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.

Six on Saturday – Ghosts of Future Plants

Summer is an interesting time in the tropical (subtropical, really) garden. It makes me appreciate how smart plants are. The really nasty weeds make seed at the start of the rainy season (June 1) and have a long period of time to start new plants with the advantage of rain. I have been gleefully decapitating the five (yes, five and year round) varieties of crabgrass that grow in Florida in hopes of keeping the crabgrass down.

There are some more attractive budding plants in the garden. This is a Labyrinth Dahlia I have high hopes for, although I am not certain if I planted it early enough. The tubers planted earlier have already flowered and burned out in the heat.

Bromeliads poised to climb the trunks of an Adonidia Palm. This is my first trunk climbing adventure with plants, so I am looking forward to seeing what happens. These are Jill Neoregelia Bromeliads, the red centered one is the oldest, and therefore the mother plant, soon to meet its demise. Women hate this aspect of Bromeliads, the mother always dies.

Another tree climber, the Schomburgkia Orchid, is growing and has new stems coming along. I was interested to read that this orchid is native to Mangrove trees growing on the edge of the Yucatan Peninsula in the Gulf of Mexico. These are usually higher elevation orchids, it is unusual to see this type of orchid in Florida.

The bud of a Desert Rose (Adenium obesum). A Lubber Grasshopper ate all of the foliage last week.

One of my favorite summer Bromeliads and a reliable July flower, the Aechmea Miniata. In full bloom these always remind me of Red Hots candies.

That is all from here this Saturday, I am luxuriating in air conditioned space today, looking forward to future flowers and hoping for rain. To see more SOS posts, visit http://www.thepropagatorblog.wordpress.com.

Happy Gardening.

Six on Saturday – Things I Never Planted

Another one of Florida’s many gardening peculiarities is the tendency to find (mostly) desirable plants popping up in the garden. Above is the Brown Bud Allamanda (Allamanda cathartica). These vines tend to creep around and over my neighbors fence, they end up rambling through my shrubs and I hate to cut the flowers off. Rumor has it Pygmy tribes in the Amazon use this very poisonous plant to make deadly blowdarts.

A perfectly placed white Tropical Red Salvia (Salvia coccinea). I planted the red one years ago and a white flowered one popped up in this border, accenting the peach and blue flowers.

Another dead on plant placement by bird artists. These are native Firebush (Hamelia patens). The seedlings appeared soon after we moved in, spaced perfectly for a foundation planting. These are on one side of the front porch, I found another seedling and put a matching plant on the other side.

My preferred common name for this is Inch Plant (Transcandentia zebrina). I have no idea where it came from, but it makes a great groundcover.

Another Transcandentia – T. pallida. Purple Queen, or I was taught these are called Setcresea, Purple Queen is a bit more palatable. I have these in pots and in the ground, the original ones came up under a Strangler Fig, so I guess another bird seeded plant. These seemingly will grow anywhere from sun to shade. A great low maintenance groundcover and a real pop of purple.

Wild Grapes or Muscadines (Vitis rotundafolia) This is a love/hate plant. The native Floridians will actually eat the grapes. I find them bitter, but the birds love them. The hate part, they spread ….everywhere.

There, my Six for this Saturday, to see more posts visit http://www.thepropagatorblog.wordpress.com.

Happy Gardening..

In a Vase on Monday – Summer Reds

I have two vases today. It may sound like wines are the topic this Monday, but that is not the case. The only commonalities with wine are both vases are bottles and feature the color red. For the most part, I can do without red wine. Though I do like to make gravy with it.

I may finally be embracing the single Red Dahlias I got by mistake. These have a tendency to look down in the garden and seemingly I am required to lie on the ground to get a good look at the flowers. I like them much better in a vase.

The vase is an olive oil drizzling bottle given to me by my mother years ago. This is what she called them, she went through a roasted red pepper (drizzling olive oil is essential for this) phase and decided all the cooks in the family needed one of these bottles. They work great for their intended purpose but are difficult to clean after a while and I keep it around for decorative and now, vase purposes.

A close up:

The red daisies are a Dahlia of unknown name; orange tubular flowers are Firebush (Hamelia patens); burgundy leafy foliage is ‘Purple Prince’ Alternanthera; burgundy strap like leaves are Hallelujah Billbergia Bromeliads; white spike is Sweet Almond Bush (Aloysia virgata) for fragrance.

The Next Summer Red:

I did a similar vase a couple of weeks ago. The combination of the red bottle and the tropical Heliconias is irresistible to me. This week I added some Hibiscus to enhance the tropical vibe.

A closer view:

The red bottle was a dog walk find a neighbor left out as trash. The yellow and red flowers are Lobsterclaw Heliconia (Heliconia rostrata). These take their time opening, a week or two, then perversely don’t last very long in a vase. I’ll be watching to see if the one that is less open lasts longer. There are two varieties of Hibiscus here. The classic Hibiscus (the top two), a heirloom variety called ‘The President’. An ancient shrub, I think my neighbor’s grandmother planted decades ago. It sits on our property line and every now and then I cut a few. The lower one is a Nodding Hibiscus (Malvaviscus arboreus) – not actually a Hibiscus, but a Mallow and family member. These grow wild in my garden. The foliage is from the Heliconia and was cut with the flowers and left in place.

Will my Summer Reds inspire me to make gravy? Hmmm, chicken thighs in red wine gravy are a favorite. With mashed potatoes and lima beans. A definite dinner possibility.

Thank you to Cathy at http://www.ramblinginthegarden.wordpress.com for hosting IAVOM. To see more vases, follow the link to her blog.

Happy Gardening!!!

In a Vase on Monday – Embracing Envy

We are not talking about the seven deadly sins today. I am embracing the Green Envy Zinnia. I usually use these as a side dish instead of the main course in arrangements. Today, they are the pot roast! My husband opined this is a muted arrangement from me. Pot roast is kind of a muted color..

I have had these flowering in my garden since November. Not the same plants, this is the second batch grown from seed. I am hoping to be able to grow Zinnias year round for cutting. I am getting longer stemmed flowers now and will be interested to see how long these plants last in the blast furnace South Florida summer.

A closer view:

The Green Envy Zinnia gets its close up.

The sides:

Foliage friends – in purple, ‘Purple Prince’ Alternanthera; ferns are Asian Sword Ferns. For fragrance, I added – in blue, ‘Blue Lagoon’ Rosemary, also good in pot roast; in white, Sweet Almond Bush (Aloysia virgata).

The vase is a mason jar, meant for canning. This post is making me hungry.

Thanks to Cathy at http://www.ramblinginthegarden.wordpress.com for hosting – follow the link to find more vases.

Happy Gardening!!