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 – Miss Betty and Miss Alice

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I put my vase together on Mother’s Day, so I included my mother in the photo. Everyone called my mother Miss Betty, she has been gone for almost 9 years now and I still miss her and wish she could see my new tropical gardens in Florida – and the vases. Both things she would absolutely love. A Greatest Generation Southern Belle, daughter of a peach farmer and the source of my love for gardens. Here she is with her grandfather at the peach packing house in the 1940s.

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Miss Betty and Mr. Tommy

The other lady in the title is not a lady at all, Miss Alice is a Bougainvillea. The off white flower in the vase and one of my latest acquistions. I had been dreaming of a Bougainvillea to grow as a pillar next to the entry of our house. Finally the house was painted and I could add a vine – then I discovered most of the colors I wanted had thorns, not just little prickles – 1/2 and inch and up pointed spears and I would be the one pruning the vine. Then I found Miss Alice, a nearly thornless variety. Nearly being the operative word, gloves are still necessary but I am not fearing being turned into a shish ka bob. Here is Miss Alice on her way up.

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The rest of the vase includes Pink Rain Lilies (Zephyranthes justcameupintheyard ?); Alabama Sunset Coleus and Asparagus Fern. In Miss Betty’s crystal Rose Bowl, of course.

Happy Mother’s Day.

In A Vase on Monday – Grazing in the Garden.

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There is usually a black and white spotted mammal grazing in my back garden, just not one of the bovine sort. Here is Charles the Greyhound in another of his favorite haunts, the beach.

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Charles on the beach

Shortly after I took this picture there was a run in with a Daschund. Absolutely the Daschunds mother’s fault (no leash) so we stay in the garden these days. I do not enjoy having my shoulder pulled out of its socket.

Spring is getting into full swing here. Even my husband said “that is a springy vase”. The wildflowers are starting to flower. Most flowers in the vase are native wildflowers:

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The red spikes are Salvia coccinea (Tropical Red Salvia), the red and yellow daisies are Gallardia pulchella (Blanketflower); white flowers, the weed Bidens alba (!@#$$%); the blue flowers Porterweed – apparently using Porterweed In A Vase on Monday keeps it from becoming a cursed plant. Gotta love that. There are also some deep red Pentas (Egyptian Star Flowers) on either end. Not native!

I had a meaningful blogging experience this week. A blog friend appeared nearby and we met to tour a garden. Becca, from floweralley.org emerged from her garden to visit the hinterlands of South Florida. We toured the Norton Sculpture Gardens in West Palm Beach and contemplated the relatively weird plant material of South Florida. The Flower is a much better photographer. Here is the link.https://floweralley.org/2018/05/06/we-are-real/ in case your were wondering. We are real.

In A Vase on Monday – In the Pink

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‘In the Pink’ seems to be a fairly old phrase, used by Shakespeare in ‘Romeo and Juliet’. As far as the color goes, I usually prefer deeper shades not being much of a ‘girly girl’.

These days I am feeling much more ‘In the Pink’ as I have finally recovered from too much surgery and my garden is feeling pinker as well.

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This crystal vase, a wedding gift from a dear friend is pulled out of safekeeping to hold the biggest, funkiest tropical plants from my garden. All these flowers have a bit of weight to them and need a heavy container to prevent arrangement failure. The arrangement is nearly 3 feet (one meter) tall.

The centerpiece yellow and pink woven plant is a Bromeliad of unknown origin, purchased to write an article about container planters (by request) for my usually ill fated ventures with our local media. I have vowed to cease this practice. The white, yellow and pink flowers are Shell Ginger (Alpinia zerumbet). Foliage rounds out the vase with Asian Sword Ferns, long red leaves from Blanchetiana Bromeliads and a Banana leaf in the back.

Here are some progress pictures of my garden as it slowly works it way ‘Into the Pink’.

Just for fun, here is a before picture of the garden I am working on. I characterized the before landscape as ‘beach with weeds’.

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The pathway under construction

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Path (concrete stepping stones and crushed shell) installed. On left burgundy, silver and green Bromeliad border and irrigation going in. The right side is a mixed tropical border of red and burgundy with touches of pink and silver. Part of the idea for this garden is to place large leaved plants around the windows to create a view (from inside) into the tropical Rainforest. I moved some big Heliconias last week into the viewshed and they promptly turned yellow. Still fine tuning the irrigation.

Hopefully in the pink soon.

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 – Zerumbet Zen

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My Shell Ginger is still flowering, so I couldn’t resist cutting a few more to create a vase for Monday. The word zerumbet is the last part of the botanical name for Shell Ginger, Alpinia zerumbet. Zerumbet means a plant stem with a spicy aroma.  This plant is nearly a pleasure to cut back as the stems have a gingery aroma and of course, if deadheaded properly the results are more flowers and a much better looking plant. A little pruning induces garden zen. Rarely I find myself happily inhaling the scent produced by my loppers. These tropical perennials tend to be large, about six feet wide and four feet tall and a bit of thinning improves the foliage and flowers.

The Shell Ginger was (I know, yet another) garage sale find. I spied the five dollar huge pot of Ginger, not knowing what it was exactly (Ginger something and I love Ginger anything) bought it, then decided it was so huge I divided it into three. Planted in three different places, which ended up being a really good idea. Siting Gingers in my garden seems to be a bit of a trick, out of the wind, sun but not too much sun and a nearby irrigation head seems to be a great thing. The wind thing really surprised me, after six years I am moving the rest of the gingers this spring.

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This vase seems to be another of my spa lobby creations, there are black Mexican pebbles in the bottom to hold the stems in place as the stems are heavy and uncooperative. Feeling the calming ginger vibes helped solving another identity crisis.

The other mystery Amaryllis in my garden finally flowered.

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This is the one from my father in law, and oddly enough it flowered during his birthday week. He would have been 93 years old. I have been carrying this Amaryllis around for going on 20 years. Maybe another cosmic reminder of gardening zen.

I think it is a Red Lion as that was commonly grown 30 years ago as a forced holiday bulb. I am letting it go to seed, hoping for more.

In A Vase on Monday – Cheers to Spring

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I joined my husband on a short road trip this week (about 80 miles north). Along the way, I noted green buds on trees and the first flowers on roses climbing fences as we drove through Melbourne, Florida. Signs are more evident of spring further north as we have few deciduous trees and roses are a long forgotten dream in my garden.

What is a harbinger of spring in South Florida? The Hong Kong Orchid trees and Winter Starburst Clerodendrum are two of my top picks. I have featured the Orchid tree flowers a few times this spring and killed every Clerodendrum I so much as looked at…

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Front and center, the Shell Ginger (Alpinia zerumbet); in purple, Mexican Sage (Salvia luecanthum); in blue, our native Porterweed; Asian Sword Ferns for greenery and some bits of a Purple Spike Dracaena along with the foliage from a Solar Sunrise Coleus. The white spikes are from a recent addition to my garden, Sweet Almond  (Aloysia virgata) native to Argentina reportedly flowering year round with the scent of honey accompanying the flowers. I have planted this beside our screened porch for fragrance and hopefully butterflies and pollinators.

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The vase is actually one half of a pair of wine glasses I painted to go with my Portmerion Botanic Garden china at a fund raising event hosted by my longtime friend Diane. In respect of the length of our friendship, I have ceased using the term ‘old friend’. Diane raises funds to provide college scholarships for kids with Tourette’s syndrome. A great cause, the foundation was started in honor of her daughter, Kelsey. For more information, here is the link: https://www.dollars4ticscholars.org/

The glass not filled with flowers from my garden will be filled with wine to toast spring.

Cheers!