In A Vase on Monday- The Fairies Return

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As winter turns to spring in South Florida, I often wonder if fairies have been in my garden waving their wands to create magical flowers in my garden. Floral fireworks explode from green buds in magenta and orange, followed by apricot flowers painted with sage green tips; burgundy foliage reveals charteuse edges. Mother Nature and magic are the only things that explain this beauty.

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The fairy standing sentry over the rock belonged to my mother and has resided in my garden since she left this world. The flowers are; in orange, Mexican Honeysuckle (Justicia spicigera); in the front of the arrangement, Soap Aloe (Aloe saponaria) with Solar Sunrise Coleus and Asparagus Fern foliage; the pink flowers are from our native Sunshine Mimosa backed by Alabama Coleus and a bit of Copper Fennel. The rock is another family piece and was covered in my blog yesterday, here is a link if you would like to read about it Heirloom Rocks . 20180422_151019-1

This flower is the one that always brings fairies and wands to my mind. It is a Sunshine Mimosa (Mimosa stringillosa) a low groundcover perennial with ferny foliage and tiny pink mophead flowers with yellow (I think) pollen granules at their ends. Sunshine Mimosa slumbers in the garden until spring rains wake it up to send up stems of pink magic.

Wishing you Happy Spring Gardening and magical flowers this Monday.

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Heirloom Rocks

 

Betty's favorite rock

Miss Betty’s Favorite Rock

My father was a geochemist. A Geology professor who taught for 35 years. Needless to say, he liked his rocks.  When my parents were young and during summers he worked in the field and collected what he called ‘specimens’. Working primarily in North Georgia and sometimes North Carolina there were a lot of bits of granite around the house, some wonderful chunks of quartz and even some fossils.

My parents built a brick patio with their own labor and coerced my brothers into thinking pounding sand to firm the foundation was fun. They bought some Sears Roebuck ‘redwood’ chaise lounges, poured some Carlo Rossi, and proceeded to lounge. The collection of rocks was repurposed into a waterfall and fish pond for my mother.  My father eventually collected so many rocks they formed an edging for my mother’s perennial garden around their patio.

This went on for years until my father retired from teaching; he still went out in the field, but rarely was able to carry the larger rocks home. I had the smaller specimens for my fish tank and potted plants, but not the bigger pieces; they stayed in my mother’s, the venerable Miss Betty,  garden.

My father passed away suddenly at the age of 80 while I was on vacation. One of the first things I did upon returning  home was to help my mother fix her waterfall. She poured Coca Cola into the copper line to unclog the concrete lady with the jug my father had placed to pour water into the pond. The lady was unclogged and the waterfall worked again; I spent more than one Saturday rearranging all those rocks so the waterfall didn’t leak. The waterfall’s health had declined along with my father’s.  I finally got it fixed and my mother enjoyed it for several years before she passed away as well.

The task of getting the house ready to sell fell to me as Executor of the Estate. The inside was cleaned and painted, but the outside had to be faced eventually. Especially my parents garden and patio. They had spent countless hours in the backyard arguing about politics and discussing life.  My siblings and I grew up and went our separate ways but always came back to the garden filled with the fruits of my parents labor. It was a bit of a dilemma for me to decide what to leave back there; I liked the rocks and waterfall as well. Eventually, I determined I should thin the rocks and leave the waterfall intact for the next owner as there was a certain spirit of the place contained in those stones and bricks my parents had so enjoyed in their backyard.

In my garden I have some of my father’s marble from his work in the Tate marble mines in North Georgia and some granite (always) and a few other specimens I can’t identify anymore. The one rock I will always keep is Miss Betty’s favorite rock. This particular rock is tan with a series of rings like a big cinnamon roll. I am sure I was told a hundred times what it was but this knowledge eludes me now. I tried to get another geologist to identify it after she passed, but all he could say was it was layers of something he couldn’t precisely identify. Maybe it is a metaphor for my parents’ life; many layers but now gone. I keep it in my Rain Garden where I pass it several times a day. I think my father would be pleased to know that particular rock is still being enjoyed.

 

In A Vase on Monday – Fire Bolt and Disney

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Spring in South Florida, the ever subtle season. The Fire Bolt? The Firebush or Firebushes (Hamelia patens and H. patens var patens) have started to flower in the garden again. The bolt? The white flowers in the arrangement are from my salad garden bolting from the heat, specifically the Arugula. The rest of the arrangement I don’t necessarily associate with spring. Most of it may or may not flower year round. The vase/teapot  is English, a Blue Willow marketing device from a long ago tea merchant. I was enchanted by the teapot in an antiques store some years ago.20180415_121717

There are two kinds of Firebush and berries in the teapot. At the edge, the red flowers and leaves are from the native Firebush (H. patens var patens) It has not rained here very much this year (+/- 2.5 inches) so it is pretty dry and the leaves actually look burned? The berries and flowers are from its Bahamian cousin that cheerfully resides in my back garden attracting the rare hummingbird and numerous butterflies that call this area home. White flowers are from Arugula, the vegetable. Yellow daisies, Beach Sunflower (Helianthus debilis); red spikes, Tropical Red Salvia (Salvia coccinea); striped foliage and flowers, New Zealand Flax (Dianella spp) and the ever present Asian Sword Fern.

The Disney part, while we live a fairly short distance from DisneyWorld in Orlando, I haven’t been up there in at least 30 years. Circumstances led us to EPCOT and the garden festival this week. Here is my favorite topiary, Lady and the Tramp:

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Followed by my favorite dogs, Charles and Alan, making the post Disney commute from boarding. Note the tired, yet happy faces.

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I always like the real ones better.  Although the Lady topiary has ears made from Love Grass. For those of you not reared in the Deep South – Love Grass is used as erosion control grassing to stabilize slopes on highways. Because it holds on like love.

I love the sentiment of Love Grass, though I would be surprised if anyone at Disney was aware of this bit of horticultural trivia.

Happy Monday. Happy Spring. Happy Gardening.

 

In A Vase on Monday – Zerumbet Zen

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My Shell Ginger is still flowering, so I couldn’t resist cutting a few more to create a vase for Monday. The word zerumbet is the last part of the botanical name for Shell Ginger, Alpinia zerumbet. Zerumbet means a plant stem with a spicy aroma.  This plant is nearly a pleasure to cut back as the stems have a gingery aroma and of course, if deadheaded properly the results are more flowers and a much better looking plant. A little pruning induces garden zen. Rarely I find myself happily inhaling the scent produced by my loppers. These tropical perennials tend to be large, about six feet wide and four feet tall and a bit of thinning improves the foliage and flowers.

The Shell Ginger was (I know, yet another) garage sale find. I spied the five dollar huge pot of Ginger, not knowing what it was exactly (Ginger something and I love Ginger anything) bought it, then decided it was so huge I divided it into three. Planted in three different places, which ended up being a really good idea. Siting Gingers in my garden seems to be a bit of a trick, out of the wind, sun but not too much sun and a nearby irrigation head seems to be a great thing. The wind thing really surprised me, after six years I am moving the rest of the gingers this spring.

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This vase seems to be another of my spa lobby creations, there are black Mexican pebbles in the bottom to hold the stems in place as the stems are heavy and uncooperative. Feeling the calming ginger vibes helped solving another identity crisis.

The other mystery Amaryllis in my garden finally flowered.

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This is the one from my father in law, and oddly enough it flowered during his birthday week. He would have been 93 years old. I have been carrying this Amaryllis around for going on 20 years. Maybe another cosmic reminder of gardening zen.

I think it is a Red Lion as that was commonly grown 30 years ago as a forced holiday bulb. I am letting it go to seed, hoping for more.

In A Vase on Monday – Cheers to Spring

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I joined my husband on a short road trip this week (about 80 miles north). Along the way, I noted green buds on trees and the first flowers on roses climbing fences as we drove through Melbourne, Florida. Signs are more evident of spring further north as we have few deciduous trees and roses are a long forgotten dream in my garden.

What is a harbinger of spring in South Florida? The Hong Kong Orchid trees and Winter Starburst Clerodendrum are two of my top picks. I have featured the Orchid tree flowers a few times this spring and killed every Clerodendrum I so much as looked at…

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Front and center, the Shell Ginger (Alpinia zerumbet); in purple, Mexican Sage (Salvia luecanthum); in blue, our native Porterweed; Asian Sword Ferns for greenery and some bits of a Purple Spike Dracaena along with the foliage from a Solar Sunrise Coleus. The white spikes are from a recent addition to my garden, Sweet Almond  (Aloysia virgata) native to Argentina reportedly flowering year round with the scent of honey accompanying the flowers. I have planted this beside our screened porch for fragrance and hopefully butterflies and pollinators.

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The vase is actually one half of a pair of wine glasses I painted to go with my Portmerion Botanic Garden china at a fund raising event hosted by my longtime friend Diane. In respect of the length of our friendship, I have ceased using the term ‘old friend’. Diane raises funds to provide college scholarships for kids with Tourette’s syndrome. A great cause, the foundation was started in honor of her daughter, Kelsey. For more information, here is the link: https://www.dollars4ticscholars.org/

The glass not filled with flowers from my garden will be filled with wine to toast spring.

Cheers!

In A Vase on Monday-Gone Native

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This morning I found myself, on hands and knees, installing stepping stones for a crushed shell walkway through my newly planted Bromeliad garden. It occurred to me – I had never done anything like this before, much less while wearing black socks and obnoxious red sneakers. Black socks are better if you tend to run around with the greyhounds without shoes, fashion notwithstanding. I have, really and truly, gone native. My polite mother, in the great beyond, is laughing. She knew it would come to this. My walk, under construction.

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The orange flags mark the stepping stones and the black fabric, hopefully cuts the prolific weeds down – there is black plastic edging on both sides to hold the crushed shells in place. The Bromeliad garden is a green, pink, silver and purple garden with Shell Ginger and Pink Dombeya as a background.

A close up of my entirely native vase:

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The blue stems are Blue Porterweed, ( Stachytarpheta-jamaicensis), orangey flowers, Firebush (Hamelia Patens and friends); yellow daisies are Beach Sunflowers (helianthus debilis) . The vase, a thrift store find, undoubtedly made by a foreign potter and left behind in Florida.

All plants in the vase are native.

Me, not so much. Our county enthusiastically endorsed our current president. My husband and I attended our local “March for our Lives” organized by the kids from our local school system in support of the kids from Parkland (about 80 miles south-where 17 were murdered at school in February) to protest gun violence in the US.

Standing, watching the crowd gather – I noted the crowd was oddly reminiscent of gardeners – an amazing cross section of humanity, old, young, all sizes and colors with a common interest. Not saving flowers of the garden, but flowers of another kind, human.

Our local flowers are nothing short of amazing. One teenaged girl, tasked to sing the Star Spangled Banner, cried through most of her performance and we did as well. The balance of the speakers, mostly high school students, put the politicians on the podium to shame.

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In A Vase on Monday – Tropical Bean Blast

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Last week several icy blog posts crossed my Reader, so I thought a blast of tropical flowers might warm things up. The tropical flowers are starting to flower again in my garden after a coolish winter. The coral Amaryllis I cut last week has been remarkably slow to open, in fact, it is still not open – despite my efforts to move it further and further into the sun. When I finally put it outside, in the sun, it dropped a bud in protest.

Research has finally identified this Amaryllis as a Barbados Lily (Amaryllis striatum) – definitely from my neighborhood and not a family bulb from my father in law. I see this Amaryllis everywhere in gardens around here, the ones nearby produce a huge amount of seed. I suspect this is another gift from my fine feathered friends. Thank you, birds. The bulb in my garden had two stalks, I cut one – the other is still in bud. Some Amaryllis like this in gardens closer to the water have already flowered and gone to seed.

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The other flowers in the arrangement include, in purple, Hong Kong Orchids (Bauhinia purpurea, I think, not realizing how many types of these exist!) The pink flowers are Shell Ginger (Alpinia zerumbet). The pods are beans from the Hong Kong Orchid, my attempt to use something other that ferns for a green foliage accent.

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The beans are in all the vases, this one displays them in a heart shape with Shell Ginger.

I love In A Vase on Monday, don’t you?

Thanks to Cathy at ramblinginthegarden.wordpress.com for hosting this every Monday!