Zorro when he's not up to mischiefNovember 10, 2014

Zorro when he’s not up to mischief
Photo taken November 10, 2014

Zorro has entered the Terrible Twos and is good for at least two good laughs a day. Whenever I hear a loud noise coming from the direction of his last known location in the house, I holler, “What have you down now???” Immediately, a wail arises that, if translated, would probably mean “I didn’t do it!”


It has been a rough year for departures. First, Poppie. Then a Houston friend of 30+ years. This morning, I found Big Foot in the middle of the grassy area that used to be Momma and Poppie’s vegetable garden. Something had torn out his left haunch and he crossed the rainbow bridge sometime in the night. I didn’t shed a tear. I don’t think I can feel anymore.

Big Foot on 5/1/15

Big Foot on 5/1/15

MGC Trash Treasure goodies-6280

For Jacksonville natives, the time has arrived for the annual Trash to Treasure sale at the Mandarin Garden Club, 2892 Loretto Road (it’s about the fourth driveway on the left behind Taco Bell on San Jose Boulevard). It’s this Saturday only, October 3 from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.

As always, the Garden Café is offering reasonably priced homemade goodies and the coffee is free. After snagging your best deals, why not stroll through their gardens in the front and the back, weather permitting, of course. Be sure to sign the visitor board in the gardens behind the club house. The Master Gardeners, who work so hard in the gardens, like to know how many visitors come to see their work.


Other blogs with gardening as a topic, such as Seattle Trekker, are always setting my snarl in motion by featuring plants I can’t grow here in Florida under any circumstances but they can often grow our stuff if they are willing to fuss with it. It ain’t right, I tell you.

The Butterfly Vine, Yellow Orchid Vine or Gallinita is best suited for USDA Zones 8-10 where it remains evergreen in mild winters but is cold hardy to the mid-20s. It grows fast enough to be considered an annual in much colder climates. It can be grown in a container, on a pole or fence, trellised, or pruned as a flowing branched shrub, or as a groundcover.

Considered native to Mexico, it grows in Central America as far south as Brazil. It is well-suited to a western exposure because of its high heat tolerance. It is fairly drought tolerant but looks better with regular watering as long as you don’t over water. It is also thornless, disease free and unattractive to pests but butterflies like it.

From May to September, this vine produces clusters of one-inch wide yellow orchid-shaped flowers each having five petals. These are followed by clusters of papery, winged chartreuse seed pods resembling a butterfly. Allow these seed pods to dry on the plant. Once brown, use your thumbnails to pull the butterfly “body” apart and collect the seeds. Semi-softwood cuttings can be taken in late spring or early fall. These cuttings will be ready for transplant in less than three months.

One cannot have beauty without a little frustration, however, and the botanical side of this beautiful vine is a real mess. According to Wikipedia, “The correct name for the species often called Mascagnia macroptera in the horticulture trade is Callaeum macropterum; the names are not interchangeable. Most of the plants sold in the USA under the names Callaeum macropterum and Mascagnia macroptera are actually Callaeum septentrionale.”  If you search for it under the common names, such as Butterfly Vine and Yellow Orchid Vine, you may run across another plant entirely, called the Butterfly Pea Vine, Clitoria  ternate, which has blue and purple flowers. To add to the confusion, Mascagnia was previously classified as Stigmaphyllon ciliatum. One wonders about the jollies the botanists are enjoying as they mess with us.

MGC Butterfly Vine flowers-2619

You can see how it got one of it’s common names, Yellow Orchid Vine


Cluster of seed pods

Close-up of single seed pod

Close-up of single seed pod

My friend Lam shared several different kinds of bulbs with me a while back and I planted all of them in the same area. A few days ago, as I was leaving the Southern Rural Route, I discovered this yellow Spider Lily blooming where I had planted her bulbs. It really catches your eye better than this photograph indicates.

Spider Lily yellow-6276

The Mandarin Garden Club is again cranking up their social calendar after taking the summer off.  Who wants to garden in the heat and humidity of Florida? I consider myself saintly to even do maintenance during the summer.

Tuesday, September 15, the Dogwood Circle met and I went because they had Terry DeValle, the Duval County Extension Agent, speaking on “Color in the Landscape (Attracting Birds, Bees, & Hummers)”. She offered an informative slide show on flowers and small shrubs that thrive in Northeast Florida.

The Duval County Extension always assumes you buy starter plants at the nursery which has forced me into backyard science experiments in growing flowers from seed. It has been hit or miss, for sure. I wish they offered a list of annual and perennial flowers that grow here in Northeast Florida but, to my knowledge, they do not.

As a reminder, the Mandarin Garden Club is a public garden open to anyone, unless it is closed for a private event. They like to keep a count of visitors so don’t forget to sign in at the glass fronted wooden box.

A rain storm was brewing and the wind made it hard to take photographs but I got a few:

This passion flower was the start of my involvement with MGC. I asked for a cutting I could root.

This passion flower was the start of my involvement with MGC.
I asked for a cutting I could root.


name unknownI didn't look for the marker, okay?

name unknown
I didn’t look for the marker, okay?


Dark pink/magenta pentaI have light pink; need some of this next year.

Dark pink/magenta penta
I have light pink; need some of this next year.






Firebush and bee


Eastern Tiger Swallowtail

Eastern Tiger Swallowtail


Mary Clark said Becky B added this to the MGC garden.See Becky and Bunny post.

Mary Clark said Becky B added this to the MGC garden.
See Becky and Bunny post.

I haven’t posted here for several weeks but, trust me, any reports of my death are erroneous. I can envision how such a report might happen. Someone borrows your name, birth date and insurance card number to pay for an ambulance ride. At the hospital, they fall off the gurney, bang their head on the floor and croak. With your info on the chart, your next of kin get the call that you have expired.

I talked to both the ambulance company and my insurance provider. The ambulance people twice said it smelled rank. The insurer claims it a mere “mistake” by the ambulance people. At any rate, it was supposedly removed from my account. My brother-in-law, Mr. Priss, claims this could only happen to me but if that’s the case, am I the only one opening claim statements from the health insurance company?

I have no amazing gardening stories to share this season because it has been too hot, too humid, and too rainy, in my opinion. I have no idea what the weatherman thinks about it. The humidity is 71% at 9 in the morning and it rains almost every day. Such miserable rain forest conditions offer no encouragement for spending time in the garden. Some of the weeds are two feet high and they can stay that way until it cools down.

In May the Gator Pond was bone dry. In June, one of God’s angels turned on the rain spigot and forgot to turn it back off. The Gator Pond now overfloweth. Before you get all excited thinking I live among alligators, let me assure you that no self-respecting gator would lay claim to a five foot wide pond.

Gator Pond-6255

The Gator Pond

The Gator Pond got its name from my mail art friends, who, generally speaking, are just like me – they hang out on the other side of normal. However, they were quite normal when it came to associating Florida with alligators, swamps and mosquitos big enough to saddle and ride. Mail arrived addressed to “Gator Bait,” “Gator Jones” and even “Godforsaken Rockless Swampland Jones” (yes, I suffered from rock envy in the 90’s, too). Learning of a small pond at the edge of the woods started their wild stories about my living next to the “Gator Pond.” The name stuck and just yesterday, my brother made a verbal reference to the Gator Pond.

In other Southern Rural Route news, both Mrs. Golf Cart and her step-daughter grew their first vegetable gardens this spring/summer. I’ll admit to being pleased they took this path because I can remember the excitement of walking into my first garden and finding a one inch string bean or a teeny tiny tomato. Everyone should experience this magic at least once in their lives.

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