The Dog Days of Summer are upon us. August dawned with steamy tropical heat punctuated by thunderstorms followed by a deluge of rain that emboldened and enthralled weeds overtaking the garden. I try to keep all the seed heads picked off the most noxious weeds in hopes of containing their numbers. It seems things make seed earlier here taking advantage of the rainy season to establish a new generation.
My Beautyberry (Calliocarpa americana) is packed with fruit and was blocking access to our irrigation controller so I trimmed a branch for this vase. Floridians make jam with this – I may have enough berries this year, although the universal reaction to the jam (from non-Floridians) has been ‘it doesn’t taste like much’. Probably best left for the birds. And I won’t have to engage my botulism phobia. This is one stem of a 6-foot shrub.
The vase is an old pasta container that long ago lost its lid. While cutting flowers, it occurred to me I was getting a real taste of late summer in Florida without any of the imported tropicals. I left Frangipani, Heliconias, Orchids, and Bromeliads flowering in the garden.
The contents of August in a jar: purple and green berries; American Beautyberry (Calliocarpa americana); white flowers, Sweet Almond (Aloysia virgata); orange and yellow spikes, Bulbine frutescens; red spikes, Tropical Red Salvia (Salvia coccinea); red star shaped flowers, Heirloom Pentas (Penta lanceolata); tubular red/orange flowers, native Firebush (Hamelia patens var patens); Daisies at the base; in yellow, Beach Daisies (Helianthus debilis); in apricot, some mysterious Zinnias and some native Gallardia (Gallardia pulchella). The Gallardia was thoughtlessly cropped out by me – it can be seen in the picture at the top of the post.
Maybe next week I will have a Tropical Jar of August!
Palmy weather? It is indeed. Some, not all of the palms in my garden are flowering. The pale green flower in the center of this vase is from the Adonidia or Christmas Palm. I am not sure why so many Floridians feel compelled to cut the flowers off their palms. This one will bear red fruit at Christmas that looks like ornaments for the tree, hence the name. And the flowers are so unusual and eventually provide food for wildlife. More unsolvable mysteries for the Florida gardener.
Here is the flower as it first appeared, I cut it because it was broken somehow and hanging onto the trunk by a thread. My friend Eddie grew the palm from seed. It is now 10 feet tall and flowering, I am so pleased and can’t wait for the Christmas ornaments.
A closer look at the flowers. In pale green, the Adonidia Palm (Adonidia merrillii); the orange flowers with berries are from Firebush (Hamelia patens); long burgundy foliage is from Blanchetiana Bromeliad (Aechmea blanchetiana) and the burgundy leaves are from Copperleaf (Acalypha wilkesiana)
In addition to being Palmy, it is also pretty balmy here in South Florida. So far, I am enjoying the summer and the butterflies, mostly in the late afternoon looking out the window whilst having a glass of wine on the sofa.
I have been dreaming of a stumpery garden for years. I was inspired last week by the Orchids I posted on Wordless Wednesday and realized the booted Sabal Palm in my garden offered the perfect opportunity to add some orchids and ferns to its trunk during the summer for establishment during the rainy season.
The booted Sabal Palm (as I remember it)
The current state of the palm:
These are our native Muscadine Grapes (Vitis rotundafolia) grown up the palm from my neighbor’s fence in a period of six months or so. This happened while I wasn’t looking. Welcome to Florida. My only excuse is I am not as tall as the vines and didn’t look up. Sigh.
The wrath of grapes. The grapes are pretty, but inedible (big seeds with bitter flesh). I decide to cut some for an arrangement.
The brown pods and green ferny leaves are from Senna ligustrina, a native butterfly plant; the chartreuse foliage is from ‘Alabama Sunset’ Coleus; white flowers are Tropical Gardenia (Tabernaemontana diviricata) and with the yellow eye, Bridal Bouquet Frangipani (Plumeria pudica). I can’t resist the fragrance, especially with the sour grapes.