This week I decided to try creating a spare design with a Japanese feel. I also wanted to use some grapevine. I thought the brown pottery vase would give the arrangement some weight and tie the brown grapevine together with the limited plant palette. Limited may be an understatement. This arrangement has two plants!
The flowers and foliage are from the Mexican Bush Honeysuckle (Justicia spicigera). This shrub does well and lives next to my neighbor’s fence. It benefits from light pruning so cutting the flowers is good for me and the plant. The grapevine is from our native Muscadine – Vitis rotundafolia. There are numerous types of grapes produced by this prolific vine. The fruit on this one is small, bitter and has huge seeds. My neighbors, native Floridians, eat it. It is one of those things you have to grow up on, I guess. I leave it for the animals and am trying to get rid of a lot of it as it climbs everything.
This Monday my vase may require an explanation. One of our truly great Supreme Court Justices was Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a champion of women’s rights in the United States. She passed on last September serving as a Supreme Court Justice since 1993. She was well known for wearing a lace collar around her neck over black robes and somehow became known as ‘Notorious RBG’ after a prominent rap artist called Notorious B.I.G., evidentially due to her scathing dissenting opinions as a Justice.
The RBG in my vase this Monday is a Real Big Ginger and the crochet doily was done by another notorious woman, my mother-in-law – Joan Ethel Davis. She passed on in 2002, her initials are crocheted into this doily and I am certain she was a huge fan of the real RBG.
A closer view of the vase. The Real Big Ginger is Shell Ginger (Alpinia zerumbet) in pink and white. It is notorious in my garden as I did not realize quite how huge it would get. Four feet tall and maybe eight feet wide, it has overrun a few milder plants in my landscape and was asked to leave the tropical garden. The off white and slightly pink Begonia is from the Lotusleaf Begonia (Begonia nelumbifolia). Most of the arranging of these flowers involved deciding what to cut off – I trimmed most of the leaves from the Shell Ginger and slipped the Begonia in as a afterthought.
I thought “in a pickle” was American slang. The Dutch started it using “in de pekel zitten” to describe an uncomfortable situation, this translates to “sit in the pickle brine” Seems that would be a stinging experience. Easter Sunday morning found me in the garden thinking “there are no flowers to cut for a Monday vase” – I thought I was in a pickle..Not so much, this rarely proves true, though sometimes I have to look harder to come up with an arrangement. Oddly, there was an abandoned pickle jar in the garden near my Raspberry Blanchetiana Bromeliads. Being “in a pickle” passed through my mind until inspiration hit via the pickle jar. There are also some salsa jars out there I need to get rid of…
The pickle jar is wrapped with a leaf and tied with jute twine. I left the twine trailing given the casual feel of, well, a covered pickle jar. A closer view of the flowers.
The leaf wrapping the jar is from a Raspberry Blanchetiana Bromeliad. This is a mahogany and greenish red leaf plant with large (4 feet long) red and yellow flowers. The flowers start in November and are looking ragged now. They are as tall as I am when I cut them back to the ground.There are orange and lemon Blanchetiana with the appropriately colored foliage to go with the flowers. I have used the other colors to wrap vases.
In blue, Mystic Spires Salvia; I am enjoying these so much I am hoping they last the summer. The white daisies are Spanish Needles, an annoying native, botanical name, Bidens alba. Orange daisies are from Mexican Flame Vine (Pseudogynoxys chenpodoides); orange tubular flowers from the native Firebush (Hamelia patens var patens); Yellow daisies are Beach Sunflower (Helianthus debilis) and a white Tropical Red Salvia (Salvia coccinea) is in the back. Two red and yellow native Gallardia round out the front of my pickle jar.
I am glad I did not find myself in the Dutch version of the pickle this Monday.
It has not rained here in weeks, I am not sure if rain has fallen during the month of March. Of course, our irrigation well had to roll over and die in the middle of all this and I had to hand water the garden for a couple of weeks because all the irrigation contractors were overbooked. Finally, I told one I was an old lady and I could not hand water my half acre garden anymore. They showed up the following day. Now I know what to say. It turned out there were ants in a switch that made the whole thing work. We have water again, but it is very dry in the garden.
I thought there wasn’t very much in bloom until I went on a garden safari. Wandering through the garden, I found a few things – trees, shrubs and vines and few perennials. The native wildflowers are usually blooming by now. The Firebush, usually covered in flowers in March is just starting to flower, I decided to leave that for the butterflies as it is a favorite nectar plant and there are many teenage Zebra Longwings in the garden. The cold in January zapped a lot of the flowers back and then this dry March has continued the trend. Rain is forecast for Thursday, fingers crossed.
A closer view:
The vase is a pottery wine cooler I picked up in the North Georgia mountains a few years ago. It has been used as a vase more than to cool wine. The Mexican Flame Vine (Pseudogynoxys chenopodioides) that my neighbor has allowed to ramble through the big hedges between our gardens is in full bloom and the butterflies are going crazy for it. The smaller orange flowers are from the Mexican Flame Vine. They are quite fragrant and it is no wonder the insects love them. The larger orange flower is Mexican Honeysuckle (Justicia spicigera). White flowers near the base of the arrangement are White Geiger tree (Cordia boisseriei), another Mexican native. White daisy flowers are from Bidens alba, a Florida native. The white Begonias are another gift from Mexico; Lotusleaf Begonia (Begonia nelumbifolia). There is a bit of Red Firecracker Plant around the edges (Russelia equisetiformis) – yet another Mexican native.
Happy Gardening and Cheers to Mexican flowers. The safari has made me thirsty.
A couple of weeks ago I bought two ‘Mystic Spires’ Salvia. Botanically known as Salvia hybrid ‘Balsamisp’, this plant is a hit with me so far. I had to fend off bees to cut the flowers. Actually deadheading the plant as so many new buds are forming; I wanted to give the buds room to grow. That left me with short stemmed flowers and a floral engineering task.
I unceremoniously jammed some tiny pots into the vase and placed a glass frog on top of them, bits of a wine cork hold the glass frog level at the top. This works, although the vase must be filled precariously to the rim with water as the Salvia drink a lot..maybe it is the wine cork.
I will be interested to see how these perennial Salvia fare through the summer. Planted in full south facing sun and extremely well drained soil. Another mystery for the Mystic.
A closer view.
I decided a spires theme would work here. The white spires are Sweet Almond Bush (Aloysia virgata); the spiky foliage, Asparagus Fern, a volunteer in my garden; the chartreuse leaves are from a Plectranthus of unknown origin. The blue container, a Christmas gift from my brother’s family long ago.
It is safe to say my garden has a different slant from most. Located in what is called USDA Zone 10A in the northern part of South Florida, our average low is 40 degrees (F). I am on the northern edge of tropical, and enjoy growing plants that hail from further south. The arrangement is intentionally slanted; the idea provided by the growth of the pink flower, a Little Harv Aechmea Bromeliad.
A closer view of Little Harv.
The rest of the vase:
The vase, found by the side of the road in my neighborhood, is an old florist vase from who knows where. The white begonias are from my huge Lotusleaf Begonia (Begonia nelumbifolia); the other white flowers are from Miss Alice Bougainvillea; ferns are Boston Fern (Nephrolepis exaltata) and there is a leaf from a Split Leaf Philodendron (Philodendron selloum) on the right side that is not visible in the images.
My lunch also had a different slant today:
A Chicken, Swiss and Nasturtium flower sandwich on Foccacia. With Blue Corn Chips – the salsa didn’t make it into the picture. It was good! And very colorful.
This brown vase belonged to my mother, who loved things made by hand. She enjoyed making things with her hands, sewing, embroidering, cooking and gardening. I am certain my love for plants and gardening came from her. She filled this vase with blue pansies in winter and zinnias in summer. She almost always had a vase of grocery store Alstroemeria on the kitchen counter, preferring just one kind of flower, as combining flowers in a vase kind of threw her for a loop. I was called for flower duty more than once when she was having a party. Good training for future garden blogging!
Here she is, in embroidered Christmas apron, beckoning me to come inside and arrange the flowers:
I was surprised by how many flowers I could stuff into this seemingly small vase. The zinnias reminded me of my mother, but it would surprise me to find that she had seen any of the rest of them. We both embraced pink and orange flower combinations reluctantly; but the combo tends to grow on you after a while. Numerous clients have gagged at the thought of that color combination in their own gardens.
A closer view:
The peach, orange and pink flowers in the front of the vase are Zinderella Zinnia. None look like the picture on the seed packet. I cut them all off to the stem starting side shoots in hopes of bigger flowers. The fuzzy, red flower is a Dwarf Chenille Plant (Acalypha pendula) – these are supposedly a good flowering groundcover here. This one went dormant from August til January, not my idea of good groundcover – I was surprised it came back up. Pink Star Flowers are Heirloom Pentas (Penta lanceolata); I love these for the butterflies they attract, however, I wonder how perennial they are and if I should cut them back? Blue flowers are Blue Mist flowers, I think these are some kind of native Ageratum that appeared in the front garden. White daisies are the everpresent native weed, Bidens alba. The little blue and white flowers in the back are from Varigated Flax Lily (Dianella tasmanica) – an uncommonly indestructible perennial.
Since the Shell Ginger started flowering I have been thinking about a kind of graphic vase, with a linear feel reflecting the leaves and shape of the flowers. The other idea floating around in my head, it should look like a bridal bouquet.. Stretching my imagination, I visualise a bride picking this up and walking down the aisle. She would have to be tall, thin and have a really good grip. Maybe there is engaged American basketball player out there somewhere..who loves pink and ginger….Thinking I forgot the trailing ribbons. Or the basketballs. My husband commented it looks like flames…
A closer view:
The vase…a vintage Dansk candleholder from the seventies, its mate lost to the sands of time. The flowers, in pink, Shell Ginger (Alpinia zerumbet), the white flowers, from my White Geiger tree (Cordia boissieri). The green foliage is from the Shell Ginger.
Imagine my surprise when my stealth dog, Zepp, strolled up and started to have a bite of the Nodding Hibiscus. He was advised not to eat the flowers and they were moved to a higher shelf. I was happy for my phobia about bringing poisonous plants in the house. Zepp is oddly silent for a counter height dog and can startle me by materializing out of the darkness when in the fenced area at night.
The other Dawgs this arrangement reminded me of are Georgia Bulldawgs, the mascot of my alma mater, and the team colors are red and black. “Go Dawgs” is the battle cry at football games.
Here’s a better shot of the arrangement:
The black glass vase is a thrift store find from years ago I like to use with tall, thin plant material. Red spikes are Tropical Red Salvia (Salvia coccinea), these reseed prolifically and produce different colors, the latest is a nearly black stem I love. A few red Firecracker Plants (Russelia equisetiformis) are hanging over the base of the arrangement. The red flowers draped over the edge are Nodding Hibiscus (Malvaviscus penduiflorus), I am pretty sure these are edible, but didn’t try them out on Zepp as they can have a laxative effect – not good in a 80 lb. dog. The white flowers are branches from the Surinam Cherry (Eugenia uniflora), a large shrub with strange tropical fruit (known for its resinous taste). The branches remind me of plum or cherry flowers and are reminiscent of spring. The grey spike in the middle is the flower of a Flapjack Kalanchoe, a favorite succulent in my garden. I thought a little bronze foliage was in order, so the straplike leaves in the back were added. They are from Blanchetiana Bromeliads.
The cold outside finally went away from here, it left us with a stormy, humid 84 degree Sunday. The warmth and rain are a welcome relief from an unusual spate of cold, dry weather – the humidity a reminder of why summer should be spent elsewhere.
I noted my Hallelujah Billbergia Bromeliad was flowering on Saturday and cut it for today’s vase. There are very few plants I am aware of with red, white, blue and yellow flowers and purple and green spotted foliage. Even the stem of the flower is different – red all the way through. In my opinion, these flowers rock and I included a crystal as a prop. I think it is a hematite with white quartz crystals, but can’t quite remember.
The Hallelujah Bromeliad:
A closer view:
The vase is an old pasta container that lost its cork lid. I added the raffia to pick up the off white colors in the arrangement. Purple foliage is from Purple Queen (Transcandentia pallida), a volunteer in my garden. The ferny plants are another volunteer, Asparagus Fern. The striped leaf in back is from another Bromeliad I bought at the local Botanical Garden – labeled as “some sort of Neoregelia.” This Neoregelia turned out to be bigger than I thought, about two feet across – amazingly, I planted it in a good spot.
Happy Monday and Happy Gardening, I hope everyone finds something that rocks in their garden.