In A Vase on Monday – Summer Surprises

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Every gardener gets a few surprises. Some are better than others. I have been doing a lot of design work lately, hence the funky picture.

My summer surprises have been the good kind and primarily pink this week.

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The Shell Ginger (Alpinia zerumbet) is in the pink champagne bottle a friend left after a holiday celebration, these are reported to flower three times a year – this is the first year for a second flowering, surprising me.

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In the grey round vase, it seems the Garden Gods have rewarded me with a Pink Cactus Dahlia, not.  My Dahlia quest continues.

This is one of my ubiquitous $5 garage sale finds. No one knows what the Bromeliad is or where to plant it, but one can be had for $5. For five bucks I got a wonderful surprise and there are pups. I think it is a Aechmea ‘fasciata’  variety- please let me know if you recognize it.

The leaves are from a nearby Sweet Begonia ( Begonia odorata)

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The third vase has the survivalist pink and chartruese Alabama Sunset Coleus I had lost hope for and pink and white (yes) Tropical Red Salvia (Salvia coccinea). Another surprise.

My biggest surprise this week was the hatching of the rare Atala Butterfly in my Coontie (small shrubby palms)

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In A Vase on Monday – Rock Lobster

20180701_152900-1Rock Lobster is a song by the B-52’s, circa 1980. I was in college at the time in their hometown, Athens, Georgia. To say the song was popular around town is an understatement. It will always remind me of college. In case you are not familiar with the song here is a link Rock Lobster video. 

I guess I have some splainin’ (explaining) to do. The red and yellow flower in the vase is – a Lobsterclaw Heliconia (Heliconia rostrata) – the rock is a crystal from my father’s collection, I think it is Halite, rock salt. My father was a geology professor and liked to say pass the NaCl (chemical name of salt) at the dinner table. Rock Lobster!

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The orange flowers in the vase are from the Mexican Honeysuckle (Justicia spicigera). The vase is a Rose` bottle I liked and saved from recycling. The Rose` wine, an international award winning $8 bottle from Aldi,  not so memorable. Then again, I am a fan of Chardonnay. The bottle/vase seemed kind of boring, so I added a Pandanus leaf around and tied it with a jute string. True confessions – Scotch tape was involved.

Heliconias fascinate me. So tropical. This one started to flower about two weeks ago, here it is on June 17. They slowly expand and then don’t last very long in a vase.

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News from the butterfly front. Here is my latest addition, another Swallowtail from the Parsley. I found him or her on my crushed shell driveway, trying to get wings unfurled. Scooped the butterfly up and placed it on a nearby Firebush (a nectar source) – see the white bits in the picture, crushed shell. The butterfly was gone when I came back, hopefully on to new adventures in the garden.

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The Swallowtail caterpillars completely consumed a large Parsley in a pot on my front porch. Usually, Parsley is a cool season annual here and gone by the first of June. This one has put on a new set of foliage and the Swallowtails have laid their eggs again. They are in the recently regenerated Fennel in the vegetable garden as well.

In A Vase on Monday – Tropical Elegance

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It is difficult to pinpoint what makes me think of these flowers as elegant. The long lines of the buds and stamens; the clear orange red color of the flowers in contrast to the simple heart shapes of the dark green foliage? I am not sure, so I arranged them simply in a brown pottery vase with Muscadine twigs.

Pretty simple. The vase I bought at our local charity shop.Something I am sure someone’s mother or aunt made and the ability to appreciate such things was lost in time or translation. My next comment was edited; as so, so many people don’t appreciate things made with our hands and hearts.

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The plants in this vase are very simple, Clerodendrum speciosum, Java Glorybower, in red orange flowers and Vitis rotundifolia, in twigs.

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It is what it is. Flowers and twigs. Simple and, hopefully, elegant.

On the butterfly front, here is another newborn:

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This is a Swallowtail, who grew up in my Parsley and hopefully flew away.

In A Vase on Monday – Tropical Serendipity

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The rainy season is in full swing in my garden. Heat and humidity rule the great outdoors. The truly tropical plants love it and are starting their summer show. Two out of the four plants in the arrangement just appeared in the garden, I am not sure this ever happened in my previous garden, serendipitous shrubs and perennials placing themselves perfectly – garden karma. Patience rewards the gardener, I suppose. I rarely pull anything out unless I am sure it is not welcome.

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The white flowers in the arrangement are Bridal Bouquet Frangipani, the red and yellow are Parrottflowers (Heliconia psittacorum). I planted both of these and they are finally recovering from the double whammy of Hurricane Irma and mid thirties (Fahrenheit) temperatures in January. The other two just appeared. I have embraced the Asparagus Fern for use in arrangements, a better filigreed texture cannot be found and  it is the perfect foil for the coarser tropical flowers. It grows under some shrubs in my Rainforest garden. The red plant is a Java Glorybower (Clerodendrum speciosis), I cut one of these last year and dumped it out beside my front porch – where it rooted perfectly centered on an 8 foot peach colored blank stucco wall. If I had tried to do that it would not have worked. The shrubs grow about six feet tall and I am looking forward to seeing it in its glory. bower. There are Orange Bird of Paradise in front of these. Mother Nature is wise.

On the butterfly front, I have a chrysalis in my herb pot. The Swallowtails have nearly consumed the Parsley. In the picture you can see young and old caterpillars and a green chrysalis. It seems it take weeks for the Butterfly to emerge…

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In A Vase on Monday – Brain Prunings

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Last week I found myself a bit overloaded with work. One landscape design project in South Florida, another 600 miles north. Palm trees on one plan, Azaleas on another. My brain is as crowded with plants as my garden. Both needed some pruning. The Firebush was looking overgrown, so I wanted to cut some flowers to use in the arrangement, only to find really weird bugs on the foliage I didn’t want in the house. I dumped most of the cuttings into a recycling bag.

The rest went into my vase. The Soap Aloe was looking really weird with the flowering Ixora.

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Yes, contrast lacking there? I think so. The Soap Aloe went into the vase.

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The Soap Aloe (Aloe saponaria) and one stem of Firebush (Hamelia patens) are joined by: in red, Red Shrimp Plants (Justicia brandegeana); a few Parrotflowers (Heliconia psittacorum); and some Asparagus Ferns.

My brain needed some additional pruning. Palm trees on which plan??

If you would like to see more vases from around the world, follow this link, on Monday morning:ramblinginthegarden

In A Vase on Monday – Memorial Day

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Monday marks the beginning of summer in the US with the first holiday weekend of the season, Memorial Day.  Memorial Day honors those who have served our country. My nephew, Jake is currently serving in the Army. My father served during World War I and my oldest brother, Warren during the Vietnam War. Thank you to all who served.

My vase this Monday reflects our flag. Red, white and blue in a red vase. The first named storm of the season, Alberto, is blowing through this weekend , so I tiptoed through the thunderstorms and wind to pick flowers.

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The vase is sitting on the cabinet that holds my father’s crystal collection. In the vase – in blue, Plumbago (Plumbage auriculata), Angelonia (rescued from the death rack at Lowe’s); in red, spikes of Tropical Red Salvia (Salvia coccinea); Coral Plant (Jatropha of some sort); in white Tropical Gardenias (Tabernaemontana divericata) and spikes from the Sweet Almond (Aloysia virgata) and a white Tropical Red Salvia (it happens).The American flag was crocheted by my mother in law many years ago.

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I have been writing about my native pollinator garden. I witnessed my first butterfly birth this weekend. I am fairly certain this started from the Corky Passionflower in the garden. This is a Gulf Fritillary butterfly, it emerged from it chrysalis, sat for a while then dried its wings and flew away. I had some difficulty getting a clear picture.

In A Vase on Monday- Fire and Rain

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I have seen rain this week, every day, off and on, all day long. My husband is grumpy, the dogs are grumpy and I am getting gardening stir crazy. But, the Firebush is very happy and flowering magnificently.

If anyone remembers James Taylor’s song Fire and Rain here’s a link, before you click on the link realize there is always advertising and I had nothing to do with it: James Taylor. 

I decided a vintage copper teapot filled with warm colored flowers was necessary to lift my dreary spirits. After trimming some fiery flowers, I donned my red plastic raincoat and headed into the garden to see what I could find to join the Firebush. My greyhounds declined the offer to join me and sulked in their (sort of) dry beds.

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My neighbor’s Mexican Flame Vine (Senecio confusus) long ago left its bounds and was hanging down over a hedge that grows between us. Beaten down from all the rain (myself, my husband,my dogs and the Mexican Flame Vine) I cut a few stems to drape over the side of the teapot. Then I discovered some Tropical Red Sage flowers (Salvia coccinea) for the back of the arrangement; added some Beach Sunflowers (Helianthus debilis); and found a few Parrotflowers (Heliconia psittacorum). I have been missing the Parrotflowers. Hurricane Irma followed by a mid thirties temperature in January nearly did them in. The few I found are about half the size they were last year. The flowers and foliage from the flourishing Firebush (Hamelia patens var patens) filled the framework of the flower arrangement. Say that 10 times fast.

Here is a close up of the flowers:

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It is raining again. The good news is the Frangipani loves it and I have my first blooms this year.

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Happy Gardening!