In a Vase on Monday – August Beauties

This vase accurately reflects what thrives in my South Florida garden with very little water or attention. August is the hottest month of the year, it is frequently 94 degrees in the shade (F or almost 35 C). Gardening is best abandoned for cooler days. There has also been a long dry spell here, we are 8 inches below normal on rainfall and some plants have burned up. My stalwart zinnias succumbed the first week of August, despite my best effort to hand water them, they are curled and crispy brownish tan. I left them to shade the lime green sedum in hopes of nursing it through August. The lush tropical border is a memory. The Dahlias dramatically folded their foliage up the stem and turned brown standing straight like soldiers praying to the rain gods. Bah.

Saturday night we had a refreshing rain shower and the white flowers in the vase, Bridal Bouquet Frangipani, smelled so lovely I had to cut some to bring inside. It seems the more tropical plants tolerate the dry heat a bit better than the Florida natives, which seems odd. Another gardening mystery to ponder.

Beauties in detail:

The lurid purple berries are from the Beautyberry (Calliocarpa americana); fragrant, white flowers are Bridal Bouquet Frangipani; orange tubular flowers are Firebush (Hamelia patens); yellow flowers are Esperanza (Tecoma stans).

The balance:

The peach flower is a Choconiana Heliconia (H. psittacorum ‘Choconiana’) I have tried to find out what the heck is a Choconiana to no avail. Purple foliage is from ‘Purple Prince’ Alternantera – I should admit to watering this one and keeping it in a pot in the shade. There is one in the garden, surprisingly still alive, but much smaller.

I wish everyone gentle rain, but not too much, and cooler weather. Thanks to Cathy at http://www.ramblinginthegarden.wordpress.com for hosting. Follow the link to see more vases.

Happy Gardening!!

In a Vase on Monday – Time in a Bottle

The blue bottle serving as a vase today reminds me of another time. The bottle belonged to my mother. My mother and grandmother had a peculiar habit of keeping bottles in the kitchen window. If the bottles were clear they were filled with water and food coloring. Colored bottles were left as is and used as vases for whatever somebody found in the yard; it was usually me finding things. My grandmother, a teetotaling Southern Baptist, especially enjoyed her slightly risque practice of displaying old liquor bottles filled with colored water.

A closer view:

This is a bouquet of summer in South Florida. Many of the annuals are starting to burn out and the true stalwarts of the garden are shining. In white, Tropical Gardenias (Tabernaemontana divaricata); peach spikes are Tropical Red Salvia (Salvia coccinea), in blue, an improved cultivar of Plumbago, I think this is ‘Imperial Blue’ and it has deeper color and flowers longer than the standard; the fern is the ‘weed’ Asparagus Fern that tends to appear for no reason.

An even closer view of the Tropical Gardenias, I do love these.

Thanks to Cathy at http://www.ramblinginthegarden.wordpress.com for hosting. Follow the link to see more summer (or winter!) vases..

Happy Gardening!!!

Six on Saturday – Summer

Saturday morning finds heat and humidity in Florida – the Saharan sand drifting over the Atlantic is keeping the rain away and not much gardening is going on, except decapitating seed heads on weeds and watering. I have realized it is a bad idea to try and establish plants after May. Another backwards seasonality here, rest in summer and garden in winter. I am joining SOS today with summer flowers and foliage. To see more SOS posts, visit http://www.thepropagatorblog.wordpress.com.

The Blanchetiana Bromeliads are shooting up flower stalks. Below is the yellow/chartreuse version – sometimes called Lemon. Aechmea blanchetiana “Lemon”.

I bought this Red Velvet Aerva (Aerva sanguinolenta) last year. It was touted as a tough plant from Africa that is drought tolerant and native to desert, sandy soils. Not quite believing this, I planted some in the sand and took a few cuttings in case this was not true. The plant in the sand is long gone, but the cuttings love being coddled in potting soil.

Another oops from research. Last year I wrote an article for The American Gardener about Bougainvillea. Research in many forms claim Bougs bloom in cycles and stop when day length exceeds 12 hours. This one has been blooming all summer during the longest days of the year. Another myth busted.

The culinary ginger is finally growing. These are heat lovers and make ginger root during the summer, the fresh ginger root is wonderful. I am looking forward to it in a couple of months.

The Purple Gem Dahlias are getting smaller and moldier day by day. I decided to leave the tubers in the pots and not water them after they go dormant to see what happens. I also bought some uber cheap tubers to refrigerate and try later. Research is planned to find what day length inspires Dahlias to flower.

A Queen butterfly on the Firebush. These are cousins of the now endangered Monarch. They are supposed to be year round here, but are relatively rare in my garden.

There, my Six for this summer Saturday.

Happy Gardening!!

Six on Saturday – Shrimp and Fruit

It is Saturday again. Time to peruse the garden for six items of interest. Today it occurred to me the Shrimp Plants look their best in summer heat and the plants set fruit earlier here than in my former garden. The beautyberries are already turning purple; further north this happens in late September or October.

It is hot here, 92F or 33C, but nothing like what Europe is experiencing and fortunately we have had a lovely breeze off the ocean and rain showers all week so the garden is hydrated. The weeds are taking control – I noted them as I walked through the garden taking pictures but failed to take any action. I should pull weeds…blogging about them instead.

The Shrimp:

This is a Red Shrimp plant (Justicia brandegeana), they grow in the sugar sand without irrigation or much of anything else. It crossed my mind I should propagate more of these, they are easily rooted in water.

The fruit:

The incredibly prolific Beautyberry (Calliocarpa americana). This one never fails to amaze me. It grows on a wall facing due north. Full shade in winter and full sun in summer. And thrives.

The very pretty but inedible Muscadine grapes (Vitis rotundafolia). These must be the hardy rootstock other tastier varieties are crossed with or grafted to. These have two large seeds and are very bitter tasting. The raccoons and local wildlife love them and spread them far and wide.

Bromeliads love the mid summer heat and are showing off.

One of my garage sale finds – no clue what variety this is. The flower looks like it might be purple.

Aechmea rubens in full bloom. I have enjoyed these this summer and wonder how much longer they will last.

Aechmea blanchetiana in bud. These will flower and last for months. A little photo bomb by Johnson’s grass, my least favorite weed. It is still out there, waiting to produce a hundred thousand seeds while I recline in air conditioned comfort. I will decapitate it before the seed disperses. Hopefully.

My Six for Saturday. To see more, visit http://www.thepropagatorblog.wordpress.com.

Happy Gardening and stay cool..

In a Vase on Monday – Cool Summer Shades

Summer has turned the heat up full blast on the Treasure Coast of Florida. Daytime highs have been over 90 degrees (F) and thunderstorms pop up all afternoon. Not that my garden is getting very much rain, it seems to be missing us most days. So aggravating. So much rain and none falling where I need it.

The heat and humidity brings out the Tropical Gardenia, which was covered in flowers until I relieved it of a number of them. This Gardenia is about ten feet wide and tall and I should have taken a picture before I cut so many flowers. Oops.

I decided to use my vintage Blue Willow teapot and add some cooling colors and fragrances to my vase. The Gardenias are a lighter version (fragrance and size wise) of Gardenia jasminoides, which I love, but its scent is overwhelming indoors and they are more difficult to grow than the Tropical version. I cut this one out of an overgrown hedge between me and my neighbor’s house, once it got its head in the sun it took off and I tree formed it. I never water it and it is perfectly happy. My kind of Gardenia.

The close up:

Tropical Gardenias are Tabernaemontana diviricata; green flowers are ‘Green Envy’ Zinnias; deep blue spikes are ‘Mystic Blue’ Salvia; lighter blue flowers are Blue Plumbago (Plumbago auriculata); ferns are the evil invasive Asian Sword Ferns.

The colors and the combined fragrances of Gardenia and Salvia are adding a light sweet herbal presence to my foyer. Here is a view from above:

Thanks to Cathy at http://www.ramblinginthegarden.wordpress.com for hosting IAVOM. Follow the link to see more vases.

Happy Summer Gardening!!!

Six on Saturday – Things I Never Planted

Another one of Florida’s many gardening peculiarities is the tendency to find (mostly) desirable plants popping up in the garden. Above is the Brown Bud Allamanda (Allamanda cathartica). These vines tend to creep around and over my neighbors fence, they end up rambling through my shrubs and I hate to cut the flowers off. Rumor has it Pygmy tribes in the Amazon use this very poisonous plant to make deadly blowdarts.

A perfectly placed white Tropical Red Salvia (Salvia coccinea). I planted the red one years ago and a white flowered one popped up in this border, accenting the peach and blue flowers.

Another dead on plant placement by bird artists. These are native Firebush (Hamelia patens). The seedlings appeared soon after we moved in, spaced perfectly for a foundation planting. These are on one side of the front porch, I found another seedling and put a matching plant on the other side.

My preferred common name for this is Inch Plant (Transcandentia zebrina). I have no idea where it came from, but it makes a great groundcover.

Another Transcandentia – T. pallida. Purple Queen, or I was taught these are called Setcresea, Purple Queen is a bit more palatable. I have these in pots and in the ground, the original ones came up under a Strangler Fig, so I guess another bird seeded plant. These seemingly will grow anywhere from sun to shade. A great low maintenance groundcover and a real pop of purple.

Wild Grapes or Muscadines (Vitis rotundafolia) This is a love/hate plant. The native Floridians will actually eat the grapes. I find them bitter, but the birds love them. The hate part, they spread ….everywhere.

There, my Six for this Saturday, to see more posts visit http://www.thepropagatorblog.wordpress.com.

Happy Gardening..

In a Vase on Monday – Roadsidia in Red

A gardening friend collects plants from the side of the road and transplants them into his garden; referring to these plants as his roadsidia – and has a beautiful garden. The roadsidia element in this arrangement is the vase, found on the curb with the trash while walking the dog. It reminds me of a bottle that would contain a genie..I hope one is in there and he or she will clean my house!

A closer view:

The bigger red flower is a Lobsterclaw Heliconia (Heliconia rostrata) – it doesn’t get much more tropical than this. The varigated leaf is from ‘Java White’ Copperleaf (Acalphya wilkesiana ‘Java White’); smaller red flower is Firecracker Plant (Russelia equisetiformis).

Pale yellow flowers are from the Java White Copperleaf, red spike flowers are Tropical Red Salvia (Salvia coccinea); the arching green leaves are foliage from the Lobsterclaw Heliconia; pale green stems are Pencil Cactus (Euphorbia tirucalli ‘Firesticks’)

I spied the first Monarch butterfly in my garden today; visiting the Firebush for a sip of nectar and wanted to share a link to some good news about this butterfly at long last.

https://www.accuweather.com/en/weather-news/butterfly-effect-monarchs-are-making-a-huge-comeback/1195131

Thank you to Cathy at http://www.ramblinginthegarden.wordpress.com for hosting IAVOM; follow the link to see more vases.

Happy Gardening!!

In a Vase on Monday – Mixed Media

What is mixed media? In my garden it is tropical plants vs. more conventional plants. For some reason, I don’t really like to mix the two – though I am slowly getting past that. Possibly latent brain washing from design school. Tropical plant material was not on the menu where I went to college.

Who knows? There is not really a color scheme here, either. Totally mixed media. I started cutting the weird red Dahlias (a mistake from the bulb supplier) and just kept going. Added some white for fragrance and then decided more color was needed….snip, snip, snip.

Voila, it had to go in a clear glass vase. An old florist vase from a long ago gift of flowers.

What’s the media?

Tropicals, in red and yellow, ‘Lady Di’ Parrotflowers (Heliconia psittacorum); in white, Tropical Gardenia (Tabernaemontana diviricata). Conventionals, in chartreuse, Envy Zinnias; peach spikes are Tropical Red Salvia (Salvia coccinea) – there is a dilemma, it is called Tropical, but really is not?

White spikes in back are fragrant Sweet Almond (Aloysia virgata); blue flowers are Chinese Forget Me Nots (Cynoglossum amiable); white daisies, Bidens alba; Red Dahlias of unknown name. Oops from the bulb supplier, these have oddly short stems – I think? These are my first Dahlias, so please share any Dahlia insights with me. The corrected Dahlias (Labyrinth) have arrived and should be cactus type. I have planted them and am breathlessly waiting for big, fluffy cut flowers. I hope they haven’t been overwatered.

Thanks to Cathy at http://www.ramblinginthegarden.wordpress.com for hosting. Follow the link for some potentially less mixed vases.

Happy Gardening!!

Six on Saturday – Taste of Summer

Summer is the rainy season in South Florida. After a month of dry weather, we had a tremendous round of thunderstorms yesterday. It looked like a couple of inches of rain fell, based on what was left in a bucket on the back porch. One of those “I really don’t want to go to the grocery store” days. I did anyway.

The summer tropicals loved the moisture and are showing their colors in this installment of Six on Saturday. To see more SOS posts; visit Jon at http://www.thepropagatorblog.wordpress.com

My first ever Sugar Baby watermelon. I thought it had died, but it seems the stem turns brown when the melon is ripe. This was delicious and the sweetest watermelon I have ever tasted. There is another one on the vine.

Gulf Fritillary butterflies are back. This is a caterpillar beginning to make a chrysalis on a Corkystem Passionflower vine. I leave the vine to ramble through the shrubs in the front garden and feed the butterflies. These look mean, but they don’t sting. The orange coloration is to keep predators away.

New to the garden, Apricot Profusion Zinnias, grown from seed. I like the color and wasn’t sure how pastel it was going to be.

First Frangipani (Plumeria) of the season. The flower is almost open, I will most likely enjoy the fragrance tonight. Fingers crossed.

First Dahlia in the garden is problematic. I ordered a cactus variety called Labyrinth. It should be pink, peach and fluffy – it is not.

Full size pineapple in the garden. I have a pineapple patch – rooted tops of all kinds of pineapples. I am told they might cross with each other and the results will be seedy fruit. This one looks a little seedy to me, though it is the only one that flowered unless it crossed with some other bromeliads. No clue. Time will tell. In a couple of months, the fruit should ripen.

That all for this lovely spring day.

Happy Gardening!!