In A Vase on Monday – Tropical Blues

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July in South Florida can give any gardener the blues. The temperatures have been in the mid 90s with a similar amount of humidity and it has basically refused to rain here despite the calendar’s insistence this is our rainy season. The tropical plants with big leaves are scorching, actually the weeds anywhere not served by our irrigation system are scorching, withering weeds incite a gleeful response from me and offset the gardening blues to a certain extent.

The summer blooming tropicals I have sited properly (always a good trick) are coping well and flowering, the others are, well, scorching. My blue vases are from the happy tropicals! The tropicals not getting quite enough water are really blue. And scorched.

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The big red, green and yellow bud is from Heliconia rostrata, Lobsterclaw Heliconia. I decided to cut this just to see how long it will last. Waiting for the flower to open seems to shorten it’s vase life. It will be interesting to see if it opens as it usually takes a week or so to get this:

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The small footed vase holds some Firebush flowers and Parrottflowers (Heliconia psittacorum) The Parrottflowers are having a tough year and seem a bit shrunken. Drought does not defeat Firebush here and they are feeding my butterfly brigade. Here is Zebra Longwing enjoying the nectar.20170608_152406-1

The blue violin holds a Miniata Bromeliad, the huge tree that shades this ground got a haircut from Hurricane Irma and yes, they are a bit scorched, but have graced me with a flower accompanied by a bit of Asian Sword Fern.

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The blue vases are all heirlooms, the violin belonged to my grandmother, the bottle is from my mother and the footed vase belonged to my in laws. No one was scorched.

That I am aware of.

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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 – Brain Prunings

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Last week I found myself a bit overloaded with work. One landscape design project in South Florida, another 600 miles north. Palm trees on one plan, Azaleas on another. My brain is as crowded with plants as my garden. Both needed some pruning. The Firebush was looking overgrown, so I wanted to cut some flowers to use in the arrangement, only to find really weird bugs on the foliage I didn’t want in the house. I dumped most of the cuttings into a recycling bag.

The rest went into my vase. The Soap Aloe was looking really weird with the flowering Ixora.

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Yes, contrast lacking there? I think so. The Soap Aloe went into the vase.

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The Soap Aloe (Aloe saponaria) and one stem of Firebush (Hamelia patens) are joined by: in red, Red Shrimp Plants (Justicia brandegeana); a few Parrotflowers (Heliconia psittacorum); and some Asparagus Ferns.

My brain needed some additional pruning. Palm trees on which plan??

If you would like to see more vases from around the world, follow this link, on Monday morning:ramblinginthegarden

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- Fire and Rain

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I have seen rain this week, every day, off and on, all day long. My husband is grumpy, the dogs are grumpy and I am getting gardening stir crazy. But, the Firebush is very happy and flowering magnificently.

If anyone remembers James Taylor’s song Fire and Rain here’s a link, before you click on the link realize there is always advertising and I had nothing to do with it: James Taylor. 

I decided a vintage copper teapot filled with warm colored flowers was necessary to lift my dreary spirits. After trimming some fiery flowers, I donned my red plastic raincoat and headed into the garden to see what I could find to join the Firebush. My greyhounds declined the offer to join me and sulked in their (sort of) dry beds.

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My neighbor’s Mexican Flame Vine (Senecio confusus) long ago left its bounds and was hanging down over a hedge that grows between us. Beaten down from all the rain (myself, my husband,my dogs and the Mexican Flame Vine) I cut a few stems to drape over the side of the teapot. Then I discovered some Tropical Red Sage flowers (Salvia coccinea) for the back of the arrangement; added some Beach Sunflowers (Helianthus debilis); and found a few Parrotflowers (Heliconia psittacorum). I have been missing the Parrotflowers. Hurricane Irma followed by a mid thirties temperature in January nearly did them in. The few I found are about half the size they were last year. The flowers and foliage from the flourishing Firebush (Hamelia patens var patens) filled the framework of the flower arrangement. Say that 10 times fast.

Here is a close up of the flowers:

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It is raining again. The good news is the Frangipani loves it and I have my first blooms this year.

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Happy Gardening!

In A Vase on Monday-Two Birds, One Stone

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The weather has been oddly cold this January for South Florida. It occurred to me I should take some cuttings of some of the more tender vegetation, just to be safe. The Angel or Dragon Wing Begonias are usually perennials here as are Coleus and Transcandentia zebrina (Wandering Jew or, apparently, Wandering Dude is you are more politically correct than I am)

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As the saying goes, I decided to kill two birds with one stone and create an arrangement that will hopefully produce rooted cuttings to add back to the garden. The two birds and stone are gifts from my father, the vase from my brother. Both are gone, so I enjoy using these props and remembering my family. My father was a geology professor, the stone is Fool’s Gold from his collection of crystals, the ducks – a gift to remind me to keep my ducks in a row. I think taking cuttings for a flower arrangement in hopes of getting more plants might be considered getting my ducks in a row as I know where I would put all these plants if they strike roots!

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The plants in this vase include: in red flowers, Dragon Wing Begonias, in white flowers, Sweet Begonias (Begonia odorata ‘Alba’), Solar Sunrise Coleus, and purple and silver striped Whatever Jew or Dude (Transcandentia zebrina). No idea on botanical names for coleus or Dragon Wing Begonias, cultivar, blah, whatever.

Now, for everyone’s ongoing amusement. The masses of MILT beside my house. Okay, Mother In Law’s Tongue, about 400 square feet. Weird, crazy, yes. Got a bulldozer?

 

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In A Vase on Monday- Trimmings

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I have been renovating the Greyhound Beach in my back yard this holiday weekend. It is Labor Day in the US and Monday is a national holiday. My Greyhounds, Alan and Charles, have been gleefully destroying the turf behind the patio for the past few years. The mini racetrack in the backyard – visible from space.

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Here is Alan, with his favorite toy, Sharky, digging for reasons only dogs know. I flattened out the holes yesterday and installed edging for sod. Alan has been melancholy all day and refused to eat this morning. Later in the afternoon he relented and woofed down his dinner.

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Back to the title, Trimmings. As a part of my reclamation of Greyhound Beach, I decided to trim and tree form a Firebush that has overgrown its space. Trimming off armfuls of flowers. I stopped trimming to contemplate if I could shear the back of the shrub for screening and tree form the front – an Arboricultural dilemma.

This shrub was sold as a Dwarf Firebush, which actually means it gets 10 or 15 feet tall. Only in the Land of the Giants would this plant be considered dwarf. This sort of horticultural nonsense annoys me. One of the first plants installed in my garden to screen the well equipment:

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Firebush Hamelia patens

Here it is, four years later:

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And I have cut four feet off the top for the past couple of years, the Greyhound Beach is visible through the shrubs.

Now, this is where the Firebush trimmings ended up- in my vase. 20170903_114540

The vase itself is an English teapot in the Blue Willow style, one of my favorite flea market finds. There are two kinds of Firebush in the vase. The dark red is the native Hamelia patens var patens. The ones from the gigantic orange Firebush are Hamelia patens, I think, botanists argue about these plants. I thought some purple was in order and added Setcresea, some variegated Dwarf Pineapple foliage and some red weeds, um, native wildflowers. The name escapes me – one of those things you think is pretty until you realize the seedheads are like dandelions and there are 10 million in your yard.

Another wonderful attribute of the Firebush. Butterflies love them. Here is a Black Swallowtail that was passing by:

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And a Zebra Longwing:

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A gigantic Firebush in the garden has some advantages.

Happy Monday.