In a Vase on Monday – The Cure

The song “Ain’t No Cure for the Summertime Blues” entered my consciousness (my guess) in the late 1970s. The number of artists who recorded this song surprised me. I listened to several versions, sometimes being a country music fan, maybe Alan Jackson’s version is playing in my mind. Nope..then I listened to Eddie Cochran.The song’s author and realized his original version is the one that sticks in my mind. Sadly, I find Eddie Cochran was killed in a taxicab accident at the age of 21.

Oh, back to gardening and my vase. This vase is composed of blues and cured me, for a short period of time, of the Summertime Blues. In South Florida, Summertime Gardening Blues can include heat, humidity, bugs, fungus, being horribly sweaty and having hot flashes in the garden, running out of cold water and or, Gatorade, Oh, I forgot weeds! ACK. The vase must be blue and lovely. Here it is.

My cure for the Summertime Blues. First, an antique Blue Willow teapot from the UK as a vase. The blue flowers are; in powder blue (what is that powder, anyway?) Blue Plumbago (Plumbago auriculata) a stalwart shrub in my garden. In deeper blue on the left side, Mystic Blue Salvia, wrenched back from near death by my (shocking) overwatering. The purple flowers on the right are my new summer favorite, Mona Lavendar Plectranthus. White flowers are Miss Alice Bougainvillea and the yellow flowers are from Galphinia glauca, Thyrallis. There is a bit of chartreuse Coleus foliage behind the blue salvia and some varigated Bromeliad foliage in the back of the teapot.

A closer view:

Ah, relief from the Summertime Blues.

As always, thank you to Cathy at http://www.ramblinginthegarden.wordpress.com for hosting and Happy Gardening!

Six on Saturday – Fork Failure

I have to report the fork experiment was a failure. I placed these plastic forks a couple of weeks ago after a rabbit ate my Blue Pea Vine; they got it again last night. I may move to tomato cages or a tall pot. This is far enough out in the garden I don’t want to have to water a pot..a dilemma.

On to more positive things. My back up Papaya trees have set a bud and are almost four feet tall. I am waiting, breathlessly to see if the flowers are male, female or both.

I found a Thai Dessert Mango (Nam Doc Mai) lurking in the interior of the tree. This mango flowered a couple of months ago and dropped (I thought) all of the flowers. Except this one! And I looked up and noted it is flowering again, so hopefully I will get more Thai Mangos in a couple of months.

Thai Dessert Mango

The flower of a Barometer Bush (Luecophyllum frutescens) This shrub is noted for flowering before it rains. And it is doing its job well. It flowered profusely before we had about four inches of rain this week.

Flowers on the native Beautyberry (Calliocarpa americana). The Florida version of this shrub never fails to amaze me. It thrives in full sun during the hot summer and total shade in winter, rarely gets watered and produces a bumper crop of berries at the end of the summer – also attracts numerous types of butterflies with its nectar. I had these in my garden much further north and they were a shadow of this one.

That’s my six for this Saturday. To see more posts with six items of interest from gardens around the world, visit http://www.thepropagatorblog.wordpress.com.

Happy Gardening…

In a Vase on Monday – White Hot

It’s not white hot in South Florida. Yet. The fragrant white flowers are in bloom and some soothing fragrance for the house seems necessary (read, for me!). I decided to add some hot colors for spice and put them in a crystal rose bowl from my mother. I am not sure it has ever held roses during my tenure, certainly not while in South Florida. Roses can be grown here, but it is a lot of trouble and I would rather have the tropical flowers. Honestly, I would never do the amount of tending roses would need here. Here is an easier and much more forgiving fragrant flower, the Bridal Bouquet Frangipani. Shove a few cuttings in the ground and they reward you with six foot semi evergreen foliage and fragrant flowers for months.

Bridal Bouquet Frangipani is a favorite of mine, and oh, so easy to grow. It joins some other fragrant friends in my vase this Monday.

The Bridal Bouquet Frangipani (Plumeria pudica) is on the right side. The fragrant friends, in white, are Tropical Gardenias (Tabernaemontana diviricata) hanging over the side and Sweet Almond Bush (Aloysia virgata) spikes in the background. The hot colors, in red, front and center, the Red Guzmania Bromeliad; the red bells are Russelia equisetiformis, sometimes called the Firecracker Plant. Purple flowers are from Mona Lavender Plectranthus, and the purple foliage is Little Ruby Alternanthera. The ferns, much as I enjoy them in vases are the weed, Asian Sword Fern.

Thanks every week to Cathy, who hosts In a Vase on Monday at her blog http://www.ramblinginthegaarden.wordpress.com. Follow the link to find more vases.

Six on Saturday – Mangos, Tortoises and Moonlight

I find something of interest every week in my garden and share it with others gardeners via Six on Saturday. To see more interesting items from other gardens, visit Jon at http://www.thepropagatorblog.wordpress.com.

Above is a Gopher Tortoise, ambling down my shell driveway. These tortoises are endemic to Florida, large – this one is probably 18 inches long and long lived, 50 to 60 years. They are known for making gigantic burrows and sharing them with all sorts of other animals, rattlesnakes included. I am not sure where this one lives. They are not known to travel very far from home and shouldn’t be moved unless necessary. He turned and went back up my driveway and continued down the street.

This morning I noticed the scents of summer are coming on. Several of my neighbors have large Arabian Jasmine shrubs and they are at their sweetest in the moonlight and early in the morning. I don’t have one, don’t need one! In my garden the Tropical Gardenia (Tabernaemontana diviricata) – above and Sweet Almond Bush (Aloysia virgata) – below are flowering and there are buds on the Moonvine.

I planted my summer veg – edible Hibiscus. These are called Roselles (Hibiscus sabdariffa). The leaves and flowers are edible. These grow to about four feet and the flowers are harvested in the fall. The calyx of the flower is harvested and used to make tea, jam and jelly – tastes a bit like cranberries. Young leaves may be used in salad similar to Arugula.

I have harvested and eaten my first Glenn Mango. These are good, low in fiber and have a coconut mango flavor.

This is a Pickering Mango. It is still ripening on the counter. I had these last year and they are yummy.

That’s all from my garden this week.

Happy Gardening…

In a Vase on Monday – Jarred Summer

While collecting flowers for my vase on Sunday, a thought passed through my mind. This is like a jar of summer from my garden. Most of these plants flower all summer and are hot colors. I added the cut flowers to an old pasta container – viola, jarred summer.

Summer can be a bit jarring to those not used to the tropical heat South Florida produces. I have heard it described as a hot, wet blanket that surrounds and then stuns you on the way out of the airport. This is accurate.

I am from the Deep South and thought I knew hot weather. South Florida is a different kind of hot. The first time my husband and I came down (inadvertently) it was the peak of hurricane season and the heat. All I could think was that my hair is hot. Blessed with thick hair, it is still hot – though, I am ready for it and fortunately; it is lighter in color – grey!

In this climate, lighter is better. I started life as a brunette; the grey is cooler, my real color now, though the flower is fake. I learned from this it is difficult to take a picture of your own hair. An old friend from college (a guy) and I have been sending hair pics back and forth. His is longer…

I digress, here is a closer view of the vase:

I love all the high colors, especially in the harsh light of summer in South Florida. Pink just doesn’t stand up to the tropical rays. The yellow daisies at the base are Beach Sunflowers (Helianthus debilis); yellow spikes are Thyrallis (Galphimia glauca) a new and long lasting favorite cut flower. Purple flowers are another new favorite, Mona Lavender Plectranthus, though I question the wisdom of whoever named this plant. Beautiful foliage and flowers and thriving in icky heat – I think it needs a more attractive name. Orange tube flowers are from Firebush (Hamelia patens); lighter orange and sage green flowers are from Soap Aloe (Aloe saponaria). Red spike flowers are Tropical Red Salvia (Salvia coccinea). Blurry white spikes in back are Sweet Almond (Aloysia virgata) for fragrance. A few sprigs of varigated foliage (Dianella spp) set off the flowers.

To see more In a Vase on Monday posts, visit Cathy at http://www.ramblinginthegarden.wordpress.com.

Happy Gardening.

Six on Saturday – Forking Around

I had a disturbing rabbit issue this week. A butterfly gardening friend sent Blue Pea Vine (Clitoria ternatea) seed. I very carefully started the seed, potted the seedlings up and grew them up a trellis before installing them in my garden. The morning after the installation, the plants were gnawed back to the ground. Arggh. I have been seeing this plastic fork solution here and there and decided to give it a try for rabbit abatement. So far, so good – the plants are growing back. Has anyone else tried this? I have also read blue tea can be made from the flowers of this vine…anyone try this??

It finally rained this week..yay!!! and the flowers are popping out in appreciation of the drenching. This is a Tree Spinach (Cnidoscolus aconitifolius), the flowers provide nutritious nectar for butterflies. The leaves are good for people. This is a tropical vegetable native to Central America. I have not eaten any as it must be cooked properly or it is poisonous.

Flowers starting in the cup of a Painted Fingernail Aechmea Bromeliad. The blue star shaped flowers eventually fill the cup.

Guzmania Bromeliad flowering again. I have had this Bromeliad for years in a clay wok container. It flowers every summer and lasts for months. Sometimes I cut them for arrangements.

Rain Lilies (Zephyranthes) I am not sure which species this is – though it is tropical. One of my favorites and a not too prolific reseeder.

This is the result of having a Papaya tree chopped off a few months ago. I am not sure what is going to happen next, though the shoots seem too narrow to cope with summer rain and wind. The top of the cut also dried out leaving a shell. I have a back up Papaya tree coming along.

That’s my Six for this Saturday. Join the crowd and visit http://www.thepropagatorblog.wordpress.com to see a world of gardening sixes.

Happy Gardening..

In a Vase on Monday – Goblet of Fire

It has been so rain free here the only flowers worth cutting are on the shrubs. My enormous Firebush is packed with bees and butterflies who were none too happy about me stealing their flowers. I chose the silver goblet before I realized I was making a Goblet of Fire. My husband and I are Harry Potter fans and coincidentally I have a family wand. Abracadabra!!!

The silver goblet is an heirloom from my mother, who loved to collect junk. Heirloom may be too strong a word. The goblet is more like something I found while cleaning out her house. I am not sure what became of my copy of Harry Potter and The Goblet of Fire. It is probably around the house somewhere – though, Deathly Hallows looks better with the Firebush!

The Grant family wand. It had never occurred to me that we had a family wand, until today. Some years ago, my father, the geologist, was prospecting in the woods of North Georgia and ran across a water witch. Water witches direct people to the best locations to drill wells. She gave him this wand. Wands are also called divining rods. This particular witch used native Alder branches (Alders grow near streams) to divine where the water was most likely to be located underground. I am not sure how to operate the wand, though I tried when we dug a well at our house in South Florida, no luck from the wand. Perhaps it was too far from home or I am just a muggle.

A closer view:

There are two varieties of Firebush (the tubular flowers) in here..the red ones are the Florida native Hamelia patens var patens; the orange ones (I think) are from the Bahamas – Hamelia patens. People get into arguments about this, ugh. These arguments annoy me, love the plants. Beautiful, tough shrubs that bees and butterflies love. I don’t care where they originated. The yellow flowers are Thyrallis (Galphimia glauca)..This one has several botanical names and is often sold as a native; though it is not. The grey accents are Adonidia Palm flowers. Background red and green foliage are tips from Blanchetiana Bromeliads (red) and Super Fireball Neoregelia (green).

As always, thank you to Cathy at http://www.ramblinginthegarden.wordpress.com for hosting. Follow the link for more vases.

Wishing everyone a magical gardening week..muggles or not.

Six on Saturday – Back to the Garden

I am rejoining the Six on Saturday crowd this week after tending my husband last week. He is on the mend and I am happy to be back in the garden. I planted a few new things and found some summer flowers in the garden. Above is a Thyrallis (Galphimia glauca). These have been in the garden for two years. They are advertised to flower year round, not quite so far – though they make long lasting cut flowers.

A new plant in the garden – a Joy Perfume tree (Magnolia champaca). This is a tropical Magnolia, the flowers are used to make Joy perfume. I love the almost polka dotted foliage. I added a Ylang Ylang tree this winter (Chanel No. 5 is made from this tree’s flowers). I hope they are far enough apart. I have a Tropical Lavendar on the other side of the garden. I have a feeling there is enough scent in the garden. Both trees have a reputation for strongly scented flowers. Time will tell.

Another interesting tropical, Chandelier Plant (Medinilla cumingii). A friend shared a rooted cutting with me this spring, it is taking off in a container on my front porch. Similar to orchids, a tropical rainforest plant that lives in trees. This one should have flowers like pink grapes this summer. I am excited to see the flowers. The usual Medinilla I see around here is M. magnifica.

Petunia exserta, grown from seed by my neighbor, are in full flower on the front porch. My porch is a bit overrun with plants right now. I have found it is the best place to grow things from seeds and cuttings.

The first Passionfruit of the year. These have to stay on the vine to ripen – the gardener has to keep a close eye on these to beat the varmints to the fruit.

The last tomatoes of the season. I have had so many good tomatoes this year I decided it was worth the trouble to do it again – but only in containers. The plants in the ground did not do well even with irrigation..

That’s Six from South Florida this Saturday. To see more posts from gardens around the world visit The Propagator at http://www.thepropagatorblog.wordpress.com.

In a Vase on Monday – Tropical to a Ti

The formation of the first subtropical storm of the season, Ana, heralds the run up to summer and the inevitable heat and humidity that follow. Summer brings some of the more tropical plants in my garden into their full glory. The plants, of course, know all this and start to flower. The white Frangipani, surprised me by flowering in earnest for the first time last week, despite virtually no rain for weeks.

The pink tinged foliage in the arrangement is a Ti Plant (Cordyline fruticosa). I avoided these for years as they tend to get burned by dry winds in the late spring and look awful for a long time with crispy, brown edged foliage. Having grown a big Tropical Hydrangea (Dombeya wallachii) that will block the wind, I added a couple of these popular plants to my tropical garden. There are many varieties of Cordyline, my favorite name ‘Twisted Sister’ – this one is plum with fuchsia markings and a bit much for me. I bought a few unnamed varieties, that look like tri-colors to me; green, cream and pink. Here it is:

A closer view of the vase:

The vase is a leftover from an arrangement someone sent us for long forgotten reasons. The flowers: in white, Frangipani (Plumeria spp.) these are from a rooted cutting I picked up at a Master Gardeners sale some years ago, finally reaching about six feet. Slow growing for a tropical tree, but the fragrance is worth the wait. Pink flowers are Shell Ginger (Alpinia zerumbet) making one of their sporadic appearances in the garden. The yellow flowers are Thryallis (Galphimia glauca); a shrub I have in the butterfly garden. The jury is out on the Thryallis, it seems hyped to me. Supposed to flower year round…not quite or, not yet.

Happy Monday and Happy Gardening. Thanks to Cathy at http://www.ramblinginthegarden.wordpress.com for hosting gardeners from around the world sharing vases. Follow the link to see more.

In a Vase on Monday – Bread and Posies

Sunday found me in the kitchen and the garden, baking a garden focaccia and creating a posy.

Here is the posy part. It has been so dry here only the strong are thriving and flowering. The plants from Mexico and Florida are best for this time of year. Theoretically, it should start raining in about two weeks. I know how these things go, wait and see and keep the hose handy. Or turn off the irrigation system. Things could go either way.

A closer view:

The red, yellow (and pink!) Gallardias (Gallardia pulchella) are the prettiest flowers in the garden this week. These are US natives and live in sandy prairies, perfect for my garden. The white flowers are from the White Geiger tree. This tree has been blooming for months, it is oddly shaped – 6 feet tall and twice as wide, though it was blown over by a near miss hurricane a couple of years ago. Native to the Rio Grande area in Mexico, another survivalist (Cordia boissieri). The orange tube shaped flowers are from another sand lover from the Bahamas, Firebush (Hamelia patens) The grey green background leaf is a trimmed palm frond from Florida’s state tree, the Cabbage Palm (Palmetto sabal). These palms pop up in my garden and I leave them to use in flower arrangements. The vase, one of my favorites, is a thrift store find.

Here is the bread part. My nephew’s wife sent me a photo of a garden focaccia and said “you should try this”. I am known for making focaccia as I bake some nearly every week and it is our regular sandwich bread. I also am overrun with Yellow Pear tomatoes and needed to use them. This was fun to make and is tasty with the exception of the areas with a lot of tomatoes – the bread is a bit mushy under the tomatoes. Here it is before it went in the oven.

My focaccia is always made with a crust of mixed parmesan and low fat cheddar cheese. The stems are small fronds from a fennel bulb; the flowers are red onions, yellow pear and Riesenstrube tomatoes. Leaves are rosemary, thyme and parsley from the garden. I brushed the vegetables and herbs with a mixture of olive oil, garlic and balsamic vinegar before baking.

Happy Monday and Happy Gardening and I hope the rain gods smile on all of us. Just the right amount, of course. As always, thanks to Cathy at http://www.ramblinginthegarden.wordpress.com for hosting In a Vase on Monday. Follow the link to see more vases.