In A Vase on Monday- Fire and Rain

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I have seen rain this week, every day, off and on, all day long. My husband is grumpy, the dogs are grumpy and I am getting gardening stir crazy. But, the Firebush is very happy and flowering magnificently.

If anyone remembers James Taylor’s song Fire and Rain here’s a link, before you click on the link realize there is always advertising and I had nothing to do with it: James Taylor. 

I decided a vintage copper teapot filled with warm colored flowers was necessary to lift my dreary spirits. After trimming some fiery flowers, I donned my red plastic raincoat and headed into the garden to see what I could find to join the Firebush. My greyhounds declined the offer to join me and sulked in their (sort of) dry beds.

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My neighbor’s Mexican Flame Vine (Senecio confusus) long ago left its bounds and was hanging down over a hedge that grows between us. Beaten down from all the rain (myself, my husband,my dogs and the Mexican Flame Vine) I cut a few stems to drape over the side of the teapot. Then I discovered some Tropical Red Sage flowers (Salvia coccinea) for the back of the arrangement; added some Beach Sunflowers (Helianthus debilis); and found a few Parrotflowers (Heliconia psittacorum). I have been missing the Parrotflowers. Hurricane Irma followed by a mid thirties temperature in January nearly did them in. The few I found are about half the size they were last year. The flowers and foliage from the flourishing Firebush (Hamelia patens var patens) filled the framework of the flower arrangement. Say that 10 times fast.

Here is a close up of the flowers:

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It is raining again. The good news is the Frangipani loves it and I have my first blooms this year.

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Happy Gardening!

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In A Vase on Monday – Fire Bolt and Disney

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Spring in South Florida, the ever subtle season. The Fire Bolt? The Firebush or Firebushes (Hamelia patens and H. patens var patens) have started to flower in the garden again. The bolt? The white flowers in the arrangement are from my salad garden bolting from the heat, specifically the Arugula. The rest of the arrangement I don’t necessarily associate with spring. Most of it may or may not flower year round. The vase/teapot  is English, a Blue Willow marketing device from a long ago tea merchant. I was enchanted by the teapot in an antiques store some years ago.20180415_121717

There are two kinds of Firebush and berries in the teapot. At the edge, the red flowers and leaves are from the native Firebush (H. patens var patens) It has not rained here very much this year (+/- 2.5 inches) so it is pretty dry and the leaves actually look burned? The berries and flowers are from its Bahamian cousin that cheerfully resides in my back garden attracting the rare hummingbird and numerous butterflies that call this area home. White flowers are from Arugula, the vegetable. Yellow daisies, Beach Sunflower (Helianthus debilis); red spikes, Tropical Red Salvia (Salvia coccinea); striped foliage and flowers, New Zealand Flax (Dianella spp) and the ever present Asian Sword Fern.

The Disney part, while we live a fairly short distance from DisneyWorld in Orlando, I haven’t been up there in at least 30 years. Circumstances led us to EPCOT and the garden festival this week. Here is my favorite topiary, Lady and the Tramp:

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Followed by my favorite dogs, Charles and Alan, making the post Disney commute from boarding. Note the tired, yet happy faces.

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I always like the real ones better.  Although the Lady topiary has ears made from Love Grass. For those of you not reared in the Deep South – Love Grass is used as erosion control grassing to stabilize slopes on highways. Because it holds on like love.

I love the sentiment of Love Grass, though I would be surprised if anyone at Disney was aware of this bit of horticultural trivia.

Happy Monday. Happy Spring. Happy Gardening.

 

In A Vase on Monday-Gone Native

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This morning I found myself, on hands and knees, installing stepping stones for a crushed shell walkway through my newly planted Bromeliad garden. It occurred to me – I had never done anything like this before, much less while wearing black socks and obnoxious red sneakers. Black socks are better if you tend to run around with the greyhounds without shoes, fashion notwithstanding. I have, really and truly, gone native. My polite mother, in the great beyond, is laughing. She knew it would come to this. My walk, under construction.

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The orange flags mark the stepping stones and the black fabric, hopefully cuts the prolific weeds down – there is black plastic edging on both sides to hold the crushed shells in place. The Bromeliad garden is a green, pink, silver and purple garden with Shell Ginger and Pink Dombeya as a background.

A close up of my entirely native vase:

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The blue stems are Blue Porterweed, ( Stachytarpheta-jamaicensis), orangey flowers, Firebush (Hamelia Patens and friends); yellow daisies are Beach Sunflowers (helianthus debilis) . The vase, a thrift store find, undoubtedly made by a foreign potter and left behind in Florida.

All plants in the vase are native.

Me, not so much. Our county enthusiastically endorsed our current president. My husband and I attended our local “March for our Lives” organized by the kids from our local school system in support of the kids from Parkland (about 80 miles south-where 17 were murdered at school in February) to protest gun violence in the US.

Standing, watching the crowd gather – I noted the crowd was oddly reminiscent of gardeners – an amazing cross section of humanity, old, young, all sizes and colors with a common interest. Not saving flowers of the garden, but flowers of another kind, human.

Our local flowers are nothing short of amazing. One teenaged girl, tasked to sing the Star Spangled Banner, cried through most of her performance and we did as well. The balance of the speakers, mostly high school students, put the politicians on the podium to shame.

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In A Vase on New Year’s Day- Unreal

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Some of the more tropical plants in my garden produce flowers that strike me as unreal. New Year’s Eve found me in the garden tending vegetables under a cerulean blue sky, wearing a sweatshirt and enjoying a bit of cool weather. December in South Florida can seem a bit dreamy. Beautiful beach weather for the most part, sometimes a bit foggy. Around town people can be seen surfing on the blue water… while pelicans dive into the river seeking a mullet for dinner.

It also seems unreal to me that tomorrow ushers in 2018! Where did the time go?

I can assure you that the flowers are quite real and from my garden. The orange, yellow and red flowers resembling Lobster Claws are from a Blanchetiana Bromeliad. The Bromeliad itself is probably 5 feet tall and 6 feet across, the flowers are panicle like affairs that are about 4 tall and maybe 18 inches wide. I had cut the whole flower, then realized there were ants living in the stem. Quick work was made of cutting the ant hill off and leaving it in the garden. The balance of the flower was placed in my big crystal vase, forming a swirling base for some other flowers.

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The orange firecrackers are from Firebush (Hamelia patens), big leaves are from a Shell Ginger (Alpinia zerumbet), the off white flowers from the mysterious Wireweed, the gift from Mother Nature that keeps on giving. Here is a close up:

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The crystal vase, a wedding gift from a dear friend. The bells, to ring in the New Year, a favorite family heirloom of mine – my father brought them home from India, where he served during World War II. I have no clue what they really are, but my mother always used them on her wreath at Christmas.

Since it is New Year’s Eve, my husband and I are preparing a special dinner. He is baking an Apple Pie, I am working on homemade Pasta for Smoked Fish in Creamy Tomato Vodka Sauce. The fish is Snapper caught and smoked by my husband, the sauce a decadent creamy vegetable sauce. For this we needed another flower arrangement.

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The centerpiece, in my mother’s Rose Bowl features Salvia: the peach Salvia is a seedling of the Tropical Red Salvia (S. coccinea) – there are named cultivars like this, however, this one is mine! The purple Salvia is Mexican Sage (Salvia leucantha). I had this plant as an annual further north and bought one late fall. It seemed annoyed, then started to flower. Orange flowers are from our Firebush (Hamelia patens). White flowers are Sweet Begonias (Begonia odorata), Dark red flowers are Shrimp Plants (Justicia brandegeana) and some Asian Sword Fern, there are also some Gallardia floating around in there.

New Year’s Eve dinner:

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Dessert:

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Happy New Year!!

 

 

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- Trimmings

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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.

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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.

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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:

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Firebush Hamelia patens

Here it is, four years later:

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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:

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And a Zebra Longwing:

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A gigantic Firebush in the garden has some advantages.

Happy Monday.

In A Vase on Monday – Floridian Fall

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It’s another stormy Sunday in South Florida. Hurricane Harvey hit the Gulf Coast of Texas on Friday and is still pummeling the Greater Houston area. Our blog friend, the Automatic Gardner, is there.  According to her latest post, so far, so good. Best wishes and luck to her.

The Atlantic Hurricane Season is in full swing, peaking on September 10. So far, our area has avoided any truly stormy weather. The flowers in my vase today are all native to the area and at their best during the height of Hurricane season.

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All of the materials in this vase just appeared in my garden with the exception of one. Beautyberry . The purple berries come from the Beautyberry (Calliocarpa americana) I bought a few of these shrubs from a local nursery going out of business. The rest of the flowers just came up and me being me, I left these unknown plants to see what interest they brought to the garden. The orange tubular flowers are Firebush (Hamelia patens var patens), the yellow flowers are Chapman’s Goldenrod (Solidago odora), the blue flowers are Porterweed (still not sure exactly which one).

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The white flowers and foliage in back of the arrangement are from our native Hymenocallis latifolia (or a friend) These are sometimes called Alligator Lilies and have a lovely scent at night. I found a huge clump of these in the front garden years ago, mistook them for Amaryllis, divided them and have an enormous border of Alligator Lilies in my back garden. Soon to be spectacular, October last year we had Hurricane Matthew here and then the Alligator Lilies flowered. I was surprised, humbled and happy I had divided all of them.

I think of the components of this arrangement as a gift from Mother Nature to remind us of the good things she provides.

Hurricane season notwithstanding.

Happy Gardening.