In A Vase on Monday – Butterfly Power

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Florida by any account is filled with natives. The people are very proud of staying around where they were born and advertise their ‘native Floridian’ status with car decorations, bumper stickers, decals, etc. The plants, not so much. Exotic tropical plants from around the world are much more popular than what grows here naturally. I am, of course, as guilty as the next gardener for using exotic tropical plants.

In an effort to help native pollinators and power our Butterfly population I am planting a native wildflower border.  The border is about halfway finished and the resulting butterflies have been fantastic thus far. In the border I have seen Monarchs, Gulf Fritillaries, Zebra Longwings and several orange and yellow butterflies I have yet to identify. I am not sure what happened to the Black Swallowtail caterpillars that were in the post from last week. Hopefully they appear in the border soon.

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This vase started with an interesting branch I pruned from the native Firebush (Hamelia patens var patens). I decided to continue the native wildflower theme and used the firecracker flowers in the middle from the Firebush, to this I added Tropical Red Salvia (Salvia coccinea), the purple flowers are Beach Verbena (Glandularia maritima), the royal blue bits are from Porterweed (Stachystarpeta) – people call this Vervain, which sounds a lot better. At the bottom of the arrangement, the mixed colored flowers are Gallardia (Gallardia pulchella) – a flower I have grown to love in a short period of time. The small sunflowers are Beach Sunflowers (Helianthus debilis)

I am currently finding myself lurking through the shrubbery trying the photograph the elusive Butterflies. Here are the first successful images, a Zebra Longwing tasting the Firebush.

 

In A Vase on Monday -Summer Bouquet

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I was missing last week due to attending a family wedding in Atlanta. As unusual as it seems, I found no vases along the way, although late spring was in full swing and all the gardens and especially the wedding arrangements were glorious. And pure white.

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I arrived home to find Memorial Day truly marking the onset of summer. As if on cue,  precipitation started and the weeds burst forth with a joyous and bountiful overtaking of the garden. I am still feeling surly about this and have bought a vast quantity of landscape fabric and cardboard to choke them out. Fifty square feet at a time. Fingers crossed for a victorious outcome. I have, thus far, never defeated the weeds in summer.

I was pleased to see my native plants and the tropicals flowering prodigiously with the onset of wet weather. For whatever deeply buried design reason I am shy about combining these plants – this week I have thrown caution to the wind and come up with the madly mixed Summer Bouquet.

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An old friend of mine, from design school and embarrassed to be ‘a posy poker’ (in reality a very talented designer of floral arrangements and gardens) would have called this a plop arrangement.

Go into the garden, cut whatever strikes your fancy to a similar length and plop into a vase. Simple. My plop this week is in a smoky grey glass vase from the discount store. The members of the cast include in white, Sweet Begonias (Begonia odorata), the daisy shapes are Gallardias (Gallardia pulchella), native to Florida; deeper red and white flowers are Red Shrimp Plants (Justicia brandegeana), The orange trumpets are from my native Firebush (Hamelia patens var patens), red and yellow flowers are tropical Parrotflowers (Heliconia psittacorum); the blue flowers are Porterweed, another native. In green, Asian Sword Ferns, true native plant enthusiasts think this fern is evil. The good side reappears with the red spikes from the native Tropical Red Salvia (Salvia coccinea)

I may eventually recover from my mixing natives with tropicals neurosis as I kind of like this plop. Here is my latest unusual creature discovery. It is a Black Swallowtail Butterfly caterpillar eating the end of my Parsley. I hope to see the Butterfly.

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In A Vase on Monday – Pastels for Easter

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My vases were assembled on Easter Sunday.  Easter makes me think of little girls in pastel Easter dresses, eggs, bunnies and chocolate. The Easter Bunny seemed to be bringing my garden hot tropical colored flowers so off I went searching for some pastel tones. Surprisingly,  I found some pastel flowers in the garden and put them together in a vase.

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My pastel green Depression glass cream pitcher has been repurposed for rooting some Alabama Sunset Coleus, still hanging over the side in pink and chartreuse. To the Coleus I added some Blue Plumbago (Plumbago auriculata), a Pink Rainlily (Zephyanthes passalong) – not a clue why the Rainlily is in flower. There is simply no rain. Then I found a tiny Shell Ginger (Alpinia zerumbet) and finally some Asian Sword Fern.

The Easter Bunny is a cast iron rabbit that has been sitting on my hearth for many years. One of those must have items I ran across wandering through an antiques shop and snapped up.

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Here are the hot tropical colors the Easter Bunny brought to my garden.

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The red glass vase is from my favorite thrift store. My grandmother collected cranberry glass and this probably came from somebody else’s grandma. In the vase are the first Firebush (Hamelia patens var patens) flowers of the season, announcing hot weather is rapidly approaching. The red and yellow flowers are Parrotflowers (Heliconia psittacorum) and the foliage is from a Cabbage Palm seedling that came up way too close to my house. The evergreens are clippings from a Podocarpus “Maki” that someone sold me by accident, Maki grows about 15 feet high and I wanted a the Pringles Dwarf.

Another piece of the puzzle to fit into my garden.

Happy Monday!

In A Vase on Monday – Contrasting Elements.

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My goal this week was to use an actual vase! Check. The vase is one of my thrift store finds that I have greatly enjoyed. As I was thinking of what to use in the vase I realized my native Firebush was starting to flower after  I cut it back in December, so that started the ball rolling. Here is a better photo of the vase:

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I had to bundle up to wander outside today. We are having winter today, when I woke up this morning the weather said it was 47 degrees (F) and felt like 37. There is also a gale warning and the wind blowing in from the north off the Atlantic Ocean is cold in January.

The plants seem perfectly content in the breezy cool, thus far and it always surprises me what I find when it seems not much is flowering. Since I started with orange Firebush flowers I remembered a professor from design school saying you always need a color jump (jump being from one side of the color wheel to the other) in your compositions. My color jump was to the blue Pom Pom Aster. Then I added a pink one and some Tropical Red Salvia. After that the color was getting pretty jumpy so I decided some grey was needed to cool things down. The Flapjack Kalanchoes are blooming and seemed just right.

Complicating my mental dilemma was another sacrosanct axiom from design school, all elements must occur in odd numbers. Ones, threes, fives and sevens are best. Fortunately, there were three Pom Pom Asters. A friend from school told me once he thought fours were best when planting a featured perennial because the fourth plant makes your eye go round in circles and focus on the plant. Perhaps my nearsightedness prevents me from perceiving the miracle of four.

Finding myself dangerously close to a self inflicted design lecture – I cut some different foliage for contrast. Dwarf Red striped Pineapple, Muhly Grass and Copper Fennel were added, coarse and fine texture and color all at once. Breathing a sigh of relief from all this thought I decided to make lunch.

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In A Vegetable on Monday – Faux Fall

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I like gourds in the fall. My husband told me once he knew when it was fall because I had the gourd arrangement on the dining room table. So, here is the 2016 version.

Florida is tricky about fall. September, in my opinion, should be, the transition to cooler weather. September, in Florida is a sweaty repeat of August. Fall manifests itself subtly, fruits appear on the Beautyberry, Muhly Grass bravely sends up a pink cloud and then slowly the calendar reaches October and becomes the savior of all things pleasant outdoors. We have now reached the magical day when a cold front arrives, humidity disappears and all windows and doors can be thrown open to invite the outdoors back in. In celebration of all things autumnal, here are the gourds filled with flowers from my garden.

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The gourds aren’t all gourds. The striped centerpiece is a Carnival Squash, a vegetable, my husband wouldn’t eat squash on a dare, the result of a Midwestern upbringing featuring Butternut Squash baked with a lump of sausage. I had no worries about wasting an edible squash for a flower arrangement. This green one is an inedible gourd.

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The mini pumpkins are just that and completely ornamental. Flowers from my garden include – in red, Tropical Red Sage (Salvia coccinea), in yellow, Beach Sunflowers (Helianthus debilis), purple berries, Beautyberry (Calliocarpa americana), pink plumes of grass, Muhly Grass (Muhlbergia), orange firecracker flowers and foliage are from Firebush (Hamelia patens). The off white spikes are a mystery volunteer (i.e. weed) . The ‘Autumn’ leaves strewn about being from the Raggedy Ann Copperleaf (Acalphya wilkesiana ‘Raggedy Ann’)20161023_122725

It occurred to me that almost everything here is native to Florida with the exception of the faux leaves from Raggedy Ann, and the gourds, maybe there is fall in Florida – you just have to open your eyes and see it.

In A Vase on Monday-Bromeliads Singing the Blues

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Here’s the collection of blues. The violin bottle belonged to my grandmother, she always kept unusual bottles on her windowsills, some filled with colored water. The footed glass was found in my in-laws house whilst cleaning it out to sell it. For some reason they collected one glass each time they went to an Arts Festival, so there was an odd collection of ones, many of them pottery wine glasses. The corked bottle holds dried rose petals I collected from bouquets my husband brought home.

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I started with this one, my husband came in and said, ‘It looks like the violin is playing music’ – maybe the blues! The flower in this bottle is from a Miniata Bromeliad (Aechmea miniata) These are very easy to grow and bloom regularly in July. A simple Heliconia leaf has been added to the bottle. Here are the Miniatas in the garden.

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The footed vase has a sprig of Frangipani and a few clippings of our native Firebush (Hamelia patens var patens)

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Here is what has me singing the Bromeliad Blues. I bought this grey foliaged Bromeliad this spring at a Master Gardeners plant sale. No one knew what it was, but I liked the shape and foliage (the leaves have a deep pink tip) and it was $6, so I bought it. Check out this flower, I think this is a Bilbergia ‘Soundwaves’, but I am not sure!

In A Vase on Monday – Fire and Ice in a Purple High Heel

 

 

20160619_110417I have been looking at this vase for quite some time. The purple high heeI I believe is a Blenko Art Glass piece from the early 1950’s; likely a wedding gift to my parents and another vase from my mother. My issue with this vase is how to make an arrangement in it, the base is basically a trench, so no hopes of using a frog – I had some scraps of green floral foam and thought I could stuff the trench full of foam and stick the flowers in that, no such luck. The green foam floated up, so I added some pebbles to hold the foam down and proceeded.

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Eventually I added enough pebbles to keep the foam in the trench. Onto the Fire.

The Fire is Florida’s native Firebush (Hamelia patens var patens) which cooperatively pops up in my garden, the foliage has a lovely red tinge so I have included that in the arrangement. The other reds are Red Shrimp Plant (Justicia brandegeana) and some buds from the Parrot’s Flower (Heliconia psittacorum). The Ice elements are Bridal Bouquet Frangipani (Plumeria pudica) nearly bashed off by thunderstorms and saved by my vase. The Sweet Begonias (Begonia odorata ‘alba’) offer a different texture in white and add some coarse green foliage to the mix. A few culinary Fennel flowers and Boston Fern sprigs complete the arrangement.

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