I'm happy to see that the hummingbirds have discovered my yard. I've seen them sipping nectar from the coneflowers, wood sage and sundrops in the front, the hibiscus, lantana and seashore petunia in the container gardens on the back patio and especially from the masses of Japanese honeysuckle smothering the hillside below. There seems to be more butterflies around too, despite all of the lawn chemicals that are used in this neighborhood. :( Thanks for visiting Floridata! Please visit us often this summer and be good and grow. Jack
Chinese forget-me-not (Cynoglossum amabile) is bushy little plant with coarse leaves and sky-blue flowers that blooms at this time of year. Use it in mixed borders, annual flower beds and along garden paths. It is frequently planted in wildflower meadows where it can self-seed and sometime naturalize under preferred conditions. Read more about this biennial (that blooms in its first year) that grows sun to part shade in USDA Zones 5-8.
This beautiful perennial doesn't like hot humid weather so spike speedwell (Veronica spicata) is not often grown in Florida and The Deep South but farther North the many cultivars of this species are garden favorites. Speedwell blooms over a long season in summer with flowers in vivid shades of blue, purple or pink, on plants of various sizes depending on cultivar. Gardeners in USDA Zones 3-8 use speedwell in sunny containers, beds and borders. Click to read more about spike speedwell.
This pink-flowered speedwell (Veronica spicata) cultivar is called 'First Love'. It's a taller growing selection, to about 20 inches in my garden. I like to "test drive" new perennials by planting them in large container gardens on my Mom's condo balcony. When autumn arrives, I move the plants I like to permanent homes in the backyard flower bed where my 'First Love' occupies a prominent spot. Click to download a large version of this speedwell.
One of the many things I miss about back home in North Florida is seeing the statuesque loblolly bay (Gordonia lasianthus) trees back in the swamps and wetlands in bloom at this time of year. This American native tree produces white waxy blossoms that are easy to see, held against the tree's handsome evergreen leaves. Take a look at a few more of summer's fragrant-flowered woody species:
White mulberry (Morus alba) is a deciduous tree from China that has been important to humankind for millennia. The tree produces edible fruits that resemble blackberries. The leaves are feed to the caterpillars from which silk is obtained. Birds love to distribute quantities of semi-digested fruits on automobile surfaces. The seed-laden bird poo has caused the white mulberry to become a pest species in some areas. Click to read about mulberries.
Birds love the fruits of these species too (but avoid planting near where cars are parked):
The Mexican sunflower (Tithonia rotundiflora) is an easy to grow annual butterfly magnet, attracting beauties like this Palamedes Swallowtail. I found a package of seeds last weekend and planted few in the back. I hope it's not too late in the season for them to bloom but I'm pretty sure the local butterflies will be able to enjoy them for at least a few weeks in early fall. In this photo is a handsome palamedes swallowtail stopping by for a snack on plants in my North Florida garden. Click to download a large version (800x600). Here's a list of a few butterfly-attracting plants in bloom at this time of year:
Steve grows a beautiful patch of cardinal flower (Lobelia cardinalis) in his garden. This showy native of eastern North America has showy flowers that will attract hummingbirds from all over the neighborhood! Here are a few more Profiles of Plants that attract hummingbirds:
The rose-of-Sharon (Hibiscus syriacus), also known as althea, is another cold hardy member of the hibiscus family. I saw some of these 'Blue Chiffon' cultivars in bloom this week and it caused me to covet my neighbor's rose-of-Sharon shrubs for sure. Rose-of-sharon is a very hardy and very easy-to-grow hibiscus so you might want to try one too. I made a list of other species of Hibiscus:
Late summer and early autumn is when the Confederate rose bursts into bloom all across The South. This deciduous shrub likes mild winter climates and is hardy to Zone 7. The double-flowered Confederate rose (Hibiscus mutabilis) variety 'Plena' is most often planted in landscapes and enjoyed for the large colorful flowers (although the single-flowered version is beautiful too).
Species of the genus Clerodendrum are collectively called the glorybowers. Most are tropical but some are root hardy in cooler climates (Zones 8-9). Some glorybowers are shrubs, others are vines and some are obnoxiously invasive. Here are a few glorybower species to read about so that you'll know which you might want to try and which to avoid:
I just put in my tomato plants a few weeks ago here in Kentucky but down in North Florida Steve has already picked his first harvest. The dark fruits are 'Indigo Rose' purple tomatoes (Lycopersicon lycopersicum) - these are especially healthy (and pretty) due to high concentrations of anthocyanins and other healthy compounds. Click to download a large version (800x600) version of this image. During summer, Steve's vegetable garden always hosts the makings for delicious fresh salsa:
These beautiful and semi-tasty fruits are the reason why the Russian olive (Elaeagnus angustifolia) is considered a noxious weed in many states. Birds devour the fruit and then b-bomb the seeds all over the place where many germinate, grow and disrupt the native plant populations. Other members of this genus are in cultivation, one is edible and the other very ornamental. Both are potentially invasive in certain climates so check locally before planting these too:
The Hawaiian Islands are home to an array of native plant species that has attracted the attention of botanists, naturalists, horticulturists and world travelers ever since Europeans first visited the islands near the end of the 18th century. Read more »
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