In A Vase on Monday – Tropical Bean Blast


Last week several icy blog posts crossed my Reader, so I thought a blast of tropical flowers might warm things up. The tropical flowers are starting to flower again in my garden after a coolish winter. The coral Amaryllis I cut last week has been remarkably slow to open, in fact, it is still not open – despite my efforts to move it further and further into the sun. When I finally put it outside, in the sun, it dropped a bud in protest.

Research has finally identified this Amaryllis as a Barbados Lily (Amaryllis striatum) – definitely from my neighborhood and not a family bulb from my father in law. I see this Amaryllis everywhere in gardens around here, the ones nearby produce a huge amount of seed. I suspect this is another gift from my fine feathered friends. Thank you, birds. The bulb in my garden had two stalks, I cut one – the other is still in bud. Some Amaryllis like this in gardens closer to the water have already flowered and gone to seed.


The other flowers in the arrangement include, in purple, Hong Kong Orchids (Bauhinia purpurea, I think, not realizing how many types of these exist!) The pink flowers are Shell Ginger (Alpinia zerumbet). The pods are beans from the Hong Kong Orchid, my attempt to use something other that ferns for a green foliage accent.


The beans are in all the vases, this one displays them in a heart shape with Shell Ginger.

I love In A Vase on Monday, don’t you?

Thanks to Cathy at for hosting this every Monday!


In A Vase on Monday – Spring Mix Mystery


Spring is not quite in full force in South Florida and my garden is in tune with the season producing Spring Mix in the vegetable garden (lettuces) and a mixture of tropical and not so tropical flowers.

The lettuce is Baby Romaine, Arugula and Leaf Lettuce. The Cactus Zinnias have produced another round of tiny flowers, the foliage with the Zinnias is from the Hawaiian Snowbush (Breynia nivosa) a green, white and burgundy shrub that has white new growth like it snowed.20180311_142531-1.jpg

The Shell Ginger usually blooms in February or March and is a bit late this year. I am not sure if this is due to a chilly spell in January or the Hurricane last year. This is Shell Ginger (Alpinia zerumbet), a Split Leaf Philodendron (Philodendron selloum) leaf and some Asian Sword Fern.


The mystery is the Amaryllis in bud I cut a few days ago, hoping for a long lasting cut flower. About 15 years ago, my father in law gave me some bulbs. his were red and despite my carrying them around all this time, they have never bloomed. There were also numerous bulbs in the garden that I think are our native Spider Lilies, but this is obviously Amaryllis- waiting to see it’s pedigree, inherited from family or a real estate transaction?

Happy early Spring and welcome back to the garden.

In A Purse on Monday


After breakfast on Saturday morning I discovered I was completely out of cereal. This meant a trip to the detestable grocery store. During winter, the population of South Florida doubles and the grocery stores are filled with sunburned people in inappropriate attire blocking access to all the food while gaping at the selection. This becomes tiresome after a few months. It is hard to decide which is worse, the attire, the people,  or the gaping.

That said, feeling better now. I decided to go to the grocery next to the Thrift/Charity shop and have a look around before facing the cereal dilemma. I came across this blown glass handbag/purse/pocketbook and bought it immediately. Being quite cheered up by my new vase, I survived the grocery endeavor with style and, having purchased cereal, could once again eat breakfast.


I am please to report the Cactus Zinnias attained some height after being cut back and fertilized. Other components of the vase include: in orange and the top are Firebush (Hamelia patens); in orange and the bottom of the arrangement, Mexican Honeysuckle (Justicia spicigera); lighter purple flowers are Purple Verbena (Verbena spp.); darker blue are our Native Porterweed. The ferns are Asian Sword Ferns. There are a few native Gallardia (Gallardia pulchella) at the base.

Updating my continuing saga of the Potager, I have added two Southern Highbush Blueberries, the variety ‘Sunshine Blue’ is purported to produce fruit with 145 hours of temperatures below 45 degrees Fahrenheit. I think that will work. Strangely enough, these shrubs have set fruit since they have been in the garden. I may have four blueberries this summer! My Thai Dessert Mangoes are setting fruit as well, here they are:


Eventually the berries will drop off to two or three Mangoes and the flower will turn upside down from the weight of the fruit. Hoping for a Mango with Four Blueberry Pie this summer.


In A Vase on Monday – Boxed Florida Sunshine.


The Beach Sunflowers are overtaking my front yard. The mailman, raised in the Florida Keys, stopped to inform me no one left the Beach Sunflowers in their garden when he was growing up – they were considered weeds, though clearly he was wondering if maybe it was a good idea. Floridians, the rare native ones,  tend not to appreciate things that are common (and wonderful). I think the tide of appreciation is turning to plants more suited to their native environment – who couldn’t appreciate a box of sunshine from Florida on a fine February morning?


The blue watercolor box is filled with Helianthus debilis, Beach Sunflower. Beach Sunflower is a native reseeding biennial – the reasons I love these, they bloom nearly year round, thrive in pure sand, outcompete most weeds and can be pruned to low masses. What’s not to love?

The fruit tree update. Mangoes are flowering here, we will have fruit in June or July, the panicles produce numerous fruits – most fall off and maybe one to three fruits per flower is left. By late spring, the branches will be bending from the weight of the fruit.


This is a big Haden Mango located on my daily dog walk route. My little Mangoes are flowering a little, but nothing like this.

I bought another fruit tree, a Red Jaboticaba:


This is a South American fruit tree that bears a grape like fruit on the trunk. In a few years. Patience, gardeners.


In A Vase on Monday – Hairy Potter and the Goblet of Fire.


On this lovely sunny Sunday morning, I spent time in my garden, repotting annuals in some of my clay containers, completed the planting of my new Mango tree, and then searched for flowers for IAVOM. Some of the Zinnias were leaning a bit so I decided to cut them and add flowers from the native pollinator garden near the vegetables in the Potager garden. The silverplate goblet, a remnant from my mother’s household, was selected as the vase for this week.

The Zinnias have not grown more than 8 inches tall and I have cut them with short stems to see if the plants would grow taller.  This made the plants branch out and produce more shorter stemmed flowers – which works well with the goblet. I cut the leaning flowers, puzzled, until I realized fire ants had moved into the Zinnia flowers – weighting them down with the beginnings of an imported sand nest. I shook them off quickly and remain unscathed despite my ant encounter.20180218_100304-1.jpg

Joining the Zinnias from the native pollinator garden are in purple, a Mexican Sage (Salvia leucanthemum) not native but the bees love it. In blue with long green stems, our native Porterweed; in peach, native Tropical Red Salvia (Salvia coccinea) and in orange and red, the native Gallardias (Gallardia pulchella). The herb Dill has already started to go to seed (planted for me and the butterflies to eat)- so there is a Dill flower at the top.

The native pollinator garden was started to attract the fantastic butterflies we have in Florida, an added bonus, and unconsidered by the gardener – the native pollinators will help keep the bad bugs out of the nearby Potager. And it works, I have not sprayed the first bug in the garden and only recently threw some tomatoes away that tomato worms had gotten into. 20180218_100839_HDR-1.jpg

Here is the work in progress Potager, behind is the native pollinator garden. I think I cut most of the flowers off for the vase. I am planting the dwarf Mango and fruit trees where I am standing, hopefully considering the sun angles properly! I planted the last of the vegetable seeds for the season, Zucchini, pole beans, radishes and green onions about a week ago.  We should have Salads and green vegetables until May and then the garden will be put to sleep for the summer. Here is my garden to table lunch salad, mostly grown by me.


If you are wondering about the Hairy Potter, that would be me. I am well known for my abundant tresses – causing more than one exhausted hairdresser to ask after cutting my hair “Do I really have to dry it”.

Happy Gardening.

In A Vase on Monday – Winter Wonderland


Winter Wonderland usually brings images to mind of snow and fir trees kissed with white frost. The Wonderland of Winter has a whole different meaning in South Florida. It caused me to  have the oddest thought yesterday, after looking at the 10 day weather forecast, I thought “I wish February would last forever” Suffice it to say we have clear blue skies and the temperatures are nearly perfect for spending time outdoors.


The Hong Kong Orchid (Bauhinia purpurea) tree is in full bloom in my front yard, so I liberated a few purple blossoms. The white flowers are from a Sweet Begonia (Begonia odorata), a few Asian Sword Ferns for foliage and the purple green leaves in back are from a Moses in the Cradle (Rhoeo discolor, I think somebody changed the botanical name- generally people call them Oyster Plants) also blooming and I can see the reason for the name.


Purple Oyster Plant

On Sunday I celebrated by going to a plant sale at a local botanical garden. My karma was so good (may need to save more Greyhounds!) the first plant I set my eyes on was exactly what I was searching for – a Pickering Mango, a dwarf mango tree that fruits reliably and after only a couple of years in the ground.


While this was a great find, the deal of the day could have been this Bromeliad. Another unnamed Neoregelia – for $5.


I am not sure the photo does it justice, the Bromeliad is probably two feet wide, chartruese and hot pink and budding.

Winter Wonderland, indeed.

In A Vase on Monday – Zinnias & Veg


It is a happy Sunday in my garden. The winter vegetables are ripening and the Zinnias are flowering. This is the first week of February and, as a lifelong resident of the Northern Hemisphere, seems a bit odd to me- having Zinnias and vegetables from the garden. We have been eating lettuce, cabbage, herbs, green beans and radishes from my garden; peppers, potatoes and snow peas are coming soon.


A major consideration when moving to Florida is the total avoidance of winter and we moved to South Florida for its lack thereof. So far, so good. The Zinnias started to flower a week or two ago, not very impressive so I let them go. Now, I wish I had planted more seed and will go to search for more Cactus Zinnia seed. I admit, to being a (former) Zinnia snob. I grew Mexican Zinnias (Z.linearis or now,angustifolia) in containers for years -always considering the other types, pedestrian.

I announce my love for the pedestrian Zinnia! Who wouldn’t fall in love with these cheerful pink and orange flowers? I have, years too late.


The pink and orange flowers are Cactus Zinnias. Funky orange and red flowers,  our native Gallardias that have just started back up. Foliage is from the vegetable garden, green leaves from Chinese Cabbage, darker ferny foliage from Copper Fennel. Glass container, an heirloom from my mother- I am certain she would join me in being thrilled with the Zinnias and Winter Veg.

Happy Monday.