Florida: Fall Around the Garden

Pink Rose with Rain Drops

Fragrant Yellow Rose

Floating Flower Bowl 1

Floating Flower Bowl 2

Bat Flower

Banana Magnolia (strong fragrance – a favorite!)

Mahoe (Sea Hibiscus)

Tapioca Plant (used to make pudding)

Dwarf Buddha Belly Bamboo

Stapeliad (Starfish) Flower

Blue Dragonfly at Pond

Kingfisher at Pond

Female Quail

We are starting to get our first cool breezes of Fall here in Florida, which makes it great for walking and working in the garden.  Plants love this time of year and grow like crazy!  Click on pictures for more details about the flowers.

Dragon Fruit Cactus

Dragon Fruit Cactus Flowers

Huge Size of Blooms

Pink Ripening Dragon Fruit

Sliced Dragon Fruit Ready to Eat

Sphinx Moth Pollinator (day and night)

Our dragon fruit cactus finally produced fruit! It opened two dinner plate-sized flowers at night in early September.  Each bud was over a foot long!  In the tropics the plant is pollinated by bats, but here in Florida it is pollinated by moths.  Happily I did see two Sphinx moths flying around the flowers in the dark.  

This week we enjoyed eating its beautiful pink dragon fruit.  It tastes something like a slightly sweet pear with poppy seeds.  Our home-grown fruit was much sweeter than the commercial fruit available in the market.   Some great looking recipes are at:  http://www.tfgsf.com/?page_id=546, and an especially promising chocolate cupcake with dragon fruit buttercream frosting recipe is at:  https://sugarandcharm.com/2013/09/chocolate-cupcakes-with-dragon-fruit-buttercream.html

Florida’s Space Coast: Beaches OK after Hurricane Irma

Path to Sebastian Beach before Hurricane Irma

Sebastian Inlet Calm Waves Before the Storm

Shell Bits on Beach

Beach Morning Glory and Hamburger Bean

Bunches of Sea Grapes

Clean Melbourne Beach Coastline after Irma

Melbourne Beach Waves

Melbourne Beach Dune Erosion after Irma

I am very happy to say that our beautiful beaches here on Florida’s Space Coast still look great after Hurricane Irma!  We were all nervous staring down a Category 5 hurricane  – at times the projected track went right over our coastal area east of Orlando.  There certainly was damage in Brevard County, but nothing that can’t be fixed.  Our house itself is fine, although we do have an enormous amount of yard work to do.  It is such a luxury now to have use of power, water, internet, gas, and grocery stores – makes you appreciate what surrounds you every day.  It was also nice to see people helping one another.  All our animals and birds are back too.  Great to get back to normal!

Florida: Cocoa Beach in Summer

Summer Walk on Cocoa Beach

Morning Waves

Sanderling Running

Ghost Crab

Florida in summer is a land of ocean breezes, afternoon showers, and warm nights.  A walk on Cocoa Beach in the morning is perfect!

Florida: Fantastic Waterlilies

Lavender Waterlily with “Sunflower” Center

Lovely White Lotus

Yellow Waterlily

Purple Waterlily with Red Center

Red Hibiscus

Vintage Movie: Woman Feeding Deer

Vintage Movie: Chimps Eating at Table

Summer is peak waterlily time at McKee Gardens in Vero Beach, Florida.  Lots of waterlilies are in bloom, along with many other beautiful flowers. There is always something new to see!  The park first opened as McKee Jungle Gardens in 1932 as one of Florida’s earliest roadside attractions.  At that time the park was much bigger and monkeys roamed the garden.  A vintage eight minute movie from 1939 named “A Man-Made Jungle” is always on display and fun to watch.  You can see it yourself at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3zY7SZT1B-c    More info about McKee Gardens is at: http://www.mckeegarden.org/

Nature Outside My Window

Night Blooming Cactus Flower

Group of Cactus Flowers

Cactus Wrapped Around Sabal Palm

Wildlife Cam: Raccoon Trio

Wildlife Cam: Deer Peekaboo

Wildlife Cam: Tom Turkey

Wildlife Cam: Mother Turkey (right) and Chick (left)

Wildlife Cam: Mottled Duck

Wildlife Cam: Cardinals, Blue Jay, and Woodpecker

It is amazing how much nature is visible outside my home office window.  Since it is summer, we are enjoying a spectacular show of cactus flowers every night.  The automatic wildlife camera captured these raccoons playing beside the flowers.  During the day the female white-tailed deer was caught visiting the same spot, as well as wild turkeys, mottled ducks, and many other birds.  I always have handy a flashlight, binoculars, and camera to look at and capture any surprises I might see.  

Great Crested Flycatchers are Nesting

Great Crested Flycatcher in Nest Box

Raccoon Enjoying Fruit Tray

Raccoon Looking at Snake Skin

A pair of great crested flycatchers recently moved into the woodpecker/screech owl nest box in our backyard. These birds with lemon bellies have very unique calls – usually you hear them before you see them (listen at: https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Great_Crested_Flycatcher/sounds).  

If flycatchers find a snakeskin, they always weave it into their nest.  We got lucky and found one, so we placed it on a tray along with fresh fruit for the birds.  The flycatchers ignored the goodies, but the raccoon thought it was the best treat ever!  

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