I spent the summer learning a bunch of the latest Web technology and now I'm ready to begin building the next generation of the site that will include a lot of new apps and features. But Saturday is my birthday and since now I'm pretty old, I'm going down to the Smokey Mountains for a week to rest up for the effort and to eat a lot of pancakes and fudge in Gatlinburg. I hope you have a good week too! Visit Floridata often, bring your friends and be good and grow. Jack
The lovely southern maidenhair fern (Adiantum capillus-veneris) is the subject of Floridata's newest plant profile. The delicate maidenhair fern is among the prettiest of the cultivated ferns. The lacy foliage works well as a backdrop for other semi-shade loving plants. They do well in hanging baskets, rock gardens, shady borders and woodland margins where it is hardy in Zones 7-11. If provided suitable conditions (above average humidity), the maidenhair will succeed indoors too. Read profile » and check out this sampler of links to representative profiles of a few famous fern families:
Common privet (Ligustrum vulgare) is a deciduous shrub that is often used to create sheared hedges. Privet is a native of southern Europe but has spread to many other parts of the world. The species has proven to be invasive in temperate climates in the United States, Canada and Australia where its culture is prohibited or discouraged. Read about the common privet, a durable and useful shrub that grows in USDA Zones 5 - 8 but that should only be grown in its native range. This is one of the invasive woody species that was causing problems in my Northern Kentucky neighborhood when I was a kid. The other was Chinese honeysuckle:
I've known this species since I was a kid when I used it to make "camps" under its leafy domes. It was everywhere but I didn't learn its name until this summer. In the 50's and 60's a "miracle shrub" was advertised in the Sunday newspaper comics section. It was also promoted by the USDA as a fast-growing species for controlling erosion. It's name is Amur or Chinese honeysuckle (Lonicera maackii) and now it is everywhere. Click here to read more about this beautiful but extremely invasive exotic shrub that grows (don't plant it!) in USDA Zones 2-8.
Here is a sampler of links to a few more woody species that are invading mid-western and other northerly locations:
Not all invasive species are woody. In 2000 I visited the Cincinnati area and was surprised to see a lot of purple loosestrife (Lythrum salicaria) being planted in gardens. This infamous beauty is highly invasive and has messed up wetland plant communities across the northeastern United States. I asked at a local nursery if purple loosestrife wasn't also invasive locally and was told "no". Needless to say he was wrong as demonstrated in this photo of a large plant growing along the shoreline of a pond in Boone County, KY. If you have this pest in your garden it would be a good thing if you pulled it up and threw it away. (And we all will thank you! :) Exotic species that live in, on and around water are sometime invasive - some of the more infamous species are:
Warm-winter climates have their own collection of damaging species. In this section is a sampler of just a few that are invading Florida and other parts of the southeastern US.
Prolifically pretty in pink at this time of year is the rambunctious Mexican creeper, also called coral vine or coralita (Antigonon leptopus). It is a tender evergreen vine that in frost free areas will clamber up into tree tops like a pepto-pink kudzu vine (Pueraria lobata). Here are links to a few of the more infamous invaders:
This showy shrub is often planted in Florida and other warm winter areas - but beware! Christmas senna (Senna pendula) is an invasive species in many frostfree areas so don't plant them! If one grows in your Central or South Florida yard you might want to arrange for it to suffer unfortunate fatal accident. Don't plant it, but it is pretty so download a large version (800x600) of this picture for a closer look.
Indian shot (Canna indica) is a parent of many of the showy hybrid cannas (Canna x generalis) that we enjoy in our gardens every summer. Click here to read more about this large perennial that is grown (and naturalized in places) in USDA Zones 8-11. In colder Zones Indian shot is lifted in fall and overwintered indoors. More cannas to consider:
The Hawaiian Islands are home to an array of native plant species that has attracted the attention of botanists, naturalists, horticulturists and world travelers ever since Europeans first visited the islands near the end of the 18th century. Read more »
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The possomhaw (Viburnum nudum) cultivar 'Winterthur' produces large showy crops of berries that are important sources of nutrition for many bird species and other wildlife. These ripening beauty berries are particularly pretty in pink. They mature to a dark reddish purple before dropping to the ground or eaten by possoms (or whatever gets to them first). Here is a sampler of several more notable American native species:
The firethorn (Pyracantha coccinea) is a large evergreen shrub that becomes a center of attention at this time of year when the fruit begins to ripen. The popularity of this old world shrub is in decline, being replaced in the United States in the landscape by improved versions of native species (like some of those in the above list). Click here to download a large version (800x600) of this image to display on your desktop.
The podocarpus (Podocarpus macrophylla) shrubs are often loaded with colorful fruits at this time of year. A couple of people have written to say that these juicy fruits are edible. I don't know, they may be - but I'm not going to eat them and I haven't ever observed birds eating them so you probably shouldn't either - just to be safe. Click to download a large version (800x600) for a closer look.
Daffodils, narcissus, jonquils (Narcissus spp.) - no matter what the name, fall is the time to plant them. These garden favorites are fragrant, attractive to butterflies, drought tolerant and easy to grow. Daffodils naturalize easily (meaning you can plant them, forget them and they'll return to brighten your spring year after year). After you read our profile of the Narcissus species, see The Daffodils and then you'll want to plant some for sure!
Autumn is a perfect time to grow your own vegetables. At this time of year there is typically more rain, fewer insects and milder temperatures that make it especially easy to grow root vegetables like these turnips (Brassica rapa var. rapifera). And since most of these are cold hardy they'll keep you growing late into the season! Here's a list of links to a few candidates for your fall veg garden:
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