Funky Florida Flora – Turk’s Cap Hibiscus

20181028_133148-1 (1)

This is another volunteer in my garden, drafted into service to provide summer color in the unirrigated wilds of the garden. These tough shrubs just pop up here and there and once established are very difficult to get rid of. My neighbor’s Hibiscus keeps growing through the fence and after about 5 removal attempts, I gave up and began espaliering it to the fence instead of trying to get rid of it. Time will tell how that works out.

Most people call this Turk’s Cap Hibiscus (Malvaviscus penduliflorus), however, my favorite common name for this plant is Nodding Hibiscus. The shrub itself is a bit rangy looking, shapeless and branchy with light green foliage. The flowers make up for the green part, being prolific and attractive to pollinators and hummingbirds. Originally from Mexico, it has naturalized on the peninsula and is tolerant of South Florida’s extreme variation in precipitation. My Hibiscus thrive in partial shade with benign neglect, no fertilizer and roots in sugar sand (dare I call it soil, I think not)

I like to cut these for arrangements, they add a bit of draping over the side drama and last well in a vase, but you have to be careful not to knock the flowers off, the stems are somewhat delicate.

20181007_115312

Advertisements

Funky Florida Flora – Snake Plants

This is my side yard. When I moved to South Florida and rounded the corner of my new (old) house I could hardly believe my eyes.

Brain says “Snake Plant”, a person from much further north says “Not possible”. Oh, but it is. I would guess there is a ten-foot wide band of Snake Plant alongside my house- yes, Sansiveria and/or Mother in Law’s Tongue and the band is at least a hundred feet long. And they flower. I have cut them for arrangements, not a particularly long-lasting flower, but kind of interesting.

House plants run amok. One has to wonder, did someone throw out Snake Plant a hundred years ago and this is the result.

Snake Plants are considered invasive in South Florida. I have managed to make a dent in some of them:

20190207_100010-1

Yes, that is a pile of Snake Plants in front of a Bobcat (not the feline version) It is strange to me that we (my husband and I) would rather look at a telephone pole than all the Snake Plants and assorted garbage (Brazilian Peppers, another story for another day)

The Snake Plants grow running tubers (if that is a word) similar to Ginger. It is nearly impossible to pull up without breaking it and when it is broken it just reproduces – hence, the Bobcat.

Our landscapers are now mowing over the tubers weekly; we will see if the mowing actually helps.

I read somewhere a Snake Plant as a houseplant will clean the air. This means having one of these things in my house – and watering it. Um, no.

I am going to pass on that and use them in a vase. One less for the Bobcat. Here is a Vase with Snake Plant.

20180107_164420-1

In A Vase on Monday – Rabbit Food

00100lportrait_00100_burst20190602093912970_cover

Early on Sunday morning I grabbed my shears and went into the garden to collect materials for my vase. My intention, to gather some Black Eyed Susans and other wildflowers for a casual vase.

After I closed the gate, keeping my greyhounds in their space – I spied the fattest rabbit I have ever seen lurking near my miniature pineapple plants. The tiny pineapple approaching its juicy peak.. I changed my mind and decided a slightly more tropical vase might be more appropriate. The lovely pineapple was quickly freed from its sharp crown.

00100lportrait_00100_burst20190602094114051_cover

My wildflower theme completely blown by the plus size Rabbit, I searched for more tropical plants. I added some foliage from the miniature pineapple plant, a few sprigs of Boston Fern (Nephrolepis exaltata); the orange flower is Mexican Honeysuckle (Justicia spicigera); the peach flower – the wildflower in the vase, a Tropical Red Salvia (Salvia coccinea); the white flowers are from Bridal Bouquet Frangipani (Plumeria pudica) for a light tropical fragrance. A Pandanus leaf is tied around the vase.

00100lPORTRAIT_00100_BURST20190602094804635_COVER

I am glad I beat the rabbit to the pineapple.

Happy Monday.

Funky Florida Flora – Bismarck Palm

00100lportrait_00100_burst20190529095847155_cover

This is the canopy and fruit stalks of a Bismarck Palm (Bismarckia nobilis) – named for Otto Von Bismarck, a very big and very blue gray palm. So big, the fronds are 4 feet across and they can reach 60 feet in height. I frequently see these towering palms dwarfing the houses they are planted near.

A native of Madagascar – a place that must have spectacular Dr. Seuss-like forests. Bismarcks are hardy to freezing and adaptable to a wide variety of soils.

Here are the fruits, they are about 2 inches in diameter and fall indiscriminately to the ground. A bit like a chestnut, one of my greyhounds had a bite of one and immediately spit it out, so I am guessing not so tasty.

00000img_00000_burst20190529095924247_cover

 

In a Vase on Monday – Gifts from Gallardia

00100lportrait_00100_burst20190526103459642_cover

I started a native pollinator garden last year to encourage butterflies. Planting host plants and nectar plants, concentrating on native annuals that will reseed themselves. Theory is native flowers attract native insects- the benefits to me; I won’t have to replant all the time and I hopefully end up with a meadowy mixed wildflower garden. And lots of butterflies. Thus far, the plants are sticking with their own kind and making big drifts, not mixing as of yet.

I recently decided to run my garden specifications through the Native Plant Society “let us choose your plant” web page. Thinking I might get some suggestions to add some other plants to the garden. Ironically, it said no wildflowers will grow in your garden. I guess I should let the butterflies and flowers know about this?

00000img_00000_burst20190526103434963_cover

Here is a close up. The vase is someone’s cast off from pottery class I bought at GoodWill (charity shop) for $2, I have really enjoyed their work and use this vase frequently. The red and yellow Gallardia (Gallardia pulchella – Florida native) is going gangbusters in my gardens, cross pollinating and making new colors. The yellow and orange spikes are from Bulbine (not sure which one), the Bulbine has been flowering for a couple of months and doesn’t seem to be slowing down. This is a new favorite. The foliage and brown pods are from the native Senna (Senna ligustrina) – I planted this to attract Sulphur Butterflies and they appeared soon after it was planted in the garden.

Here’s my new Gallardia color, pink! I am still chasing the Sulphur Butterflies around for a photo-op.

img_20190526_102602.jpg

Funky Florida Flora – Jamaican Caper

00000img_00000_burst20190522092749300_cover

One of my favorite Florida natives (people not included) started to flower last week, the Jamaican Caper (Capparis cynophallophora). This plant is related to the culinary caper, but is not edible for humans – though birds enjoy the fruit. One of the interesting things about this plant is the flowers start white and the next day turn purple.

00100lportrait_00100_burst20190523085230238_cover

The different colors make for a more colorful show and contrast nicely with the olive green and brown backed evergreen foliage. If you look closely at the foliage you can tell something has been munching on it. This is also a host plant for the Florida White Butterfly, many have stayed in my garden after starting life on the Jamaican Caper.

Screenshot 2019-05-23 at 2.42.52 PM

The Jamaican Caper is reported to be a large shrub/small tree. I think it must be fairly slow growing as I have had one several years and it is only 3 feet tall. Although, my husband ran over it with the lawn mower and I moved it during the dry season.

This is a pretty good plant.

In a Vase on Monday – Scentsational Moonlight

20190519_1259542-effects

Once in a blue moon my greyhounds wake me in the middle of the night to be let out. Ironically, last night was the full blue moon and the only reason I saw it was my dogs wanted to go out.

Moonlight is rather spectacular in South Florida, I am not sure if it reflects off the Atlantic Ocean or the general light level here is lower at night and that makes the moonlight brighter.

I usually walk out in the yard with the dogs as there are some rather large predators about in the middle of the night; coyotes, bobcats and the occasional panther. My dogs are usually too big for such things, but a snarfy lady in her bathrobe at 3 a.m. tends to give even a panther pause. Unfortunately, there is some unbridled greyhound joy in chasing Armadillos at three a.m. Oddly, the Armadillos can outrun them.

While all this was going on, I noted a lovely scent in the air. I decided my neighbor’s magnificent Arabian Jasmine was blooming again, took one more look at the moon, collected my greyhounds and went back to bed.

Sunday morning I realized the scent was from my garden. I have Bridal Bouquet Plumeria, Tropical Gardenias and Sweet Almond in flower and all are in my vase. The Tropical Gardenias (Tabernaemontana divericata) are draped over the right side. The Sweet Almond, draped over the left side (Aloysia virgata). The flowers in the middle are Bridal Bouquet Frangipani (Plumeria pudica) a favorite of mine just starting for a long summer run.

20190519_115152-1Here is a closer view, mostly the Bridal Bouquet Plumeria.

20190519_115918

The vase has been in the foyer for several hours. I think the lovely scent I enjoyed in the moonlight was the Sweet Almond.