My Roselles started flowering in earnest this week. These are edible Hibiscus (Hibiscus sabdariffa) and grow in tropical areas. I planted the seedlings in April and they flower in late October. These are grown for their cranberry flavored calyx, but the rest of the plant can be eaten.
This one has just finished flowering. The directions I have found dictate waiting two to three weeks after the flower falls off to harvest the calyx. I picked one to try, having no idea when the flower fell off.
Watched a video about Roselles and found out I was going to eat the sepals – when you are supposed to eat the calyx. I had Botany about 40 years ago, I will forgive myself. Here it is cut if half.
These are usually dried but can be eaten raw. I am not sure if it was ripe as it was very sour with the barest hint of cranberry flavor.
I posted about nematodes and worms to help combat them a couple of weeks ago. One of the Roselle plants was killed by root knot nematodes. Here is the body, I bagged the roots to prevent spreading the bugs. Root knot nematodes destroy the xylem and phloem leaving the plant unable to feed itself. This Roselle was 4 feet tall.
Here are the roots.
Ugh, I watered the area with food grade diatomaceous earth in hopes of getting rid of the nematodes. Though I will probably start another worm bed as they are pretty close to a Mango and Lime tree.
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?
The Muhly Grass in my garden started sending up feathery pink spires this week. This is one of my fall favorites and I keep adding more to the garden. They reseed a bit and every plant gets moved to a new spot. I realized recently I am running out of spots and should stop before there is too much Muhly. Or I could add some drifts further back in the yard….can one ever have too much Muhly?
A closer view:
The pink is Muhly Grass (Muhlenbergia capillaris) – a Florida native that thrives in my garden; the deep blue flowers are Blue Porterweed (Stachytarpheta jamaicensis) having a banner year; light blue flowers are from Arabian Lilac (Vitx trifolia); white Sweet Almond (Aloysia virgata) adds some fragrance and graceful Juba Bush (Iresine diffusa) sways with the Muhly Grass.
Bountiful Blue Porterweed:
Another reason for the Muhly Blues. Alan the Greyhound, tail wagging, went over the Rainbow Bridge this week. The Rainbow Bridge is my favorite euphemism as I love the thought of all my departed Greyhounds waiting at the end of the bridge to join Alan in a joyful run into happy infinity…
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.
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.
My husband and I spent most of last night in the pet emergency center. Actually, in the parking lot as they won’t let anyone inside. My older greyhound, Alan, who has been in my blog on many occasions, was limping and in pain so we took him to be evaluated. The vet initially thought he had torn his ACL, then X rays revealed a much worse diagnosis. Bone cancer, extremely painful and always fatal. They sent us home with pain medication and little hope. He is still here today, but I am sure he will be gone by my next vase.
This vase is for Alan.
He has spent many hours in the garden with me. His primary tasks, digging holes, terrorizing squirrels and holding down sand and lawn.
The vase is a pottery wine cooler, rarely used for wine, but I love it on my kitchen counter. The white flowers are Bridal Bouquet Plumeria (Plumeria pudica), a miniature pineapple pup (I will plant next week); some Tropical Red Salvia (Salvia coccinea) and a strand of Asparagus Fern.
Below is a story published several years ago in GreenPrints Magazine about my greyhounds in the garden. Truth be told, I don’t have a favorite garden hound. The one in the story was a real character.
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.
Saturday again in South Florida. Tropical Depression Number 19 is passing a little more than 100 miles south of my garden, so it is a rainy and windy day. The peak of Atlantic hurricane season is September 10, all downhill from here. Hopefully, I think there are 4 storms in various stages of formation between here and Africa. I am anticipating the end of hurricane season and the beginning of the gardening season. Joining The Propagator today for his SOS meme. Follow the link to see more SOS! http://www.thepropagatorblog.wordpress.com
I have been pruning in anticipation of cooler weather. Alan the greyhound is enjoying the fruits of my labor in the shade of the newly lifted canopy of the White Geiger tree (Cordia boissieri)
Buds on the White Cattleya Orchids. These always seem to flower on September 15. It’s a large, fragrant white orchid my neighbor gave me. And it is rare for me not to kill orchids, so I am looking forward to this one.
I pruned the Passionfruit vine out of the Cuban Avocado tree. This seems absurdly tropical even to me. I have had some passionfruit this year. The Avocado has been in the garden for four years and should produce fruit in its fifth year. Anticipating Guacamole!!
Yellow Pear Tomato seedlings, I have been hardening these off in the sun in anticipation of planting them outside in a couple of weeks.
Leonitis nepetifolia seedlings, I grew more of these this year as I enjoyed them so much last winter. Fortunately, easy to grow from seed. I am not have so much luck with Gallardia, which seems odd…conditions may be too cushy in the moist seed mix?
These may look pretty, but they are insidious. Called Florida Snow, they grow in lawns and are so prolific it looks like snow. I have been pulling mountains of these beauties out before they seed.
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.
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.