Thursday, October 30, 2014

Walking the streets

I decided not to title this 'The joys of being a streetwalker', as I guessed some of you might misunderstand! But I've always enjoyed walking the streets,  gazing into people's gardens. I started this as a novice gardener in my teens and still do it. Over the years I have got to know the gardens in the various neighborhoods where I have lived and  always try and do it when visiting places on holiday. If I am organised, I take my camera with me but nowadays iPhone pictures are so good that I can virtually always capture an image of a plant or garden that grabs my attention. True to form, whilst in Fort Lauderdale last week I took a leisurely amble with my camera and was not disappointed. Once again, as well as plants I recognised, there were many that I can't put names to, so I hope my faithful reader and plantsman, Chad is following and will help me out once again!

Acalypha wilkesiana 'Macfeeana'

Acalypha wilkesiana forma circinata
Acalypha 'Bourbon Street'

Acalypha wilkesiana 'Kona Gold'

Another Acalypha - love the delicate red veins - cultivar? - update - Chad suggests 'Miltoniana'

Strelitzia nicolai - love this shape - correction -
Ravenala madagascariensis - Traveller's Tree - thanks Dave from dryheatblog
Another - so geometric
Large spreading tree - could it be Delonix regia - update - Chad agrees!

Schefflera I think - no idea of species - update - S. actinophylla - thanks Chad

Furcraea foetida 'Medio-picta' and Asparagus meyerii

No idea - vigorous climber - maybe a Thunbergia?- update - T. grandiflora
Another climber - update Allamanda cathartica - thanks Chad

Shrub - is it Jatropha integerrima? Chad agrees and just bought one for yard here - spelling corrected!
Tall shrub, distinct long spoon-shaped leaves - some similarity to Plumeria but slender stems - update from Chad - P. pudica
Fort Lauderdale is of course seaside with a long sandy beach. On our first evening, we were surprised to find that there were no street lights working on the coast road. We later discovered that turtles lay their eggs in the sand and these hatch at full moon. The light glinting off the sea summons the infant turtles in the right direction. In the past, many were killed as they became disorientated by the street lights - so seasonal blackout!

I hasten to add before finishing that we were resident in a very nice hotel, the Worthington, which had beautiful tropical gardens and some of these pictures were taken there. In particular I was impressed by the attention to detail in the gardens with epiphytic orchids that had been attached to the palms with plastic mesh.

New orchids establishing on palm trunks

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Bonnet House

Whilst in Florida, we visited the historic Bonnet House and Gardens, a bit like a National Trust property in the UK. Amazingly we had walked past this property many times when we used to regularly holiday in Fort Lauderdale back in the 1990's but had never visited. 

Bonnet House was designed and built by the artist Frederic Clay Bartlett and construction started in 1920. His first wife Helen died in 1925 but it was very much in the 1930's and 1940's with his second wife Evelyn that the estate developed.  The house is situated on a coastal barrier between the Atlantic Ocean and the Intercostal Waterway. It is said that in the early days, the land had to be cleared of alligators, snakes and other animals to make it habitable. On the day of our visit we saw some huge iguanas but fortunately that is all! Frederic died in 1953 but Evelyn returned each winter until 1983, when the property was given to the Florida Trust for Historic Preservation and is now open to the public.

House main entrance


The house is quite whimsical and painted in strong primary colours with an excess of yellow! Architecturally it is quite bizarre with rough construction and quirky details often using reclaimed materials. It is said to have been designed in the style of a plantation house and is certainly unique! Indoors one can see Bartlett's studio and a selection of his paintings. All the rooms are arranged around a central courtyard with lush planting and fountains. We were not allowed to take interior pictures, so just pictures of the courtyard and gardens.

The courtyard garden

The property extends to 35 acres and includes many mature trees and various features, although much of the land demonstrates the local natural ecosystems with mangrove swamps and a maritime forest. Strangely the area immediately around the house is planted as a desert garden containing Agaves and other arid plantings which do not seem to like the wet climate. By contrast there are orchids everywhere, some tied to trees or just hanging with their roots exposed to the humid atmosphere.

Visitor entrance to gardens

Desert garden

Orchid house - not allowed to go in - the guide shouted quite abusively at one man who attempted to look closely!

Bonnet House slough

Slough and Chickee Bridge

Stags horn fern

Is this a mangrove? Answer - no! Probably a banyan - Species of Ficus! Thanks to College gardener for the correction.

This variegated Monstera seems to grow almost wild in places - apologies - correction - this is Epipremnum aureum, which used to be sold as a houseplant in the UK as Scindapsus aureus

Fountain - reclaimed from a local demolished property but the setting not inspiring

Lily pond and pavilion

Loved the way the light caught these but not sure what they are. Not chlorophyttums and not yucca but what?

Friday, October 17, 2014

A Muggle's trip to Jurrasic Park

Just back from a trip to Florida  - a well earned vacation for my hard-working partner Philip, not sure if I earned it but I certainly enjoyed it!  We had wanted to visit the Harry Potter experience at Universal studios (yes - big kids!) and then decided to take a sentimental trip back to Fort Lauderdale, where we used to holiday twelve or more years ago, before we discovered Palm Springs. Universal Studios is of course a theme park and whilst Philip loves the fast rides, I don't but I do love the good horticulture and amazing range of plants that these places regularly display, so we are both happy!

The climate zone for Orlando is 9b and Fort Lauderdale 10b.  Palm Springs is also 9b but the great difference is of course that whereas Palm Springs is desert and currently in  drought, Florida is humid with a high rainfall, so the vegetation and many of the landscape plants are totally different. Florida is lush!  First a few pictures are of some plants that I liked and have identified - corrections please if I've made any mistakes!

Chorisia speciosa - the silk floss tree also seen by Jim a few weeks ago flowering in Italy
Chorisia in its dormant state with fruits seen last winter up near Los Angeles in California

Christia obcordata 'Stripe' - butterfly leaf

Clerodendron speciosissimum

Crinum asiaticum -  is it 'Album'?

Just a lovely Hibiscus - not sure of cultivar but had similar one before called 'Cherie'

Mussaenda - entirely new to me - no idea of species or cultivar - belongs to Rubiaceae family

Nymphaea caerulea - lovely!

Tibouchina - which one? Update - possibly T. graulosa - thanks Chad

Tillandsia usneoides - Spanish Moss - epiphytic - just hangs on the trees
Acalypha wilkesiana 'Kona Gold'
Fruiting cycad -  these primitive plants are related to conifers and so have exposed seeds

Heliconia wagneriana - I sense a painting to follow!
Torenia fournerii - just a bedding plant but like it!

Kigelia africana - the sausage tree - amazing fruits

Above plant in flower - this pic from internet
This last picture was taken in the Walt Disney Animal Kingdom and was described to us as a baobab from Africa - a form of Adansonia - now being a skeptic and knowing Disney, I just wonder if this is a real tree?
The next few pictures are of plants that I can't identify and hope that some of my readers can help me out - do please give me an identification or suggestion.

1. Acalypha - anyone know cultivar? - update 'Macafeana' - thanks Chad

2. Bushy tree, foliage looks like Cercis but bark doesn't look right. There are variegated cultivars but no mention of the red young foliage - update - Hibiscus tiliaceus 'Variegata' - thanks Chad

3. No idea! - update - Tibouchina grandifolia - thanks Chad

4. No idea - update - Ixora - possibly coccinea - thanks Chad

5. Impressive plant but again no idea! - update - Clerodendron paniculatum - thanks Chad

6. Straggly shrub - possibly a Cestrum- update - DC Tropics suggests a Duranta. which seems likely

7. Tree - is it Koelreuteria?

8. Tree? Update - Chad says  Caesalpinia pulcherrima - for once I am doubtful - sorry Chad - that species is very common here in California and is much more orange than the one I saw in Florida. See small pic below. But yes to the genus! Response from Chad - possibly cultivar 'Rosea' - yep sounds likely! Shucks - had finally hoped to get one up on Chad!

9. Compact bushes, common - should know this one! Update -  Ixora again - possibly 'Maui' cultivars

10. Nice variegation but can't place it! Update - - probably Costus - either speciosus or arabicus - thanks Chad

11. Straggly shrub - no ideas! Update Millettia reticulata - thanks Chad

12. Small tree or large shrubs - sparse flowering - update - Bauhinia galpiniii - thanks Chad
No prizes for identification but much appreciated if anyone can name any of these mystery plants. Next time - rest of our trip - Fort Lauderdale!