Garden Update: 5/31/14

This has been the oddest growing season in the 4.5 years I’ve gardened in Florida—for every flower that arrived late, a few popped up early, and others looked nothing like you’d expect; 6″ sunflowers, anyone?  😉   Here’s a glimpse into what’s new and flowering in the Ranchero and back gardens, starting with the incredibly late arrival of the Ruby Spider Daylily, which we usually see in March.  This one opened for the first time, today! 20140531_081114 I’ve grown Passiflora incense for three seasons now, and it seems impervious to temperature extremes.  The vine on this free standing trellis is actually growing from a crack in the patio, yet seems VERY well anchored.  High winds have knocked it over many times, but the woody stem refuses to budge.  Once this workhorse is established, it pops up all over the yard. 🙂 20140531_082909 Also growing through pavers, a group of Gaillardia reseeded from Fall, ’13.  Strange that NONE of these “re-seeds” germinated in beds or containers containing the original flowers, but I guess the patio provided stasis and protection. Whatever the reason, they look pretty good! 20140531_082733 In front of the Gaillardia sit two pots worth mentioning. In the foreground, a container grown Smilax rotundifolia (aka invasive Greenbriar) surprised me by returning from full winter dieback; I didn’t realize this was such a hardy vine.  To the rear, a year old Hoya publicalyx has greened up and filled out very nicely after looking pretty grim last fall. 20140531_083903-1 Perhaps you recall last summer’s ugly  new bed along the rear fence?  What a difference a year makes!  It isn’t beautiful yet, but the Frangipani (left) and Costus barbatus (right) have softened its raggedy appearance with some dramatic new growth. The Dwarf Gladioli bulbs I planted last month are helping too, but beds take a few seasons to look more like beds than works in progress. 20140531_112213-1 Two brand new plants have joined the Ranchero. The first is Aeonium hierrense (aka Giant House Leek) but right now it looks like Little Outdoor Succulent: 20140531_111632-1 The second newbie is Lessertia montana, (also known by the horrid common name Mountain Cancer Bush!)  Both plants were ordered from Annie’s Annuals, along with 6 others that I’ll discuss in a later post.  As an aside, this was my first order from them and I was completely unimpressed with the packaging. The box arrived soggy and half smashed, and the plants themselves weren’t too healthy looking.  After two weeks of heat and full Ranchero sun, L. montana seems to be doing better. 20140522_083421-1 However, I think it may take forever to look like this. 🙂 Lessertia montana Before I close, I need to show you some Gulf Fritillary butterflies I saw in compromising position (For Real!) while I was weeding the Ranchero!

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So now I have a question…I thought survival trumped the reproductive instinct in all living things. Is this not the case for butterflies? I easily could have picked them up, (or stepped on them, God forbid.) I lightly touched one of their wings and they didn’t even notice! Fascinating! Until next time…. 🙂 🙂 🙂

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Inside

While deadheading a stand of Super Cosmos yesterday, I noticed something small and blue as I reached inside the leaves: a Cassius Blue Butterfly!! wow!!  If not for the angle of sunlight passing through the wings, I might’ve missed my first sighting EVER of this beautiful, resting creature. I ran inside for my camera, hoping it wouldn’t fly off!

Leptotes cassius July 25,2012 Vero Beach, FL

Leptotes cassius theonus,  July 25, 2012  Vero Beach, FL

The wingspan of Leptotes Cassius measures less than an inch; such a tiny butterfly ❗

Leptotes cassius pic 2 July 25,2012 Vero Beach, FL

Both sexes share striped undersides with two eyespots on each hindwing. Females have wings that are bluish-white to white, with broad dark borders on the front and a dark spot on the rear margin of the hindwings. Based on these descriptions, I think I saw a female…you go, girl! (and right after these pics, she did 😯 )

In April, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service listed the Cassius Blue as a “threatened pollinator,” an action that allows state and federal governments to develop and implement species recovery plans. One of the best ways to improve butterfly survival rates (short of rounding up iguanas 😉 ) is by growing larval host plants, but I seem to have that covered:

Plumbago hedge

Plumbago is a favorite host plant for Leptotes Cassius who deposit their larva inside

As you can see, I have Plumbago in spades 😉

Until next time….

ps. I hope you enjoyed this example of when outside is inside! Click the Zemanta links below to see other interpretations of the weekly challenge!

🙂 🙂