I have been rooting coleus cuttings in a teapot and put them on my porch intending to pot them up for winter porch containers. As these things go they sat there for a couple of days and I remembered and set out to do the right thing (instead of forgetting entirely and find them rotting in a few more days)
As I poured the water out, I noticed black things wiggling inside the teapot. Too big for mosquitoes. What in the world? So, I stopped and took some pictures to enlarge and see what the heck was in there.
Not even wiggling worms – a nymph of some sort. I find these guys on the porch from time to time. They are big bugs, probably the size of my hand, beating their wings when touched – usually recalcitrant about going back outside and do not like to be moved. Somebody found a little water and laid some eggs in my teapot and now we have the most likely suspect as the creator of my nymphfest in the teapot:
There are 150 different Dragonflies in Florida, I am not sure what dragon or damselfly this is. As I was reading about them it seems they can be in the nymph stage for years. I am thinking about rehoming the ones in the teapot..
My husband jokes me about my lack of linear thinking. I am completely lateral. This week I decided to seek some linearity to complement the line of purple berries from the Beautyberry. I am convinced Florida Beautyberries are different than Beautyberries in other places. Every August I am amazed at the quantity and beauty (yes!) of the berries produced by this shrub.
The Beautyberry story:
I went to a local native plants nursery ‘going out of business’ sale shortly after moving to Florida. The Beautyberries were 3 for 10 dollars. Of course, I bought three. Thinking about putting them in a couple of different locations, not really knowing where to site them in the atrocious sand in my garden. Also not realizing the dramatic seasonal shift of the sun in my new home; I planted one on the due north side of my garage near the exit from our screen porch. Reasoning (lateral as usual) for this location: I thought it would stay shady enough for what was an understory shrub to me and this shrub is supposed to deter mosquitoes.
Much to my surprise, the sun got higher and higher in the sky as the year progressed. Full shade in January is full sun by May! Frying full sun. Not fun to dig things up in frying full sun, so it was left behind the garage. And then, the berries showed up. Impressive berries. I planted the other two in a much shadier, understory location – one passed on and the other bears about a tenth of the fruit of the one I seemingly planted in the wrong place. Another gardening riddle.
Oddly, mosquitoes were much worse in my garden in Atlanta – though we do have astonishing dragonfly (they eat mosquitoes) swarms periodically here and I do stuff Beautyberry leaves in my shoes if there are mosquitoes about (it works). I rarely see mosquitoes on the screen porch. Floridians make jam from the berries. I have not tried this as everyone who has ever mentioned it says it is pretty but tasteless.
Perhaps the purple berries are a bit clashy with my peachy garage wall..still not digging it up.
A closer view:
The purple and green berries are Beautyberries (Calliocarpa americana); blue spike flowers are Mystic Spires Salvia; purple spike flowers and varigated leaf are from a Coleus ‘Homedepotensis’; the long chartreuse leaves are from Lemon Aechmea blanchetiana Bromeliad. The vase was a gift from my late older brother; it always makes me smile when I use it – and its linear.
This Saturday we are in the midst of the peak of hurricane season in South Florida. The cicadas are singing, the temperature and humidity are soaring, the plants are wilting and so am I. Oddly, the hurricanes are in New England and Mexico. Last weekend, Tropical Storm Fred dropped eight inches of rain at my house. The garden was happy for a while, but is thirsty once again. We are definitely in the pits.
The pit above is much more interesting and from the garden. I finally got one Nam Doc Mai mango from my tree. This is a Thai mango bred to eat for dessert, featuring a small pit, fiberless flesh and a coconut mango flavor. The pit is nearly as long as the mango (6 inches) and about 1/4 inch thick. Here is the mango with a cherry tomato. My husband and I ate most of it for dessert last night. Yummy.
Another interesting observation in my steamy jungle this week – the formation of new shoots on the Hard Cane Orchid I installed in my Gumbo Limbo tree this winter.
The Orchid is putting out roots and hopefully will grow into the tree trunk and flower this winter. The sprays of flowers are supposed to be five feet long. Hopefully. I mounted the Orchid by tying it onto the tree with old pantyhose. There is a bit of Orchid soil mix in the hose that has supported the plant while it grows in. I was about to remove it when a swarm of large ants came bursting out..the hose are still in the tree, ants and all.
Another new shoot.
A new butterfly in my garden this week. This is a Mallow Scrub Hairstreak on a Sweet Almond Bush (Aloysia virgata) flower. A tiny butterfly, maybe an inch wingspan. Picture taken while crossing my fingers. The Sweet Almond is very popular with bees and butterflies.
Heliconias are very striking plants. The fiery colors of the flowers inspired me to create this vase. The container is a antique French match holder. I envision lovely, fashionable people sitting in a cafe by the Seine in Paris using the ribbed surface to strike matches and light hand rolled cigarettes.
Do people still roll their own cigarettes? I have no clue. One whiff of smoke and I am history. Gone to find clean air.
The vase is designed to hold long wood matches. I added a bit of floral foam in the base. The foam would not hold the heavy Heliconias up so I wound some Bromeliad foliage around the inside of the neck to hold the flowers in place. Perhaps the first Bromeliad foliage shim ever…?
A closer view:
The orange “flames” are Parrotflowers (Heliconia psittacorum ‘Choconiana’); red “flames”, another Parrotflower (H. psittacorum ‘Lady Di’); red hot foliage is Piecrust Croton (Codieum varigatum ‘Piecrust’); white “smoke” (also supplying fragrance) Sweet Almond (Aloysia virgata).
Hoping this is the last hot blast of summer. Happy Gardening!!
Tropical Storm Fred is passing by the penisula of Florida this Saturday. Feeling the onslaught of tropical humidity in the air, I spent some time Friday planting a few things in the garden, checking on the edibles and pruning a bit to keep the inevitable gusty wind and rain at bay.
This is a Cuban or Catalina Avocado tree. The avocados are the size of footballs. A friend grew this from seed and brought the seedling to me in 2016. The tree is 12 – 14 feet tall and will hopefully bear fruit next year. To my knowledge, this is the only avocado that is true to seed (most are grafted). I pruned the Passionfruit vine out, it aggressively tries to climb the Avocado any chance it gets – the vine is on the left side of the tree.
The progress on the Papaya beheaded this spring. I am still not sure what will happen here. The trunk sealed itself and put out three new shoots – they don’t seem big enough to support the four pound Papayas.
Chaya (Cnidoscolus aconitifolius) or Tree Spinach. This is a tropical vegetable common in Central America, the leaves are cooked like spinach. A friend gave me cuttings two years ago, it is about six feet tall. The flowers are highly attractive to butterflies. I haven’t eaten any of this – it is toxic unless cooked properly.
Another tropical edible, the Roselle (Hibiscus sabdariffa). This is an edible Hibiscus, usually grown for the flower calyx that tastes like cranberries. The foliage can be eaten as well, new growth is like Arugula and the older leaves maybe be cooked as greens. These won’t flower for another month or so, but I should try the greens. I have eaten the new growth in salad (it’s good) but haven’t cooked any.
New to the garden, a Parrotflower (Heliconia psittacorum ‘ Choconiana’). These are short lived in my garden; they tend to spread wildly and then expire. I enjoy these cut, they are a long lasting tropical flower. And I will buy another one or two after a few years.
The Heliconias were planted beneath two Firebush (Hamelia patens) with a Martin Neoregelia Bromeliad and Alligator Lilies (Hymenocallis latifolia).
This is an accidental flower arrangement. I had a few Parrotflowers (Heliconia psittacorum) pop up in the front garden and cut them. One had an extremely short stem, so I decided to put them in this short vase – not realizing I could not get a frog in the vase to hold the stems upright. The Parrotflowers landed on edge. Eureka! they look like birds in flight and I went with the flow. I decided more red and yellow would pop the parrot colors.
For unknown reasons the Tropical Red Salvia are having a banner year. Possibly the advent of soaking afternoon thundershowers and their taking hold in the highly amended, recently abandoned vegetable bed. The flowers are bigger and more bountiful than ever before. Another gardening mystery to ponder.
A closer view:
The Parrotflowers (Heliconia psittacorum) are in red and yellow; adding to the flow, bell shaped red flowers are Firecracker Plant (Russelia equisetiformis).
The red spikes are the fat and happy Tropical Red Salvia (Salvia coccinea). I am always amazed at the ability of my garden to produce foliage in colors that match the flowers.This week’s foliage is from Copperleaf shrubs, oddly named, in my opinion, as they are available in many colors besides copper. The red leaves are from ‘Louisiana Red’ Copperleaf (Acalphya wilkesiana). The yellow and green leaves are called ‘Java White’.
It’s summer and it is hot. My garden is providing hot summer color to get me through the worst of it. The Farmer’s Almanac claims the dog days of summer will end August 11. Probably not here. I am joining the Propagator gang again today with six items of interest from my garden, to see more posts, follow the link – http://www.thepropagatorblog.wordpress.com
The Beautyberries (Calliocarpa americana) began their lurid purple march down the stems this week.
Parrotflowers (Heliconia psittacorum) are peeking through the trunks of the Bougainvillea.
Rain Lilies (Zephyranthes spp?) are responding to the, yes, rain and popping up throughout the garden. These are sharing space with a Burgundy Aechmea Bromeliad.
The Mystic Spires Salvia is finally established and flowering madly.
Purple Setcresea flowers are dotting the purple masses of foliage. This plant seems to have a lot of botanical names. What is Setcresea anyway, it sounds awful??
Moses in a Cradle flowers. It took me a bit to understand why that is the common name – until it flowered. Moses has a snail along for the ride in this one. These are also called Oyster Plant, I think it has been decided Transcandentia spathacea is the botanical name. For the time being.
This week’s title seems to suggest I found some intelligent soap. This is not the case. All of the soap in my house is as clueless as ever, just some suds. And I am not the sage one.
The soap comes from the Soap Aloe (Aloe saponaria) the orange flowers with a bit of green at the ends. Here is the plant. A South African native that flowers 4 times a year in my garden. If I break a leaf in half sudsy aloe pours out – apparently it is used to make shampoo. The dilemma, the large percentage of the population is allergic to it. I have not washed my hair with it, though I enjoy the flowers.
The sage in the arrangement is the Mystic Spires Salvia, the blue spikes. I have been enjoying the flowers for months and hopefully they will last into the winter. A closer view:
The blue spikes are Mystic Spires Salvia. The purple flowers are Mona Lavendar Plectranthus. The solid orange flowers are Mexican Bush Honeysuckle (Justicia spicigera); green tipped orange flowers are Soap Aloe (Aloe saponaria); white flowers are Bridal Bouquet Frangipani (Plumeria pudica); grey foliage is more sage, Texas Sage (Luecophyllum frutescens); burgundy spikes are from a Dwarf Pineapple, a gift from a friend. The vase grounding the arrangement, a thrift store find and favorite.
The heat and humidity have gone into hyperdrive here. Highs over 90 (F) / 32 (C) for the next few days. The dog days of summer are here and my dogs have the right idea, reclining in air conditioned comfort. Not a good time to be in the garden, though I am thankful for the shade trees.
My first image today is a tree planted to shade my driveway about seven years ago, starting to really take over now. This is the fruit and foliage of Gumbo Limbo (Bursea simaruba)
The Gumbo Limbo has a hard cane Dendrobium orchid growing on its trunk. My neighbor brought this to me and it is just starting to root into the trunk. It should bloom in the winter with 4 or 5 foot long sprays of flowers. I am really looking forward to seeing this! The tree is sometimes called the Tourist Tree – because the bark looks like peeling, sunburned skin. I tied in onto the tree with pantyhose, you can see these on the right side of the image.
Duranta “Sapphire Showers” is a reliable summer bloomer. I planted this for butterflies, they love the nectar.
A new plant in the garden. Meet Aerva ‘Red Velvet’. I like a bit of burgundy foliage in the garden and it is a difficult plant to find that will grow in frying sugar sand. This is a ‘native’ of gravelly sand from India and a medicinal herb there. I am not going to eat any, but have taken several cuttings to propagate and spread throughout the garden.
This is Allamanda, creeping over from my neighbor. These are pretty – and very hard to get rid of. The sap from the vine is supposedly used by tribes in the rainforest for poison darts.
Interesting foliage today is the new growth on a Piecrust Croton (Codiaeum variegatum) The older foliage eventually is black with green, yellow and red varigation.
Anyone else remember this song? “I’m a Little Teapot,” released 1939. It was a favorite of my mother’s. This is her teapot, a wedding gift from 1950. I remember this making its daily appearance on the kitchen counter brewing tea for that iconic Southern beverage (appropriate for all occassions) syrupy sweet Iced Tea.
I’m a little teapot, Short and stout, Here is my handle Here is my spout When I get all steamed up, Hear me shout, Tip me over and pour me out!
I’m a very special teapot, Yes, it’s true, Here’s an example of what I can do, I can turn my handle into a spout, Tip me over and pour me out!
I aged out of the ability to drink Sweet Iced Tea at age 16. With the amount of sugar usually added, it is just too sweet for me. My grandmother added saccharine tablets to hers which put me off of Iced Tea for years. I would pray for Coca Cola at her house. Since then, straight up with a lemon is the only way I drink Iced Tea. I know, I am a bad Southerner.
I love this teapot because the interior has signifigant tea stain, evidence of what a mainstay this was in my mother’s kitchen.
I have a lot of plants in this little teapot. Tropical Gardenias (Tabernaemontana diviricata) started the idea – white and fragrant, they come from a ten foot tall tree form shrub that is over my head and wonderful to stand under and inhale the scent while trimming a few flowers. I have two types of Coleus foliage (Plectranthus whateveritisnow) – chartreuse and burgundy and chartreuse. White spikes are a few pieces of white Tropical Red Salvia (Salvia coccinea) – who are these people naming plants again?
Tiny white flowers are from Tree Spinach (Chaya) – a superfood for people that I planted for butterflies. I haven’t eaten any as it is toxic unless you know how to cook it. Pink fuzzies are the Dwarf Chenille Plant (Acalphya pendula).