In a Vase on Monday – Linear

My husband jokes me about my lack of linear thinking. I am completely lateral. This week I decided to seek some linearity to complement the line of purple berries from the Beautyberry. I am convinced Florida Beautyberries are different than Beautyberries in other places. Every August I am amazed at the quantity and beauty (yes!) of the berries produced by this shrub.

The Beautyberry story:

I went to a local native plants nursery ‘going out of business’ sale shortly after moving to Florida. The Beautyberries were 3 for 10 dollars. Of course, I bought three. Thinking about putting them in a couple of different locations, not really knowing where to site them in the atrocious sand in my garden. Also not realizing the dramatic seasonal shift of the sun in my new home; I planted one on the due north side of my garage near the exit from our screen porch. Reasoning (lateral as usual) for this location: I thought it would stay shady enough for what was an understory shrub to me and this shrub is supposed to deter mosquitoes.

Much to my surprise, the sun got higher and higher in the sky as the year progressed. Full shade in January is full sun by May! Frying full sun. Not fun to dig things up in frying full sun, so it was left behind the garage. And then, the berries showed up. Impressive berries. I planted the other two in a much shadier, understory location – one passed on and the other bears about a tenth of the fruit of the one I seemingly planted in the wrong place. Another gardening riddle.

Oddly, mosquitoes were much worse in my garden in Atlanta – though we do have astonishing dragonfly (they eat mosquitoes) swarms periodically here and I do stuff Beautyberry leaves in my shoes if there are mosquitoes about (it works). I rarely see mosquitoes on the screen porch. Floridians make jam from the berries. I have not tried this as everyone who has ever mentioned it says it is pretty but tasteless.

The Shrub:

Perhaps the purple berries are a bit clashy with my peachy garage wall..still not digging it up.

A closer view:

The purple and green berries are Beautyberries (Calliocarpa americana); blue spike flowers are Mystic Spires Salvia; purple spike flowers and varigated leaf are from a Coleus ‘Homedepotensis’; the long chartreuse leaves are from Lemon Aechmea blanchetiana Bromeliad. The vase was a gift from my late older brother; it always makes me smile when I use it – and its linear.

As always, thanks to Cathy at http://www.ramblinginthegarden.wordpress.com for hosting this meme. To see more vases, follow the link.

Happy Gardening.

In a Vase on Monday – Fireworks

This week’s vase began with clippings from pruning my Miss Alice Bougainvillea on Saturday. The white flowers looked so alone in the vase I added some fiery accents with Firebush and Firecracker flowers. Then my husband padded by and said it needed some blue (he rarely comments on vases). It was the Fourth of July, after all – red, white and blue are the colors of the day. I think he was right. Here is the vase with just fire and Miss Alice.

The blue definitely beefs up the flower power in this vase. Of course, I couldn’t stop with one blue flower..

A closer view from the left side. Miss Alice Bougainvillea in white; Firecracker flowers (Russelia equisetiformis) in red; Tropical Red Salvia (Salvia coccinea) in red and white (think they should just call it Tropical Salvia as it comes in four colors?, I do.) Blue Salvia is Mystic Spires; lighter blue flowers are Blue Plumbago (Plumbago auriculata) a tropical shrub that is virtually indestructible here – look closely and you’ll see the leaf cutting bees have had a bite of the foliage.

Miss Alice in white again with the reds and oranges of Firebush (Hamelia patens var patens) – one of my favorite shrubs. Blue Plumbago around the edges with Mystic Blue Salvia in the background..

There’s my vase for this Monday. For anyone wondering about Elsa, we are out of the warning cone – on the east coast of Florida across from the big hole in the middle of the state (Lake Okeechobee)

Thank you to Cathy at http://www.ramblinginthegarden.wordpress.com for hosting the worldwide vasers. To see more vases from gardeners in many different locales follow the link.

Happy Gardening…

In a Vase on Monday – Goblet of Fire

It has been so rain free here the only flowers worth cutting are on the shrubs. My enormous Firebush is packed with bees and butterflies who were none too happy about me stealing their flowers. I chose the silver goblet before I realized I was making a Goblet of Fire. My husband and I are Harry Potter fans and coincidentally I have a family wand. Abracadabra!!!

The silver goblet is an heirloom from my mother, who loved to collect junk. Heirloom may be too strong a word. The goblet is more like something I found while cleaning out her house. I am not sure what became of my copy of Harry Potter and The Goblet of Fire. It is probably around the house somewhere – though, Deathly Hallows looks better with the Firebush!

The Grant family wand. It had never occurred to me that we had a family wand, until today. Some years ago, my father, the geologist, was prospecting in the woods of North Georgia and ran across a water witch. Water witches direct people to the best locations to drill wells. She gave him this wand. Wands are also called divining rods. This particular witch used native Alder branches (Alders grow near streams) to divine where the water was most likely to be located underground. I am not sure how to operate the wand, though I tried when we dug a well at our house in South Florida, no luck from the wand. Perhaps it was too far from home or I am just a muggle.

A closer view:

There are two varieties of Firebush (the tubular flowers) in here..the red ones are the Florida native Hamelia patens var patens; the orange ones (I think) are from the Bahamas – Hamelia patens. People get into arguments about this, ugh. These arguments annoy me, love the plants. Beautiful, tough shrubs that bees and butterflies love. I don’t care where they originated. The yellow flowers are Thyrallis (Galphimia glauca)..This one has several botanical names and is often sold as a native; though it is not. The grey accents are Adonidia Palm flowers. Background red and green foliage are tips from Blanchetiana Bromeliads (red) and Super Fireball Neoregelia (green).

As always, thank you to Cathy at http://www.ramblinginthegarden.wordpress.com for hosting. Follow the link for more vases.

Wishing everyone a magical gardening week..muggles or not.

In a Vase on Monday – Senza fiori

Today is the seventh anniversary of In a Vase on Monday. Cathy, the hostess of IAVOM issued a challenge to celebrate – creating a vase without flowers, hence the title – without flowers, sounding much sportier in Italian.

Here is a closer view:

This vase is mostly composed of edible plants that I haven’t eaten. The dark green leaves in the back are from Tree Spinach (Cnidoscolus aconitifolius), an odd tropical vegetable that is very poisonous unless cooked correctly – I have not learned the method and haven’t eaten any. Purple berries are Beautyberry (Calliocarpa americana), Floridians make beautiful jewel tone jam from these – reviews always mention it tastes just like sugar! The grey foliage is the top of a pineapple, I admit to growing and eating it. Burgundy fruits on left side are Roselles (Hibiscus sabdariffa), an edible Hibiscus. I have been freezing these for a later, undetermined use. Ferny bits are from Asparagus Ferns and the grey succulents are Graptosedums of some sort, I am wondering if they will root or rot in the vase? The leaves creating the vase by covering a pickle jar are from Blanchetiana Bromeliad (Aechmea blanchetiana)

Thank you to Cathy for hosting this addictive (yes, very) meme on WordPress. Seven years is outstanding and I am looking forward to many more..

Happy Blogaversary and Happy Gardening….

Six on Saturday – The Orange Challenge

Today is Halloween in the US. There is a full moon and I am staying home today…I bought this pumpkin to celebrate and challenged myself to find five additional orange things in my garden.

The Soap Aloe (Aloe saponaria) is flowering. A friend gave me one of these several years ago, now I have several and give them to friends. A native of South Africa, they can be used for shampoo – but are well known for causing allergic reactions, so I enjoy them in the garden and cut them for flower arrangements.

Dwarf Ixora (Ixora chinensis or taiwanensis) these flower nearly continuously through the summer and off and on during the winter. They are called Maui Red, but I think they are orange.

Blanchetiana Bromeliad flowers are getting bigger and bigger…sometimes called Lobster Claw, these are big Aechmeas – some are six feet tall.

Gallardias (Gallardia pulchella) just keep going. I foolishly tried to start some from seed in August, not realizing them come up in droves naturally in October…

My favorite shrub, the Firebush (Hamelia patens var patens)

I am joining The Propagator for Six on Saturday – to see more posts, visit http://www.thepropagatorblog.wordpress.com.

Orange you glad for gardens!?

Happy Gardening!!

Six on Saturday – The Front Garden

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My front garden is composed of hot colors, oranges, reds and apricots. Of course a few other colors have crept in, but for the most part it is hot colors for a hot climate. In keeping with the spirit of heat – above is the Firebush (Hamelia patens var patens), planted by birds in a perfect foundation planting placement.

Imagine my surprise when looking at a real estate website one day I found this picture of my garden (Thanks, Google)  with me in my usual position.

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The nearly year round flowering Dwarf Red Ixora (Ixora ‘Dwarf Red’) is at its peak during the summer months, bees and butterflies love it.

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Soap Aloe (Aloe saponaria) adds grey foliage color and texture and flowers just about quarterly.

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More foliage interest is provided by Crotons in two varieties. Codiaeum varigatum ‘Pie Crust’ is below.

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The other Croton is Mammey…

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Happy Gardening from my front yard!

To see more Six on Saturday posts, visit http://www.thepropagatorblog.wordpress.com.

Six on Saturday – Butterflies

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It has been a good week for bees and butterflies in my garden. My absurdly overgrown Firebush has started flowering prolifically and I am enjoying all the insect life. Above is a Gulf Fritillary butterfly diving into the flower of an Heirloom Penta. They also enjoy the Firebush. Here is the gigantic Firebush. I read the record Firebush is 13 feet tall. This one may be approaching record height.

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The Firebush was planted 6 or 7 years ago to screen the well. This is the Firebush at time of installation; I was told it was Dwarf and would get 4 feet tall! I have tree formed it as I enjoy watching the butterflies. And the well, currently dead is certainly screened.

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Firebush Hamelia patens

Fiona the Greyhound enjoys snapping up a bee now and again.

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A bee that is out of Fiona’s reach.

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Another part of my good butterfly week – I had an article published in The American Gardener about the Atala Butterflies in my garden. Below is the link.

The American Gardener:
May/June 2020

Check out this page

Happy Gardening!! For more Six on Saturday posts visit http://www.thepropagatorblog.wordpress.com.

In a Vase on Monday – Fall Vase Theory

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This vase is filled with the fall colors of South Florida. All of these plants are native to the area and thrive without too much help from the gardener. These are my kind of plants, easy to grow and maintain and not too rude about taking over. An added bonus is they last as cut flowers (or berries).

This week I was asked for a post explaining how I arrange flowers, so my vase design theory will follow the components of the vase:

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The purple berries are Beautyberry (Calliocarpa americana); orange tubular flowers are Firebush (Hamelia patens var patens); the off white spikes are from the Juba Bush (Iresine diffusa); pink plumes are from Muhly Grass (Muhlenbergia capillaris) and the ferns are Boston Fern (Nepholepis exaltata).

Vase Theory

The way I go about arranging flowers is less theory and more ‘that needs to be pruned’. I do not have a cutting garden. Anything within reach of the clipper is a cut flower as far as I am concerned. And I like garden space to be year-round, with the exception of vegetables. Flowers feed the soul, vegetables the body. Of course, having spent decades in the design business, there are certain knee jerk reactions to any design problem. And designers can overcomplicate anything.

This morning I noted my Beautyberry needed to be cut back again and decided to use the purple berry stems in a vase.

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The long, skinny stems dictated a tall, slender vase to hold them, I chose the smoky grey glass vase to contrast with fall colors I was thinking about using. I usually put the dishtowel headed towards the washing machine under the vase to catch bugs and trimmed plant bits. For proper scale with the vase, I cut some Beautyberry stems twice the height of the vase.

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I added the Beautyberry stems splayed around the vase into thirds, leaving spaces for more flowers.

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I cut some Muhly Grass stems (taller than the berries) for wispy purple texture change from the berries and greenish-white Juba Bush spikes for color contrast. Then decided the wispy grass needed a more solid green background. Back to the garden.

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I liberated a few Boston Fern fronds from the driveway (only in South Florida would this happen), then compared the size to the rest of the vase, decided they were too tall and cut a few inches off the stems. After adding the ferns, I decided more color was needed and went back into the garden for some Firebush flowers to fill the lower third of the arrangement with orange tubular flowers and some leafy foliage.

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The result, In a Vase on Monday! IAVOM is a Garden Bloggers meme based in the UK. Cathy from Rambling in the Garden is the hostess of this meme. To see more vases follow this link. More Vases

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In A Vase on Monday – Semi Topiary

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It is Thanksgiving week in the US and I decided to try arranging a little topiary for the table in fall colors. I think of topiaries as clipped formally shaped affairs, this one is not. It is a casual, all native plants arrangement, more tree form than topiary.

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Three plants are used in this arrangement: the flowers and berries are from Firebush (Hamelia patens var patens) The off white flowers are from the Juba Bush (Iresine diffusa), and the stuffings (Like a Turkey!) for the vase are from Sabal Palms (Palmetto sabal) Here is a closer look:

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I don’t really know what the bits from the Sabal Palm are called, the white curly stuff on top comes from the edges of the palm fronds and the brown peat moss like material (birds use it for nests) I used to fill the vase comes from the boots (where the fronds leave the trunk of the tree and cross over)

Here is the palm:

20181118_104239The pumpkin is probably an ornamental gourd that I bought at Aldi during the Halloween season. It is holding up much better than the orange pumpkins and may last until Thanksgiving. I am not too sure about using the semi topiary on the table, there were some really odd white spiders running away from me as I was taking pictures.

And Halloween is over!

Happy Thanksgiving.

In A Vase on Monday – Fall, Actually.

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I am aware I have been, well, complaining about the extreme subtlety of seasonal change in South Florida. As I was putting this arrangement together today, I realized this really reflects the seasonal change in my garden. As the weather cools, a few more plants produce berries – other plants flower. With the exception of the varigated foliage (which is year round and (I know, weird) a foundation plant. The balance of the arrangement is what comprises fall color in South Florida.

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The red flowers anchoring the arrangement are Turks Cap (Malvaviscus penduliflorus); the berries are from the Firebush (Hamelia patens); the off white flowers are Wireweed (Neverlearnedthe latin); yellow and red lobsterclaws, Bromeliad Aechmea blanchetiana flowers; dark foliage is from Copper Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare ‘Purpurea); amazingly still living after supporting several generations of Swallowtail Butterflies and my flower arrangements; varigated foliage is from Mammey Croton (Codieum ‘Mammey’)

Last weeks vase is still holding up and displays more of Florida’s actual fall colors.

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Not bad for Desperately Seeking Seasons.