If the transition from winter to spring in South Florida is subtle, the one between summer and fall is practically invisible. While autumn is already a few weeks old — according to the calendar and posts from northern gardeners — the weather forecasters in Zone 10 say that anything resembling fall (temperatures below 70) will not arrive until sometime in November — and that will most likely happen while I’m fast asleep.
Still, there’s something in the air. While daytime temperatures have “cooled” by a hot degree, evenings have become slightly more comfortable — and that makes for very enjoyable sunset walks.
That, combined with two very long posts in a row (about an organic farm and a groundbreaking book) and another on the way (with a giveaway), has brought me to this autumnal interlude of what’s blooming here and now.
Yellow Shrimp Plant
This is one of the newest addition to the garden. When I spotted it in a local nursery, it looked as if it had experienced heat stress. Now that it’s had some extra care and water,it seems to have bounced back. These are the first blooms since planted.
Australian Tree Fern
Two fronds are getting ready to unfurl. This plant adores hot and humid weather, so growth will probably slow down in the next few months.
This bromeliad still looks amazing, weeks and weeks after blooming!
Coconut Palm Tree Sprouts
I have to give a special shout out to Vinca, which behaves more like a perennial here. It can handle the heat and iguanas seem to ignore them — so now I have a flower option for the backyard.
Earlier I hinted at an upcoming giveaway. It’s on its way and will be part of a long-form post, an interview with The fascinating author of a New book about an equally fascinating gardener.
I think I have fall envy.
That thought first occurred to me as September 21 was approaching and all of the local and chain coffee shops and microbreweries started touting their pumpkin donuts, pumpkin muffins, pumpkin beer, pumpkin everything.
Leaves from my northern autumn.
Part of my education process as a northern gardener living in southern Florida is trying to understand the subtle changes of the seasons. In a subtropical world, where seasons are marked as warm and hot, wet and dry, that is no easy task. Seasonal changes are much — MUCH — more subtle.
“You spend an awful lot of time agonizing over leaves,” Joe, my partner, said to me the other day as we drove around the neighborhood. His statement was in response to my noticing that some homeowners had bagged their leaves in plastic bags while others had bagged them in recyclable brown paper bags, which the township now requires.
In the last post, I left the garden for a music-themed writing prompt from WordPress. This week, it’s back outside — or rather, it’s back to the photos that I originally had taken if I hadn’t come across that writing prompt. And it’s a good thing I snapped these photos when I did — because a week of wind later, where once there were leaf-laden trees, there now stands bare branches.
Every garden should have hydrangeas for no-matter-the-season interest.
I admit I have a hard time letting go of summer.
Even with leaves changing and falling and blooms fading and browning, I’m still reluctant to clean the beds and put them to rest. Even the weather is having a difficult time falling into a seasonal rhythm. There are days that are windy and evenings that are slightly frosty, and then there are the times when it feels mild and balmy.
So, with camera in hand, it’s last call in the garden, one last chance for flowers to bask in the spotlight before a hard frost takes them away.
Changing leaves and cooling temperatures can only mean one thing. It’s time to complete the saving process. By now, elephant ears and canna have been drying out for about a week — and now I have to get them ready for their long winter’s nap.
The final step is pretty much the same for both elephant ears and canna. You will need peat moss, some kind of storage containers (like brown paper bags), a shovel, and a room that stays relatively dry and evenly cool so that the plants can be lulled into a deep sleep without freezing. If the final storage location is too damp or warm, the plants never get a chance to rest and they are at risk of rotting away — and after so much work getting to this point, that would be a shame.