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!!

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.

In a Vase on Monday – Floral Pyrotechnics

Today America celebrates its 246th birthday. My less than patriotic color scheme reflects my feelings on our current state of affairs. Pink for women and green for the environment. Blech, I have always detested politics and even more so today. My brain is still processing our backwards slide.

I am, however, quite pleased with my flowers. My quest to have flowers that survive the summer heat is continuing. Zinnias and Salvia are thriving. I have grown all from seed and will continue to do so as long as I know what to grow and when. This is usually a trickier subject than it appears. The Dahlias I started in March, flowered and fried. I started some a few weeks later and have high hopes for flowers from the few Cactus Dahlia tubers roasting in the garden. Leonitis leonurus, seemingly a good choice from South Africa, is slowly burning up in the front garden it seems, time will tell if it survives the heat.

The vase:

The vase is a retired pasta storage container. The plant palette begins with Zinnias; the peachy toned smaller Zinnias in front are ‘Profusion Apricot’; behind is my go to flower this summer ‘Green Envy’ Zinnia; the red flower draped over the rim is Coral Plant (Jatropha multifida); the orange one behind is Mexican Honeysuckle (Justicia spicigera).

The view from above:

In coral and grey, Soap Aloe (Aloe saponaria); white spikes are Tropical Red Salvia (Salvia coccinea); burgundy leafy foliage is ‘Purple Prince’ Alternanthera; ferns are Asian Sword Ferns.

It is hot and dry here. The only pyrotechnics I am hoping to see today involve thunder, lightning and water falling from the sky.

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

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.

In a Vase on Monday – Cool Summer Shades

Summer has turned the heat up full blast on the Treasure Coast of Florida. Daytime highs have been over 90 degrees (F) and thunderstorms pop up all afternoon. Not that my garden is getting very much rain, it seems to be missing us most days. So aggravating. So much rain and none falling where I need it.

The heat and humidity brings out the Tropical Gardenia, which was covered in flowers until I relieved it of a number of them. This Gardenia is about ten feet wide and tall and I should have taken a picture before I cut so many flowers. Oops.

I decided to use my vintage Blue Willow teapot and add some cooling colors and fragrances to my vase. The Gardenias are a lighter version (fragrance and size wise) of Gardenia jasminoides, which I love, but its scent is overwhelming indoors and they are more difficult to grow than the Tropical version. I cut this one out of an overgrown hedge between me and my neighbor’s house, once it got its head in the sun it took off and I tree formed it. I never water it and it is perfectly happy. My kind of Gardenia.

The close up:

Tropical Gardenias are Tabernaemontana diviricata; green flowers are ‘Green Envy’ Zinnias; deep blue spikes are ‘Mystic Blue’ Salvia; lighter blue flowers are Blue Plumbago (Plumbago auriculata); ferns are the evil invasive Asian Sword Ferns.

The colors and the combined fragrances of Gardenia and Salvia are adding a light sweet herbal presence to my foyer. Here is a view from above:

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

Happy Summer Gardening!!!