhabitants of South Florida. It finally happened last Friday, temperatures and humidity dropped. I spent the day in my garden, then later in the afternoon enjoyed a glass of wine amongst my burgeoning collection of Bromeliads.

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After my glass of wine, I quickly put all the cushions back in the house as Tropical Storm Phillipe was forecast to pass through on Saturday. Philippe dumped a few inches of rain on the garden and then headed to New England to wreak havoc further north.

Sunday turned into a beautiful, somewhat windy day and I spent time searching for vase components with the Dragonflies (swarming to eat post storm mosquitoes) and Longwing Butterflies searching for a sip of nectar. In the background, I heard Sand Hill Cranes, home for the winter calling out to friends and lovers.

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The contents of my vase include in red, front and center, Turks Cap Hibiscus (Hibiscus malvaviscus), the red spikes and seedy spikes are Tropical Red Salvia (Salvia coccinea). The yellow and orange spikes are from the Blanchetiana Bromeliad (Aechmea blanchetiana). The creamy white spikes are a mystery plant that appeared in the garden several years ago, I have not been able to identify it, but it is a great fall vase component and seems well mannered enough to live in the garden. The fluffy pink background grass is Muhly Grass (Muhlbergia capillaris) I am loving my Muhly Grass this fall.

Ahh, Autumn is finally here. It is seventy degrees, cool not experienced since last spring.

Happy Halloween!

In A Vase on Monday- Dark Glasses

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Dark Glasses, my theme this week involves two types of dark glass. First, the vases made of smoky grey (like Ray Bans) and dark blue glass. Next, the contents of the vases, bright enough to require sunglasses.

20171015_101924-1The bigger vase, in Ray Ban grey, is filled with Parrotflowers (Heliconia psittacorum) and Asian Sword Fern, the devil in fern clothing (invasive fern) – the Parrotflowers have rebounded magnificently from Hurricane Irma, causing me to realize cutting them for vases really improves their existence and mine. Probably my favorite cut flower.

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The smaller cobalt blue vase is filled with a larger variety of flowers. My husband’s comment ‘it looks like a meadow’ – a sort of tropical meadow, I think.

The foliage is from Pie Crust Croton, a mad tropical plant by all counts. This shrub sports black foliage with orange, green, yellow and red spots, new growth green and the leaf edges crimped like pie crust. Planted in honor of my husband, the pie maker.

 

The crusts are reminiscent of the Croton, no? Blueberry and Apple pies.

The ferny foliage is from Asparagus Fern, this finely textured foliage tends to just pop up in the garden and I usually cut it for arrangements.

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The flowers are mostly natives, the yellow, Beach Sunflower (Helianthus debilis), orangey rust Gallardia, orange tubular, Firebush (Hamelia patens), the red spikes Tropical Red Salvia (Salvia coccinea) the bright red flower in the middle is from the Coral Plant – an oddity that is a variety of Jatropha, not native.

Happy Monday and I hope Ophelia misses everyone!