In A Vase on Monday – Gardening with Armadillos

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Sunday got off to a bit of a rough start, about 3 a.m. one of my greyhounds started to run around and whine. I got up, thinking he needed to go out and opened the door – only to hear a strange sound crashing around in the garden. Decided to turn on the security lights and low and behold, I spied an Armadillo. The shelled rodent (IMO) digging beside the metal screen enclosure on our porch, bashing his shell against the metal. Driving my poor dog mad and depriving both of us our beauty sleep.

As the dog ran out the door the foolish Armadillo ran into the fenced part of our yard – who knew an Armadillo could out run a greyhound?https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Armadillo

Cartoon time 3 a.m. My backyard. Starring Alan the Greyhound. Shown below in his usual state. Alan is the brown dog, the other one has no interest in getting up at 3 a.m.

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A few hours and cups of coffee later, I went to look for vase components in the garden the Armadillo had been digging in. Sure enough, he or she had been overturning Bromeliads, a favorite pastime for some reason made better by overturning burgundy or spotted Bromeliads. By trial and error, I eventually found out cardboard and mulch will keep the armadillos away, needs another application. Sigh.

20170806_100322 Seeking the components of a vase, I noted the Spathoglottis is flowering again. I know this really sounds like a disease, but is actually a lovely little Ground Orchid called Caberet. This is the second round of flowering since I planted it in January. It is the purple flower in the vase. The blue flowers are Porterweed, the jury is still out on which one and today it is really shedding for some reason. The yellow flowers are Lantana, Silvermound would be my guess for variety. The purple spotted foliage is from a Bromeliad the Armadillo overturned ‘Hallelujah’ Billbergia. A sprig of fern finishes the vase.

The Armadillo’s work last night:

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In A Vase on Monday – Dinner Party Vase

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I am not actually having a dinner party, although a Garlic Rosemary Pork Roast is going in the oven shortly. This blue bud vase contains a few flowers I have not cut before and I have a feeling it will not last through dinner. I call these dinner party arrangements, great for a party but not much longer. This is a better shot of the blue vase:

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I picked up the vase at a church thrift store near my house this week. There were several and after arriving home, I wished I had bought three for you know, dinner parties! Imagine three flower filled blue vases with candles in between down the center of the table. I may need a return trip to the thrift store. Here is a closer view of the flowers:

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The pink flowers are a new native addition to the perennial border, Sunshine Mimosa (Mimosa  strigillosa). Yes, a groundcover Mimosa and Floridians consider this a replacement for lawn. I consider it a front of the border perennial that looks a lot like a weed. Possibly it’s first appearance IAVOM. I am waiting until after dinner to see if the petals fall off. The yellow and orange flowers are the faithful Gallardias that last in a vase and the garden. The blue flowers are from (I think) the native Porterweed, there is another potentially evil Porterweed lurking about, but I can’t tell the difference and it came with a plant I bought. The pretty blue flowers make a striking vertical accent. I have used this before and I think the pretty blue part falls off and you are left with the vertical accent.

Dessert with vertical accent only.

The Bromeliad in the middle is great vase material that sometimes dries in the vase only to be spray painted gold for the holidays, Aechmea miniata, the Miniata Bromeliad.

Speaking of Bromeliads, here is the mad tropical plant of the week:

This is a Blanchetiana Bromeliad in bud, I am 5’7″ and the buds are a bit taller than me.

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I would like to share some thoughts with you all.

First, thanks to Cathy for hosting IAVOM.

I just want to say I am amazed and humbled by the knowledge and creativity I see every week.

And I love sharing these mad tropical plants with like minded people.

Happy Monday.

In A Vase on Monday-Ironic Architecture

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The occasional Architectural floral arrangement appears in my house. I would consider this one is in that style. Generally speaking, I am ambivalent about Architectural furnishings and such. After working for an Architectural firm for a few years, I determined I really did not want to see or deal with another Architect for a really long time. Then, I married one. Twenty five years ago. Ironic.

This morning, finding the Soap Aloe in bloom, I decided to feature it’s large candelabra shaped flower stalk in a tall crystal vase. This idea sent me looking for a wedding gift, said tall crystal vase, from a dear friend, yes an Architect. Not remembering where I put it, I decided it must have been broken when we moved as I haven’t seen it in ages. Went on about my arranging using another vase, finished it, decided to look in the (gasp) crystal and china cabinet and there is was, safe and sound, stowed in the back. Ironic.

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This is a relatively simple plant palette. In orange and candelabra, the Soap Aloe (Aloe saponaria). A frond from our native Cabbage Palm (Palmetto sabal), the long green leaf is from a Sansiveria( Mother In Law tongues or Snake Plants), the long orange leaves are from Blanchetiana Bromeliads (Aechmea blanchetiana). It seems weird to me, I can think – I need a 4 foot long bit of orange foliage for this arrangement and then find it in the garden. Not particularly ironic, just an observation.

Here is the progress on the Night Blooming Cereus, bud has doubled in size.

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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.

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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 – Striking

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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.

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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.

In A Vase on Monday -Time In A Bottle

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

In A Vase on Monday – Tropical Blues

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It’s Sunday afternoon in South Florida and we are having a rare rainy day with temperatures in the 40s (F). It’s damp and dreary and my greyhounds are grumpy because they have been cooped up in the house all day. Alan (the greyhound, not my husband) went into the backyard, jumped into the air put both paws over his head and threw his collar off and onto the ground burying it in the sand in disgust.

We have the tropical blues. No sun and no blue skies today. Some Kissy Fish and a new Bromeliad in a blue vase will cheer things up.

I was pleased to find the small Pink Bromeliads (Quesnelia testudo) I planted last fall starting to flower this week. Another one of my mystery plants, bought nameless (3 for five bucks!) at a Botanical Garden sale, I thought these were something else entirely, but the Quesnelia have worked out quite well and flower in mid winter here. Someday I will have a drift of Pink Bromeliads under my Shell Gingers.

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Not wishing to venture out in the rain again, I cut the rest of this vase from containers on my front porch. Joining the Quesnelia are: in pink and chartreuse foliage, Alabama Sunset Coleus; chartreuse flowers from Culinary Dill, the darker fine textured foliage is Copper Fennel from the herb containers and a bit of grey Flapjack Kalanchoe flowers and Asian Sword Fern foliage. The blue glass footed vase is a family heirloom.

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The Kissy Fish are part of my husband’s collection of unusual ceramics. The artist is Steven Smeltzer of Maui.

Speaking of my husband – he has been in the kitchen this afternoon seeking to cure our case of the Tropical Blues. Baking a Blueberry Pie:

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I am sure to feel better after dessert.