Six on Saturday – Summer Whites

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…

In a Vase on Monday – Cattleyas on the Rocks

My garden had a stormy weekend. Hurricane Sally passed within about 100 miles, hurling bands of drenching rain and wind in her wake. The air is so saturated with moisture it is difficult to describe; imagine air having a presence. I think of it as feeling the evil, hot breath of the tropical Atlantic Ocean. My slightly curly hair is literally standing on end, bigger by the moment. Given the humidity and knowledge that another hurricane is headed towards the Gulf coast, I will most likely look like I stuck my finger in the electrical socket on Monday.

The White Cattleya orchid opened on Sunday morning and was being buffeted by the winds, so I decided to cut if for a vase. The rocks are in the base of the glass vase holding the orchids in place. The title sounds a bit like a cocktail; I am trying to dream up something that tastes like an orchid, this one has a sweet fragrance and always blooms in pairs. Limoncello, Coconut Rum and something? Tonic water? Club soda? Hmmm.

Here is the bud from Saturday. I am surprised it opened so quickly and with little sunshine.

A closer view of the Cattleya, I have no idea of the variety, my neighbor gave me the orchid and I am trying not to kill it. Orchids usually meet an untimely end in my garden. Anything that needs fertilizer every two weeks is destined for demise. This one has been around for at least two years – though it is turning brown..sigh.

Happy Monday and Happy Gardening. Thinking positive thoughts for those in the path of Hurricane Sally.

Thanks to Cathy at http://www.ramblinginthegarden.wordpress.com for hosting this addictive meme. Follow the link to see vases from gardens around the world.

Six on Saturday – Growing Toads.

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.

That is my six for this Saturday. To visit more gardens with six items of interest on Saturday, go to http://www.thepropagatorblog.wordpress.com.

Happy Gardening.

In a Vase on Monday – Taming Miss Alice

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.

Miss Alice before and after she was tamed.

Happy Gardening and thanks to Cathy at http://www.ramblinginthegarden for hosting this weekly meme.

Six on Saturday The Good, the Bad, and the Bugly

A Zebra Longwing, the state butterfly of Florida, sipping nectar from a Firebush (Hamelia patens var patens). A good thing.

Another good thing, my Bottle Palm (Hyophorbe lagenicaulis) is finally making its bottle trunk. Eventually the old fronds fall off and the palm looks like it is sitting on a green wine bottle. This has taken about five years.

The bad thing about these next plants, they are so slow growing it is almost not worthwhile planting them. Both are Florida natives and come with the native hype…

This is a Thatch Palm (Thrinax radiata) It has been in the garden for about five years and might be 18″ tall. I am not sure I will live long enough to see an actual palm tree form.

A Satinleaf (Chysophyllum oliviforme), the back sides of the leaves. This is reportedly a tree, and sounds romantically wonderful when described by growers who have seen it blowing in the wind. At six years old and possibly a foot tall (the ferns dwarf it) I have to lie down beside it to experience the romance.

The front side of the leaves.

And now, the bugly. This is the dreaded Lubber Grasshopper, another hyped Florida native. These can be 3 or 4 inches long and love to eat plants. Filled with poison, they only have one natural enemy, a bird called a Loggerhead Shrike, the bird impales the grasshopper and leaves them around to dry out and then eats them. I find them dead in the shrubbery from time to time. I am also an enemy and have frightened my dogs gleefully stomping them.

That is my six for this Saturday. Stop by http://www.thepropagatorblog.wordpress.com to see more posts from around the world.

Happy Gardening..

In a Vase on Monday – Foraging for Flowers

Once in a while I give plant talks at a local nursery, one of the girls I work with there contacted me to say she enjoyed my Monday vases and had the idea for a talk about Foraging for Flowers in Your Garden. I love the idea and it truly reflects this weeks vase.

August can be unkind to to gardens in South Florida. We can have 3.5 inches of rain in a few hours, hurricanes or weeks long dry spells with temperatures in the high 90s (F) -37 Celsius. The garden can be baked, drowned and/or dessicated. The gardener as well. Last week I noted the much smaller size of the flowers from well, August. Foraging for my vase, I found some true stalwarts to cut.

The view from the side. The vase is a favorite and a thrift store find. Transcandentias are prominent in this vase. Solid purple foliage is Transcandentia pallida called Setcresea, from last weeks vase. Setcresea certainly sounds like a botanical name, but it is not. Go figure. My husband calls these secretions. The striped leaves are Transcandentia zebrina; Inch Plant, Wandering Jew, etc. Really hard to kill if it gets a little shade and water, hard not to love this one in August. The pink flowers are Tropical Red Salvia (Salvia coccinea); chartreuse flower is a fading Guzmania Bromeliad that begin life red. Grey foliage is from Barometer Bush (Leucophyllum frutescens). Inevitably I fiddle with these as I take pictures. I think I like it better without the Barometer Bush???

Happy Gardening and thanks to Cathy at http://www.ramblinginthegarden.wordpress.com for hosting this weekly meme. Follow the link to see more vases.

Six on Saturday – Tropical Weather

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.

Happy Gardening!!

In a Vase on Monday – Rain Delay

Early this morning I was greeted with brilliant blue skies and informed by my phone of very little chance of rain. So, I hand watered some of the garden as our irrigation system had a valve get stuck open and couldn’t be turned off (we had to turn off the water supply to get one zone of sprinklers to stop) Strange going ons in the garden.

Then, an enormous thunderstorm blew in and it rained off and on until late afternoon. Relief for my parched garden; I was in and out between rain showers cutting flowers for this vase.

The vase is a Rose` bottle, I like the bottle better than the wine. I have wrapped the bottle with Bromeliad foliage to add some color. The burgundy leaf at the top is Luca Neoregelia, the yellow leaf is Lemon Blanchetiana Aechmea.

Below is a closer view, I was searching for contrasts in color and texture of the plant material. The lurid purple berries are from Beautyberry (Calliocarpa americana); orange flowers are Mexican Bush Honeysuckle (Justicia spicigera) and the ferns winding their way through are Wild Asparagus Fern that pops up in the garden.

To see more vases from gardeners around the world visit Cathy at www. ramblinginthegarden.wordpress.com.

Happy Gardening, hopefully I will get the valve unstuck on my irrigation this week. Hand watering is not fun in the South Florida summer.

Six on Saturday – Seeds of Change

I am joining the Six on Saturday crew today featuring seeds. I started planting tomato seeds this week for my fall garden and noticed many plants producing seed in the garden. As usual, the tropical plants behave differently and the seeds start early, perhaps to catch the end of the rainy season and get a better chance at life?

This is Beautyberry (Calliocarpa americana) – a shrub native to the Southeastern US. The berries are more spectacular in Florida, I think and locals make (I am told) tasteless jam from the fruit.

Flowers on a Pygmy Date Palm (Phoenix roebellini). These palms will produce dates. but are dioecious. I am not sure if this is the male or female flower.

Gumbo Limbo (Bursera simarouba) berries, I suppose. These remind me of Crabapples, the birds love them. The Gumbo Limbo is sometimes called the Tourist Tree because of its flaky, red “sunburned” bark.

Firebush (Hamelia patens), this one flowers and fruits simultaneously; birds enjoy the fruit, bees and butterflies the flowers. I can hear the shrub buzzing first thing in the morning.

Seeds forming on Sabal Palm (Palmetto sabal). These seeds eventually turn black and fall to the ground. Native Americans ground the husks into flour.

My neighbor grew these Roselles from seed. This is a tropical vegetable, a relative of Hibiscus and Okra. The foliage is edible; new leaves are reminscent of Arugula and the older leaves can be cooked as greens. The calyx of the flower is what these are usually grown for – they are burgundy colored and are used as a substitute for cranberries in the tropics. These were planted as seedlings in May and are now 4′ tall. Waiting for flowers and ‘cranberries’ – hoping for Roselle relish for Thanksgiving.

That is my six for this Saturday. To see more posts visit http://www.thepropagatorblog.wordpress.com

Six on Saturday – Preparation H

My husband and I spent last night and this morning securing our house and garden in preparation of the arrival of Hurricane Isaias. It is quite literally a pain in the ….here he is installing storm shutters:

Every window on the house is covered with corrugated aluminum shutters secured with pins cast into concrete window frames and wing nuts. Anything loose in the garden has to be turned over to catch the least possible wind. The teak coffee table has assumed dead cockroach position near the house. I have turned all the garden furniture over, then picked up all the loose bits and nursery pots I have left lying about.

Why, oh, why do I have so many cushions?

For the porch furniture and seating for greyhounds, of course. Piled up to avoid wind gusts.

I ran across this map recently, we live on the Treasure Coast of Florida, so named because of all the shipwrecks just offshore. Caused by – you guessed it, hurricanes. And lack of Preparation. People find gold coins at the beach from time to time.

I have one pretty flower for this Saturday, this is called either a Flaming Torch or Hurricane Bromeliad. It’s a Billbergia pyramidalis. Appropriately prepared for the hurricane.

Isaias is predicted to pass by here tomorrow, time will tell how the garden fares.

I am joining Jon the Propagator and gang for Six on Saturday; sharing six pictures of what is going on in my garden this Saturday. To see more Saturday posts, visit Jon at http://www.thepropagatorblog.wordpress.com

Happy Gardening from the Treasure Coast!!