In A Vase on Monday – Butterfly Power

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Florida by any account is filled with natives. The people are very proud of staying around where they were born and advertise their ‘native Floridian’ status with car decorations, bumper stickers, decals, etc. The plants, not so much. Exotic tropical plants from around the world are much more popular than what grows here naturally. I am, of course, as guilty as the next gardener for using exotic tropical plants.

In an effort to help native pollinators and power our Butterfly population I am planting a native wildflower border.  The border is about halfway finished and the resulting butterflies have been fantastic thus far. In the border I have seen Monarchs, Gulf Fritillaries, Zebra Longwings and several orange and yellow butterflies I have yet to identify. I am not sure what happened to the Black Swallowtail caterpillars that were in the post from last week. Hopefully they appear in the border soon.

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This vase started with an interesting branch I pruned from the native Firebush (Hamelia patens var patens). I decided to continue the native wildflower theme and used the firecracker flowers in the middle from the Firebush, to this I added Tropical Red Salvia (Salvia coccinea), the purple flowers are Beach Verbena (Glandularia maritima), the royal blue bits are from Porterweed (Stachystarpeta) – people call this Vervain, which sounds a lot better. At the bottom of the arrangement, the mixed colored flowers are Gallardia (Gallardia pulchella) – a flower I have grown to love in a short period of time. The small sunflowers are Beach Sunflowers (Helianthus debilis)

I am currently finding myself lurking through the shrubbery trying the photograph the elusive Butterflies. Here are the first successful images, a Zebra Longwing tasting the Firebush.

 

In A Vase on Monday -Summer Bouquet

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I was missing last week due to attending a family wedding in Atlanta. As unusual as it seems, I found no vases along the way, although late spring was in full swing and all the gardens and especially the wedding arrangements were glorious. And pure white.

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I arrived home to find Memorial Day truly marking the onset of summer. As if on cue,  precipitation started and the weeds burst forth with a joyous and bountiful overtaking of the garden. I am still feeling surly about this and have bought a vast quantity of landscape fabric and cardboard to choke them out. Fifty square feet at a time. Fingers crossed for a victorious outcome. I have, thus far, never defeated the weeds in summer.

I was pleased to see my native plants and the tropicals flowering prodigiously with the onset of wet weather. For whatever deeply buried design reason I am shy about combining these plants – this week I have thrown caution to the wind and come up with the madly mixed Summer Bouquet.

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An old friend of mine, from design school and embarrassed to be ‘a posy poker’ (in reality a very talented designer of floral arrangements and gardens) would have called this a plop arrangement.

Go into the garden, cut whatever strikes your fancy to a similar length and plop into a vase. Simple. My plop this week is in a smoky grey glass vase from the discount store. The members of the cast include in white, Sweet Begonias (Begonia odorata), the daisy shapes are Gallardias (Gallardia pulchella), native to Florida; deeper red and white flowers are Red Shrimp Plants (Justicia brandegeana), The orange trumpets are from my native Firebush (Hamelia patens var patens), red and yellow flowers are tropical Parrotflowers (Heliconia psittacorum); the blue flowers are Porterweed, another native. In green, Asian Sword Ferns, true native plant enthusiasts think this fern is evil. The good side reappears with the red spikes from the native Tropical Red Salvia (Salvia coccinea)

I may eventually recover from my mixing natives with tropicals neurosis as I kind of like this plop. Here is my latest unusual creature discovery. It is a Black Swallowtail Butterfly caterpillar eating the end of my Parsley. I hope to see the Butterfly.

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In A Vase on Monday – A Day at the Beach.

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I usually conjure up my vases on Sunday morning as many things in South Florida can get wilted in the afternoon. This morning I was scratching my head as it didn’t seem to me much was going on in the garden.

As I was walking around the garden it occurred to me what a wonderful exercise  in seeing putting a vase together every week is. (This is also a flashback to design school -looking and really seeing) First, I noticed the berries on the Firebush (Hamelia patens)

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Then the fluffy seedheads on the mystery plant:

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Whatever this is popped up in my garden a few years ago  and I left it for the flowers or seedheads, please let me know it you recognize it. I thought it was some sort of Amaranth, but don’t really know.

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After finding the two base plants, I found the Red Shrimp Plants (Justicia brandegeana) and Beach Sunflowers (in yellow, Helianthus debilis) are still flowering and the thus far, oddly small Cactus Zinnias were added. Then I went around to my herb pots and snipped some Copper Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare “Purpurea”) to complete my arrangement. The flowers were placed in an vintage amber glass candlestick holder from Dansk, a favorite of my husband, repurposed for a vase on Monday.

Then it dawned on me, this was so easy it was like a day on the beach. So, I decided to go see how things were on Jensen Beach. If you are in a cold place I hope this warms your heart.

 

In A Vegetable on Monday – Faux Fall

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I like gourds in the fall. My husband told me once he knew when it was fall because I had the gourd arrangement on the dining room table. So, here is the 2016 version.

Florida is tricky about fall. September, in my opinion, should be, the transition to cooler weather. September, in Florida is a sweaty repeat of August. Fall manifests itself subtly, fruits appear on the Beautyberry, Muhly Grass bravely sends up a pink cloud and then slowly the calendar reaches October and becomes the savior of all things pleasant outdoors. We have now reached the magical day when a cold front arrives, humidity disappears and all windows and doors can be thrown open to invite the outdoors back in. In celebration of all things autumnal, here are the gourds filled with flowers from my garden.

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The gourds aren’t all gourds. The striped centerpiece is a Carnival Squash, a vegetable, my husband wouldn’t eat squash on a dare, the result of a Midwestern upbringing featuring Butternut Squash baked with a lump of sausage. I had no worries about wasting an edible squash for a flower arrangement. This green one is an inedible gourd.

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The mini pumpkins are just that and completely ornamental. Flowers from my garden include – in red, Tropical Red Sage (Salvia coccinea), in yellow, Beach Sunflowers (Helianthus debilis), purple berries, Beautyberry (Calliocarpa americana), pink plumes of grass, Muhly Grass (Muhlbergia), orange firecracker flowers and foliage are from Firebush (Hamelia patens). The off white spikes are a mystery volunteer (i.e. weed) . The ‘Autumn’ leaves strewn about being from the Raggedy Ann Copperleaf (Acalphya wilkesiana ‘Raggedy Ann’)20161023_122725

It occurred to me that almost everything here is native to Florida with the exception of the faux leaves from Raggedy Ann, and the gourds, maybe there is fall in Florida – you just have to open your eyes and see it.

In A Vase on Monday – Florida’s Fall Berries

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Crisp fall mornings and brightly colored Autumnal leaves are not something I associate with South Florida. There are 3 Red Maples that change color in a nearby swamp and that is about the extent of our fall color. As far as crisp mornings go, it is usually 80 degrees going on sweltering by late morning.

However, there are berries in the fall on some of our native shrubs. The purple berries are Beautyberry (Calliocarpa americana), actually recycled from last week’s arrangement. The tubular orange flowers/ berries are from a huge Firebush (Hamelia patens) in my backyard. I cut it back to about 4 feet during the winter and it is now over 7 feet tall – and this one is called Dwarf. Currently covered in orange tubular flowers turning to berries (they look a bit like Pieris berries) this shrub is also a magnet for butterflies and I can’t bring myself to cut it back, yet. I have considered tree forming it!

The berries of the Firebush, a bit further along than the ones in the arrangement:

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Filling out the arrangement are Tropical Red Salvia (Salvia coccinea), a mystery weed and a few Asian Sword Ferns. The mystery weed popped up a few years ago and has nice cream colored spikes in the Fall, I may find out what it is someday.

The cobalt blue vase was a Christmas gift from my brother and sister in law many years ago.

I have planted my IAVOM inspired seeds and am pleased to report the White Italian Sunflowers, Cactus Zinnias and Asters are coming along. Hopefully soon to appear in a vase.

In a Vase on Monday -Heliconia Overload

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The steamy tropics are what these Parrot Flower Heliconias thrive in and they are blooming like mad in my garden. The tropical Atlantic is doing it best to keep South Florida provided with maximum heat and humidity and plenty of hurricane track spaghetti for everyone to fret about. So far, so good. Fingers crossed.

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This arrangement is a thank you gift for my neighbor. It is Parrot Flower ( Heliconia psittacorum), Bridal Bouquet Plumeria (Plumeria pudica) and the Native Firebush (Hamelia patens var patens) and the ubiquitous Asian Sword Ferns, long version.

Happy Monday from my garden and Thank You to Cathy for hosting.

In A Vase on Monday-Bromeliads Singing the Blues

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Here’s the collection of blues. The violin bottle belonged to my grandmother, she always kept unusual bottles on her windowsills, some filled with colored water. The footed glass was found in my in-laws house whilst cleaning it out to sell it. For some reason they collected one glass each time they went to an Arts Festival, so there was an odd collection of ones, many of them pottery wine glasses. The corked bottle holds dried rose petals I collected from bouquets my husband brought home.

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I started with this one, my husband came in and said, ‘It looks like the violin is playing music’ – maybe the blues! The flower in this bottle is from a Miniata Bromeliad (Aechmea miniata) These are very easy to grow and bloom regularly in July. A simple Heliconia leaf has been added to the bottle. Here are the Miniatas in the garden.

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The footed vase has a sprig of Frangipani and a few clippings of our native Firebush (Hamelia patens var patens)

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Here is what has me singing the Bromeliad Blues. I bought this grey foliaged Bromeliad this spring at a Master Gardeners plant sale. No one knew what it was, but I liked the shape and foliage (the leaves have a deep pink tip) and it was $6, so I bought it. Check out this flower, I think this is a Bilbergia ‘Soundwaves’, but I am not sure!