In A Vase on Monday -Time In A Bottle

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As I was thinking about a subject for a vase, it occurred to me putting a vase together every week is a bit like saving time in a bottle. The dates are right on the blog post for reference and I  find (not being a keeper of garden journals) myself referring back to my blog to see when plants have been in bloom. The watch ( a la Salvador Dali) a gift from my father many years ago. The persistence of memory can be troubling.

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The largest plant in a preowned pink champagne bottle is Shell Ginger (Alpinia zerumbet). Shell Gingers were a bit of a mystery to me upon my arrival in Florida. The variegated type is commonly used as an annual further north for its foliage, but the green ones I had not encountered until I ran across one at a garage sale for (my favorite price) five bucks. Warnings are commonly issued about the size of these plants, a few years after planting it is six feet by six feet – but it also also planted in front of an ugly six foot fence. Gotta love it when a plan works out. It also appears to be on the verge of bursting into full bloom all over, however, this is difficult to discern as buds. leaves, etc look remarkably similar. If the whole thing does flower I will definitely post some pictures.

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The heirloom blue bottle (another gift from my mother) holds a new arrival to my garden, in purple, Ground Orchids, I think this is a Bletilla of some sort, but as usual no one selling these plants really knows. Ground Orchids are fairly common in South Florida and used as 18″ height perennials – mine have been placed under a Pink Frangipani, next to a plum foliaged and flowered Bromeliad of unknown origin and beside a group of the Pink Bromeliads-the flower currently displayed in the gold bottle. Alongside the mysterious Orchid we have culinary Dill flowers, pink Tropical Salvia (Salvia coccinea) and Dwarf Pineapple foliage.

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This vase contains a Billbergia Bromelaid of uncertain origins ( found thrown out with trash whilst walking my greyhounds) What I can say is I find it unreasonably sharp and beautiful. I may someday learn its botanical name, though I doubt it. In the vase there is some foliage from another, unrelated Bromeliad, a Neoregelia of the Fireball continuum I think.. And a bit of Asparagus Fern that appeared one day and I suspect my floral ambitions are keeping it at bay. The gold bottle has a cork and has served as an olive oil container.

Time in these bottles preserves mid February flowers in my garden or maybe the photos really provide the preservation. Next year will bring the answer all gardeners want to know – will it flower again?

Will our memory persist? One can hope or ask Dali.

In A Vase on Monday -Bouquet of Love

 

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Passionflower vine rambles through some overgrown shrubs in the back garden. The vines were left to ramble because the hummingbirds enjoy them and some native Passionflowers produce an edible fruit, although I have yet to figure out how to tell one from another. While standing under the shrubs channeling Sir Isaac Newton, a passionfruit fell at my feet, inspiring this vase.

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The inspiration provided, passionfruit at my feet, as Valentine’s Day is Tuesday – I thought If starting with a Passionfruit could the vase be filled with flowers that have a meaning related to love? During the Victorian era in England, flower arrangements were made to convey sentiments based on the selection of flowers and the meaning associated with a flower. For example, a bouquet of lilacs would mean first love. If you were the recipient of the Lilacs someone was telling you they were in love with you and for the first time.

Seizing the challenge, I cut a passionfruit still on the vine and searched the Victorian flower dictionary for plants with love related meanings.

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A close up of the plant palette and the meanings of each component:

The  red flowers are Dwarf Jamaican Heliconia (Heliconia stricta) meaning Adoration.

The orange flower is Mexican Honeysuckle (Justicia spicigera) meaning Bonds of Love.

Asian Sword Ferns meaning Sincerity.

The dark, ferny leaves Copper Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare) meaning Strength and Praise

Rosemary (Rosemarinus officinalis) meaning Remembrance

Viny plant on the right is Variegated Needlepoint Ivy (Hedera ‘Needlepoint’) meaning Friendship and Fidelity

Last but not least:

The yellow fruit is Passionfruit (Passiflora incarnata) meaning Faith

The result – a bouquet of love for Valentine’s Day from my garden. With the addition of a little something from the kitchen our celebration will be ready.

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A little chocolate to go with the flowers!

Happy Valentine’s Day.

 

 

In A Vase on Monday – Get Your Ducks in a Row

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Growing up, my parents constantly told me to get my ducks in a row. This means figuring out what or how you are going to do something before you start. This relates to the flower arrangement as I started out with a beautiful pottery bowl, a wedding gift, placed a flower frog in the bottom and started placing flowers in the holder – only to figure out the base of the bowl was nowhere close to flat, causing the flowers to tip over and then realizing the pendulous flowers were hidden by the edges of the bowl. The blue glass container is Plan B. The ducks were a gift from my father many years ago to remind me.

20170205_130036-1 For this week’s arrangement I was planning Dwarf Jamaican Heliconias and waiting for them to start flowering, Valentine’s Day is usually their prime and they are sticking to their schedule. Maybe next week. More ducks for me to line up. Plan B again.

The Soap Aloe (Aloe saponaria) sent up a stalk earlier this week and it was in full flower so that is the center of the arrangement. The pendulous red flowers are Turk’s Cap Hibiscus (Malvaviscus pendiflorus), a native shrub that appears unbidden in the garden. The white flowers are another native, actually a nuisance, I thought these were Coreopsis run amok, then found out they are actually a wildflower called Indian Needles (Bidens pilosa) considered a medicinal plant and prolific producers of sharp, thin seeds. I am not sure if the seeds were used as needles, but they are sharp enough. Tropical Red Salvia (Salvia coccinea) in red and coral, another native, is thriving so I just keep cutting them. Last but not least, a little foliage accent from Asian Sword Fern and Culinary Dill Flowers.

Interestingly, almost all these plants are medicinal – if I needed shampoo (Soap Aloe) or a cure for hernia pain and upset stomach (Turk’s Cap, Indian Needles, Tropical Red Salvia and Dill) i would have really had my ducks in a row this week.

In A Vase on Monday – Tropical Blues

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It’s Sunday afternoon in South Florida and we are having a rare rainy day with temperatures in the 40s (F). It’s damp and dreary and my greyhounds are grumpy because they have been cooped up in the house all day. Alan (the greyhound, not my husband) went into the backyard, jumped into the air put both paws over his head and threw his collar off and onto the ground burying it in the sand in disgust.

We have the tropical blues. No sun and no blue skies today. Some Kissy Fish and a new Bromeliad in a blue vase will cheer things up.

I was pleased to find the small Pink Bromeliads (Quesnelia testudo) I planted last fall starting to flower this week. Another one of my mystery plants, bought nameless (3 for five bucks!) at a Botanical Garden sale, I thought these were something else entirely, but the Quesnelia have worked out quite well and flower in mid winter here. Someday I will have a drift of Pink Bromeliads under my Shell Gingers.

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Not wishing to venture out in the rain again, I cut the rest of this vase from containers on my front porch. Joining the Quesnelia are: in pink and chartreuse foliage, Alabama Sunset Coleus; chartreuse flowers from Culinary Dill, the darker fine textured foliage is Copper Fennel from the herb containers and a bit of grey Flapjack Kalanchoe flowers and Asian Sword Fern foliage. The blue glass footed vase is a family heirloom.

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The Kissy Fish are part of my husband’s collection of unusual ceramics. The artist is Steven Smeltzer of Maui.

Speaking of my husband – he has been in the kitchen this afternoon seeking to cure our case of the Tropical Blues. Baking a Blueberry Pie:

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I am sure to feel better after dessert.

In A Vase on Monday – Make America Garden Again

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All political commentary aside, watching events unfold this weekend sparked a patriotic arrangement for this Monday. The primary colors in the arrangement are Red, white and blue for the United States of America. Hopefully we will put aside our animosity and pick up our tools and get out in the garden again. I do think a new era of activism and civic participation has been unleashed and was amazed to see the rest of the world joining in.

The props with this arrangement are a flag crocheted by my mother in law (we just realized Joan has been gone almost 15 years) as a Fourth of July gift some years ago. After she retired, she sat in her Living Room and crocheted- we had a crocheted something for every occasion and then some.  At some point I reached crochet overload and was relieved to find that volunteer organizations (Women’s shelters, especially) often like these handmade items and have been happy to pass them along. The bells (Let Freedom Ring, anyone?) were collected by my father when he was in the US Army stationed in India during World War II.

The vase is English, a teapot in my favorite Blue Willow pattern acquired while junk shopping with my mother about 20 years ago. I was thrilled to find a new piece at the thrift shop this week, I inherited some from my grandmother and have been collecting it for about 30 years.

The flowers are in red, Tropical Red Salvia (Salvia coccinea), in blue, Tropical Plumbago (Plumbago auriculata), in white, Sweet Begonias (Begonia odorata ‘Alba’) in the center, difficult to see is a Hallelujah Billbergia Bromeliad. There are a few sprigs of Dill flowers from the herb garden and some Asian Sword Ferns for foliage. Here is a close up of the Bromeliad flower:

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Hallelujah Billbergia Bromeliad seems pretty patriotic! Getting back out in the garden to find Hallelujah sporting red, white and blue started the vase idea.

In A Vase on Monday- A Trio of Heirlooms with Comments from the Cats.

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This week I decided to use my heirloom vase collection and limit myself to one type of flower per vase using different foliage types to accent the flowers. The terracotta cats are also heirlooms, inherited from my mother and they are offering comments on the arrangements. The cats are contented by the brown vase, interested in the blue vase and napping by the vase on the right.

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This vase was acquired by my mother on a trip through the Western United States shortly after my parents retired. The origin of the contented cat I am not so sure about. The plants in the vase are: in red, Parrotflowers (Heliconia psittacorum), the bigger leaf is from a Split Leaf Philodendron (Philodendron selloum), the green stem is a budding flower stalk from a Draceana reflexa, some people call these Pleomele. The actual Draceana flowers are an odd brown stringy affair that I was very disappointed in the last year.

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This is another vase collected by my mother on her Western adventure. Made by the Ute Indian tribe, it remains a favorite of mine. I think the cat is excited by all the foliage in this one. The purple flowers are from a Hong Kong Orchid (Bauhinia purpurea) tree, the fine textured fern is the Asparagus Fern, viny elements are Muscadine Grape (Vitis rotundafolia) shoots, a few sprigs of Miniature Varigated Pineapple foliage, and the berries of Gumbo Limbo (Bursea simarouba)

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The vase is a blown glass footed object collected by my in laws at their various arts and crafts show outings. It reminds me of them and I use it for small arrangements. The cat is snoozing here as he is worn out from remembering the botanical names in the previous vase. This is simply a bunch of Beach Sunflowers (Helianthus debilis) backed by Asian Sword Fern.

I also inherited my mother’s cat, she is now old enough to drive.

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In A Vase on Monday – Contrasting Elements.

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My goal this week was to use an actual vase! Check. The vase is one of my thrift store finds that I have greatly enjoyed. As I was thinking of what to use in the vase I realized my native Firebush was starting to flower after  I cut it back in December, so that started the ball rolling. Here is a better photo of the vase:

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I had to bundle up to wander outside today. We are having winter today, when I woke up this morning the weather said it was 47 degrees (F) and felt like 37. There is also a gale warning and the wind blowing in from the north off the Atlantic Ocean is cold in January.

The plants seem perfectly content in the breezy cool, thus far and it always surprises me what I find when it seems not much is flowering. Since I started with orange Firebush flowers I remembered a professor from design school saying you always need a color jump (jump being from one side of the color wheel to the other) in your compositions. My color jump was to the blue Pom Pom Aster. Then I added a pink one and some Tropical Red Salvia. After that the color was getting pretty jumpy so I decided some grey was needed to cool things down. The Flapjack Kalanchoes are blooming and seemed just right.

Complicating my mental dilemma was another sacrosanct axiom from design school, all elements must occur in odd numbers. Ones, threes, fives and sevens are best. Fortunately, there were three Pom Pom Asters. A friend from school told me once he thought fours were best when planting a featured perennial because the fourth plant makes your eye go round in circles and focus on the plant. Perhaps my nearsightedness prevents me from perceiving the miracle of four.

Finding myself dangerously close to a self inflicted design lecture – I cut some different foliage for contrast. Dwarf Red striped Pineapple, Muhly Grass and Copper Fennel were added, coarse and fine texture and color all at once. Breathing a sigh of relief from all this thought I decided to make lunch.

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