Summer's rewards

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Yes, it is very hot, but come anyway.

Heliconias are lovely now.

You’ll find yourself rewarded with an abundance of flowering plants. Flowering in the semi-shade of the Vine Pergola now are small heliconias, which are emblematic of summer in the tropics. The gorgeous tree bougainvillea is in flower as are many of the Madagascar plants and the big baobab.

Semi-dwarf hybrid heliconias are less likely to have their banana-like leaves shredded by wind, and when they travel, do so in baby steps compared with the big guys like Heliconia bihai or Heliconia caribea, which can reach 10 feet and spread over large areas before you know it. Hot days and nights are propelling heliconias to flower, and, I notice at home, use up their nutrient supply. Pale or yellow leaves are calling out for fertilizer. The small heliconias by the pergola have unspoiled leaves and new bracts, and may be at their most attractive stage now.

Alcantarea imperialis and Alcantarea odorata, those popular large

Alcantarea imperialis.

bromeliads that are practically must-haves in gardens today, have raised high their inflorescences at the garden. Several maroon and green A. imperalis at the Visitors Center are in full flower, as is the powder blue A. odorata by Founder’s Pool at the south gate. When these tank types of bromeliads start the flowering process, the inner most leaves tighten and become reduced. It’s a clue to what lies ahead.

White-crowned pigeon.

Should you visit the Keys Coastal Habitat, you may spy the white-crowned pigeon hanging out there. This large, slate-gray bird with a white cap and iridescent green patch of feathers  on its neck, is fairly shy but you can catch glimpses of it if you tread softly.