In a Vase on Monday – Jar of August Tropical Version

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My repurposed pasta jar makes its second appearance filled with the tropical side of August in the garden. This month has been steamily perfect for growing tropical plants; more than 6 inches of rain has fallen thus far and it is currently pouring down. The greyhounds are a little grumpy. The lightning show offshore at night has been keeping everyone awake.

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A closer view, the colors were a happy gardening accident. I do not consider myself a pink person, but there it is. Foliage in the background is two ferns that freely go wild in Florida. Asparagus Fern (Asparagus aethiopicus) and Asian Sword Fern (I think) – both are considered invasive – it would take a bulldozer to rid my garden of these. I have pulled out cubic yards of them.  The purple and silver leafy foliage is Wandering Jew (Transcandentia zebrina) – if there is a more politically correct common name, I am not aware of it, though I do wonder about all the wandering and why Jews? The yellow and pink spikey flower in the back is from one of my garage sale Bromeliads. I have no idea what it is; the foliage is very thorny and is grey with a pink cast. The purple flowers are Ground Orchids (Spathoglottis ‘Cabernet’) dreadful name but a lovely little perennial that flowers off and on year round. The last pink flower is Shell Ginger (Alpinia zerumbet). In white with yellow centers Bridal Bouquet Frangipani. The Frangipani keeps flowering and I keep cutting them, I love the fragrance and added some Tropical Gardenias (Tabernaemontana diviricata) to the jar for some additional punch. Recently I ran across a Ylang Ylang tree (a major part of Chanel No. 5 perfume’s allure) Finding they will grow in my garden I am plotting the perfect location. Not a particularly lovely tree, but the fragrance from the flowers is heavenly.

Both Jars of August for comparison:

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Last week

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This week – Tropical version.

Thinking I should do a jar of weeds next week. Some are attractive and a major component of the garden in August.

 

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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/ Not Hotel California

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Mirrors reflect the foyer ceiling

Pink Champagne bottle in Grandmas ice bucket

And she said, ‘we are all prisoners here of my Bromeliad vice’

Here is the real lyric verse from the song ‘Hotel California’ by 70s American Rock Band, The Eagles. I hope someone else remembers it.

Mirrors on the ceiling,
The pink champagne on ice
And she said, ‘we are all just prisoners here, of our own device’
And in the master’s chambers,
They gathered for the feast
They stab it with their steely knives,
But they just can’t kill the beast

I always thought Hotel California was a weird song, very evocative, but weird. This is another of my spa/hotel lobby arrangements.

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The pink flower is ‘Little Harv’ Bromeliad (Aechmea ‘Little Harv’) Little Harv was developed in South Florida in the 1970s and is a popular and easy to grow perennial. Ironically, Little Harv is relatively tall reaching about 3 feet. The Dwarf Pineapple (Ananas spp) is another Bromeliad I used in a vase a few months ago, it dried in this downward curve. The background is a Tropical Gardenia leaf (Tabernaemontana divaricata) and some Wild Asparagus fern. The pink bottle is from Champagne a friend brought to share at a dinner party and the crystal ice bucket is Fostoria from my grandmother.

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Here is Little Harv in bud and full bloom. I cut this one today as it is in a bit too much shade and our lawn mowing crew is very likely to run it over.

 

 

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 The Wrath of Grapes

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I have been dreaming of a stumpery garden for years. I was inspired last week by the Orchids I posted on Wordless Wednesday and realized the booted Sabal Palm in my garden offered the perfect opportunity to add some orchids and ferns to its trunk during the summer for establishment during the rainy season.

The  orchids:

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The booted Sabal Palm (as I remember it)

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The current state of the palm:

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These are our native Muscadine Grapes (Vitis rotundafolia) grown up the palm from my neighbor’s fence in a period of six months or so. This happened while I wasn’t looking. Welcome to Florida. My only excuse is I am not as tall as the vines and didn’t look up. Sigh.

The wrath of grapes. The grapes are pretty, but inedible (big seeds with bitter flesh). I decide to cut some for an arrangement.

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The brown pods and green ferny leaves are from Senna ligustrina, a native butterfly plant; the chartreuse foliage is from ‘Alabama Sunset’ Coleus; white flowers are Tropical Gardenia (Tabernaemontana diviricata) and with the yellow eye, Bridal Bouquet Frangipani (Plumeria pudica). I can’t resist the fragrance, especially with the sour grapes.

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In A Vase on Monday – A Southern Classic

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In college, I took a class about perennials and designing perennial gardens. The teacher was Bob Hill, he has a Siberian Iris named for him – a deep purple. He was a true Southern plantsman and longtime professor, teaching Planting Design and Plant Identification. My guess is, by the time I took his class, Mr. Hill, in his 50s, had one too many smarty pants student say something annoying. He did not suffer fools gladly and you did not want to be the fool. A good teacher, if you listened. I was lucky to have the perennials course, it was rarely taught and I sincerely doubt the powers that be would even consider such a course nowadays. God knows you don’t want to teach Landscape Architects how to landscape anything. I’ll stop there and save my opinion about Landscape Architecture schools for another time.

Here is the point! We were taught the correct color scheme for a summer perennial garden is cool blue, pale and lemon yellows and pure white. This was supposed to be cooling and soothing in the summer heat. White gardens were brought up as a possible alternative and one wasn’t supposed to use hot colors until the fall and then pastels in spring. I suspect Bob Hill is spinning in his grave if he has visited my garden from the great beyond. A garden he worked on:

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The vase is blue and white china, very popular in the South (probably approved by Bob) and I collect it. This teapot is English and one of my favorite pieces. The colors are Southern Classic per my college class. Here is a close up of the flowers:

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The blue is Blue Plumbago (Plumbago auriculata), a stalwart shrub of South Florida gardens and nearly indestructible. The bud and white flowers are from Tropical Gardenias (Tabernaemontana divaricata), the white flowers with the yellow eye are from Bridal Bouquet Frangipani (Plumeria pudica), pale yellow verging on apricot flowers on from Zinnias “HomeDepotensis”, the ferns are native Boston Fern (Nephrolepis exalata).

This teapotful of Classic Southern Summer color smells heavenly – and I do feel a bit cooler.

Hopefully, Mr. Hill understands and approves.

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.