The colors in my vase this Monday reminded me of my mother’s favorite ice cream, Tutti Frutti. I suspect she just liked saying the word while ordering. The ice cream was an unidentifiable, overly sweet fruit flavor in shades of pink, green and orange..lime, strawberry and orange, maybe? I am a confirmed chocoholic so it was not my thing.
The vase is also from my mother, a relic from her travels in the Southwestern US. The pineapple I found in my garden while cutting the Gardenias. It is small enough to fit in my pocket, though I found out the hard way that it was not a terribly good idea. Stabbed, yes. The pineapple is not quite ripe. I don’t think I am going to eat it as something took a bite out of the bottom. It is really cute, about 3 inches long, grown from a pineapple top from the grocery store. Vigilance is required to beat the animals to the fruit in the garden. Sigh.
A closer view:
The pineapple, on its good side. The flowers are: in peach, pink and green, Apricot Profusion, Cactus and Envy Zinnias; the pink flower is the same Dahlia from last week, identified as Purple Gem; white flowers are from Tropical Gardenia (Tabernaemontana diviricata). A few stems of Tropical Red Salvia (Salvia coccinea) are in the back.
This vase has a delicious fragrance. A combination of pineapple, gardenia with a bit of sage and dahlia thrown in. I did not realize dahlias were fragrant. Another reason to grow them.
I have been trying to grow Cactus Dahlias for years. I thought I could grow them in the ground, in amended soil. I planted tubers and thought “I will have flowers in eight weeks” Ha. This was four or five years ago. The tubers would sprout, put out a few leaves, and then die back down. A couple of times a year this happened until finally a passing critter dug them up and ate them. They hung around the garden for a few years, I kept hoping for flowers, but never got so much as a bud.
This spring I ordered some Labyrinth Cactus Dahlia tubers. I was shipped single red Dahlias and these replacement tubers are supposed to be Labyrinth. I was expecting long stemmed peach and pink mixed flowers…that is not this. This is the shortest stemmed flower I have ever cut. Maybe and inch and a half of stem and I accidentally clipped a bud while trying to cut the flower. These are pretty whatever they are, Cactus Dahlias, but not Labyrinth. Oh, well. I am still thrilled with the flower. All the stems are seemingly very short so my dreams of an overflowing bowl of Dahlias are dashed…
I am growing these in plastic pots. The tubers were planted about two months ago, so the original thought of having Dahlias in eight weeks is about right. The red singles I planted in March have burned out and gone dormant (or perished in the heat?)
A close up:
In pale purple, the Dahlia and bud. Green Envy Zinnias are hanging over the side. The foliage is Asparagus Fern and Sweet Begonia leaves. The vase is a thrift store find.
Today America celebrates its 246th birthday. My less than patriotic color scheme reflects my feelings on our current state of affairs. Pink for women and green for the environment. Blech, I have always detested politics and even more so today. My brain is still processing our backwards slide.
I am, however, quite pleased with my flowers. My quest to have flowers that survive the summer heat is continuing. Zinnias and Salvia are thriving. I have grown all from seed and will continue to do so as long as I know what to grow and when. This is usually a trickier subject than it appears. The Dahlias I started in March, flowered and fried. I started some a few weeks later and have high hopes for flowers from the few Cactus Dahlia tubers roasting in the garden. Leonitis leonurus, seemingly a good choice from South Africa, is slowly burning up in the front garden it seems, time will tell if it survives the heat.
The vase is a retired pasta storage container. The plant palette begins with Zinnias; the peachy toned smaller Zinnias in front are ‘Profusion Apricot’; behind is my go to flower this summer ‘Green Envy’ Zinnia; the red flower draped over the rim is Coral Plant (Jatropha multifida); the orange one behind is Mexican Honeysuckle (Justicia spicigera).
The view from above:
In coral and grey, Soap Aloe (Aloe saponaria); white spikes are Tropical Red Salvia (Salvia coccinea); burgundy leafy foliage is ‘Purple Prince’ Alternanthera; ferns are Asian Sword Ferns.
It is hot and dry here. The only pyrotechnics I am hoping to see today involve thunder, lightning and water falling from the sky.
Summer has turned the heat up full blast on the Treasure Coast of Florida. Daytime highs have been over 90 degrees (F) and thunderstorms pop up all afternoon. Not that my garden is getting very much rain, it seems to be missing us most days. So aggravating. So much rain and none falling where I need it.
The heat and humidity brings out the Tropical Gardenia, which was covered in flowers until I relieved it of a number of them. This Gardenia is about ten feet wide and tall and I should have taken a picture before I cut so many flowers. Oops.
I decided to use my vintage Blue Willow teapot and add some cooling colors and fragrances to my vase. The Gardenias are a lighter version (fragrance and size wise) of Gardenia jasminoides, which I love, but its scent is overwhelming indoors and they are more difficult to grow than the Tropical version. I cut this one out of an overgrown hedge between me and my neighbor’s house, once it got its head in the sun it took off and I tree formed it. I never water it and it is perfectly happy. My kind of Gardenia.
The close up:
Tropical Gardenias are Tabernaemontana diviricata; green flowers are ‘Green Envy’ Zinnias; deep blue spikes are ‘Mystic Blue’ Salvia; lighter blue flowers are Blue Plumbago (Plumbago auriculata); ferns are the evil invasive Asian Sword Ferns.
The colors and the combined fragrances of Gardenia and Salvia are adding a light sweet herbal presence to my foyer. Here is a view from above:
I have two vases today. It may sound like wines are the topic this Monday, but that is not the case. The only commonalities with wine are both vases are bottles and feature the color red. For the most part, I can do without red wine. Though I do like to make gravy with it.
I may finally be embracing the single Red Dahlias I got by mistake. These have a tendency to look down in the garden and seemingly I am required to lie on the ground to get a good look at the flowers. I like them much better in a vase.
The vase is an olive oil drizzling bottle given to me by my mother years ago. This is what she called them, she went through a roasted red pepper (drizzling olive oil is essential for this) phase and decided all the cooks in the family needed one of these bottles. They work great for their intended purpose but are difficult to clean after a while and I keep it around for decorative and now, vase purposes.
A close up:
The red daisies are a Dahlia of unknown name; orange tubular flowers are Firebush (Hamelia patens); burgundy leafy foliage is ‘Purple Prince’ Alternanthera; burgundy strap like leaves are Hallelujah Billbergia Bromeliads; white spike is Sweet Almond Bush (Aloysia virgata) for fragrance.
The Next Summer Red:
I did a similar vase a couple of weeks ago. The combination of the red bottle and the tropical Heliconias is irresistible to me. This week I added some Hibiscus to enhance the tropical vibe.
A closer view:
The red bottle was a dog walk find a neighbor left out as trash. The yellow and red flowers are Lobsterclaw Heliconia (Heliconia rostrata). These take their time opening, a week or two, then perversely don’t last very long in a vase. I’ll be watching to see if the one that is less open lasts longer. There are two varieties of Hibiscus here. The classic Hibiscus (the top two), a heirloom variety called ‘The President’. An ancient shrub, I think my neighbor’s grandmother planted decades ago. It sits on our property line and every now and then I cut a few. The lower one is a Nodding Hibiscus (Malvaviscus arboreus) – not actually a Hibiscus, but a Mallow and family member. These grow wild in my garden. The foliage is from the Heliconia and was cut with the flowers and left in place.
Will my Summer Reds inspire me to make gravy? Hmmm, chicken thighs in red wine gravy are a favorite. With mashed potatoes and lima beans. A definite dinner possibility.
I face many quandaries when gardening. Many involve recalling the name of the plant. I finally remembered the one above is an Aechmea aquilega bromeliad, then I looked it up online and found several photos and only one looked like this? And what are the black things on the tips of the flowers- seeds? Rarely I will get a new bromeliad from seeds, but it takes forever.
These are called grass pups, they are from an Alcantarea bromeliad, as far as I know the only genus that makes grass pups. After putting them in a pot together I read they hate this and should be separated – I am thinking not since they are just starting to do well. I am not sure which Alcantarea these are, either.
Another tropical dilemma. This is a Leafless Bird of Paradise, a very interesting plant. This one is perpetually plagued with scale. I am thinking of cutting all the foliage off and letting it start over. I did this with a nearby Coontie, similarly plagued and it is much improved.
The Coontie and my big toe. Coontie (Zamia integrifolia) is a cycad native to Florida. The very poisonous roots are a source of arrowroot flour and were nearly harvested to extinction. The scale is gone.
Several blog friends asked for an update on the decapitated Papaya tree. It produced a few weak flowers and then passed on. The trunk is nearly loose enough for me to pull out.
Here is the Papaya last June, probably a month after decapitation. This is a practice endorsed by Floridians, supposedly reinvigorating the plant to produce more fruit. It seemed like a bad idea at the time.
Another thing to wonder about. What is happening here? A two headed pineapple?
We are not talking about the seven deadly sins today. I am embracing the Green Envy Zinnia. I usually use these as a side dish instead of the main course in arrangements. Today, they are the pot roast! My husband opined this is a muted arrangement from me. Pot roast is kind of a muted color..
I have had these flowering in my garden since November. Not the same plants, this is the second batch grown from seed. I am hoping to be able to grow Zinnias year round for cutting. I am getting longer stemmed flowers now and will be interested to see how long these plants last in the blast furnace South Florida summer.
A closer view:
The Green Envy Zinnia gets its close up.
Foliage friends – in purple, ‘Purple Prince’ Alternanthera; ferns are Asian Sword Ferns. For fragrance, I added – in blue, ‘Blue Lagoon’ Rosemary, also good in pot roast; in white, Sweet Almond Bush (Aloysia virgata).
The vase is a mason jar, meant for canning. This post is making me hungry.
June in South Florida brings thunderstorms, moisture and flowers. I am enjoying the flowers, but could do with a little less moisture, we have had some intense thunderstorms with more lightning that I can recall experiencing.
Above is the very appropriately named Rain Lily (Zephyranthes spp.) I am not sure which Rain Lily this is – it reseeds freely in the garden. I have several clumps of this along the pathways in the garden and enjoy it as it flowers off and on throughout the rainy season.
Soap Aloe (Aloe saponaria) flowers. A great garden plant for growing in sugar sand. It flowers at least four times a year.
Aechmea fasciata or Silver Urn Bromeliad in full bloom. Many brom flowers last a long time if not cut. I am leaving these to see how long they last.
Adonidia Palm (Veitchia merrilli) flower buds. These open and make red fruit late in the year that gives them another common name, Christmas Palm, as the fruit looks like Christmas ornaments.
This is a Vitex trifolia purpurea, I think. I am not sure about the purpurea part, the backs of the leaves are purple, so maybe that is the right name. It is sometimes called Arabian Lilac. I bought it in place of Butterfly Bush (Buddleia) as I am really too far south to have success with those. It is finally establishing itself after a few years of suffering in the sugar sand. I hope the butterflies find it soon, it is a nectar plant for many.
The formerly native Thyrallis (Galpinia glauca). The tiresome native plant continuum changed their mind about this one. It is reportedly a very drought tolerant shrub, although I find it needs water during the dry season. Also advertised to bloom year round, doesn’t do that, either. Oh well, I still like it in summer and maybe it hasn’t been in the garden long enough. A gardener’s hope springs eternal.
A gardening friend collects plants from the side of the road and transplants them into his garden; referring to these plants as his roadsidia – and has a beautiful garden. The roadsidia element in this arrangement is the vase, found on the curb with the trash while walking the dog. It reminds me of a bottle that would contain a genie..I hope one is in there and he or she will clean my house!
A closer view:
The bigger red flower is a Lobsterclaw Heliconia (Heliconia rostrata) – it doesn’t get much more tropical than this. The varigated leaf is from ‘Java White’ Copperleaf (Acalphya wilkesiana ‘Java White’); smaller red flower is Firecracker Plant (Russelia equisetiformis).
Pale yellow flowers are from the Java White Copperleaf, red spike flowers are Tropical Red Salvia (Salvia coccinea); the arching green leaves are foliage from the Lobsterclaw Heliconia; pale green stems are Pencil Cactus (Euphorbia tirucalli ‘Firesticks’)
I spied the first Monarch butterfly in my garden today; visiting the Firebush for a sip of nectar and wanted to share a link to some good news about this butterfly at long last.