Sunday, August 3, 2014

Flowers of the Tropics

It has been four years since I first looked to purchase my house in Florida.  It is incredible how times fly.  The older you get the faster times  seems to go.  The plot of lawn that I purchased is now a full mature garden.  I have made a few different sections.  The flowers displayed in this blog all come from the Tropical Garden.  It is hard to consider that Florida is all that tropical when it can freeze like in New Jersey.  Fortunately, that has not happened too many times since I have been here and the tropicals have certainly benefited.  These images represent some of my successes.  One always buries failures in the garden and with weather in the nineties plants that are not established would certainly perish if they were not suited to the heat, intermittent tropical rain storms and lack of artificial irrigation.  Everything shown is in one way or another properly adopted and receives no supplemental irrigation other than the rain falling from our Florida skies.  

The above two photographs are of a plumeria purchased from a farmer's market.  It was a three foot plant and now measures nearly ten and is covered in magnificent white flowers from May until November.  The hybridizers sacrificed the fragrance for its magnificent blooms.  

Seen in prior blogs:  Cuban Jatropha which is stunning in color and form.  I have now seen plants the size of trees throughout the area and I am having to rethink the plants that I considered to be shrubs for my garden. 

Fire Bush (Hamelia patens) is an incredible hardy and drought tolerant plant that is often covered with butterflies or hummingbirds. Truly an exceptional plant that thrives on heat and blasting sun.

Mussaenda from Africa has an odd formation of parts making a flower and bracts.  Somewhat like the Poinsettia with the little yellow center part as the flower and the colored bract that appears adjacent.  

I cant remember this one's name  it flowers in clusters like gladiolus but produces these funny shaped heads.  

Another from Africa,  the desert rose (Adenium) is not a rose but it is from the Namibian desert ; also incredibly drought tolerant.  

Just your plain ordinary double pink Hibiscus. 

One of the exotic Alpinias (Ginger).  Gingers come from two different genus  Alpinias and Zingivers.  They can look similar but as you can see from these two they have nothing in common. 
Another of my many ginger which produce varying types of flowers.  These pine cones come up out of the ground adjacent where the ginger stalks are.  Flower is totally separate plant structure from the leaf.  

Brazilian Red Cloak (Megaskepasma erythrochlamys) quite a mouthful for a plant name has become the most important part of the tropical garden going in at a small 2 gallon pot, which has flourished to become at ten foot mass of color. 

Another whose name escapes me now represents a wall of yellow flowers six feet high along the front edge of the garden wall.  

year's ago I was given a small banana plant that I hoped would produce fruit for me.  Well, as it happens it is not a sweet banana plant but a plantain and it is definitely working on a bunch of big bananas for cooking.

From the large to the smallest.  A star jasmine that as a potted plant imbues the garden with an exotic and overwhelming fragrance.

It has been almost four years since I chose to come to Florida.  I no longer need to take vitamin D due to a deficiency of sun that I suffered from long gray winters while living in New Jersey.  It is not all perfect down here but living to 62 has taught me not to expect perfection anywhere except possibly in a garden.  Happy Gardening...

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Merry Christmas in the Tropics - 2013

The Florida Botanical Gardens is the name for our Pinellas County Garden in Largo, Florida.  It is a wonderful showcase of tropical and native plants open free throughout the year and at Christmas it gets special funding to put on a wonderful Christmas light spectacle and they charge a token entry fee for the lights.  Enjoy a little of its magic with all manner of lit figurines and some of Florida's nicest sculptural plants clad in lights. Volunteers dress in all manner of garb to help accentuate the festivities that last during the Christmas Season.  

This year I decided to stay home and see what it was like down here for Christmas. For one it has been much warmer than I would like.  I had to turn on the air conditioner because it was so warm.  While it was on I decided I would try on a Christmas Sweater for fun.   As much as I miss my friends up north and in North Carolina where I have typically spent Christmas this has allowed me time to decorate for the first time in more than ten years. So I wish you all a Merry Christmas in whichever corner of the planet you find yourself and as they say in Hawaii Mele Kalikimaka! 

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Cheticamp - The Heart of Acadia

A view is such an important thing to have in life.  Here Limo and I were serenaded by loons .

Our drive along the Cabot trail finally got us to the Cheticamp area of The Cape Breton Highlands national park.  Our campsite was in a small local cove now called Corney Brook but previously known as Cap Rouge.  This area was home to Acadians before the expulsion by the British and then again when the park was created and moved the remaining villagers of Cap Rouge out of the new park into the area of Cheticamp.

The perfect campsite facing the setting sun at Corney Brook

Along the road there were signs posted everywhere for moose, but we saw everything that told us they were there but never a moose.  Instead we saw all manner of other animals including draft horses. 

I was also in search of Philip Glass.  I knew that he summered in Cape Breton and that he frequented a Buddhist monastery north of Cheticamp.  Glass was as elusive as moose.

North and South Harbors along the Cabot Trail

A Canadian National Park Interpreter sang, danced and cooked potato pancakes as he told us the story of Acadians the last we were devoured by mosquitos.  All of this was done over an hour and a half in English and French.  It may sound corny but it was beautifully and emotionally done and one of the best experiences of our travel entertainment.

Great coastline for Kayaking
What was not elusive where some of the greatest vistas of the entire trip.  We had weathered rain and mosquitos, but when we arrived on the West coast of Cape Breton the weather cleared and sun bathed us for our final three nights in Cape Breton.

I took Limo on long walks up and down mountains and boreal habitats of great fragility and beauty.  The Skyline trail is an eight mile trail that circles along several ridges exposing visitors to a sublime experience.  Part of the journey is through a very sensitive ridge where walkway is elevated above the ground protecting it from travelers.  Here Limo was not allowed and took a long nap in the car while experience it on my own.

On another day I explored a domed which is a very rare habitat that resembles a water drop on a counter, for example.  The amount of water is immense but it remains intact and grows as rain buildup expands the edges. The vegetation of larger plants disappear except at the edge of the bog that is typically ringed by trees.  The expanse of the bog was of a circle almost across.  

Along the boardwalk we came across places where a moose had laid and pooped but no moose.

Finally leaving Kouchibouguac National Park many days later in northern New Brunswick along a lumber road where I had not seen a car in miles I spotted my one and only moose of the trip.  He was a young male and rather majestic and startled.  My traveling companion decided to protect me and started barking and you guessed it, the moose made for the forest.  Oh well, I got to enjoy him for less than a minute but at least I saw one.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Cape Breton and the Cabot Trail

Isn't it funny the things we do as tourists.  We travel to the farthest of most beautiful places on the planets then an opportunity like this presents itself and you go like lemmings to the slaughter.  In spite of my travel experience and what some might say refined taste, I am a bit of a sucker for something like this.  So give yourself a break and jump in with both feet when silliness comes your way. 

The Cabot Trail is often referred as Nova Scotia's masterpiece.  It is a two lane road that loops the northernmost area of Cape Breton Island.  This approximately 400 mile  kilometer road is surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean the Bay of Fundy, the  Northumberland Strait and the Gulf of St. Lawrence.  The landscape is majestic with rugged stones, an abundance of wildlife, and this summer as I looked for a cool place to escape it was as warm as Florida.  That aside, it was first circumnavigated in 1497 by Giovanni Caboto a Venetian on the sailing ship Matthew employed by Henry the VII who left Bristol England searching for a way West to get to the orient.  Why they don't call it the Caboto Trail only attests to how the English established first dibs on everything even when the deeds were undertaken by other nationals.

In a remote corner of the Cabot trail, one of the few places where Caboto is acknowledged

The majesty of the landscape is equal in beauty to its namesake of Scotland.  The cliffs are windswept with abundance of exotic birds soaring and diving into a sea filled with whales and what used to be the richest bounty of fish in the planet.  The road snakes up and down cliffs through ravines exposing fishing villages and cobbled beaches with all manner of luxury or plain accommodations.  The following are a series of images taken throughout our journey as far as the Ingonish Campground in the Cape Breton Highlands National Park.

The Celtic Lodge on Ingonish Bay offered a great contrast to what we were experiencing camping in the rain with mosquitos buzzing left and right.  I took a break from my outdoor life and got dressed in my finest and went to have a delicious evening meal and cocktails in this beautiful dining room.   You have to treat yourself whenever you can!