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).
Some days it seems I am the one going to seed. Maybe people are like plants, some look better than others while going to seed.. The tropical Lotusleaf Begonias (Begonia nelumbifolia) are one of my favorites when going to seed. They make lovely triangular, chartreusy seed heads that tower above the foliage. I have never had a Begonia grow from a seed dropped in my garden, but it is entirely possible I have not left them on the plant long enough.
A closer view:
I started out with the idea of using a hand tied bouquet to make the Begonias stand upright – then the slant grew on me and I added foliage to emphasize the non-political right slant.
The crystal vase, a wedding gift from a dear friend who I worked on perennial gardens with in Atlanta. The left leaning plants in the arrangement are: in black with coral spotted leaves, Piecrust Croton (Codieum varigatum). This shrub is used as a foliage accent in the garden. The new growth is yellow and green and eventually darkens. An amazing variety of colors exist in this well loved tropical shrub. Maybe the left lean is appropriate. The ferns, added for a green, graphic backdrop are from Florida’s native Boston Fern (Nephrolepis exaltata). The day after the US Presidential election, my right leaning neighbor came out with his weedeater and cut the ferns in my garden down. The reason for this remains a mystery to me. The trimming rejuvenated the Boston Fern. The two strap like leaves are from a Neoregelia Bromeliad that is also on its way out. I cannot tell in some cases when to cut the mother plant off and get rid of it. Bromeliads are peculiar in the way they reproduce. I buy a plant, it may or may not flower, sooner or later a side shoot appears, called a pup, and then the original (Mother) plant dies. The pup on this one is nearly as big as the mother plant. The Neoregelia Bromeliad:
The Neoregelia Bromeliad in the front of the image is the mother plant, you guessed it, going to seed! I should add; very few Bromeliad have produced seed in my garden, though it happens. I am told growing Bromeliads from seed is a long, excruciating process – it’s better to use the pups for new plants.
I thought “in a pickle” was American slang. The Dutch started it using “in de pekel zitten” to describe an uncomfortable situation, this translates to “sit in the pickle brine” Seems that would be a stinging experience. Easter Sunday morning found me in the garden thinking “there are no flowers to cut for a Monday vase” – I thought I was in a pickle..Not so much, this rarely proves true, though sometimes I have to look harder to come up with an arrangement. Oddly, there was an abandoned pickle jar in the garden near my Raspberry Blanchetiana Bromeliads. Being “in a pickle” passed through my mind until inspiration hit via the pickle jar. There are also some salsa jars out there I need to get rid of…
The pickle jar is wrapped with a leaf and tied with jute twine. I left the twine trailing given the casual feel of, well, a covered pickle jar. A closer view of the flowers.
The leaf wrapping the jar is from a Raspberry Blanchetiana Bromeliad. This is a mahogany and greenish red leaf plant with large (4 feet long) red and yellow flowers. The flowers start in November and are looking ragged now. They are as tall as I am when I cut them back to the ground.There are orange and lemon Blanchetiana with the appropriately colored foliage to go with the flowers. I have used the other colors to wrap vases.
In blue, Mystic Spires Salvia; I am enjoying these so much I am hoping they last the summer. The white daisies are Spanish Needles, an annoying native, botanical name, Bidens alba. Orange daisies are from Mexican Flame Vine (Pseudogynoxys chenpodoides); orange tubular flowers from the native Firebush (Hamelia patens var patens); Yellow daisies are Beach Sunflower (Helianthus debilis) and a white Tropical Red Salvia (Salvia coccinea) is in the back. Two red and yellow native Gallardia round out the front of my pickle jar.
I am glad I did not find myself in the Dutch version of the pickle this Monday.
I potted my mini stumpery this week, using my treasures found by the roadside. The pot is a lamp base I inherited from my parents. The stump found by the roadside has native Southern Needleleaf air plant (Tillandsia setacea) growing on it. These have purple flowers and turn reddish at some point. I added a purple Cattleya Orchid to the branch and underplanted it with Fishhooks Senecio.
My other find, the repurposed planter, had holes drilled in the bottom and was filled with Bromeliads, then placed in a dark corner of the garden. The silver one is a Aechmea fasciata; purples are Luca Neoregelias; the small green and red ones are Fireball Neoregelia. These should grow together and spill over the pot. The Aechmea has a pink flower.
My tomatoes are steadily bearing fruit. I have learned (the hard way) I have to pick them before they show too much color or the birds pick them for me. These are Yellow Pear and Riesenstrube tomatoes. I would grow both varieties again. The San Marzanos were a bit of a washout, though the soil is better when these are growing. I always have better luck with cherry tomatoes.
The mangoes are coming along. These are Glenn Mangoes, they are still dropping some of the smaller fruit. Hopefully the rest will grow to full size.
These are Nam Doc Mai, a Thai dessert mango. They are flatter and longer than the Glenn Mango and nearly fiberless. A coconut flavored Mango. Very good to eat.
The butterflies are at it again. I think these are the eggs of a Florida White Butterfly. Reviled by cabbage farmers, these beautiful white butterlies with purple markings host on members of the brassica family – this is Arugula, at the end of its season in my garden. Soon to be consumed by hungry caterpillars.
Florida is sort of like a great big garage sale. Oftentimes, Bromeliads can be found for sale or on the side of the road. These were found at a garage sale. Little Harv Aechmea Bromeliads, I moved this clump recently and it is held up by some stray coconuts I found by the side of the road. Bromeliads root from the stem and take a while to reestablish.
I am not sure what this is, it is going to be a pot o’ Bromeliads in a dark corner of the garden where grass refuses to grow. Found by the side of the road.
Another cast off treasure, a branch of a Mango tree with native Tillandsia air plants growing on the bark. I am going to make a stumpery container and underplant this with a Fishhook Senecio.
The Fishhook Senecio, I admit to buying this one.
The Papaya tree was cut back this week, grown from seed of a neighbor’s tree. About 15 feet was cut off, supposedly these grow back and produce more reachable fruit. Time will tell.
A view of the cut top of the Papaya trunk. Somewhat like a giant tube.
It is safe to say my garden has a different slant from most. Located in what is called USDA Zone 10A in the northern part of South Florida, our average low is 40 degrees (F). I am on the northern edge of tropical, and enjoy growing plants that hail from further south. The arrangement is intentionally slanted; the idea provided by the growth of the pink flower, a Little Harv Aechmea Bromeliad.
A closer view of Little Harv.
The rest of the vase:
The vase, found by the side of the road in my neighborhood, is an old florist vase from who knows where. The white begonias are from my huge Lotusleaf Begonia (Begonia nelumbifolia); the other white flowers are from Miss Alice Bougainvillea; ferns are Boston Fern (Nephrolepis exaltata) and there is a leaf from a Split Leaf Philodendron (Philodendron selloum) on the right side that is not visible in the images.
My lunch also had a different slant today:
A Chicken, Swiss and Nasturtium flower sandwich on Foccacia. With Blue Corn Chips – the salsa didn’t make it into the picture. It was good! And very colorful.
There was some plant shopping this week. I went with a friend to a local nursery. Pinder’s Nursery grows a large selection of succulents. My strawberry pot needed a little rejuvenation, so I bought a few 2 inch containers. The blue grays are Echeverias (I Think); grey is Graptosedum; brownish is a Haworthia. I am not sure what the green one is. Growing out of the side is a Flapjack Kalanchoe.
In the side yard, a Firesticks Pencil Cactus and Soap Aloe (Aloe saponaria) live in an unirrigated bed.
Desert Roses (Adenium obesum) tower above Flapjack Kalanchoes in a planter by the door. These are just leafing out and flowering after a cold snap in January slowed them down.
Tillandsia ionantha producing pups inside another Bromeliad, these are native to Central American and have hot pink and blue flowers. I bought a couple last year and thought they were gone – hopefully I see some flowers and they will create a colony.
Buds on a Billbergia Bromeliad – not sure which one, though I am thinking it is Purple Haze..
My tower of Nasturtiums and Tropical Red Salvia. I am enjoying the Nasturtiums immensely.
This vase came together on Valentine’s Day. Walking through the garden, I was thinking about the polar weather seemingly everywhere else described in blogs this week. This inspired me to create a vase from the most tropical flowers I could find, sending some Floridian love and warmth out into cyberspace..
A closer view:
The white and pink flowers hanging over the side are Shell Ginger (Alpinia zerumbet), the only Ginger I can grow in my garden. Looking back, these flower every February – wishing me a Happy Valentine’s Day from the garden. The purple flowers are from my neighbor’s Hong Kong Orchid Tree, certainly a straight species Bauhinia purpurea, as it is probably 5o years old. Newer varieties don’t reseed as prolifically as this one does – but, in winter it is covered in purple orchid flowers and in summer sports a huge mass of white and purple Cattleya Orchids growing on its trunk. I hope it stays around a long time.
The mad foliage I grow in my South Florida garden continues to amaze me. The green leaves in back are Shell Ginger, the purple leaves are from Moses in a Cradle or Oyster Plant (Transcandentia spathacea). The olive green foliage with fuchsia tips is from the aptly named Painted Fingernail Bromeliad (Neoregelia spectabilis); a favorite passalong plant in this neck of the woods.
Continuing to spread the love, I baked some treats for my favorite Valentines. A mini vegan apple pie for my husband and peanut butter treats for the greyhounds…
Wishing everyone a belated Happy Valentines and warmth from my garden.
One morning this week I read the coldest temperature seen during my tenure in South Florida. 37 degrees Fahrenheit or 2.7 Celsius. Brrr. The best time of year to move Bromeliads is between November and March, I rarely make all the changes during the proper time.
With the cool weather, it was a good time to don a sweatshirt and clear out the thorny Bromeliad beds. Asian Ferns have overrun the beds and require a bit of patience to pull out. I am usually wearing sandals and a tank and apprehensive about what is living in the jungle below, though the scariest thing so far has been a cockroach.
On the other side, the Zebrina groundcover has run amok, tumbling over the Bromeliads.
Things are looking better now and the plants have a bit more breathing room. I am eyeing a few to move to a sunnier place…need more cold weather.
I found some Bromeliad buds and blooms during the course of my clearing. This is a Quesnelia testudo, a tropical tulip substitute. It should flower in a few weeks, usually in February.
This is a Little Harv Aechmea bud. A very sharp (in both ways) plant – this will be a yellow and pink flower resembling a sea creature. I moved Little Harv away from nearby walkways as he has stabbed me more than once.
This is a Hallelujah Billbergia Bromeliad flower. A very funky thing, the foliage is purple spotted with white and green – and then, the flower… Hallelujah!