Six on Saturday – Patience Rewarded

I am joining the International SOS crowd this Saturday featuring a selection of of six plants, flowers and buds I have been looking forward to. Follow the link http://www.thepropagatorblog.wordpress.com to see more Six on Saturday posts from other gardens.

The Roselles (Hibiscus sabdariffa) are finally flowering! The flowers don’t last very long, the duration is morning. And that is it. I was trying to get pictures and it has to be done before lunch or they’ve closed. When the flowers began to make seed it will be time to harvest the calyxes. I planted the seed in April, the plants are now six feet and over and getting floppy.

Buds on the Medinillia cummingi. This is an orchid like plant that grows in trees in Tropical Asia. A friend gave me a rooted cutting this spring and said it would take two years to flower, so I am excited to see the buds. I think the flowers will look like pink grapes.

The succulents are finally filling the strawberry pot. A view in elevation:

The dark green plant in the top is Haworthia, the greys are an Echeveria, the charteuse one I can’t recall, though it has white flowers. The big leafed plant on the side is Flapjack Kalanchoe. The grey fine leaved plant is a native Tillandsia Bromeliad and the bigger leafed one is a Graptosedum. I keep this pot out of the rain.

First flower on a Desert Rose (Adenium obesum) I grew from a cutting.

Another pot of succulents on the porch. Purple Queen (Transcandentia pallida) in purple. Gold Moss (Sedum ‘some Florida Friendly BS’) – I find it virtually impossible to grow this Florida Friendly Sedum in the ground. Which annoys me. The big leafed plant is Flapjack Kalanchoe – it grows anywhere with well drained, sunny spot. It took ages for the Sedum to fill that little corner.

That is my Six for this Saturday.

Happy Gardening!!

In a Vase on Monday – Whatizzit?

I like plants that are a bit off the beaten path. Something that make you wonder “what on earth is that?” It occurred to me as I was arranging this vase I had most likely never seen any of these plants prior to moving to Florida almost 10 years ago. I would have said “Whatizzit?” about this one.

The vase is a thrift store find I have enjoyed for years, simple enough to set off a group of mad tropical flowers and foliage. Here are some closer views of the flowers:

The white flowers are ‘Miss Alice’ Bougainvillea; red flowers are Nodding or Sleeping or Turks Cap Hibiscus (Malvaviscus arboreus) – so many names, I am not sure which one is right. Red and black foliage is from Piecrust Croton (Codiuem varigatum)

Here is the other side. The Lobsterclaws and the big gold leat are from, yes, the Lobsterclaw Bromeliad (Aechmea blanchetiana). These are a very common landscape Bromeliad around here. I cut some stems of the lower part of the flower. The flowers are a bit difficult to imagine and about four feet tall.

Here they are in the garden:

Happy Monday from South Florida.

To see more vases from around the world, visit our intrepid hostess, Cathy at http://www.ramblinginthegarden.wordpress.com.

Six on Saturday – Tea for Two

A couple of weeks ago I posted an image of the first flower on my Blue Pea Vine and mentioned making tea from it. I have also posted my Roselles, the flowers may also be used for tea. I tried both yesterday. I should preface this review by saying I am not a huge fan of herbal teas and prefer Earl Grey or black tea.

Roselle tea tastes like Hibiscus flower tea, which is no surprise considering it is a Hibiscus. The Blue Pea Vine tea tastes like dirt to me. I asked my husband to try and he agreed. I have seen the tea served that is cobalt blue in color, perhaps more steeping is needed or more flowers, the question becomes does it taste like more dirt?

The Roselles were in my freezer from last year. I froze them and promptly forgot all about them. When I harvest the flowers this year I will try making some jam to serve with champagne, which seems like a good holiday project.

The Blue Pea Vine (Clitoria ternata).

Roselles in their current state. These are about a month out from harvest and are buds. They will flower and form seed heads; the calyx from the seed heads are what is used for tea.

Fall has arrived when the Muhly Grass (Muhlbergia capillaris) starts to flower. The temperatures were in the low 70s this morning. My greyhounds had a long run in the dog yard and I enjoyed a walk around the garden.

Native Senna (Senna ligustrina), another fall flower in bloom. This is a host plant for Sulphur butterflies. If the caterpillars eat the foliage they are green; if they eat the flowers they are yellow. The butterflies are all yellow.

The bag garden is coming along. Currently bagged: bush beans, tomatoes, radishes, criollo peppers, dill, and flowers for cutting – zinnias, sunflowers, nigella and some mixed seeds that will be a surprise. The sticks are to keep rabbits out, the squirrels are only slightly deterred by them. I had a first time experience with a Gopher tortise eating a globe amaranth.

That is my Six for this Saturday. Jon the Propagator hosts this meme at http://www.thepropagatorblog.wordpress.com. Follow the link to visit other gardens.

Happy Gardening!!

In a Vase on Monday – Esperanza Springs Eternal

Esperanza means hope in Spanish. The yellow flowers in this vase are Tecoma stans, one of its common names is Esperanza. It is springing forth with great vigor in my garden and I am very pleased about that. Finding that common name also made me stop and think about what I am hopeful about as 2021 winds down.

I am hopeful the pandemic will abate and the politicizing of public health issues will cease. I am hopeful for my husband’s increasingly good health. I am also hopeful for a bounteous winter garden. So many things to be hopeful for based on the common name of a smiling yellow flowering shrub in my garden.

The vase is a gift from a dear old friend and my college roommate. It is actually a candleholder, so there is a beer glass with water holding the flowers as I was not sure how long a crackled glass candleholder would remain watertight.

Smiling for its close up.

Yellow flowers are Esperanza, also called Yellow Elder, Yellow Bells and a couple of other things. Tecoma stans is the latin and the jury is out on if the plant is native to Florida. It was noted growing in Key West in the 1800s and that is good enough for me. The Florida Native Plant Society does not recognize the plant and I think they are missing out on a good one. Purple flowers are Mona Lavendar Plectranthus. I am guessing the latin is that backwards. Purple and silver foliage is Wandering Jew or Inch Plant (Transcandentia zebrina) I call it Zebrina as I like that name better. White flowers and deep green foliage are from Tropical Gardenias (Tabernaemontana diviracata). The Esperanza has a light, fresh floral fragrance that mixes well with the heavier, sweeter Gardenia scent.

The other side, the last plant on the list, in grey, Barometer Bush (Luecophyllum frutescens). My husband said this looked like a bridal bouquet. I am not so sure..though, I would love the scent carrying this down the aisle and suppose I could wrap the beer glass in white lace.

Thanks to Cathy at http://www.ramblinginthegarden.wordpress.com for hosting this week. To see more vases, follow the link.

Happy Gardening!!!

Six on Saturday – Reds and Purples

Another Saturday morning tour of my garden featuring six items of interest to join the SOS crowd at http://www.thepropagatorblog.wordpress.com. Follow the link to see more posts.

I have a lot of hot colors in my garden and fall is no exception. The red and purple flowers and foliage are out in force.

The Aechmea blanchetiana Bromeliads are in full bloom. These are almost five feet tall and last for months. A neighbor gave me a start of these and said “the flowers last so long you get tired of them.” I enjoy them!

The Red Shrimp Plant (Justicia brandegeana). This is a very happy plant and flowers a lot. One of my favorite old reliables and a gift from a neighbor.

The Roselles (Hibiscus sabdaiffa) have reached five and a half feet in height and are setting flower buds. Eventually I will pick the red calyx of the flower to make tea or holiday cocktails. I planted the seed in April. Most of the plant is edible.

Purple Queen or Setcresea appears randomly in the garden. I prefer to call it Purple Queen, Setcresea sounds like a skin disease.

A new container I put together this week. The Bromeliads are cuttings from existing plants in my garden. In red, Fireball Neoregelia, varigated, Bossa Nova Neoregelia. Draped over the side is a Fish Hook Senecio and the plant in back is a Cardboard Palm (Zamia furfuracea). The Bromeliads should spill over the sides eventually.

The Milkweed devoured by Monarch butterfly caterpillars is making a remarkable comeback. I was amazed at the amount of foliage they ate – all of it and about one third of the stem.

That is my Six for this Saturday.

Happy Gardening!!

The Bag Garden

October brings the vegetable gardening season to South Florida. I started tomatoes from seed about a month ago and started work on a new concept for growing vegetables. Last year, my most successful vegetables were grown in containers and I decided to build on that. The soil in my garden is beach sand and while it can be amended, it is virtually impossible to get it to retain enough water for good vegetables. And then, there are root knot nematodes (bad nematodes) that love vegetables. They infested my tomato, snow pea and pole beans last year, slowly starving the roots by consuming the nutrients conducted by the roots, eventually destroying the plants.

On to containers!

I used 7 gallon containers to grow tomatoes last year and decided I wanted something a little bigger. I searched and found plastic pots weren’t that cheap and then I had to store them somewhere. While searching on Amazon, I found fabric grow bags, lots of grow bags. I have seen these around – but never tried using them. These are available in pretty colors, I almost succumbed to bright purple, green and orange grow bags then realized filling them with black soil mix would render the colors ugly. Basic black prevailed. I bought 8/10 gallon and 8/5 gallon bags for $25 delivered.

Here they are. Shipped folded – they open into something that looks like a handbag.

The 10 gallon bags hold 1.5 cubic feet of soil. I used the 10 gallon bags for tomatoes and bigger vegetables, the 5 gallon bags for cut flowers, herbs and smaller vegetables. I decided to try this organic soil mix, which is not recommended for use in containers. Since this is a spun fabric bag that breathes; I opted for the heavier soil mix and added a bit of compost from my pile.

During the course of filling the bags (they are a bit wiggly) it occured to me I was creating a rabbit height smorgasboard. I had leftover sections of rabbit abatement fence from last year and used the reeds like tiger (bunny?) sticks, this has worked on other delectables in my garden.

This week, I planted tomato and zinnia seedlings and seeds for bush beans, criollo peppers, radishes, dill, zinnias, sunflowers and nigella. When the weather cools, I will plant spinach, lettuces and snow peas.

The bags are currently in a half day of sun location, out of the wind, while the seeds sprout and the seedlings acclimatize. I will move these to a full sun location with a hand cart. Tried it and it works! Saves my back and the soil is stable enough to move.

The experiment continues… Hoping for bouquets of zinnias and lovely salads.

In a Vase on Monday – Aspiring to Autumn

Witnessing the first day of October always makes me happy. Trepidation about hurricane strikes lessens as does the humidity. The temperature is currently 86 Fahrenheit with 48% humidity, there is a breeze coming off the Atlantic Ocean and it feels like fall. Morning walks with the greyhounds have been very pleasant.

Fall foliage color is difficult to find in South Florida, though there are about 5 Red Maples nearby that turn red. I have to make an effort to seek them out. There are also lovely brilliant red lantern shaped fruit on the Tropical Goldenraintrees that I enjoy as fall color. Other autumnal tones must be found in flowers and I searched my garden for flowers that aspire to fall colors.

A closer view:

The red flowers at the bottom of the image are Nodding Hibiscus (Hibiscus malvaviscus); tubular yellow flowers above are Yellow Elder (Tecoma stans); red and yellow daisy shaped flowers are Gallardia (Gallardia pulchella); yellow daisies are Beach Sunflowers (Helianthus debilis); orange tubular flowers are Firebush (Hamelia patens).

Another view:

The red and yellow tropical flower at the top is Parrotflower (Heliconia psittacorum “Lady Di”); this one is not quite perennial and crops up now and again. Green foliage is Asian Sword Fern, a verdant weed. The white flowers are from White Geiger tree (Cordia boissieri) – this tree flowers when it is in the mood, I am not sure what it’s season is or if it even has one.

The vase came with a flower arrangement last year, a nice, simple faux glass. I put it in the dishwasher once and feared it might melt so I took it out.

Thanks to Cathy at http://www.ramblinginthegarden.wordpress.com for hosting this weekly meme. Follow the link to see more vases – both spring and fall are often represented with vases from different hemispheres.

Happy Gardening!!

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…

In a Vase on Monday – Torched

When September starts winding down and the Fall Equinox approaches there is an ever so subtle change in the weather and South Floridians feel less torched. Or maybe less scorched. The daily high temperatures are less than 90 degrees F/32 C. Eighty eight degrees with less humidity is refreshingly cooler. Sort of.

While searching for vase contents, I was happy to see a new bough of flowers on the Tropical Gardenias, then decided to cut the Flaming Torch Bromeliads as the centerpiece of the arrangement. The flowers are most likely courtesy of many late afternoon thundershowers in the past weeks.

A closer view:

The pink flowers are Flaming Torch Bromeliads (Billbergia pyramidalis), AKA Hurricane Bromeliads as they typically flower during peak Atlantic hurricane season. These are sort of a passalong plant in South Florida. I cannot recall ever seeing one for sale, these were shared with me.The white flowers are Tropical Gardenias (Tabernaemontana diviricata) – I am wondering how long these will flower, it seems I have had them most of the summer off and on. Green dreadlocks and varigated foliage belong to the ‘Java White’ Copperleaf (Acalypha wilkesiana). I am not sure it the dreadlocks are buds or seeds or flowers, so I took a close up.

Any thoughts? I have three groups of Java White in the garden and this is the only one with dreadlocks. The mystery continues.

Thanks to Cathy at http://www.ramblinginthegarden.wordpress.com for hosting this weekly meme. To see more, probably cooler vases, follow the link.

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.