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!!!

In a Vase on Monday – Warm Fuzzies

My garden gives me warm and fuzzy feelings most days. I enjoy watching plants grow and flower. The humidity in the garden this weekend was really warm and produced a nearly visible fuzz in the air. I started pruning a Bougainvillea Sunday morning and soon was enveloped by a steaming column of moisture from the ground. I didn’t quite finish the Boug. The good news? I will feel much less warm and probably less fuzzy after the fall equinox !! A little more than two weeks away. Relief is in sight.

What makes this arrangment evoke warm and fuzzy emotional happiness?. I am not sure. The deep pink Chenille flowers are tactile and soft to the touch. The fragrance from the white flowers add soothing sweetness to the air. The chartreuse dreadlocks inspired the vase.

Not sure anyone has ever use the terms chartreuse and dreadlocks in the same sentence. Especially when referring to plant material and not hair.

Closer views:

The fuzzies; in deep pink, Dwarf Cheniile Plant (Acalypha pendula). I have these in pots, they are sold as groundcover in South Florida. Not so much, they die back in winter and take until nearly the next winter to flower and look decent. These are in a container on my front porch, I would not try using them as groundcover.

The container, there was nothing spilling over the side until June due to sheer laziness on my part. I was surprised and happy to see the Dwarf Chenille reappear:

I trimmed the big ones that were pink and used them in the vase – then realized the brown ones needed to come off as well. Watching to see the results of the pruning. The bigger plant is Mednillia cummingi. A funky orchid that has not flowered yet.

Another view:

The other side:

In white with yellow centers; Bridal Bouquet Frangipani (Plumeria pudica); in white draping over the edge; Tropical Gardenias (Tabernaemontana diviricata); chartreuse dreadlocks and varigated foliage are from Java White Copperleaf (Acalphya wilkesiana ‘Java White’) Ferns are a local weed, Asian Sword Ferns. The blue vase, a gift form my brother’s family years ago that I have enjoyed.

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

Happy Gardening!!

Six on Saturday – Frogs and Fun

Another Saturday is upon us. I am sharing six fun items from my garden this week. Here is the frog:

This is a Cuban Tree Frog, native to Cuba *duh. These are considered invasive in Florida as they can out reproduce our native tree frogs. I was surprised by how small this frog is – they are very loud.

A Dancing Lady Ginger gifted to me by a friend. This is potted in canal mud and compost. I wish I had some canal mud to plant it in. Where to plant it is a bit of a dilemma.

A Medenillia underplanted with Dwarf Chenille Plant. The Medenillia is an orchid that grows in trees in Java, another gift from a friend. Hoping for flowers, they look like pink grapes.

This Cattleya Orchid lives in a pot in the garden – its blooms the first week of September every year.

Another favorite of mine. I love the stems for the flowers and the color. This is a non native Porterweed (Stachytarpeta jamacianensis, I think) Indestructible and reliable.

So happy to be using my house made compost. It took a couple of years for this to break down into compost, I started with a shredded oak tree and added to it…This week it is time to plant tomato seed for winter vegetables.

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

Happy Gardening.

Six on Saturday – Summer Whites

This is the last weekend of summer as next Monday is Labor Day in the US. Theorectically, the end of summer signals the end of wearing white clothing (if you are a proper Southern lady). Being a pseudo proper Southern lady, I decided to photograph the summer whites in the garden.

A ‘Bridal Bouquet’ Frangipani (Plumeria pudica). These are the most reliable flowering Plumeria, they are a nearly continuous show all summer. Very lightly fragrant, I notice the scent at night.

Another much more fragrant flower, the Sweet Almond Bush (Aloysia virgata). This is a bee and butterfly magnet planted near the back door for maximum enjoyment.

The flower of the Adonidia Palm (Veitchii merrilli). Palm flowers fascinate me. This one makes a grape like hard fruit that turns red around the holidays. These are sometimes called Christmas Palms because the fruit looks like ornaments.

Another fragrant plant, the Tropical Gardenia (Tabernaemontana diviricata) This also flowers most of the summer.

Another white semi year round bloomer. This is the White Geiger Tree (Cordia boissieri), there is a orange version of this tree that is native to Florida. I have been contemplating how to prune this tree, it has a really weird habit, branches growing over and over each other with no particular shape.

Last, but not least. A white flower on the Tropical Red Salvia (Salvia coccinea). These are usually red, but pop up in many other colors. A fun plant to let reseed freely in the garden. It’s a Forrest Gump “Life is like a box of chocolates” plant – you never know what you are going to get.

If you are wondering about Covid in Florida, it is awful. I only go out for food and to walk. I am fortunate to have dogs and my garden. Our local hospital is 50% occupied with Covid patients, 90% of them unvaccinated and most in the ICU are unvaccinated. Elective surgeries have been cut by 90% because there is no one to care for the patients. Vaccines are free and readily available. I have been vaccinated since April and was very relieved to get the jab. A number of vaccinated friends have caught the Delta variant while masked in the grocery store. Fortunately, all have recovered.

The governor of Florida refuses to allow local governments and school boards to enact mask mandates. Local school boards revolted and began their own mask mandates, sued the governor and won. The university system (colleges) are being made to have classes in person (they were starting classes online and were stopped) I think Florida has 1 in 5 of the new Covid cases in the US. Yet, the tourists continue to pour in. I am baffled by the whole thing. The governor has also opened numerous Regeneron clinics around the state, for when you get exposed to the virus, I am further baffled by this….

That is my six with a bit of commentary this Saturday. Thanks to Jon at www. thepropagatorblog.wordpress.com for hosting this week. Follow the link to see more Six on Saturday fun..