In A Vase on Monday – Finally


I have succeeded in coaxing a Lobsterclaw Heliconia to flower. Finally. It has taken four years and two different types. This particular one is Helconia rostrata, native to South America. I found two years ago at a Master Gardeners plant sale and snapped up. It was doing fine until Hurricane Matthew blew by last year and bent it into 2 plants on an angle. Then I forgot about it for a while and let the dried up leaves hang on the plant instead of trimming them off. Viola, the secret, don’t trim the dead leaves. I read somewhere the flowers are easily cut off during trimming and now I believe it. The other one, a Heliconia ‘Splash’ four years old steadfastly refuses to flower, but it was always trimmed. Now it looks awful and I am hoping for some flowers! The Splash flowers are twice as big as these, apricot with wine colored splashes.


A closer view. The Heliconia is accompanied by a flowering branch of a Sea Grape (Coccoloba uvifera). The Sea Grape flowers eventually form a long chain of blueberry sized ‘grapes’. One of my greyhounds likes to eat them, but I don’t.


The Heliconia bud.20170502_153541-1

Happy Monday

In A Vase on Monday – Mother’s Day Melange


Putting together a Vase for Monday usually makes me think of my mother. I am sure she was the genesis of my interest in gardening. This is her crystal Rose Bowl filled with a mixture from my garden. The wood thing in the background is a cake form I picked up in Japan some years ago, used for making Mung Bean Cakes, I think. I like the cake pan, but can easily forego the cake. My friend who lived in Japan called them Modeling Clay Cakes.


The Rose Bowl is packed with flowers. The orange tubular flowers are from the Firebush (Hamelia patens var paten), I have used orange Ground Orchids (Epidendrum), white Tropical Gardenias (Tabernaemontana divaricata), Sweet Begonias (Begonia odorata), a few Parrotflower Heliconia (Heliconia psittacorus), Red Shrimp Plant (Justicia brandegeana), the seed stalk is from a Dracaena reflexa, and a bit of Asian Sword Fern.


Here’s the latest thing of interest from my garden:



The Nam Doc Mai Mango tree is fruiting! Hoping for some Mango Melange soon.

In A Vase on Monday – Delicate Tropicals


Sunday morning found me installing a crushed shell walkway in my Wildflower/ Salsa Garden. Shoveling shell and wheelbarrowing it around was taking its toll, so I sat in the shade of an old Rosewood tree in our backyard to drink some water and cool off. Finding a seat on the garden furniture strewn about waiting for the garden to be finished, I nearly turned myself and the chair over on the not quite even ground. When finally situated  I ended up face to face with the flowers of the Rosewood tree, lovely, delicate and creamy white.


These are that kind of Rosewood (Dahlbergia sissoo) used to make fine furniture. They also make fine street and shade trees in many tropical places. Just not Florida. In Florida they are considered invasive because they do too well and take over. The Rosewood came with the house, part of it has been removed once or twice and the other part is not on my property so I am stuck with it for the time being. I had never noticed the delicate flowers before and decided to try to find some similar flowers to incorporate into a vase.


The orange flowers are from a Ground Orchid my neighbor gave me. This is some variety of Epidendrum, a member of the not sure which group of plants. This little orchid has amazed me, for some reason an Armadillo has a death wish for it and has dug it up countless times, I keep replanting it and it is bravely sending up flowers. As I was installing irrigation and using pins to hold the tubing down,  it occurred to me I should pin the Orchid down. Next on my list!

The vase is a thrift store find and the last bit of foliage is from Asparagus Ferns.

The bird visitors this week were some slightly blurry Ibises. They seem to be eating grubs from the lawns. I frequently see Ibis walking along the tops of hedges eating insects.



Happy Monday!

In A Vase on Monday – Joining the Revolution


Given the recent marches in protest of, at this point, seemingly nearly everything related to science, nature and politics, I was surprised to find there’s yet another Revolution brewing. Involving flower arrangements!


My favorite neighbor saved an article for me from the New York Times Style section regarding the revolution in flower arranging being brought about by the Milennials. Seems people are going back to flowers from their gardens and seasonal foraging to fill their vases. Pesticide ridden roses from South America are being eschewed for, in my opinion, more beautiful flowers. If this is a Revolution I am all for it! Here is a link to the article Floral Revolution Link.


I am certain this is not a revolutionary arrangement from my garden, it is however a new combination.  Ascending, and in red, are Turks Cap Hibiscus ( Malvaviscus pendulifloris); in white and slightly bigger are Tropical Gardenias (Tabernaemontana divaricata), the smaller white flowers with seed heads are Sweet Begonias (Begonia odorata). The bigger orange flower is Mexican Bush Honeysuckle (Justicia spicigera), the other orange flowers are from our native Firebush (Hamelia patens var patens). I  thought the star of the revolution would be the Gardenias but I think the Turks Cap Hibiscus gets my vote. I fertilized a nearby palm with some divine organic palm fertilizer and that Turks Cap has never been happier. The vase is a thrift store find. Celadon green and I am certain hand thrown – clunky in the most marvelous way things crafted by hand can be.

The new animal friends (I hope) in my garden this week are:

The lizard is a Northern Curly Tail Lizard, about 8 inches long and bearing a striking resemble to an Iguana. Having never seen one in my garden before, I read up on them and there’s a good reason – it is a relative of the Iguana, fortunately smaller. The Northern refers to the northern Bahamas!

The Zebra Longwing butterflies have come back out with the flowering of the Firebush. These are a favorite of mine and the state butterfly of Florida.

Vasers, Happy Monday and please carry on with the Revolution.

In A Vase on Monday – Totally Tropical


This vase is about as tropical as it gets. It holds the first Frangipani flowers of the year and the last two Shell Ginger blossoms (I think). I have another Shell Ginger that has always received less water and attention and it is flowering with much smaller, infrequent bursts. The fragrance of the arrangement is pure Polynesia, sweet Frangipani foiled by lightly spicy ginger. I should start making shampoo or suntan lotion from this combination. I have a small foyer and it is filled with the scent. We have finally gotten some rain here in the form of a 4 inches plus deluge over about 15 hours. The flowers are a great counter to Eau d’ Wet Greyhound.

The flowers in the vase are in pink, Shell Ginger (Alpinia zerumbet), in white, Frangipani (Plumeria ?) I was in Maui last fall and this is different from the White Plumeria there, the flowers are actually bigger and less waxy. I found there are many varieties of Frangipani but am not sure what this is – another garage sale find (as are the Shell Ginger) The orange flowers are Mexican Bush Honeysuckle (Justicia spicigera) I actually bought at a nursery and have never seen another. The foliage is cut from the Shell Ginger and some long fronds of Asian Sword Fern.

The latest visitors adding a tropical vibe to my garden.

A White Heron on my shell driveway and a Gopher Tortoise stopping by to eat the fruit of the Surinam Cherries.

Happy Monday!

Garden Bloggers Foliage Day -Bromeliads

I fell in love with Bromeliads years ago when I lived much further north. As a part of my Landscape Architecture practice, I produced Interiorscape Designs for Regional Shopping Malls. Everyone liked to use Guzmania Bromeliads in the Mall plantings because the flowers lasted for 3 months. I became intrigued by these plants at the time, but it was hopeless for me to grow them as houseplants. Little did I know 30 years later I would have a mad Rainforest Garden full of all kinds of Bromeliads.

When shopping for Bromeliads, the first thing that you find is the named varieties are outrageously expensive. Given my complete lack of knowledge about growing Bromeliads outside I wasn’t about to spend $50 on a plant that I might kill in short order. Then, I found an unusual local custom – at South Florida garage sales, people commonly sell passalong Bromeliads, the problem is, for the most part no one has a clue what the plant is. So, I am learning the hard way. Even without knowing the Bromeliads name, the foliage is always really interesting, as are the people you meet along the way.

I have a number of Blushing Bromeliads in my garden. These can be Aechmea or Neoregelia types and I don’t really know which is who. However, in the spring they blush by turning red in the center and start to produce pups. I would hazard a guess this is because the rainy season will begin shortly and the smaller plants survival rate goes up with ample water. The rest of the year the foliage is nearly all green.20170421_130341-120170421_12594220170421_125909

Below is a pup on a Blanchetiana Bromeliad. I think this is a Lemon. They are available in Lemon, Raspberry and Orange. After flowering the mother plant begins to die and produces pups. Some do this without flowering. I will cut the pup off with a bit of root and replant it. The Blanchetiana is an Aechmea type that is fairly common in South Florida, they are usually about 4 feet tall and will spread much further than 4 feet. The Bromeliads at the top of the post are Blanchetianas.


Stripes and spots:

Most of these are Neoregelia, some type of Fireball variety. The spotted ones hold their color for most of the year. The striped ones turn red in the winter. The darker purple ones are Hallelujah Billbergia with white spots and Luca with green spots. Hallelujah has probably the strangest flower of all – red, white and blue; it is a bit much with the foliage.


This last one is one of my favorites. Locally called Painted Fingernail, I think it is an Aechmea variety, literally tough as nails. It is growing in the full sun Hellstrip in my front yard, no irrigation. The foliage is olive in full sun, but the green deepens and the fingernail is darker fuchsia in the shade. And it thrives in both places, there are always good reasons for a passalong.


In A Vase on Monday – Pastels for Easter


My vases were assembled on Easter Sunday.  Easter makes me think of little girls in pastel Easter dresses, eggs, bunnies and chocolate. The Easter Bunny seemed to be bringing my garden hot tropical colored flowers so off I went searching for some pastel tones. Surprisingly,  I found some pastel flowers in the garden and put them together in a vase.


My pastel green Depression glass cream pitcher has been repurposed for rooting some Alabama Sunset Coleus, still hanging over the side in pink and chartreuse. To the Coleus I added some Blue Plumbago (Plumbago auriculata), a Pink Rainlily (Zephyanthes passalong) – not a clue why the Rainlily is in flower. There is simply no rain. Then I found a tiny Shell Ginger (Alpinia zerumbet) and finally some Asian Sword Fern.

The Easter Bunny is a cast iron rabbit that has been sitting on my hearth for many years. One of those must have items I ran across wandering through an antiques shop and snapped up.


Here are the hot tropical colors the Easter Bunny brought to my garden.


The red glass vase is from my favorite thrift store. My grandmother collected cranberry glass and this probably came from somebody else’s grandma. In the vase are the first Firebush (Hamelia patens var patens) flowers of the season, announcing hot weather is rapidly approaching. The red and yellow flowers are Parrotflowers (Heliconia psittacorum) and the foliage is from a Cabbage Palm seedling that came up way too close to my house. The evergreens are clippings from a Podocarpus “Maki” that someone sold me by accident, Maki grows about 15 feet high and I wanted a the Pringles Dwarf.

Another piece of the puzzle to fit into my garden.

Happy Monday!