In A Vase on Monday – Lion’s Tail and Firesticks


The odd title reflects what is in my vase this Monday. The orange flowers in the front of the arrangement are from Leonitis nepetifolia (I think) Lion’s Ear or Tail, depending on who you ask and also called Dagga, the perennial version(L. leonurus) is smoked in South Africa like Marijuana. A blog friend sent me some seeds when Hurricane Matthew destroyed the one in my garden. I am now wondering if these are annual, biennial or just experiencing Florida’s seasonal weirdness. I am leaving them to go to seed in the garden, hoping for a straighter set of plants – these were knocked over by Hurricane Irma the following year and never straightened up. Florida’s seasonal weirdness at it’s inexplicable best.


Here is a close up, the Firesticks in the arrangement are from a Pencil Cactus (Euphorbia ‘Firesticks’), they are the yellow tubular plants in the arrangement. These grow 12 feet tall and wide and I have a few around the garden, you can just stick a bit in the ground and have a whole new plant in a few years. No irrigation needed or wanted. Below is a Firesticks used as foundation planting for my house, the coloration reddens as the weather heats up.20190217_171624-1 (1)

As for the rest of the arrangement, here is another photo.


The red flowers in the arrangement are from Tropical Red Salvia (Salvia coccinea), a stalwart in my garden; multicolored foliage – I don’t think varigated adequately describes the foliage, Mammey Croton (Codieum “Mammey”); the ferns in the back are Boston Fern (Nephrolepis exaltata, of houseplant fame). The Boston Fern, another unlikely volunteer in my garden.

The vase, dark grey, was picked up at a Department Store sale as was the red stool (with patina). I have enjoyed both of these items for IAVOM posts.

Happy Monday! Stay away from the Dagga.


In A Vase on Monday – Tropical Zen


Much to my surprise, the day after Hurricane Matthew grazed our beach I was picking up debris and found the native Spider Lilies had sent up buds. A few days later, the flowers appeared.


These are probably three feet tall and quite sturdy, they appeared in my garden and I mistook them for Amaryllis, separated the bulbs and planted a long mass in my back garden. As these things sometimes go a third did well, another third are still alive and then another third didn’t really take or were eaten by the gigantic Lubber grasshoppers we have here. Still, these were a nice surprise and I decided to cut a few for a vase.

My husband’s comment was “that is really minimalist for you” – which is true, I think this vase belongs in a modern spa or a sleek black granite lobby.


The flowers  present a bit of a design dilemma – while striking they are in my imagination tiaras for fairies and my dilemma was to cut the flowers off and use them as a short stemmed element with other flowers or emphasize the lean whorls of crowns in a simple vase. Simple won out for a tropical minimalist vase.


The flowers are our native Spider LIly (Hymenocallis latifolia) they grow in pure sand on the back side of dunes and in hammocks. The foliage is the leaf of a Heliconia ‘Splash’ and a Split Leaf Philodendron (Philodendron selloum). A burgundy leaf from an unnamed Bromeliad anchors the stems together in the glass vase. I remember buying the vase to force Cherry and Forsythia branches in winter and could never get that to work. I think the vase was waiting for some Tropical Zen on Monday.

In A Vase on Monday -Flowers for Matthew


By now I think most of the world has heard of Hurricane Matthew, I had an intimate experience with him on Thursday night as the eye of the hurricane passed about 60 miles from my house. The power went out about dinnertime and the storm as predicted started in earnest a few hours later. I was in my Living Room with one of my dogs (very unhappy) the other dog and my husband slept through it. Hurricanes tend to get really windy going in one direction, then as they pass it gets really windy going the other direction. The winds were somewhere around 100 mph and when the directions changed sometime around midnight a couple of of trees imploded in the backyard and hit the roof. About that time I could hear the screws in our metal roof popping. I was just waiting for the metal part of the roof to peel off and fly away, but fortunately it remains intact. The dog became so upset he was barking at the back door. Our porch was shuttered so we walked outside – it was difficult to open the sliding glass door and I was able to feel the suction of the passing storm.

We went back inside and I gave the dog a Valium, he settled down. By candlelight, I searched out an airline bottle of Glenfiddich someone had given me years ago, rooted a lemon out of the refrigerator and fixed a Scotch and water with a twist. Sometimes a stiff wind requires a stiff drink. Alan the Greyhound and I both felt better. Not much, but some and the wind howled on..

Eventually the storm passed and we went out the following morning to find our Rainbow Eucalyptus stripped of all its branches and my Plumerias decapitated. All in all, we came out the storm intact and our power was restored within 24 hours. The Rainforest Garden suffered a storm of debris, the garden is a little smushed but not destroyed. Much tidying to do.


Saturday we collected all our canned food, extra shorts, shoes and t shirts and sent them off to the Bahamas, where Matthew took a much greater toll.

Surprisingly the Tropical Gardenias (Tabernae montana divericata) were blooming in time for Monday’s vase. The white berries are hard to see, but I cut them from Wax Myrtles (Myrica cerifera) that was blown apart by the storm. Asparagus Fern and Asian Sword Fern add a little green texture to my mother’s Rose Bowl.


Below is a post I started before the storm, not knowing what would be left.



Hurricane Matthew is set to strike here tomorrow, so this is actually A Vase on Wednesday. I was not feeling optimistic about my Heliconia making it through the wind so I cut them and the crunchy Aloes. Flowers in the house might make the hurricane more bearable. Alcohol and Pepto Bismol might really be a better answer to that problem. My neighbors are sitting on the front porch drinking wine and it is early afternoon. They are longtime Floridians.


This is my save from wind damage plant palette: Parrot Flower (Heliconia psittacorum) in yellow and red, Bridal Bouquet Frangipani, Soap Aloe (orange and green) which is Aloe saponaria. The foliage is from Firebush (Hamelia patens var patens) and in back Shell Ginger (Alpinia)


Here is the view of our screen porch, fully enclosed with storm shutters. My Cactus Zinnias, Italian Sunflower and Aster seedlings are riding the storm out in here. Fingers crossed.

The View from Inside the Cone of Uncertainty


Hurricane Matthew is currently a top story, a Category Four Hurricane wreaking havoc in the Carribean as I write. The National Weather Service has announced we are in the cone of uncertainty, currently there is a 20 percent chance of hurricane force winds where we live. Meaning put up your hurricane shutters, buy batteries and water, and hunker down.

This is the current view of my front door. The hatches have been battened. My greyhound statuary will stand sentry over my front porch regardless of what winds may blow. My real greyhounds will stay inside with me. This front door is relatively new and I am happy we have it. The majority of the house is covered with corrugated steel storm shutters installed by my husband – who is, fortunately, a very handy guy. Unfortunately, the shutters cast a sepulchral gloom over the interior of our house.

The front door was installed earlier this year, as we like a bit of light in the house. I was the designated painter and thought this sticker was kind of funny, until today:


Not feeling like I want to know the exact definition of large missiles – but am planning to go outside in the morning and put any potential missiles into a safer place.

I decided to stock up on non perishables and water this afternoon. I could tell by the atmosphere at the grocery store that all hell was just about to break loose. Men (yes, men) were rushing through the aisles throwing anything canned into their cart. One guy was running through the front of the store, cell phone glued to his ear, saying “Oh My God, they are out of bottled water”. Well, they were not out of bottled water by a long shot, in fact, the office supply store I had just been in was selling bottled water. I am not sure I needed bottled water as we are on city water and I was assured by the guy in charge of utilities it always works during hurricanes. Better safe than sorry, so we will see what happens.


Here is the haul from my grocery adventure. Four kinds of tuna fish, (my husband and I both hate it – I was trying to find one to love), sardines ( he made barfing noises when he saw it), Cannellini beans (OK, I aspire to be Italian and there is Rosemary in my garden), cat food (for the cat), candles ( hoping I can find matches that work), crackers (not the Florida kind) and bottled water.

Anyone for dinner?

Being the chatty Southerner I am, I asked the cashier what the most popular supplies were today. It seems canned Ravioli followed by beer, many people eschewing water for beer and others opting for Gatorade as their beverage of choice.

I am not really sure what to think of that, although they may know something I don’t. As of right now, the hurricane is supposed to pass 5o miles offshore, with a 49 mile margin of error. I think that gives us about 4 miles. Feeling a little queasy.

Until further notice, my tongue is firmly inside my cheek – unless I bite it off.