La Niña and the garden

The past couple of days have been dominated by non-stop heavy rain from Tropical Storm Cristobal in the Gulf of Mexico. It’s excellent for both my plants and my mind, as they get a welcome drink and I work my way through the stack of new books I have accumulated (as I cannot be out working in the garden).

I feel like we cannot escape having a hurricane this year with La Niña:

El Niño increases wind shear and dry air over the Atlantic, which hurricanes do not like. Hurricanes feed off a low wind shear environment.

La Niña is when the water is cooler than normal in the Eastern Pacific Ocean. This is due to stronger than normal easterly trade winds that move east to west over the Pacific Ocean. These stronger than normal trade winds push the warmer water to the western Pacific causing what is called upwelling in the eastern Pacific.

La Niña years provide favorable conditions for the Atlantic hurricane season as they reduce wind shear and provide warmer sea temperatures.

We have already had so many long storms that I have lost count. It’s difficult to believe that only a few weeks ago we were under a fire ban – now the landscape is about as waterlogged as it gets and our windows are perpetually foggy. It has made for many delighted frogs, however. If you go outside at night, they are everywhere. And as this is Florida, some of them look like creatures straight out of Harry Potter. I need to get a camera that performs well at night so I can share the subtropical weirdness.

I planted another 100 caladium tubers, this time a stunning red. I am hoping all of the rain will help them come up quickly.

For a week, I have been blaming the squirrels for stealing my Caladium Aaron (white and green) bulbs. I saw many shallow holes after I planted all of the tubers weeks ago and none of the white ones have come up yet. So I ordered 100 red ones to add to the mix and fill in what I thought were missing spaces. But when I went to plant the new ones, I found the old ones just starting to sprout. That means the area under the magnolia trees now has close to 300(!!!) pink, red, and white caladiums under it. And they will spread.

It’s like I always say, if they can’t see your garden from the International Space Station, can you really call yourself a gardener?

I also planted:

  • Mixed tuberoses (Pollanthes) x 6;
  • Eremurus cleopatra (Foxtail Lily or Desert Candle);
  • Eremurus rexona;
  • Ornithogalum thyrsoides x 24;
  • Summer daffodils x 5;
  • Hardy ground orchids x 6;
  • Nerine sarniensis x 3;
  • Acidanthera murielae (Abyssinian gladioli) x 25; and
  • Gladiolus galaxian x 25.

Most of these I ordered online from a company called Easy to Grow Bulbs. I’ve used them several times now and I think that’s probably about it for me. They take entirely too long to ship, and I suspect that is perversely because they have much of their operations devoted to Amazon fulfillment for generic bulbs, such that people who order the seemingly exotic stuff from them directly are not getting prioritized. It took them fully a month after ordering for them to even start to send me any of the bulbs. By comparison, my caladium orders were on our porch in two days… And that was a spectacular number of plants for a private garden. I don’t usually want the karma from writing bad reviews, but I feel like I need to caution other people from online nurseries that don’t have it together, as it can really mess up your year when people sit on orders. Fortunately, we live in a place with an eternal growing season.

Also, I found a fun PBS series called Plants Behaving Badly. The first part is about carnivorous plants and the second is about orchids and the strange ways some plants reproduce. Florida is featured prominently in both. I got the chills seeing entire swaths of swamp covered in carnivorous plants. Everything in the swamps is hungry.

Elise is going through a phase (maybe it’s a phase?) where she likes to look at anything and everything under her microscope. We are going through a lot of blank slides. This sounds great until you see all the things she collects riding around the neighborhood and brings home. Snake skins, dead locusts, you name it, we have them piled on shelves. The episode on carnivorous plants made her take samples of the juice that collects in my bromeliads.

Drosera, a carnivorous plant that excretes a sticky substance to trap its prey. Its name comes from the Greek δρόσος “dew” and Latin ros solis, of the sun. It’s a sundew. Swamps are a lot of fun.

2 thoughts on “La Niña and the garden

  1. I am woefully ignorant about most plants but became intrigued with drosera when we moved to the Mt. Lassen area and discovered nearby Willow Lake. It is surrounded by a spectacular mountain scene with “drosera anglica” richly carpeting its expansive marsh; they bloom only early in the season. It’s a semi-secret spot (favored mostly by kayakers) involving some dirt roads but it’s worth the effort to make the trek if you are vacationing in the area. I was surprised to learn about this gorgeous carnivorous plant because previously I had only been aware of the Venus fly trap, which both intrigued and disgusted me as a child.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I had only been familiar with pitcher plants and Venus fly traps myself before I watched the show. We have a kayak, but I still have to be seriously motivated to go out into the swamps. Alligators aside, the mud is REAL. We tried getting out of our kayak in one swampy area here, and were waist-deep in mud.


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