Six on Saturday – Fun Stuff

It was a chilling 85 degrees Fahrenheit in my garden this morning, so I worked outside gearing up for the fall gardening season. Taking note of some of the fun stuff that survived summer in South Florida.

The Monarch butterflies finally found the Milkweed in my garden. Here are two caterpillars munching away. Aphids are eating the other plant.

Another vegetable and flower garden experiment is at hand. These are cheap grow bags that breathe. I am certain these would be a disaster in summer so I am trying them in winter – using heavy garden soil (not made from peat!) lightened with 30 % of my oak compost. Planted tomatoes and radishes this morning. Herbs and bush beans are on the agenda next followed by cooler season peas and broccoli in a couple of weeks. I was surprised to read Nigella can be grown here in winter as well as Zinnias. Those seeds are also being planted shortly.

Coral Plant (Jatropha multifida) flowering. This is considered a novelty plant in Florida, it is pretty funky.

Pot o’ Bromeliads in the front garden. Grey varigated foliage is Aechmea fasciata, these have pink flowers like Dahlias. The burgundy with chartreuse spots are Luca Neoregelia, red foliage is Fireball Neoregelia.

Another pot in the front garden with Miniature Pineapples, Flapjack Kalanchoe and a Graptosedum hanging over the side. The pineapple plants flower and bear tiny pineapples. I use them in flower arrangements, I have heard they can be juiced but a field would be necessary to get a full glass.

Another flower to anticipate this winter. The hard cane orchid I mounted in the Gumbo Limbo tree has produced a bud. This should be very interesting.

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

Happy Gardening…

Six on Saturday – September openings

The Hurricane or Torch Bromeliad opened this week. This is a Billbergia pyramidalis and very easy to grow, they form colonies in shade. I think there are three in my garden and I gave a friend a pup. A colony may form if I quit sharing them.

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The Milkweed finally opened. I believe this is Tropical Milkweed (Asclepias curassavica) – can’t find the seed packet, This one is controversial among the Monarch butterfly faithful. Some believe it spreads OE, a parasite by never dying back in the winter in frost free areas. Other believe it is fine to plant. Others recommend cutting it back to the ground in late fall. I am on the fence about this as I haven’t seen any Monarchs on it.

The Firebush (Hamelia patens) in full flower. Butterflies of all sorts love this plant for nectar. It is one of my favorites and so easy to grow it gets out of hand quickly.

Guess what this is?? I thought it was a weird eggplant when my neighbor handed it to me. It is a Avocado – probably a Brogden or Oro Negro variety. We were excited to try it for lunch, they have a reportedly lush and buttery flavor. It was very creamy but mainly tasteless. My husband said “either we both have Covid or this tastes like nothing”. Since we could taste the rest of our lunch we concluded it was a Blahvacado.

The Desert Roses (Adenium obesum) are starting to flower. Such a weird succulent, native to deserts in Africa and the Arabian Penisula. This is the rare plant that thrives in the summer heat in South Florida. Here are the buds on a red one.

The Desert Rose has had a lot of work done on it by breeders and now is available in an amazing array of colors, the latest, a deep purple.

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

Happy Gardening.

Six on Saturday – The Last Mango, Embarrassed

Time once again for Six on Saturday, six items of interest from your garden shared to http://www.thepropagatorblog.wordpress.com. Follow the link to see more.

Above is my last mango, perhaps a prune mango. Seasons are changing and South Floridians are gearing up for gardening. I picked my last two Nam Doc Mai mangoes this week – they looked a lot better than this one. It seems the squirrels managed to split the fruit open to eat the seed and ruined my mango.

Tomato seedlings just popping up. These are my favorite cherry tomatoes, Yellow Pear and Sweet 100.

Yesterday was the peak of Atlantic hurricane season, so it is downhill from here. Right on time are the Hurricane Bromeliads budding – Billbergia pyramidalis.

The Ylang Ylang (Canaga odorata) tree is finally getting established. We had a dry spell midsummer and I was not certain it was going to make it, all the foliage turned brown and the branches dried up, so I cut them back to the trunk and it is coming back. Fingers crossed for wafts of Chanel No. 5 scented flowers in the future.

The Blue Pea Vine (Clitoria ternatea) finally made it back after being consumed by rabbits twice. I resorted to bamboo tiger sticks around the vine as rabbit abatement. It has buds and I am awaiting my first flower.

Another summer survivor. I have been trying for years to grow Butterfly Weed for Monarch butterfly larval hosting. Finally, I have buds. I think these buds have been taunting me for two weeks. Bloom already! I saw a few Monarchs hovering around yesterday, so these may be gone soon. It is funny how things called weeds can be so difficult to grow.

Happy Gardening!!!

Six on Saturday – Frogs and Fun

Another Saturday is upon us. I am sharing six fun items from my garden this week. Here is the frog:

This is a Cuban Tree Frog, native to Cuba *duh. These are considered invasive in Florida as they can out reproduce our native tree frogs. I was surprised by how small this frog is – they are very loud.

A Dancing Lady Ginger gifted to me by a friend. This is potted in canal mud and compost. I wish I had some canal mud to plant it in. Where to plant it is a bit of a dilemma.

A Medenillia underplanted with Dwarf Chenille Plant. The Medenillia is an orchid that grows in trees in Java, another gift from a friend. Hoping for flowers, they look like pink grapes.

This Cattleya Orchid lives in a pot in the garden – its blooms the first week of September every year.

Another favorite of mine. I love the stems for the flowers and the color. This is a non native Porterweed (Stachytarpeta jamacianensis, I think) Indestructible and reliable.

So happy to be using my house made compost. It took a couple of years for this to break down into compost, I started with a shredded oak tree and added to it…This week it is time to plant tomato seed for winter vegetables.

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

Happy Gardening.

Six on Saturday – Summer Whites

This is the last weekend of summer as next Monday is Labor Day in the US. Theorectically, the end of summer signals the end of wearing white clothing (if you are a proper Southern lady). Being a pseudo proper Southern lady, I decided to photograph the summer whites in the garden.

A ‘Bridal Bouquet’ Frangipani (Plumeria pudica). These are the most reliable flowering Plumeria, they are a nearly continuous show all summer. Very lightly fragrant, I notice the scent at night.

Another much more fragrant flower, the Sweet Almond Bush (Aloysia virgata). This is a bee and butterfly magnet planted near the back door for maximum enjoyment.

The flower of the Adonidia Palm (Veitchii merrilli). Palm flowers fascinate me. This one makes a grape like hard fruit that turns red around the holidays. These are sometimes called Christmas Palms because the fruit looks like ornaments.

Another fragrant plant, the Tropical Gardenia (Tabernaemontana diviricata) This also flowers most of the summer.

Another white semi year round bloomer. This is the White Geiger Tree (Cordia boissieri), there is a orange version of this tree that is native to Florida. I have been contemplating how to prune this tree, it has a really weird habit, branches growing over and over each other with no particular shape.

Last, but not least. A white flower on the Tropical Red Salvia (Salvia coccinea). These are usually red, but pop up in many other colors. A fun plant to let reseed freely in the garden. It’s a Forrest Gump “Life is like a box of chocolates” plant – you never know what you are going to get.

If you are wondering about Covid in Florida, it is awful. I only go out for food and to walk. I am fortunate to have dogs and my garden. Our local hospital is 50% occupied with Covid patients, 90% of them unvaccinated and most in the ICU are unvaccinated. Elective surgeries have been cut by 90% because there is no one to care for the patients. Vaccines are free and readily available. I have been vaccinated since April and was very relieved to get the jab. A number of vaccinated friends have caught the Delta variant while masked in the grocery store. Fortunately, all have recovered.

The governor of Florida refuses to allow local governments and school boards to enact mask mandates. Local school boards revolted and began their own mask mandates, sued the governor and won. The university system (colleges) are being made to have classes in person (they were starting classes online and were stopped) I think Florida has 1 in 5 of the new Covid cases in the US. Yet, the tourists continue to pour in. I am baffled by the whole thing. The governor has also opened numerous Regeneron clinics around the state, for when you get exposed to the virus, I am further baffled by this….

That is my six with a bit of commentary this Saturday. Thanks to Jon at www. thepropagatorblog.wordpress.com for hosting this week. Follow the link to see more Six on Saturday fun..

Six on Saturday – The Pits

This Saturday we are in the midst of the peak of hurricane season in South Florida. The cicadas are singing, the temperature and humidity are soaring, the plants are wilting and so am I. Oddly, the hurricanes are in New England and Mexico. Last weekend, Tropical Storm Fred dropped eight inches of rain at my house. The garden was happy for a while, but is thirsty once again. We are definitely in the pits.

The pit above is much more interesting and from the garden. I finally got one Nam Doc Mai mango from my tree. This is a Thai mango bred to eat for dessert, featuring a small pit, fiberless flesh and a coconut mango flavor. The pit is nearly as long as the mango (6 inches) and about 1/4 inch thick. Here is the mango with a cherry tomato. My husband and I ate most of it for dessert last night. Yummy.

Another interesting observation in my steamy jungle this week – the formation of new shoots on the Hard Cane Orchid I installed in my Gumbo Limbo tree this winter.

Another view:

The Orchid is putting out roots and hopefully will grow into the tree trunk and flower this winter. The sprays of flowers are supposed to be five feet long. Hopefully. I mounted the Orchid by tying it onto the tree with old pantyhose. There is a bit of Orchid soil mix in the hose that has supported the plant while it grows in. I was about to remove it when a swarm of large ants came bursting out..the hose are still in the tree, ants and all.

Another new shoot.

A new butterfly in my garden this week. This is a Mallow Scrub Hairstreak on a Sweet Almond Bush (Aloysia virgata) flower. A tiny butterfly, maybe an inch wingspan. Picture taken while crossing my fingers. The Sweet Almond is very popular with bees and butterflies.

That is it from the pits. To see more SOS posts follow the link and visit Jon, http://www.thepropagatorblog.wordpress.com.

Happy Gardening..

Six on Saturday – Ahead of Fred

Tropical Storm Fred is passing by the penisula of Florida this Saturday. Feeling the onslaught of tropical humidity in the air, I spent some time Friday planting a few things in the garden, checking on the edibles and pruning a bit to keep the inevitable gusty wind and rain at bay.

This is a Cuban or Catalina Avocado tree. The avocados are the size of footballs. A friend grew this from seed and brought the seedling to me in 2016. The tree is 12 – 14 feet tall and will hopefully bear fruit next year. To my knowledge, this is the only avocado that is true to seed (most are grafted). I pruned the Passionfruit vine out, it aggressively tries to climb the Avocado any chance it gets – the vine is on the left side of the tree.

The progress on the Papaya beheaded this spring. I am still not sure what will happen here. The trunk sealed itself and put out three new shoots – they don’t seem big enough to support the four pound Papayas.

Chaya (Cnidoscolus aconitifolius) or Tree Spinach. This is a tropical vegetable common in Central America, the leaves are cooked like spinach. A friend gave me cuttings two years ago, it is about six feet tall. The flowers are highly attractive to butterflies. I haven’t eaten any of this – it is toxic unless cooked properly.

Another tropical edible, the Roselle (Hibiscus sabdariffa). This is an edible Hibiscus, usually grown for the flower calyx that tastes like cranberries. The foliage can be eaten as well, new growth is like Arugula and the older leaves maybe be cooked as greens. These won’t flower for another month or so, but I should try the greens. I have eaten the new growth in salad (it’s good) but haven’t cooked any.

New to the garden, a Parrotflower (Heliconia psittacorum ‘ Choconiana’). These are short lived in my garden; they tend to spread wildly and then expire. I enjoy these cut, they are a long lasting tropical flower. And I will buy another one or two after a few years.

The Heliconias were planted beneath two Firebush (Hamelia patens) with a Martin Neoregelia Bromeliad and Alligator Lilies (Hymenocallis latifolia).

That’s it for this week. To see more of Six on Saturday from around the world, follow the link http://www.thepropagatorblog.wordpress.com and check it out.

Happy Gardening!! I’ve just noticed Tropical Storm Fred is being followed by Grace. Well, no need for irrigation!

Six on Saturday – Hot Summer Color

It’s summer and it is hot. My garden is providing hot summer color to get me through the worst of it. The Farmer’s Almanac claims the dog days of summer will end August 11. Probably not here. I am joining the Propagator gang again today with six items of interest from my garden, to see more posts, follow the link – http://www.thepropagatorblog.wordpress.com

The Beautyberries (Calliocarpa americana) began their lurid purple march down the stems this week.

Parrotflowers (Heliconia psittacorum) are peeking through the trunks of the Bougainvillea.

Rain Lilies (Zephyranthes spp?) are responding to the, yes, rain and popping up throughout the garden. These are sharing space with a Burgundy Aechmea Bromeliad.

The Mystic Spires Salvia is finally established and flowering madly.

Purple Setcresea flowers are dotting the purple masses of foliage. This plant seems to have a lot of botanical names. What is Setcresea anyway, it sounds awful??

Moses in a Cradle flowers. It took me a bit to understand why that is the common name – until it flowered. Moses has a snail along for the ride in this one. These are also called Oyster Plant, I think it has been decided Transcandentia spathacea is the botanical name. For the time being.

That is my Six this Saturday.

Happy Gardening!!

Six on Saturday – Fruit, Flowers and Foliage

The heat and humidity have gone into hyperdrive here. Highs over 90 (F) / 32 (C) for the next few days. The dog days of summer are here and my dogs have the right idea, reclining in air conditioned comfort. Not a good time to be in the garden, though I am thankful for the shade trees.

My first image today is a tree planted to shade my driveway about seven years ago, starting to really take over now. This is the fruit and foliage of Gumbo Limbo (Bursea simaruba)

The Gumbo Limbo has a hard cane Dendrobium orchid growing on its trunk. My neighbor brought this to me and it is just starting to root into the trunk. It should bloom in the winter with 4 or 5 foot long sprays of flowers. I am really looking forward to seeing this! The tree is sometimes called the Tourist Tree – because the bark looks like peeling, sunburned skin. I tied in onto the tree with pantyhose, you can see these on the right side of the image.

Duranta “Sapphire Showers” is a reliable summer bloomer. I planted this for butterflies, they love the nectar.

A new plant in the garden. Meet Aerva ‘Red Velvet’. I like a bit of burgundy foliage in the garden and it is a difficult plant to find that will grow in frying sugar sand. This is a ‘native’ of gravelly sand from India and a medicinal herb there. I am not going to eat any, but have taken several cuttings to propagate and spread throughout the garden.

This is Allamanda, creeping over from my neighbor. These are pretty – and very hard to get rid of. The sap from the vine is supposedly used by tribes in the rainforest for poison darts.

Interesting foliage today is the new growth on a Piecrust Croton (Codiaeum variegatum) The older foliage eventually is black with green, yellow and red varigation.

That’s it! Six plants and one dog image. From South Florida. To see more Six on Saturday posts visit Jon the Propagator at http://www.thepropagatorblog.wordpress.com

Happy Gardening and stay cool!

Six on Saturday – Tropical Fun

Summertime brings the rain and humidity – the more tropical plants love it and respond with fantastic flowers. Above is a Ylang Ylang (Canaga odorata) This is the primary floral scent in Chanel No. 5. I have a newly planted tree in my garden, this one is at a local nursery (Pinder’s Nursery, Palm City, Florida) I could not resist taking a picture to share.

A Strangler Fig (Ficus aurea) growing out of the top of my coconut palm tiki. There is a large Strangler Fig in the garden. These trees are a bit like something from a Harry Potter movie. They start in the top of something, grow over and down to put their roots in the ground and slowly surpass the host plant. They are commonly seen growing in the boots of palm trees.

A Coconut Palm (Cocos nucifera) seedling sprouted by a friend. I need to plant it about halfway down the coconut. Should have a tree in several years. Palms are surprisingly slow growing.

Blanchetiana Bromeliads are shooting up bloom spikes. These are about five feet tall and will get taller before opening. The flowers usually last until November or December; then I make Christmas wreaths with them. Above is the red variety. Below is the yellow, some call them Lemon – this is the first yellow one to flower, I am interested to see the difference.

The sixth:

Nam Doc Mai Mangoes getting bigger. A couple blew away in a thunderstorm, so I am hoping to eat this one someday.

Happy Gardening to all and thanks to Jon the Propagator for hosting SOS. To see more posts, visit http://www.thepropagatorblog.wordpress.com.