In A Vase on Monday – Summer Surprises

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Every gardener gets a few surprises. Some are better than others. I have been doing a lot of design work lately, hence the funky picture.

My summer surprises have been the good kind and primarily pink this week.

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The Shell Ginger (Alpinia zerumbet) is in the pink champagne bottle a friend left after a holiday celebration, these are reported to flower three times a year – this is the first year for a second flowering, surprising me.

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In the grey round vase, it seems the Garden Gods have rewarded me with a Pink Cactus Dahlia, not.  My Dahlia quest continues.

This is one of my ubiquitous $5 garage sale finds. No one knows what the Bromeliad is or where to plant it, but one can be had for $5. For five bucks I got a wonderful surprise and there are pups. I think it is a Aechmea ‘fasciata’  variety- please let me know if you recognize it.

The leaves are from a nearby Sweet Begonia ( Begonia odorata)

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The third vase has the survivalist pink and chartruese Alabama Sunset Coleus I had lost hope for and pink and white (yes) Tropical Red Salvia (Salvia coccinea). Another surprise.

My biggest surprise this week was the hatching of the rare Atala Butterfly in my Coontie (small shrubby palms)

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In A Vase on Monday- Fruitless Effort

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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.20180708_104558-1

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).

A closer view:

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Here is the Papaya tree:

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To view Papaya free vases from the world over, visit our hostess, Cathy at https://ramblinginthegarden.wordpress.com/.

In A Vase on Monday – Rock Lobster

20180701_152900-1Rock Lobster is a song by the B-52’s, circa 1980. I was in college at the time in their hometown, Athens, Georgia. To say the song was popular around town is an understatement. It will always remind me of college. In case you are not familiar with the song here is a link Rock Lobster video. 

I guess I have some splainin’ (explaining) to do. The red and yellow flower in the vase is – a Lobsterclaw Heliconia (Heliconia rostrata) – the rock is a crystal from my father’s collection, I think it is Halite, rock salt. My father was a geology professor and liked to say pass the NaCl (chemical name of salt) at the dinner table. Rock Lobster!

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The orange flowers in the vase are from the Mexican Honeysuckle (Justicia spicigera). The vase is a Rose` bottle I liked and saved from recycling. The Rose` wine, an international award winning $8 bottle from Aldi,  not so memorable. Then again, I am a fan of Chardonnay. The bottle/vase seemed kind of boring, so I added a Pandanus leaf around and tied it with a jute string. True confessions – Scotch tape was involved.

Heliconias fascinate me. So tropical. This one started to flower about two weeks ago, here it is on June 17. They slowly expand and then don’t last very long in a vase.

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News from the butterfly front. Here is my latest addition, another Swallowtail from the Parsley. I found him or her on my crushed shell driveway, trying to get wings unfurled. Scooped the butterfly up and placed it on a nearby Firebush (a nectar source) – see the white bits in the picture, crushed shell. The butterfly was gone when I came back, hopefully on to new adventures in the garden.

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The Swallowtail caterpillars completely consumed a large Parsley in a pot on my front porch. Usually, Parsley is a cool season annual here and gone by the first of June. This one has put on a new set of foliage and the Swallowtails have laid their eggs again. They are in the recently regenerated Fennel in the vegetable garden as well.

In A Vase on Monday – Butterfly Bouquet

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My native pollinator garden continues to amaze. I saw eight different kinds of butterflies this morning and decided to pick a bouquet of their favorite flowers. My husband, not a gardener at all, has even noticed the butterfly brigade. I am certain Gertrude Jekyll would be appalled by the color scheme, but I am enjoying the melange of colors and butterflies. I am carrying my phone around to take pictures – a comedy in itself. Chasing butterflies through the garden at my age.

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The vase is the remaining half of a pair of Dansk candle holders from the 1970s. It’s friend is lost to history. The Blue Willow plate a recent acquisition. The flowers are: pink powderpuffs, Sunshine Mimosa (botanical name changed too many times); orange firecrackers are from the Firebush (Hamelia patens var patens); red and yellow flowers Gallardias (Galllardia pulchella); red spikes courtesy of Tropical Red Salvia (Salvia coccinea); blue flowers from Porterweed and a few sprigs of Parsley for the foliage.

The Black Swallowtail Butterfly lays eggs in Parsley and Fennel, along with other plants. My pot of Parsley and herbs has eggs and two stages of caterpillars right now. The lower photo is the Black Swallowtail, I am hoping to watch the caterpillars progress.

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 – 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!