In A Vase on Monday – Two Challenges

20181111_095353-1 Last week, in honor of the fifth anniversary of the meme ‘In A Vase on Monday’, Cathy, our hostess at Rambling in the Garden on WordPress challenged us to not use a vase on Monday. Hence, the watering can. My second challenge, issued by a gardening friend, to use all native wildflowers in my non vase.

The brass watering can had been around my mother’s house for so long I am not sure if I am the second or third generation to use it. I decided to leave the patina and fill it with delicate wildflowers from my garden and a few fall fruits, all from plants native to Florida – a surprisingly long plant list.


As I was arranging this, I was surprised by how pretty these flowers are when closely observed. And how many flowers it took to fill the small watering can.

The purple flowers are Tampa Verbena (Glandularia tampensis); pink tubular flowers are Tropical Red Salvia (Salvia coccinea) – it seeds in red, pink, salmon and orange. The deep blue flowers are Blue Porterweed (Stachytarpheta jamaicensis); I have learned to love this plant along with the butterflies, it continues to open flowers after cutting and the stems are such a wonderful accent. The purple grasses are Muhly Grass (Muhlenbergia capillaris). I am not sure this grass does as well anywhere else but in Florida. Sharp drainage is vital, mine grows in sugar sand with no irrigation.


I have finally found out what the off white spikes are – Juba Bush (Iresine diffusa), identified by a wildflower expert who said “Juba Bush is named after a Afro-Caribbean step dance, because of the way it waves in the wind” It actually does have a lovely sway in the wind – and I like the story. The ferns are Boston Fern (Nephrolepis exaltata),  porch plants the world over, these originated in the swamps of Florida and popped up in my garden. The white flowers are  Jointweed or Wireweed or Octoberflower (Polygonella robusta), started blooming on October 31!

Fruits are from the Senna ligustrina, the long brown pods. I recently added these to the garden to attract Sulphur Butterflies. They are doing their job, though I haven’t seen any caterpillars. The plants remind me of Soft Caress Mahonia, which l love but can’t grow this far south. The round fruits are from the Gumbo Limbo tree (Bursea simarouba) I love these for their names, the other one being Tourist Tree, for the red peeling bark resembling sunburned skin…

Happy IAVOM Anniversary, to see vases from around the world follow this link.More Vases


In A Vase on Monday – Things That Go Bump in the Night


It’s that time of year, and for some reason many of my neighbors are decorating their front yards with dead pirates a la the movie ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’. Weird, a bit startling and my dog is usually spooked by these odd things hanging from trees.

I prefer the odd things that appear in my garden. The growing season is year round here in South Florida, to the point sometimes I think I hear things growing at night. Bump…must be another Avocado, Mango or Grapefruit falling outside. Or the raccoons that are eating well, everything dropped something.


Three out of four ingredients in this vase just appeared in the garden. The blue flowers, Porterweed (Stachytarpheta) I bought. The rest are gratis from the Garden Fairy.  The red flowers, Turks Cap Hibiscus (Malvaviscus penduliflorus); the foliage hanging over the sides, seedlings from Sabal Palms (Palmetto sabal); ferns are native Boston Ferns (Nephrolepis exaltata).20181028_133148-1

Here is a close up of the Turks Cap Hibiscus,one of my favorite gifts from the Garden Fairy. These flower nearly year round and require nothing. Spooky.


Happy Halloween from Florida.

In A Vase on Monday – Gone Native


Rarely, I travel on business. Last week my Garden Design work took me to my hometown, Atlanta, Georgia. We abandoned Atlanta, population 5 million, for a town of 12,000 in South Florida almost seven years ago. The onslaught of the sea of humanity I encountered upon deplaning – was a bit, well, unnerving. Not to mention the detestable traffic I had to navigate to get to my garden in waiting 30 miles north of the airport.

The garden is in lovely tract of wooded land, the forest so beautiful it makes you forget the hustle and bustle of the big metropolitan area. It was wonderful to be back in the woods of my home, the land populated with large White Oak, Tulip Poplar, Hickory and American Beech trees. The woods of South Florida, in my opinion, aren’t woods at all. On the other hand, the getting there was the problem. Getting there is why I am no longer there. It made me realize I have truly gone native. Florida native.


Everything in this vase is, unlike me, native to Florida.

The vase is a pottery pineapple, bought in Maui, Hawaii years ago. The yellow sunflowers are Beach Sunflowers (Helianthus debilis); the red flowers are Gallardia (Gallardia pulchella); purple berries are Beautyberry (Calliocarpa americana); pink flowers, Tropical Red Salvia (Salvia coccinea) – sometimes pink or orange; pinky purple grass, Muhly Grass (Mulbergia capillaris); ferns, our native Boston Fern (Nephrolepis exaltata).


In A Vase on Monday – Mostly Wildflowers


This vase is a result of my plant shopping trip last week. I posted some pictures last week on my blog from the tropicals nursery I visited with a friend (made through gardening on social media, not blogging, though). The idea for the vase was started by another nursery we visited, Indian Trails Natives Nursery located in Lake Worth, Florida. Here is a link to their website Indian Trails



The nursery has an extensive stock of native plants, a demonstration garden and they will give a price list. Meaningful. I bought several plants and decided to deadhead my new Black Eyed Susans in hopes of more flowers -the genesis of this vase.


I have been working on my native pollinators garden for a little over a year. The results are amazing, so I keep adding butterfly and bee plants concentrating on natives. My big however is … I don’t feel that it’s mandatory that every plant is native. I would go as far as to say non natives enhance the appeal of the garden to pollinators. No elitism in my garden!


Plants in this vase include: the Black Eyed Susan (Rudbeckia hirta) – these are Florida’s native Black Eyed Susan, I grew Rudbeckia fulgida ‘Goldstrum’ further north and tried to grow these Rudbeckia from seed to no avail. Hopefully, the plants fare better and I end up with too many. Red flowers are Tropical Red Sage (Salvia coccinea); blue flowers are from Porterweed (Stachytarpeta); off white spikes are Wireweed (Don’t know whatis); white flowers are from the one non native, Sweet Almond (Aloysia virgata) hailing from Argentina, our native (endangered) Atala Butterflies love this one. Pink plumes are from Muhly Grass (Muhlebergia) just starting their fall show; the sticks are from the native grape Muscandines (Vitis rotundifolia) – I stripped the leaves, the raccoons ate all the grapes.


Here’s our native Atala butterfly emerging from their chrysalis on native Coontie Palms. Their mom enjoyed nectar from Beautyberry and Sweet Almond before settling down to lay eggs.

Not Shopping for Tropicals


This afternoon I have been glued to the television watching Hurricane Michael make landfall about 500 miles north my garden. The sheer size of these storms always amaze me. I can feel the hot breath from Michael flowing through my garden if I step outside. Praying for those in the storm’s path.

Earlier this week I went plant shopping – heading south to the numerous nurseries supplying South Florida. Much of the plant material grown in this area is too tropical for my garden, though I enjoy looking. This is ‘instant effect’ plant material, the above Heliconia is about 15′ tall – prices are not displayed.


This is a hanging basket filled with Medinilla myriantha, 3 or 4 feet wide and tall. These plants are famously difficult to keep. Usually a very expensive flower arrangement.


This is a pink and yellow unnamed Heliconia psittacorum. I could probably grow this one, but couldn’t lift the container it was in!


Huge, grey Bromeliad.


A Starfish Plant, variety lost to me.



Tiny Aloes.

I bought nothing at this nursery, but gained an idea for a palm tree with boots I was planning to remove (growing into power lines)


I can have the top removed and keep the trunk, then tuck Bromeliads, Ferns and Orchids into the pockets left by the boots. Like this:


A stumpery – in tropical mode.

In A Vase on Monday – Fall, Actually.


I am aware I have been, well, complaining about the extreme subtlety of seasonal change in South Florida. As I was putting this arrangement together today, I realized this really reflects the seasonal change in my garden. As the weather cools, a few more plants produce berries – other plants flower. With the exception of the varigated foliage (which is year round and (I know, weird) a foundation plant. The balance of the arrangement is what comprises fall color in South Florida.


The red flowers anchoring the arrangement are Turks Cap (Malvaviscus penduliflorus); the berries are from the Firebush (Hamelia patens); the off white flowers are Wireweed (Neverlearnedthe latin); yellow and red lobsterclaws, Bromeliad Aechmea blanchetiana flowers; dark foliage is from Copper Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare ‘Purpurea); amazingly still living after supporting several generations of Swallowtail Butterflies and my flower arrangements; varigated foliage is from Mammey Croton (Codieum ‘Mammey’)

Last weeks vase is still holding up and displays more of Florida’s actual fall colors.


Not bad for Desperately Seeking Seasons.

In A Vase on Monday – Plethora of Purple


My quest for anything Autumnal continues and the Beautyberry (Calliocarpa americana) satisfied my Fall in the garden desires this week displaying its wares at their lurid purple peak. Days have been numbered for the branches loaded with purple fruit that were too close to the house. I planted this beside the door from our screened porch as it is reputed to deter mosquitoes. I sometimes put a few crushed leaves in my shoes when working in the garden and it does seem to help.

The guy next to the vase-a mythological figure gifted to my husband by some friends from South America.

This is a rangy shrub that is difficult to prune into cooperation, I think there are still some structural decisions to be made. There were so many berries on the branches the vase was actually heavy from the weight of the fruit.

Adding to my happiness, I found a touch of fall color on the foliage. Just a touch, can’t get too excited. Joining the plethora of purpleness in the vase are: in green with purple backs, Oyster Plants or Moses in a Cradle (Rhoeo or some botanist changed the name) and a sprig of Setcresea or Purple Queen (tired of botanists-think they are both Transcandentias now, but it won’t keep me up nights)

Celebrating our Fall potential by starting seeds for my butterfly garden.


The mermaid watches over everything and encourages the seeds to sprout and grow. The winter butterfly garden will have (hopefully) Heirloom Lavendar Cactus Zinnias, Phlox drummondi, Sea Star Asters, Lime Basil, Petunia excelsa, Moonvine and Coral Vine. I think I need to find some yellows or lime greens to temper the color mix. Any thoughts?

Happy Fall Gardening.