Summer in the Florida garden is pretty much like summer anywhere else, only more so. More heat, more rain, more lightning, more weeds, more flowers, more bugs.
To celebrate the season, we sent photographers in search of the botanical sights of summer. They came back with shots both beautiful (blooming plants) and alarming (chomping insects).
We hope you enjoy this view of summer through the camera lens.
_ JEANNE MALMGREN
The lubber grasshopper, sometimes called the lubberly locust, is the bane of many a yard. It's large (2-inches long), it's garish and it's hungry, feeding on many plants, particularly members of the lily family. It's also immune to most pesticides. Want to get rid of it? Use the bottom of that shoe!
Oleanders are pretty, trouble-free plants until this fellow arrives on the scene _ the oleander caterpillar. It doesn't sting, but it (and its pals) can strip every leaf off a healthy oleander in one day. You can spray them with insecticide or a nontoxic soap spray, or just blast them with a high-powered hose nozzle. And then they'll be back, again and again and again.
Mathew and Alfredo Kiernan, 4-year-old twin sons of Chris and Elsa Kiernan, are dwarfed by a giant sunflower in their St. Petersburg yard. There are dozens of sunflower varieties, many of them hybrids developed by the seed companies that cater to gardeners' fondness for these big beauties. All are members of the Helianthus family; this one is probably Helianthus giganteus, for obvious reasons.
The delicate moonflower blooms only on summer nights, its white petals seeming to glow in the dark. Once the sun's up, the flowers close but there are still the attractive heart-shaped leaves to admire. Moonflower is related to the morning glory and _ believe it or not _ sweet potatoes.