Gardening with Georgia

Archive - October 2013

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Color in the Sky

Tue, Oct 29, 2013 at 01:12:51 PM

Cotton candy pink, the floss-silk tree
is emblematic of the season.

Two flowering trees are to October/November as poinsettias are to the Christmas holidays. They are the pink-flowering Ceiba speciosa (formerly Chorisia speciosa), floss silk tree, and the orange-flowering Colvillea racemosa, Colville’s glory. On days when the sky is brilliantly blue, the flowers of these trees can make your heart soar. The Garden’s showiest Ceiba speciosa, just to the north of the allee, has a broad, rounded canopy that is bare of leaves so the mass of pink flowers with white throats are perfectly displayed. The tree comes from Brazil and Argentina. Its trunk is somewhat bottle-shaped and covered with prickles or warty spines. Many years ago, I bought a floss-silk at the Menninger Tree Conference. It grew so rapidly in the back yard that it could be seen from the street within a few years. Caution: few arborists willingly trim this one if they do not have a bucket truck.


Colville’s glory, from Madagascar, retains its long, bipinnate leaves while holding grape-like clusters or

Colvile's glory is named for Sir Charles
Colville, once a governor of Mauritius.

racemes of orange to scarlet flowers that burst open with golden stamens. The late Ed Menninger, who imported to his garden in Stuart flowering trees from around the globe, wrote about the Colvillea in his book Flowering Trees of the World,  “Often a dozen bunches of flowers [are found on] one limb. Dr. David Fairchild once painted a mental picture of them when he said they made him think of a salmon Wisteria, if there were such a thing.” Unlike the flowers of the floss silk tree, the flowers of Colville’s glory cannot be seen very well from below, as they are carried above the foliage. Menninger concluded, “Colville’s Glory is not good for anything but to look at.” Yet, in its native habitat, one species of parrot eats the flowers and lemurs feed on the exudate. Menninger said the tree rarely sets seed, “though the author’s own tree was a seedling from Dr. Fairchild’s tree in the Kampong at Coconut Grove, grown by the Old Master himself and given to him in the days of long ago.”

Look for Colvillea racemosa in the arboretum in plot 35.



Looking good enough to eat

Sat, Oct 26, 2013 at 02:11:30 PM

Colorful cauliflower bring
eye-appeal to the raised bed.

The Edible Garden Festival is underway. What could make you want to

Dragon fruit are borne by

plant a vegetable garden more than the enthusiasm that is on display here -- unless it is the marvelous color of the fruits and veggies themselves? Garden demonstrations, cooking demonstrations and earth learning workshops are going on simultaneously today and will continue Sunday. Jams, jellies, local honey, herbs, the Garden's Incredible Edible Garden brimming with beautifully grown food plants, fruit smoothies, pear cider, and music on the Garden lawn are ingredients of a wonderful day sure to entertain and inspire you. Vegetable planting season is here, South Florida, so come and learn to graft it, plant it, prune it,  eat and enjoy!



A tree that is 'elegantly upholstered'

Tue, Oct 15, 2013 at 02:17:35 PM

It sometimes is called the devil tree. But in her book Tropical & Subtropical Trees, An Encyclopedia, Margaret Barwick’s description of the October flowers makes it sound quite heavenly: “the deep green canopy is elegantly upholstered with large posies of greenish white slender-tubed blooms that are held rigidly erect in downy, long-stemmed, compact, heads that come from the axils of the leaves.”  It is Alstonia scholaris, and you should rush to see it. Its home range extends throughout India, south Asia, China and over to Australia. Grab a map and head to plot 151 on the south side of the Bailey Palm Glade,

Alstonia scholaris is in full flower right now.

or 57A (not far from the Lakeside Café). The entire tree is in flower! The tree is named for Dr. Charles Alston, a Scot who taught botany at Edinburgh University in the 18th Century. Scholaris refers to the fact that school children in India wrote their assignments on slates made of this light, white wood. Barwick, who lives part of the year in Grand Cayman and has friends here in Coconut Grove, says Mynah birds love the “untidy” and persistent follicles that follow the flowers.


Ballet takes flight

Sun, Oct 13, 2013 at 06:22:21 AM


Miami City Ballet performed three movements from Tchaikovsky's Serenade in C Major for String Orchestra against the backdrop of the Bailey Palm Glade Saturday afternoon as a special event during the annual Bird Festival. Against the palms, the lakes and the clear blue sky, the dancers captivated everyone in a performance that could not have been more beautiful.