Funky Florida Flora – Jamaican Caper

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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.

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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.

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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.

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In a Vase on Monday – Scentsational Moonlight

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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.

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

Funky Florida Flora – Little Harv

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Another of my garage sale finds, ‘Little Harv’ has been graciously flowering and producing pups for the past five years or so. An Aechmea Bromeliad created in South Florida in 1978, ‘Little Harv’ is fairly common in landscapes in this area. I would hate to see Big Harv as the little one can reach almost 4 feet of height.

Here is a close up of the bud, you can see the prickly edges of the silvery foliage and its coloration. The bud started up about a month ago and the flower opened two weeks ago and will usually last a few more weeks.

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In A Vase on Monday – Branching Out

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I am madly trying to get the gardens straightened up before summer starts scorching me, causing retreat to the air conditioning thus causing the weeds to reach Jurassic proportions. While cleaning up I noticed two palm seedlings growing about a foot away from my house. Much too close for comfort.

Palms being monocots are easily gotten rid of by cutting off their one growing point, the apical meristem. Then, you can put the palm fronds in a vase on Monday and join Cathy’s meme at Link to meme to see more vases. I did exactly that and cut a few branches from some flowering shrubs that needed it and then looked around for some accenting flowers.

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The result is a big vase in my foyer this Monday. The whole arrangement is about 3 feet tall, the vase a Christmas gift from my husband some years ago.

In my big vase are: fronds from seedlings of the Sabal Palm (Palmetto sabal); orange and red flowers are from two different Firebush (Hamelia patens and var. patens). I may have the only pollarded tree form Firebush in Florida. The blue flowers are from the Plumbago shrub (Plumbago auriculata), a pretty and utterly indestructible shrub; the white flowers are from the White Geiger (Cordia boissieri), a tree native to Mexico.

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Maybe this is upcycling instead of recycling prunings. Hmm.

A Belated Happy Mother’s Day to all.

Funky Florida Flora – Coral Plant

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It occurred to me this morning there are not too many plants that would work in this narrow space in my garden (about 18″ wide). This is a very funky plant, a Jatropha  multifida, called the Coral Plant. I thought initially the name was based on the color of the flower, but then realized the flower does resemble an actual coral.

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The foliage on this plant resembles something else. Cannabis, however, all Jatropha is poisonous, so I would resist the urge to smoke it and keep it away from children and pets.

The Jatrophas are interesting plants, tropical – this one is native to Mexico. They do best in South Florida or where temperatures stay above 40 degrees Fahrenheit. Common to members of the Euphorbia family, they exude toxic, milky sap and can become a nuisance by its tendency to produce a lot of seeds. However, the seeds contain oils that have been proposed for use to make sustainable biodiesel fuel. They just haven’t quite figured out how yet.  Click for the Biodiesel story.

Despite the fact this plant is widely reported to love sharp drainage, full sun and noted for its extreme drought tolerance – it suffered in such a place in my pollinator garden and is much happier in its new skinnier digs with its own tiny irrigation bubbler and protection from the western sun. Butterflies continue to enjoy the flowers and I will as well now that the Coral Plant is in a happier place.

 

In A Vase on Monday – Summer G’s

 

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Summer began on Thursday here, complete with thunderstorms and wet blanket of humidity slapping me in the face when traveling from air conditioned space to the great, sweaty outdoors. Summer flowers are a consolation for the weather.

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The G’s are Gardenias and Gallardias, the Tropical Gardenias are stalwarts in my garden. They thrive under dreadful conditions and supply flowers off and on all summer long. The plant is probably ten feet tall and I struggle to reach the flowers, having jettisoned more than one across the vegetable garden by letting go of a long branch too quickly. Oddly enough, the buds last a really long time in the vase, but the flowers don’t. I love the graceful lines of the buds, when hanging over (and around) the side of a contrasting vase, the summer garden is looking fine indoors.

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The first G is Florida (or Tropical) Gardenias (Tabernaemontana divaricata), semi deciduous, in my experience and not particularly hardy to frost. The other G is Gallardia (Gallardia pulchella), a native wildflower I have been trying to establish in the Pollinator Garden. The third plant in the vase is a Penta lanceolata, a plant known to serve as a nectar plant for butterflies. I have noticed the butterflies sipping on the flowers, hoping for offspring.

Speaking of pollinators, they are back for summer – these are caterpillars of Gulf fritillary butterflies chowing down on my ‘Lady Margaret’ Passionflower vine. Lady Margaret has been perverse in her unwillingness to flower in my garden, so I don’t mind if the Gulf fritallaries eat her up.

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Here are the Gulf Frittilaries from last year. I hope to get better pictures this year,

 

 

In a Vase on Monday – Flowers by Karma

 

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Last week I made the bold statement “there is not very much pink in my garden”. As always, karma reigns supreme and two of my favorite plants are in this vase (also supplied by karma). Both are, well, pink.

Strangely enough, last week one of my favorite vases, a simple glass cylinder cracked. Nothing happened to it, the vase just cracked up and down about a third of the height of the vase. It occurred to me I would really like a slightly larger glass vase with a more interesting shape.

The following morning I was walking my greyhounds and spied this vase, left at the curb as trash. It was promptly removed, by me. The greyhounds did not care. They prefer hanging with a soft blankie or two.

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Later in the week, I renovated my front porch containers for summer (the new colors are shades of peach, apricot and burgundy with a touch of gray and chartreuse) I am hopeful the new variety of Zinnia will survive the onslaught of heat and humidity.

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During the course of my renovation I removed a long serving ‘Alabama Sunset’ Coleus, it had developed a nearly half inch stem and I knew its days were numbered, so I took some cuttings and put them in the vase to root. The pink vase was inevitable.

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Here is a close up, the ‘Alabama Sunset’ Coleus is at the base of the arrangement. The flowers are Shell Ginger (Alpinia zerumbet), a favorite tropical and the gingery fragrance adds to its appeal. The background greenery is Boston Fern (Nephrolepis exaltata) a native and vase favorite slowly invading my driveway landscape.

Wishing good karma for all this week. And I hope everyone is in the pink.