In A Vase on Monday – Barometer Says Summer is Here

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My father always kept a barometer on the wall in my family’s kitchen. Looking back, I am not sure he ever read it. I am sure I don’t know how to read one, or, for that matter what it means exactly.

The barometer in this vase is a plant. The small purple flowers with grey foliage come from the Barometer Bush. I know this plant as Texas Sage (Leucophyllum frutescens). I wanted to add some color to an area where my greyhounds hang out and did some research to be sure it wasn’t toxic to dogs (one of them will eat nearly anything).

Happily, they are non-toxic and I learned they are native to Texas, super drought tolerant and called Barometer Bush because they are well known to flower before a storm. This one did not live up to its name as it is flowering a few days after receiving a downpour of 2 inches of rain. And they bloom in winter in their native habit. Go figure. Here they are, growing in unamended sugar sand; the dogs run by them daily, pile sand on them and dig them up. It is safe to say this is a tough plant.

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As for the rest of the flowers, the Summer Solstice has brought nearly daily thundershowers so all the native wildflowers are lush with foliage and flowers. The Tropical Red Salvia has the seeds stripped off of every seedhead, the seeds must be really good right now. And the birds must be happy.

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The red and peach spikes are Tropical Red Salvia (Salvia coccinea), the white spikes are Sweet Almond (Aloysia virgata), red clusters are Heirloom Pentas (Penta lanceolata), white flowers at the top are Sweet Begonia (Begonia odorata), white flowers at bottom are Bridal Bouquet Frangipani (Plumeria pudica), yellow flowers are Beach Sunflowers (Helianthus debilis), the ferns are Boston in back and Asparagus on the side. Both volunteers in the garden.

I am enjoying the scents of Frangipani and Sweet Almond from the vase. The glass vase was found on the side of the road while walking the dogs.  The Greyhounds are still digging up the Barometer Bush – maybe they are wondering when it will rain.

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In A Vase on Monday – Rainbows

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June is Gay Pride month in the US.  A friend who owns a local business is flying a Rainbow flag in support of Gay Pride and tolerance. She is experiencing push back from employees and customers. Meanwhile, nearby flags supporting our current President have been burned.

She said,  “We need more flowers”.

This made me wonder if I could find all the colors of the Rainbow in my garden. I found all the colors, easily and in the rain. Champagne flutes were used to celebrate what tolerance we have and the blue bottle represents sadness for many who don’t.

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The Violet vase is Purple Queen (Setcresea “Purple Queen”), the Indigo vase is Blue Porterweed (Stachytarpeta jamaicensis), the Blue vase is Plumbago (Plumbago auriculata).

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The myriad shades of green never fail to amaze me. The Green vase has (I think) a leaf from ‘Solar Sunrise’ Coleus (grown in shade), Boston Fern (Nephrolepis exaltata), and Pencil Cactus (Euphorbia tirucalli “Firesticks”).

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The Yellow vase is Black Eyed Susan (Rudbeckia hirta), the Orange vase is Mexican Honeysuckle (Justicia spicigera), and the Red vase is The President Hibiscus (Hibiscus rosa-sinensis).

While putting the vases together, I was looking at all the flowers. So different, yet so alike.

Lesson learned.

In A Vase on Monday – Rabbit Food

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Early on Sunday morning I grabbed my shears and went into the garden to collect materials for my vase. My intention, to gather some Black Eyed Susans and other wildflowers for a casual vase.

After I closed the gate, keeping my greyhounds in their space – I spied the fattest rabbit I have ever seen lurking near my miniature pineapple plants. The tiny pineapple approaching its juicy peak.. I changed my mind and decided a slightly more tropical vase might be more appropriate. The lovely pineapple was quickly freed from its sharp crown.

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My wildflower theme completely blown by the plus size Rabbit, I searched for more tropical plants. I added some foliage from the miniature pineapple plant, a few sprigs of Boston Fern (Nephrolepis exaltata); the orange flower is Mexican Honeysuckle (Justicia spicigera); the peach flower – the wildflower in the vase, a Tropical Red Salvia (Salvia coccinea); the white flowers are from Bridal Bouquet Frangipani (Plumeria pudica) for a light tropical fragrance. A Pandanus leaf is tied around the vase.

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I am glad I beat the rabbit to the pineapple.

Happy Monday.

In a Vase on Monday – Gifts from Gallardia

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I started a native pollinator garden last year to encourage butterflies. Planting host plants and nectar plants, concentrating on native annuals that will reseed themselves. Theory is native flowers attract native insects- the benefits to me; I won’t have to replant all the time and I hopefully end up with a meadowy mixed wildflower garden. And lots of butterflies. Thus far, the plants are sticking with their own kind and making big drifts, not mixing as of yet.

I recently decided to run my garden specifications through the Native Plant Society “let us choose your plant” web page. Thinking I might get some suggestions to add some other plants to the garden. Ironically, it said no wildflowers will grow in your garden. I guess I should let the butterflies and flowers know about this?

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Here is a close up. The vase is someone’s cast off from pottery class I bought at GoodWill (charity shop) for $2, I have really enjoyed their work and use this vase frequently. The red and yellow Gallardia (Gallardia pulchella – Florida native) is going gangbusters in my gardens, cross pollinating and making new colors. The yellow and orange spikes are from Bulbine (not sure which one), the Bulbine has been flowering for a couple of months and doesn’t seem to be slowing down. This is a new favorite. The foliage and brown pods are from the native Senna (Senna ligustrina) – I planted this to attract Sulphur Butterflies and they appeared soon after it was planted in the garden.

Here’s my new Gallardia color, pink! I am still chasing the Sulphur Butterflies around for a photo-op.

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In a Vase on Monday – Scentsational Moonlight

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Once in a blue moon my greyhounds wake me in the middle of the night to be let out. Ironically, last night was the full blue moon and the only reason I saw it was my dogs wanted to go out.

Moonlight is rather spectacular in South Florida, I am not sure if it reflects off the Atlantic Ocean or the general light level here is lower at night and that makes the moonlight brighter.

I usually walk out in the yard with the dogs as there are some rather large predators about in the middle of the night; coyotes, bobcats and the occasional panther. My dogs are usually too big for such things, but a snarfy lady in her bathrobe at 3 a.m. tends to give even a panther pause. Unfortunately, there is some unbridled greyhound joy in chasing Armadillos at three a.m. Oddly, the Armadillos can outrun them.

While all this was going on, I noted a lovely scent in the air. I decided my neighbor’s magnificent Arabian Jasmine was blooming again, took one more look at the moon, collected my greyhounds and went back to bed.

Sunday morning I realized the scent was from my garden. I have Bridal Bouquet Plumeria, Tropical Gardenias and Sweet Almond in flower and all are in my vase. The Tropical Gardenias (Tabernaemontana divericata) are draped over the right side. The Sweet Almond, draped over the left side (Aloysia virgata). The flowers in the middle are Bridal Bouquet Frangipani (Plumeria pudica) a favorite of mine just starting for a long summer run.

20190519_115152-1Here is a closer view, mostly the Bridal Bouquet Plumeria.

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The vase has been in the foyer for several hours. I think the lovely scent I enjoyed in the moonlight was the Sweet Almond.

In A Vase on Monday – Summer G’s

 

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Summer began on Thursday here, complete with thunderstorms and wet blanket of humidity slapping me in the face when traveling from air conditioned space to the great, sweaty outdoors. Summer flowers are a consolation for the weather.

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The G’s are Gardenias and Gallardias, the Tropical Gardenias are stalwarts in my garden. They thrive under dreadful conditions and supply flowers off and on all summer long. The plant is probably ten feet tall and I struggle to reach the flowers, having jettisoned more than one across the vegetable garden by letting go of a long branch too quickly. Oddly enough, the buds last a really long time in the vase, but the flowers don’t. I love the graceful lines of the buds, when hanging over (and around) the side of a contrasting vase, the summer garden is looking fine indoors.

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The first G is Florida (or Tropical) Gardenias (Tabernaemontana divaricata), semi deciduous, in my experience and not particularly hardy to frost. The other G is Gallardia (Gallardia pulchella), a native wildflower I have been trying to establish in the Pollinator Garden. The third plant in the vase is a Penta lanceolata, a plant known to serve as a nectar plant for butterflies. I have noticed the butterflies sipping on the flowers, hoping for offspring.

Speaking of pollinators, they are back for summer – these are caterpillars of Gulf fritillary butterflies chowing down on my ‘Lady Margaret’ Passionflower vine. Lady Margaret has been perverse in her unwillingness to flower in my garden, so I don’t mind if the Gulf fritallaries eat her up.

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Here are the Gulf Frittilaries from last year. I hope to get better pictures this year,

 

 

In a Vase on Monday – Flowers by Karma

 

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Last week I made the bold statement “there is not very much pink in my garden”. As always, karma reigns supreme and two of my favorite plants are in this vase (also supplied by karma). Both are, well, pink.

Strangely enough, last week one of my favorite vases, a simple glass cylinder cracked. Nothing happened to it, the vase just cracked up and down about a third of the height of the vase. It occurred to me I would really like a slightly larger glass vase with a more interesting shape.

The following morning I was walking my greyhounds and spied this vase, left at the curb as trash. It was promptly removed, by me. The greyhounds did not care. They prefer hanging with a soft blankie or two.

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Later in the week, I renovated my front porch containers for summer (the new colors are shades of peach, apricot and burgundy with a touch of gray and chartreuse) I am hopeful the new variety of Zinnia will survive the onslaught of heat and humidity.

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During the course of my renovation I removed a long serving ‘Alabama Sunset’ Coleus, it had developed a nearly half inch stem and I knew its days were numbered, so I took some cuttings and put them in the vase to root. The pink vase was inevitable.

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Here is a close up, the ‘Alabama Sunset’ Coleus is at the base of the arrangement. The flowers are Shell Ginger (Alpinia zerumbet), a favorite tropical and the gingery fragrance adds to its appeal. The background greenery is Boston Fern (Nephrolepis exaltata) a native and vase favorite slowly invading my driveway landscape.

Wishing good karma for all this week. And I hope everyone is in the pink.