Monday, January 31, 2011

Mother Nature's Artistry

This month's installment of Mother Nature's Artistry is a close-up of an immature Monstera deliciosa fruit.  When the fruit is ripe, the scales fall off to reveal the delicious white pulp inside.
Mother Nature's Artistry is presented here on the last day of every month.  Check back again next month to see what Mother Nature has been up to!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Aechmea winkleri

Aechmea winkleri is another bromeliad species that maintains a colorful inflorescence long after the flowers have faded.  The flowering usually takes place in the fall and the yellow blooms will last for three to four weeks.
The flower spike intensifies to red-orange and remains with good color for another three to four months.  From a distance the plant will appear to be in flower for nearly half the year!
Aechmea winkleri grows about a foot tall and two foot wide.  Mine get filtered sun throughout the day with some direct sun in late afternoon.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Aechmea Royal Wine

The dark leaves of Aechmea Royal Wine are a colorful addition to the landscape all year long. When the plant comes into bloom the leaves provide a perfect background for the orange inflorescence.  The flower spike arches over to rest on the leaves or hover just above them.  Blue flowers emerge from berry-like buds.
Like many Aechmeas, the inflorescence is fairly long lasting.  This one will hold good color for about two months.  The season of bloom is variable.  I've had them bloom in the winter and also in the spring.  The warmer temperatures in the spring seem to cause the inflorescence to be lighter in color.
Plants get about two feet across and a foot tall.  Mine get filtered sun throughout the day with a little direct sun in the late afternoon.
A mass planting of them would make a nice dark groundcover.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Bloom Day - January 2011

There are a still a few blooms either hardy enough or foolish enough to show their faces during the cold days of January.

Justicia, Tecomaria
Gamolepis, Russelia
Peach, Malvaviscus
Oncidium, Poinsettia

Bromeliads always make a reliable showing:

Ae. weilbachii, Ae. Royal Wine
Bill. Poquito Mas, Bill. Luna Blanca
Bill. Foster's Striate, Canistropsis billbergioides

... and then there are the plants that produce colorful fruits and berries, trying to be as showy as the flowers.

Mandarins, Kumquats
Pyracantha, Ardisia
Ilex East Palatka, Ilex vomitoria

To see what's blooming in other gardens around the world today, visit May Dreams Gardens.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Billbergia Luna Blanca

Many Billbergias are characterized by their spotted leaves and Bill. 'Luna Blanca' is no exception.  The more light they get, the more spots will be in the leaves.  However, they look their best when protected from the intense mid-day sun.  The white spotting seems to make the blooms really stand out.
Leaves grow to about a foot long, but not many of them are produced before flowering.
The blooms can emerge anytime in fall, winter, or spring.  Typical of most Billbergia species, the inflorescence doesn't last long.  Three weeks is about the maximum you can expect.  Fortunately, the colorful foliage provides year-round interest.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Creature Feature - Sandhill crane

Florida Sandhill cranes like wide open spaces for grazing and performing their elaborate courtship dance.  My property is too densely planted for their liking, but just over the fence in my neighbor's clear-cut acres of grass, they make a daily appearance.
These are big birds, standing four foot tall at rest, with a wingspan of  6-8 feet.  Florida's Sandhill cranes are a threatened species that do not adapt well to changing environments or high human populations.  They are non-migratory and their population is only about 4,000 individuals.  Every winter they are joined by about 25,000 migratory Greater Sandhill cranes.
Sandhill cranes can live up to 20 years, and they remain with the same mate for several years.  They are omnivores and will eat a wide variety of plant and animal matter.
Hear the call of the Sandhill crane here.
Further reading:
Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission
Southwest Florida Water Management District

The First Friday Creature Feature is hosted right here on the first Friday of every month.  You're invited to join in!  Here's how:
1. Write a post featuring some creature that lives in your garden.
2. Within your post, include a link to my Creature Feature post so people know where to find the creatures.
3. Add your link below and leave a comment.
Thanks for participating and feel free to join in again next month!

Monday, January 3, 2011

Harvest Monday - January 2011

Pomegranate is at the top of my list for today's harvest.  This one is out of season -- the rest of my pomegranates were harvested months ago.
I'm also eating bananas that I cut just before the record-setting freezes in December.  They're small due to the extended drought we had in the fall, but still good to eat.
I'm also harvesting all of the different types of citrus that I grow:  oranges, grapefruit, lemons, limes, mandarins, tangelos, and kumquats.  You can check out some of my previous Harvest Monday posts for photos of those.

Harvest Monday is featured here on the first Monday of every month.  To see what other gardeners are harvesting today, visit Daphne's Dandelions.