Six on Saturday – Mangoes and Monarchs

This is the first Monarch butterfly caterpillar in my garden. I have been attempting to grow its host plant, Tropical Milkweed, from seed since last summer. It seems planting the seed in late summer is the wrong season and late spring is the time. The Milkweed isn’t very big and this caterpillar is in its final instar before pupating (I measured and the length is right). During the final instar they eat like crazy, so I put some canned pumpkin out and the catepillar ate that until it dried out and then went back to the Milkweed. I pulled up another Milkweed and he or she ate that one, too. The final instar is supposed to last 3 to 5 days and I have been watching 4 days, so I hope the transition is soon.

I am joining the Six on Saturday crew today – six items of interest from your garden. To see more posts, visit http://www.thepropagatorblog.wordpress.com.

Before I wrote my post this morning I went to the beach for a dose of Vitamin Sea. Here is a shot of the Sea Oats..

The Mangoes in my garden are teasing me and not quite ripe yet…here is their current condition. They look like weird Christmas ornaments. I put net bags over the fruit to keep squirrels and greyhounds away. One of my dogs loves fruit and is tall enough to reach them.

The other Mango, Nam Doc Mai, put on a huge flowering and growth spurt and has dropped most of its fruit. This one in known for flowering more than once a year. So, hopefully another flush will happen.

Finally, a dreaded insect in the garden. The Lubber Grasshopper. These things have been eating holes in the Bromeliads. They can be drowned in soapy water or squashed. Vile things.

That sums up this Saturday in my garden. I bought a few butterfly plants last weekend and planted some new seed for some obscure plants I could not buy – Mountain Marigold (Tagetes lemmoni) and Perennial Leonitis (Leonitis leonurus)

If anyone grows these two I would love to hear about it!

Happy Gardening.

Six on Saturday – Kissimmee Prairie Wildflowers

Last Saturday I took a day off from my garden and joined a wildflower walk in the Kissimmee Prairie Preserve in Central Florida. The Prairie is the last dry prairie in Florida, encompassing 54,000 acres and is grassland as far as the eye can see. There are three seasons of wildflowers in the prairie and the butterflies are reported to be spectacular. Last Saturday was too windy and overcast to see the butterflies, though I did see amazing wildflowers. The flowers in the photo are Whitetop Sedge and Black Eyed Susans.

We saw several types of Milkworts, this is Yellow Milkwort (Polygala rugelli). Native Americans used this as a snakebite remedy.

This is Purple Milkwort (Polygala cruciata, I think) there are a lot of Milkworts. These are also called Drumheads.

Yet another Milkwort, these are commonly called Swamp Cheetos.

This is a Rhexia virginica, a Meadow Beauty. I think the common name is right.

A Purple Thistle (Cirsium horridulum) This this is a bit sharp, but a wonderful butterfly host and nectar plant. For some reason I have the much less attractive Yellow Thistle in my yard. It is usually asked to leave the garden.

That concludes my wildflower adventure from last Saturday. To see more Six on Saturday posts visit Jon at http://www.thepropagatorblog.wordpress.com.

Happy Gardening!

Six on Saturday – Signs of Spring

I am joining the SOS gang this Saturday with six items of interest from my garden. Mine are always a bit different as I am borderline tropical in my South Florida garden. It seems odd but South Florida is still considered subtropical, though the area I am in is often referred to as Tropic Florida. My opinion, I am on the northern edge of tropical.

That said, it occurred to me the signs of spring in the garden are relatively universal. Mine include dirty feet, fertilizer in the foyer, plants waiting to be planted, garden beds renovation…and more.

To see more signs of spring – it is double SOS, Six on Saturday and Signs of Spring! Visit The Propagator at http://www.thepropagatorblog.wordpress.com

I am changing a vegetable bed to a butterfly garden. The is the anchor plant in the bed, a Sapphire Showers Duranta. The butterflies found it about 10 minutes after I planted it.

The bed, under construction. The Sapphire Showers is to be underplanted with Bush Daisy (Euryops pectinatus). Bush Daisy is a South African native that is supposed to attract butterflies and thrive in well drained soil and summer heat. I have plenty of both. This is my first experiment with Bush Daisy.

My feet are perpetually dirty. This container has been changed from spinach and cilantro to Petunia exserta and Red Alstromeria for summer. The Red Alstroemeria originated in a college friends mother’s garden went to my mother’s garden, then to another friend’s garden – who eventually brought some to me. They have suffered in either the heat or the soil; so I decided to try them in a container in part shade where I might remember to water them.

Summer veg seedlings on the porch so I remember to water them twice a day. My summer veg is a little different – the seedlings are Roselles, a Hibiscus with edible flowers. Not visible yet, Greek Columnar Basil and Blue Pea Vine for the butterfly garden.

Pots of lavendar Pentas await planting in summer containers.

Newly planted Sunshine Mimosa (Mimosa strigillosa). This is in the butterfly garden, it is a native perennial groundcover with pink powderpuff flowers and attracts butterflies.

A sign of spring in South Florida, buds on the Frangipani. The humidity has kicked up a notch, not quite to its full summer power yet, but this is a definite sign that summer is on the way. The sweet fragrance from the flowers will be perfuming my nightly forays in the backyard with the greyhounds.

My six signs of spring this Saturday, Happy Gardening!

Six on Saturday – Garden Happies

This Saturday I am joining the SOS gang featuring six things in my garden that made me happy today. To see more SOS posts visit Jon at http://www.thepropagatorblog.wordpress.com.

First, from my refrigerator – the growing jar of nasturtium capers..made from seed pods from my garden. The capers are luxuriating in a bath of white wine vinegar, red pepper, bay leaf and thyme.

Second, the Fire Sticks Pencil Cactus (Euphorbia tirucalli) is putting on new growth – earning its name.

Third, despite virtually no rain the Shell Ginger (Alpinia zerumbet) is flowering abundantly.

Fourth, the Mexican Honeysuckle (Justicia spicigera) flowers.

Fifth, the results of my pruning the Miss Alice Bougainvillea, here is the before:

Sixth, the results of last September’s pruning.

The greyhound is still standing sentinel. The image made me realize I need to go put the landscape light back on the Bouganvillea, it is lying on the left side lighting nothing!

Happy Gardening….

Six on Saturday – Fruits and Treasure

I potted my mini stumpery this week, using my treasures found by the roadside. The pot is a lamp base I inherited from my parents. The stump found by the roadside has native Southern Needleleaf air plant (Tillandsia setacea) growing on it. These have purple flowers and turn reddish at some point. I added a purple Cattleya Orchid to the branch and underplanted it with Fishhooks Senecio.

My other find, the repurposed planter, had holes drilled in the bottom and was filled with Bromeliads, then placed in a dark corner of the garden. The silver one is a Aechmea fasciata; purples are Luca Neoregelias; the small green and red ones are Fireball Neoregelia. These should grow together and spill over the pot. The Aechmea has a pink flower.

My tomatoes are steadily bearing fruit. I have learned (the hard way) I have to pick them before they show too much color or the birds pick them for me. These are Yellow Pear and Riesenstrube tomatoes. I would grow both varieties again. The San Marzanos were a bit of a washout, though the soil is better when these are growing. I always have better luck with cherry tomatoes.

The mangoes are coming along. These are Glenn Mangoes, they are still dropping some of the smaller fruit. Hopefully the rest will grow to full size.

These are Nam Doc Mai, a Thai dessert mango. They are flatter and longer than the Glenn Mango and nearly fiberless. A coconut flavored Mango. Very good to eat.

The butterflies are at it again. I think these are the eggs of a Florida White Butterfly. Reviled by cabbage farmers, these beautiful white butterlies with purple markings host on members of the brassica family – this is Arugula, at the end of its season in my garden. Soon to be consumed by hungry caterpillars.

That’s my six for this Saturday. To see more SOS posts of increasing variety from the world over visit Jon the Propagator at http://www.thepropagatorblog.wordpress.com.

Happy Gardening!

Six on Saturday – One Man’s Trash

Florida is sort of like a great big garage sale. Oftentimes, Bromeliads can be found for sale or on the side of the road. These were found at a garage sale. Little Harv Aechmea Bromeliads, I moved this clump recently and it is held up by some stray coconuts I found by the side of the road. Bromeliads root from the stem and take a while to reestablish.

I am not sure what this is, it is going to be a pot o’ Bromeliads in a dark corner of the garden where grass refuses to grow. Found by the side of the road.

Another cast off treasure, a branch of a Mango tree with native Tillandsia air plants growing on the bark. I am going to make a stumpery container and underplant this with a Fishhook Senecio.

The Fishhook Senecio, I admit to buying this one.

The Papaya tree was cut back this week, grown from seed of a neighbor’s tree. About 15 feet was cut off, supposedly these grow back and produce more reachable fruit. Time will tell.

A view of the cut top of the Papaya trunk. Somewhat like a giant tube.

Happy Spring and Happy Gardening. To see more Six on Saturday posts, visit Jon the Propagator at http://www.thepropagatorblog.wordpress.com.

Six on Saturday – Learning Curve

One of the good things about gardening is the ongoing lessons learned. Above is my Jurassic Begonia (Begonia nelumbiifolia) undergoing Vivipary – defined as a precocious growth of offspring while still attached to the mother plant. I had to ask a botanist friend what this plant was doing. Evidentially, I can trim the leaf around this tiny plant and place stem in soil and it will root.

My finally pruned correctly Miss Alice Bougainvillea in spring flowers.

New bed in my front garden. Plant palette is Indigo Spires Salvia, Blue Daze Evolvulus, Yellow Callibrachoa, and White Pentas. Shrubs in background are Maui Red Ixora. Lesson learned here – I have tried several plants here, Florida lacks good groundcover plants – and the soil is not soil. So, I removed and replaced a wheelbarrow full, see below.

Yes, plants will actually grow in this. I am fearful the good soil is going to sink…

Lessons learned from SOS, how to make Nasturtium capers. Letting them rest in salt.

Starting the jar of pickles. I will add more as the seeds are formed. Thank you, Fred, a French Gardener.

That is my six this Saturday, welcome spring everyone and Happy Gardening.

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

Six on Saturday – Succulents n’ Stuff

There was some plant shopping this week. I went with a friend to a local nursery. Pinder’s Nursery grows a large selection of succulents. My strawberry pot needed a little rejuvenation, so I bought a few 2 inch containers. The blue grays are Echeverias (I Think); grey is Graptosedum; brownish is a Haworthia. I am not sure what the green one is. Growing out of the side is a Flapjack Kalanchoe.

In the side yard, a Firesticks Pencil Cactus and Soap Aloe (Aloe saponaria) live in an unirrigated bed.

Desert Roses (Adenium obesum) tower above Flapjack Kalanchoes in a planter by the door. These are just leafing out and flowering after a cold snap in January slowed them down.

Tillandsia ionantha producing pups inside another Bromeliad, these are native to Central American and have hot pink and blue flowers. I bought a couple last year and thought they were gone – hopefully I see some flowers and they will create a colony.

Buds on a Billbergia Bromeliad – not sure which one, though I am thinking it is Purple Haze..

My tower of Nasturtiums and Tropical Red Salvia. I am enjoying the Nasturtiums immensely.

That is my Six this Saturday, to join in or see posts from the world over, visit Jon at http://www.thepropagatorblog.wordpress.com

Happy Spring and Happy Gardening..

Six on Saturday – New Things

It’s Saturday again, I am joining the SOS crowd at http://www.thepropagatorblog.wordpress.com. I have some new blooms in my garden this week.

This is a Zinderella Peach Zinnia – these seeds are open pollinated, the flowers are fully double, semi double and single. None of them look like the photo on the seed package.

First ever buds on the Rangpur Lime tree. My neighbor planted the seed five years ago – it is seemingly well known it takes five years from seed to fruit. I have a Cuban Avocado tree the same age, they flower until April. I am watching the Avocado daily, leaf buds so far. I am excited about limes from the garden. The holes in the leaves are from Giant Swallowtail butterflies, citrus are the larval host plant.

The Jurassic Begonia is flowering..it is really a Lotusleaf Begonia (Begonia nelumbiifolia). It is easily four feet tall.

A Ylang Ylang tree (Cananga odorata) acclimating to sun, waiting for determination of its final location. This is the flower that supplies the fragrance for Chanel No. 5 perfume. The directions stated it takes one, two or three years to flower. Waiting some more….

A new spring container planting. This has brightened my day everytime I see it. In purple, Mona Lavendar Plectranthus, the chartruese is another Plectranthus (can’t we just call them Coleus!?) Peach Impatiens, a white Begonia and a bit of Graptosedum for the spiller.

My first Nasturtiums, I kept planting them at the wrong time of year..going to try some poor mans capers from the seeds. Should be another first.

Six on Saturday- Dinner Plans

The produce in my garden is coming along and I am starting to think about eating it. This is meaningful. I have tried to grow salad greens for a couple of years. The rabbits ate the ones in the ground immediately, so I tried them in pots, too much shade. I put up a rabbit fence, something tore it down in the middle of the night, the jury is still out on what varmint to blame that on – whatever it is, they are big enough to knock over 7 gallon containers!

The arugula is the current focus of my fancy. I bought a planter on 24″ legs and placed it in full sun and voila, arugula – enough to make a favorite dish. Homemade pasta with corn and arugula. Fresh corn is usually available in South Florida in the winter, however, this January was so cold the corn was stunted and has finally become available. Here is the pasta:

The mangoes are forming fruit. They are pea-sized now and I should have a lot of fruit in a couple of months. This is a Pickering Mango.

It’s future destination – a Mango Pie. This is a Mango Papaya pie. It has lime and coconut in it. I also like Mango pie with blackberries.

I have been watching these Yellow Pear tomatoes for months. Planted in November, from seed in August. I have had a few tomatoes – they are really setting some fruit now that the weather warmed. It has been in the high 70s (F) for the past week or so.

The plans for these? Tomato jam with fresh herbs for my Tuscan bread experiment from yesterday. I spent a summer in Italy in college and you just can’t get this bread in the U.S. It is made without sugar or salt and I wasn’t convinced the recipe would work. It did, one bite and I was back in the Convent having breakfast with nuns nearby. (It was a Studies Abroad program housed in a Convent, I wasn’t a nun)

That is my Six for this Saturday. To see more posts, visit Jon at http://www.thepropagatorblog.wordpress.com. I will be in the garden dreaming up dinner.

Happy Gardening..