In a Vase on Monday – More Summer

It is still a bit too warm for my taste in my garden (mid 80’s F), though cooler weather is on the way. November 30 is the end of hurricane season, hooray!! More good gardening news, my tomatoes have set fruit and we have eaten beans and radishes from the garden.

The flowers are reflecting summer to me, with the exception of the Muhly Grass, Muhly means fall in South Florida. The Portmerion canister is a wedding gift from long ago, never used to store anything – it occasionally serves as a vase.

A friend issued a challenge to use all native plants in the vase (it may be in a magazine) So, all the flowers are, unlike me, Florida natives. Here is another view.

White daisies are Spanish Needles (Bidens alba), a bit of an overzealous seed producer, I am only too happy to decapitate for vases. The yellow daisies are Beach Sunflowers (Helianthus debilis), cheerful year round but I asked most of them in the front to leave the garden, too much trouble, again a zillion seedlings. Yellow bell shaped flowers are Tecoma stans, a newcomer in my garden also called Esperanza, grace in Spanish. I think I am going to love this one and may add a few more. Pink, red and apricot spikes are all Tropical Red Salvia, colors vary with bees! Off white background flowers are Juba Bush (Iresine diffusa) and the fall defining Muhly Grass (Muhlenbergia capillaris) serve as a backdrop.

I hope everyone is surviving lockdown. The horizon is looking so positive now, we just have to put our heads down and get through this.

Happy Gardening!!

A Week in Flowers – The Final Edition

I am joining Cathy at www.wordsandherbs.wordpress.com for the final edition of our flowery images. I think a glow has replaced the gloom! Follow the link to see more flowery images.

I decided to go all out tropical today.. Pink Bougainvillea to start.

Cattleya Orchids, these grow in my garden and stay outside year round.

My neighbor grows Cattleyas in a tree (Hong Kong Orchid tree, of course)

A closer view:

I have Bridal Bouquet Plumeria

And roses of a different type, Desert Roses.

This has been fun this week, seeing all the different flowers from everyone.

Happy Gardening!!

In a Vase on Monday – Tecoma Trials

The yellow flowers in the center of the vase are Tecoma stans, sometimes called Esperanza (hope in Spanish). I have been looking for one of these to add to the garden for butterflies, they are the larval host plant for the Southern Dogface Butterfly, which is prettier than it sounds, much like a Sulphur Butterfly. I found one locally, totally rootbound, then forgot about it during the stormy fall weather. One clear morning a couple of weeks ago I planted it in the edges of the garden. It responded by flowering and promptly flopping over in another of the endless rain showers – so here it is in the vase and I esperanza (hope) it will last.

A side view: the red flowers draping over the side are Nodding Hibiscus (Malvaviscus penduliflorus); smaller red flowers are Firecracker Plant (Russelia equisetiformis); red and yellow flowers are Parrotflowers (Heliconia psittacorum); green foliage is Asian Sword Fern.

Two images..the white flowers in back of the arrangement are ‘Miss Alice’ Bougainvillea. I have been writing a short feature about Bougainvilleas for The American Gardener magazine and learned these flower in cycles – especially in winter when day and night lengths are even…it is November and I have flowers, so life is good..

Thanks to Cathy at ramblinginthegarden.wordpress.com for hosting IAVOM and Happy Gardening!!

Six on Saturday – Fruit, Veg and Flower.

My garden is responding to the change in weather by flowering, growing root vegetables and ripening fruit. I am joining The Propagator’s SOS meme this Saturday. To see more SOS from all over the gardening world, visit Jon at http://www.thepropagatorblog.wordpress.com.

The Papayas are showing the first hints of yellow, which is ripe. I had Papayas December through February last year. Hopefully the same will happen this year. I can only eat so many Papayas at once!

Red radish shoulders peeking out, I am looking forward to eating these guys.

Bush beans budding. I think these are Blue Lake.

Roselles, nearly ready to pick. These are the flowers of an edible Hibiscus, I have been harvesting and freezing them.

San Marzano tomatoes coming along.

Heliconia psittacorum – Parrotflower, one of my favorite cut flowers, I am wondering if they like shorter day lengths to bloom.

Happy Saturday and Happy Gardening….

Six on Saturday – Roselles and Nematodes

My Roselles started flowering in earnest this week. These are edible Hibiscus (Hibiscus sabdariffa) and grow in tropical areas. I planted the seedlings in April and they flower in late October. These are grown for their cranberry flavored calyx, but the rest of the plant can be eaten.

This one has just finished flowering. The directions I have found dictate waiting two to three weeks after the flower falls off to harvest the calyx. I picked one to try, having no idea when the flower fell off.

Watched a video about Roselles and found out I was going to eat the sepals – when you are supposed to eat the calyx. I had Botany about 40 years ago, I will forgive myself. Here it is cut if half.

These are usually dried but can be eaten raw. I am not sure if it was ripe as it was very sour with the barest hint of cranberry flavor.

I posted about nematodes and worms to help combat them a couple of weeks ago. One of the Roselle plants was killed by root knot nematodes. Here is the body, I bagged the roots to prevent spreading the bugs. Root knot nematodes destroy the xylem and phloem leaving the plant unable to feed itself. This Roselle was 4 feet tall.

Here are the roots.

Ugh, I watered the area with food grade diatomaceous earth in hopes of getting rid of the nematodes. Though I will probably start another worm bed as they are pretty close to a Mango and Lime tree.

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

Happy Gardening…

In a Vase on Monday – Muhly Blues

The Muhly Grass in my garden started sending up feathery pink spires this week. This is one of my fall favorites and I keep adding more to the garden. They reseed a bit and every plant gets moved to a new spot. I realized recently I am running out of spots and should stop before there is too much Muhly. Or I could add some drifts further back in the yard….can one ever have too much Muhly?

A closer view:

The pink is Muhly Grass (Muhlenbergia capillaris) – a Florida native that thrives in my garden; the deep blue flowers are Blue Porterweed (Stachytarpheta jamaicensis) having a banner year; light blue flowers are from Arabian Lilac (Vitx trifolia); white Sweet Almond (Aloysia virgata) adds some fragrance and graceful Juba Bush (Iresine diffusa) sways with the Muhly Grass.

Bountiful Blue Porterweed:

Another reason for the Muhly Blues. Alan the Greyhound, tail wagging, went over the Rainbow Bridge this week. The Rainbow Bridge is my favorite euphemism as I love the thought of all my departed Greyhounds waiting at the end of the bridge to join Alan in a joyful run into happy infinity…

Happy Gardening and thanks to Cathy at http://www.ramblinginthegarden.wordpress.com for hosting this weekly meme. Go visit Cathy and see a world of vases.

Six on Saturday – Veg and Vermiculture

The humidity in finally diminishing and I had my first celebratory glass of Chardonnay in the garden yesterday afternoon. Celebrating the solarization, addition of a vermiculture bed and rabbit fence installation in the vegetable garden.

We have bad nematodes in South Florida – I have root knot nematodes in the vegetable garden. These are microscopic worms that feed on the roots of tomatoes and other vegetables eventually killing the plants. They are common in sandy soils and I was interested to learn recently adding compost and worms to the soil deters the nematodes. Solarization also helps. I solarized the bed during August and September, covering the bed with clear plastic held down with all kinds of junk.

This week I took the plastic off and figured out how to add a worm bed – digging a trench in the middle of the bed, then adding chopped paper, raiding my refrigerator for rotting vegetables (there are always a few) and sending my husband to the bait store for red wigglers.

The red wigglers come in containers and are kept refrigerated. I let them warm up and then put them in the garden to devour the yummy rotting vegetables. They dug right in.

The red wigglers enjoying old Romaine lettuce.

The next thing to do is add seeds and plants and water in with food grade diatomaceous (4 tablespoons to the gallon). The DE also deters nematodes. There is some conflicting info on how it affects the good worms so time will tell. The rabbit fence is made of reeds and is 24″ high. The rabbits ate what the nematodes didn’t get last year.

Cheers to the veg and red wigglers!

Happy Gardening.

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

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..