In A Vase on Monday – Winter Wonderland

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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.

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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.

Moses?

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.

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

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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.

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In A Vase on Monday – Completely Different

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And now for something completely different! The theme from the past week or so around here. It has been oddly, well, cold. The greyhounds are perplexed, a lovely nap in the backyard sun has turned unpleasant and I have had to rethink my attire.

My personal definition of winter clothes – short sleeve shirts instead of tank tops, shoes, never and God forbid, socks. The middle of last week I found myself in my closet, searching for long pants, sweatshirts and shoes and the detestable socks. I haven’t put coats on the dogs yet, they are somewhat offended by canine jackets.

The good news, warmer weather is returning tomorrow. We had a low temperature of 38, nothing was damaged that I can tell. The garden still has Salvia, Beach Sunflower, and some other sort of regular things flowering – I decided to look for something different.

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I am not sure how much more different one could go. The plants in my different arrangement are in Salmon, a Bromeliad flower, Aechmea weilbachii forma viridisepala, Yah! a new friend from my garage sale collection-bought a couple of years ago for a few dollars, having no idea what the flower might be..In off white, Sansiveria (Snake Plant, Mother In Laws Tongue, etc),  The burgundy striped foliage is from a Ornamental Pineapple, Striped foliage from a Pandanus spp, fluffy fern – a volunteer Asparagus Fern.

Another different scene from South Florida, the Winter Vegetable garden, a few people have asked about the Potager, so far, so good. We have from the left potatoes, garlic, radishes, green beans, red peppers, tomatoes, snow peas, papayas. I am planting spinach, arugula and romaine lettuce next week.

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Gifts from the Garden

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I love the little surprises the garden provides. I had two surprises this holiday season from my expanding collection of Bromeliads from garage sale finds. Bromeliads were new to me as a garden perennial when we moved to South Florida six years ago. I find them really interesting and wanted to try some, soon finding they are very expensive, people who sell them have little to offer in terms of how to place and grow, on top of that I suffer from what my father called ‘cheap Scotch heritage’. Spending $80.00 for one perennial that may or may not make it, not happening in my garden.

Experience tells me the more expensive the plant the more likely Alan the greyhound will dig it up or sit on it..oops. I began noticing Bromeliads for sale at garage sales – no one knew the names,  but I knew they would thrive in my garden if people were selling excess plants. And they usually cost 5 bucks! Win, win. Plant and wait a couple of years..

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The flowers from these perennials take a bit to get going but they tend to last a long time. I watched the big pink bud with baited breath and finally it opened.

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Really kind of an amazing flower and worth the wait. I asked around for a long time and finally someone recognized this on social media as an Aechmea ‘Little Harv’, a Bullis Bromeliad from a South Florida grower and they do sell for $70.00 a piece.

My next surprise is another Aechmea, Aechmea weilbachii forma viridisepala. I have been calling it the LeSueur Pea Bromeliad. Identified by Facebook again. I have learned these are winter flowering and also long lasting in the garden.

 

Can’t wait to see what comes up next…I have been to a few more garage sales, and the foliage is turning out plum.

In A Vase On Monday – Local Color

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Strange as it may seem, pink is a holiday color in South Florida. Holiday pinks are most prominently manifested in a never ending parade of flamingo themed Christmas decor. My street features flamingos as Mr and Mrs Claus giving presents, flamingos with candy canes and a sleigh pulled by eight tiny flamingos in red capes. Last year I mentioned the flamingos in red capes and a fellow blogger who shall remain unnamed suggested I had overquaffed the eggnog. This year I have pictures.

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As unique as this may seem, there is another sleigh/flamingo configuration around the corner twice the size done entirely with lights – no capes.

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My pink holiday vase features, in pink, the Shell Ginger (Alpinia zerumbet). The Shell Ginger was quite shredded by Hurricane Irma, I decided to leave it and am being rewarded with flowers about half the usual size, puzzling, but it is nice to have the flowers and there are many more on the plant. The grey flowers are from the succulent Flapjack Kalanchoe, the  off white flowers from the mystery plant finally identified by a blog friend of Eliza’s as  Wireweed, a Florida wildflower.

I added local color this weekend by making a wreath using components from my garden. No pink or pink flamingos.

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The yellow and red flowers forming the ring are from Blanchetiana Bromeliad, the green leaves wrapping the wreath are from a Pandanus, species unknown. I think this will last through New Years.

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Cheers to Resurgens

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Resurgens is Latin for Resurgence, and the motto of my hometown – Atlanta, Georgia. Atlanta’s resurgence was from the ashes of the Civil War, my garden is rebounding from the encounter with Hurricane Irma. Every good resurgence deserves a toast and this one is filled with Beach Sunflowers in an oversized Margarita glass given to me by a friend.

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Joining the Beach Sunflowers (Helianthus debilis)  in orange, Firebush (Hamelia patens) and the foliage is a sprig of Setcresea (Setcresea pallida)  some call this Purple Hearts, I think that sounds better. The dark ferny foliage is from Copper Fennel, making a surprise reappearance in the herb garden.

The Beach Sunflowers are a profusion of yellow flowers and the Firebush is just starting to show color again. Other signs of resurgence, the Torch Bromeliads (Billbergia pyramidalis) are making their Autumnal appearance.

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The foliage is a bit worse for wear,  but the flowers are beautiful. The most dramatic transition in the garden is from the Strangler Fig (Ficus aurea). Here is a picture of the Fig two weeks ago:

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Today:

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I will raise my glass for the Fig, now I need to find some limes and tequila.

Cheers!

In A Vase on Monday- Soothing Relief

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This morning our temperatures were in the low 70’s with a nice breeze from Hurricane Maria passing by (a long way off). The humidity was down a bit as well, so I worked in the garden getting my vegetable garden going. South Florida’s gardening season is opposite most of the Northern Hemisphere. Summer vegetables are planted in September and October, so I will have tomatoes in the winter. Hopefully. Corn is not even grown in the summer here as it is too hot for the plant to pollinate.20170924_132320

The anchor flower in this vase is a Soap Aloe (Aloe saponaria) which is supposed to be a soothing shampoo ingredient until you read up on it, seems more people are irritated by it than soothed. Stick to the Aloe Vera for relief. The Soap Aloe is the apricot and green candelabra shaped flower. The red flowers are our native Hibiscus, Turk’s Cap Mallow (Hibiscus malvaviscus). The mad funky flowers that look like Lobster Claws are Blanchetiana Bromeliad flowers – Hurricane Irma was not kind to these and I have trimmed the prettier parts for use in this vase. I have been channeling my Southern mother lately and am thinking of drying the rest and spray painting them gold for a holiday wreath. Although, that might be too funky.

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The vase is a big crystal affair that was a wedding gift – oh, many years ago from a dear friend who called the day before Hurricane Irma hit “just to hear my voice”, a truly lovely man. The components of the vase are of such a large scale (2 to 3 feet tall) I thought it called for the addition of some big tropical foliage. The smaller leaves in the arrangement are from Frangipani (Plumeria), the long reddish leaves from the Blanchetiana Bromeliad and the ferns are the ever present Asian Sword Ferns.

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The vegetable garden under construction. Hard to believe anything will grow in this ‘soil’.

A Vase for Juracan

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We have been madly preparing for the arrival of Hurricane Irma this week and I have been collecting all the odd bits left outside that might go airborne. While doing this,  I noticed a number of nice blooms that are probably going to be in the Gulf of Mexico by the time In A Vase on Monday rolls around.

I am beginning to think watching the news coverage only provokes my anxiety, so I did a little research. The Caribe Indians (native to the islands of the Caribbean) had a God of Hurricanes called Juracan which is the origin of the word Hurricane. Depending on what you read, Juracan is the God of Chaos and another Goddess, Guabancex, throws the winds around to destroy everything.

This reminded me of Pele, the Hawaiian Goddess of Volcanoes, known for taking offerings thrown into the cauldron of Kilauea volcano on the Big Island of Hawaii. Hawaiians throw bottles of Vodka and flowers in the volcano to get into Pele’s good graces. I figured a few flowers thrown into a vase might help with Juracan or his lady friend, the hurricane thrower. At this point, it certainly couldn’t hurt.

So, this vase is on a Hawaiian Tiki with some muddy gloves at its feet. Maybe Pele will look out for us, too. A closer view, with storm shutters:

In the vase, in red, Parrotflowers, in orange and yellow, Blanchetiana Bromeliads, in purple, Spathoglottis Orchids, in blue, Porterweed. There are a few Red Shrimp Plants in the vase as well.

Stay safe, everyone.