I am issuing a hearty welcome to 2023 by ringing in the New Year with a vase on Monday. A bit of a poem by Tennyson, written in 1850, celebrating the church bells ringing at midnight.
Ring out the old, ring in the new, Ring, happy bells, across the snow; The year is going, let him go; Ring out the false, ring in the true.
This is a high concept floral creation. The pen holding up the bell is for writing New Year’s resolutions. It has not been used – yet! The silver bell is for ringing in (and out). The flowers are fireworks and the shells are grounding it all. Design school rearing its ugly head again.
A closer view:
The pen is a freebie I picked up at a lecture about controlled burns in the nearby state park. It is from the Florida Forestry Service and looks like a stick. The bell is one of many collected by my husband. It is an annual silver bell engraved with the year. After about 30 years you really don’t need any more bells. The grey plant in the background is an Air Plant; known around here as Ball Moss (Tillandsia recurvata). These can grow almost anywhere and are sometimes seen on power lines. This one is flowering and I think it looks like fireworks.
The red fireworks are actually buds from ‘Maui Red’ Ixora. The Ixora is a shrub that is very intolerant of cold – being a perverse plant it has started flowering after being exposed to the coldest temperatures it has ever experienced last week. Shells are from our local beach and the moss and the vase are from recent floral gifts from friends.
It’s that time of year. Time for greens with red accents and a little, um, tropical color from the garden tucked into a festive biscuit (or cookie in US speak) tin. A friend from the UK gifted us with this tin of biscuits several years ago. I love tins and pull this out every December to make a holiday arrangement for my foyer. My husband and I devoured the shortbread in the tin, leaving me wondering if packaged cookies (biscuits) from the UK are better than US cookies? I think they might be, Hobnobs are my favorite cookie to buy, chocolate and made in the UK. As a native of the Southeastern US I think biscuits are for dogs or a simple quick bread/roll served as a side dish. Biscuits are a very important vehicle for gravy in the South.
Back to the vase, now that I am hungry… An overhead view, the ferny foliage is from the Asparagus Fern that pops up in the garden; purple foliage with white flowers is ‘Purple Prince’ Alternanthera; white flowers are from a volunteer Vinca rosea, another garden pop up; bigger red flowers spilling over the tin are Nodding Hibiscus (Malvaviscus arboreus).
Another view: on each side I have ‘Miss Alice’ Bougainvillea in white; a few sprigs of Tropical Red Salvia (Salvia coccinea); and a dash of China Hat (Holmskioldia sanguinea)
The colored foliage at the back of the arrangement looking a bit like flames is from two Crotons in my garden. Crotons are medium sized, extremely colorful shrubs from the South Pacific. They are very common in South Florida. There are a few leaves from ‘Pie Crust’ Croton at the edges and some leaves from ‘Mammey’ Croton mixed in the background. Pie Crust has the rolling leaf margins, you guessed it, like a pie crust. There are a lot of food references in this post; I need to think about what to have for dinner…
I love planting in groups of three and decided try the same in this Monday’s vase. I think the result is a balanced arrangement. Maybe I am getting in touch with my inner accountant (there is not one); or maybe it is the late November heat baking my delicate brain. High temperatures have been in the mid 80’s (F) complete with humidity and the stray thunderstorm. Florida is known for the Endless Summer, this year they are not kidding. The 10 day forecast keeps insinuating cooler weather that never materializes. I shall persevere and plant some vegetables, summer, of course – it is time to plant tomatoes and green beans here and the first sweet corn of the season has just appeared at our local farmer’s market. The citrus harvest is in full swing so I am looking forward to local Orri tangerines.
The vase contents:
The flowers, three of each, of course. In red and yellow, ‘Lady Di’ Heliconia (Heliconia psittacorum); in orange, ‘Chocociana’ Heliconia (H. psittacorum ‘Chocociana’); white spikes lending fragrance to the vase, Sweet Almond Bush (Aloysia virgata); grey flower stalks are Flapjack Kalanchoe (Kalanchoe luciae); Boston Ferns (Nephrolepis exaltata) are in the background again; green leafy foliage is from the Heliconias.
The Flapjack Kalanchoe flowers are the most unusual of the lot this week. Here they are in the garden. Actually they are in a container, growing under a Desert Rose.
Thanks to Cathy at http://www.ramblinginthegarden.wordpress.com for hosting this weekly meme. Follow the link to see more vases. I found the Classic Editor on WordPress again, thanks to Cathy and Cathy from Words and Herbs, thank you both. Classic Editor is much less annoying than the Block Editor. We’ll see how everything works out!
Today is the ninth anniversary of the IAVOM meme. I don’t recall when I started creating and posting vases every Monday, but it has been several years and has become a weekly habit and a joy to share the fruits (or flowers) of my labor with fellow gardeners.
Yesterday I had the pleasure of participating in a Zoom meeting with several members of the IAVOM community. I have been exchanging comments with these blog friends for years and finally met them, virtually.
The red flowers are Nodding Hibiscus (Malvaviscus pendululiflorus) – a sort of ratty looking shrub I keep in the garden for its winter flowers. The grey ‘flowers’ are cuttings of Echeveria, a succulent given to me by a friend. These cuttings are destined for a winter tabletop container on my screen porch. The vase is the last vestige of a historic floral arrangement.
The upper level – this image looks suitable for a snack of vegetarian dinosaurs and may well have been one. Both plants are native to Florida and have been here for millenia. The ferns are Boston Ferns (Nephrolepis exaltata) and the flowers are Juba Bush (Iresine diffusa)
Happy Monday, Happy Gardening and Happy Anniversary, IAVOM.
The nearly precipitation free summer pushed some of the usual fall flowers later this year and extended the summer blooms on others. I can’t remember the Muhly Grass starting to flower later than the first week of September or a summer without Beach Sunflowers. But here they are together in late October. I will admit to adding Osmocote a few weeks ago when we had some reliable rainfall.
The mysteries of gardening are teasing my brain once again.
The South Florida heat and humidity is abating in fits and starts. We have a lovely sunny weather forecast for the next 10 days. I have been clearing off the porch and replacing the cushions for winter outdoor living. This always takes longer than I think it will. I hope to be sitting on the porch with a glass of wine this week and maybe get in touch with my inner Floridian by making smoked fish dip appetizers.
The vase is an olive oil cruet inherited from my mother. As a lifelong gardener, I think she would approve of this repurposing.
In white, possibly the last of the year, Bridal Bouquet Frangipani (Plumeria pudica); yellow daisies are Beach Sunflowers (Helianthus debilis); sage green flowers are Soap Aloe (Aloe saponaria); the ropy stems are Blue Porterweed (Stachytarpeta jamaicaensis) – the blue flowers fell off on the way inside, but I like the stems; pink flowers are Tropical Red Salvia (Salvia coccinea); green flowers in background are Sweet Almond (Aloysia virgata), lending a fragrant assist to the Frangipani. In the background are the late, great Muhly Grass (Muhlebergia capillaris).
My favorite cool season flowers are starting to show their colors. One is the Juba Bush (Iresine diffusa). I am jubilant that the Juba Bush has reappeared. I thought it was gone. This is a native wildflower that I mistook for Amaranthus and left it in the garden only to discover its wonderful chartreuse to creamy white flowers. Juba is the name of an African dance that was imported into the Caribbean where these wildflowers are also native. The dance involves a lot of hip movement and swaying – the plant’s movement in the wind reportedly mimics this?! I wish this grew under my Gumbo Limbo tree, that would be perfect.
The Juba Bush. It is the creamy white flower; ‘Lady Di’ Heliconia is in the background.
The other fall indicator is the red Nodding Hibiscus (Malvaviscus penduliflorus) at the base of the vase. This is another volunteer that I have embraced as I love the flowers. Like many Hibiscus (it is a relative and Mallow family member) the shrub is rangy and not particularly attractive. For me, the flowers make it worthwhile and I enjoy them all winter. It also needs no supplemental water and the leaf cutting bees love it.
The Nodding Hibiscus:
The rest of the vase:
The orange flower is a ‘Choconiana’ Heliconia (Heliconia psittacorum); white daisies are the native Spanish Needles (Bidens alba); ferns are the evil invasive, Asian Sword Ferns. I keep the Sword Ferns at bay by using them in vases.
Last week I commented that one of the flowers in the arrangement was three feet long. This was a Blanchetiana Bromeliad. I decided to cut a whole flower to use in a vase. The flower turned out to be closer to six feet long. Two yards or nearly two meters. I cut about four feet including the stem and realized the flower was too heavy to put in a vase, so I used some ‘florets’ – kind of like broccoli. The florets are the orange and yellow arching accents in the vase. Here is the entire flower:
Blanchetiana Bromeliads (Aechmea blanchetiana) are a common sight in South Florida. It is a big plant, six feet tall with orange foliage and they spread very well, probably too well. I was astonished the first time I saw one, thinking of bromeliads as small houseplants. There are some with flowers up to 10 feet!
The rest of the vase:
Florets of Blanchetiana Bromeliads; varigated foliage is Piecrust Croton (Codiaeum varigatum).
White flowers are ‘Miss Alice’ Bougainvillea; tropical green foliage is Split Leaf Philodendron (Philodendron selloum). The big crystal vase is a wedding gift from a dear friend. I rarely use this vase as it requires a lot of flowers – maybe two yards.
Fall rode into South Florida on the coattails of Hurricane Ian last week. While Ian left an unprecedented swath of destruction through the peninsula, my garden was unaffected by the storm for the most part. Leaves, branches and palm fronds were strewn around by the winds and a few plants are taking a more southerly direction bent by the higher wind gusts. Otherwise, all is well. The temperature change is a welcome relief from summer as is the lower humidity. Clear blue skies and daytime highs in the low 80s are the reason hordes flock to South Florida in winter.
I went in search of fall colors in the garden. Real fall color is difficult to find here, fruit bearing shrubs and trees are about it. Beautyberry and Goldenrain tree are my fall color change plants. The flowers in my vase are a different perspective on fall color than most gardens north of here.
The orange flowers are from Aechmea rubens, a long lasting bromeliad; variegated foliage is from ‘Java White’ Copperleaf (Acalypha wilkesiana). The vase is a thrift store find.
The orange tubular flowers are Firebush (Hamelia patens var patens); yellow lobster claws are pieces of Blanchetiana Bromeliad (Aechmea blanchetiana) flowers – the actual flowers are 3 or 4 feet long.
It’s September in Florida. Eventually a hurricane is going to take aim at my garden. We spent the weekend watching weather models, called spaghetti models because the paths on the models look like cooked pasta. I am on the east coast of Florida and currently out of the area predicted to be affected by Hurricane Ian. Thus far, 35 mph winds are forecast here as the hurricane passes on the other side of the peninsula. The feeling is relief mixed with concern for my fellow Floridians and a certain trepidation that no one really knows what Ian will do.
Here is the current spaghetti:
Back to the flowers, this does look a bit like a spaghetti model with the linear stems of the flowers.
The purple berries are from Beautyberry (Calliocarpa americana); blue flowers are Blue Porterweed (Stachytarpheta jamaicaensis); white flowers are Sweet Almond Bush (Aloysia virgata); and a few sprigs of Muhly Grass (Muhlbergia capillaris) in pale pink.
Late season Tropical Gardenias (Tabernaemontana diviricata) grace the edge of the vase. The cobalt blue vase was a gift from my brother.The Gardenias and Sweet Almond flowers add a nice fragrance to my foyer.
Time will tell which piece of pasta was the path Ian takes. Until then, no garden cleanup will be attempted.
Salvias have been the salvation of a few intractable areas in my garden. The native Tropical Red Salvia (Salvia coccinea) has evolved into one of my favorite plants. It thrives in a mostly unirrigated area of my garden that is infested with soil borne nematodes. The nematodes have eaten the roots of virtually everything else I have tried there. I spent a great deal of time amending the soil and doubling the irrigation to grow vegetables – only to harvest about 3 tomatoes and watch the rest of the veg wither and die from the pests below. The salvias reseeded themselves into this space and are happily flowering away. I am glad something is enjoying all the soil amendments besides the nematodes. ‘Mystic Spires’ is the blue salvia in the arrangement, this one has been flowering in my garden since March 2021, the other one passed on this summer and this one is petering out, though I have no complaints about their performance. Surviving two Augusts in South Florida is an amazing achievement.
This is one of those dinner party vases. It looks great for a dinner party and fades a day or two later. I think the vase must have arrived with a floral arrangement at some point.
The salvias… Tropical Red Salvia (Salvia coccinea) can be white, pink, salmon or neon orange. I have yet to see neon orange, but have all the other colors. Blue salvia is Mystic Spires.
The white flower is a vinca that reseeds from somewhere around my house. It has also done well in nematode land so I let it go. This is kind of a rangy plant, so I suspect it is a parent plant of all the cultivar vincas that got loose in Florida. I see these by the side of the road. Yellow flowers are from Thyrallis (Galpinia glauca) this is a shrub that used to be considered native but is now a foreigner. Sigh.