My arrangement for this week began to form in my mind when I noticed my Apocalyptica Bromeliad was flowering. These are sometimes called Matchstick Bromeliads, so I decided to use my husbands vintage French cafe match striker as a vase. This ‘vase’ was originally used in French cafes to hold matches for smokers.
Images that come to my mind when thinking of a vintage French match striker involve Ernest Hemingway – sitting in an uncomfortable metal chair at a tiny table contemplating the nearby Seine River while trying to work out some angst. He looks down and realizes the match container has been hijacked to hold flowers, finds a box of matches and proceeds to strike a match on the side of a the vase. Then he lights an unfiltered cigarette, takes a big drag, exhales blowing some rings with the smoke, sighs deeply and takes a big gulp of red wine. And thinks some more.
Maybe not. Okay, I drank the red wine and Ernest was not here. But there is a river nearby. My angst concerns the sun also rising, but the garden dilemma involves where to move poorly performing Agapanthus to get more sun. On to what is in the vase.
The Apocalyptica Bromeliad (Aechmea apocalyptica) is the nearly fluorescent orange spiky flower. Rounding out the vase in orange again, Mexican Bush Honeysuckle (Justicia spicgera); in purple, Ground Orchids (Bletilla something); Blue Ageratum (Ageratum houstonianum) and another volunteer Asparagus Fern for fluffy greenery. The red striped foliage is from another Bromeliad (Neoregelia ‘Fireball’). There are a zillion varieties of Fireballs and I gave up figuring out which one is who because they are all pretty and mostly indestructible.
Happy Monday, may your week be angst free.
Happily, we are not in Hurricane season in South Florida as of yet. This Tropical Depression is caused by tropical flowers placed in a Depression Glass cream pitcher I found years ago while cleaning up my parent’s house after they had passed on. I cannot recall where it came from – it could have belonged to someone important, a family heirloom, or it could be junk from a garage sale. The identity of the original owner is lost in the sands of time.
The orange flowers are from my Mexican Bush Honeysuckle (Justicia spicigera). This honeysuckle has just started flowering again after taking a winter rest. Not related to the Lonicera this is closer to Shrimp Plants and is considered a desert tropical that likes regular water – this makes absolutely no sense to me, but the plant is thriving in my side garden and flowers about six months out of the year. So, I like the desert tropicals.
The Heliconias are flowering as well, about half the ones I have in the garden. The other half, both bigger Lobster Claw types are still considering their moves. I find the Lobster Claws have to think for years before flowering. The solid red flower is Dwarf Jamaican Helicona (Heliconia stricta) which is doing well in a very shady area. The red and yellow Parrotflowers (Heliconia psittacorum) like partial shade and bloom nearly year round taking a break during the driest part of the year. The Parrotflowers are just starting to flower again, telling me summer is on its way.
Green foliage in the vase is from the Mexican Honeysuckle, a nicely textured crinkly foliage that is fortunately evergreen. The red, yellow and green twisty leaves are from a Mammey Croton (Codieum varigatum). One of the more varigated plants I have ever encountered, Mammey is a low growing Croton (3′) that is a great accent shrub.
I have been thoroughly enjoying the flowers from my Shell Ginger (Alpinia zerumbet) over the past couple of weeks. So much that most of them have ended up in vases in the house. These are interesting tropical accent plants that are fairly common in South Florida, but oddly enough a bit hard to find to buy. A couple of years ago I found one for my favorite price -five bucks at a garage sale. Sold!
Planted beside our garage to screen an ancient (and exceedingly ugly) pressure treated pine fence and doing an admirable job, reaching 6 feet high and wide in about two years. The flowers are icing on the cake. Starting as a chain of shiny pink flowers resembling sea shells (hence the name) a 6 inch long bud spills the pink shell like flowers out – then a yellow orchid like flower follows at the end.
The foliage is lush and tropical and is evergreen where I live, further north it dies back in the winter – even further north an annual. There is a variegated Shell Ginger with beautiful foliage, unfortunately it rarely flowers, but is still a great accent.
So, why “Gingerly Simple”? Usually I like to stuff a variety of flowers into a vase, these I think stand alone and look better displayed in a simple vase with a few real seashells.
The Rites of Spring may be a ballet, a music festival or a rock band depending on where you look on the Internet. Seasonal changes can be subtle in South Florida so my Rites of Spring are landscape events marking the passage of the seasons to spring.
In the perennial garden, spring is marked when the Dwarf Jamaican Heliconia (Heliconia stricta ‘Dwarf Jamaican’) and Ground Orchid (Bletilla) flower.
Dwarf Jamaican Helicona
The Sweet Begonias (Begonia odorata ) , usually flower off and on, stop for a rest in mid winter have started back up. This year a surprise has been the Poinsettias I used in Christmas containers flowered again after being set out in the garden. The Bromeliads (Aechmeas – Blushing Bromeliads) are sporting their red markings (these tend to go back to green as the weather warms) The Shell Gingers (Alpinia zerumbet) are in full bloom, covering an extremely unattractive 6 foot fence, and have been outstanding thus far.
Vegetables and Herbs are at their zenith and starting to wane. A post for another day. Happy Friday.
The Dill is still blooming madly in the herb container so I could not resist cutting some more and dilly dallying through the garden looking for something different to accompany the Dill. I added some sprigs of Rosemary from the herb containers and the rest of the vase is composed of wildflowers from the garden, some I planted and others appeared without encouragement from me.
Joining the Dill and Rosemary are: In yellow, Beach Sunflowers (some call them Beach Daisies Helianthus debilis); in red, Tropical Red Salvia (Salvia coccinea); I planted both of these native wildflowers. In blue, the native Ageratum (Ageratum houstonianum); the white flowers are Spanish Needles (Bidens alba). The Ageratum and Spanish Needles just pop up at an alarming rate. Seemingly from thin air.
My husband’s comment about this ” a very perky arrangement” There is something cheerful and perky about wildflowers and especially daisies. There aren’t really daisies in the vase, but the resemblance is clear. The vase is a thrift store find and I like the hot colored flowers displayed in earth tone pottery. With the Rosemary, Dill and Salvia this vase is leaving a lovely herbal scent in my foyer.
It’s a Dilly, is that an American phrase? As far as I know, Dilly translates into it’s remarkable, notable or wonderful. Sources on the Internet say this is Canadian or American slang. Vasers will tell.
This vase is all about my herbs, I am mourning the impending passing of my Dill plant (this plant has been wonderful) this week. I love fresh Dill with salads, fish, tomato cucumber salad and on and on It has been flowering for at least a month, I keep cutting the flowers hoping for more foliage to eat – alas to no avail. So, I decided to cut most of the flowers for a vase. Some wasps seem to like the flowers as well – I left those guys alone. I hope the wasps inspire more edible Dill.
The Heliconias (Heliconia psittacorus) nearby suffered from something so I cut back and fertilized them a week or two ago. The plants are responding nicely and their flowers have joined the Dill. Sweet Begonias (Begonia odorata “Alba”) in white are flowering again and joined the dirge as well as an unnamed Bromeliad with nice red foliage and some big Ferns that popped up in the garden, again no idea what the ferns are. The red flowers are the native Turk’s Cap Hibiscus (Hibiscus malvaviscus pendiflorus)that rewards me with flowers with the least bit of attention. I watered them!
The vase is a gift from my dearly departed older brother. Always a bittersweet reminder of that makes me miss him. Though I am certain he would be happy I am using the vase and thinking of him.
Here is a close up:
It’s a Dilly!
As I was thinking about a subject for a vase, it occurred to me putting a vase together every week is a bit like saving time in a bottle. The dates are right on the blog post for reference and I find (not being a keeper of garden journals) myself referring back to my blog to see when plants have been in bloom. The watch ( a la Salvador Dali) a gift from my father many years ago. The persistence of memory can be troubling.
The largest plant in a preowned pink champagne bottle is Shell Ginger (Alpinia zerumbet). Shell Gingers were a bit of a mystery to me upon my arrival in Florida. The variegated type is commonly used as an annual further north for its foliage, but the green ones I had not encountered until I ran across one at a garage sale for (my favorite price) five bucks. Warnings are commonly issued about the size of these plants, a few years after planting it is six feet by six feet – but it also also planted in front of an ugly six foot fence. Gotta love it when a plan works out. It also appears to be on the verge of bursting into full bloom all over, however, this is difficult to discern as buds. leaves, etc look remarkably similar. If the whole thing does flower I will definitely post some pictures.
The heirloom blue bottle (another gift from my mother) holds a new arrival to my garden, in purple, Ground Orchids, I think this is a Bletilla of some sort, but as usual no one selling these plants really knows. Ground Orchids are fairly common in South Florida and used as 18″ height perennials – mine have been placed under a Pink Frangipani, next to a plum foliaged and flowered Bromeliad of unknown origin and beside a group of the Pink Bromeliads-the flower currently displayed in the gold bottle. Alongside the mysterious Orchid we have culinary Dill flowers, pink Tropical Salvia (Salvia coccinea) and Dwarf Pineapple foliage.
This vase contains a Billbergia Bromelaid of uncertain origins ( found thrown out with trash whilst walking my greyhounds) What I can say is I find it unreasonably sharp and beautiful. I may someday learn its botanical name, though I doubt it. In the vase there is some foliage from another, unrelated Bromeliad, a Neoregelia of the Fireball continuum I think.. And a bit of Asparagus Fern that appeared one day and I suspect my floral ambitions are keeping it at bay. The gold bottle has a cork and has served as an olive oil container.
Time in these bottles preserves mid February flowers in my garden or maybe the photos really provide the preservation. Next year will bring the answer all gardeners want to know – will it flower again?
Will our memory persist? One can hope or ask Dali.