In a Vase on Monday – Feeling Cooler, Not.

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September in Florida. It’s still blazing hot summer, though the calendar is telling me otherwise. Fall doesn’t arrive until October and it could be really late in October. My mental calendar still lives further north sometimes and expects cooler weather after Labor Day. In hopes of some mental cooling, I went in search of autumnal hues for my vase.

The vase is a thrift store find that I have used frequently and love for its chunky pottery vibe and the grey color provides great contrast to high colors.

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This is one of those vases I would have never conceptualized (realize I am a very highly seasoned design person, grey-haired and spicy). Conceptualized is design BS for ‘wouldn’t have thought of this’. Ugh, I hate that stuff sometimes. But there it is. Just popping out.

Wandering through the garden, I cut some white and purple – the white flowers are from Tropical Red Salvia (Salvia coccinea) – sometimes it is white. The purple flowers are ‘Cabernet’ Spathoglottis, a Ground Orchid. Then I saw the apricot/orange panicles, these are flowers from the Miniata Bromeliad, fading away. I was surprised to like the color. The usual color is below. The deep purple and gold berries are from a Spicewood (Calyptranthes pallens) – this is one of the supposedly ‘easy to grow natives’ that is not so easy to grow. It has been moved several times and finally seems content, in a place no book recommends. And it doesn’t smell like spices as of yet. The orange tubular flowers are from a Soap Aloe (Aloe saponaria), supposedly people made shampoo with these in the past – and then, the disclaimer. Many people are allergic to this, so caution is advised. There is not enough Benadryl in my house to make shampoo with this Aloe. The graceful creamy white spikes are from the Juba Bush (Iresine diffusa) – this is named for a Caribbean dance – Juba, because it sways in the wind like the dancers, and it really does. I guess I need a Limbo plant. Striped foliage in the back is from Wandering Jew (Transcandentia zebrina) that grows wild in my garden.

Here is the Miniata Bromeliad in flower.

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An interesting difference in the Miniata, though I like both colors and this week the color is decidedly cooler.

I just finished a good book and would like to share it with you. This book resonated deeply with me, having many similar thoughts and experiences in my garden. (I talk to my mother – who is dead – often in the garden, usually about my lack of gloves) I was happy to read other people do this.

A very enjoyable read by Cynthia Reyes, ‘Twigs in my Hair’

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Six on Saturday – Breezy

It’s a bit breezy here as we have yet another tropical storm nearby. This one is called Humberto and is staying well offshore, so it’s a bit windy, sunny and rainy. Given the rain from Hurricane Dorian we have had an outbreak of mosquitoes, followed by one of my favorite insects, the Dragonfly. Mosquito control at it’s finest. Swarms of dragonflies patrol my garden and gorge themselves on the offending bug. If only I had a way to call them!

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Fall is showing subtle signs like the fruit on the Firebush (Hamelia patens)

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The Firesticks Pencil Cactus showing a bit more color.

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The Adonidia Palms (Veitchii merrilli) are flowering, I cut some of these a couple of weeks ago and they exploded on the hall table after two days. Lesson learned.

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I have been wondering what my greyhounds have been looking for under the pots. This is a Florida Box Turtle, who refused to pose.

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Fall also means starting seeds for October planting. We garden in the winter here, so I am starting seeds this week. I have been saving and collecting seeds all year. Looking forward to some fresh vegetables and new flowers.

img_20190914_114251Follow this link (The Link) to The Propagators blog to see more posts of Six on Saturday.

Extreme Gardening – Dianella

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Here is my Dianella (Dianella tasmanica ‘Varigata’) or Varigated Flax Lily. This is one of those ‘drugstore parking lot’ plants that are really tough. I bought it from ‘the death rack’ at a big box store for fifty cents. I had it in a terracotta pot for a couple of years and pulled it out in June. Put it out of the way and promptly the Dianella slipped my mind.

This plant has sat above ground like this all summer long in South Florida, it has also sent up buds. and looks like it will soon flower! It is in the shade, potless, but still in better shape than while in the pot. I am thinking it will be really happy to be planted and have the perfect spot.

In a Vase on Monday – Love/Hate Relationships

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The oh so subtle signs of fall are appearing on the peninsula of Florida. Hurricane Dorian was one unmistakable sign, the hurricane season peaks on September 10. My husband declared hurricane season over and took down all the storm shutters. Signs in the garden include the formation of fruit on Beautyberry and Firebush and I have seen three (yes, 3!) Red Maples sporting red fall color. It is exciting.

My garden came through the brush with Hurricane Dorian mostly unscathed, the Beautyberry had their leaves blown off (the berries were untouched) and the Avocado tree’s leaves have windburn. A few branches down here and there, but that is about it. I wonder if I have sited the Avocado in a less than the optimal place as the leaves usually burn from one thing or another.

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The vase is an old florist’s vase I found by the side of the road in my neighborhood. I am guessing at least thirty years old as I vaguely remember these in the 80s. Most of the plants in the vase I love for their flowers but hate for their voracious appetite for space in the garden.

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The most incorrigible of the lot, in white, Spanish Needles (Bidens alba) possibly the best native pollinator in the garden – however, these reseed to the point of annoyance. In orange and red, Firebush (Hamelia patens – varieties botanically undefined) I love these shrubs, but once they get going watch out. I was told one was dwarf (4 feet) sounds great – it is probably closing in on 12 feet and still growing. Also soon to be a tree form as I love the butterflies nectaring on it (5 different butterflies seen while cutting branches for the vase). The red fruits are also from the Firebush, I have two types, the red one produces fruit that grows little plants in the garden – the orange one never does. Grey foliage is from Barometer Bush (Luecophyllum) I prune and prune and never have a dense hedge, purple flowers occasionally make it worthwhile. The purple berries, Beautyberry (Calliocarpa americana) which I love right now but not so much for the foliage. Ferns are Asian Sword Ferns, they could take over a gas station parking lot. Enough said.

My vase from last week is holding up well with the exception of the Orchid, that was asked to leave and unceremoniously composted. Here are the two vases together.

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Maybe there is fall color in Florida. It is just totally different.

Six on Saturday – Some Rescues

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Every Saturday The Propagator (click on link) invites us to share six items of interest from our gardens. Hurricane Dorian passed within 100 miles of my garden this week and we came through the storm unscathed. Physically, unscathed – mentally I was scathed. I did bring a few things inside before the winds howled by. Above, Papayas nearly ripe on the tree. I picked the Papayas and left them on the counter to ripen.

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This is a fungus on a Norfolk Island Pine stump, the tree was removed because they tend to topple in high winds.

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A Gulf Fritillary butterfly on potted Zinnias.

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New growth on a Miniature Pineapple.

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Flower of a Neoregelia Bromeliad.

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The Cattleya Orchids flowered. Thinking the flowers were too delicate for the winds, I cut them and brought them inside. They grow right outside my Living Room window and I usually leave them as they last longer on the plant.

Happy Gardening on Saturday!

The Hurricane Report

Several people have asked what goes on during a hurricane. I have written about my hurricane experience, having recently been missed by ongoing Hurricane Dorian. This experience is not a recommended addition to anyone’s bucket list.

Here is the report:

First, days or weeks before the Hurricane actually forms, it pops up on an NOAA Map like this:

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X marks the spot where a tropical depression might or might not form, percentages are the chance it forms in 2 days and existing hurricanes and storms are on the map. Tropical depressions are the genesis of the hurricane. By looking further on the website you can find tracks of all storms and see where they are predicted to go, many go out to sea, never a threat to land. The #3 disturbance is worrisome because this time of year many hurricanes originate there, and end up in the Caribbean, the Gulf of Mexico or the Atlantic coast of the US and Canada. These are called Cape Verde hurricanes, named after the nearby islands.

We started watching Dorian a week or so ago when it passed by Puerto Rico as a tropical storm, and kept heading our way. As the days go by the cone of probability (basically a graphic of the current idea of where the hurricane might make landfall) The cone (current idea) goes from place to place as the weather forecasters push and pull their modeling forecasts. These can (and do) vary by hundreds of miles as the storms and computers meander. I read at the start of the storm season that the new tracking software made them 20 miles more accurate than last year. Not feeling better about that. The Weather channel’s ratings go up, drama ensues. Inevitably, the storm ends up going through my Living Room at 130 mph at some point. (on the cone computer graphic)

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We put up our hurricane shutters when things start looking dicey.  Dorian got dicey at the end of last week. The shutters are aluminum and are screwed on to threaded posts embedded in the window trim. All windows and doors that are not hurricane rated are covered as well as screen porches. It is a huge pain to install all this stuff. The clear shutter is so you can see what is going on outside. In addition to shuttering the windows, it is necessary to stockpile food and water and a gas-powered generator is a very handy thing if the power goes out, of course then gas is needed. We were very well prepared. And the power did not even blink. It was too windy to go outside off and on for 2 or 3 days, all grocery stores, make that all stores were closed (except one gas station with a deli) and bridges to the barrier islands were closed.

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The wind swirled around our house at 30 or 40 mph off and on for a couple of days. The constant high pitched whine and the wind rattling the metal shutters get a bit nerve-wracking after a while. Fortunately, Hurricane Dorian’s extremely high winds stayed offshore, here is where we are relative to the storm:

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Too close for comfort. Way too close. My garden is surprisingly unscathed. I did pick the Papayas fearing smoothies on my house instead of in my glass. The Papayas are still ripening on the counter.

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We are feeling lucky and blessed. And collecting things for those poor souls in the Bahamas who lived through days of Dorian’s wrath.

Send some thoughts, good vibes or items to the Bahamas.

In a Vase on Sunday – Flowers by Dorian

IMG_20190901_105215 Who is Dorian, you may ask? Dorian is the hurricane currently lashing the Bahamas that may or may not be lashing my house on Monday. This hurricane has been lurking around for at least a week and we are still wondering where Dorian will land.

We have had so much time to prepare I did not really have anything left to do and decided to make this wildly funky vase with flowers that would likely be destroyed by  high winds. I had to take the vase outside to photograph it – the windows of our house are covered with the steel shutters seen behind the vase and it is dark and sepulchral inside. Too dark to photograph the nearly 4 foot tall arrangement, the vase is resting on my bath mat.

00100lPORTRAIT_00100_BURST20190901105508924_COVERHere is a closer view. The orchids are Cattleyas, gifted to me by my neighbor. I may have saved them from an uncertain demise, they were being consumed by tiny ants, Not to mention potential hurricane winds. The orange and red flowers are the bud stalks from Blanchetiana Bromeliads (Aechmea blanchetiana) these will usually survive a hurricane and continue flowering but are bent over. The purple berries are Beautyberry (Calliocarpa americana) not sure if the berries will survive the wind. Time will tell. The foliage is a big leaf of Heliconia and two variegated Pandanus leaves.

Happy Gardening…Hope we meet next Monday. The winds are howling already.