Saturday, January 3, 2009

Mistletoe is everywhere!

It's warm (59F again) this AM. The dew is heavy and the Cranes (Sandhill) are calling. The foliage of monocots funnels dew to their crowns, somewhat mitigating long rainless periods. The Agaves and Aloes, actually all the linear-leaved plants must get significant amounts of water this way. I will hand water once more this morning excepting the camellia that seems tempted to push open its growth buds.

The large Aloe saponaria inflorescence on the corner of the screen porch now has ~1/5 of its flowers open but still no hummingbirds. They were all over it last winter but it is a bit behind. Osmanthus fragrans, one of the first plants that went in, is flowering heavily and the fragrance is wonderful. The foliage itself iis a bit thin, but I do think that it took two years for the root system to establish and now I expect that it will fill out. The plan was to screen a huge air-conditioning unit and eventually we'll get there. It is definitely one of those plants that flowers in the winter....useful.

The Protea and Leucodendron are both doing well and I want to add a larger-flowered Protea and a few Banksias next year. Also Encephalartos horridus.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Flowering today in Wildwood Florida

The red hibiscus, I bought this trip as Hibiscus cannabinus. The leaves don't seem right and the flower is not a typical color, but I will continue to work on its identification. The color does work well with the gaudy foliage of Canna 'Phaison'.

Dietes iridioides, a South African irid, is a common Zone 9 landscape plant in this country. I am not certain why more of these plants (Moraea spp., Geissorhiza spp., Babiana spp., et alia) are not common here, or at least in Southern California. Well, maybe they are out west. Its intoxicating to look through the Timber Press Illustrated Encyclopedia of Cape Bulbs, and Silverhill Seeds sells seeds for a billion (roughly) African plants. I swear this year I'll do it!

Conradina grandiflora...Large-flowered Rosemary

Over the past few years I have fallen in love with the shrubby evergreen mints of the Southeast. Conradina grandiflora is one of the nicest. It is endemic to the Florida Scrub which means it would be naturally occurring here. Like many of the scrub endemics it is threatened in Florida. This plant was purchased at Wilcox Nursery in Largo, Florida.

The "Gardeners Dilemma": I don't want all these plants but I don't want to throw them away!

The Agave angustifolia variegata suckers riduculously. The "mother" plants have only been in place for 6-12 months.So what I'm going to do is put the puppird in the bag in the picture and bring them home and make them available. What else can I do?

59F this AM; as cold as it has been this trip, but still a bit warmer than average. This is the time when nighttime temperatures hover in the low fifties or high forties occasionally dipping to freezing or a bit below. Consequently many things are flowering: Cuphea hyssipifolia, Dietes iridioides, Aloe saponaria, Asclepias curvassivicia, Bougainvillea, Aloe vera?, Camellia, Salvia greggii, Osmanthus fragrans, Odonotonemma stricta, Conradina grandiflora, Dianella tasmanica cvs.,Cestrum fasiculatum newellii, and the newly purchased Hibiscus cannabinus (for the leaf shape!).

Ever since I realized just how xeric this area is I began planting taxa that could survive 6 months with minimal rainfall. I guess it shouldn't have surprised me how quickly these plants respond to water but I am nonetheless amazed at how much recovery has gone on since I watered last Friday. The succulents have swelled up, the deciduous shrubs have refoliated, buds that had been sitting quiescent have opened. Wow. Although I had decided not to water this winter based on last year (when I softened everything up and the temperature dropped to 27F three days later) I relented in part because it has been dry since August and in part because the 15 day forecast suggested no temperatures below 39F. A week later the forecast is even more optimistic with low temperatures only predicted to go into the 40s. I know we aren't 10b, hey it has already frosted, but I think that given two weeks to harden up they'll be okay. There isn't any of the soft new growth that I saw last year.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Sun rises over the Pinus palustris et alia on the first day of the new year

When we arrived it had been dry for quite some time and the Aloe saponaria at the front corner of the screen room had a spectacular candelabra of buds that weren't opening because the plant was so dry. I watered it and the first flower opened today. It is a hummingbird magnet and I hope they will come. Asclepias curvassica is flowering a few feet down and that will help. Just across the drive there is a selection of Salvia greggii with a few flowers and that should draw them in too.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

First Glimpses of Florida: Firebush Hamelia patens

It's always exciting coming back to the Florida garden; this time it's only been two months instead of the usual four. Still things have changed. Typically we have a dry period from December to June, with fairly regular precipitation the rest of the year. Applying six dry months a year to soil that is almost pure sand produces a definitely xeric environment. The dry period started early this year; there hasn't been consistent rain since August. Some plants don't seem to care for whatever reasons. There is a heavy dew every night and some are able to utilize this moisture.

Firebush, Hamelia patens, is a staple of Zone 9 landscaping. Native on the southernn coastal plain, it's deciduous just a bit farther north, Much of the summer itis adorned with tubular scarlet flowers that dependably attract hummingbirds. Drought doesn't faze it, it grows fairly quickly and it doesn't get too big. Great plant!