THE HEAT IS ON!

It has been a busy couple of weeks here in Pensacola, Florida with all the cleaning up after our major rain event where we received 26 inches of rain in one day! All of my garden areas survived and are thriving now! The temperatures are starting to climb, and soon we will be enveloped in the humidity of summer.

May shed garden
May shed garden

The grandkids’ spaghetti squash are climbing up the weather vane in the center of the garden now. Every morning I am greeted with bright yellow squash blossoms. The cucumbers are growing quickly, and I am using a red tomato cage for them to climb up. This is an experiment to see if it will help keep the fruit from sitting on the ground too long. The pepper forest at the front of the garden is already starting to produce tiny green peppers. Even my centipede grass is finally recovering from the winter.
I added a trellis with Confederate Jasmine to break up the large expanse of brown shed in the far back. The blossoms smell heavenly. Confederate jasmine or star jasmine (Trachelospermum jasminoides) is one of the most fragrant jasmines. It has tightly clustered flowers on twining vines that bloom in the spring and summer. I chose this jasmine because you can control it growth with tip pinching. As this shrub grows it will spread and cover the shed with the support of trellises. Clemson Cooperative Extension at http://www.clemson.edu/extension/hgic/plants/landscape/groundcovers/hgic1106.html gives excellent information about all the different types of jasmine and is worth checking out.
Behind the bird bath are some Gloriosa Lilies that have come up under the fence from my neighbor’s yard. These lilies grow vertically upwards and are quite showy in appearance. They are a lightweight vine with a brilliant red flower that is unusual to what I have seen before.

Gloriosa Lily
Gloriosa Lily

I like the color and contrast against my fence. The bright blooms with attract hummingbirds who are frequent visitors to our backyard oasis. Check out this site for easy growing bulbs at http://www.easytogrowbulbs.com/g-41-gloriosa-lily-planting-guide.aspx to see if this lily will work in your garden.

Escambia County Florida Extension Office Plant Sale May 2014
Escambia County Florida Extension Office Plant Sale May 2014

The Escambia County Extension Office in Pensacola, Florida (see website at http://escambia.ifas.ufl.edu/hort/demo-garden.shtml ) has an incredible garden sale each year the beginning of May. I encourage everyone to explore what their extension offices can teach them. Our office has gardens showing how the different plants grow in our area of Northwest Florida and you can tour them at the above website by clicking on the “Tour the Gardens” link. It is worth the visit.

I purchased four different plants this year and have already incorporated them into my garden areas.  The first was a Hidden Lily Ginger (Curcuma Petiolata). It is a medium growing ornamental. It has large upright leaves with rose purple blooms in mid-summer that “hide” in the leaves. It likes part to full shade. I was able to plant it in my patio garden which gets only a few hours of morning sun. I already have a leaf sprouted!

Hidden Lily Ginger
Hidden Lily Ginger

Hidden Lilly Ginger grows from rhizomes and I found an excellent PDF to share about this exotic plant at http://www.growingguides.com/PlantGuides/HiddenGinger.pdf.
I also selected a Brazilian Plume in pink that will help to break up the greens of the tree line that rim our property. The Brazilian Plume is a medium growing evergreen broadleaf shrub that can grow up to 4 feet tall. I was attracted to the tubular pink blooms that will repeat through the summer. Anything to attract hummingbirds and bees is a boon to a gardener. This shrub likes part shade and sun so the tree line was the perfect solution as it gets afternoon sun and morning shade. The Houston Chronicle at http://www.chron.com/life/gardening/article/Brazilian-plume-flower-magnificent-in-the-shade-4525721.php touts the glory of this beautiful shrub and will show pictures of the fully grown shrub.

Brazilian Plume, Pink
Brazilian Plume, Pink

I was fascinated by the Parlor Maple “Thompsonii” (Abutilon Pictum ‘Thompsonii’) which is a tender evergreen shrub. It will grow as tall as 8 feet in sun to part shade. It will have light orange blooms striped with orange all year long. I had the perfect place for it too, right in the middle of my kale and chives!

Parlor Maple "Thompsonii"
Parlor Maple “Thompsonii”

About.com gardening at http://gardening.about.com/od/floweringshrubs/p/Abutilon.htm says the Parlor Maple will bloom almost nonstop in the right conditions. I am looking forward to the tropical looking blooms.
My last purchase was of a Sweet Bay Tree or Bay Laurel (Laurus Nobilis). The leaves of the tree are the actual leaves that you use in cooking. My Extension office told me that the trees are rare and hard to find. I was excited by the possibility of having something so different. I actually bought a young tree and planted it in a pot. They are slow growers so you can cultivate them nicely in a pot for many years. Jacqueline A. Soule, PhD from organicgardening.com at http://www.organicgardening.com/learn-and-grow/flower-power-bay-laurel agrees that this tree can be safely grown in a container.

Sweet Bay Tree
Sweet Bay Tree

Soon, I will have to find some other things to occupy my time as my gardens will need to do what they do best… GROW!

2 comments

  1. Wow you have chosen some really interesting plants. I like the sound of the shade loving ginger. Bay trees are quite common over here but are expensive. Often they are topiaries which look lovely but I’m not convinced are the best option for cooks! My small tree died off but then sent a shoot up from the roots. It would be interesting to compare growth in these differing climates.

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    1. Thank you for your kind comments. I lived in the UK in the early 1980’s while stationed at RAF Lakenheath. I was in the US Air Force. It would be fun to compare notes. Our climates are like night and day. Thanks again.

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