It's hot and humid in my Northern Kentucky neighborhood but rain and a cool-down will arrive next week. Our summer is growing well, I hope your's is too! Stay cool and be good and grow. Jack
Gray birch (Betula populifolia) is a small to medium size tree that is a native of northeastern North America. It is a pioneer species that grows in old fields and disturbed lands where it sometimes forms thickets. This is a nice graceful little tree for a specimen planting in small yards in USDA Zones 3-6. Though it is fast-growing, it has a life span of less than 30 years. Read Floridata's gray birch profile now»
Over the years I've noticed this plant with its pink and cream highlighted foliage and wondered what it was. I found a planting of it and was motivated to finally find out its name - it is called (Houttuynia cordata). Often planted as a ground cover, houttuynia is also edible and has medicinal uses as well. Click here for more on this perennial that grows in USDA Zones 6-11.
Have you ever bought a tiny souvenir palm in-a-box on your Florida vacations? Have you ever received a living plant arrangement that included a tiny palm? If you have then you know the parlor palm (Chamaedorea elegans). Parlor palm is native to Central American where it inhabits the shady understory of dense rain forests and can grow to 10 feet in height (container grown palms can grow to 3 or 4 feet indoors). Read more about this delightful small palm that makes an attractive addition to shady gardens in Zones 9-11 and in containers almost everywhere.
The dancing ladies ginger (Globba winitii) in my garden down in North Florida blooms at this time of year. It's really pretty with colorful dangly blossoms that "dance" in the breeze and grows well in shady situations. Member of the ginger family, Zingiberaceae, are largely tropical and sub-tropical species and many like these in the following list we enjoy in our gardens and in our food:
At this time of year, among the things I miss most about being away from my home in Florida's Big Bend, are the luscious fresh figs (Ficus carica) are ripe and ready to eat right about now. There is nothing tastier than a fresh-picked, sun-warmed fig! Since I'm not there, the birds and other wildlife will have the feast all to themselves. In a few weeks the leftover figs will ferment and be eaten by certain wildlife like deer and especially by the squirrels who cannot hold their figs very well. They eat the alcohol-infused fruits, get fried and fall out of the trees. It's funny. I miss that too.
This is another of the fancy double-flowered downy thornapples, also called devil's trumpet, (Datura metel) that Steve grows. As the common name suggests, these are close relatives of the angel trumpets (Brugmansia species). Download a large version of this purple double devil's trumpet.. Read about a couple more daturas (all contain poisonous compounds, do not grow in areas frequented by children and pets):
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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The butterfly bush (Buddleja davidii) is a long-time garden staple whose cultivars come in a range of colors from white to pink to purple - and they really are attractive to many kinds of butterflies. However the species is an invasive pest in some regions so check locally to determine if it's OK to plant where you live. We've added this warning to our Profile. Here are a few more flowers that butterflies visit at this time of year:
The giant bulrush (Schoenoplectus californicus) or tule, as it is called in California, is a water-loving perennial like its close cousin papyrus (Cyperus papyrus). This bulrush grows across the southern United States from California to Florida and South Carolina. Native Americans made flour from its seeds and young bulrush shoots, as well as the rhizomes, were consumed both raw and cooked. Mmmmm, bulrushy. Here are a few more American native perennials that like wet soils and swampy conditions:
One of the many things I miss about back home in North Florida is seeing the statuesque loblolly bay (Gordonia lasianthus) trees blooming back in the swamps and wetlands. 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:
Steve sent me this picture of a spectacular red amaranth (Amaranthus tricolor) plant in bloom. In addition to being an incredibly showy bloomer, this talented species has brilliantly colored foliage which is edible as are the (very nutritious) seeds! Steve grows a lot of unusual edibles each season. Here are few that he is growing now or has in the recent past:
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