In a Vase on Monday – Love/Hate Relationships

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The oh so subtle signs of fall are appearing on the peninsula of Florida. Hurricane Dorian was one unmistakable sign, the hurricane season peaks on September 10. My husband declared hurricane season over and took down all the storm shutters. Signs in the garden include the formation of fruit on Beautyberry and Firebush and I have seen three (yes, 3!) Red Maples sporting red fall color. It is exciting.

My garden came through the brush with Hurricane Dorian mostly unscathed, the Beautyberry had their leaves blown off (the berries were untouched) and the Avocado tree’s leaves have windburn. A few branches down here and there, but that is about it. I wonder if I have sited the Avocado in a less than the optimal place as the leaves usually burn from one thing or another.

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The vase is an old florist’s vase I found by the side of the road in my neighborhood. I am guessing at least thirty years old as I vaguely remember these in the 80s. Most of the plants in the vase I love for their flowers but hate for their voracious appetite for space in the garden.

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The most incorrigible of the lot, in white, Spanish Needles (Bidens alba) possibly the best native pollinator in the garden – however, these reseed to the point of annoyance. In orange and red, Firebush (Hamelia patens – varieties botanically undefined) I love these shrubs, but once they get going watch out. I was told one was dwarf (4 feet) sounds great – it is probably closing in on 12 feet and still growing. Also soon to be a tree form as I love the butterflies nectaring on it (5 different butterflies seen while cutting branches for the vase). The red fruits are also from the Firebush, I have two types, the red one produces fruit that grows little plants in the garden – the orange one never does. Grey foliage is from Barometer Bush (Luecophyllum) I prune and prune and never have a dense hedge, purple flowers occasionally make it worthwhile. The purple berries, Beautyberry (Calliocarpa americana) which I love right now but not so much for the foliage. Ferns are Asian Sword Ferns, they could take over a gas station parking lot. Enough said.

My vase from last week is holding up well with the exception of the Orchid, that was asked to leave and unceremoniously composted. Here are the two vases together.

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Maybe there is fall color in Florida. It is just totally different.

Six on Saturday – Some Rescues

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Every Saturday The Propagator (click on link) invites us to share six items of interest from our gardens. Hurricane Dorian passed within 100 miles of my garden this week and we came through the storm unscathed. Physically, unscathed – mentally I was scathed. I did bring a few things inside before the winds howled by. Above, Papayas nearly ripe on the tree. I picked the Papayas and left them on the counter to ripen.

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This is a fungus on a Norfolk Island Pine stump, the tree was removed because they tend to topple in high winds.

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A Gulf Fritillary butterfly on potted Zinnias.

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New growth on a Miniature Pineapple.

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Flower of a Neoregelia Bromeliad.

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The Cattleya Orchids flowered. Thinking the flowers were too delicate for the winds, I cut them and brought them inside. They grow right outside my Living Room window and I usually leave them as they last longer on the plant.

Happy Gardening on Saturday!

The Hurricane Report

Several people have asked what goes on during a hurricane. I have written about my hurricane experience, having recently been missed by ongoing Hurricane Dorian. This experience is not a recommended addition to anyone’s bucket list.

Here is the report:

First, days or weeks before the Hurricane actually forms, it pops up on an NOAA Map like this:

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X marks the spot where a tropical depression might or might not form, percentages are the chance it forms in 2 days and existing hurricanes and storms are on the map. Tropical depressions are the genesis of the hurricane. By looking further on the website you can find tracks of all storms and see where they are predicted to go, many go out to sea, never a threat to land. The #3 disturbance is worrisome because this time of year many hurricanes originate there, and end up in the Caribbean, the Gulf of Mexico or the Atlantic coast of the US and Canada. These are called Cape Verde hurricanes, named after the nearby islands.

We started watching Dorian a week or so ago when it passed by Puerto Rico as a tropical storm, and kept heading our way. As the days go by the cone of probability (basically a graphic of the current idea of where the hurricane might make landfall) The cone (current idea) goes from place to place as the weather forecasters push and pull their modeling forecasts. These can (and do) vary by hundreds of miles as the storms and computers meander. I read at the start of the storm season that the new tracking software made them 20 miles more accurate than last year. Not feeling better about that. The Weather channel’s ratings go up, drama ensues. Inevitably, the storm ends up going through my Living Room at 130 mph at some point. (on the cone computer graphic)

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We put up our hurricane shutters when things start looking dicey.  Dorian got dicey at the end of last week. The shutters are aluminum and are screwed on to threaded posts embedded in the window trim. All windows and doors that are not hurricane rated are covered as well as screen porches. It is a huge pain to install all this stuff. The clear shutter is so you can see what is going on outside. In addition to shuttering the windows, it is necessary to stockpile food and water and a gas-powered generator is a very handy thing if the power goes out, of course then gas is needed. We were very well prepared. And the power did not even blink. It was too windy to go outside off and on for 2 or 3 days, all grocery stores, make that all stores were closed (except one gas station with a deli) and bridges to the barrier islands were closed.

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The wind swirled around our house at 30 or 40 mph off and on for a couple of days. The constant high pitched whine and the wind rattling the metal shutters get a bit nerve-wracking after a while. Fortunately, Hurricane Dorian’s extremely high winds stayed offshore, here is where we are relative to the storm:

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Too close for comfort. Way too close. My garden is surprisingly unscathed. I did pick the Papayas fearing smoothies on my house instead of in my glass. The Papayas are still ripening on the counter.

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We are feeling lucky and blessed. And collecting things for those poor souls in the Bahamas who lived through days of Dorian’s wrath.

Send some thoughts, good vibes or items to the Bahamas.

In a Vase on Sunday – Flowers by Dorian

IMG_20190901_105215 Who is Dorian, you may ask? Dorian is the hurricane currently lashing the Bahamas that may or may not be lashing my house on Monday. This hurricane has been lurking around for at least a week and we are still wondering where Dorian will land.

We have had so much time to prepare I did not really have anything left to do and decided to make this wildly funky vase with flowers that would likely be destroyed by  high winds. I had to take the vase outside to photograph it – the windows of our house are covered with the steel shutters seen behind the vase and it is dark and sepulchral inside. Too dark to photograph the nearly 4 foot tall arrangement, the vase is resting on my bath mat.

00100lPORTRAIT_00100_BURST20190901105508924_COVERHere is a closer view. The orchids are Cattleyas, gifted to me by my neighbor. I may have saved them from an uncertain demise, they were being consumed by tiny ants, Not to mention potential hurricane winds. The orange and red flowers are the bud stalks from Blanchetiana Bromeliads (Aechmea blanchetiana) these will usually survive a hurricane and continue flowering but are bent over. The purple berries are Beautyberry (Calliocarpa americana) not sure if the berries will survive the wind. Time will tell. The foliage is a big leaf of Heliconia and two variegated Pandanus leaves.

Happy Gardening…Hope we meet next Monday. The winds are howling already.

Six on Saturday – Waiting for Dorian

I live on the Atlantic side of South Florida and for most of this week, we have been watching now Hurricane Dorian forecasts. Our area has gone from obliteration to partial obliteration, currently, the storm is predicted to not hit us, no obliteration! At least for this morning. I took photos of things that might be blown away by the wind.

First, my Dombeya, it is a tropical version of a Hydrangea. I have been pruning it into a tree form all summer. These flower in December with pink balls hanging below the branches.

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Second, a pink Tropical Red Salvia (Salvia coccinea) – these can flower white, pink, red or neon orange. I enjoy the little color surprises from the seedlings.

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Next, the Blanchetiana Bromeliads in bud. These flower stalks are about 6 feet tall and will survive high winds, blooming while bent over later this fall.

 

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Fourth, the Red Shrimp Plant (Justicia brandegeana). These are a Florida passalong plant that came from my neighbor, they bloom off and on year round.

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The flower of Setcresea pallida, Purple Hearts, these tend to appear in the garden and I enjoy their purpleness.

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Last, the native Chapman’s Goldenrod (Solidago chapmanii, I think) Chapman was an early plant explorer in Florida and many native plants carry his name.

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Happy Gardening, I hope all these plants are here next Saturday.

In A Vase on Monday – Ahhhhtumn is Here

 

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Sometime during the month of October there is a collective sigh of relief from the inhabitants of South Florida. It finally happened last Friday, temperatures and humidity dropped. I spent the day in my garden, then later in the afternoon enjoyed a glass of wine amongst my burgeoning collection of Bromeliads.

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After my glass of wine, I quickly put all the cushions back in the house as Tropical Storm Phillipe was forecast to pass through on Saturday. Philippe dumped a few inches of rain on the garden and then headed to New England to wreak havoc further north.

Sunday turned into a beautiful, somewhat windy day and I spent time searching for vase components with the Dragonflies (swarming to eat post storm mosquitoes) and Longwing Butterflies searching for a sip of nectar. In the background, I heard Sand Hill Cranes, home for the winter calling out to friends and lovers.

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The contents of my vase include in red, front and center, Turks Cap Hibiscus (Hibiscus malvaviscus), the red spikes and seedy spikes are Tropical Red Salvia (Salvia coccinea). The yellow and orange spikes are from the Blanchetiana Bromeliad (Aechmea blanchetiana). The creamy white spikes are a mystery plant that appeared in the garden several years ago, I have not been able to identify it, but it is a great fall vase component and seems well mannered enough to live in the garden. The fluffy pink background grass is Muhly Grass (Muhlbergia capillaris) I am loving my Muhly Grass this fall.

Ahh, Autumn is finally here. It is seventy degrees, cool not experienced since last spring.

Happy Halloween!

In A Vase on Monday- Dark Glasses

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Dark Glasses, my theme this week involves two types of dark glass. First, the vases made of smoky grey (like Ray Bans) and dark blue glass. Next, the contents of the vases, bright enough to require sunglasses.

20171015_101924-1The bigger vase, in Ray Ban grey, is filled with Parrotflowers (Heliconia psittacorum) and Asian Sword Fern, the devil in fern clothing (invasive fern) – the Parrotflowers have rebounded magnificently from Hurricane Irma, causing me to realize cutting them for vases really improves their existence and mine. Probably my favorite cut flower.

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The smaller cobalt blue vase is filled with a larger variety of flowers. My husband’s comment ‘it looks like a meadow’ – a sort of tropical meadow, I think.

The foliage is from Pie Crust Croton, a mad tropical plant by all counts. This shrub sports black foliage with orange, green, yellow and red spots, new growth green and the leaf edges crimped like pie crust. Planted in honor of my husband, the pie maker.

 

The crusts are reminiscent of the Croton, no? Blueberry and Apple pies.

The ferny foliage is from Asparagus Fern, this finely textured foliage tends to just pop up in the garden and I usually cut it for arrangements.

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The flowers are mostly natives, the yellow, Beach Sunflower (Helianthus debilis), orangey rust Gallardia, orange tubular, Firebush (Hamelia patens), the red spikes Tropical Red Salvia (Salvia coccinea) the bright red flower in the middle is from the Coral Plant – an oddity that is a variety of Jatropha, not native.

Happy Monday and I hope Ophelia misses everyone!

Cheers to Resurgens

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Resurgens is Latin for Resurgence, and the motto of my hometown – Atlanta, Georgia. Atlanta’s resurgence was from the ashes of the Civil War, my garden is rebounding from the encounter with Hurricane Irma. Every good resurgence deserves a toast and this one is filled with Beach Sunflowers in an oversized Margarita glass given to me by a friend.

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Joining the Beach Sunflowers (Helianthus debilis)  in orange, Firebush (Hamelia patens) and the foliage is a sprig of Setcresea (Setcresea pallida)  some call this Purple Hearts, I think that sounds better. The dark ferny foliage is from Copper Fennel, making a surprise reappearance in the herb garden.

The Beach Sunflowers are a profusion of yellow flowers and the Firebush is just starting to show color again. Other signs of resurgence, the Torch Bromeliads (Billbergia pyramidalis) are making their Autumnal appearance.

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The foliage is a bit worse for wear,  but the flowers are beautiful. The most dramatic transition in the garden is from the Strangler Fig (Ficus aurea). Here is a picture of the Fig two weeks ago:

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Today:

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I will raise my glass for the Fig, now I need to find some limes and tequila.

Cheers!

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.

A Vase for Juracan

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We have been madly preparing for the arrival of Hurricane Irma this week and I have been collecting all the odd bits left outside that might go airborne. While doing this,  I noticed a number of nice blooms that are probably going to be in the Gulf of Mexico by the time In A Vase on Monday rolls around.

I am beginning to think watching the news coverage only provokes my anxiety, so I did a little research. The Caribe Indians (native to the islands of the Caribbean) had a God of Hurricanes called Juracan which is the origin of the word Hurricane. Depending on what you read, Juracan is the God of Chaos and another Goddess, Guabancex, throws the winds around to destroy everything.

This reminded me of Pele, the Hawaiian Goddess of Volcanoes, known for taking offerings thrown into the cauldron of Kilauea volcano on the Big Island of Hawaii. Hawaiians throw bottles of Vodka and flowers in the volcano to get into Pele’s good graces. I figured a few flowers thrown into a vase might help with Juracan or his lady friend, the hurricane thrower. At this point, it certainly couldn’t hurt.

So, this vase is on a Hawaiian Tiki with some muddy gloves at its feet. Maybe Pele will look out for us, too. A closer view, with storm shutters:

In the vase, in red, Parrotflowers, in orange and yellow, Blanchetiana Bromeliads, in purple, Spathoglottis Orchids, in blue, Porterweed. There are a few Red Shrimp Plants in the vase as well.

Stay safe, everyone.