My husband and I spent most of last night in the pet emergency center. Actually, in the parking lot as they won’t let anyone inside. My older greyhound, Alan, who has been in my blog on many occasions, was limping and in pain so we took him to be evaluated. The vet initially thought he had torn his ACL, then X rays revealed a much worse diagnosis. Bone cancer, extremely painful and always fatal. They sent us home with pain medication and little hope. He is still here today, but I am sure he will be gone by my next vase.
This vase is for Alan.
He has spent many hours in the garden with me. His primary tasks, digging holes, terrorizing squirrels and holding down sand and lawn.
The vase is a pottery wine cooler, rarely used for wine, but I love it on my kitchen counter. The white flowers are Bridal Bouquet Plumeria (Plumeria pudica), a miniature pineapple pup (I will plant next week); some Tropical Red Salvia (Salvia coccinea) and a strand of Asparagus Fern.
Below is a story published several years ago in GreenPrints Magazine about my greyhounds in the garden. Truth be told, I don’t have a favorite garden hound. The one in the story was a real character.
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:
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:
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.
The big leaf in this vase is from my Papaya tree. Papayas are easily grown here, the time from planting seed to picking fruit can be as little as 9 months. But, it’s always something in the garden. I like Hawaiian Papayas, smaller like pears, pink flesh and sweeter than their bigger cousins from the Tropical Americas. I planted some seed last year from a Hawaiian Papaya I had eaten, numerous seedlings came up and I selected three to plant in the garden. Hurricane Irma took out two and I was left with one reasonably good looking tree. I was elated when it flowered recently and then nothing happened, raisin like bits fell out when the flowers were finished. Turns out seedling Papayas can be male, female or both. This one is female, so fortunately I was able to buy a self pollinating Papaya that should pollinate both trees. Next year sometime. Maybe.
Joining the Papaya leaf in the arrangement are: in white, lower, Bridal Bouquet Frangipani (Plumeria pudica); in white, upper, Sweet Almond (Aloysia virgata); orange tubular plants are our native Firebush (Hamelia patens var patens); in red and yellow, Parrottflowers (Heliconia pssitacorum); at the top a few stems of Tropical Red Salvia (Salvia coccinea).
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.
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:
It is raining again. The good news is the Frangipani loves it and I have my first blooms this year.
As winter turns to spring in South Florida, I often wonder if fairies have been in my garden waving their wands to create magical flowers in my garden. Floral fireworks explode from green buds in magenta and orange, followed by apricot flowers painted with sage green tips; burgundy foliage reveals charteuse edges. Mother Nature and magic are the only things that explain this beauty.
The fairy standing sentry over the rock belonged to my mother and has resided in my garden since she left this world. The flowers are; in orange, Mexican Honeysuckle (Justicia spicigera); in the front of the arrangement, Soap Aloe (Aloe saponaria) with Solar Sunrise Coleus and Asparagus Fern foliage; the pink flowers are from our native Sunshine Mimosa backed by Alabama Coleus and a bit of Copper Fennel. The rock is another family piece and was covered in my blog yesterday, here is a link if you would like to read about it Heirloom Rocks .
This flower is the one that always brings fairies and wands to my mind. It is a Sunshine Mimosa (Mimosa stringillosa) a low groundcover perennial with ferny foliage and tiny pink mophead flowers with yellow (I think) pollen granules at their ends. Sunshine Mimosa slumbers in the garden until spring rains wake it up to send up stems of pink magic.
Wishing you Happy Spring Gardening and magical flowers this Monday.
My father was a geochemist. A Geology professor who taught for 35 years. Needless to say, he liked his rocks. When my parents were young and during summers he worked in the field and collected what he called ‘specimens’. Working primarily in North Georgia and sometimes North Carolina there were a lot of bits of granite around the house, some wonderful chunks of quartz and even some fossils.
My parents built a brick patio with their own labor and coerced my brothers into thinking pounding sand to firm the foundation was fun. They bought some Sears Roebuck ‘redwood’ chaise lounges, poured some Carlo Rossi, and proceeded to lounge. The collection of rocks was repurposed into a waterfall and fish pond for my mother. My father eventually collected so many rocks they formed an edging for my mother’s perennial garden around their patio.
This went on for years until my father retired from teaching; he still went out in the field, but rarely was able to carry the larger rocks home. I had the smaller specimens for my fish tank and potted plants, but not the bigger pieces; they stayed in my mother’s, the venerable Miss Betty, garden.
My father passed away suddenly at the age of 80 while I was on vacation. One of the first things I did upon returning home was to help my mother fix her waterfall. She poured Coca Cola into the copper line to unclog the concrete lady with the jug my father had placed to pour water into the pond. The lady was unclogged and the waterfall worked again; I spent more than one Saturday rearranging all those rocks so the waterfall didn’t leak. The waterfall’s health had declined along with my father’s. I finally got it fixed and my mother enjoyed it for several years before she passed away as well.
The task of getting the house ready to sell fell to me as Executor of the Estate. The inside was cleaned and painted, but the outside had to be faced eventually. Especially my parents garden and patio. They had spent countless hours in the backyard arguing about politics and discussing life. My siblings and I grew up and went our separate ways but always came back to the garden filled with the fruits of my parents labor. It was a bit of a dilemma for me to decide what to leave back there; I liked the rocks and waterfall as well. Eventually, I determined I should thin the rocks and leave the waterfall intact for the next owner as there was a certain spirit of the place contained in those stones and bricks my parents had so enjoyed in their backyard.
In my garden I have some of my father’s marble from his work in the Tate marble mines in North Georgia and some granite (always) and a few other specimens I can’t identify anymore. The one rock I will always keep is Miss Betty’s favorite rock. This particular rock is tan with a series of rings like a big cinnamon roll. I am sure I was told a hundred times what it was but this knowledge eludes me now. I tried to get another geologist to identify it after she passed, but all he could say was it was layers of something he couldn’t precisely identify. Maybe it is a metaphor for my parents’ life; many layers but now gone. I keep it in my Rain Garden where I pass it several times a day. I think my father would be pleased to know that particular rock is still being enjoyed.