Time for Six items of interest from my garden on this first Saturday of 2021. I am seeing signs of good things to come in my garden. First, the Tropical Hydrangea (Dombeya wallachii) is flowering and has many buds.
A closer view of the flowers, they are 6 inches across and have a honey scent.
The native cycad of Florida, Coontie is producing cones, here is a female cone that has been pollinated – Coonties are pollinated by beetles. Wildlife eat the seeds and disperse them, I will be interested to see where they come up.
And the male cone:
The Papayas are ripening.
And I shall have tomatoes from the garden soon. This is a Yellow Pear tomato.
I am joining The Propagator’s gang this Saturday after Christmas to share some surprises the garden has granted me. Not all six are from my garden. These are Christmas Palms (Adonidia merrilli) doing their thing by the side of a nearby road.
Next, we have some Spanish Moss, a native Tillandsia Bromeliad. Although common in Florida, I rarely see it in my garden. I pruned it out of a Firebush by accident.
Another stringy surprise, a native Ageratum, Blue Mist Flower (Conoclinum coelestinum). It seems most native wildflowers in Florida like “moist meadows” – I have a desert like sandy soil, so this was a real surprise. Growing by the air conditioning condensor..
Yet another stringy surprise, the once solid leaves on the Traveler’s Palm, shredded by the wind.
I am delighted by this surprise, despite cold weather, we are freezing with temperatures in the 40s – the Tropical Hydrangea (Dombeya wallachii) has started its show.
Another nice surprise from my neighbor, I found a basket of Rangpur Limes on my front porch Christmas morning.
Another SOS post this holiday Saturday. South Florida during the holidays is still a bit weird to me, despite having been here for nine years. Flamingoes pulling a sleigh are a common sight.
A friend, a longtime Florida resident, gave me this a few years ago – and had tell me what it is:
A nautical Christmas tree, it stays out year round….
Florida, being Florida has its own native Poinsettia – Poinsettia cyathophora. The Wild Poinsettia are larval host plants for the White Peacock butterfly, a favorite of mine and now I know where they live.
In keeping with the season, I decided to find red and green foliage..here is a Piecrust Croton.
And a Jill Neoregelia Bromeliad.
And Martin Neoregelia Bromeliad.
Wonder if Martin and Jill are getting together for Christmas! Seems they are related. Maybe sharing a pie with the Croton family…no masks required.
Happy Gardening and Happy Holidays from the palm infested sands of South Florida. Here is my greyhound, Fiona – looking out to see what the heck I am doing out in the rain taking pictures.
December is a great time to be outdoors in South Florida. The weather is simply wonderful and fruits and flowers start showing up to enjoy time in the garden. I am joining Six on Saturday at http://www.thepropagatorblog.wordpress.com to share six items of interest from my garden.
The very seasonal scourge of South Florida, Brazilian Peppers. These outrageously fast growing small trees have taken over hundreds of thousands of acres of land. However beautiful the berries are, I try to get rid of as many as possible. The birds love them and I believe every last on of them germinates and is 10 feet tall in a few years.
The Surinam Cherry, more bird food. These are pretty, but taste a bit resinous. I am told by locals to soak them in water to get the worms out…
Seedpod on Roselle, edible Hibscus flowers, another weird tropical fruit. I harvested a lot of these and they are in my freezer. Just don’t quite know what to do with them.
Radishes, almost ready to eat.
Pineapples producing pups after I harvested the pineapple. It took 3 years from pineapple top to harvest. The theory is once the pups start the harvest increases with the number of plants and the fruit overwhelms the gardener. Time will tell.
My winter favorite, Dombeya – Tropical Hydrangea – buds are starting to show color. This one is about nine feet tall and covered in buds. It should be a sight to behold in a couple of weeks.
Happy Holidays to everyone and thank you to Jon for hosting Six on Saturday.
I am joining Jon the Propagator for Six on Saturday, featuring six items of interest from my garden. This Saturday it is my Rangpur Lime tree and Coconut Palms. To see other posts, follow this link – www.thepropagatorblog.wordpress.com
These are Rangpur Limes, from my neighbor last year. They are not ripe yet in the garden. These are actually a member of the mandarin family, a cross between lemons and mandarin orange, therefore a sour orange. We like to make Mojo marinades for chicken and pies with these.
My neighbor gave me a tree a couple of years ago she grew from seed. It takes about 5 years from seed to fruit, so I should have fruit next year, fingers crossed. As I was pruning the tree it occured to me I had never really seen citrus prior to moving to Florida and having one in the garden, so I took some pictures.
The branches, very thorny! Leather gloves are a must when pruning.
The foliage, shiny green and lime scented. I have read these can be used to infuse flavor like kaffir lime leaves, but have not tried it. Also a host for Giant Swallowtail butterfly larva, citrus farmers hate these butterflies.
The trunk, smooth with striated bark.
And what would limes be without the coconut?
Baby coconuts forming, and mature coconuts on tree below. I don’t like walking past this one in a high wind. Most people remove the seeds when they are smaller to prevent being beaned on the head by a wayward coconut.
November brings some interesting characters into my garden. Birds become more numerous during the winter in South Florida. I was interested to learn that Hawks migrate, they have recently appeared in flocks, soaring over the Indian River in search of food.
These are White Ibis, they are here year round but more numerous in the winter. The brown ones are juvenile and become pure white as they mature. They are eating grubs in the lawn.
Another bird appeared this week, the Sandhill Crane, these are about 3 feet tall and look like Pterodactyls flying by. They summer in Nebraska.
Winter provides interesting colors in plants as well. The aptly named Christmas Palm (Adonidia merrilli) is producing fruit – looking a lot like Christmas ornaments.
Bromeliads have a tendency to do their own thing. Eventually I will figure out how to have year round flowers. These Guzmanias, left to their own devices, filled this wok planter and bloom every winter for a few months.
Another reliable winter flower is the Nodding Hibiscus (Malvaviscus pendulifloris). These appear randomly in my garden and are very difficult to get rid of – I have embraced them and trained them to my neighbor’s fence.
The Zinnias I started from seed in August have started flowering, as usual, they don’t look like the seed packet. These are Zinderella and supposed to be double..and peach colored, the other one is single and gold..
That is my six for this Saturday… hopefully it stops raining soon.
Happy Gardening and thanks to Jon the Propagator for hosting.
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.
Today is Halloween in the US. There is a full moon and I am staying home today…I bought this pumpkin to celebrate and challenged myself to find five additional orange things in my garden.
The Soap Aloe (Aloe saponaria) is flowering. A friend gave me one of these several years ago, now I have several and give them to friends. A native of South Africa, they can be used for shampoo – but are well known for causing allergic reactions, so I enjoy them in the garden and cut them for flower arrangements.
Dwarf Ixora (Ixora chinensis or taiwanensis) these flower nearly continuously through the summer and off and on during the winter. They are called Maui Red, but I think they are orange.
Blanchetiana Bromeliad flowers are getting bigger and bigger…sometimes called Lobster Claw, these are big Aechmeas – some are six feet tall.
Gallardias (Gallardia pulchella) just keep going. I foolishly tried to start some from seed in August, not realizing them come up in droves naturally in October…
My favorite shrub, the Firebush (Hamelia patens var patens)
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.
The weather is finally turning lovely, I have almost finished planting my vegetable garden and fall flowers are showing their colors.
First up, the mad tropical Candy Portea Bromeliad is about half open. My neighbor says these look like sea creatures.
Second, the flowers of the Roselle, an edible Hibiscus. The cranberry colored calyx of the flowers is eaten and tastes like cranberries, these are not ripe yet.
Third, the flowers of the native Senna (Senna ligustrina). These are larval host plants for Sulphur Butterflies. If the caterpillar eats the flower, they are yellow, it they eat the foliage they turn green. The butterflies are always yellow.
Fourth, Blue Porterweed (Stachytarpeta jamaicaensis). Another good butterfly plant for nectar. I think the abundant rainfall has made them extra beautiful this fall.
Muhly Grass (Muhlenbergia capillaris) is a true sign of fall, likely my favorite fall flower.
Finally, the mystery plant. This came up in a pot with some other seedlings. I think it is an Agastache or maybe Holy Basil. I did not plant either. The foliage has a light anise scent. Does anyone know?