Tuesday View: The Tropics 8.2.16

Finally I’m back for a real visit with Kathy’s Tuesday View meme.  After two weeks away the tropics have taken off here and the heat (and now rain!) have really brought everything to life.

cannas and verbena bonariensis

In the view today is damp soil, overcast skies and plenty of humidity.  The cannas have exploded along with just about everything else and exuberance is the word of the day.  How do you like the ferny green lump of kochia (summer cypress) just in front and to the left of the olive-green planter? I love it btw

My biggest fear when I left was that my new bananas and precious castor beans would just pine away waiting for rain, so two days before we left I added an extra line to the drip irrigation system and set up a few drip emitters to some of the most precious plants.  Good thing I did since this bed was the only part of the garden where lush greenery welcomed me back from our midsummer vacation.

castor bean carmencita

I have blooms on my ‘Carmencita’ castor bean plant.  I love the bright red seed pods and I hope they stay that way for a while… and the leaves aren’t too shabby either!

I’ll try not to go on too much about every single plant.  Here’s an overview of the farther side of the bed, beyond the path to grandma’s pool 🙂

cannas and verbena bonariensis

The purple of Verbena bonariensis has nearly taken over large swaths of the bed.  I’m fine with that but the old flower stalks on the salvia ‘Caradonna’ just irritate me to no end.  I’m sure no one but myself notices them, but there’s a good chance I snap this week and pull them all out!

The old red leaved cannas are nearly as tall as me now and will likely break the six foot mark by next week and I love that.  In no time this will be a garden you look up to 🙂

fennel with verbena bonariensis

My poor planning skills are often saved by horticultural volunteers.  Here the chartreuse froth of blooming fennel mixes in with a pale green nicotina and of course more Verbena bonariensis.  You can’t even see the dahlias which are supposed to fill this space.

You may have noticed a few of the sunflowers which peek out of the far corners of the border.  After relentlessly weeding them out through the spring I finally let a few of the latest sprouts in the hard to reach spots go on with their lives.  I love them of course, and I’ve already seen the goldfinches stopping by to check on the seeds.

sunflower and long horned bee

Sunflower with a few long-horned bees making themselves at home.

New to me this year are the bees which can be found on each sunflower bloom.  I’m sure they’ve been there every year but after I found the long antenna interesting I realized they’re not the regular honeybees.  According to this face book group >click here< they are either a type of sunflower bee or most likely a type of long-horned bee, both of which belong to the solitary bee group which includes some of the hardest working and most effective pollinators out there.

sunflower and long horned bee

I’m leaning towards long-horned bee for these two, since they both share the almost comically long antenna, but I have no clue as to which species.  Apparently there are more than a few! 

Something new to me which I came across while investigating bees is that these solitary bees are much less aggressive than their colony-forming cousins due to the fact they have no hive to defend.  They only sting when handled roughly and are considered more docile… although I’m not sure who did this investigation of insect manhandling.  I’ll take their word for it though and skip starting my own investigative bee-bullying program.

Oh and one more thing.  Solitary bees are fine feeding on nectar from a wide range of flowers but the individual bee species is much more specific in where its pollen comes from.  It’s called oligolecty, and if you want to add that one to the vocab list it describes bees which specialize in collecting pollen from a limited palette of flowers, often only one species.

A usual I’m as surprised as to where this Tuesday view went but it’s been an interesting ride for me and I hope it’s at least been somewhat interesting to you as well.  If you’d like to expand on the visit stop over at Words and Herbs and check in with Cathy to see what the other Tuesday views are up to.  There’s always plenty to explore!

14 comments on “Tuesday View: The Tropics 8.2.16

  1. princessoftherain says:

    What an amazing garden. Congratulations!

  2. Cathy says:

    I was expecting some singed foliage at least Frank, but it looks incredibly healthy and fresh! I love all that Verbena, especially with the Fennel… my fennel always gets too tall to combine it with anything! I am impressed. It really does look like a tropical island. 🙂 All you need now is the sunset and the cocktail… 😉 Thanks for sharing!

    • bittster says:

      Ahhhh, a sunset and cocktail, that may be an excellent plan for this evening since the clouds have thinned today.
      I’m so glad I put the drip irrigation into the bed last month, there is so much singed foliage elsewhere this has been my only bright spot.
      To be honest I’m not sure what happened to the fennel. I think a rough spring stunted it yet now that the drip is on and there’s steady moisture it has really filled in rather than climbing up. btw the ones in the front yard are at least 6 feet tall!

  3. pbmgarden says:

    Your view looks healthy and rich. Verbena bonariensis is terrific for spreading itself around, usually landing in a great spot.

    • bittster says:

      I can never complain about the verbena seeding around, it’s always welcome and easy to pull if it wears out that welcome. Plus the insects love it!

  4. WOW, Frank, that really shot up in the past few weeks! Amazing what some rain will do! I hope my Verbena B. will do half as well as yours has! And that fennel and nicotiana–what a happy accident! I am definitely growing tall red-leafed cannas in my rock garden next year! Finally, I’m glad you left a few sunflowers. They’re a perfect pop of brightness! I must get down there to see this in person soon!

    • bittster says:

      Let me know when you’re around, I’d love a visit! -just be prepared that the rest of the yard is still either dead for the year or slowly recovering off of our weekend of wet. Not very inspiring.
      I hope you’re planning on getting your canna tubers from here. For each root I plant there will be dozens to dig up and even if I dig a third it’s still too much for me!

  5. I’m glad the carnage wasn’t as severe as you originally thought. I cut my salvias back hard after they bloom and the Caradonna will send up loads more flowers. 🙂

    • bittster says:

      Oh trust me anything which wasn’t on some kind of irrigation is a singed mess. Fortunately we had such a rainfall this past weekend even the lawn is showing signs of life. My fingers are crossed we get even more rain to keep up this momentum.
      Ok, I’ll go cut the salvia back. I feel like it’s mocking me with its spent stalks and maybe this will make me feel better 🙂

  6. Linda says:

    Looks fabulous; healthy and lush. Nothing more fun than plants towering above one. Thalictrums are my giants.

  7. rusty duck says:

    As a measure of just how far behind I’ve got with blog reading, I’ve only just found this post. But it couldn’t pass by without a comment.. it looks absolutely gorgeous. The verbena really makes it, is it the dwarf one, ‘Lollipop’? It looks wonderfully compact. I also love the pot placed in centre. Good job Frank!

    • bittster says:

      Thanks! -and don’t give a second thought to falling behind in blog reading, I for one am perpetually behind in not just reading, but also responding and posting. It happens, even more so now while the season is moving along too quickly.
      The verbena is the straight species. Perhaps it looks smaller with the tall cannas dwarfing it. I’ve never tried the dwarf version though it does look like a nice addition to the family!

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