In a Vase on Monday – Fall Tapestry

While searching for seasonality in my garden on Sunday, I came up with several autumnal examples. It brought to mind my mother’s favorite fall annual planting schemes. She called them ‘tapestry colors’ usually done with pansies and kales in shades of purple, gold and pink. “Antique Shades” was the favored color mix of pansies.

Serving as a vase this Monday is a Bromeliad leaf wrapped pickle jar from a couple of weeks ago that was left to dry and repurposed for a different look. This looks a bit like wood to me.

Closer views:

Floaty seed heads of Muhly Grass (Muhlbergia capillaris) provide background and are a true indicator of fall in South Florida. The deep purple berries are from Spicewood (Calyptranthes pallens), a native shrub I am not impressed with thus far. Reportedly has a wonderful spicy scent – I haven’t caught a whiff of this yet and it was a real pain to get established, growing to maybe 3 feet in seven years. I won’t ask it to leave the garden, but wouldn’t buy another. Salmon panicles in the back are dried Miniata Bromeliad flowers (Aechmea miniata) these are bright red and cobalt blue when fresh. Yellow flowers are from Thyrallis (Galphimia glauca) I use this as a shrub in my butterfly garden. Pink fuzzies are from Dwarf Chenille Plant (Acalphya pendula), I have this spilling out of a container – though it can be used as a groundcover here.

Red and white flowers are from Red Shrimp Plant (Justicia brandegeana). Tiny bits of purple peeking out are Mona Lavendar Plectranthus. The green berries are from a Tree Spinach (Cnidoscolus aconitifolius). A few Bidens alba are lurking in the mass of flowers – I may have gotten carried away with the Chenille Plant, so fuzzy and fun to arrange.

Happy Monday and Happy Gardening to all. Thanks to Cathy at http://www.ramblinginthegarden.wordpress.com for hosting this Monday outpouring of floral bliss. Follow the link to see more vases.

Six on Saturday – Patience Rewarded

I am joining the International SOS crowd this Saturday featuring a selection of of six plants, flowers and buds I have been looking forward to. Follow the link http://www.thepropagatorblog.wordpress.com to see more Six on Saturday posts from other gardens.

The Roselles (Hibiscus sabdariffa) are finally flowering! The flowers don’t last very long, the duration is morning. And that is it. I was trying to get pictures and it has to be done before lunch or they’ve closed. When the flowers began to make seed it will be time to harvest the calyxes. I planted the seed in April, the plants are now six feet and over and getting floppy.

Buds on the Medinillia cummingi. This is an orchid like plant that grows in trees in Tropical Asia. A friend gave me a rooted cutting this spring and said it would take two years to flower, so I am excited to see the buds. I think the flowers will look like pink grapes.

The succulents are finally filling the strawberry pot. A view in elevation:

The dark green plant in the top is Haworthia, the greys are an Echeveria, the charteuse one I can’t recall, though it has white flowers. The big leafed plant on the side is Flapjack Kalanchoe. The grey fine leaved plant is a native Tillandsia Bromeliad and the bigger leafed one is a Graptosedum. I keep this pot out of the rain.

First flower on a Desert Rose (Adenium obesum) I grew from a cutting.

Another pot of succulents on the porch. Purple Queen (Transcandentia pallida) in purple. Gold Moss (Sedum ‘some Florida Friendly BS’) – I find it virtually impossible to grow this Florida Friendly Sedum in the ground. Which annoys me. The big leafed plant is Flapjack Kalanchoe – it grows anywhere with well drained, sunny spot. It took ages for the Sedum to fill that little corner.

That is my Six for this Saturday.

Happy Gardening!!

Six on Saturday – Tea for Two

A couple of weeks ago I posted an image of the first flower on my Blue Pea Vine and mentioned making tea from it. I have also posted my Roselles, the flowers may also be used for tea. I tried both yesterday. I should preface this review by saying I am not a huge fan of herbal teas and prefer Earl Grey or black tea.

Roselle tea tastes like Hibiscus flower tea, which is no surprise considering it is a Hibiscus. The Blue Pea Vine tea tastes like dirt to me. I asked my husband to try and he agreed. I have seen the tea served that is cobalt blue in color, perhaps more steeping is needed or more flowers, the question becomes does it taste like more dirt?

The Roselles were in my freezer from last year. I froze them and promptly forgot all about them. When I harvest the flowers this year I will try making some jam to serve with champagne, which seems like a good holiday project.

The Blue Pea Vine (Clitoria ternata).

Roselles in their current state. These are about a month out from harvest and are buds. They will flower and form seed heads; the calyx from the seed heads are what is used for tea.

Fall has arrived when the Muhly Grass (Muhlbergia capillaris) starts to flower. The temperatures were in the low 70s this morning. My greyhounds had a long run in the dog yard and I enjoyed a walk around the garden.

Native Senna (Senna ligustrina), another fall flower in bloom. This is a host plant for Sulphur butterflies. If the caterpillars eat the foliage they are green; if they eat the flowers they are yellow. The butterflies are all yellow.

The bag garden is coming along. Currently bagged: bush beans, tomatoes, radishes, criollo peppers, dill, and flowers for cutting – zinnias, sunflowers, nigella and some mixed seeds that will be a surprise. The sticks are to keep rabbits out, the squirrels are only slightly deterred by them. I had a first time experience with a Gopher tortise eating a globe amaranth.

That is my Six for this Saturday. Jon the Propagator hosts this meme at http://www.thepropagatorblog.wordpress.com. Follow the link to visit other gardens.

Happy Gardening!!

In a Vase on Monday – Esperanza Springs Eternal

Esperanza means hope in Spanish. The yellow flowers in this vase are Tecoma stans, one of its common names is Esperanza. It is springing forth with great vigor in my garden and I am very pleased about that. Finding that common name also made me stop and think about what I am hopeful about as 2021 winds down.

I am hopeful the pandemic will abate and the politicizing of public health issues will cease. I am hopeful for my husband’s increasingly good health. I am also hopeful for a bounteous winter garden. So many things to be hopeful for based on the common name of a smiling yellow flowering shrub in my garden.

The vase is a gift from a dear old friend and my college roommate. It is actually a candleholder, so there is a beer glass with water holding the flowers as I was not sure how long a crackled glass candleholder would remain watertight.

Smiling for its close up.

Yellow flowers are Esperanza, also called Yellow Elder, Yellow Bells and a couple of other things. Tecoma stans is the latin and the jury is out on if the plant is native to Florida. It was noted growing in Key West in the 1800s and that is good enough for me. The Florida Native Plant Society does not recognize the plant and I think they are missing out on a good one. Purple flowers are Mona Lavendar Plectranthus. I am guessing the latin is that backwards. Purple and silver foliage is Wandering Jew or Inch Plant (Transcandentia zebrina) I call it Zebrina as I like that name better. White flowers and deep green foliage are from Tropical Gardenias (Tabernaemontana diviracata). The Esperanza has a light, fresh floral fragrance that mixes well with the heavier, sweeter Gardenia scent.

The other side, the last plant on the list, in grey, Barometer Bush (Luecophyllum frutescens). My husband said this looked like a bridal bouquet. I am not so sure..though, I would love the scent carrying this down the aisle and suppose I could wrap the beer glass in white lace.

Thanks to Cathy at http://www.ramblinginthegarden.wordpress.com for hosting this week. To see more vases, follow the link.

Happy Gardening!!!

Six on Saturday – Reds and Purples

Another Saturday morning tour of my garden featuring six items of interest to join the SOS crowd at http://www.thepropagatorblog.wordpress.com. Follow the link to see more posts.

I have a lot of hot colors in my garden and fall is no exception. The red and purple flowers and foliage are out in force.

The Aechmea blanchetiana Bromeliads are in full bloom. These are almost five feet tall and last for months. A neighbor gave me a start of these and said “the flowers last so long you get tired of them.” I enjoy them!

The Red Shrimp Plant (Justicia brandegeana). This is a very happy plant and flowers a lot. One of my favorite old reliables and a gift from a neighbor.

The Roselles (Hibiscus sabdaiffa) have reached five and a half feet in height and are setting flower buds. Eventually I will pick the red calyx of the flower to make tea or holiday cocktails. I planted the seed in April. Most of the plant is edible.

Purple Queen or Setcresea appears randomly in the garden. I prefer to call it Purple Queen, Setcresea sounds like a skin disease.

A new container I put together this week. The Bromeliads are cuttings from existing plants in my garden. In red, Fireball Neoregelia, varigated, Bossa Nova Neoregelia. Draped over the side is a Fish Hook Senecio and the plant in back is a Cardboard Palm (Zamia furfuracea). The Bromeliads should spill over the sides eventually.

The Milkweed devoured by Monarch butterfly caterpillars is making a remarkable comeback. I was amazed at the amount of foliage they ate – all of it and about one third of the stem.

That is my Six for this Saturday.

Happy Gardening!!

The Bag Garden

October brings the vegetable gardening season to South Florida. I started tomatoes from seed about a month ago and started work on a new concept for growing vegetables. Last year, my most successful vegetables were grown in containers and I decided to build on that. The soil in my garden is beach sand and while it can be amended, it is virtually impossible to get it to retain enough water for good vegetables. And then, there are root knot nematodes (bad nematodes) that love vegetables. They infested my tomato, snow pea and pole beans last year, slowly starving the roots by consuming the nutrients conducted by the roots, eventually destroying the plants.

On to containers!

I used 7 gallon containers to grow tomatoes last year and decided I wanted something a little bigger. I searched and found plastic pots weren’t that cheap and then I had to store them somewhere. While searching on Amazon, I found fabric grow bags, lots of grow bags. I have seen these around – but never tried using them. These are available in pretty colors, I almost succumbed to bright purple, green and orange grow bags then realized filling them with black soil mix would render the colors ugly. Basic black prevailed. I bought 8/10 gallon and 8/5 gallon bags for $25 delivered.

Here they are. Shipped folded – they open into something that looks like a handbag.

The 10 gallon bags hold 1.5 cubic feet of soil. I used the 10 gallon bags for tomatoes and bigger vegetables, the 5 gallon bags for cut flowers, herbs and smaller vegetables. I decided to try this organic soil mix, which is not recommended for use in containers. Since this is a spun fabric bag that breathes; I opted for the heavier soil mix and added a bit of compost from my pile.

During the course of filling the bags (they are a bit wiggly) it occured to me I was creating a rabbit height smorgasboard. I had leftover sections of rabbit abatement fence from last year and used the reeds like tiger (bunny?) sticks, this has worked on other delectables in my garden.

This week, I planted tomato and zinnia seedlings and seeds for bush beans, criollo peppers, radishes, dill, zinnias, sunflowers and nigella. When the weather cools, I will plant spinach, lettuces and snow peas.

The bags are currently in a half day of sun location, out of the wind, while the seeds sprout and the seedlings acclimatize. I will move these to a full sun location with a hand cart. Tried it and it works! Saves my back and the soil is stable enough to move.

The experiment continues… Hoping for bouquets of zinnias and lovely salads.

Six on Saturday – October repeats

This is a familiar sight in my garden, the Nodding Hibiscus (Hibiscus malvaviscus). These flower during the cool season here, so I am happy to see them again. The shrub is gangly and virtually impossible to prune into a nice shape – but I love the flowers and keep them around. Another plus, they grow happily with little water or care.

Another cool season beauty is the Yellow Elder or Tecoma stans. I planted this last year as an 18 inch shrub – it is now at least eight feet tall. I am planning to tree form it. They don’t grow much more than ten feet and make a nice multi stem shrub. I am already getting seed pods.

I love these little reminders of pumpkins. They are the fruit of the Surinam Cherry (Eugenia uviflora). I won’t eat these (the taste reminds me of the scent of turpentine) – so they are left for wildlife.

New to the garden this year, a Blue Pea Vine (Clitoria ternatea). This has finally flowered after suffering a double bout of rabbit ravages – the vine was eaten to the ground twice and has bounced back. I think this is a double flower. I gave my neighbor seeds, hers has been flowering all summer and she has been making blue tea from the flowers.

I am in the process of baking a Keitt Mango and Blackberry pie. This is not from my garden, but grown in South Florida. A jumbo green skinned mango, this one is quite ripe and next to a cherry tomato. I am making a mini pie with vegan crust and used about half of the mango. They are very tasty and have a short season, I will be on the lookout for Keitt Mangos next year.

That’s my Six for this Saturday. Check out http://www.thepropagatorblog.wordpress.com for more posts from other gardens.

Happy Fall, Ya’ll!!

Six on Saturday – September openings

The Hurricane or Torch Bromeliad opened this week. This is a Billbergia pyramidalis and very easy to grow, they form colonies in shade. I think there are three in my garden and I gave a friend a pup. A colony may form if I quit sharing them.

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The Milkweed finally opened. I believe this is Tropical Milkweed (Asclepias curassavica) – can’t find the seed packet, This one is controversial among the Monarch butterfly faithful. Some believe it spreads OE, a parasite by never dying back in the winter in frost free areas. Other believe it is fine to plant. Others recommend cutting it back to the ground in late fall. I am on the fence about this as I haven’t seen any Monarchs on it.

The Firebush (Hamelia patens) in full flower. Butterflies of all sorts love this plant for nectar. It is one of my favorites and so easy to grow it gets out of hand quickly.

Guess what this is?? I thought it was a weird eggplant when my neighbor handed it to me. It is a Avocado – probably a Brogden or Oro Negro variety. We were excited to try it for lunch, they have a reportedly lush and buttery flavor. It was very creamy but mainly tasteless. My husband said “either we both have Covid or this tastes like nothing”. Since we could taste the rest of our lunch we concluded it was a Blahvacado.

The Desert Roses (Adenium obesum) are starting to flower. Such a weird succulent, native to deserts in Africa and the Arabian Penisula. This is the rare plant that thrives in the summer heat in South Florida. Here are the buds on a red one.

The Desert Rose has had a lot of work done on it by breeders and now is available in an amazing array of colors, the latest, a deep purple.

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

Happy Gardening.

In a Vase on Monday – Fall Colors

I think it is safe to say this is an unconventional use of a rose bowl. Of course, I have no roses and think it would be way too much trouble to try and grow them. Though it is possible. I would need to replace the dirt in my garden. So, I will keep using the rose bowl for non roses.

Fall will officially arrive in about 10 days. These are typical fall flowers in South Florida with a little bit of fruit. The grapes are dreadful tasting Muscandines that are very difficult to conquer. It makes me happy when they lose their leaves and I can’t see them anymore.

A closer view, the white flowers are Tropical Gardenias (Tabernaemontana diviricata) – these will continue to flower until the weather cools off. I enjoy using them in arrangements; this one’s fragrance is a bit weird with the Gardenia and Mystic Blue Salvia. The green leaves are from a big Coleus that is so easy to propagate I have more and more everytime I use them in a vase they root and I can’t bear to throw them away. And..they go with everything. Like a little black dress. Who knew Coleus is a gift that keeps on giving. The orange flowers are Parrot Flowers (Heliconia psittacorum ‘Choconiana’) These are new to the garden and another plant that needs to be in a certain spot. Or else it dies. I think I got this one right.

The blue flowers are Mystic Blue Salvia, this has been blooming for so long I am wondering if it will ever stop. Now that I have put that in writing it probably will. The ‘fall leaves’ are the older growth on Piecrust Croton (Codieum varigatum).

Thank you to Cathy at http://www.ramblinginthegarden.wordpress.com for hosting this garden meme. Follow the link to see more vases – maybe with some real fall color.

Happy Gardening!!!

Six on Saturday – The Last Mango, Embarrassed

Time once again for Six on Saturday, six items of interest from your garden shared to http://www.thepropagatorblog.wordpress.com. Follow the link to see more.

Above is my last mango, perhaps a prune mango. Seasons are changing and South Floridians are gearing up for gardening. I picked my last two Nam Doc Mai mangoes this week – they looked a lot better than this one. It seems the squirrels managed to split the fruit open to eat the seed and ruined my mango.

Tomato seedlings just popping up. These are my favorite cherry tomatoes, Yellow Pear and Sweet 100.

Yesterday was the peak of Atlantic hurricane season, so it is downhill from here. Right on time are the Hurricane Bromeliads budding – Billbergia pyramidalis.

The Ylang Ylang (Canaga odorata) tree is finally getting established. We had a dry spell midsummer and I was not certain it was going to make it, all the foliage turned brown and the branches dried up, so I cut them back to the trunk and it is coming back. Fingers crossed for wafts of Chanel No. 5 scented flowers in the future.

The Blue Pea Vine (Clitoria ternatea) finally made it back after being consumed by rabbits twice. I resorted to bamboo tiger sticks around the vine as rabbit abatement. It has buds and I am awaiting my first flower.

Another summer survivor. I have been trying for years to grow Butterfly Weed for Monarch butterfly larval hosting. Finally, I have buds. I think these buds have been taunting me for two weeks. Bloom already! I saw a few Monarchs hovering around yesterday, so these may be gone soon. It is funny how things called weeds can be so difficult to grow.

Happy Gardening!!!