Welcome to my zone 9 garden. My roots are deeply planted in the sandy soil of sub-tropical central Florida, where the summers are long and hot, but the rest of the year is paradise!

Thursday, September 01, 2016

The Jungle

In my jungle, my mighty little jungle, the plants have soared this summer. As I walk down the pathway I, sometimes, have to duck down or push back a leaf in order to proceed forward. It's wonderful, and I always feel like I'm on an expedition out here in search of the latest new bloom or wild creature.

This Robellini palm is going to have to fight for its space next to the giant elephant ear. It was so tiny when I planted it 1 1/2 years ago, but it is finally about 4 ft tall. Hopefully, next year it will be large enough - or almost - to cover the fence. There's another one on the other side of the elephant ears, so this space should be nice and tropical.

This is the first time the elephant ears have bloomed, and what a giant bloom it is, and long-lasting, too.

The crinum lilies have exploded in size and have bloomed throughout the summer, along with the yellow cestrum which the butterflies and hummers love.

I once read an article that said when working with a small garden space, do not shy away from large-leafed plants. It stated that "giant" plants will make the space feel larger.

I don't know if that's true or not, but I do love LARGE-LEAFED plants, including this super-sized bromeliad that has been blooming all summer.

This corner of the garden has all melded together creating a wall of greenery and summer-long blooms of mostly crape myrtles, red heirloom pentas, milkweed, blackberry lilies, agastache, black-eyed Susans and several varieties of savlia.  Everytime I look out my family room window, this colorful little corner has brought me much enjoyment because it's filled with butterflies all day long.

 I've been trying to identify this Swallowtail without much success. There are several Swallowtail varieties that are present daily, and I think this one might be a Spicebush Swallowtail. Not sure, so if anyone can I.D. it for me, please let me know. Looks like this little beauty has weathered some tough times, losing part of its lower left side.

I added a shelf to the top of my fence for this Pipevine to grow, in the hopes of attracting the Pipevine Swallowtail. I've heard they're very difficult to identify, so I'm not sure if the one in the photo above might be one. Anyway, I noticed that something has been eating on the leaves of the Pipevine, so that is good news. None of those odd looking flowers yet.

One day I caught this little fella perched on top of a milkweed leaf. My daughter said it's some kind of Skipper - not sure, but she usually knows her butterflies. He's cute, whatever he is!

I don't have too many flowers in the shady part of the jungle, but there is plenty of colorful foliage to keep it interesting.

 The other corner of the garden is a sunny spot, too and is also filled with butterflies all day. This corner is filled with firespike, tropical salvia, passion vines and firecracker plants with a few red and green variegated banana trees tossed into the mix (for me). The Gulf Fritillary, and Zebra Longwings love this corner - and, I love watching them. The hummers also love this side of the garden!!! 

Rain was hit and miss for us this summer. It seemed as though everyone around us got rain but not our area. We had a steady supply for about 3 to 4 weeks in August which was great during the hottest time. 

The bridal bouquet plumeria is sporting its usual crisp white blossoms which are so cooling to look at in the middle of a long, hot summer.

The volunteer Black-eyeds Susans have slowly dried up, and have given way to a ton of volunteer milkweed in its place. I'm slow to pull up seedlings that sprout in the walkway. I don't mind tolerating them for a brief period of time if it brings more butterflies to my little jungle. I'm sad to say for the second year in a row, I did not see that many Monarch butterflies in my garden despite the presence of a plentiful supply of milkweed. I'll keep planting it and hoping they will come. How about you - have you seen many Monarchs in your garden this summer?

 One last towering giant in my jungle - and one of my summer favorites - is the candlestick plant. I love this plant as much as the Cloudless Sulphur butterflies. It is a bright and cheerful addition to my cozy little jungle!!!


FlowerLady Lorraine said...

WOW, WOW, WOW!!! I absolutely 'love' your jungle. All of your photos have just inspired me.

The heat and humidity have kept me in lately and my gardens are overgrown, filled with some seeds too. I hope to get out this morning to do some much needed work. Even an hour or so will make a difference.

Have a great weekend in your tropical paradise ~ FlowerLady

Janice said...

Hi Susan! Your jungle is glorious - especially love your giant elephant ears with that great bloom. I'm loving those candlestick plants of yours too. I've not had any Monarchs this year, but I've had more Zebra Longwings than ever. I also just noticed yesterday my passion vine is being devoured by Gulf Fritillary caterpillars. Enjoy that beautiful garden that you've created. _Janice

Susan said...

Hi Lorraine, I don't work out in the yard much in summer. I have been fillling up 2 garbage cans the last month with clippings to keep it all under control. Im looking forward to less humidity.

Hi ?Janice, I've had lots of Zebra Longwings this year, too. Must be a good year for them. They really love the passionvines. If you would like some seeds for the candlestick plant, let me know. I will have lots of them later this year. They're nice filler plants. They grow quickly and every winter I cut them back by half whether they freeze or not.

Leslie Kimel said...

Your garden is looking great, Susan! I love the first picture with the stone walkway and all the beautiful Spanish moss. Love the elephant ears and bananas too--they create such a feeling of tropical lushness. Do the bananas produce fruit? Also, do you know the name of your crinum lily? I really want to add some crinum lilies to my yard. They're so charming and antique-looking!

Anonymous said...

I'm thinking spicebush swallowtail on your red pentas, but don't take my word for it. :-) I still have a number of monarchs, but very few gulf fritillary butterflies right now ~ so go figure. I had about 30 tiny black eastern caterpillars in my herb garden that became food for something this weekend, but it's to be expected. Hated, but expected. And your daughter is correct - that's a skipper butterfly. I spotted one recently laying eggs on my white pea vine - that was a first for me.

Your garden is absolutely beautiful and I really love your pathways, but that sitting area? Gorgeous!

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