Garden of delights

Wednesday, December 16, 2009




These flowers bloom by day
as well as night.

With Nessie rising from Center Lake and Big Foot stomping out of the rainforest, with giant polka dotted flowers and pumpkins delighting the eye, the garden is brimming over with color, life and liveliness these days.

Sweet almond bush is blooming at several locations around the garden, including the butterfly garden. It is Aloysia virgata, a member of the verbena family. Its aroma is rather noticeable, as if a cloud of fragrance hovers above each shrub.  It’s a lanky plant, one that grows to about 8 feet or more, but it can be pruned regularly if good behavior is among the criteria you impose on plant life. Bees and butterflies are attracted to the tiny white flowers on the long racemes. A palmedes butterfly danced around it in the late morning Monday.

Cordia globosa is another white-flowering shrub that can draw butterflies and skippers. An atala was drinking his/her fill when we passed by. Cordia globosa is a Florida native and is sometimes called butterfly sage. It has small sand-papery leaves and a mind of its own when it comes to shape. Many butterfly plants lean and sway: salvia, pentas, asters, the weeds of the field that are closer their origins than plants we have wired and staked and trained.

Honeybees were working on the candy corn plant, which is Moullava spicata (Wagatea

Candy corn plant hosts a honeybee.

spicata) from India and Africa. Orange and yellow flower spikes are calling out to passers-by on Old Cutler Road as well. This plant has lots of prickles, so look but don’t touch. It doesn’t climb so much as it hooks onto things.

Space ship or hibiscus from

One plant that’s flowering now is Hibiscus grandidieri var. greveanus from Madagascar. Its charming red flowers are about the size of a ping-pong ball, and the pistils and stamens emerge from the bottom, as the flower dangles upside down. It looks like a tiny UFO about to land with its many delicate landing legs ready to absorb the shock. 

Even with recent heat, winter here is a wonderland.