In a Vase on Monday – August Beauties

This vase accurately reflects what thrives in my South Florida garden with very little water or attention. August is the hottest month of the year, it is frequently 94 degrees in the shade (F or almost 35 C). Gardening is best abandoned for cooler days. There has also been a long dry spell here, we are 8 inches below normal on rainfall and some plants have burned up. My stalwart zinnias succumbed the first week of August, despite my best effort to hand water them, they are curled and crispy brownish tan. I left them to shade the lime green sedum in hopes of nursing it through August. The lush tropical border is a memory. The Dahlias dramatically folded their foliage up the stem and turned brown standing straight like soldiers praying to the rain gods. Bah.

Saturday night we had a refreshing rain shower and the white flowers in the vase, Bridal Bouquet Frangipani, smelled so lovely I had to cut some to bring inside. It seems the more tropical plants tolerate the dry heat a bit better than the Florida natives, which seems odd. Another gardening mystery to ponder.

Beauties in detail:

The lurid purple berries are from the Beautyberry (Calliocarpa americana); fragrant, white flowers are Bridal Bouquet Frangipani; orange tubular flowers are Firebush (Hamelia patens); yellow flowers are Esperanza (Tecoma stans).

The balance:

The peach flower is a Choconiana Heliconia (H. psittacorum ‘Choconiana’) I have tried to find out what the heck is a Choconiana to no avail. Purple foliage is from ‘Purple Prince’ Alternantera – I should admit to watering this one and keeping it in a pot in the shade. There is one in the garden, surprisingly still alive, but much smaller.

I wish everyone gentle rain, but not too much, and cooler weather. Thanks to Cathy at http://www.ramblinginthegarden.wordpress.com for hosting. Follow the link to see more vases.

Happy Gardening!!

In a Vase on Monday – Time in a Bottle

The blue bottle serving as a vase today reminds me of another time. The bottle belonged to my mother. My mother and grandmother had a peculiar habit of keeping bottles in the kitchen window. If the bottles were clear they were filled with water and food coloring. Colored bottles were left as is and used as vases for whatever somebody found in the yard; it was usually me finding things. My grandmother, a teetotaling Southern Baptist, especially enjoyed her slightly risque practice of displaying old liquor bottles filled with colored water.

A closer view:

This is a bouquet of summer in South Florida. Many of the annuals are starting to burn out and the true stalwarts of the garden are shining. In white, Tropical Gardenias (Tabernaemontana divaricata); peach spikes are Tropical Red Salvia (Salvia coccinea), in blue, an improved cultivar of Plumbago, I think this is ‘Imperial Blue’ and it has deeper color and flowers longer than the standard; the fern is the ‘weed’ Asparagus Fern that tends to appear for no reason.

An even closer view of the Tropical Gardenias, I do love these.

Thanks to Cathy at http://www.ramblinginthegarden.wordpress.com for hosting. Follow the link to see more summer (or winter!) vases..

Happy Gardening!!!

Six on Saturday – Summer

Saturday morning finds heat and humidity in Florida – the Saharan sand drifting over the Atlantic is keeping the rain away and not much gardening is going on, except decapitating seed heads on weeds and watering. I have realized it is a bad idea to try and establish plants after May. Another backwards seasonality here, rest in summer and garden in winter. I am joining SOS today with summer flowers and foliage. To see more SOS posts, visit http://www.thepropagatorblog.wordpress.com.

The Blanchetiana Bromeliads are shooting up flower stalks. Below is the yellow/chartreuse version – sometimes called Lemon. Aechmea blanchetiana “Lemon”.

I bought this Red Velvet Aerva (Aerva sanguinolenta) last year. It was touted as a tough plant from Africa that is drought tolerant and native to desert, sandy soils. Not quite believing this, I planted some in the sand and took a few cuttings in case this was not true. The plant in the sand is long gone, but the cuttings love being coddled in potting soil.

Another oops from research. Last year I wrote an article for The American Gardener about Bougainvillea. Research in many forms claim Bougs bloom in cycles and stop when day length exceeds 12 hours. This one has been blooming all summer during the longest days of the year. Another myth busted.

The culinary ginger is finally growing. These are heat lovers and make ginger root during the summer, the fresh ginger root is wonderful. I am looking forward to it in a couple of months.

The Purple Gem Dahlias are getting smaller and moldier day by day. I decided to leave the tubers in the pots and not water them after they go dormant to see what happens. I also bought some uber cheap tubers to refrigerate and try later. Research is planned to find what day length inspires Dahlias to flower.

A Queen butterfly on the Firebush. These are cousins of the now endangered Monarch. They are supposed to be year round here, but are relatively rare in my garden.

There, my Six for this summer Saturday.

Happy Gardening!!

In a Vase on Monday – Summer Broms

There was a lovely breeze coming off the ocean this morning; reminding me of the old Seals and Crofts song “Summer Breeze” as I was cutting flowers. The version rattling around my brain was “summer broms make me feel fine” instead of the summer breeze lyric. The Arabian Jasmine next door is in full bloom, the sweet scent swirling through the garden adding another line from the chorus of that song to my garden musings.

Here is a snippet of the song. Beware if you remember this song, it is kind of an earworm and is haunting me.

[Chorus]
Summer breeze makes me feel fine
Blowin’ through the jasmine in my mind
Summer breeze makes me feel fine
Blowin’ though the jasmine in my mind

A closer view:

The summer broms that make me feel fine are Aechmea miniata in red; blue flowers are ‘Mystic Spires’ Salvia; the foliage is a weird thing that popped up in my Rainforest garden under the Strangler Fig. Google lens identified it as Hen and Chick Fern (Asplenium bulbiforum) – a native of moist forests in New Zealand. My garden is not close to a moist forest, so I am not sure that is correct, but it is an interesting ferny thing I left in place to watch. I found the red vase by the curb while walking my dog.

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

Happy Gardening!!

Six on Saturday – Shrimp and Fruit

It is Saturday again. Time to peruse the garden for six items of interest. Today it occurred to me the Shrimp Plants look their best in summer heat and the plants set fruit earlier here than in my former garden. The beautyberries are already turning purple; further north this happens in late September or October.

It is hot here, 92F or 33C, but nothing like what Europe is experiencing and fortunately we have had a lovely breeze off the ocean and rain showers all week so the garden is hydrated. The weeds are taking control – I noted them as I walked through the garden taking pictures but failed to take any action. I should pull weeds…blogging about them instead.

The Shrimp:

This is a Red Shrimp plant (Justicia brandegeana), they grow in the sugar sand without irrigation or much of anything else. It crossed my mind I should propagate more of these, they are easily rooted in water.

The fruit:

The incredibly prolific Beautyberry (Calliocarpa americana). This one never fails to amaze me. It grows on a wall facing due north. Full shade in winter and full sun in summer. And thrives.

The very pretty but inedible Muscadine grapes (Vitis rotundafolia). These must be the hardy rootstock other tastier varieties are crossed with or grafted to. These have two large seeds and are very bitter tasting. The raccoons and local wildlife love them and spread them far and wide.

Bromeliads love the mid summer heat and are showing off.

One of my garage sale finds – no clue what variety this is. The flower looks like it might be purple.

Aechmea rubens in full bloom. I have enjoyed these this summer and wonder how much longer they will last.

Aechmea blanchetiana in bud. These will flower and last for months. A little photo bomb by Johnson’s grass, my least favorite weed. It is still out there, waiting to produce a hundred thousand seeds while I recline in air conditioned comfort. I will decapitate it before the seed disperses. Hopefully.

My Six for Saturday. To see more, visit http://www.thepropagatorblog.wordpress.com.

Happy Gardening and stay cool..

Dahlia Rant

I am getting the odor of a bad vibe from the Dahlia. Overnight we have yellowing leaves and sunken black spots on the foliage. Hope springs eternal for the two final buds to produce flowers.

On another note, the story of my garden was published in GardenRant, a garden blog dispensing ideas, problems and sometimes trashing out Martha Stewart.

Anyway, here is the link:

Enjoy and let me know what you think!

Happy Gardening!!

In a Vase on Monday – Tutti Frutti

The colors in my vase this Monday reminded me of my mother’s favorite ice cream, Tutti Frutti. I suspect she just liked saying the word while ordering. The ice cream was an unidentifiable, overly sweet fruit flavor in shades of pink, green and orange..lime, strawberry and orange, maybe? I am a confirmed chocoholic so it was not my thing.

The vase is also from my mother, a relic from her travels in the Southwestern US. The pineapple I found in my garden while cutting the Gardenias. It is small enough to fit in my pocket, though I found out the hard way that it was not a terribly good idea. Stabbed, yes. The pineapple is not quite ripe. I don’t think I am going to eat it as something took a bite out of the bottom. It is really cute, about 3 inches long, grown from a pineapple top from the grocery store. Vigilance is required to beat the animals to the fruit in the garden. Sigh.

A closer view:

The pineapple, on its good side. The flowers are: in peach, pink and green, Apricot Profusion, Cactus and Envy Zinnias; the pink flower is the same Dahlia from last week, identified as Purple Gem; white flowers are from Tropical Gardenia (Tabernaemontana diviricata). A few stems of Tropical Red Salvia (Salvia coccinea) are in the back.

This vase has a delicious fragrance. A combination of pineapple, gardenia with a bit of sage and dahlia thrown in. I did not realize dahlias were fragrant. Another reason to grow them.

Visit Cathy at http://www.ramblinginthegarden.wordpress.com to see other vases.

Here’s to cooler weather and gentle rains, Happy Gardening!!

Six on Saturday – Tropical Senescence

Unlike humans or maybe it is just me, flowers on tropical plants can look great for a long time, aging well. Above, the fading flowers of the relatively ephemeral Tropical Rain Lilies (Zephyranthes robusta). I enjoy these in the garden, the pink flowers celebrating rain. Here they are new:

The Silver Urn (Aechmea fasciata) flower opened about a month ago. Here is it today, the pink is a bit faded, but it is still a showstopper.

The opening flower:

Guzmania Bromeliads are another long lasting flower. I like these at all phases. These Bromeliads actually produce brown seed heads, which is unusual as most seem to produce vegetative pups. The flowers start red and slowly fade to chartreuse. This one is mid fade.

A fresh Guzmania flower. In March!

The Aechmea miniata flower, nearly full bloom with a friendly dragonfly. These are covered with blue when in full flower and slowly fade to apricot over the summer.

The buds from a couple of weeks ago.

Oops, I think that is Eight on Saturday. Oh, well. I am aging in the garden along with the Bromeliads…

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

Happy Gardening!!

In a Vase on Monday – The Dahlia

I have been trying to grow Cactus Dahlias for years. I thought I could grow them in the ground, in amended soil. I planted tubers and thought “I will have flowers in eight weeks” Ha. This was four or five years ago. The tubers would sprout, put out a few leaves, and then die back down. A couple of times a year this happened until finally a passing critter dug them up and ate them. They hung around the garden for a few years, I kept hoping for flowers, but never got so much as a bud.

This spring I ordered some Labyrinth Cactus Dahlia tubers. I was shipped single red Dahlias and these replacement tubers are supposed to be Labyrinth. I was expecting long stemmed peach and pink mixed flowers…that is not this. This is the shortest stemmed flower I have ever cut. Maybe and inch and a half of stem and I accidentally clipped a bud while trying to cut the flower. These are pretty whatever they are, Cactus Dahlias, but not Labyrinth. Oh, well. I am still thrilled with the flower. All the stems are seemingly very short so my dreams of an overflowing bowl of Dahlias are dashed…

I am growing these in plastic pots. The tubers were planted about two months ago, so the original thought of having Dahlias in eight weeks is about right. The red singles I planted in March have burned out and gone dormant (or perished in the heat?)

A close up:

In pale purple, the Dahlia and bud. Green Envy Zinnias are hanging over the side. The foliage is Asparagus Fern and Sweet Begonia leaves. The vase is a thrift store find.

From above:

Thanks to Cathy at http://www.ramblinginthegarden.wordpress.com for hosting; follow the link to see more vases from around the world.

Happy Gardening!!

Six on Saturday – Wilting and Watering.

The July heat remains unabated. My garden has had no rain for two weeks! I have given up on some lawn (I use that term loosely and am happy I did not put any sod down this spring). Some of the more drought tolerant plants are looking wonderful and others have shut down to wait for rain. Fingers crossed for an actual thundershower every day! Below is my fabulous Labyrinth Dahlia, faithfully watered twice a day.

Next up, a native of the South Pacific, Dwarf Red Ixora (Ixora chinensis) – these shrug off the heat and love to flower all summer, but must be watered and fed. I have allowed our native Corkystem Passionvine to ramble through the shrubs; providing a larval food source for butterflies while the flowers from the Ixora provide nectar. The invasive lizards (only in Florida!) had staked out my Passionfruit vine and ate most of the caterpillars, so I got rid of that vine and the evil lizards haven’t figured this out – yet.

Last week I posted some pictures of the orchids growing in my Gumbo Limbo tree. Here is a close up of the roots growing into the trunk. They are not quite attached, but getting there.

The native Cabbage Palms (Sabal palmetto) are indestructible. These are the flowers, the bees love them. Eventually, black berries are formed on long boughs from the crown of the palms. People used the skin of the berries to make flour – which must have been difficult!

Flowers on a Dwarf Pygmy Date Palm (Phoenix roebellini) This palm has male and female plants and will make dates if both are present. These are very common here and I have yet to see any dates. No idea what sex this is.

More happy natives. This is a Sea Grape (Coccoloba uvifera). These hardy plants are used for anything from clipped hedges to trees, this one is about 25 feet tall and covered in grapes. The grapes are edible with a huge seed and taste like figs. Another of those things you have to grow up eating to appreciate. I leave them for the critters. One of my greyhounds loved them and would stand under the tree and graze.

There, Six for Saturday. Rain dance starts later.

Thanks to Jon at http://www.thepropagatorblog.wordpress.com for hosting. Follow the link for more SOS posts.

Happy Gardening.