In A Vase on Monday-The Pumpkin Chronicles

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In a Vegetable on Monday, Part Two. My gourd collection from last week was looking pretty good so I decided to add to the arrangement with an heirloom pumpkin for Halloween. Today is Halloween in the US, traditionally the time to carve a pumpkin into a Jack O Lantern then go door to door seeking chocolate (or that is how I think of it).20161028_185146

This is a Jarrahdale Pumpkin, totally non traditional and it hails from Australia. My father was an enormous fan of pumpkin carving so in his honor, I carve a pumpkin every Halloween. I decided to research this one a bit to see if it was edible – it is, and reportedly has sweet, melon like flesh perfect for pies. My husband is regionally famous for his pumpkin pies – so I read on to find that I should roast the pumpkin for 20-30 minutes if I wanted to save the flesh and then scoop out the flesh and continue with my ‘decorative use’.

Upon the completion of the short roasting time, the shell had changed color a bit and the flesh was slightly softer, but not cooked, so I chiseled it out with a serrate knife, being careful to use my not so nice knife in case it snapped. The pumpkin looked a bit like a crocodile so I carved a mean face into it. The flowers may offset the meaness.

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Not so sure about the flesh, I just collected it and put in back in the oven to roast and set about arranging the flowers.

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Starting in the front, the yellow flowers are Beach Sunflowers (Helianthus debilis) the coral star shaped flowers are Dwarf Red Ixora, with a bit of Asian Sword Fern. The red and green leafless stems are from a Firesticks Pencil Cactus (Euphorbia tirucalli), red and yellow flowers are Parrot Flower (Heliconia psittacorum), red bell shaped flowers are from Firecracker Plant (Russelia), the grey foliage is from Flapjack Kalanchoes and a leaf from Split Leaf Philodendron (Philodendron selloum) completes the arrangement. The flowers are in a glass I put into the pumpkin, there is also a tealight candle in there, but I have mixed feelings about lighting it.

About this time, I took the pumpkin out of the oven, let it cool, had a taste and discovered it it really good and does taste of sweet melon – unfortunately, after all that I ended up with 1/2 cup of pumpkin puree. Pumpkin bread, anyone?

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Here is a much more traditional Jack O Lantern from years past, Happy Halloween!

In A Vase on Monday – Grace

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This post is called Grace because of the funky purple bowl I used as a container.

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The bowl belonged to my mother’s Aunt Grace, who was a charming old school southern lady. Grace was my grandmother’s sister and a schoolteacher long retired by the time I came along – she would sit with me and we would draw cats from a series of circles. I have always liked to draw and perhaps she got me started with those cats.

I have been plotting the flower arrangement for a while waiting for the Bridal Bouquet Frangipani (Plumeria pudica) to need pruning again. The bowl is good sized and it took 10 or so clusters of Frangipani to fill it, I added some buds and foliage of Heliconia (H. psittacorum) then some Asian Sword Fern for green texture.

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The purple bowl of Plumeria is now gracing my foyer, I think of my Great Aunt when I pass it.

I feel I have been graced with new friends and some interesting new projects over the past couple of weeks, I wish the same to all who read this post. Happy Monday and thanks to our hostess, Cathy .

 

Maui Landscapes and Plants

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My husband and I packed up our dogs and took them to Greyhound camp, then headed west to visit our favorite place, Maui in the Hawaiian Islands. I always enjoy seeing the tropical plants and the volcanic landscape. Maui was formed by two dormant volcanoes millennia ago, the last eruption was Haleakala in the late 1700s. Volcanic rock is still evident from this eruption and fields of black lava rock are visible on most of the beaches.

The landscape of this island is nothing short of magnificent and always seems a bit biblical in scale, the vistas are long, the colors intense and the rainbows incredible. I would like to find a pot of gold at the end of this one.

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Here is a slideshow of the landscapes around the beaches of Maui:

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Here is a slideshow of some of the plants I encountered:

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And for IAVOM fans, this arrangement is always in front of the short order cooks at my husband’s favorite restaurant, The Paia Fish Market – kind of a surfer seafood place. It is Orange and Red Heliconias, Pinecone or Shampoo Gingers and Monstera (Swiss Cheese Plant) leaves.20160905_175323

In a Vase on Monday -Heliconia Overload

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The steamy tropics are what these Parrot Flower Heliconias thrive in and they are blooming like mad in my garden. The tropical Atlantic is doing it best to keep South Florida provided with maximum heat and humidity and plenty of hurricane track spaghetti for everyone to fret about. So far, so good. Fingers crossed.

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This arrangement is a thank you gift for my neighbor. It is Parrot Flower ( Heliconia psittacorum), Bridal Bouquet Plumeria (Plumeria pudica) and the Native Firebush (Hamelia patens var patens) and the ubiquitous Asian Sword Ferns, long version.

Happy Monday from my garden and Thank You to Cathy for hosting.

In a Vase on Monday – Spiked Tropical Punch

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I finally have some spikes blooming in my garden. Showy panicles or racemes in the classic style are few and far between in Tropic Florida. I love Butterfly Bush and Oakleaf Hydrangeas and all sorts of plants with those flower types, even Lysimachia. None will grow this far south. I found some Tropical Red or Blood Sage (Salvia coccinea) plants, native to coastal sandy soils in the Southeastern US, bought some thinking it should be perfect for my garden.

As these things go sometimes, this widely advertised Tropical Red Salvia is supposed to love dry sandy soils and be drought tolerant. Mine was not feeling that way at all and insisted on water and the addition of some organic matter in the soil before flowering at all. It rained a couple of inches in the past week or so and they shot up these nearly fluorescent red spikes. Yay. Here are the plants:

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Native people of the Florida peninsula used this Sage medicinally for all sorts of ailments, the more widely known herb Sage is Salvia officinalis. A tea made from this plant was the cure for anything from menopause to infections. Given the wide range of its curative powers I am not too sure if would help with what ails me so, I am sticking to our modern pain relievers at this time as I don’t really like the taste of culinary Sage.

Other members of this arrangement are in white, Bridal Bouquet Frangipani (Plumeria pudica), Parrot Flower (Psittacorum) in red and yellow, Beach Sunflowers (Helianthus debilis) in yellow, the burgundy foliage is from “Hallelujah” Bromeliad and a Split Leaf Philodendron (Philodendron selloum) Leaf.

Yes, the Split Leaf Philodendron grows in my Rainforest Garden. With many other house plants without spikey panicles.

In A Vase on Monday – Pina Coladas

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An idea formed in my head as I was walking my dogs yesterday morning, a coconut rolled down the street from a nearby palm and one of the dogs stopped to see what it was. Not very interesting to a dog, but I thought otherwise and picked it up. Then, I walked through my garden and spied this miniature pineapple, it has been around for so long the mother plant was producing pups and I had been thinking that it might be better for the plant to cut the pineapple.

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The next thing to find was some rum. The cabinet supplied enough for one frozen cocktail. Perfect. My husband is not a fan of such girly drinks. If only I had some umbrellas.

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The vase is a monogrammed highball glass from my in laws collection. A friend gave me the pineapple, the plant is red and green striped and the pineapple is inedible. But it looks great. The foliage is from a Dwarf Jamaican Heliconia and the spray of pink flowers is from Coral Vine (Antigonon leptopus). The coconut is Cocos nucifera, the Coconut Palm, very common in my neighborhood.

In my Rainforest Garden, later in the afternoon….rum, what rum?

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The Pina Colada actually has some Mango granita in it. Maybe it is a Sunset Pina Colada or a Mango Colada.

In A Vase on Monday- Less Tropical

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This week I decided to try a less tropical approach to my vase, using our Native Beach Sunflowers (Helianthus debilis) as the basis for a non tropical look. I thought Blue Willow china would be a not so tropical container for my vase. I have a collection of Blue Willow started by my grandmother a hundred years ago I have been adding to for years. So, I started with the Blue Willow bowl my father referred to as the ‘Creamed Onion Bowl’ a low covered casserole. That didn’t really work out the flowers were too tall or maybe the scale of flowers to bowl was just off. Then, everything got moved into this well used English teapot I bought years ago, one of my favorite pieces. I have never made tea in it, but somebody else did, many times, the interior is stained dark from use. I like antiques with a little patina.

To the Sunflowers I added Soap Aloe (Aloe saponaria) flowers in orange, Red Shrimp Plant (Justicia brandegeana), and some Parrot Flower  (Heliconia psittacorum) buds for height, Asparagus Ferns and Asian Sword Ferns for green texture.

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After all of this it occurred to me none of these plants would even grow at Disney World in Orlando, Florida! However, it can be proposed they could be grown as annuals. In containers.

Mission completed.

I renovated my big Frangipani vase from last week and the Bromeliads from two weeks ago are still looking good. I think the buds on the Frangipani will open. Here they are again:

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Unabashedly tropical.

Summer Color in Tropic Florida

The snowbirds are home cool and safe in their beds while visions of winter gardening in Florida dance in their heads. (not quite an original poem)

The rest of us are basking in the steamy weather post Summer Solstice in South Florida. Summer can be wonderful here, traffic slows as does time. Days are long and comfortable time spent outdoors occurs early in the morning or early in the evening.

Our plant life puts on a spectacular show during the summer. The show is a must see for any gardener.

Poincianas are in full flower and the Mango trees are filled with cascading boughs of fruit.

Many shrubs here flower year round, but once the rainy season kicks in the flowers go into overdrive. Especially on the Hibiscus, Ixora and Allamanda.

Our native Firebush (Hamelia patens var patens) and Beautyberry (Calliocarpa americana) are flourishing:

On the tropical side, Heliconias and Bromeliads are budding and blooming, I associate these with later in the season but some are going already. Yes, I cut most of my Parrot’ Flower (Heliconia psittacorum).

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Orchids are starting their summer season. My neighbors Ground Orchids (Epidendrum radicans) yes, groundcover Orchids! have been spectacular thus far, these are called Fire Orchids and there is a pink version

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Of course,  one of the real pleasures of the tropics in Summer is the scent of Frangipani in the garden. This white one has started flowering with the onset of Summer and I have a new one from a gardening friend on the verge of flowering- rose pink on the outside opening to pale yellow. I sited it near my screened porch for maximum smellability.

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I love the term ‘Tropic Florida’. To the best of my knowledge, it was coined by Frederick Stresau, in his book Florida, My Eden. This book, while titled like a romance novel is actually a really good manual of landscape plants for Florida. The tropic part supersedes the ubiquitous and perhaps American zone phobia. I think I live in Zone 10A, I am not sure anyone else would agree, but we can agree it is tropic. We have seen freezing temperatures here 4 times since 1980. That is pretty tropic.

In A Vase on Monday – Heliconias, neat.

 

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I think Heliconias are pretty neat. My collection has grown to four varieties. The super special ‘Splash’ Heliconia refuses to flower (purported to have a 3 foot long lobster claw type flower – orange splashed with red). Fortunately the humble Dwarf Jamacian (Heliconia stricta Dwarf) and Parrot’s Flower (Heliconia psittacorum) have been cheerfully flowering since I bought them. This vase is filled with Parrot’s Flower, neat.

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Neat in cocktail terminology means a serving of whiskey with nothing added then served at room temperature. I felt compelled to add the water. I found the seemingly simple arrangement to be a bit daunting to produce as many stems had to be trimmed a touch to make the arrangement even. Then my husband came in and said ‘I guess you are not finished?’ followed by ‘where’s the rest of it’! Then ‘Oh, that’s really simple’ Yes, neat.

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I can imagine why these are called Parrot’s Flower – however, if the three foot long Lobster Claw Splash Heliconia ever actually flowers it is going to be front and center on the next In A Vase on Monday post. Neat.