In a Vase on Monday – Striking

Heliconias are very striking plants. The fiery colors of the flowers inspired me to create this vase. The container is a antique French match holder. I envision lovely, fashionable people sitting in a cafe by the Seine in Paris using the ribbed surface to strike matches and light hand rolled cigarettes.

Do people still roll their own cigarettes? I have no clue. One whiff of smoke and I am history. Gone to find clean air.

The vase is designed to hold long wood matches. I added a bit of floral foam in the base. The foam would not hold the heavy Heliconias up so I wound some Bromeliad foliage around the inside of the neck to hold the flowers in place. Perhaps the first Bromeliad foliage shim ever…?

A closer view:

The orange “flames” are Parrotflowers (Heliconia psittacorum ‘Choconiana’); red “flames”, another Parrotflower (H. psittacorum ‘Lady Di’); red hot foliage is Piecrust Croton (Codieum varigatum ‘Piecrust’); white “smoke” (also supplying fragrance) Sweet Almond (Aloysia virgata).

Hoping this is the last hot blast of summer. Happy Gardening!!

Thanks to Cathy at http://www.ramblinginthegarden.wordpress.com for hosting In a Vase on Monday. To see more vases follow the link.

Six on Saturday – Ahead of Fred

Tropical Storm Fred is passing by the penisula of Florida this Saturday. Feeling the onslaught of tropical humidity in the air, I spent some time Friday planting a few things in the garden, checking on the edibles and pruning a bit to keep the inevitable gusty wind and rain at bay.

This is a Cuban or Catalina Avocado tree. The avocados are the size of footballs. A friend grew this from seed and brought the seedling to me in 2016. The tree is 12 – 14 feet tall and will hopefully bear fruit next year. To my knowledge, this is the only avocado that is true to seed (most are grafted). I pruned the Passionfruit vine out, it aggressively tries to climb the Avocado any chance it gets – the vine is on the left side of the tree.

The progress on the Papaya beheaded this spring. I am still not sure what will happen here. The trunk sealed itself and put out three new shoots – they don’t seem big enough to support the four pound Papayas.

Chaya (Cnidoscolus aconitifolius) or Tree Spinach. This is a tropical vegetable common in Central America, the leaves are cooked like spinach. A friend gave me cuttings two years ago, it is about six feet tall. The flowers are highly attractive to butterflies. I haven’t eaten any of this – it is toxic unless cooked properly.

Another tropical edible, the Roselle (Hibiscus sabdariffa). This is an edible Hibiscus, usually grown for the flower calyx that tastes like cranberries. The foliage can be eaten as well, new growth is like Arugula and the older leaves maybe be cooked as greens. These won’t flower for another month or so, but I should try the greens. I have eaten the new growth in salad (it’s good) but haven’t cooked any.

New to the garden, a Parrotflower (Heliconia psittacorum ‘ Choconiana’). These are short lived in my garden; they tend to spread wildly and then expire. I enjoy these cut, they are a long lasting tropical flower. And I will buy another one or two after a few years.

The Heliconias were planted beneath two Firebush (Hamelia patens) with a Martin Neoregelia Bromeliad and Alligator Lilies (Hymenocallis latifolia).

That’s it for this week. To see more of Six on Saturday from around the world, follow the link http://www.thepropagatorblog.wordpress.com and check it out.

Happy Gardening!! I’ve just noticed Tropical Storm Fred is being followed by Grace. Well, no need for irrigation!

Six on Saturday – Blue Blazes

It’s time for Six on Saturday, a post about six items of interest in the garden, anything at all, shared with gardeners around the world.

To view the collection visit http://www.thepropagatorblog.wordpress.com

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One of my father’s favorite summertime sayings “It is hot as blue blazes”. I have no idea where that came from. Maybe New England where he was from. I can confirm it is hot as blue blazes in South Florida in July, though there is a nice breeze coming off the ocean currently.

Above is one of my favorite summer flowers, the Parrotflower (Heliconia psittacorum)

Another Heliconia is flowering in my garden, the Lobsterclaw Heliconia (Heliconia rostrata)

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I have been harvesting fruit. My first pineapple, cute and ripening on the counter along with Purple Possum Passionfruit. Say that 10 times fast..

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The Bromeliads are doing their thing, some just looking great in summer colors and some flowers. This is an unknown Neoregelia.

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The Blanchetiana Aechmea Bromeliads are shooting up buds, these are about five feet tall now and will get a little bigger and fully open in November. The flowers usually last until May.

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Another Aechmea Bromeliad, the Miniata. These are very reliable July bloomers, many Bromeliads have a mind of their own when deciding to flower – the Blanchetiana above took about six years to decide to bloom…the Miniata start out red and then get cobalt blue tips. Interesting to watch and they last a long time as cut flowers. The foliage is a bit scorched from two weeks without rain and some wind.

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That is my six. Happy Gardening and stay cool…

Six on Saturday – Good, Bad and Ugly

There is more good in the garden than bad or ugly. But there is always some bitter with the sweet, it seems. I will start with the good. With at least 20 inches of rain in June – and more on the way, I am seeing a lot of new growth and weeds! Here is the new growth on my husband’s Glenn Mango. Planted last year in honor of his father, Glenn. New growth on Mangoes is usually bronze, this is different and a pretty red.

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More new growth and a summer favorite, this is the bud of a Lobsterclaw Heliconia (Heliconia rostrata).

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A freshly picked Pickering Mango.

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Passionfruit ripening on the vine. This plant was misidentified when I bought it..should be an interesting taste test when ripe.

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Now, the bad. Papayas dropping off the tree due to Papaya Fruitflies, sometimes called Papaya Wasps as they are as big as wasps – they lay their eggs inside the fruit and the larvae hatch inside and eat the Papaya. It is important to get rid of these when they fall as the larvae mature in the ground and eat more Papayas. I seem to get one round of these in the summer. I think the lizard knows what is in there.

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The ugly, Papaya Fruitfly larvae escaping, I got this one just in time. Yuck.

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Happy Gardening, to see more Six on Saturday posts visit The Propagator at http://www.thepropagatorblog.wordpress.com.

Not Shopping for Tropicals

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This afternoon I have been glued to the television watching Hurricane Michael make landfall about 500 miles north my garden. The sheer size of these storms always amaze me. I can feel the hot breath from Michael flowing through my garden if I step outside. Praying for those in the storm’s path.

Earlier this week I went plant shopping – heading south to the numerous nurseries supplying South Florida. Much of the plant material grown in this area is too tropical for my garden, though I enjoy looking. This is ‘instant effect’ plant material, the above Heliconia is about 15′ tall – prices are not displayed.

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This is a hanging basket filled with Medinilla myriantha, 3 or 4 feet wide and tall. These plants are famously difficult to keep. Usually a very expensive flower arrangement.

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This is a pink and yellow unnamed Heliconia psittacorum. I could probably grow this one, but couldn’t lift the container it was in!

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Huge, grey Bromeliad.

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A Starfish Plant, variety lost to me.

 

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Tiny Aloes.

I bought nothing at this nursery, but gained an idea for a palm tree with boots I was planning to remove (growing into power lines)

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I can have the top removed and keep the trunk, then tuck Bromeliads, Ferns and Orchids into the pockets left by the boots. Like this:

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A stumpery – in tropical mode.

In A Vase on Monday – Gift Bag from Zeus

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Zeus, I am told, is the Greek God of Rain. He gifted my garden with several gentle showers this week. I, in turn, was rewarded with flowers from my thirsty garden. The glass handbag was a thrift store find I happily filled with flowers.

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The white flowers are Bridal Bouquet Frangipani, made especially happy by the rain and flowering in earnest. I cut these to use in arrangements as they are very prolific, but a bit different in form from other Frangipanis that tend to be small, deciduous trees. These are a little more than a foot wide and planted to screen my neighbor’s fence. The fragrance is subtle, first thing in the morning when the dew is burning off the flowers – the scent (in front of my garage) divine. The foliage is also semi evergreen.

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The rest of the flowers are:

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From the left side: in red and yellow Parrottflowers (Heliconia psittacorum); in orange, Mexican Bush Honeysuckle (Justicia spicigera); pink are Rain Lilies (Zephyranthes, no clue on species, but another Greek God); red flower, Miniata Bromeliad (Aechmea miniata, from last week). A few of my favorite indestructible ferns for accent.

Happy Gardening and I hope Zeus is kind to all gardens this week.

In A Vase on Monday- Fruitless Effort

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The big leaf in this vase is from my Papaya tree. Papayas are easily grown here, the time from planting seed to picking fruit can be as little as 9 months. But, it’s always something in the garden. I like Hawaiian Papayas, smaller like pears, pink flesh and sweeter than their bigger cousins from the Tropical Americas. I planted some seed last year from a Hawaiian Papaya I had eaten, numerous seedlings came up and I selected three to plant in the garden. Hurricane Irma took out two and I was left with one reasonably good looking tree. I was elated when it flowered recently and then nothing happened, raisin like bits fell out when the flowers were finished. Turns out seedling Papayas can be male, female or both. This one is female, so fortunately I was able to buy a self pollinating Papaya that should pollinate both trees. Next year sometime. Maybe.20180708_104558-1

Joining the Papaya leaf in the arrangement are: in white, lower, Bridal Bouquet Frangipani (Plumeria pudica); in white, upper, Sweet Almond (Aloysia virgata); orange tubular plants are our native Firebush (Hamelia patens var patens); in red and yellow, Parrottflowers (Heliconia pssitacorum); at the top a few stems of Tropical Red Salvia (Salvia coccinea).

A closer view:

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Here is the Papaya tree:

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To view Papaya free vases from the world over, visit our hostess, Cathy at https://ramblinginthegarden.wordpress.com/.

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- 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 – Resilience

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Last Sunday we were already feeling the hot breath of Hurricane Irma. It seemed the earth was sweating, so much tropical moisture swirling in the air. Sunday and Monday were spent hunkered down indoors with two greyhounds and our cat. One of the dogs nervous, the other and the cat not so much. More about the hurricane later.

My vase, this Monday is filled with resilient plants from my garden. I had to search a bit to find likely candidates, winds burned or knocked many plants down. Amazingly the berries did not blow off the Beautyberry or the Firebush and I don’t believe the Parrotflowers even paused for Irma. Look closely at the Parrotflowers and note the tips of the flowers are burned black.

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The red berries in front are from the Firebush (Hamelia patens), the purple berries from the Beautyberry (Calliocarpa americana), Parrotflowers (Heliconia psittacorum) in red and yellow. Blanchetiana Bromeliad flowers are beside the Beautyberry and Asian Sword Ferns in the back for some greenery. The ferns are missing a chunk (most of them are) but are amazingly alive and green.

Hurricane Irma:

Hurricanes are generally terrifying. I experienced my first last year, Matthew. A local told me Matthew was a good starter hurricane! One of the most agonizing parts of the experience is the endless news cycle of weather forecasts. At one point 130 mph winds were forecasted for my Living Room. Eventually Irma ended up on the other side of the state. We had sustained winds of 70 mph and gusts to 100 mph off and on for a day or so. And 10 inches of rain. Adding to the fun, Alan (the nervous greyhound) dislocated his toe before the storm. His leg was ensconced in a splint that was NOT TO GET WET.

Needless to say, even though I wrapped the splint in plastic to take him outside, he took off and punctured the splints raincoat with his toenails. During the hurricane. No help available. Fortunately, I have a Facebook friend who is a vet – who advised me to take off the splint. Alan was much happier and chilled out to rest. Toe is much improved.

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The Garden:

The garden is surprisingly resilient. I don’t believe anything was lost to the wind – except all the leaves and foliage that was burned off. We are going to ask the Rainbow Eucalyptus to leave the garden. The top has blown out twice now and the tree just keeps getting taller and heavier.

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The back side of my neighbors ugly fence was completely covered with Shell Ginger, Lobsterclaw Heliconia, Bridal Bouquet Plumeria and a Mexican Bush Honeysuckle. By Friday, when I got around to pruning- all were coming back from the ground with new growth. I just cut off the dead and righted some of the Plumeria.

The hedge in back:

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This is a Surinam Cherry hedge, it was fully covered in foliage. The wind blew the leaves off and there is not one in sight. I have been planning to do this exact thing to the hedge and Irma saved me having to haul all the clippings to the curb. I am still contemplating what to do with this and will probably do some additional pruning.

This is a Strangler Fig, the canopy was not quite fully foliaged, but pretty close:

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Again, the wind blew nearly every leaf off and took them along. Saving me hours of raking and bagging! New growth is already on the tips of the branches.

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This is a Papaya tree I started from seed last year. It is about 3 feet tall and looked dreadful until this morning. It is beginning to shed its burned foliage and producing new leaves.

Resilience. The garden seems to be doing better than we are. Still exhausted. I am told the Hurricane Hangover lasts about a week. Next week should be better. But wait, Hurricane Maria is lurking in the Atlantic. I need a chant for human resilience.