In A Vase on Monday – Boxed Florida Sunshine.

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The Beach Sunflowers are overtaking my front yard. The mailman, raised in the Florida Keys, stopped to inform me no one left the Beach Sunflowers in their garden when he was growing up – they were considered weeds, though clearly he was wondering if maybe it was a good idea. Floridians, the rare native ones,  tend not to appreciate things that are common (and wonderful). I think the tide of appreciation is turning to plants more suited to their native environment – who couldn’t appreciate a box of sunshine from Florida on a fine February morning?

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The blue watercolor box is filled with Helianthus debilis, Beach Sunflower. Beach Sunflower is a native reseeding biennial – the reasons I love these, they bloom nearly year round, thrive in pure sand, outcompete most weeds and can be pruned to low masses. What’s not to love?

The fruit tree update. Mangoes are flowering here, we will have fruit in June or July, the panicles produce numerous fruits – most fall off and maybe one to three fruits per flower is left. By late spring, the branches will be bending from the weight of the fruit.

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This is a big Haden Mango located on my daily dog walk route. My little Mangoes are flowering a little, but nothing like this.

I bought another fruit tree, a Red Jaboticaba:

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This is a South American fruit tree that bears a grape like fruit on the trunk. In a few years. Patience, gardeners.

 

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In A Vase on Monday – Crystal Blue Persuasion

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Last week our fearless hostess, Cathy from ramblinginthegarden.wordpress.com  posted about Blue, an album by Joni Mitchell, relating the album to her vase. My In A Vase on Monday post had some crystals from my father, the geology professor. This made me remember the song, Crystal Blue Persuasion, by Tommy James and The Shondells. The song never made any sense to me, but it is pretty catchy and I had some blue crystals and some flowers I have been trying to persuade to flower.

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The flowers  I have been trying to persuade are in a blue glass inherited from my in laws. This is my second attempt at Cactus Zinnias, they seem to top out about 7 inches, cute but I would like them to be taller. The Mexican Sage (Salvia leucathemum) is listless in the garden, reluctantly sending up a puny purple flower. The purple Verbena is a native beach plant, supposedly rare. I bought this at a native plant sale last year – I passed by it a couple of weeks ago, indiscriminately chopped it back and was rewarded with two flowers. I think all need more heat or longer day length

The crystals are from my father. I think they are soapstone, blue tourmaline and pyrite.

Feeling the need for more flowers, I assembled another vase. I would entitle this one: Junk That Came Up in My Garden, because, truth be told – that is exactly what it is, and, dang, -it is pretty. And in a crystal blue, uh, container.

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What we have here- the flowers:in yellow, Beach Sunflowers (Helianthus debilis); in white Bidens alba, in purple, the uber weed, Florida Tasselflower-my opinion (exclusively) as botanists are contemplating something about this plant. the peach pink flowers – something that came up from the native Tropical Red Salvia (Salvia coccinea): and the mystical Wireweed, another volunteer.

Here are both vases:

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And the song:

Lyrics
Look over yonder
What do you see?
The sun is a’rising
Most definitely
A new day is coming, ooh, ooh
People are changing
Ain’t it beautiful, ooh, ooh
Crystal blue persuasion
Better get ready to see the light
Love, love is the answer, ooh, ooh
And that’s all right
So don’t you give up now, ooh, ooh
So easy to find
Just look to your soul
And open your mind
Crystal blue persuasion, mmm, mmm
It’s a new vibration
Crystal blue persuasion
Crystal, blue persuasion
Maybe tomorrow
When he looks down
On every green field, ooh, ooh
And every town
All of his children
And every nation
They’ll be peace and good brotherhood
Crystal blue persuasion, yeah
Crystal blue persuasion, aha
Crystal blue persuasion, aha
Crystal blue persuasion, aha
Songwriters: Eddie Morley Gray / Mike Vale / Tommy James
Crystal Blue Persuasion lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC
 Hmmmm
Happy Gardening and Happy Monday.

Garden Bloggers Foliage Day – Tropical Fruit

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Having spent most of my life much further north of South Florida, I enjoyed eating tropical fruit, but never knew what they looked like while growing. I have included tropical fruit trees and plants for shade and foliage in my new garden, the fruit is a bonus. Some of the fruit producing plants I have in my garden now I had never heard of – because, well, in my opinion, like many things you have to grow up eating them to appreciate the fruit.

Above is the foliage of the Sea Grape (Coccoloba uvifera).  This is a native tree that produces clusters of grapes in the summer that are mostly seed and taste similar to figs. Natives of Florida and birds like the fruit.

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This is Mango (Mangifera ‘Nam Doc Mai’) a Thai Dessert Mango. Delicious and easy to grow. The leaves were burned by Hurricane Irma.

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Silvery backed leaves from a Pineapple I grew from the top of a fruit bought at the grocery store. I have no idea what kind it will be. Pineapples are very easy to grow here and my new hometown, Jensen Beach was once considered the Pineapple Capital of the World. Here is a link to an article I wrote about how to grow pineapples  Link.

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This is a Rangpur Lime, grown from seed by my neighbor. Rangpur Limes have orange skin and are incredibly juicy. I believe these are not well known because they do not keep very well.

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This is a Papaya, I believe Hawaiian, although I won’t be sure until it bears fruit. I grew this from seed last year. Curiously, I sometimes see Papayas growing wild on construction sites. Papayas are native to South and Central America and a bit of an acquired taste. I like them in pork stir fry, bread and sliced.

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The new foliage on a Cuban Avocado tree. Cuban Avocados are the size of footballs and I had never seen one until landing in South Florida. The fruit is a bit sweeter and creamier than Hass Avocado and the rare avocado that is true to seed. A friend grew this for me with a seed from her tree, which she got from a Cuban guy!

The trees are integrated into my back garden along with vegetables and a native pollinator area. Everything but the Mango was grown from seed so I have a few years yet before I will taste the fruit.

Gardening in many cases is all about patience. Someday soon I will have some fantastic salsa and guacamole.

In A Vase on Monday – Semi Tropical

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I read something interesting in the local newspaper recently – the garden expert said “there really aren’t any good cutting flowers that grow in our area”. It made me question what I am doing every Sunday morning – deadheading flowers for fun? The very same paper ran an article about growing Red Valerian, in South Florida, unfortunately a laughable situation.

So, if you stand back and squint a bit, this vase looks like white roses, pink lilies and (use your imagination) apricot lilacs and we are in a cutting garden hundreds of miles north.

 

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The reality is while the vase appears semi tropical it is actually very tropical. None of these plants will grow much further north of my garden. The pink lilies are Rain Lilies (Zephyranthes), white flowers Tropical Gardenias (Tabernaemontana divaricata) and the apricot flowers are from Miniata Bromeliads (Aechmea miniata) I would swear the Miniatas were red last year. Asian Sword Ferns create a backdrop.

I cut some Rain Lilies as an experiment thinking they would close immediately, but they last a couple of days and are so pretty they make it worthwhile. No idea why they are blooming – it hasn’t rained here in weeks. The garden is parched. The good news is the weeds are also parched and have slowed down significantly.

Fun things in the garden this week. I enjoyed my first homegrown Mango, a Nam Doc Mai, Thai dessert mango. Divine.

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My neighbor’s Cattleya Orchids (she grows them in a tree trunk) started flowering. I have some as well, but mine are still thinking.

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Mangoes in Mass Quantity

July in South Florida means a couple of different things, heat, humidity and Mangoes. Lots of Mangoes. This year is a bumper crop. I am philosophizing the rainy winter produced many flowers followed by many fruits.

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Followed by many baskets of Mangoes, which I find irresistible.

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These are Haden Mangoes, from my neighbor the chef, who I suspect just eats his mangoes. I ate some of them, but my husband is not a big fan of plain and won’t eat them straight. So, I made a Mango Amaretto Cake. Not very pretty, but delicious. Last year my Mango effort included a Mango Rum Cake which I believe lasted longer due to its higher alcohol content. Something to consider if your household is not highly populated.

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After a few servings of the Mango Amaretto cake, I decided to take a more savory adventure with Mango Salsa for grilled fish (Pacific Swordfish in this case). The salsa is made with mango, red bell peppers, sliced green onions, cilantro, lime juice and honey.

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Great stuff, and I still had some leftover to have with my Blueberry Bread  from my lasr fruit overload and vanilla yogurt.

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Just when my Mango supply dwindled to this another basket was left on my front porch.

What to do? Bake some Mango Pecan Bread, of course.

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I used the same recipe as my Blueberry Pecan Bread and it turned out fine. This is not particularly sweet for a quick fruit bread but the resinous quality of the mango shines through.

On to my next culinary adventure in mangoland. Another neighbor gave me some Speckled Perch, a local freshwater fish. So, here it is – pan sauteed Perch in lemon butter sauce with Mango Tomato Sauce served with Parmesan Herb Rice and Sauteed Mixed Veg.

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Still have Mangoes. The only thing left to do is make granita. It can be eaten straight up, with vanilla ice cream, yogurt or vodka if you are feeling frisky.

The remains of the day and this is all I have left!

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