In A Vase on Monday – It’s A Dilly

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It’s a Dilly, is that an American phrase? As far as I know, Dilly translates into it’s remarkable, notable or wonderful. Sources on the Internet say this is Canadian or American slang. Vasers will tell.

This vase is all about my herbs, I am mourning the impending passing of my Dill plant (this plant has been wonderful) this week. I love fresh Dill with salads, fish, tomato cucumber salad and on and on It has been flowering for at least a month, I keep cutting the flowers hoping for more foliage to eat – alas to no avail. So, I decided to cut most of the flowers for a vase. Some wasps seem to like the flowers as well – I left those guys alone. I hope the wasps inspire more edible Dill.

The Heliconias (Heliconia psittacorus) nearby suffered from something so I cut back and fertilized them a week or two ago. The plants are responding nicely and their flowers have joined the Dill. Sweet Begonias (Begonia odorata “Alba”) in white are flowering again and joined the dirge as well as an unnamed Bromeliad with nice red foliage and some big Ferns that popped up in the garden, again no idea what the ferns are. The red flowers are the native Turk’s Cap Hibiscus (Hibiscus malvaviscus pendiflorus)that rewards me with flowers with the least bit of attention. I watered them!

The vase is a gift from my dearly departed older brother. Always a bittersweet reminder of that makes me miss him. Though I am certain he would be happy I am using the vase and thinking of him.

Here is a close up:

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It’s a Dilly!

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In A Vase on Monday – Get Your Ducks in a Row

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Growing up, my parents constantly told me to get my ducks in a row. This means figuring out what or how you are going to do something before you start. This relates to the flower arrangement as I started out with a beautiful pottery bowl, a wedding gift, placed a flower frog in the bottom and started placing flowers in the holder – only to figure out the base of the bowl was nowhere close to flat, causing the flowers to tip over and then realizing the pendulous flowers were hidden by the edges of the bowl. The blue glass container is Plan B. The ducks were a gift from my father many years ago to remind me.

20170205_130036-1 For this week’s arrangement I was planning Dwarf Jamaican Heliconias and waiting for them to start flowering, Valentine’s Day is usually their prime and they are sticking to their schedule. Maybe next week. More ducks for me to line up. Plan B again.

The Soap Aloe (Aloe saponaria) sent up a stalk earlier this week and it was in full flower so that is the center of the arrangement. The pendulous red flowers are Turk’s Cap Hibiscus (Malvaviscus pendiflorus), a native shrub that appears unbidden in the garden. The white flowers are another native, actually a nuisance, I thought these were Coreopsis run amok, then found out they are actually a wildflower called Indian Needles (Bidens pilosa) considered a medicinal plant and prolific producers of sharp, thin seeds. I am not sure if the seeds were used as needles, but they are sharp enough. Tropical Red Salvia (Salvia coccinea) in red and coral, another native, is thriving so I just keep cutting them. Last but not least, a little foliage accent from Asian Sword Fern and Culinary Dill Flowers.

Interestingly, almost all these plants are medicinal – if I needed shampoo (Soap Aloe) or a cure for hernia pain and upset stomach (Turk’s Cap, Indian Needles, Tropical Red Salvia and Dill) i would have really had my ducks in a row this week.

In A Vase on Monday -Cherry, Cherry on A Hot August Night

20160821_094215-1People of a certain age may remember what my title is referring to – a Neil Diamond album popular in the 1970’s.

Here is the link https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hot_August_Night

Hot August Night was a favorite of one of my brothers, who played the record a lot. Cherry, Cherry is one of the songs I associate with the album. Sweet Caroline would be the other.

What does this have to do with gardening? Well, the nights are really hot here in South Florida in August – the low temperature  last night was 78 (25.5 Celsius), the high this afternoon is 95 (35 Celsius) with heat index  104 (40 Celsius). I have been installing Microspray irrigation in the perennial beds during cooler hours as the irrigation system that came with the house won’t support anything but widely spaced tufts of torpedo grass. Hand watering while having irrigation is a bit tiresome and I have been planning a more detailed perennial garden.

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So, on these hot August nights when I am toiling at twilight I can smell the wonderful Tropical Gardenias (in bud in the arrangement) Tabernaemontana divaricata, the Tropical Red Salvias (Salvia coccinea) are the perennials in need of more water and the big Red Hibiscus – Cherry, Cherry. The Hibiscus is from an ancient old fashioned shrub and I wish I knew the cultivar, it is one of the great indestructibles. The Asian Ferns in the arrangement are probably going to be too happy after they get more reliable rain from the Microspray irrigation. The crystal Rose Bowl was inherited from my mother and I have not had a rose in it, so far.

The more detailed perennial garden I am working on this fall is going to include some alumni from this Summer’s vases – from all the Cathys, the Italian White Sunflower, Asters from Cathy, and the Cactus Zinnias from Susie and Cathy. I have the seeds and will start potting in a few weeks for planting later in October. A grand experiment is in the works.

As far as Neil Diamond goes, I am still humming Sweet Caroline..

 

 

 

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 – The Ephemeral Martini

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As usual, I started out with one idea and ended with an entirely different vase. I was walking my dogs this morning and noticed this particularly lovely Hibiscus flower.

A Hibiscus flower in South Florida is not particularly notable, but this shrub is really amazing. An old variety planted in the 60s by my neighbor’s grandmother, this shrub lives on the edge of my front yard – unirrigated, unfertilized, and thriving in near total shade (everything one is not supposed to do to a Hibiscus) This heirloom delight blooms off and on all year to the point I hardly notice it.

I plucked the flower and put it in a brown pottery vase, this just didn’t look right. The festive red tropical flower needed some party vibes. I decided one of my mother’s crystal Martini glasses would be the proper setting – an heirloom for an heirloom, and loved the result:

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I added a bit of Sweet Begonia foliage and that was it. I was confused for a long time about the Martini glasses, I think they were a wedding gift to my parents when they married in the 1950’s. My grandmother was a teetotaling Southern Baptist and my mother always referred to these as ‘fruit compotes’; imagine my surprise when I learned of Martinis and their proper stemware. I suspect some Gin and Vermouth has been in these glasses at some point because I can remember the cocktail parties.

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The ephemeral nature of this is these flowers are known to only last one day. I will have to wait until nightfall to see what transpires.