Weekly Photo Challenge: Renewal

I initially read this week’s challenge incorrectly: I thought the topic was URBAN renewal 🙄 which would have been a problem.  Regular (garden variety? ha!) renewal….not so much!  THAT I’ve got on “lockdown”–to coin a phase from today’s young ‘uns!!

Take a look. 🙂

In the case of this Crimson Rambler morning glory

….renewal happened overnight:

Next, a Madagascar Palm transplanted last winter

Madagascar Palm, 11/16/12

…has color changes showing renewal of at least 1/3 of its body.

And then there’s the Dracaena Deremensis Warneckii I accidentally damaged….

Dracaena Deremensis Warneckei, 11/11/12

I needn’t have worried; it practices self renewal, the same way an Aloe Ciliaris does:

Aloe Ciliaris 11/11/12

This last photo illustrates my all-time-favorite renewal process, common to all kalanchoes.

Kalanchoe Daigremontiana 11/15/12The Mother of Thousands plant ( aka Kalanchoe Daigremontiana) renews along the leaf margins, dropping hundreds of tiny clones to sow and grow beneath her!

So there you have it, renewal in spades!  Please forgive the garden puns, I just can’t resist! They make me 🙂 and break into dance…Happy Dance!

And THAT renews my soul!

Until next time….

🙂 🙂

The Siam Tulips are blooming!

A few years back, I purchased four 1-gallon containers of Siam Tulips to start a cutting garden behind my back patio. Native to Thailand and Cambodia, the plant is well suited to coastal, sub-tropical growing zones and began spreading almost immediately! Now in their third summer, these beautiful members of the ginger family have started another bloom cycle:

Curcuma Alismatifolia Maejo Mont Blanc

Curcuma Alismatifolia, Maejo Mont Blanc (aka Siam Tulip)

All varieties of Curcuma alismatifolia share grass-green colored foliage with a single inflorescence emerging from the center; differences are found in the height of the flower stalk and shape/color of its bracts.  The Maejo Mont Blanc variety is white with hints of pink and splashes of mauve along the edges. The bracts are more rounded than most alismatifolias, and the plant in general is more compact.

Siam Tulip Maejo Mont Blanc

Curcumas really DO resemble Tulips! 🙂

The lower bracts of the inflorescence are small and green with tiny purple flowers emerging from base to tip at full bloom.  The bract spike is quite sturdy and stands up well to windy conditions during rainy season.  When cut and placed in a vase, the flower looks great for a week to 10 days!

Short and sweet for today….TC is visiting and we’re off to the bookstore!

Until next time….



Red White and Blue: Patriotic in the Garden!

To honor our 4th of July national holiday, I thought I’d show you my red, white and blue blooming plants! But first, a tropical salute from a Bromeliad that incorporates all three colors:

Neoregelia Spectabilis with tiny flower blooms

Neoregelia Spectabilis  proudly wears the red, white and blue!

Next is Salvia Nemorosa, a volunteer in my rear cutting garden. If you see the birdie who “dropped” it off, please thank her for me! 🙂

Salvia Nemorosa

These pretty blue flowers have such a lovely scent!

On the garage side of the house, a plumbago hedge is fully decked out:

Plumbago hedge

Trusses of pale blue flowers wave like flags on a breezy day! Pretty!

Right behind the fence, a recently pruned Aloysia Virgata, still sports a few white blooms:

Almond Bush with spiky white flower clusters

Doesn’t it look like a firecracker?!

I know you’ll never guess this next plant ❗ Well, maybe someone will…….

Who am I?

One more chance?  Perhaps a zoom-out to the whole plant will help?

Dog Fennel

Did anyone guess Dog Fennel?

Call me crazy 🙄 but this particular dog fennel grew so big (and was so covered with tiny flowers!) I HAD to keep it around…at least until the tiny buds morph into fluff!  When that happens?  Sayonara city!

–Tip for removing plants with dandelion-type “fluff” ➡ Cover the “offender” with an appropriately sized trash bag; clench the bag tightly around the base, then yank until the roots break free.  Using a bag helps eliminate reseeding…..and sneezing! 🙂

That’s it for  blue and white, so now we’re at the Ranchero for a little red:

Canna with bent stem

If you’re thinking that Canna is too close to the ground, you’re right!  By this time of summer,  the more mature cannas have sent up several blooming stalks. Each stalk adds a foot or more to the stem, making it prone to “wind bend.”  As soon as the flowers fall off, I’ll cut this one back to its uppermost foliage–no sneeze bag required! 😉

And now, I’m off to an evening holiday barbecue and backyard fireworks!

Until next time…..

Happy Independence Day from Small House!

Happy Independence Day 2012 from Small House!

Blackberry Lilies, aka Belamcanda Chinensis aka Iris Domestica

In February I purchased a container of blackberry lilies at Gardenfest.  Removing them from the pot, I counted 3 huge rhizomes; each had at least 2 “eyes”  (one had 4) with strappy foliage already growing from most of them. Knowing they’d soon strangle if repotted in the container, I quickly planted them in my lily garden, hoping I’d see a few flowers by mid-summer……

Iris Domestica

I may see more than a few!! 😉

I was so surprised last week when stems shot up in every direction with buds forming, one after the other.  As you can see in a photo taken a few hours ago, each main stalk has multiple shoots with A LOT of flowers forming on each!

Iris Domestica, June 23, 2012

Each flower is open for a full day, from dawn to dusk.  As the sun gets lower in the sky, they begin slowly rolling closed in a way that’s reminiscent of a wrung dishrag! Take a look!

Iris Domestica with spent blooms

By late summer, these tiny “dishrags” will be replaced by large greenish pods that split apart in the same way an amaryllis pod does, revealing seeds that look enough like blackberries to give the plant its common name.

As you may have deduced from the title, the moniker is not only inaccurate, but changed ➡ In 2005,  DNA analysis revealed it chromosomally to be fully “iris” not belamcanda as once thought.  Although this taxonomic revision resulted in the new official title of Iris domestica, nearly all commercial nurseries still reference it as Belamcanda chinensis—good to bear in mind should you decide to buy one!

Iris Domestica aka Beautiful!!!

Iris Domestica aka Beautiful!!!

🙂 Until next time…..

Seeds, Seedlings, Soils, Surprises!

Since last I posted, my gardening focus has been on seeds, seedlings and the all important soil preparation.  Actually, it goes back a bit farther….

I told you last month how we hard pruned our rubber tree, exposing a large bare area around it?  Initially, I wasn’t impressed, assuming the reclaimed space would be riddled with huge, barely hidden roots…well……you know what they say about people who “assume,” yeah?

When I commenced the soil preparation, I was shocked!  The huge roots I’d been expecting had all gravitated to one side, leaving a sizable area nearly root-free!  And better still, the soil looked and smelled “loamy.” (If you live in Florida, you know what I mean: good soil here has a VERY distinct scent!)

My oldest son and I had already encircled the area with pavers, so for the past week I’ve been busy amending the soil within. My initial plans of creating a disposable “annual” area have changed to this:

Watermelon Garden, Take 2!

Watermelon Garden, Take 2!

I say, “Take 2” because our previous effort last spring was an enormous bust!  I believe I started the seeds too late (March) and by June we watched the vines and tiny fruits wither away before our eyes!!!  It just gets too dang hot here in summer!
With this in mind, I decided to sow some flower seeds, too.  It took 4 days for these Clarkia (garland flowers) to germinate:

Clarkia seedlingsand 6 days to see some sprouts from this Burpee Fordhook Mix of chartreuse and purple annuals.

Chartreuse And Purple Annual Mix

I also direct sowed Molucella Laevis (Belles of Ireland) and Larkspur into my perimeter beds…Pictures to follow when they sprout!

As seems to be the case in my garden, I have many surprises growing…some I can’t quite figure out, like this:

Who am I?

and this:

Do you know my name?

And these  “squatters”  who found their way to long forgotten pots of old soil:

Please don't kick us out!

We're happy here! Can we stay??!!??

This last unknown plant (below) may be a Celosia. Although I’ve never owned or grown any, they’re very popular here, so seeds may have blown in from elsewhere:

Am I a Celosia?

As you can see from the closeup, blooms will be opening  soon:

Possible Celosia Blooms

Soon I'll reveal my identity!!

Until next time………

Everything Old is New Again….maybe.

While I was uploading the October Bloom Gallery, I ran across pictures of my Cosmos flowers, started from seed in early spring.  I’ve planted Cosmos many times over the years and always had the same result: pretty orange blooms on 12-18in stalks, like this:

Normal Cosmos

Needless to say, that’s not exactly what happened this time! Although all of this year’s seeds came from the same packet, at least a third of them behaved strangely; they kept growing..and growing…like these, seen in August, reaching 2-3ft.

Cosmos, Sept, 2011

But they didn’t stop there. September arrived. The same thing was happening in the back garden, as in the front.  Take a look behind this Canna:

7ft tall CosmosThe Cosmos were out of control!    Here’s a view from a different angle:

Super Cosmos, 2011I am dead serious when i tell you…the above shot is of ONE plant, 7.5ft tall, with a stalk as sturdy as a tree trunk!    Totally stymied as to why this happened, i did a little research.

Turns out, over the past decade various cosmos strains have been introduced to grow sometimes taller (or shorter) plants.  If variants of these hybridizing processes get mixed up in the same seed packet, the result is a more diverse garden than you’d otherwise expect.  Ironically, the original wild Cosmos flowers were MUCH taller than the ones seen in our lifetime.  As they say, maybe everything old IS new again?

My inquiring mind really wants to know!

So, as this year’s specimens died back, I collected as many seed heads as i could.  I’ve started re-sowing in the past few weeks, and will let you know how the next “crop” turns out!

Since we’ve been talking “orange/yellow plants”,  I’ll close this out with a picture I took this morning–

Cannas Thru the Citrus

Cannas Thru the Citrus

until next time!