Wordless Wednesday: Succulents at Sugar Mill Gardens, 3/12/14

The Sugar Mill Botanical Gardens are located among the ruins of the Dunlawton Sugar Plantation in Volusia County.

Sugar Mill Botanical Gardens Entrance, 3/8/14

Various nature trails wind beneath ancient oaks, passing collections of ferns, orchids and succulents along the way ūüôā ¬† ¬†Note: Click the next 2 images for a bigger, better look!

Succulent Collection, Sugar Mill Botanical Gardens, 3/8/14

Succulent Collection at Sugar Mill Botanical Gardens, 3/8/14

For other Wordless Wednesday submissions, click on the Zemanta related links below. Curious about this meme in general?  Read about its founder at The Jenny Evolution.

Until next time….

ūüôā ūüôā ūüôā

(all photos, Maggie Mulhern, 3/8/14)

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B. houghtonii update, Wordless Wednesday: 1/15/14

Remember the Bryophyllum houghtonii succulents I blogged about on 1/5/14? ¬†This morning I noticed a few¬†little buds opening, just in time for Wordless Wednesday. ūüėČ

B. houghtonii flower buds, 1/15/14B. houghtonii flower heads are known as corymbs, meaning¬†flower stalks of different lengths appear as flat-topped clusters when viewed from above. The next pics provide a better illustration of a corymb’s shape:


B. houghtonii corymb, 1/15/14

To read other Wordless Wednesday posts, click on the Zemanta related articles below!

Until next time…..

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Wordless Wednesday: Sept 19, 2012

Today’s Wordless Wednesday¬†shows how FAST my¬†Hylocereus Undatus¬†has grown over the past 6 months.¬† In¬†the intense heat of a Florida summer, the stem segments can put on 16″ in a fortnight!¬† With growth this rapid,¬†how do we not see it¬†as it happens!?! ūüėČ

Let’s start with¬†a¬†picture¬†taken on Monday, September 17 and work backwards:

Hylocereus Undatus, September 2012

On May 16, it looked VERY different:

Red Pitaya

:And this is how it looked on March 12, when I removed it from the original container and dug it in-ground:

Hylocereus Undatus, March 12, 2012

WOW!!  That looks downright small in comparison!!!

As an FYI,¬†¬†I purchased this specimen in the Fall of 2011 and kept it as a container plant for 6mos before planting.¬†Hylocereus usually flower/fruit¬†after¬†reaching age 2, so I suspect it¬†will bud¬†sometime¬†next summer. ūüôā

If you’d like to know¬†more about this remarkable vining¬†cactus,¬†check out the University of Florida Miami/Dade Pitaya¬†page.

To see other bloggers’ interpretations of Wordless Wednesday, click on any of the Zemanta provided links below!

Until next time…..

ūüôā ūüôā


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 ‚ě° Intense heat and convective rains make VERY happy orchids ūüôā

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! ūüėČ

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. ūüôĄ 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? ūüôā

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? ūüėȬ† 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!¬† ūüôā

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!

ūüôā ūüôā

Mid March Garden Update…..with Lilies!

Good Morning, Mr. Sun!

Because of the time change, I was outside to greet the sun this morning and wait for the sprinkler cycle to finish.

Rear Cutting Garden, March 12, 2012

I’d hoped to get so much¬†done in the gardens¬†last weekend,¬†but with intermittent rain¬†and consistent high winds, I concentrated¬†mainly on¬†re-potting¬†plants in need of¬†better digs.¬† ūüėõ See the soft leaf yucca¬†on the patio¬†(left¬†foreground) above? It measured a scant 4 inches when¬†I rescued it from the floor¬†of a¬†Target Garden Center¬†in¬†December, 2009.¬† Since then,¬†it steadily outgrew¬†its original¬†spot, and¬†sprouted¬†SHARP tips¬†to¬†remind me whenever I veered too close.¬† After it acclimates to¬†its new pot (and¬†full sun,) it will join the other large container¬†succulents lining our front walkway.

Remember the super cosmos¬†in late January?¬† They’re back with a vengenance, overgrowing EVERYTHING!¬†¬† Although I really dislike “thinning out” living, breathing plants, I really had no choice.¬† ūüė• ¬†I filled 3 big pots like this one:

Cosmo Relocation Project

But let the largest one stay in the ground where nature reseeded it last fall:

Super Cosmos, Cutting Garden, March, 2012

along with¬†some tough “volunteers” who refused to slip through the cracks ūüėČ

Cosmos growing through the patio

Leave us alone!

Will they survive? ūüėĮ¬†In a¬†few weeks I’ll¬†post¬†a photo update.

I don’t think I’ve ever¬†shown you Treasure Coast soil, sans amendments…Oooh la la ūüôĄ¬†Not exactly pretty (or loamy!), but it’s where I transplanted¬†a Hylocereus Undatus that’s been languishing since September in a too-tight 8″ x¬†8″ pot:

Red Pitaya

Hylocereus produce¬†HUGE, nocturnal,¬†amazingly fragrant, white¬†flowers followed by dragon fruit that is either red or yellow (mine is¬†red.) ¬†In addition to sandy soil, this viney cactus requires staking (or a trellis arrangement)¬†so¬†a spot¬†near fencing should¬†be ideal.¬†¬†Before placing it in the ground, I dug a hole¬†2x deeper¬†than necessary, adding several¬†inches of fresh cactus soil¬†to the¬†bottom. Next, I¬†situated the plant and while¬†backfilling the original sand, snapped off¬†one of the segments ūüė≥¬† See it¬†there on the left, poking out of the ground, alone?¬†¬†Allegedly,¬†these are¬†fast growing cacti, although that wasn’t my observation¬†of this particular plant…maybe it was just pot-bound. ¬†Hopefully, next summer it will look like this:

Oh, but I have saved the best  for last!

It seems as if Daylight Savings time ushered in lily season, and nothing makes my smile more!¬† As I’ve said in the past, I am first and foremost a lily gardenerWhite Asiatic Lily

It appears¬†the mystery¬†bulb is some¬†type of white Asiatic lily: in the next picture you’ll see¬†it in¬†sideview¬†, near a Ruby Spider lily just¬†beginning to unfurl:

Ruby Spider lily with White Asiatic lily

Stepping back a bit,¬†reveals¬†a clump of¬†yellow Bok Garden lilies;¬† they’ve bloomed continuously since last April, due to¬†a strange lack of winter this year.

View from the Lily Garden

Oh!! look in the¬†background….there’s the Ranchero¬†with a glimpse of the watermelon area¬†off to the¬†right,¬†near the crazy-looking rubber tree roots! ūüôā¬† Peering into the middle of the Ranchero you’d¬†find lots of amaryllis whose scapes have¬†appeared in the past¬†3 days:

Amarylis Scapes are appearing

And one in the rear cutting garden that just might open tomorrow:

Amaryllis, ready to open

I must confess, this bulb has me stumped!!!!  Last spring it opened a clear bright pink!?!!?


Until next time……..

Ready for Liftoff

Weekly Photo Challenge: Ready

As gardeners,¬†we spend considerable¬†time¬†planning¬†the best¬†use of¬†our available land.. Where¬†should I¬†place the vegetables? What spot is best for sun exposure?¬† Is that the best sight line for a small tree?¬†¬†As you tick off the answers,¬†patterns of land use emerge.¬†Soon you¬†have your garden’s¬†perimeter and ask, “should I edge it with¬†pavers or river rock? Does it matter either way?”

Yes, it does, and this little creature is why:

Ready for Liftoff

Ready for Liftoff!!

Who knew dragonflies are attracted to light colored river rocks?   I had no idea!

In its previous incarnation, the Ranchero was a Koi pond surrounded by river rocks.¬†¬† When I moved to small house, I threw out the plastic pond¬†insert and enlarged the area by half, meaning¬†I was short¬†on river rocks to edge¬†my¬†new garden space.¬†¬†Rather than buy¬†additional ones (waaayyyyy expensive) I¬†intended to use¬†cement curbing I’d gotten for free but,¬†you guessed it….not enough of that either…

….so I finished the project¬†with a few feet of river rocks and set about “hiding”¬†the evidence with¬†Kalanchoe diagremontiana¬†like you see in the picture.

Who knew dragonflies are attracted to “mother of thousands” kalanchoe?¬† Again, I had no idea!

Unexpectedly¬†the stars had aligned, bringing¬† life¬†to my yard and¬†adding quite nicely¬†to my¬†land use plan!¬†¬†ūüôā

Until next time….

How the Ranchero got its name

Tucked among the mexican donkey ears, i found the most wonderful late season garden surprise—some very unexpected pale pink dahlias, that I definitely hadn’t planted.¬† “Volunteers” happen often in my backyard cutting garden, but rarely in¬†my main¬†cactus garden, The Ranchero.

This might be a good time to tell you how The Ranchero was conceived, and subsequently named.

We¬†moved to “small house” in December 2009; to the side of the screened porch was a thoroughly overgrown, empty koi pond with tons of weeds and a two¬†paddled¬†Opuntia. (I wish i’d taken “before”¬†pictures, but alas…)¬† What an eyesore!¬† Nevertheless¬†the basic outline¬†had potential¬†and the sun exposure was¬†perfect for¬†a succulent/cactus bed.¬† After two weeks of cleanup, the first specimens were planted

Fast forward to just before¬†Mother’s Day, 2010. My daughter Maggie, who also lives at small house, had a friend visiting from up north.¬† Upon seeing our now very full cactus patch, she remarked,¬† “its soooooo ranchero!!!”¬†¬† Three days later, they gave me¬†this handpainted staked sign.

The original Vero Ranchero sign

and that¬†is the story of how the Ranchero got its name…maybe you had to be there ūüôā ūüôā

The sign has since washed away in a flood,¬† but Maggie and I and the¬†name remain….

Until the next time…..