Hurricanes and Tequila

It just dawned on me that Hurricanes are a cocktail, but they don’t contain Tequila. The Hurricane cocktail contains enough rum that if you drink one you won’t care about the Hurricane and the next morning you will feel like you were hit by one.

The first Atlantic Hurricane of the season may or may not be forming in the Tropical Atlantic. There must be a special language school for the weather forecasters that work on these storms. It’s making statements without really stating any facts. Danny is the name of the storm brewing – he has already been designated a Tropical Storm and might possibly turn into a Hurricane. However, the key however is there is a lot of dry Saharan sand and air floating around out there and we are in an El Nino weather pattern. I could ask my Greyhounds for their storm predictions, but they are clearly too busy. So, we wait. To spare myself drama, I only read the Weather Underground.

Canines occupied

Canines occupied, they’ve put their car magazines on the Ottoman so they can nap

Agave americana

Agave americana

On to the tequila, I have discovered I have an Agave americana shooting up a bloom spike. I thought this was interesting as some of these are called Century Plants because they bloom every hundred years and this one has been around my garden for three years or so. Research has informed me that the bloom spike could be 15 feet tall (!) and indeed tequila is made from this plant. I love the color and texture of the Agave, a glaucous blue green with chocolate brown spines. A friend of mine grew this Agave and gave it to me with a warning ‘some people are allergic to the spines so be sure and cut them off the tips of the leaves’. Well, I decided to move the thing having put it in the wrong place and thought I had cut off all the spines. Later I found myself in the doctor’s office drawing a picture of the plant for her (she couldn’t figure out what could cause such a horrible bruise and reaction) and getting a prescription for Steroids. Yes, I am one of the allergic.

Given my lack of fondness for steroids and the fact that after the Agave americana flowers it dies – I believe it will be asked to leave the garden and I will replace it with a similar sized Bromeliad or Crinum or something lacking chocolate brown spines.

Interesting native plants currently doing their thing in my garden:

Sea Grapes - Coccoloba uvifera

Sea Grapes – Coccoloba uvifera

These are Sea Grapes, native to the beach and a bit beyond. The natives like to eat them, the bottom two are nearly ripe but, I haven’t really developed a taste for them and the seed is big. Mine go to the raccoons and birds.

Hymenocallis latifolia

Hymenocallis latifolia

Natives of Florida call these Spider Lilies, I have seen other Hymenocallis called Peruvian Daffodils, clearly I am not in Peru. This is another Florida beachside native- these are easy to grow, but difficult to photograph. The anthers are very like Oriental Lilies, but hard to see. White flowers bloom in clusters, timing is staggered. These are interesting flowers and nearly indestructible.

My plan is to relax with the Greyhounds and await storm news, not eat any Sea Grapes or get stabbed by an Agave. A glass of Chardonnay, no Hurricanes or Tequila in my future, hopefully.

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Epiphany at the Grocery Store

I stopped by the grocery store this afternoon to pick up some things for dinner. After shopping I went back to my car and was stopped by the beautiful flowering trees in the parking lot.

Having experienced Tropic Florida’s winter for the past several years, it is difficult to conceive of the season of spring. Winter is a whisper in your ear one night in February. In my mind, the season following winter is a literal release from the prison of your house. Standing in the parking lot was evidence of spring occurring further south than my mind had grasped.

The first clue was a Purple Hong Kong Orchid Tree, here is the flower. Botanically speaking this is the Bauhinia purpurea, although there are many varieties. Capturing this tree with photography has been eluding me.

Hong Kong Orchid Flower

Hong Kong Orchid Flower

Hong Kong Orchid Tree

Hong Kong Orchid Tree

The failure of the photo to do the tree justice may be a difficulty with purple, but this tree is spectacular. Draped with the purple orchid like flowers, it appears large purple and pink butterflies have landed in graceful groups along the tops of the branches.

The next tree in the lot was a White Geiger Tree. I would characterize these trees as semi evergreen. The genus is Cordia, I am not sure exactly which one this is as one is from Brazil and another from Texas. Nevertheless, a good addition to the landscape.

White Geiger Tree

White Geiger Tree

The next tree I spied was a Tabebuia, nothing shouts spring like the golden trumpets of the Tabebuia.

Tabebuia

Tabebuia

My Epiphany was that spring does come to the Tropics of Florida. I suppose it is my North American predisposition to think of Spring flowering trees as Redbuds, Dogwoods and Cherries, but before my eyes the trees were evidence of spring blossoming everywhere.

Not Really Freezing in South Florida

Yesterday the weather was looking ominous. A bitter wind blew out of the north. Dire predictions were made of freezing temperatures and horticultural mayhem.

I moved potted plants into the garage and wrapped new palms in sheets last night, went inside and hoped for the best.

This morning, I checked the low temperature recorded at the nearest weather station. It was 44 degrees Fahrenheit, 12 degrees shy of freezing. Granted, I am relatively close to the moderating influence of the Gulfstream. Nearby cities matched record lows from the 1950’s (34 and 36), it went below freezing in Vero Beach. Forty degrees is usually front page news in South Florida. It was in fact on the front page. At my house, the damage thus far, slightly burned Basil. I moved the Basil closer to the wall thinking it would keep it warmer, but it seems to have burned it.

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The supertropical Heliconias nearby have survived unscathed.

Happy Heliconia

Happy Heliconia

I think the wind probably damaged the Basil, the Heliconia is in a niche to avoid the wind. I had left the older foliage around the outside to provide insulation. I hope it doesn’t turn black tonight!

After seeing about the plants this morning, I went shopping at the WalMart. A gigantic low end retailer with great prices. The actual disaster from this cold snap was fashion. People tend to move down to Florida and bring whatever they bought 30, 40 or 50 years ago for cold weather gear and they drag it out for the rare event when it gets cold. I saw some men wearing Sears Roebuck Tobacco Brown Corduroy jackets my brothers had in the 60s. With faux lamb collars. Ay,yi,yi and genuine Members Only jackets in the original 1970’s colors .(Sky Blue with a sweatshirt under) The women just piled sweatshirts over their tropical gear or retrieved festively colored 1990’s vintage wind suits from the back of the closet.

I wasn’t really that cold.