In A Vase on Monday – Resilience

20170917_114703

Last Sunday we were already feeling the hot breath of Hurricane Irma. It seemed the earth was sweating, so much tropical moisture swirling in the air. Sunday and Monday were spent hunkered down indoors with two greyhounds and our cat. One of the dogs nervous, the other and the cat not so much. More about the hurricane later.

My vase, this Monday is filled with resilient plants from my garden. I had to search a bit to find likely candidates, winds burned or knocked many plants down. Amazingly the berries did not blow off the Beautyberry or the Firebush and I don’t believe the Parrotflowers even paused for Irma. Look closely at the Parrotflowers and note the tips of the flowers are burned black.

20170917_114716

The red berries in front are from the Firebush (Hamelia patens), the purple berries from the Beautyberry (Calliocarpa americana), Parrotflowers (Heliconia psittacorum) in red and yellow. Blanchetiana Bromeliad flowers are beside the Beautyberry and Asian Sword Ferns in the back for some greenery. The ferns are missing a chunk (most of them are) but are amazingly alive and green.

Hurricane Irma:

Hurricanes are generally terrifying. I experienced my first last year, Matthew. A local told me Matthew was a good starter hurricane! One of the most agonizing parts of the experience is the endless news cycle of weather forecasts. At one point 130 mph winds were forecasted for my Living Room. Eventually Irma ended up on the other side of the state. We had sustained winds of 70 mph and gusts to 100 mph off and on for a day or so. And 10 inches of rain. Adding to the fun, Alan (the nervous greyhound) dislocated his toe before the storm. His leg was ensconced in a splint that was NOT TO GET WET.

Needless to say, even though I wrapped the splint in plastic to take him outside, he took off and punctured the splints raincoat with his toenails. During the hurricane. No help available. Fortunately, I have a Facebook friend who is a vet – who advised me to take off the splint. Alan was much happier and chilled out to rest. Toe is much improved.

20170910_102604

The Garden:

The garden is surprisingly resilient. I don’t believe anything was lost to the wind – except all the leaves and foliage that was burned off. We are going to ask the Rainbow Eucalyptus to leave the garden. The top has blown out twice now and the tree just keeps getting taller and heavier.

Here is the side garden:20170915_091557

The back side of my neighbors ugly fence was completely covered with Shell Ginger, Lobsterclaw Heliconia, Bridal Bouquet Plumeria and a Mexican Bush Honeysuckle. By Friday, when I got around to pruning- all were coming back from the ground with new growth. I just cut off the dead and righted some of the Plumeria.

The hedge in back:

20170917_113104

This is a Surinam Cherry hedge, it was fully covered in foliage. The wind blew the leaves off and there is not one in sight. I have been planning to do this exact thing to the hedge and Irma saved me having to haul all the clippings to the curb. I am still contemplating what to do with this and will probably do some additional pruning.

This is a Strangler Fig, the canopy was not quite fully foliaged, but pretty close:

20170916_091137

Again, the wind blew nearly every leaf off and took them along. Saving me hours of raking and bagging! New growth is already on the tips of the branches.

Finally, the Papaya:20170917_113014

This is a Papaya tree I started from seed last year. It is about 3 feet tall and looked dreadful until this morning. It is beginning to shed its burned foliage and producing new leaves.

Resilience. The garden seems to be doing better than we are. Still exhausted. I am told the Hurricane Hangover lasts about a week. Next week should be better. But wait, Hurricane Maria is lurking in the Atlantic. I need a chant for human resilience.

Advertisements

In A Vase on Monday- Trimmings

20170903_114606

I have been renovating the Greyhound Beach in my back yard this holiday weekend. It is Labor Day in the US and Monday is a national holiday. My Greyhounds, Alan and Charles, have been gleefully destroying the turf behind the patio for the past few years. The mini racetrack in the backyard – visible from space.

20160307_164454(5)-1

Here is Alan, with his favorite toy, Sharky, digging for reasons only dogs know. I flattened out the holes yesterday and installed edging for sod. Alan has been melancholy all day and refused to eat this morning. Later in the afternoon he relented and woofed down his dinner.

20170903_114722

 

Back to the title, Trimmings. As a part of my reclamation of Greyhound Beach, I decided to trim and tree form a Firebush that has overgrown its space. Trimming off armfuls of flowers. I stopped trimming to contemplate if I could shear the back of the shrub for screening and tree form the front – an Arboricultural dilemma.

This shrub was sold as a Dwarf Firebush, which actually means it gets 10 or 15 feet tall. Only in the Land of the Giants would this plant be considered dwarf. This sort of horticultural nonsense annoys me. One of the first plants installed in my garden to screen the well equipment:

CAM00121 (1)

Firebush Hamelia patens

Here it is, four years later:

20170903_164649

And I have cut four feet off the top for the past couple of years, the Greyhound Beach is visible through the shrubs.

Now, this is where the Firebush trimmings ended up- in my vase. 20170903_114540

The vase itself is an English teapot in the Blue Willow style, one of my favorite flea market finds. There are two kinds of Firebush in the vase. The dark red is the native Hamelia patens var patens. The ones from the gigantic orange Firebush are Hamelia patens, I think, botanists argue about these plants. I thought some purple was in order and added Setcresea, some variegated Dwarf Pineapple foliage and some red weeds, um, native wildflowers. The name escapes me – one of those things you think is pretty until you realize the seedheads are like dandelions and there are 10 million in your yard.

Another wonderful attribute of the Firebush. Butterflies love them. Here is a Black Swallowtail that was passing by:

20170823_155849-1

And a Zebra Longwing:

20170608_152406-1

A gigantic Firebush in the garden has some advantages.

Happy Monday.

In A Vase on Monday – Gardening with Armadillos

20170806_100303-1

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.

CAM00710

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:

20170806_101307

Blueberry Madness

20150811_142604

The height of blueberry season is upon us here in the US. My husband is famous for his pies, see photo above for reason. I was tasked with blueberry procurement for pie production. Five cups were ordered, five pints were purchased. Oops. I was faced with an extreme overabundance of blueberries.

The pie was baked, tasted and deemed delicious. We still had a lot of blueberries, having recently read a blueberry feature in Better Homes and Garden, I decided to try Blueberry Corn Salad:

20160627_171057-1

An interesting idea, corn with a garlic lemon vinaigrette and spices. A bit weird, but good. Still, blueberries speak of baked goods to me and I still had some left. I thought Blueberry Pecan bread sounded like a good idea and freezable. Found a recipe for just the thing with a pecan crust on top. Baked it up, this is good and freezes well, so I will have some for later:

20160627_171043

Then, the horrible truth revealed. I still had some of the blue things left. And didn’t want to eat anymore at the moment. Realizing dogs could eat blueberries and they are actually good for them, I whipped up some Oatmeal Peanut Butter Blueberry Dog Treats:

20160628_151739

The overabundance of blueberries, finally conquered. I walked the dogs and gave them a treat. Everyone was happy.

In A Vase on Monday – Brown Greyhounds

20160626_093959-1

I had a brown greyhound vase long before I had a brown greyhound. The vase came from my great grandmother, Miss Emma. I am fairly certain my gardening interest can be traced back to Miss Emma. She was a famous gardener in the small South Georgia town my mother grew up in.

20160626_094601

The vase is marked ‘Made in Occupied Japan’ and is made of some sort of plaster that won’t hold water. I had a pair but the other vase was squashed as I didn’t realize about the plaster. My grandmother kept winter wheat in these and there was still some sand in the bottom from wheat days. When I poured it out the first thing that popped into my head was “Oh no, Great Grandpa’s ashes”. Then I remembered seeing his headstone. Whew.

There is another vase inside with water. Plants in this vase include in orange, Soap Aloe (Aloe saponaria), in yellow, Beach Sunflowers (Helianthus debilis), White flowers are Gaura, the Bellezza variety, pink is Coral Vine (Antigonon leptopus), the purple is Purple Hearts (Setcreasea pallida) a bit of Asparagus Fern adds some fine green texture.

20160626_093950-1

The real greyhound is Fuzzy’s Alan Alda (racing name) we call him Alan. His color is actually called Blue Fawn, the most wonderful and apt description of his coloring I have heard is it looks as if he has been painted with deep gray watercolors. He retired from racing at an early age because he lost nearly every race. I am deeply suspicious Alan is smarter than the people who were trying to race him as he is still extraordinarily quick and can easily outwit me! Alan and his toys, the “lawn” is a bit worse for wear.

20160307_164454(5)-1

 

Charles for President

CAM00712

On the campaign trail

Given the Republican primary results coming into the State of Florida today. I would like to nominate Charles the Greyhound for consideration as a candidate for president.

An elder stateshound with a spotted record, Charles has always sported a red collar indicating his support of the GOP.

At the ripe old age of 9 and a half, he is perfect in human years (65) to lead our country. Here he is reaching across the aisle to work with his blue colleagues from the Democratic party. Note the size of his paws, evidence of no problem in that department.

CAM00720-1

Reaching across the aisle

And in case of an international emergency,

Greyhounds always know what to do.

CAM00710

Solving World Problems

In A Vase on Monday -The Bovine Micro Meadow

20160306_160023

Here is another member of my cow family. A real cow vase. I have a matching hand soap dispenser. I bought the set in a store that sells samples. My suspicion is the vendor figured the market for a matching set of cow vase and soap dispenser was limited and stopped with the samples. I have enjoyed these, although the vase is oddly constructed and difficult to arrange flowers in – mostly it sits on the shelf and exudes bovine loveliness.

20160306_155833-1

The idea for this was based on cows grazing in a meadow. The micro meadow is a tiny representation of what grows in my meadow. The “lawn” in my back yard is truly appalling, so I have many meadow plants. I am not terribly bothered by this as lawn beauty in South Florida is difficult to attain without loads of water and chemicals. Meadow it is. Mown intractable weeds could be another term used to describe the “lawn” My younger greyhound has beaten a perfect racing track into part of it. Flowering meadow plants and sand are for the greyhounds, my gardens are kept away from thundering paws.

20160306_155933

Here is a close up of the plants. There is some Florida friendly Chartruese Sedum at each end (friendly is propaganda from our Extension Service – the plant grows great in a pot with potting soil, if put in the garden a very different story), Sweet Begonia and Spanish Needles in white, the purple and red plants are pretty ( a weed I am not sure I want to identify) but I have been trying to eradicate them and they are frighteningly prolific. Boston Fern and the Wandering Jew (Transcandentia zebrina) just pop up in the meadow. Strange but true.

And my favorite cow family member:

 

My cow dog, Charles the Greyhound, racing name GLO Cornjacker, a dear friend and companion for the past six years; he retired from racing in 2010 and is nearly ten years old.

He hangs out in the meadow frequently and sometimes snacks on it.