Monday, February 28, 2011

Mother Nature's Artistry

On the last day of every month, I feature some artistic aspect of nature.
This month the subject is a pineapple just starting to flower.  The purple tips at the bottom of the photo are the flower buds just starting to push out.
Stop by again next month to see what else Mother Nature has been up to!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Russelia equisetiformis

Russelia equisetiformis is a nearly everblooming shrub with arching green stems and bright red tubular flowers.  The stems remain herbaceous and arch over from the weight of the flowers.  The overall height is usually under three feet. Leaves are tiny and not noticeable.  The one-inch-long flowers appear on the ends of the thread-like stems.
Russelia will grow in sun or part shade.  It is a native of Mexico and is recommended for USDA Zones 9-12.  It likes moist soil but is fairly drought-tolerant once established.
The stems will root where they touch moist soil or mulch, and the plant also appears to spread by underground roots.  Russelia isn't particularly invasive, but it will expand over time to cover a large area if you allow it to roam freely.
Russelia equisetiformis is also sometimes known as Coral Plant, Fountain Plant, or Firecracker Plant.  There are cultivars with yellow, orange, or white flowers, but these are not as common.  The red flowers are attractive to hummingbirds and butterflies.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Billbergia manarae

Billbergia manarae is one of the many Billbergias that bloom en masse at various times during the year. These types all flower simultaneously, providing a spectacular show of color. The vivid pinkish-red bracts emerge first, then open to reveal the yellow-green tubular flowers, tipped with blue.
This species will flower anytime from early winter to late spring. When planted in groups, there may be three or four waves of bloom over the course of the flowering season. Each flowering cycle will show good color for about three to four weeks.
The foliage of Billbergia manarae is solid green, and grows to a height of 12 inches. Mine grow in about half a day's sun. They are also fairly cold tolerant. Several nights of 26°F temperatures, and no protection, left only a few damaged spots on the leaves.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Bloom Day - February 2011

Malvaviscus, Justicia
Russelia, Tecomaria
Loropetalum, Bush Daisy
Camellia, Pear

Aechmea apocalyptica, Ae. distichantha
Ae. weilbachii, Ae. winkleri
Billbergia manarae, Bill. saundersii
Bill. NOID, Bill. Manda's Othello x Samson

Click on any of the highlighted links to view a profile of that plant.
To see what's blooming in gardens everywhere today, visit May Dreams Gardens.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Harvest Monday - February 2011

Here is what I'm harvesting this week.
First Row:  Marsh Grapefruit, Ruby Red Grapefruit, Navel Orange, Sweet Lemon, Meyer Lemon.
Second Row:  Minneola Tangelo, Orlando Tangelo, Tangerine, Mandarin.
Third Row:  Persian Lime, Key Lime, Lakeland Limequat, Kumquat, Calamondin, Starfruit, Glycosmis, Arrowroot, Pineapple.

I've been digging the Arrowroot throughout the winter as needed.  The pineapple top is showing some frost damage but the fruit is still good.
To see what other gardeners are harvesting today, visit Daphne's Dandelions.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Creature Feature - Monarch butterfly

If you aren't familiar with the life cycle of the Monarch butterfly, you might not recognize that this is an insect at all.  But it is.  Last week one of the last Monarch caterpillars of the season finally made the change.  Inside this gold-encrusted turquoise chrysalis is a caterpillar on its way to becoming a butterfly.
In the larval (caterpillar) stage, Monarchs only feed on milkweed.  As adult butterflies they return to the milkweed for nectar and to lay eggs.  Here's a sneak preview of what it will look like during the next stage of its life.
Join in on the fun by blogging about a creature in your garden and posting the link here!

The First Friday Creature Feature happens right here on the first Friday of every month.  Check back again next month to see what other creatures are lurking in the garden.