Weekly Photo Challenge: Saturated

This week’s photo challenge calls for saturation of color. Not a problem! When tropical gardens reach peak bloom, deeply saturated jewel tones are everywhere!

First up, a Ruby Spider Daylily and Aloe Ciliaris from May, 2013..

Ruby spider daylily and Aloe ciliaris, 5/12/2013

Followed by reseeded sunflowers from 2011-12 amidst a newly sown packet of Burpee’s Autumn Beauty seeds. This is some seriously saturated orange!

Sunflowers, 5/12/13

Check out the electric pinks and greens in this caladium container!  (June, 2013)

Mixed Caladium Container, 6/19/13

Not even rain can diminish the bold purple/orange marbling in this unusual gladiolus from July, 2012.  (Saturated color saturation? ha! 🙂 )

orange glad july 23, 2012 ranchero

Sadly, this beautiful flower didn’t grow back in 2013, but it sure looked pretty next to the Dragon Tree aka  Dracena Marginata Tricolor,

That’s it for today, but stay tuned:  I’ve got some great bromeliad pics to share in Saturated Part 2.

Until next time…..

🙂 🙂 🙂

Holy Mole-y: it’s a January Branch-out!

Walking across the backyard puts a spring in my step, but not from happiness! 😉   Spongy, raised mounds extend from the middle of the rear cutting garden to an area 10′ beyond the bauhinia tree. I suspect an entire mole/armadillo subway system exists beneath my feet 🙂  Here’s the entrance to what I’ve been calling Aloe Station: 😉

"Aloe Station" 1/05/2013

Aloe Station functions as a point of transfer. If you reach into this very wide hole, you feel 3 separate  tunnels, branching south, east and west.  I fear I was complicit in their construction when I staked bamboo poles (above) to assist the Climbing Aloe–no good deed goes unpunished, as they say! Incidentally, the aloe that caused all the trouble 😉 has started to bloom…here, I’ll show you:

Aloe Ciliaris in bloom, 1/6/13Back to the moles….

I’ve lost 2 growing season’s worth of flowers to this problem, and it’s time to plant again.  After researching various eradication methods, I decided herding the vermin away was the most reasonable option. Bring on the Sweeney’s Mole and Gopher Repellent, a granular castor oil product that (allegedly) sends the little buggers packing, as this video explains:

The goal is to apply the product over a four day period, shaking the granules further from the origination point each day. I didn’t want to hurt or kill the critters,  just relocate them faaarrrrrrr from Aloe Station.  If you’re wondering, “Did it work?”

New Mole hole, 1/6/13

This not-so-great photo attests the repellent is working! The morning after the first application, the hole above (and two others like it) appeared a foot beyond where I sprinkled the granules. As you can see at the top of the shot, Aloe Station is plenty far away for day one!

Today marked day 3. A section of the rear cutting garden, where mole-runs abounded instead of flowers, looks REALLY good!  Check it out:

Annual bed, rear cutting garden, 1/6/13

I am best pleased! 🙂  Maybe I can plant annuals here again:?:

…..and now it’s time to show you literal “branching out” re: two phalaenopsis orchids.

Remember the Winn Dixie Dyed Blue orchid from last August? It was growing a second spike when I purchased it.  During class last year, we learned if you cut a phalaenopsis spike along a middle node as its last flower fades, you might induce an additional spike to grow.  Well….I finally tried it, and here’s the result:

Phalaenopsis Lila Mystique w/ branching spike x 2, 1/8/13

Spiking x 2!

I nearly flipped-the-frig-out this morning when I noticed the teeny-tiny spike branching off the very top! (The bigger, side shoot I’d already flipped-the-frig-out over last week)  Pretty cool, yeah? At the conclusion of the current flowering cycle, this phalaenopsis might need a little rest. I’ll definitely watch it closely for signs of stress.

I’ve been more successful with orchid growing since hanging my plants in the Bauhinia tree: some are loose in baskets; others, lashed directly to branches. I think they’re getting better air circulation and the right amount of water this way. Overall, they seem far healthier, which brings me to the final picture:

Purple Phalaenopsis spike, 1/8/13

I’m not surprised this phal spiked–it typically flowers in February/March–but the heft and diameter of this particular spike DO surprise me. I hope the flowers follow suit!

If you’d like to read more about orchids, check out the blog in the related links. I’ve been following it for awhile now and it’s got great information!

Until next time…

🙂 🙂

Weekly Photo Challenge: Change of Seasons

In my neck of the woods, Aloe flowerspikes scream Change of Season almost as much as cars with northern license plates! 😉  While puttering in my rear garden this morning, I noticed an Aloe Ciliaris  sporting a healthy looking inflorescense:

Aloe Ciliaris Flower Spike, 12/14/12

Like most aloes, A. Ciliaris hails from Africa (mine came from Target, though! ha! 😉 ) When planted from seed, this vining climber grows FAST, but often takes 2-3 years to bear bright orange/red flowers. In their fully opened state, the flowers are approximately an inch long and tubular shaped, hanging in loose clusters from cone shaped racemes.

Until next time…..

🙂 🙂

ps. You can visit other Change of Season interpretions via the Zemanta links below:

Orchids and Succulents in the September Garden.

September is an odd month in So. Florida gardens. By late summer, most hardy perennials are calling “Time-Out” from brutal sun and tropical downpours, yet the jungle species are gearing up and raring to go ➡ Intense heat and convective rains make VERY happy orchids 🙂

Brassia Maculata, Sept. 6, 2012

Brassia Maculata, Fully Opened on Sept. 6, 2012

Remember Lila Mystique, the Winn-Dixie orchid with the strange blue dye-job?  Her second spike has produced pure white flowers:

White Phalaenopsis flower buds, Sept 2012

Lila lost her “mystique” and turned ghostly pale! 😉

Like the orchids, my garden succulents are in peak form now, too!

The Portulacaria Afra (aka Elephant Bush/Dwarf Jade) seen on the diagonal in the above picture, has totally taken off!!  In July, I removed it from its original 3″ pot and planted it in the Ranchero: what began as a slightly wizened, T-shaped, 4 inch branch is now plump, multi-stalked and spreading. If this South African native reaches full height, perhaps I’ll try my hand at Bonsai sculpting. 🙄 or maybe I’ll just make zillions of cuttings!

Aloe Juvenna is another African plant that’s doubled in size and spread via offsets since mid summer:

Aloe Juvenna with offsets

This profusely “pupping” aloe is used as groundcover in Kenya

I was really impressed with A. juvenna’s bright green leaves, and the lighter green spots that appear both inside and out.  Lowes sold these two-per-6″pot, which i split immediately and planted at seperate ends of the Ranchero. The one in the picture receives better sun exposure and has produced 7 pups.  When mature, it should send up a tall spike bearing bright coral-to-red flowers.

Aloe Ciliaris was one of the first plants I purchased when starting my gardens in 2010. Like the Cannas, they’ve done TOO well! ;). I’ve been digging them up and giving them away, like so:

Aloe Ciliaris. Sept 2012

Can I come live at your house? 🙂

I didn’t realize I’d bought the fastest climbing aloe in the world….or that it might reach a height of 32ft. (though I doubt it will get that tall here!) The mistakes you make when you’re new, yeah?

Aloe Ciliaris, Sept 2012

Little white teeth are arranged like eyelashes (cilia) on leaf bases sheathing the stems.

In its South African habitat, the serrated leaf edges and slender, pliable stalks help anchor A. Ciliaris on its climb toward the forest canopy and sunshine.  Don’t have a rainforest in your yard? 😉  No problem….propping against trellises (or a fenceline) works just fine!

I have one more succulent to share today: Brasiliopuntia Brasiliensis, the strangest “volunteer” plant in my garden, thus far:

Brazilian Prickly Pear

This cactus has a most unusual growth pattern!

Brasiliopuntias begin life as thin cylindrical “stems” resembling pencil cacti. I discovered this plant’s original “cylinder” in Dec. 2009, growing from leaf matter within the boot of a felled palm tree in our new backyard.  With zero knowledge of tropical plants, I carefully removed it and saw tiny roots…yaaaaayyyyyy!  I potted it up and was very excited by my first Florida whatever-it-was!  🙂

By spring, the stem appeared to be flattening out, and a few delicate, thin, bright green pads emerged.  It was beginning to look like a cactus!

Brasiliopuntia brasiliensis stem with pads, Sept 2012

Current Cylindrical Stem and Pad Growth, Sept, 2012

In the middle of summer, little yellow dots cover the oldest pads: some fall away but others morph into little leaves that drop just shy of flowering….maybe this will change as the plant matures.

The spines are sharp, and appear almost overnight, typically on stems, but randomly along the pad edges, too. As seen in the next picture, the original stem gains mass as pads are added and the plant’s overall height increases:

Stems flatten and turn woody as Brasilopuntia matures.

The obovate segment on the bottom is this plant’s original stem.

While waiting for the bottom stem to grow strong and woody, it’s a good idea to stake this most unusual conversation piece!

Until next time!

🙂 🙂