Fall has finally arrived to central Florida. It’s a chilly 48 degrees at midday and expected to be 38 degrees tonight. These temps will only last a few days; by Friday it will be back up to the high 70’s. So, even though it’s nice and sunny out, I’m content to snug up here on the sofa with my pup, Ralphie, and a cup of coffee mixed with coquito. If you’re unfamiliar with the aforementioned concoction, I will explain. Coquito is often referred to as Puerto Rican eggnog. It’s easy to make – no eggs involved – just canned sweetened condensed milk, coconut milk, evaporated milk, and cinnamon. And rum. There are several variations, but those are the main ingredients and it’s so tasty! Along with the chilly weather, I’m feeling somewhat festive. It may be the rum.
As the temperature started to drop yesterday afternoon, I donned a sweatshirt and took Ralphie for a walk. (donned – a fun word, right?) Just north of my neighborhood, if you bear right, the road becomes dirt and leads into the woods. Parts of the woods are swampy but there are a few houses scattered around, so the road is maintained and makes for a pleasant walk.
Florida in November is not much different to the untrained eye than, say, Florida in March or July. The few ragged wildflowers that were colorful in September are now brown but the fern, palmetto, and the oaks remain green all year. I passed a large patch of coralberry that was turning red just in time for the holidays. With it’s red berries and shiny dark green leaves, it makes a good substitute for holly. I have a bush in my backyard that I use for Christmas greenery.
I looked it up in Wikipedia just now so I could sound more knowledgeable here.
QUOTE: “Ardisia Crenata, sometimes called Christmas berry, is an invasive species in the southeastern US, escaping captivity in wooded areas in Florida in 1982. The invasive cultivar in this region is originally from Japan. It is classified as a Category 1 pest by the Florida Exotic Pest Plant Council (FEPPC).”
Ha! This made me almost spit out my rum laden coffee. How do they know it “escaped” in 1982 exactly? Are agents from the FEPPC looking for it? Is it armed and dangerous? Who knew there was a FEPPC anyway? I also have two poinsettia bushes in the back that are starting to sprout their famous red leaves. I was thinking of moving them to the front. Are they wanted by the FEPPC as well? Should I keep them in hiding? I just checked and it appears not. Although they are not native and hail from Central America, they are not a Category 1 pest. Whew!
I don’t mean to disrespect the work of the FEPPC. I understand how some non-native plants get out of control. Large swaths of south Florida are overrun with Brazilian Pepper that was once touted and sold as Florida Holly in the 1920’s and 30’s. It’s just that the more I research the plants in my yard, the more I find that I’m really good at growing invasive species. A real green thumb!