In a Vase on Monday – Love/Hate Relationships

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The oh so subtle signs of fall are appearing on the peninsula of Florida. Hurricane Dorian was one unmistakable sign, the hurricane season peaks on September 10. My husband declared hurricane season over and took down all the storm shutters. Signs in the garden include the formation of fruit on Beautyberry and Firebush and I have seen three (yes, 3!) Red Maples sporting red fall color. It is exciting.

My garden came through the brush with Hurricane Dorian mostly unscathed, the Beautyberry had their leaves blown off (the berries were untouched) and the Avocado tree’s leaves have windburn. A few branches down here and there, but that is about it. I wonder if I have sited the Avocado in a less than the optimal place as the leaves usually burn from one thing or another.

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The vase is an old florist’s vase I found by the side of the road in my neighborhood. I am guessing at least thirty years old as I vaguely remember these in the 80s. Most of the plants in the vase I love for their flowers but hate for their voracious appetite for space in the garden.

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The most incorrigible of the lot, in white, Spanish Needles (Bidens alba) possibly the best native pollinator in the garden – however, these reseed to the point of annoyance. In orange and red, Firebush (Hamelia patens – varieties botanically undefined) I love these shrubs, but once they get going watch out. I was told one was dwarf (4 feet) sounds great – it is probably closing in on 12 feet and still growing. Also soon to be a tree form as I love the butterflies nectaring on it (5 different butterflies seen while cutting branches for the vase). The red fruits are also from the Firebush, I have two types, the red one produces fruit that grows little plants in the garden – the orange one never does. Grey foliage is from Barometer Bush (Luecophyllum) I prune and prune and never have a dense hedge, purple flowers occasionally make it worthwhile. The purple berries, Beautyberry (Calliocarpa americana) which I love right now but not so much for the foliage. Ferns are Asian Sword Ferns, they could take over a gas station parking lot. Enough said.

My vase from last week is holding up well with the exception of the Orchid, that was asked to leave and unceremoniously composted. Here are the two vases together.

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Maybe there is fall color in Florida. It is just totally different.

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In a Vase on Monday – Some Like it Hot

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Living in South Florida requires ‘liking it hot’. The weather certainly is and in my case the colors in my garden. I like it hot. I will say a little moderation in the temperature would be meaningful. I have seen our current weather described as ‘Hell’s Front Porch’.

 

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This morning my husband sent me this, I don’t think it was actually quite that hot. However,  I decided to retreat to the air conditioning and leave the garden, letting the weeds take over a little more. We are up to 11.5 inches of rain for August and are expecting a few more inches from a nearby tropical system. The weeds are deliriously happy and reveling in the plentiful precipitation.

A closer view of the vase. The orange tubular flowers are appropriately named for the season, Firebush (Hamelia patens var patens) There is a botany war about the proper name of this plant. I decided that is its proper name.

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The red spikes are from Tropical Red Salvia (Salvia coccinea), enjoying a banner year with all the rain, red flower at the base of the arrangement is Miniata Bromeliad (Aechmea miniata); white spikes are from Sweet Almond (Aloysia virgata) another great butterfly plant. There is a lot of foliage in this vase. The grey foliage is from the Barometer Bush (Luecophyllum); big green leaves at the base are from Sweet Begonia (Begonia odorata ‘Alba’); burgundy foliage is from a Copperleaf (Acalphya wilkesiana); two kinds of fern – Boston Fern (Nephrolepsis exaltata) and Asparagus Fern – both are volunteers. In the back some foliage from a Blanchetiana Bromeliad (Aechmea blanchetiana ‘Lemon’)

 

The Firebush with a friend. The Zebra Longwing butterflies have been enjoying its nectar this summer, I have seen five butterflies hovering around the flowers more than once. These are planted beside my front door, so I see them several times a day and enjoy the flowers and the Zebras.

 

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Every Monday Cathy at ramblinginthegarden.wordpress.com hosts In a Vase on Monday, to see more gardens and vases visit her blog.

Happy Gardening.

In a Vase on Monday – August in a Pasta Jar

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The Dog Days of Summer are upon us. August dawned with steamy tropical heat punctuated by thunderstorms followed by a deluge of rain that emboldened and enthralled weeds overtaking the garden. I try to keep all the seed heads picked off the most noxious weeds in hopes of containing their numbers. It seems things make seed earlier here taking advantage of the rainy season to establish a new generation.

My Beautyberry (Calliocarpa americana)  is packed with fruit and was blocking access to our irrigation controller so I trimmed a branch for this vase. Floridians make jam with this – I may have enough berries this year, although the universal reaction to the jam (from non-Floridians) has been ‘it doesn’t taste like much’. Probably best left for the birds. And I won’t have to engage my botulism phobia. This is one stem of a 6-foot shrub.

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The vase is an old pasta container that long ago lost its lid. While cutting flowers, it occurred to me I was getting a real taste of late summer in Florida without any of the imported tropicals. I left Frangipani, Heliconias, Orchids, and Bromeliads flowering in the garden.

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The contents of August in a jar: purple and green berries; American Beautyberry (Calliocarpa americana); white flowers, Sweet Almond (Aloysia virgata); orange and yellow spikes, Bulbine frutescens; red spikes, Tropical Red Salvia (Salvia coccinea); red star shaped flowers, Heirloom Pentas (Penta lanceolata); tubular red/orange flowers, native Firebush (Hamelia patens var patens); Daisies at the base; in yellow, Beach Daisies (Helianthus debilis); in apricot, some mysterious Zinnias and some native Gallardia (Gallardia pulchella). The Gallardia was thoughtlessly cropped out by me – it can be seen in the picture at the top of the post.

Maybe next week I will have a Tropical Jar of August!

In a Vase on Monday – Palmy Weather

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Palmy weather? It is indeed. Some, not all of the palms in my garden are flowering. The pale green flower in the center of this vase is from the Adonidia or Christmas Palm. I am not sure why so many Floridians feel compelled to cut the flowers off their palms. This one will bear red fruit at Christmas that looks like ornaments for the tree, hence the name. And the flowers are so unusual and eventually provide food for wildlife. More unsolvable mysteries for the Florida gardener.

Here is the flower as it first appeared, I cut it because it was broken somehow and hanging onto the trunk by a thread. My friend Eddie grew the palm from seed. It is now 10 feet tall and flowering, I am so pleased and can’t wait for the Christmas ornaments.

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A closer look at the flowers. In pale green, the Adonidia Palm (Adonidia merrillii); the orange flowers with berries are from Firebush (Hamelia patens); long burgundy foliage is from Blanchetiana Bromeliad (Aechmea blanchetiana) and the burgundy leaves are from Copperleaf (Acalypha wilkesiana)

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In addition to being Palmy, it is also pretty balmy here in South Florida. So far, I am enjoying the summer and the butterflies, mostly in the late afternoon looking out the window whilst having a glass of wine on the sofa.

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In a Vase on Monday – Under the Toasting Sun

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It’s the Fourth of July holiday week in the US, usually celebrated with red, white and blue everything. I have these colors in my garden, while poised under the Gardenia with my clippers I decided to forego the patriotic theme and create a vase that reflected the current state of affairs in my garden – Under the Toasting Sun. A brief walk to check the mail will envelop you with humidity that metastasizes into a form-fitting body glove consisting of a fine layer of sweat, soon beading up from head to toe, making the mail a forgotten task as one tends to turn and stride back to air-conditioned space tout de suite.

Last week in the garden was a bit hot, temperatures in the 90’s (30s Centigrade to feels like 40s) ‘but it feels like 108’ kept popping up on my computer. Add the astonishing humidity and an air quality alert due to Saharan sand – it was time to look out the window at the garden.

This indoor respite gave rise to weeds and fungus took a few innocent lives during the week. I am happy to have weed check fabric in many of my beds doing a fine job preventing the worst offenders. It was cool and cloudy Saturday and I plucked weeds not smothered by the weed fabric. The Zinnias I thought could last the summer in partial shade withered and browned overnight. They were plucked as well, I have Flapjack Kalanchoes propagated last year to stand in for the supposedly heat loving Zinnias. I will reserve Zinnias for fall and winter.

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Look closely and you see two Papayas, saved by netting from the Papaya Fruit Fly – a vile creature that lays eggs inside ripening fruit – unleashing a herd of maggots on unsuspecting gardeners looking for a ripe Papaya. The only cure- netting or pesticide, we will soon see how this works. I realized something was wrong and got rid of all the infested Papayas before the little devils reproduced.

Back to the vase, filled with hot colors and Firebush:

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The grey foliage represents smoke from the heat, Barometer Bush (Luecophyllum frutescens) from last week, not flowering despite all the rain it is supposed to predict. In the front of the vase in yellow, Beach Sunflower (Helianthis debilis) proposing a trip to the beach. Behind are Indian Blanket, the native Gallardia pulchella – suggesting what to sit on at the beach; the red spikes, Tropical Red Saliva (Salvia coccinea) hmm, tropical drinks could be a great idea. The Firebush is the orange tubular flowers and berries, well, it is hot as fire here! A few ‘Hallmark’ Bulbine implying a postcard might be a good idea.

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The word from my garden is..take an Indian Blanket to the beach with a tropical red cocktail and don’t forget to send a Hallmark greeting card to anyone left at home.

Seems like the advice I might take this week..

Happy Fourth of July. Red, white and blue flowers can wait.

 

In A Vase on Monday – Branching Out

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I am madly trying to get the gardens straightened up before summer starts scorching me, causing retreat to the air conditioning thus causing the weeds to reach Jurassic proportions. While cleaning up I noticed two palm seedlings growing about a foot away from my house. Much too close for comfort.

Palms being monocots are easily gotten rid of by cutting off their one growing point, the apical meristem. Then, you can put the palm fronds in a vase on Monday and join Cathy’s meme at Link to meme to see more vases. I did exactly that and cut a few branches from some flowering shrubs that needed it and then looked around for some accenting flowers.

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The result is a big vase in my foyer this Monday. The whole arrangement is about 3 feet tall, the vase a Christmas gift from my husband some years ago.

In my big vase are: fronds from seedlings of the Sabal Palm (Palmetto sabal); orange and red flowers are from two different Firebush (Hamelia patens and var. patens). I may have the only pollarded tree form Firebush in Florida. The blue flowers are from the Plumbago shrub (Plumbago auriculata), a pretty and utterly indestructible shrub; the white flowers are from the White Geiger (Cordia boissieri), a tree native to Mexico.

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Maybe this is upcycling instead of recycling prunings. Hmm.

A Belated Happy Mother’s Day to all.

In A Vase on Monday – Semi Topiary

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It is Thanksgiving week in the US and I decided to try arranging a little topiary for the table in fall colors. I think of topiaries as clipped formally shaped affairs, this one is not. It is a casual, all native plants arrangement, more tree form than topiary.

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Three plants are used in this arrangement: the flowers and berries are from Firebush (Hamelia patens var patens) The off white flowers are from the Juba Bush (Iresine diffusa), and the stuffings (Like a Turkey!) for the vase are from Sabal Palms (Palmetto sabal) Here is a closer look:

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I don’t really know what the bits from the Sabal Palm are called, the white curly stuff on top comes from the edges of the palm fronds and the brown peat moss like material (birds use it for nests) I used to fill the vase comes from the boots (where the fronds leave the trunk of the tree and cross over)

Here is the palm:

20181118_104239The pumpkin is probably an ornamental gourd that I bought at Aldi during the Halloween season. It is holding up much better than the orange pumpkins and may last until Thanksgiving. I am not too sure about using the semi topiary on the table, there were some really odd white spiders running away from me as I was taking pictures.

And Halloween is over!

Happy Thanksgiving.