Six on Saturday – Summer Whites

It’s Saturday again and summer is still in full force in South Florida. Hot and humid. Heat index over 100 Fahrenheit this afternoon. I am joining The Propagator for his weekly meme, follow the link for more fun.

As summer is seemingly haunting me, I decided to feature ghostly summer whites. First up, the flowers on Cattleya Orchids that were buds in last week’s post.

A little fragrance for my short trips into the garden. This is a Sweet Almond Bush (Aloysia virgata) – I have been pruning it slowly, so many bees buzzing around the flowers they get angry and I have to stop.

Another fragrant flower, the Tropical Gardenia (Tabernaemontana diviricata). These are not a fragrant as Gardenia jasminoides, releasing a subtle fragrance at night.

This is (to me) a bit of an obscure plant. A Tree Spinach (Cnidoscolus chayamansa) considered a superfood – supposed to cure varicose veins! Also toxic unless cooked 20 minutes and creates intestinal distress if cooked in aluminum pans…I have not eaten any. I planted it because it is a butterfly nectar flower, supposedly supplying protein to butterflies. A friend gave this to me about six months ago as a cutting and it is 3 feet tall now.

Tropical Red Salvia (Salvia coccinea) is a stalwart in my garden. Oddly, it occurs in several other colors. The white version…

Salvia coccinea again, the pink and white version.

Hoping for some cooler temperatures next week. No more haunting from summer, only fall fun in the garden…

In a Vase on Monday – Taming Miss Alice

Miss Alice lives beside my front porch. An seemingly obscure variety of Bougainvillea I am training to a column on the porch, she is known for being nearly thornless. Other Bougainvilleas have 2 inch long thorns, I was pruning Miss Alice barefooted and stepped on a cast off branch – ouch! not thornless but I wasn’t punctured. The white flowers are from Miss Alice, a result of a fairly hard pruning as the Bougs transition from vegetative to flowering states. Day length drives the flowering cycle – native to areas near the equator Bougainvilleas flower most when daylight and night hours are equal. I did not realize I could use them as cut flowers, they seem to be lasting. So far, so good.

Here is a closer view:

The white ‘leaves’ are bracts and the actual flowers are the white and green tubes in the center of the flower. Lurid purple berries are from Beautyberry (Calliocarpa americana) which has been producing masses of berries this summer. They are so heavy with fruit the branches fell to the ground. Ferns are from my weedy Asian Sword Ferns and a seedling Sabal Palm (Palmetto sabal) frond completes the backdrop. The vase is a roadside find.

Miss Alice before and after she was tamed.

Happy Gardening and thanks to Cathy at http://www.ramblinginthegarden for hosting this weekly meme.

Six on Saturday The Good, the Bad, and the Bugly

A Zebra Longwing, the state butterfly of Florida, sipping nectar from a Firebush (Hamelia patens var patens). A good thing.

Another good thing, my Bottle Palm (Hyophorbe lagenicaulis) is finally making its bottle trunk. Eventually the old fronds fall off and the palm looks like it is sitting on a green wine bottle. This has taken about five years.

The bad thing about these next plants, they are so slow growing it is almost not worthwhile planting them. Both are Florida natives and come with the native hype…

This is a Thatch Palm (Thrinax radiata) It has been in the garden for about five years and might be 18″ tall. I am not sure I will live long enough to see an actual palm tree form.

A Satinleaf (Chysophyllum oliviforme), the back sides of the leaves. This is reportedly a tree, and sounds romantically wonderful when described by growers who have seen it blowing in the wind. At six years old and possibly a foot tall (the ferns dwarf it) I have to lie down beside it to experience the romance.

The front side of the leaves.

And now, the bugly. This is the dreaded Lubber Grasshopper, another hyped Florida native. These can be 3 or 4 inches long and love to eat plants. Filled with poison, they only have one natural enemy, a bird called a Loggerhead Shrike, the bird impales the grasshopper and leaves them around to dry out and then eats them. I find them dead in the shrubbery from time to time. I am also an enemy and have frightened my dogs gleefully stomping them.

That is my six for this Saturday. Stop by http://www.thepropagatorblog.wordpress.com to see more posts from around the world.

Happy Gardening..

In a Vase on Monday – Foraging for Flowers

Once in a while I give plant talks at a local nursery, one of the girls I work with there contacted me to say she enjoyed my Monday vases and had the idea for a talk about Foraging for Flowers in Your Garden. I love the idea and it truly reflects this weeks vase.

August can be unkind to to gardens in South Florida. We can have 3.5 inches of rain in a few hours, hurricanes or weeks long dry spells with temperatures in the high 90s (F) -37 Celsius. The garden can be baked, drowned and/or dessicated. The gardener as well. Last week I noted the much smaller size of the flowers from well, August. Foraging for my vase, I found some true stalwarts to cut.

The view from the side. The vase is a favorite and a thrift store find. Transcandentias are prominent in this vase. Solid purple foliage is Transcandentia pallida called Setcresea, from last weeks vase. Setcresea certainly sounds like a botanical name, but it is not. Go figure. My husband calls these secretions. The striped leaves are Transcandentia zebrina; Inch Plant, Wandering Jew, etc. Really hard to kill if it gets a little shade and water, hard not to love this one in August. The pink flowers are Tropical Red Salvia (Salvia coccinea); chartreuse flower is a fading Guzmania Bromeliad that begin life red. Grey foliage is from Barometer Bush (Leucophyllum frutescens). Inevitably I fiddle with these as I take pictures. I think I like it better without the Barometer Bush???

Happy Gardening and thanks to Cathy at http://www.ramblinginthegarden.wordpress.com for hosting this weekly meme. Follow the link to see more vases.

Six on Saturday – Simple Pleasures

I am joining the Six on Saturday gang at http://www.thepropagatorblog.wordpress.com with six photos of interest from my garden this Saturday. I am celebrating the simple pleasures this week.

The irrigation system has been repaired after a week’s hiatus with a clogged valve. My husband fixed it. Yay!. Droplets of water on Muhly Grass. It has been dry this week, the birds and butterflies were enjoying a drink along with the plants.

Irrigation in action. A half acre is too much to water by hand..

A mad cool black and white spotted moth chrysalis. I think this was two moths and they left together.

Tomato seedlings are coming up. Yellow Pear and San Marzanos are up, the Riesenstrube are shy so far.

My first homegrown carrot. ‘Very carroty’ is what my husband said. I planted the seeds in January!

Sweetshrub (Calycanthus floridus) emerging from seed. This is a native shrub to the Southeastern US that bears fragrant red flowers in the summer. I think I am a bit too far south for these. I collected some seed in a client’s garden a couple of years ago and decided to give it a go, not realizing they are famously difficult to grow from seed. Two out of eighteen sprouted. A shoot is appearing out of the middle of the curled leaves. The plant on the lower right is a weed, Artillery Fern, I was hesitant to disturb the seedling..

My six for this Saturday. Happy gardening…

Six on Saturday – Seeds of Change

I am joining the Six on Saturday crew today featuring seeds. I started planting tomato seeds this week for my fall garden and noticed many plants producing seed in the garden. As usual, the tropical plants behave differently and the seeds start early, perhaps to catch the end of the rainy season and get a better chance at life?

This is Beautyberry (Calliocarpa americana) – a shrub native to the Southeastern US. The berries are more spectacular in Florida, I think and locals make (I am told) tasteless jam from the fruit.

Flowers on a Pygmy Date Palm (Phoenix roebellini). These palms will produce dates. but are dioecious. I am not sure if this is the male or female flower.

Gumbo Limbo (Bursera simarouba) berries, I suppose. These remind me of Crabapples, the birds love them. The Gumbo Limbo is sometimes called the Tourist Tree because of its flaky, red “sunburned” bark.

Firebush (Hamelia patens), this one flowers and fruits simultaneously; birds enjoy the fruit, bees and butterflies the flowers. I can hear the shrub buzzing first thing in the morning.

Seeds forming on Sabal Palm (Palmetto sabal). These seeds eventually turn black and fall to the ground. Native Americans ground the husks into flour.

My neighbor grew these Roselles from seed. This is a tropical vegetable, a relative of Hibiscus and Okra. The foliage is edible; new leaves are reminscent of Arugula and the older leaves can be cooked as greens. The calyx of the flower is what these are usually grown for – they are burgundy colored and are used as a substitute for cranberries in the tropics. These were planted as seedlings in May and are now 4′ tall. Waiting for flowers and ‘cranberries’ – hoping for Roselle relish for Thanksgiving.

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

In a Vase on Monday – Braving Isaias

The impending path of Hurricane Isaias has been big news this week in Florida. A friend is calling this storm Hurricane Unpronounceable. Research tells me Isaias replaces the name Ike, retired after a particularly disastrous storm in 2008. They downgraded Isaias to a Tropical Storm before it reached my neck of the woods.

Ordinarily I would not cut flowers during a tropical weather event. This one was mild enough that I walked my greyhounds this morning. Alan, the weather phobic hound, did not take notice of the weather. During the walk I avoided the house with Coconut Palms – the coconuts are still hanging on the tree. We had winds up to 30 mph, off and on, and very little rain. The pots on my porch had to be watered. It is interesting to note the change in direction in the winds, especially when not scared witless. The circular wind direction can be felt and noted by watching which way the palms are swaying. Just stay away from Coconut Palms.

What Hurricane?

The vase! Oddly, my husband received flowers recently for helping someone and this is the vase from his flowers. I used it to collect a hot color palette of what is flowering in my garden.

The foliage in the back of the arrangement is Varigated Flax Lily (Dianella tasmanica ‘varigata’); yellow and orange spikes are Blanchetiana Bromeliad (Aechmea ‘Blanchetiana’) flowers; peach and red spikes are from Tropical Red Salvia (Salvia coccinea); red and blue tipped panicle flower is Miniata Bromeliad (Aechmea miniata); orange flowers in the middle of the vase are Mexican Honeysuckle (Justicia spicigera); orange flowers hanging over the side are Firebush (Hamelia patens); and a few unnamed Zinnias. The Zinnias are grown in Miami and are my favorite (because they survive) summer container flower. I would love to know the name if anyone can share that information.

It is late Sunday afternoon and while the wind is still blowing it has died down considerably. Fingers crossed for the rest of those in the path of this storm.

To see more vases from less tropical climes visit Cathy at http://www.ramblinginthegarden.wordpress.com.

Happy Gardening and hopefully sunny skies…

Six on Saturday – Preparation H

My husband and I spent last night and this morning securing our house and garden in preparation of the arrival of Hurricane Isaias. It is quite literally a pain in the ….here he is installing storm shutters:

Every window on the house is covered with corrugated aluminum shutters secured with pins cast into concrete window frames and wing nuts. Anything loose in the garden has to be turned over to catch the least possible wind. The teak coffee table has assumed dead cockroach position near the house. I have turned all the garden furniture over, then picked up all the loose bits and nursery pots I have left lying about.

Why, oh, why do I have so many cushions?

For the porch furniture and seating for greyhounds, of course. Piled up to avoid wind gusts.

I ran across this map recently, we live on the Treasure Coast of Florida, so named because of all the shipwrecks just offshore. Caused by – you guessed it, hurricanes. And lack of Preparation. People find gold coins at the beach from time to time.

I have one pretty flower for this Saturday, this is called either a Flaming Torch or Hurricane Bromeliad. It’s a Billbergia pyramidalis. Appropriately prepared for the hurricane.

Isaias is predicted to pass by here tomorrow, time will tell how the garden fares.

I am joining Jon the Propagator and gang for Six on Saturday; sharing six pictures of what is going on in my garden this Saturday. To see more Saturday posts, visit Jon at http://www.thepropagatorblog.wordpress.com

Happy Gardening from the Treasure Coast!!

In a Vase on Monday – Flaming Gardenias..

Flaming Gardenias sounds like a polite curse from women of a certain age, myself included. No cursing here, except maybe about the heat or politics, but the garden is not involved.

The red flower in the arrangement is a Flaming Torch Bromeliad. These do their name justice and appear at the apex of the hurricane season – another common name is Hurricane Bromeliad. The latin name, Billbergia pyramidalis. Here it is in the garden.

The Gardenias are the tropical kind, sometimes called Florida Gardenias although they are native to India. Tabernaemontana diviracata is the latin. The shrub is at least 10 feet tall and the fragrance, subtle and mostly noticeable really late or really early in the morning. During the Five AM Greyhound romp, I am enjoying the scent of Gardenias, the dogs..Armadilloes or something. It’s a group effort.

A closer view:

The backdrop, I do love a little foliage with textural contrast. The big leaf is from a Seagrape (Coccoloba uvifera) and the ferny bits – Asparagus Fern that pops up in the garden. The cobalt glass bowl, a gift from my brother, years ago. I love it with white flowers.

To see more vases from gardeners around the world, follow the link to Cathy at http://www.ramblinginthegarden.wordpress.com.

Happy Monday and Happy Gardening.

Six on Saturday-Porch Pots

I am joining The Propagator this Saturday with six items of interest from my front porch. I use my porches for propagation and composed containers. Above is one of my containers with Zinnias, Gold Sedum and Flapjack Kalanchoe for the summer.

I found a strawberry pot by the side of the road and decided to plant it with succulents. Here is a Graptosedum taking hold in the side pocket.

The top of the strawberry pot has a Haworthia along the edge. A friend gifted me this one, I am not sure which Haworthia it is, I hope it flowers.

The Neoregelia Bromeliad in the pot is in mid pupping, the mother plant on the left side is dying as the new pups takes over the container. The Graptosedums also have some offspring.

Here is a close up of the Dwarf Cheniile Plant (Acalypha pendula). This plant can be used as a groundcover here, but I have it planted as a spiller in a container.

I propagate plants on the front porch as well. From the left, a bit of ‘Song of India’ Dracaena I found by the side of the road and three Desert Rose cuttings taken while pruning bigger plants I have in containers at another entrance to my house. The Roses are slowly rooting while leaning on the wall.

That is my six for this Saturday, join the meme or see posts from around the world at http://www.thepropagatorblog.wordpress.com.

Happy Gardening!!