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.

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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!

In A Vase on Monday – Tropical Bean Blast

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Last week several icy blog posts crossed my Reader, so I thought a blast of tropical flowers might warm things up. The tropical flowers are starting to flower again in my garden after a coolish winter. The coral Amaryllis I cut last week has been remarkably slow to open, in fact, it is still not open – despite my efforts to move it further and further into the sun. When I finally put it outside, in the sun, it dropped a bud in protest.

Research has finally identified this Amaryllis as a Barbados Lily (Amaryllis striatum) – definitely from my neighborhood and not a family bulb from my father in law. I see this Amaryllis everywhere in gardens around here, the ones nearby produce a huge amount of seed. I suspect this is another gift from my fine feathered friends. Thank you, birds. The bulb in my garden had two stalks, I cut one – the other is still in bud. Some Amaryllis like this in gardens closer to the water have already flowered and gone to seed.

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The other flowers in the arrangement include, in purple, Hong Kong Orchids (Bauhinia purpurea, I think, not realizing how many types of these exist!) The pink flowers are Shell Ginger (Alpinia zerumbet). The pods are beans from the Hong Kong Orchid, my attempt to use something other that ferns for a green foliage accent.

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The beans are in all the vases, this one displays them in a heart shape with Shell Ginger.

I love In A Vase on Monday, don’t you?

Thanks to Cathy at ramblinginthegarden.wordpress.com for hosting this every Monday!

In A Purse on Monday

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After breakfast on Saturday morning I discovered I was completely out of cereal. This meant a trip to the detestable grocery store. During winter, the population of South Florida doubles and the grocery stores are filled with sunburned people in inappropriate attire blocking access to all the food while gaping at the selection. This becomes tiresome after a few months. It is hard to decide which is worse, the attire, the people,  or the gaping.

That said, feeling better now. I decided to go to the grocery next to the Thrift/Charity shop and have a look around before facing the cereal dilemma. I came across this blown glass handbag/purse/pocketbook and bought it immediately. Being quite cheered up by my new vase, I survived the grocery endeavor with style and, having purchased cereal, could once again eat breakfast.

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I am please to report the Cactus Zinnias attained some height after being cut back and fertilized. Other components of the vase include: in orange and the top are Firebush (Hamelia patens); in orange and the bottom of the arrangement, Mexican Honeysuckle (Justicia spicigera); lighter purple flowers are Purple Verbena (Verbena spp.); darker blue are our Native Porterweed. The ferns are Asian Sword Ferns. There are a few native Gallardia (Gallardia pulchella) at the base.

Updating my continuing saga of the Potager, I have added two Southern Highbush Blueberries, the variety ‘Sunshine Blue’ is purported to produce fruit with 145 hours of temperatures below 45 degrees Fahrenheit. I think that will work. Strangely enough, these shrubs have set fruit since they have been in the garden. I may have four blueberries this summer! My Thai Dessert Mangoes are setting fruit as well, here they are:

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Eventually the berries will drop off to two or three Mangoes and the flower will turn upside down from the weight of the fruit. Hoping for a Mango with Four Blueberry Pie this summer.

 

In A Vase on Monday – Zinnias & Veg

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It is a happy Sunday in my garden. The winter vegetables are ripening and the Zinnias are flowering. This is the first week of February and, as a lifelong resident of the Northern Hemisphere, seems a bit odd to me- having Zinnias and vegetables from the garden. We have been eating lettuce, cabbage, herbs, green beans and radishes from my garden; peppers, potatoes and snow peas are coming soon.

 

A major consideration when moving to Florida is the total avoidance of winter and we moved to South Florida for its lack thereof. So far, so good. The Zinnias started to flower a week or two ago, not very impressive so I let them go. Now, I wish I had planted more seed and will go to search for more Cactus Zinnia seed. I admit, to being a (former) Zinnia snob. I grew Mexican Zinnias (Z.linearis or now,angustifolia) in containers for years -always considering the other types, pedestrian.

I announce my love for the pedestrian Zinnia! Who wouldn’t fall in love with these cheerful pink and orange flowers? I have, years too late.

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The pink and orange flowers are Cactus Zinnias. Funky orange and red flowers,  our native Gallardias that have just started back up. Foliage is from the vegetable garden, green leaves from Chinese Cabbage, darker ferny foliage from Copper Fennel. Glass container, an heirloom from my mother- I am certain she would join me in being thrilled with the Zinnias and Winter Veg.

Happy Monday.

Garden Bloggers Foliage Day – Tropical Fruit

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Having spent most of my life much further north of South Florida, I enjoyed eating tropical fruit, but never knew what they looked like while growing. I have included tropical fruit trees and plants for shade and foliage in my new garden, the fruit is a bonus. Some of the fruit producing plants I have in my garden now I had never heard of – because, well, in my opinion, like many things you have to grow up eating them to appreciate the fruit.

Above is the foliage of the Sea Grape (Coccoloba uvifera).  This is a native tree that produces clusters of grapes in the summer that are mostly seed and taste similar to figs. Natives of Florida and birds like the fruit.

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This is Mango (Mangifera ‘Nam Doc Mai’) a Thai Dessert Mango. Delicious and easy to grow. The leaves were burned by Hurricane Irma.

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Silvery backed leaves from a Pineapple I grew from the top of a fruit bought at the grocery store. I have no idea what kind it will be. Pineapples are very easy to grow here and my new hometown, Jensen Beach was once considered the Pineapple Capital of the World. Here is a link to an article I wrote about how to grow pineapples  Link.

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This is a Rangpur Lime, grown from seed by my neighbor. Rangpur Limes have orange skin and are incredibly juicy. I believe these are not well known because they do not keep very well.

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This is a Papaya, I believe Hawaiian, although I won’t be sure until it bears fruit. I grew this from seed last year. Curiously, I sometimes see Papayas growing wild on construction sites. Papayas are native to South and Central America and a bit of an acquired taste. I like them in pork stir fry, bread and sliced.

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The new foliage on a Cuban Avocado tree. Cuban Avocados are the size of footballs and I had never seen one until landing in South Florida. The fruit is a bit sweeter and creamier than Hass Avocado and the rare avocado that is true to seed. A friend grew this for me with a seed from her tree, which she got from a Cuban guy!

The trees are integrated into my back garden along with vegetables and a native pollinator area. Everything but the Mango was grown from seed so I have a few years yet before I will taste the fruit.

Gardening in many cases is all about patience. Someday soon I will have some fantastic salsa and guacamole.