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.

In A Vase on Monday – Whispers of Fall

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Sunday in my neck of the woods began stormy and transitioned into a cool, overcast day (high of 80 degrees F) My husband and I sat on our screened porch for the first time in months. Fall is elusive in South Florida and sometimes the flowers speak for the season. Chapman’s Goldenrod is flowering in my garden, an indestructible and polite native wildflower that reminds me of much more Autumnal months spent further north. Our weather is not reliably cooler until mid October, so this first whisper of Fall was a welcome respite from the usual steamy late summer temperatures.

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The Chapman’s Goldenrod (Solidago odora ‘Chapmanii’.) is the yellow flower in the middle of the arrangement. Here is a link to More about Chapman’s Goldenrod . 

Clockwise from the Goldenrod, in red spikes, Tropical Red Salvia (Salvia coccinea); a sprig of Blueberry Flax Lily (Dianella); The orange tubes are Firebush (Hamelia patens var patens);white buds from a Tropical Gardenia (Tabernaemontana divericata); Daisy mixture is Beach Sunflowers (Helianthus debilis) and Gallardia pulchella. The far left side of the arrangement has a Red Shrimp Plant (Justicia brandegeana); the background plants are Wireweed (in white); and a bit of Dwarf Pineapple foliage (the spear).

For an arrangement in a vintage Dansk candleholder-  there is a lot stuffed in there. Initially, I decided to try a hand tied bouquet (which I do not know how to do) gave up on that,  kept adding flowers, changed vases three times and ended up here.

Listening for more whispers of Fall.

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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.