Weekly Photo Challenge: Depth (Gardenfest part 1)

I kept this week’s photo challenge in mind while taking pictures at Gardenfest.

First up: looking down a row of incredible Medinilla magnifca

Medinilla magnifica, Gardenfest 2015

Medinilla magnifica, Gardenfest 2015

…and a row of bananas:

Going Bananas, Gardenfest 2015

Going Bananas, Gardenfest 2015

Next, a view through the Spanish Moss:

Looking through the Spanish Moss, Gardenfest 2015

Looking through the Spanish Moss, Gardenfest 2015

…and a wander under impressive Live Oaks:

Under the oaks, Gardenfest 2015

Under the oaks, Gardenfest 2015

Each year Gardenfest grows bigger and better, with increasingly unusual vendors and displays.  Definitely one of Vero Beach‘s premier in-season events!  Part 2 later in the week!

Until next time…

:) :) :)


Cranberry Hibiscus (Hibiscus acetosella)

While working at the Master Gardener office, I noticed a lone shrub scrabbling along the building’s foundation. To my Northern eye it looked like Japanese Maple, but then i saw the telltale flower of Cranberry Hibiscus, aka Hibiscus acetosella.

Hibiscus acetosella flower and leaf, January 2015

H. acetosella is a fast growing, hardy perennial in zones 8-11, reaching 3-5′ tall and 30″ wide the first year. The foliage is usually green to deep burgundy with 3-5 lobes and a jagged edge. It suckers and thickens quickly, and is best pruned around 3′ to encourage branching and a fuller appearance.  A wonderful winter bloomer, it contrasts nicely with light green or chartreuse tropical plants.

Hibisicus acetosella branch and buds, January 2015

This one needs pruning!

Cranberry hibiscus is thought to be a natural hybrid of H.asper and H.surattensis, two varieties originally cultivated for food in the southern DR Congo-Angola-Zambia region of Africa.  All three have edible, tart shoots and leaves that chop easily for salads, but only H. acetosella retains its leaf color when stir fried or boiled as a spinach type side dish.

Hibiscus acetosella woody stem going to seed

The flowers mature to shiny and showy burgundy pod-fruit-flower like complexities (actually, it’s the calyx that’s providing most of the show) used world-wide in warm-climate cuisine for tea and jam.

Hibiscus acetosella flowering twig

If allowed to grow too tall, the woody stems will bend and break, so pinch, pinch, pinch for a more compact, prettier shrub.

As a side note, Gardenfest Weekend is here!  Can’t wait to show you all the beautiful booths and plants!

Until next time…

:) :) :)


Wordless Wednesday: Mother of Millions

One of my favorite winter bloomers is putting on a show this week:

Bryophyllum houghtonii, January 2015

Bryophyllum houghtonii, January 2015

As the common name “mother of millions” suggests, B. houghtonii propagates vegetatively (profusely!) via tiny plantlets that form along the leaf edges. Click this  previous post  to see a plantlet, and this one for information about the flower heads.

Until next time….

:) :) :)


Richardia grandiflora (aka Florida Snow)

Richardia grandiflora, also known as largeflower pusley, is native to South America and a common lawn/meadow invader during South Florida’s dry winter season.

Richardia grandiflora with Chamaecrista fasciculata (Yellow Partridge pea)

Richardia grandiflora with Chamaecrista fasciculata (Yellow Partridge pea)

Largeflower pusley is a creeping herbacious (non‐woody) perennial that roots at the nodes and reproduces by seeds and stem fragments. It flowers profusely over the holidays, and from a distance it’s easy to see how “Florida Snow” became the preferred colloquialism for these white-to-violet flowers.

Richardia grandiflora at the Indian River County Fairgrounds, 12/6/14

Florida Snow

The appearance of R. grandiflora is a relatively new phenomena, gaining a foothold in areas disturbed by the hurricanes of 2004-6.  Ten years later, many lawns and fields have thousands of flowers capable of dispersing tens of thousands of seeds. Containing or eradicating such prodigious reproduction is difficult, so most of us–especially those from the North!–regard it as a nice reminder of White Christmas!

Richardia grandiflora

Although a ground cover and not a shrub, Richardia is a member of the Rubiaceae family and related to the native Psychotria nervosa (wild coffee) whose flowers are similar.  Curious about the yellow plant in the photos?  You can read about it in a previous post.

Until next time…

:) :) :)


Wordless Wednesday: 12/03/2014, Aloe arborescens

Today was a spectacular beach day and we arrived to a spectacular sight:

Aloe arborescens blooming at Jaycee Beach!

Aloe arborescens blooming at Jaycee Beach

A. aborescens (aka Torch Aloe) is one of the most widely cultivated aloes in the world.  As a prized fall-to-winter bloomer, it is found growing from mountains on high to sea level below.  The coral-red flowers hang tightly on unbranched inflorescences that rise 2 feet above the foliage in early winter

Torch Aloe is hardy to approximately 22F and requires no irrigation. Salt and drought tolerance make it a perfect succulent shrub for seaside locations

For more on Wordless Wednesday, click the WW blog/linkup at the Jenny Evolution and the Zemanta related links below.

Until next time…

:) :) :)

Bauhinia purpurea 1

Late November Flowers

I love winter growing season in Florida–some of the prettiest flowers emerge this time of year.

My backyard Orchid Tree (aka Bauhinia Purpurea) is covered with showy and fragrant blossoms. Even after 5 years, they STILL amaze me.

Passiflora Lady Margaret has been a vine wall workhorse, blooming for the first time last winter and continuing through July. After a few months pause, it began budding again and seems off to a very strong start!

Passiflora Lady Margaret

November in the Sunshine State is all about the orange crop!  My backyard Honeybell tree has improved so much in the past few years. The fruit isn’t quite ripe yet, but getting very close. In a few weeks we’ll be juicing! :)

Florida Orange

Another local favorite is the ubiquitous Red Canna (a Presidential series cultivar.) Although sporadic year-round bloomers, they look best after rainy season when the temperature moderates.

The flowers of Mexican Donkey Ears (Kalanchoe gastonis bonnieri) won’t fully open ’til Christmas but the spikes and buds are already quite attractive.  Eventually, the buds will darken and become calyces holding reddish-pink petals with flared tips and yellow interiors.  The “mother plant” declines at the end of the bloom cycle, but the many plantlets growing along her lower leaves develop rapidly to bloom within 2 to 3 years.  K. gastonis bonnieri hails from Madagascar.

Kalanchoe Gastonis Bonnieri

This next one is a bit of a mystery: during August I noticed it poking above and through my fence. Now it looms 10′ tall and is surrounded by a wooden “cage” that I never saw anyone build!  Cute white flowers, yeah? Chime in if you recognize it!

Unknown Plant

And to end on a personal note:  I usually shop on Black Friday but today did something decidedly un-American: I deposited money in the bank instead!  In March, I’m headed back to Europe for several months…or until the cash runs out.  Adventure in my old age…who’d have thunk it?! :) :)

Hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Until next time…

:) :) :)


Aechmea penduliflora x politii ‘Red Leaf’

The coldest November since 1975 finds Vero Beach overcast, damp and chilly (48°F??!!??) Time to hunker down in “England” clothes and share my latest aquisition!

Last week I attended a Bromeliad Auction and overspent got an Aechmea cultivar known as “Wally’s Wand.” ;)

Aechmea penduliflora x politii 'Red Leaf'

Aechmea penduliflora x politii ‘Red Leaf’

Wally’s Wand is a colorful hybrid created by the late Wally Berg of Sarasota, Florida. Crossing the Ecuadorian Ae. penduliflora (parent plant) with Venezuela’s Ae. politii ‘Red Leaf” (pollen provider), Berg created a South American hybrid with interesting, unusual foliage:

Aechmea Wally's Wand Foliage

At maturity the green to pinkish leaves measure 10″ long, and a loosely clustered flower scape emerges.

Aechmea Wally's Wand Inflorescence

Like 99% of bromeliads, the mature Aechmea slowly declines after blooming, with new “pups” appearing along the base. I was fortunate to get three for the price of one!

Aechmea Wally's Wand pups

Judging from the already chilly weather (and terrible long range winter forecast..even here!) I’m glad I didn’t plant this in ground right away!

Until next time….

:) :) :)