This week I decided to try creating a spare design with a Japanese feel. I also wanted to use some grapevine. I thought the brown pottery vase would give the arrangement some weight and tie the brown grapevine together with the limited plant palette. Limited may be an understatement. This arrangement has two plants!
The flowers and foliage are from the Mexican Bush Honeysuckle (Justicia spicigera). This shrub does well and lives next to my neighbor’s fence. It benefits from light pruning so cutting the flowers is good for me and the plant. The grapevine is from our native Muscadine – Vitis rotundafolia. There are numerous types of grapes produced by this prolific vine. The fruit on this one is small, bitter and has huge seeds. My neighbors, native Floridians, eat it. It is one of those things you have to grow up on, I guess. I leave it for the animals and am trying to get rid of a lot of it as it climbs everything.
I am joining the SOS gang this Saturday with six items of interest from my garden. Mine are always a bit different as I am borderline tropical in my South Florida garden. It seems odd but South Florida is still considered subtropical, though the area I am in is often referred to as Tropic Florida. My opinion, I am on the northern edge of tropical.
That said, it occurred to me the signs of spring in the garden are relatively universal. Mine include dirty feet, fertilizer in the foyer, plants waiting to be planted, garden beds renovation…and more.
I am changing a vegetable bed to a butterfly garden. The is the anchor plant in the bed, a Sapphire Showers Duranta. The butterflies found it about 10 minutes after I planted it.
The bed, under construction. The Sapphire Showers is to be underplanted with Bush Daisy (Euryops pectinatus). Bush Daisy is a South African native that is supposed to attract butterflies and thrive in well drained soil and summer heat. I have plenty of both. This is my first experiment with Bush Daisy.
My feet are perpetually dirty. This container has been changed from spinach and cilantro to Petunia exserta and Red Alstromeria for summer. The Red Alstroemeria originated in a college friends mother’s garden went to my mother’s garden, then to another friend’s garden – who eventually brought some to me. They have suffered in either the heat or the soil; so I decided to try them in a container in part shade where I might remember to water them.
Summer veg seedlings on the porch so I remember to water them twice a day. My summer veg is a little different – the seedlings are Roselles, a Hibiscus with edible flowers. Not visible yet, Greek Columnar Basil and Blue Pea Vine for the butterfly garden.
Pots of lavendar Pentas await planting in summer containers.
Newly planted Sunshine Mimosa (Mimosa strigillosa). This is in the butterfly garden, it is a native perennial groundcover with pink powderpuff flowers and attracts butterflies.
A sign of spring in South Florida, buds on the Frangipani. The humidity has kicked up a notch, not quite to its full summer power yet, but this is a definite sign that summer is on the way. The sweet fragrance from the flowers will be perfuming my nightly forays in the backyard with the greyhounds.
My six signs of spring this Saturday, Happy Gardening!
This Monday my vase may require an explanation. One of our truly great Supreme Court Justices was Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a champion of women’s rights in the United States. She passed on last September serving as a Supreme Court Justice since 1993. She was well known for wearing a lace collar around her neck over black robes and somehow became known as ‘Notorious RBG’ after a prominent rap artist called Notorious B.I.G., evidentially due to her scathing dissenting opinions as a Justice.
The RBG in my vase this Monday is a Real Big Ginger and the crochet doily was done by another notorious woman, my mother-in-law – Joan Ethel Davis. She passed on in 2002, her initials are crocheted into this doily and I am certain she was a huge fan of the real RBG.
A closer view of the vase. The Real Big Ginger is Shell Ginger (Alpinia zerumbet) in pink and white. It is notorious in my garden as I did not realize quite how huge it would get. Four feet tall and maybe eight feet wide, it has overrun a few milder plants in my landscape and was asked to leave the tropical garden. The off white and slightly pink Begonia is from the Lotusleaf Begonia (Begonia nelumbifolia). Most of the arranging of these flowers involved deciding what to cut off – I trimmed most of the leaves from the Shell Ginger and slipped the Begonia in as a afterthought.
I thought “in a pickle” was American slang. The Dutch started it using “in de pekel zitten” to describe an uncomfortable situation, this translates to “sit in the pickle brine” Seems that would be a stinging experience. Easter Sunday morning found me in the garden thinking “there are no flowers to cut for a Monday vase” – I thought I was in a pickle..Not so much, this rarely proves true, though sometimes I have to look harder to come up with an arrangement. Oddly, there was an abandoned pickle jar in the garden near my Raspberry Blanchetiana Bromeliads. Being “in a pickle” passed through my mind until inspiration hit via the pickle jar. There are also some salsa jars out there I need to get rid of…
The pickle jar is wrapped with a leaf and tied with jute twine. I left the twine trailing given the casual feel of, well, a covered pickle jar. A closer view of the flowers.
The leaf wrapping the jar is from a Raspberry Blanchetiana Bromeliad. This is a mahogany and greenish red leaf plant with large (4 feet long) red and yellow flowers. The flowers start in November and are looking ragged now. They are as tall as I am when I cut them back to the ground.There are orange and lemon Blanchetiana with the appropriately colored foliage to go with the flowers. I have used the other colors to wrap vases.
In blue, Mystic Spires Salvia; I am enjoying these so much I am hoping they last the summer. The white daisies are Spanish Needles, an annoying native, botanical name, Bidens alba. Orange daisies are from Mexican Flame Vine (Pseudogynoxys chenpodoides); orange tubular flowers from the native Firebush (Hamelia patens var patens); Yellow daisies are Beach Sunflower (Helianthus debilis) and a white Tropical Red Salvia (Salvia coccinea) is in the back. Two red and yellow native Gallardia round out the front of my pickle jar.
I am glad I did not find myself in the Dutch version of the pickle this Monday.
I potted my mini stumpery this week, using my treasures found by the roadside. The pot is a lamp base I inherited from my parents. The stump found by the roadside has native Southern Needleleaf air plant (Tillandsia setacea) growing on it. These have purple flowers and turn reddish at some point. I added a purple Cattleya Orchid to the branch and underplanted it with Fishhooks Senecio.
My other find, the repurposed planter, had holes drilled in the bottom and was filled with Bromeliads, then placed in a dark corner of the garden. The silver one is a Aechmea fasciata; purples are Luca Neoregelias; the small green and red ones are Fireball Neoregelia. These should grow together and spill over the pot. The Aechmea has a pink flower.
My tomatoes are steadily bearing fruit. I have learned (the hard way) I have to pick them before they show too much color or the birds pick them for me. These are Yellow Pear and Riesenstrube tomatoes. I would grow both varieties again. The San Marzanos were a bit of a washout, though the soil is better when these are growing. I always have better luck with cherry tomatoes.
The mangoes are coming along. These are Glenn Mangoes, they are still dropping some of the smaller fruit. Hopefully the rest will grow to full size.
These are Nam Doc Mai, a Thai dessert mango. They are flatter and longer than the Glenn Mango and nearly fiberless. A coconut flavored Mango. Very good to eat.
The butterflies are at it again. I think these are the eggs of a Florida White Butterfly. Reviled by cabbage farmers, these beautiful white butterlies with purple markings host on members of the brassica family – this is Arugula, at the end of its season in my garden. Soon to be consumed by hungry caterpillars.
It has not rained here in weeks, I am not sure if rain has fallen during the month of March. Of course, our irrigation well had to roll over and die in the middle of all this and I had to hand water the garden for a couple of weeks because all the irrigation contractors were overbooked. Finally, I told one I was an old lady and I could not hand water my half acre garden anymore. They showed up the following day. Now I know what to say. It turned out there were ants in a switch that made the whole thing work. We have water again, but it is very dry in the garden.
I thought there wasn’t very much in bloom until I went on a garden safari. Wandering through the garden, I found a few things – trees, shrubs and vines and few perennials. The native wildflowers are usually blooming by now. The Firebush, usually covered in flowers in March is just starting to flower, I decided to leave that for the butterflies as it is a favorite nectar plant and there are many teenage Zebra Longwings in the garden. The cold in January zapped a lot of the flowers back and then this dry March has continued the trend. Rain is forecast for Thursday, fingers crossed.
A closer view:
The vase is a pottery wine cooler I picked up in the North Georgia mountains a few years ago. It has been used as a vase more than to cool wine. The Mexican Flame Vine (Pseudogynoxys chenopodioides) that my neighbor has allowed to ramble through the big hedges between our gardens is in full bloom and the butterflies are going crazy for it. The smaller orange flowers are from the Mexican Flame Vine. They are quite fragrant and it is no wonder the insects love them. The larger orange flower is Mexican Honeysuckle (Justicia spicigera). White flowers near the base of the arrangement are White Geiger tree (Cordia boisseriei), another Mexican native. White daisy flowers are from Bidens alba, a Florida native. The white Begonias are another gift from Mexico; Lotusleaf Begonia (Begonia nelumbifolia). There is a bit of Red Firecracker Plant around the edges (Russelia equisetiformis) – yet another Mexican native.
Happy Gardening and Cheers to Mexican flowers. The safari has made me thirsty.
Florida is sort of like a great big garage sale. Oftentimes, Bromeliads can be found for sale or on the side of the road. These were found at a garage sale. Little Harv Aechmea Bromeliads, I moved this clump recently and it is held up by some stray coconuts I found by the side of the road. Bromeliads root from the stem and take a while to reestablish.
I am not sure what this is, it is going to be a pot o’ Bromeliads in a dark corner of the garden where grass refuses to grow. Found by the side of the road.
Another cast off treasure, a branch of a Mango tree with native Tillandsia air plants growing on the bark. I am going to make a stumpery container and underplant this with a Fishhook Senecio.
The Fishhook Senecio, I admit to buying this one.
The Papaya tree was cut back this week, grown from seed of a neighbor’s tree. About 15 feet was cut off, supposedly these grow back and produce more reachable fruit. Time will tell.
A view of the cut top of the Papaya trunk. Somewhat like a giant tube.
A couple of weeks ago I bought two ‘Mystic Spires’ Salvia. Botanically known as Salvia hybrid ‘Balsamisp’, this plant is a hit with me so far. I had to fend off bees to cut the flowers. Actually deadheading the plant as so many new buds are forming; I wanted to give the buds room to grow. That left me with short stemmed flowers and a floral engineering task.
I unceremoniously jammed some tiny pots into the vase and placed a glass frog on top of them, bits of a wine cork hold the glass frog level at the top. This works, although the vase must be filled precariously to the rim with water as the Salvia drink a lot..maybe it is the wine cork.
I will be interested to see how these perennial Salvia fare through the summer. Planted in full south facing sun and extremely well drained soil. Another mystery for the Mystic.
A closer view.
I decided a spires theme would work here. The white spires are Sweet Almond Bush (Aloysia virgata); the spiky foliage, Asparagus Fern, a volunteer in my garden; the chartreuse leaves are from a Plectranthus of unknown origin. The blue container, a Christmas gift from my brother’s family long ago.
One of the good things about gardening is the ongoing lessons learned. Above is my Jurassic Begonia (Begonia nelumbiifolia) undergoing Vivipary – defined as a precocious growth of offspring while still attached to the mother plant. I had to ask a botanist friend what this plant was doing. Evidentially, I can trim the leaf around this tiny plant and place stem in soil and it will root.
My finally pruned correctly Miss Alice Bougainvillea in spring flowers.
New bed in my front garden. Plant palette is Indigo Spires Salvia, Blue Daze Evolvulus, Yellow Callibrachoa, and White Pentas. Shrubs in background are Maui Red Ixora. Lesson learned here – I have tried several plants here, Florida lacks good groundcover plants – and the soil is not soil. So, I removed and replaced a wheelbarrow full, see below.
Yes, plants will actually grow in this. I am fearful the good soil is going to sink…
Lessons learned from SOS, how to make Nasturtium capers. Letting them rest in salt.
Starting the jar of pickles. I will add more as the seeds are formed. Thank you, Fred, a French Gardener.
That is my six this Saturday, welcome spring everyone and Happy Gardening.