Time for Six items of interest from my garden on this first Saturday of 2021. I am seeing signs of good things to come in my garden. First, the Tropical Hydrangea (Dombeya wallachii) is flowering and has many buds.
A closer view of the flowers, they are 6 inches across and have a honey scent.
The native cycad of Florida, Coontie is producing cones, here is a female cone that has been pollinated – Coonties are pollinated by beetles. Wildlife eat the seeds and disperse them, I will be interested to see where they come up.
And the male cone:
The Papayas are ripening.
And I shall have tomatoes from the garden soon. This is a Yellow Pear tomato.
Another SOS post this holiday Saturday. South Florida during the holidays is still a bit weird to me, despite having been here for nine years. Flamingoes pulling a sleigh are a common sight.
A friend, a longtime Florida resident, gave me this a few years ago – and had tell me what it is:
A nautical Christmas tree, it stays out year round….
Florida, being Florida has its own native Poinsettia – Poinsettia cyathophora. The Wild Poinsettia are larval host plants for the White Peacock butterfly, a favorite of mine and now I know where they live.
In keeping with the season, I decided to find red and green foliage..here is a Piecrust Croton.
And a Jill Neoregelia Bromeliad.
And Martin Neoregelia Bromeliad.
Wonder if Martin and Jill are getting together for Christmas! Seems they are related. Maybe sharing a pie with the Croton family…no masks required.
Happy Gardening and Happy Holidays from the palm infested sands of South Florida. Here is my greyhound, Fiona – looking out to see what the heck I am doing out in the rain taking pictures.
Today is Halloween in the US. There is a full moon and I am staying home today…I bought this pumpkin to celebrate and challenged myself to find five additional orange things in my garden.
The Soap Aloe (Aloe saponaria) is flowering. A friend gave me one of these several years ago, now I have several and give them to friends. A native of South Africa, they can be used for shampoo – but are well known for causing allergic reactions, so I enjoy them in the garden and cut them for flower arrangements.
Dwarf Ixora (Ixora chinensis or taiwanensis) these flower nearly continuously through the summer and off and on during the winter. They are called Maui Red, but I think they are orange.
Blanchetiana Bromeliad flowers are getting bigger and bigger…sometimes called Lobster Claw, these are big Aechmeas – some are six feet tall.
Gallardias (Gallardia pulchella) just keep going. I foolishly tried to start some from seed in August, not realizing them come up in droves naturally in October…
My favorite shrub, the Firebush (Hamelia patens var patens)
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 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.
I am joining The Propagator today for his meme. Six on Saturday. Posting six items of interest from your garden, any six things. This week I am all about things I am finding in the foliage. To see more posts, go to http://www.thepropagatorblog.wordpress.com
You may wonder what is that and why is it wearing old pantyhose? This is a Hard Cane Dendrobium Orchid, a gift from a neighbor. The stem is about the size of a leek, a big leek at that. These are native to the South Pacific and grow in trees. There are over 2,000 varieties – I have no clue what type this might be. It could be a Dendrobium – Phaleonopsis that produces flower sprays about 10 feet long.
And it requires sun. I found this out after installing it in the wrong tree – the Strangler Fig in full shade. Oops, the Orchid spent one night in the Fig. The next morning I moved it to the Gumbo Limbo in my much sunnier front garden.
On to the Gumbo Limbo. I added some orchid bark mix and peat moss in the control top of the pantyhose and placed the roots in the mix. This will give the roots some nutrition while they grow into the trunk of the tree. Here is the Orchid in its new home.
It is mounted into the crotch of the Gumbo Limbo tree about six feet above the ground. It has a bud and I am hoping to see some flowers, though it seems these are summer bloomers for the most part. Fingers crossed.
Eventually the Orchid should put roots into the tree trunk and the pantyhose will go away. But, they do almost match the color of the trunk. I found a couple of other items of interest in the foliage this week.
This is a Stick Bug in the Beautyberry. Eating the foliage on the Beautyberry. I left him or her there to continue dining.
This is a Treefrog – this guy did not want to leave the Firebush I was pruning and finally jumped off on my bare foot. Feeling very reptilian to the touch. There are numerous types of Treefrogs that live in South Florida and I can’t tell them apart.
Happy Saturday from South Florida and Happy Gardening.
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.
It’s Saturday again and summer is still in full force in South Florida. Hot and humid. Heat index over 100 Fahrenheit this afternoon. I am joining The Propagator for his weekly meme, follow the link for more fun.
As summer is seemingly haunting me, I decided to feature ghostly summer whites. First up, the flowers on Cattleya Orchids that were buds in last week’s post.
A little fragrance for my short trips into the garden. This is a Sweet Almond Bush (Aloysia virgata) – I have been pruning it slowly, so many bees buzzing around the flowers they get angry and I have to stop.
Another fragrant flower, the Tropical Gardenia (Tabernaemontana diviricata). These are not a fragrant as Gardenia jasminoides, releasing a subtle fragrance at night.
This is (to me) a bit of an obscure plant. A Tree Spinach (Cnidoscolus chayamansa) considered a superfood – supposed to cure varicose veins! Also toxic unless cooked 20 minutes and creates intestinal distress if cooked in aluminum pans…I have not eaten any. I planted it because it is a butterfly nectar flower, supposedly supplying protein to butterflies. A friend gave this to me about six months ago as a cutting and it is 3 feet tall now.
Tropical Red Salvia (Salvia coccinea) is a stalwart in my garden. Oddly, it occurs in several other colors. The white version…
Salvia coccinea again, the pink and white version.
Hoping for some cooler temperatures next week. No more haunting from summer, only fall fun in the garden…
Florida, the southern part, is backwards on summer gardening. We do it in the winter. I am trying several new ventures in vegetable gardening this year. Growing toads was not my idea, but I found one sitting on my tomato seedlings this week. I am hoping this is not a Bufo Toad, very poisonous to dogs and mine are always, ears up saying “What’s that” This toad hopped away before I could get a good look at it.
A Riesentraube tomato seedling, I put these in the sun to germinate and the seedlings are much sturdier than the first batch. This is a cherry tomato – from Germany!
San Marzano tomato seedlings, these were leggy, so I read up and followed suggestions to replant the seedlings deeply in new, fluffy seed mix. Seems to be working.
A new seed starting tray, arrived with a dry pellet in each cell that is soaked with water before planting and then self-waters from the bottom. I decided to forgo the plastic roof as the humidity outside should suffice. I put it in on my front porch, a sunny spot with bottom heat from the pavers. The seeds were planted on Monday. Parsley in under the foil, I have Verbena bonariensis, Nasturtiums, Zinnia ‘Zinderella’, Borage, Pink Double Click Cosmos and Apple Blossom Snapdragons. I have had very little luck seeding these directly in the garden. Borage, Zinnias and Cosmos have germinated.
The area for vegetables is currently under solarization to get rid of bad nematodes. Summer vegetables can be planted around September 15 here, the cooler season lettuce, peas, etc a bit later. I will plant bush beans, radishes, snow peas and some lettuce in here. The tomatoes are going into pots this year. The rabbits ate most of my crops last year, so I have a 24″ reed fence to put around the vegetables, I have a bad feeling about putting Borage within rabbit reach.
Another fall chore, pruning the Bougainvillea. While pruning, I spied this native Tillandsia growing on the trunk. The Boug, severely pruned a week ago has already started to put out flowers.
The irrigation system has been repaired after a week’s hiatus with a clogged valve. My husband fixed it. Yay!. Droplets of water on Muhly Grass. It has been dry this week, the birds and butterflies were enjoying a drink along with the plants.
Irrigation in action. A half acre is too much to water by hand..
A mad cool black and white spotted moth chrysalis. I think this was two moths and they left together.
Tomato seedlings are coming up. Yellow Pear and San Marzanos are up, the Riesenstrube are shy so far.
My first homegrown carrot. ‘Very carroty’ is what my husband said. I planted the seeds in January!
Sweetshrub (Calycanthus floridus) emerging from seed. This is a native shrub to the Southeastern US that bears fragrant red flowers in the summer. I think I am a bit too far south for these. I collected some seed in a client’s garden a couple of years ago and decided to give it a go, not realizing they are famously difficult to grow from seed. Two out of eighteen sprouted. A shoot is appearing out of the middle of the curled leaves. The plant on the lower right is a weed, Artillery Fern, I was hesitant to disturb the seedling..