Welcome to my South Florida garden via Six on Saturday. It seems counterintuitive to feature flowers so late in the year in the Northern Hemisphere. However, this far south, when the weather moderates it is like late spring climate-wise and some of the “normal” summer flowers are in bloom here.
My first African Marigold, probably in decades. These came in a cutting flower seed mix I tried just to see what would grow.
Zinnias, I have been enjoying these as cut flowers for a couple of weeks.
More Zinnias, these are ‘Green Envy’.
Sweet 100 tomatoes, just about ready to pick.
On a more tropical note, the Dombeya wallachii has just started to flower. I can hear the bees buzzing as I approach the plant. Someone aptly described the fragrance of the flowers as cake batter.
The whole Dombeya. At 15 feet tall, this should be spectacular soon.
Welcome to SOS, December 11, 2021 edition. It is warm and sunny in South Florida and the birds, bees and flowers are enjoying the blue skies. So is the gardener. Though it could be a little cooler (83 F today), are we ever happy with the weather? I am joining Jon at http://www.thepropagatorblog.wordpress.com with the SOS crowd linking to his blog. Follow the link for more garden fun.
I had to share my Malaysian Orchid in full bloom today. This is an amazing sight and the bees are enjoying the flowers. I finally got a picture of the elusive green orchid bee.
This is a very active, flitting bee. I stood and waited to take the picture. These bees are native to Central and South American and are thought to have been introduced to Florida in 2003 via a nest in a wood pallet from Mexico. There are a fair number in my garden.
The bag garden is producing cut flowers and vegetables for me this week. We have been eating green beans, radishes and tomatoes – it is time to plant a second crop of radishes and beans. I am rooting tomato suckers for a later crop of tomatoes. Here is a sunflower and below, the Cactus Zinnias.
The Papaya decapitated last spring is flowering again. The flowers so far are female, they are usually self pollinating hermaphrodite flowers – so, it will be interesting to see if it is self limiting the fruit production due to the pruning.
The hard cane dendrobium orchid I installed in a Gumbo LImbo tree has started budding. I am wondering how long this will take to flower???
My Bag Garden is coming along. I have two kinds of tomatoes ripening and small green beans on the bush beans. This group has tomatoes, green beans, radishes, dill and zinnias. The seeds were planted in September and I used some different soil mixes to see what works best. Of course, the most expensive mix was doing best at first. So, I amended the cheaper, heavier soil mix with compost and Osmocote. Now the cheaper mix is catching up. The first radish planting was a bust as the cheap soil was too heavy for radishes.
When I tied the tomatoes to the cages I pruned the suckers off the plants and put them in a vase to root for a later season set of tomatoes. The suckers are flowering in their vase on the counter behind my kitchen sink.
I am not sure what to think or do about the flowers – cut them off? There is very little natural light in this area, although there is LED lighting above the sink.
The other bags are in a more protected location where I potted everything up. They seemed to be doing well so I left them in their spot.
I have a couple of different kinds of zinnias, sunflowers and mystery seedlings from a cutting flower mix. Nigella surprised me by germinating, not supposed to grow here, so hopefully I get some flowers. This week, with cooler weather, I planted another big pot with snow peas, spinach and cilantro. The sticks in the pot are rabbit and squirrel abatement. I had a great deal of trouble with squirrels when I planted the sunflower seeds. My snowbird neighbors amuse themselves by growing a highly toxic, poison green lawn and feeding the squirrels peanuts – the squirrels in turn tear up my potted plants. The sticks are 24″ reeds from reed fencing and are working well.
This is not quite in the bag. It is in the bromeliad, specifically a frog I spied while looking for a flower. The bromeliad is a Aechmea ‘fasciata’, sometimes called Silver Vase. I think these bloom in winter, but only frogs so far.
November is usually a glorious weather month in South Florida. The past few days have been cold and rainy, which is odd. Temperatures have been in the 60s (F)/15(C). We are cold, my greyhounds are covered in a film of sand and so are the floors. The dogs have enjoyed racing in the cool weather. The garden soaked up the rain and provided some bounty for the gardener.
New to the garden this year and the first time I have seen the flower – Medinilla cummingii. Chandelier tree is its common name and a very apt description of the plant. It has numerous buds and I am waiting for the full flowering. Should be spectacular. These are similar to orchids, ocurring naturally growing in trees somewhere in the South Pacific. It must be a fabulous forest. This one is shares a pot with Dwarf Chenille Plant on my front porch.
A closer view of the flower.
I started seeds earlier this year (September) and have my first bud on the Cactus Zinnias.
Tomato seeds were started at the same time in early September. I planted Yellow Pear and Sweet 100 cherry tomatoes, these look like neither, but I hope to eat some next week.
I espaliered the red flowering Nodding Hibiscus shrub to my neighbor’s fence – very pleased with how it is turning out.
A favorite winter flower – Portea ‘Candy’ Bromeliad. These flowers last a long time and then produce an interesting seedhead. Such mad cool flowers.
My garden is in seasonal transition, there are a few flowers, some fruit and buds for the winter flowers – all in all, not a lot of flowers. I enjoy these respites and have cut a lot of the summer performers back as they tend to get buggy as they age. The dragonflies showed up in droves this week and hopefully ate all the mealybugs on the Salvias, portending a new batch of salvia flowers for the winter. Most of the flowers I cut seemed to be bell shaped – and I added some Muhly because, well, everyone loves the Muhly Grass.
Some closer views:
The red belles are Firecracker Plant (Russelia equiseteum); yellow belles are from Esperanza (Tecoma stans); and the orange, admittedly less bell like are from Firebush (Hamelia patens); my perennial favorite for its flowers, ease of culture and butterfly nectar.
The yellow belles are from Tecoma stans, this is also another common name for them. They have several. The background ephemeral wispies are from Muhly Grass (Muhlebergia capallaris). This seems to be everyone’s favorite this time of year. I am guilty of this, currently loving them in the garden and waiting for their full pink floaty goodness. I may need to stop cutting the wispies.
That is the vase for this Monday from South Florida. Happy Gardening and Happy Fall Y’all. I will be in the garden admiring the Muhly Grass. For more vases from worldwide gardens, visit our intrepid hostess, Cathy at http://www.ramblinginthegarden.wordpress.com.
Many Mondays I wonder how many gardeners out there recognize the flowers I grow in my garden…because, it is some pretty weird stuff and I will try just about anything. Gardening in South Florida can make you rethink the limits of what is possible or pull some hair out cuz you can’t figure out how to make it work.
Bass ackwards describes the seasons here. This may be a Southern term. Not sure of the origin; though I suspect it is a more polite version of Ass Backwards. A few examples. Mid summer, in South Florida, fresh corn on the cob and tomatoes are not available as it is too hot for plants to pollinate. In January, tons of both, and green beans and on and on. A fiesta of fresh vegetables, citrus and avocadoes in winter. I eat from my freezer in summer and gorge on fresh in winter. Bass ackwards.
Flowers are another story. We are approaching the height of the Atlantic hurricane season, it is raining and things are blooming. The reason, my guess, producing flowers utilizing rain while they know it is available, plants being smarter than we are. Our dry season starts the end of November.
The weird stuff in my vase:
The red flower, Aechmea miniata Bromeliad; blue flowers, Mystic Spires Salvia; the touch of grey foliage, a succulent, Graptosedum; white flowers ‘Miss Alice’ Bougainvillea.
The other side:
White and blue flower; Hallelujah Billbergia Bromeliad; green tropical foliage is a small Split Leaf Philodendron (P. selloum) from the garden. The vase in an old candlestick holder from Crate and Barrel.
My husband jokes me about my lack of linear thinking. I am completely lateral. This week I decided to seek some linearity to complement the line of purple berries from the Beautyberry. I am convinced Florida Beautyberries are different than Beautyberries in other places. Every August I am amazed at the quantity and beauty (yes!) of the berries produced by this shrub.
The Beautyberry story:
I went to a local native plants nursery ‘going out of business’ sale shortly after moving to Florida. The Beautyberries were 3 for 10 dollars. Of course, I bought three. Thinking about putting them in a couple of different locations, not really knowing where to site them in the atrocious sand in my garden. Also not realizing the dramatic seasonal shift of the sun in my new home; I planted one on the due north side of my garage near the exit from our screen porch. Reasoning (lateral as usual) for this location: I thought it would stay shady enough for what was an understory shrub to me and this shrub is supposed to deter mosquitoes.
Much to my surprise, the sun got higher and higher in the sky as the year progressed. Full shade in January is full sun by May! Frying full sun. Not fun to dig things up in frying full sun, so it was left behind the garage. And then, the berries showed up. Impressive berries. I planted the other two in a much shadier, understory location – one passed on and the other bears about a tenth of the fruit of the one I seemingly planted in the wrong place. Another gardening riddle.
Oddly, mosquitoes were much worse in my garden in Atlanta – though we do have astonishing dragonfly (they eat mosquitoes) swarms periodically here and I do stuff Beautyberry leaves in my shoes if there are mosquitoes about (it works). I rarely see mosquitoes on the screen porch. Floridians make jam from the berries. I have not tried this as everyone who has ever mentioned it says it is pretty but tasteless.
Perhaps the purple berries are a bit clashy with my peachy garage wall..still not digging it up.
A closer view:
The purple and green berries are Beautyberries (Calliocarpa americana); blue spike flowers are Mystic Spires Salvia; purple spike flowers and varigated leaf are from a Coleus ‘Homedepotensis’; the long chartreuse leaves are from Lemon Aechmea blanchetiana Bromeliad. The vase was a gift from my late older brother; it always makes me smile when I use it – and its linear.
This week’s title seems to suggest I found some intelligent soap. This is not the case. All of the soap in my house is as clueless as ever, just some suds. And I am not the sage one.
The soap comes from the Soap Aloe (Aloe saponaria) the orange flowers with a bit of green at the ends. Here is the plant. A South African native that flowers 4 times a year in my garden. If I break a leaf in half sudsy aloe pours out – apparently it is used to make shampoo. The dilemma, the large percentage of the population is allergic to it. I have not washed my hair with it, though I enjoy the flowers.
The sage in the arrangement is the Mystic Spires Salvia, the blue spikes. I have been enjoying the flowers for months and hopefully they will last into the winter. A closer view:
The blue spikes are Mystic Spires Salvia. The purple flowers are Mona Lavendar Plectranthus. The solid orange flowers are Mexican Bush Honeysuckle (Justicia spicigera); green tipped orange flowers are Soap Aloe (Aloe saponaria); white flowers are Bridal Bouquet Frangipani (Plumeria pudica); grey foliage is more sage, Texas Sage (Luecophyllum frutescens); burgundy spikes are from a Dwarf Pineapple, a gift from a friend. The vase grounding the arrangement, a thrift store find and favorite.
I think I have finally made a posey. This particular posey is in a large shot glass; formerly used to hold tequila at my niece’s wedding. Were you thinking I was referring to the photograph as a shot. Nope! The glass. The alternate title was “Fresh as a Gallardia” – doesn’t quite have the same ring.
I was surprised to see the different meanings of posey. This one is simply flowers in a vase on Monday..
My garden is filled with Beach Daisies and Gallardia in July. Both flowers are very cheerful and seem to smile as I walk through the garden. They are also remarkably drought tolerant and reseed prolifically – the Beach Sunflowers have to be asked to leave the garden now and again. Though they are never truly gone.
Here are the fresh Gallardias:
A closer view of my tequila shooter:
The red and yellow daisies are Gallardia pulchella, the subject of one of those tiresome native plant dramas. The powers that be decided they are not native to Florida. Woe is me. The yellow daisies are still approved as native; and in latin, Helianthus debilis. If my husband gardened he would use a propane torch on these – they go wild with rain and humidity. I prune and pull. They are annoying. Our mailman, a native Floridian, once stopped to express his amazement I hadn’t gotten rid of the Beach Daisies as his mother thought they were weeds.
White spikes are Sweet Almond Bush (Aloysia virgata); sweetly fragrant and a great butterfly plant. Native to Argentina. Blue stems with flowers are Porterweed, another evil not quite native (Stachytarpheta jamaicensis). I guess it is native to Jamaica, but it thrives in my garden and is available in several colors. I wish for some coral…The other blue flower is a bit of Mona Lavendar Plectranthus, a cross from South Africa, if memory serves, and recommended by me. Background greenery is weed Asparagus Fern I keep at bay by cutting for arrangements.
This week’s vase began with clippings from pruning my Miss Alice Bougainvillea on Saturday. The white flowers looked so alone in the vase I added some fiery accents with Firebush and Firecracker flowers. Then my husband padded by and said it needed some blue (he rarely comments on vases). It was the Fourth of July, after all – red, white and blue are the colors of the day. I think he was right. Here is the vase with just fire and Miss Alice.
The blue definitely beefs up the flower power in this vase. Of course, I couldn’t stop with one blue flower..
A closer view from the left side. Miss Alice Bougainvillea in white; Firecracker flowers (Russelia equisetiformis) in red; Tropical Red Salvia (Salvia coccinea) in red and white (think they should just call it Tropical Salvia as it comes in four colors?, I do.) Blue Salvia is Mystic Spires; lighter blue flowers are Blue Plumbago (Plumbago auriculata) a tropical shrub that is virtually indestructible here – look closely and you’ll see the leaf cutting bees have had a bite of the foliage.
Miss Alice in white again with the reds and oranges of Firebush (Hamelia patens var patens) – one of my favorite shrubs. Blue Plumbago around the edges with Mystic Blue Salvia in the background..
There’s my vase for this Monday. For anyone wondering about Elsa, we are out of the warning cone – on the east coast of Florida across from the big hole in the middle of the state (Lake Okeechobee)