New backyard plant: Willow Bustic

New backyard plant: Willow Bustic
On the first day of spring 2015 (that was March 20 for those of you who still aren’t keeping track of the seasons and astronomical events) I planted a new tree in the side yard out front: a Willow Bustic, Sideroxylon salicifolium. (Although take that taxonomic name with a grain of salt; apparently the tree is ...

New backyard plant: Beach Creeper

New backyard plant: Beach Creeper
My front yard is a problem. It faces south, and it’s very hot and dry. The soil is sandy, and because much of the front yard is reclaimed from a time when the street was wider, there’s a lot of crushed limestone under that sand layer, making for tough digging: those loosely compacted rocks are ...

New backyard plant: Bahama Jacaranda 2

New backyard plant: Bahama Jacaranda
One of my favorite memories of my decade spent at UCLA was seeing the huge trees with all the purple flowers and the flowery name: Jacaranda. They were scattered all over campus, in front of the library, in the courtyard outside a classroom I was in a lot, in the sculpture garden, near the top ...

What’s in a name? The “involucrate” of Lantana involucrata

What's in a name? The
My last post was about a nice little Florida native plant that I’m trying out (again) in the yard: Lantana involucrata. Now “lantana,” you’ll recall, in addition to being the name of a town not far from where I live, comes from the Latin for “flexible,” whatever that may mean when applied to these rather woody ...

New backyard plant: Button Sage

New backyard plant: Button Sage
This spring I decided to revamp my yard a little bit, removing some poorly performing plants (firebush, believe it or not) and replacing them with species that might be more suited to the growing conditions here. And in my front yard, that means hot and sunny. Lantana involucrata, commonly known by its taxonomic name but also ...

Fiddlewood caterpillar (Epicorsia oedipodalis) update

Fiddlewood caterpillar (<em>Epicorsia oedipodalis</em>) update
The fiddlewood caterpillars (not their real common name, but since they don’t seem to have a common name I’m calling them that) I discovered the other day haven’t done very well in captivity. I’ve had them in a plastic jar for a couple of days but they haven’t grown at all—still the same 10 mm ...

Ants bite; they can also tend your garden for you

Ants bite; they can also tend your garden for you
Last weekend I went out to Yamato Scrub for another volunteer clean-up event coordinated by Palm Beach County ERM. We were removing the last of the temporary irrigation installed years and years ago to jump-start the native plants that they imported to the site to replace the acres and acres of Brazilian Pepper and Australian Pine ...

New backyard butterfly: Great Southern White

New backyard butterfly: Great Southern White
I’ve been noticing some large, white butterflies in the front yard throughout the month of May; they’ve been a bit hard to photograph with the constant wind and their habit of flying off at top speed when I approach with a camera, so I’m digging into my photo files and showing this version from a ...

Backyard plant: Jamaica caper. Or, flowers attract bees

Backyard plant: Jamaica caper. Or, flowers attract bees
Back in April I called my native landscape guru, Melissa McGaughey, because I wanted her advice on some of the things going on around the yard. One of my main concerns was the Jamaica caper in the front yard. It was growing fairly bushy, with lots of what looked like competing leaders, etc. I’m used ...

New backyard plant: Wild Cinnamon

New backyard plant: Wild Cinnamon
The rainy season is right around the corner, so last month I worked on the landscape a little bit. I’d been disappointed in the performance of the gumbo limbo tree out front; it was in the shade of the towering coconut tree that dominates that front yard, and I wanted to see whether it would ...