Visit the Nursery from Wherever You Are

Do you need a quick escape from a hectic work day? Want a quiet place in the shade to ease your mind? We have just the thing for you, a virtual visit to our nursery from your desktop or mobile device. Today we have a stop in our shade garden, under the palms. Have a seat by the pond on our bench and stay as long as you like.

Under the palms in the shade garden: http://360.io/ZcQm6u

Desert Cassia (Senna polyphylla)

The Desert Cassia Tree occurs from Puerto Rico to The Virgin Islands.  It is a very popular landscape tree in South Florida due to its small weeping form, attaining a height of 6-15′ and a spread of 6-10′ wide.  It is also drought tolerant and moderately salt tolerant making it a good tree for xeriscapes.  Its small leaves and moderate size makes this tree suitable for pot culture and bonsai.  It flowers with 1″ yellow blossoms on and off year round all along the branches, with flowering most prevalent, between mid-October and May.

This tree is also popular with butterfly enthusiasts, as it is a host plant for Sulphur Butterflies as well as an excellent nectar source.  Desert Cassia was voted Plant of the Year in 1999 by the Florida Nurserymen and Growers Association.  At the nursery, we have several trees available in 3gal., and 15gal. containers.

Senna polyphylla (Desert Cassia)

Senna polyphylla (Desert Cassia)

Senna polyphylla (Desert Cassia)

 

Sweet Almond (Aloysia virgata)

Plant lovers appreciate the vast array of fragrances encountered in tropical and subtropical species.  One of the best of them introduced to our region is the Sweet Almond, Aloysia virgata.  Its strong fragrance is optimally enjoyed at a distance from the plant, where breezes easily carry it.  Native to fairly dry subtropical areas of Argentina, Sweet Almond can be grown in the ground all the way into Climate Zone 8, where it is treated as a perennial.  But in southern Florida, it is an evergreen capable of reaching 15 ft. in height.  It has an upright, informal habit with some horizontal branching, and is amenable to hard pruning for owners preferring to maintain it as a shorter shrub.

A. virgata blooms in flushes on and off most of the year with spikes of tiny white flowers.  The leaves are dark green to gray-green and feel sandpapery to the touch.  Happily, the plant is not very demanding.  It tolerates average soils and, once established, is sufficiently drought-tolerant to perform well in a xeriscape.

Sweet Almond provides more than just an appealing fragrance, as it also attracts bees and butterflies.  In particular, it is popular with the Atala Butterfly, Eumaeus atala, still in recovery from near-extinction.  This multi-faceted plant is available at Richard Lyons’ Nursery in 1-gal. and 3-gal. containers.

Aloysia virgata (Sweet Almond)

Aloysia virgata (Sweet Almond)

Aloysia virgata (Sweet Almond)

Fairchild Tropical Garden’s Annual Ramble

Surely most “plant people” in southern Florida are familiar with Ramble.  For those who aren’t, it is the annual plant-sale-and-more produced by Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden.  Its 72nd edition ran last weekend, November 9, 10, and 11th.

This year’s Ramble couldn’t have taken place in nicer weather, and for me as a vendor it presented the perfect atmosphere for seeing old friends and customers.  Among other services to the community at large, Ramble offers participants the chance to see new introductions to the immense variety of tropical plants that can be grown successfully in our region.

I particularly wish to acknowledge Morgan Brooks for her role in the organization and coordination of the Ramble plant sale area, and I also would like to thank Rebecca Butler for her kindness and courtesy in assisting me to get around the Garden.

Ramble 2012

Ramble 2012

 

Surinam Cherry (Eugenia uniflora)

One of the most reliable plants in southern and central Florida for creating a dense and uniform hedge is Eugenia uniflora, better known as Surinam Cherry.  Few other plants stay full from bottom to top as they increase in size and age.  This species comes with an interesting story that says something about the nature of plant exploration several centuries ago:  Although native from northern South America to southern Brazil, Surinam Cherry was first described botanically from a specimen found in a garden in Pisa, Italy.  That plant was thought to have been introduced to Italy from Goa, the tiny, but historically important, state on the western coast of India.  It is thought that Portuguese travelers carried seed of E. uniflora from Brazil to Goa, just as they did cashew over 450 years ago.  Since that time, Surinam Cherry has been widely distributed in the tropics worldwide and even into the subtropics.

Surinam Cherry in Florida flowers in early spring and develops attractive ribbed fruits about an inch in diameter that ripen from bright red to deep scarlet to purple-maroon.  As a hedge, it is pruned so often that most of its fruit production is lost through the removal of flowers, but as a stand-alone small tree, it is an excellent source of food for wildlife as well as for humans.  However, since the fruit of the popular cultivar here tends to be quite tart to the human sense of taste, it is probably more desirable to use it in jams, jellies, pies or wines.  Richard Lyons’ Nursery carries Surinam Cherry in 3-gal. and 7-gal. containers.

Eugenia uniflora (Surinam Cherry) Hedge

Eugenia uniflora (Surinam Cherry) Hedge

Eugenia uniflora (Surinam Cherry) Hedge

Eugenia uniflora (Surinam Cherry) 12′ Small Tree

Eugenia uniflora (Surinam Cherry) 3gal. Containers

Eugenia uniflora (Surinam Cherry) 7gal. Containers