In A Vase On Monday – Bad Berries

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Overcast could describe the usually clear sunny skies in South Florida on Sunday, I waited for some sunlight and finally took my vase outside to snap some pictures. I barely finished the photos and planting my winter containers before the proverbial bottom dropped out and was inundated with rain.

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The berries in the vase are beautiful, but, unfortunately, very bad. They are from the Brazilian Pepper (Schinus terebinthifolia) an invasive plant brought into Florida in the mid 1800s – marketed as Florida Holly. Spread by birds eating the lovely berries, Brazilian Pepper now is illegal to plant and infests more that half a million acres of land in South Florida, choking everything in its wake. Someone planted five across my backyard, undoubtedly to screen the neighbors-by the time we arrived the plants were 35 feet wide and it took us at least five years to begin winning the pepper battle. A few still survive and I saved the state of Florida hundreds of trees by cutting the berries to create this vase!

The white flowers are from Bridal Bouquet Frangipani (Plumeria pudica); grey stem is a flower from the Flapjack Kalanchoe (Kalanchoe thyrsiflora); ferns are Asian Sword Ferns. It occurred to me as I was arranging this vase, a good vase is like a good pasta sauce, it takes a few more ingredients than you would think to make it tasty!

Happy Monday.img_9976.jpg

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In A Vase on Monday – Winter White

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Winter lasted for about two days here. The temperature was 87 degrees Fahrenheit this morning. I gave up gardening in hopes of cooler weather later in the week. My vegetable seeds were planted this week along with lettuce plants (the lettuce probably has wilted and needs water by now).

My task this morning, moving Orchids to strategic areas, so I can see the flowers from inside the house. As I was wheeling pots around, I noticed most of the flowers in the garden are white currently, no idea why. I have been watching this native wildflower called Octoberflower bloom for about a month, it started right on time, October 31st.

20181128_110712Octoberflower is native to an area called Scrub in Florida – my garden is in Scrub, so you would think these plants would enjoy my garden. Not so much.  I find them very difficult to place and grow, moving them into the native pollinator garden, one out of five made it. Although, they are great cut flowers.

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Here is a close up of the vase, the blue glass bowl, a Christmas gift from long ago. The Octoberflower is on the right side of the photo, tinged with pink. Next to those, probably the last flower of the Tropical Gardenia (Tabernaemontana divericata); draping the vase are Sweet Begonias (Begonia odorata ‘Alba’); some clusters of White Lantana (Lantana montevidensis ‘Alba’); the bigger spikey flowers are from Snake Plant AKA Mother In Law’s Tongues (Sansiveria cultivar ‘It Took Over My Yard’); smaller white spikes from Juba Bush (Iresine diffusa); a few sprigs of pale pink Tropical Red Salvia (Salvia coccinea). The foliage in the vase is Asparagus Fern (Asparagus densiflorus ‘sprengeri’) and another native, Wild Coffee (Psychotria nervosa) – the berries look like coffee, but you can tell by the botanical name, not something you want to drink.

I am from the American South. Wondering how many gardeners relate to the term ‘Winter White’?

My mother, a well raised lady of proper breeding:?! – would have said Winter White is an off white color appropriate to be worn in winter; whereas wearing pure white after Labor Day (early September) is an abomination.

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The photos, Snake Plant and Wild Coffee.

In A Vase on Monday – Winter Gardening

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The gardening season is heating up in South Florida. The reverse of most of the Northern Hemisphere, we grow vegetables in the winter as it is too hot for tomatoes or corn to pollinate in the summer. I received the last of my vegetable seeds (Haricot verte) over the weekend and will sow my vegetable garden in the next week or so.

While I grow flowers year round, I plant some of the more common summer flowers in the winter. Deciding to grow some from seed this year, I have Zinnias, Asters, Petunias, Moon Vine and Coral Vine to add to the pollinator garden and cut. The seeds were planted around the first of October and my first Zinnia bloomed this week.20181121_094921_HDR-2This is a Zinna Super Cactus Lilac Emperor, an heirloom variety. It doesn’t quite resemble the picture on the packet – not nearly as stringy or cactusy (new word?) However, it may be the biggest Zinnia I have run across (4 inches wide).

20181125_095513The vase I inherited from my mother, who bought it from the Ute Indian tribe in the Southwestern US. Accenting the Zinnia in the arrangement are in white and fragrant spikes, Sweet Almond Bush (Aloysia virgata); Purple Verbena is next, a native (Glandularia tampaensis); the deep blue flowers are from Porterweed (Stachytarpeta jamaicaensis); purple flowers with grey foliage are Barometer Bush (Luecophyllum frutescens); the background plants are Muhly Grass (Muhlbergia capillaris), Boston Fern (Nephrolepis exaltata) and a sprig of Hawaiian Snowbush (Breynia nivosa).

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The pollinators attracted to my garden continue to amaze. We had two groups of honeybees resting in the garden and I spotted this dragonfly while weeding yesterday.

In A Vase on Monday – Semi Topiary

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It is Thanksgiving week in the US and I decided to try arranging a little topiary for the table in fall colors. I think of topiaries as clipped formally shaped affairs, this one is not. It is a casual, all native plants arrangement, more tree form than topiary.

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Three plants are used in this arrangement: the flowers and berries are from Firebush (Hamelia patens var patens) The off white flowers are from the Juba Bush (Iresine diffusa), and the stuffings (Like a Turkey!) for the vase are from Sabal Palms (Palmetto sabal) Here is a closer look:

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I don’t really know what the bits from the Sabal Palm are called, the white curly stuff on top comes from the edges of the palm fronds and the brown peat moss like material (birds use it for nests) I used to fill the vase comes from the boots (where the fronds leave the trunk of the tree and cross over)

Here is the palm:

20181118_104239The pumpkin is probably an ornamental gourd that I bought at Aldi during the Halloween season. It is holding up much better than the orange pumpkins and may last until Thanksgiving. I am not too sure about using the semi topiary on the table, there were some really odd white spiders running away from me as I was taking pictures.

And Halloween is over!

Happy Thanksgiving.