In a Vase on Monday – August Beauties

This vase accurately reflects what thrives in my South Florida garden with very little water or attention. August is the hottest month of the year, it is frequently 94 degrees in the shade (F or almost 35 C). Gardening is best abandoned for cooler days. There has also been a long dry spell here, we are 8 inches below normal on rainfall and some plants have burned up. My stalwart zinnias succumbed the first week of August, despite my best effort to hand water them, they are curled and crispy brownish tan. I left them to shade the lime green sedum in hopes of nursing it through August. The lush tropical border is a memory. The Dahlias dramatically folded their foliage up the stem and turned brown standing straight like soldiers praying to the rain gods. Bah.

Saturday night we had a refreshing rain shower and the white flowers in the vase, Bridal Bouquet Frangipani, smelled so lovely I had to cut some to bring inside. It seems the more tropical plants tolerate the dry heat a bit better than the Florida natives, which seems odd. Another gardening mystery to ponder.

Beauties in detail:

The lurid purple berries are from the Beautyberry (Calliocarpa americana); fragrant, white flowers are Bridal Bouquet Frangipani; orange tubular flowers are Firebush (Hamelia patens); yellow flowers are Esperanza (Tecoma stans).

The balance:

The peach flower is a Choconiana Heliconia (H. psittacorum ‘Choconiana’) I have tried to find out what the heck is a Choconiana to no avail. Purple foliage is from ‘Purple Prince’ Alternantera – I should admit to watering this one and keeping it in a pot in the shade. There is one in the garden, surprisingly still alive, but much smaller.

I wish everyone gentle rain, but not too much, and cooler weather. Thanks to Cathy at http://www.ramblinginthegarden.wordpress.com for hosting. Follow the link to see more vases.

Happy Gardening!!

In a Vase on Monday – The Dahlia

I have been trying to grow Cactus Dahlias for years. I thought I could grow them in the ground, in amended soil. I planted tubers and thought “I will have flowers in eight weeks” Ha. This was four or five years ago. The tubers would sprout, put out a few leaves, and then die back down. A couple of times a year this happened until finally a passing critter dug them up and ate them. They hung around the garden for a few years, I kept hoping for flowers, but never got so much as a bud.

This spring I ordered some Labyrinth Cactus Dahlia tubers. I was shipped single red Dahlias and these replacement tubers are supposed to be Labyrinth. I was expecting long stemmed peach and pink mixed flowers…that is not this. This is the shortest stemmed flower I have ever cut. Maybe and inch and a half of stem and I accidentally clipped a bud while trying to cut the flower. These are pretty whatever they are, Cactus Dahlias, but not Labyrinth. Oh, well. I am still thrilled with the flower. All the stems are seemingly very short so my dreams of an overflowing bowl of Dahlias are dashed…

I am growing these in plastic pots. The tubers were planted about two months ago, so the original thought of having Dahlias in eight weeks is about right. The red singles I planted in March have burned out and gone dormant (or perished in the heat?)

A close up:

In pale purple, the Dahlia and bud. Green Envy Zinnias are hanging over the side. The foliage is Asparagus Fern and Sweet Begonia leaves. The vase is a thrift store find.

From above:

Thanks to Cathy at http://www.ramblinginthegarden.wordpress.com for hosting; follow the link to see more vases from around the world.

Happy Gardening!!

Six on Saturday – Wilting and Watering.

The July heat remains unabated. My garden has had no rain for two weeks! I have given up on some lawn (I use that term loosely and am happy I did not put any sod down this spring). Some of the more drought tolerant plants are looking wonderful and others have shut down to wait for rain. Fingers crossed for an actual thundershower every day! Below is my fabulous Labyrinth Dahlia, faithfully watered twice a day.

Next up, a native of the South Pacific, Dwarf Red Ixora (Ixora chinensis) – these shrug off the heat and love to flower all summer, but must be watered and fed. I have allowed our native Corkystem Passionvine to ramble through the shrubs; providing a larval food source for butterflies while the flowers from the Ixora provide nectar. The invasive lizards (only in Florida!) had staked out my Passionfruit vine and ate most of the caterpillars, so I got rid of that vine and the evil lizards haven’t figured this out – yet.

Last week I posted some pictures of the orchids growing in my Gumbo Limbo tree. Here is a close up of the roots growing into the trunk. They are not quite attached, but getting there.

The native Cabbage Palms (Sabal palmetto) are indestructible. These are the flowers, the bees love them. Eventually, black berries are formed on long boughs from the crown of the palms. People used the skin of the berries to make flour – which must have been difficult!

Flowers on a Dwarf Pygmy Date Palm (Phoenix roebellini) This palm has male and female plants and will make dates if both are present. These are very common here and I have yet to see any dates. No idea what sex this is.

More happy natives. This is a Sea Grape (Coccoloba uvifera). These hardy plants are used for anything from clipped hedges to trees, this one is about 25 feet tall and covered in grapes. The grapes are edible with a huge seed and taste like figs. Another of those things you have to grow up eating to appreciate. I leave them for the critters. One of my greyhounds loved them and would stand under the tree and graze.

There, Six for Saturday. Rain dance starts later.

Thanks to Jon at http://www.thepropagatorblog.wordpress.com for hosting. Follow the link for more SOS posts.

Happy Gardening.

In a Vase on Monday – Floral Pyrotechnics

Today America celebrates its 246th birthday. My less than patriotic color scheme reflects my feelings on our current state of affairs. Pink for women and green for the environment. Blech, I have always detested politics and even more so today. My brain is still processing our backwards slide.

I am, however, quite pleased with my flowers. My quest to have flowers that survive the summer heat is continuing. Zinnias and Salvia are thriving. I have grown all from seed and will continue to do so as long as I know what to grow and when. This is usually a trickier subject than it appears. The Dahlias I started in March, flowered and fried. I started some a few weeks later and have high hopes for flowers from the few Cactus Dahlia tubers roasting in the garden. Leonitis leonurus, seemingly a good choice from South Africa, is slowly burning up in the front garden it seems, time will tell if it survives the heat.

The vase:

The vase is a retired pasta storage container. The plant palette begins with Zinnias; the peachy toned smaller Zinnias in front are ‘Profusion Apricot’; behind is my go to flower this summer ‘Green Envy’ Zinnia; the red flower draped over the rim is Coral Plant (Jatropha multifida); the orange one behind is Mexican Honeysuckle (Justicia spicigera).

The view from above:

In coral and grey, Soap Aloe (Aloe saponaria); white spikes are Tropical Red Salvia (Salvia coccinea); burgundy leafy foliage is ‘Purple Prince’ Alternanthera; ferns are Asian Sword Ferns.

It is hot and dry here. The only pyrotechnics I am hoping to see today involve thunder, lightning and water falling from the sky.

Thanks to Cathy at http://www.ramblinginthegarden.wordpress.com for hosting, follow the link to find more vases from around the world.

Happy Gardening!!!

Six on Saturday – Ghosts of Future Plants

Summer is an interesting time in the tropical (subtropical, really) garden. It makes me appreciate how smart plants are. The really nasty weeds make seed at the start of the rainy season (June 1) and have a long period of time to start new plants with the advantage of rain. I have been gleefully decapitating the five (yes, five and year round) varieties of crabgrass that grow in Florida in hopes of keeping the crabgrass down.

There are some more attractive budding plants in the garden. This is a Labyrinth Dahlia I have high hopes for, although I am not certain if I planted it early enough. The tubers planted earlier have already flowered and burned out in the heat.

Bromeliads poised to climb the trunks of an Adonidia Palm. This is my first trunk climbing adventure with plants, so I am looking forward to seeing what happens. These are Jill Neoregelia Bromeliads, the red centered one is the oldest, and therefore the mother plant, soon to meet its demise. Women hate this aspect of Bromeliads, the mother always dies.

Another tree climber, the Schomburgkia Orchid, is growing and has new stems coming along. I was interested to read that this orchid is native to Mangrove trees growing on the edge of the Yucatan Peninsula in the Gulf of Mexico. These are usually higher elevation orchids, it is unusual to see this type of orchid in Florida.

The bud of a Desert Rose (Adenium obesum). A Lubber Grasshopper ate all of the foliage last week.

One of my favorite summer Bromeliads and a reliable July flower, the Aechmea Miniata. In full bloom these always remind me of Red Hots candies.

That is all from here this Saturday, I am luxuriating in air conditioned space today, looking forward to future flowers and hoping for rain. To see more SOS posts, visit http://www.thepropagatorblog.wordpress.com.

Happy Gardening.

In a Vase on Monday – Cool Summer Shades

Summer has turned the heat up full blast on the Treasure Coast of Florida. Daytime highs have been over 90 degrees (F) and thunderstorms pop up all afternoon. Not that my garden is getting very much rain, it seems to be missing us most days. So aggravating. So much rain and none falling where I need it.

The heat and humidity brings out the Tropical Gardenia, which was covered in flowers until I relieved it of a number of them. This Gardenia is about ten feet wide and tall and I should have taken a picture before I cut so many flowers. Oops.

I decided to use my vintage Blue Willow teapot and add some cooling colors and fragrances to my vase. The Gardenias are a lighter version (fragrance and size wise) of Gardenia jasminoides, which I love, but its scent is overwhelming indoors and they are more difficult to grow than the Tropical version. I cut this one out of an overgrown hedge between me and my neighbor’s house, once it got its head in the sun it took off and I tree formed it. I never water it and it is perfectly happy. My kind of Gardenia.

The close up:

Tropical Gardenias are Tabernaemontana diviricata; green flowers are ‘Green Envy’ Zinnias; deep blue spikes are ‘Mystic Blue’ Salvia; lighter blue flowers are Blue Plumbago (Plumbago auriculata); ferns are the evil invasive Asian Sword Ferns.

The colors and the combined fragrances of Gardenia and Salvia are adding a light sweet herbal presence to my foyer. Here is a view from above:

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

Happy Summer Gardening!!!

Six on Saturday – Things I Never Planted

Another one of Florida’s many gardening peculiarities is the tendency to find (mostly) desirable plants popping up in the garden. Above is the Brown Bud Allamanda (Allamanda cathartica). These vines tend to creep around and over my neighbors fence, they end up rambling through my shrubs and I hate to cut the flowers off. Rumor has it Pygmy tribes in the Amazon use this very poisonous plant to make deadly blowdarts.

A perfectly placed white Tropical Red Salvia (Salvia coccinea). I planted the red one years ago and a white flowered one popped up in this border, accenting the peach and blue flowers.

Another dead on plant placement by bird artists. These are native Firebush (Hamelia patens). The seedlings appeared soon after we moved in, spaced perfectly for a foundation planting. These are on one side of the front porch, I found another seedling and put a matching plant on the other side.

My preferred common name for this is Inch Plant (Transcandentia zebrina). I have no idea where it came from, but it makes a great groundcover.

Another Transcandentia – T. pallida. Purple Queen, or I was taught these are called Setcresea, Purple Queen is a bit more palatable. I have these in pots and in the ground, the original ones came up under a Strangler Fig, so I guess another bird seeded plant. These seemingly will grow anywhere from sun to shade. A great low maintenance groundcover and a real pop of purple.

Wild Grapes or Muscadines (Vitis rotundafolia) This is a love/hate plant. The native Floridians will actually eat the grapes. I find them bitter, but the birds love them. The hate part, they spread ….everywhere.

There, my Six for this Saturday, to see more posts visit http://www.thepropagatorblog.wordpress.com.

Happy Gardening..

Six on Saturday – Morning Finds

It’s time for another Saturday morning walk around my garden. The heat and moisture lovers are lifting thier heads and showing their colors.

This is a Silver Urn Bromeliad, most people call these Fasciata, as the botanical name is Aechmea fasciata. I associate these with the Atrium trend from the eighties when these were commonly used as a long lasting color plant in interiorscapes. This one flowers and produces pups every other year in my garden.

Another tropical that enjoys humidity, the Choconiana Parrotflower (Heliconia psittacorum). I am wondering what Choconiana is??

A little less tropical but another seasonal indicator, the flowers on the Beautyberry (Calliocarpa americana) signal the start of summer. On the flip side, the lurid purple berries, borne around Labor Day, mark the end of summer..

The architectural buds on a Soap Aloe (Aloe saponaria). I think these were inspired by a few rounds of thundershowers this week. The foliage bases have greened up as well. It is possible I fertilized them and forgot about it…

Another architectural plant, the Bridal Bouquet Frangipani (Plumeria pudica), started flowering this week and will most likely continue until November. This is a semi evergreen, columnar variety of Frangipani. I have a number of these as they are great accent plants around fences and narrow spaces. They are lightly fragrant at night.

A little foliage to end this Saturday’s walk. This is Goudaea ospinae, no idea of the common name. It used to be called Vriesea ospinae gruberi. It’s a varigated Bromeliad and adds a lot of color to deep shade. This supposedly will flower with yellow spikes. I was wondering how much shade it would take, so it has been sitting in its pot in the shade garden for at least two years, another incredibly hardy Bromeliad.

There, my Six on this Saturday. To see more SOS posts, visit Jon at http://www.thepropagatorblog.wordpress.com.

Happy Gardening!!

Six on Saturday – Fragrant Whites and Mysteries

It is Saturday again, time to check out what’s new in the garden. Six things! Rain has finally fallen on my garden, and with a bit of warmth some mysterious buds have shot up from some longtime residents that have never flowered.

These appeared this week. Buds on (I am guessing) an Aechmea Bromeliad. I bought it at a garage sale some years ago. At least five. Garage sale Bromeliads are about five bucks, named plants are easily ten times that at the nursery, so I have a lot of garage sale mysteries. Here’s the one that is opening.

Whatever it is, it will be an interesting flower. Stay tuned.

One of the Haworthias in my succulent collection sent up a flower. I did not realize they flowered. This should be another interesting flower.

The rain also brought out the fragrant white flowers; and hordes of mosquitoes. I am waiting for the dragonflies to save me.

This is a Frangipani (Plumeria spp) of unknown origin I bought at a Master Gardener’s sale. Finally gaining some height, it is about 7 feet tall. I love the clean graphics of these flowers and their fragrance.

The Tropical Gardenias (Tabernaemontana diviricata) started blooming in earnest this week. Their scent is most notable at night.

Sweet Almond (Aloysia virgata) spills its scent during the day near the back porch.

The garden is scentsational right now. I need a swarm of dragonflies to clean out the bad bugs. I’m expecting them anytime now….

My South Florida Six for this Saturday! To see more SOS, visit Jon at http://www.thepropagatorblog.wordpress.com…

Happy Gardening!!