In a Vase on Monday – Tropical Texture

Perhaps this is my funkiest vase ever, I concentrated on unusual color and texture this week. One of my favorite aspects of planting design is combining different textures of plant material. Working with colors and textures enhancing one another. Tropical flowers are fun to play with as the textures of the flowers can be quite different. This is an array of unusual colors and textures from my summer garden.

The papery texture of the white Miss Alice Bougainvillea enhances the white parts of the Red Shrimp (Justicia brandegeana). The reddish Petunia exserta adds some color and reflects the color in the chartreuse and burgundy coleus. A few springs of Asian Sword Fern are always necessary.

My neighbor gave me the Red Shrimp Plant years ago. I gave her some Petunia exserta after reading about it from UK garden bloggers (Chloris?) and she grew some this year and returned one to me. The circle of gardening life.

More funky texture, pink fuzzies are a tropical groundcover, Dwarf Chenille Plant (Acalypha pendula). I grow this in containers as it tends to disappear in winter. This summer it is sharing a container with Medinilla cummingii, I am breathlessly awaiting flowers from both of them.

Happy Monday and Happy Summer Gardening. Thanks to Cathy at http://www.ramblinginthegarden.wordpress.com for hosting IAVOM. Follow the link for more summer flowers..

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In a Vase on Monday – Posey Shots

I think I have finally made a posey. This particular posey is in a large shot glass; formerly used to hold tequila at my niece’s wedding. Were you thinking I was referring to the photograph as a shot. Nope! The glass. The alternate title was “Fresh as a Gallardia” – doesn’t quite have the same ring.

I was surprised to see the different meanings of posey. This one is simply flowers in a vase on Monday..

My garden is filled with Beach Daisies and Gallardia in July. Both flowers are very cheerful and seem to smile as I walk through the garden. They are also remarkably drought tolerant and reseed prolifically – the Beach Sunflowers have to be asked to leave the garden now and again. Though they are never truly gone.

Here are the fresh Gallardias:

A closer view of my tequila shooter:

The red and yellow daisies are Gallardia pulchella, the subject of one of those tiresome native plant dramas. The powers that be decided they are not native to Florida. Woe is me. The yellow daisies are still approved as native; and in latin, Helianthus debilis. If my husband gardened he would use a propane torch on these – they go wild with rain and humidity. I prune and pull. They are annoying. Our mailman, a native Floridian, once stopped to express his amazement I hadn’t gotten rid of the Beach Daisies as his mother thought they were weeds.

White spikes are Sweet Almond Bush (Aloysia virgata); sweetly fragrant and a great butterfly plant. Native to Argentina. Blue stems with flowers are Porterweed, another evil not quite native (Stachytarpheta jamaicensis). I guess it is native to Jamaica, but it thrives in my garden and is available in several colors. I wish for some coral…The other blue flower is a bit of Mona Lavendar Plectranthus, a cross from South Africa, if memory serves, and recommended by me. Background greenery is weed Asparagus Fern I keep at bay by cutting for arrangements.

Happy Gardening to everyone and thanks to Cathy at http://www.ramblinginthegarden.wordpress.com for hosting. To see more vases follow the link.

In a Vase on Monday – Fireworks

This week’s vase began with clippings from pruning my Miss Alice Bougainvillea on Saturday. The white flowers looked so alone in the vase I added some fiery accents with Firebush and Firecracker flowers. Then my husband padded by and said it needed some blue (he rarely comments on vases). It was the Fourth of July, after all – red, white and blue are the colors of the day. I think he was right. Here is the vase with just fire and Miss Alice.

The blue definitely beefs up the flower power in this vase. Of course, I couldn’t stop with one blue flower..

A closer view from the left side. Miss Alice Bougainvillea in white; Firecracker flowers (Russelia equisetiformis) in red; Tropical Red Salvia (Salvia coccinea) in red and white (think they should just call it Tropical Salvia as it comes in four colors?, I do.) Blue Salvia is Mystic Spires; lighter blue flowers are Blue Plumbago (Plumbago auriculata) a tropical shrub that is virtually indestructible here – look closely and you’ll see the leaf cutting bees have had a bite of the foliage.

Miss Alice in white again with the reds and oranges of Firebush (Hamelia patens var patens) – one of my favorite shrubs. Blue Plumbago around the edges with Mystic Blue Salvia in the background..

There’s my vase for this Monday. For anyone wondering about Elsa, we are out of the warning cone – on the east coast of Florida across from the big hole in the middle of the state (Lake Okeechobee)

Thank you to Cathy at http://www.ramblinginthegarden.wordpress.com for hosting the worldwide vasers. To see more vases from gardeners in many different locales follow the link.

Happy Gardening…

In a Vase on Monday – Tropical Gardenias

The past few nights the fragrance from my Tropical Gardenias tickled my senses and compelled me to focus on the flowers in this week’s vase. Then I looked them up and found online sources calling them a Crepe Jasmine tree? Most locals call them Tropical or Florida Gardenias. Botanically they are Tabernaemontana divaricata, belonging to the same family as the more common Gardenia jasminoides but much more tropical, growing in the warmest areas of South Florida. They are bigger than common Gardenias, with oversized, glossy foliage and easily reach heights of ten feet. Additionally, nearly bug free and don’t need any coddling. I found mine buried under some overgrown shrubbery in the back yard and cut it free. It is probably 12 feet tall. A little effort is expended to reach and cut the flowers.

A closer view:

The cut flowers were arranged with most of their foliage intact. I pruned a bit of the foliage to emphasize the flowers and then added some cuttings of flowers from my Adonidia Palm (Veitchia merrilli) The vase, a thrift store find, is my favorite squatty vase.

I adore the flowers on palm trees, having never seen any before moving to Florida. They seem like an architectural element.

The palm flower.

Thank you to Cathy at http://www.ramblinginthegarden.wordpress.com for hosting this weekly gardening meme. I enjoy seeing vases of flowers from gardeners all over the world. Follow the link to see more vases.

Happy Gardening!

In a Vase on Monday – The Cure

The song “Ain’t No Cure for the Summertime Blues” entered my consciousness (my guess) in the late 1970s. The number of artists who recorded this song surprised me. I listened to several versions, sometimes being a country music fan, maybe Alan Jackson’s version is playing in my mind. Nope..then I listened to Eddie Cochran.The song’s author and realized his original version is the one that sticks in my mind. Sadly, I find Eddie Cochran was killed in a taxicab accident at the age of 21.

Oh, back to gardening and my vase. This vase is composed of blues and cured me, for a short period of time, of the Summertime Blues. In South Florida, Summertime Gardening Blues can include heat, humidity, bugs, fungus, being horribly sweaty and having hot flashes in the garden, running out of cold water and or, Gatorade, Oh, I forgot weeds! ACK. The vase must be blue and lovely. Here it is.

My cure for the Summertime Blues. First, an antique Blue Willow teapot from the UK as a vase. The blue flowers are; in powder blue (what is that powder, anyway?) Blue Plumbago (Plumbago auriculata) a stalwart shrub in my garden. In deeper blue on the left side, Mystic Blue Salvia, wrenched back from near death by my (shocking) overwatering. The purple flowers on the right are my new summer favorite, Mona Lavendar Plectranthus. White flowers are Miss Alice Bougainvillea and the yellow flowers are from Galphinia glauca, Thyrallis. There is a bit of chartreuse Coleus foliage behind the blue salvia and some varigated Bromeliad foliage in the back of the teapot.

A closer view:

Ah, relief from the Summertime Blues.

As always, thank you to Cathy at http://www.ramblinginthegarden.wordpress.com for hosting and Happy Gardening!

In a Vase on Monday – Jarred Summer

While collecting flowers for my vase on Sunday, a thought passed through my mind. This is like a jar of summer from my garden. Most of these plants flower all summer and are hot colors. I added the cut flowers to an old pasta container – viola, jarred summer.

Summer can be a bit jarring to those not used to the tropical heat South Florida produces. I have heard it described as a hot, wet blanket that surrounds and then stuns you on the way out of the airport. This is accurate.

I am from the Deep South and thought I knew hot weather. South Florida is a different kind of hot. The first time my husband and I came down (inadvertently) it was the peak of hurricane season and the heat. All I could think was that my hair is hot. Blessed with thick hair, it is still hot – though, I am ready for it and fortunately; it is lighter in color – grey!

In this climate, lighter is better. I started life as a brunette; the grey is cooler, my real color now, though the flower is fake. I learned from this it is difficult to take a picture of your own hair. An old friend from college (a guy) and I have been sending hair pics back and forth. His is longer…

I digress, here is a closer view of the vase:

I love all the high colors, especially in the harsh light of summer in South Florida. Pink just doesn’t stand up to the tropical rays. The yellow daisies at the base are Beach Sunflowers (Helianthus debilis); yellow spikes are Thyrallis (Galphimia glauca) a new and long lasting favorite cut flower. Purple flowers are another new favorite, Mona Lavender Plectranthus, though I question the wisdom of whoever named this plant. Beautiful foliage and flowers and thriving in icky heat – I think it needs a more attractive name. Orange tube flowers are from Firebush (Hamelia patens); lighter orange and sage green flowers are from Soap Aloe (Aloe saponaria). Red spike flowers are Tropical Red Salvia (Salvia coccinea). Blurry white spikes in back are Sweet Almond (Aloysia virgata) for fragrance. A few sprigs of varigated foliage (Dianella spp) set off the flowers.

To see more In a Vase on Monday posts, visit Cathy at http://www.ramblinginthegarden.wordpress.com.

Happy Gardening.

In a Vase on Monday – Goblet of Fire

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).

As always, thank you to Cathy at http://www.ramblinginthegarden.wordpress.com for hosting. Follow the link for more vases.

Wishing everyone a magical gardening week..muggles or not.

In a Vase on Monday – Tropical to a Ti

The formation of the first subtropical storm of the season, Ana, heralds the run up to summer and the inevitable heat and humidity that follow. Summer brings some of the more tropical plants in my garden into their full glory. The plants, of course, know all this and start to flower. The white Frangipani, surprised me by flowering in earnest for the first time last week, despite virtually no rain for weeks.

The pink tinged foliage in the arrangement is a Ti Plant (Cordyline fruticosa). I avoided these for years as they tend to get burned by dry winds in the late spring and look awful for a long time with crispy, brown edged foliage. Having grown a big Tropical Hydrangea (Dombeya wallachii) that will block the wind, I added a couple of these popular plants to my tropical garden. There are many varieties of Cordyline, my favorite name ‘Twisted Sister’ – this one is plum with fuchsia markings and a bit much for me. I bought a few unnamed varieties, that look like tri-colors to me; green, cream and pink. Here it is:

A closer view of the vase:

The vase is a leftover from an arrangement someone sent us for long forgotten reasons. The flowers: in white, Frangipani (Plumeria spp.) these are from a rooted cutting I picked up at a Master Gardeners sale some years ago, finally reaching about six feet. Slow growing for a tropical tree, but the fragrance is worth the wait. Pink flowers are Shell Ginger (Alpinia zerumbet) making one of their sporadic appearances in the garden. The yellow flowers are Thryallis (Galphimia glauca); a shrub I have in the butterfly garden. The jury is out on the Thryallis, it seems hyped to me. Supposed to flower year round…not quite or, not yet.

Happy Monday and Happy Gardening. Thanks to Cathy at http://www.ramblinginthegarden.wordpress.com for hosting gardeners from around the world sharing vases. Follow the link to see more.

In a Vase on Monday – Bread and Posies

Sunday found me in the kitchen and the garden, baking a garden focaccia and creating a posy.

Here is the posy part. It has been so dry here only the strong are thriving and flowering. The plants from Mexico and Florida are best for this time of year. Theoretically, it should start raining in about two weeks. I know how these things go, wait and see and keep the hose handy. Or turn off the irrigation system. Things could go either way.

A closer view:

The red, yellow (and pink!) Gallardias (Gallardia pulchella) are the prettiest flowers in the garden this week. These are US natives and live in sandy prairies, perfect for my garden. The white flowers are from the White Geiger tree. This tree has been blooming for months, it is oddly shaped – 6 feet tall and twice as wide, though it was blown over by a near miss hurricane a couple of years ago. Native to the Rio Grande area in Mexico, another survivalist (Cordia boissieri). The orange tube shaped flowers are from another sand lover from the Bahamas, Firebush (Hamelia patens) The grey green background leaf is a trimmed palm frond from Florida’s state tree, the Cabbage Palm (Palmetto sabal). These palms pop up in my garden and I leave them to use in flower arrangements. The vase, one of my favorites, is a thrift store find.

Here is the bread part. My nephew’s wife sent me a photo of a garden focaccia and said “you should try this”. I am known for making focaccia as I bake some nearly every week and it is our regular sandwich bread. I also am overrun with Yellow Pear tomatoes and needed to use them. This was fun to make and is tasty with the exception of the areas with a lot of tomatoes – the bread is a bit mushy under the tomatoes. Here it is before it went in the oven.

My focaccia is always made with a crust of mixed parmesan and low fat cheddar cheese. The stems are small fronds from a fennel bulb; the flowers are red onions, yellow pear and Riesenstrube tomatoes. Leaves are rosemary, thyme and parsley from the garden. I brushed the vegetables and herbs with a mixture of olive oil, garlic and balsamic vinegar before baking.

Happy Monday and Happy Gardening and I hope the rain gods smile on all of us. Just the right amount, of course. As always, thanks to Cathy at http://www.ramblinginthegarden.wordpress.com for hosting In a Vase on Monday. Follow the link to see more vases.

In a Vase on Monday – Short Lived Passion

I am certain gardening is a lifelong passion for me. Undoubtedly passed on from my Mother, who referred to this passion as ‘getting the farmer gene’ – her father was a peach farmer in South Georgia. The vases were put together on Mother’s Day, so she has been on my mind – gone for 12 years later this month.

I have always been fascinated by Passionflowers, a graphic design by Mother Nature. A few years ago, I bought one online as a host plant for several butterflies native to South Florida. Despite its reputation as a weed, I had a difficult time establishing the vine in my sand. Two years later, I was disappointed when it flowered, instead of a red passionflower, it was white. Later in the year the fruit produced indicated it was a Purple Possum Passionflower. Passionfruit may be an acquired taste and I think the name is appropriate as most of the fruit was eaten by varmints of some sort. I suspect Raccoons, not Possums.

Since I rarely get any fruit, I cut a few flowers for a vase. These are in a tiny brandy snifter my husband tells me is used to flame brandy…I am well past drinking anything flaming, and the flowers seemed to be fading, so I decided to make another vase with a bit more variety.

Vase two, more colors and another Passionflower. I enjoy all the high colors produced in my garden. The yellow daisies are a recent addition to the butterfly garden; African Bush Daisies (Gamolepis chrysanthemoides) reportedly drought tolerant when established, and a butterfly attractant. I am not noticing either so far, but it is early and has been very dry. The mixed color daisies are Gallardias (Gallardia pulchella) – these have been considered native for years, but whatever genius decides these things declared them not so recently, though it is a rare, tolerant plant that thrives in my yucky sand and should be celebrated. I fear that will make them less popular. The red flowers are Russelia equisetifolium, Firecracker Plant. The orange flowers are from the Firebush (Hamelia patens). The blue flowers around the edges are Mona Lavendar Plectranthus, that turns out to be a long lasting cut flower. The blue flowers in the middle are Mystic Spires Salvia, which I am enjoying in my garden. Chartreuse foliage is from a mysterious Coleus that is thriving in several containers.

When the sun went down the Passionflowers followed suit, short-lived but worth the trouble.

Happy Gardening and thanks to Cathy at http://www.ramblinginthegarden.wordpress.com for hosting. Follow the link to see more vases.