In A Vase on Monday – A Fine Kettle of Heliconia

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A fine kettle of fish seems to be an expression indicating you have gotten yourself in a dilemma or odd situation. The dilemma involving this old copper kettle was how to put flowers in it – it is so old there are holes in the bottom. Problem solved by cutting down a milk carton to fit inside the kettle. The result – a fine kettle of Heliconia. No fish whatsoever.

The copper kettle is a favorite of mine, bought at a flea market in the mountains of North Georgia possessing such a patina I feel as though I am the kettles steward rather than owner. Obviously handmade and repaired many times it sits in different places around my house, currently in the foyer filled with flowers.

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Our oh so dry spring has turned into a rainy summer, normal for South Florida. The tropical plants are loving it and the Parrotflowers (Heliconia psittacorum) are blooming like mad. I had to cut a bunch and then decided to use coppery and white hues in the kettle. Joining the Heliconia are natives Galllardia (G.pulchella) and Beach Sunflowers (Helianthus debilis) hanging over the side. The white flowers are tropicals, bigger flowers with yellow centers are Bridal Bouquet Frangipani (Plumeria pudica) and the buds hanging over the sides are Florida Gardenias (Tabernaemontana divericata) Not sure why they are called Florida Gardenias as they are from India! Rounding out the kettle as green foliage accents the Asian Sword Fern.

Here is my interesting/weird tidbit for the week. This is the bud of a Night Blooming Cereus Cactus – the white fuzzy thing, first ever, can’t wait to see the flower.

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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 – Totally Tropical

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This vase is about as tropical as it gets. It holds the first Frangipani flowers of the year and the last two Shell Ginger blossoms (I think). I have another Shell Ginger that has always received less water and attention and it is flowering with much smaller, infrequent bursts. The fragrance of the arrangement is pure Polynesia, sweet Frangipani foiled by lightly spicy ginger. I should start making shampoo or suntan lotion from this combination. I have a small foyer and it is filled with the scent. We have finally gotten some rain here in the form of a 4 inches plus deluge over about 15 hours. The flowers are a great counter to Eau d’ Wet Greyhound.

The flowers in the vase are in pink, Shell Ginger (Alpinia zerumbet), in white, Frangipani (Plumeria ?) I was in Maui last fall and this is different from the White Plumeria there, the flowers are actually bigger and less waxy. I found there are many varieties of Frangipani but am not sure what this is – another garage sale find (as are the Shell Ginger) The orange flowers are Mexican Bush Honeysuckle (Justicia spicigera) I actually bought at a nursery and have never seen another. The foliage is cut from the Shell Ginger and some long fronds of Asian Sword Fern.

The latest visitors adding a tropical vibe to my garden.

A White Heron on my shell driveway and a Gopher Tortoise stopping by to eat the fruit of the Surinam Cherries.

Happy Monday!

In A Vase on Monday – Pastels for Easter

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My vases were assembled on Easter Sunday.  Easter makes me think of little girls in pastel Easter dresses, eggs, bunnies and chocolate. The Easter Bunny seemed to be bringing my garden hot tropical colored flowers so off I went searching for some pastel tones. Surprisingly,  I found some pastel flowers in the garden and put them together in a vase.

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My pastel green Depression glass cream pitcher has been repurposed for rooting some Alabama Sunset Coleus, still hanging over the side in pink and chartreuse. To the Coleus I added some Blue Plumbago (Plumbago auriculata), a Pink Rainlily (Zephyanthes passalong) – not a clue why the Rainlily is in flower. There is simply no rain. Then I found a tiny Shell Ginger (Alpinia zerumbet) and finally some Asian Sword Fern.

The Easter Bunny is a cast iron rabbit that has been sitting on my hearth for many years. One of those must have items I ran across wandering through an antiques shop and snapped up.

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Here are the hot tropical colors the Easter Bunny brought to my garden.

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The red glass vase is from my favorite thrift store. My grandmother collected cranberry glass and this probably came from somebody else’s grandma. In the vase are the first Firebush (Hamelia patens var patens) flowers of the season, announcing hot weather is rapidly approaching. The red and yellow flowers are Parrotflowers (Heliconia psittacorum) and the foliage is from a Cabbage Palm seedling that came up way too close to my house. The evergreens are clippings from a Podocarpus “Maki” that someone sold me by accident, Maki grows about 15 feet high and I wanted a the Pringles Dwarf.

Another piece of the puzzle to fit into my garden.

Happy Monday!

In A Vase on Monday – A Rose by Any Other Name

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The only roses that could possibly smell as sweet around my garden are on the Portmerion china. I am way too far south to grow real roses. The roses in my vase came from the Desert Rose. The Desert Rose (Adenium obesum) is a relatively common container plant in my neighborhood. Considered a succulent but enjoying regular water and frying sun this is a perfect plant for South Florida. I throw out my cat’s water bowl on the rose every morning and it has rewarded me with abundant flowers.

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The vase is a crystal rose bowl from my mother’s vast collection. I had picked some other flowers to join the arrangement, but decided these were so pretty on their own they just needed a little fine textured foliage accent. The foliage in the vase is some maturing seed heads from my Dill Plant and Asparagus Fern.

Ironically the only thing in this arrangement that smells at all is the Dill seed.

In A Vase on Monday – Geiger Counting and Purple Hair

 

The white flowers in the green glass Swan are from my White Geiger (Cordia boissieri) tree. I have been counting the flowers as they form in clusters of 10 or more, but rarely more than 3 open at the time. This tree was acquired by happy accident. One day I saw this beautiful tree fully covered in white flowers in a grocery store parking lot. Not recognizing it at all, I did some research and decided it was a White Geiger and promptly bought one. A year later I was in the same parking lot, looking at the same tree and realized it was not a Geiger at all, but a White Tabebuia (hard to find and even harder to grow). Happily and oddly enough the tree purchased by accident is a much better choice. The accidental White Geiger was nearly blown over by Hurricane Matthew last year and is blooming its heart out this spring, much to my delight. Hopefully it will straighten up as it still has a significant lean, counterclockwise, of course.

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The green Swan I fear, is a candy dish that belonged to my mother, repurposed as a vase. Joining the White Geiger in the rather Autumnal arrangement are: in orange flowers, Firebush (Hamelia patens), in fruit, Surinam Cherries (Eugenia uniflora), the bronze foliage is from a Copperleaf (Acalypha wilkesiana). If anyone is wondering the Surinam Cherries taste like resinous pumpkins and are left for the birds. I guess it is one of those foods you have to grow up eating to appreciate.

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I have been enjoying two arrangements lately and put together another for the foyer. The vase is another heirloom from my mother and an actual vase.

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This vase has the last of the Dwarf Jamaican Heliconia (Heliconia strictus), Asian Sword Ferns, and a seedhead from the Sweet Begonias (Begonia odorata )

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I have had a bit of a mad weekend, coloring my hair purple in honor of a friend undergoing chemotherapy for the (seemingly) hundredth time. Her sister was a dear friend and lost her battle with cancer just about two years ago. Please remember the fight for the cure in your charitable contributions.

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Living Lfs Inc is her favorite charity.

Happy Monday!