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!

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Sunshine Mimosa

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This Monday’s vase had two Sunshine Mimosa flowers in a tiny purple vase. Several people commented on the flower, so I decided to write a post about it.

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Sunshine Mimosa (Mimosa stringillosa) is a flowering groundcover native to Florida. A member of the Mimosa genus, it is sensitive to touch and closes its leaves when touched. It produces pink powderpuff flowers during the spring and summer months. The flowers are 4-6″ tall and rise above a green, ferny foliage that creeps along the ground on thick brown stems. I would characterize this as semi evergreen, the foliage fades a bit during the cooler months.

This plant is touted as a drought tolerant, native substitute for lawns and it is usually raved about growing beautifully in full sun. I have Sunshine Mimosa in two places in my garden. It is thriving in the area with partial shade and no irrigation, producing flowers that are a much deeper color. I have it in a larger area in my native pollinator garden – the butterflies do enjoy the flowers, but if this is what people think lawn should look like I will take the faux, recyclable lawn.

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This area is irrigated, mulched, and fertilized in full sun. I am hoping it fills in a bit more over the summer and am planting some other flowering annuals in the mulch islands in the planting. The Mourning Doves ate the first round of Cosmo and Zinnia seeds I planted, seems like they were gleefully gathered nearby looking for cocktail nibbles and spied me planting seeds. Another drawback to the plant is its growth habit; The foliage is borne on runners that are so strong they can get caught around your foot and trip you.

Especially if you been having cocktail nibbles in the garden.

In A Purse on Monday

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After breakfast on Saturday morning I discovered I was completely out of cereal. This meant a trip to the detestable grocery store. During winter, the population of South Florida doubles and the grocery stores are filled with sunburned people in inappropriate attire blocking access to all the food while gaping at the selection. This becomes tiresome after a few months. It is hard to decide which is worse, the attire, the people,  or the gaping.

That said, feeling better now. I decided to go to the grocery next to the Thrift/Charity shop and have a look around before facing the cereal dilemma. I came across this blown glass handbag/purse/pocketbook and bought it immediately. Being quite cheered up by my new vase, I survived the grocery endeavor with style and, having purchased cereal, could once again eat breakfast.

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I am please to report the Cactus Zinnias attained some height after being cut back and fertilized. Other components of the vase include: in orange and the top are Firebush (Hamelia patens); in orange and the bottom of the arrangement, Mexican Honeysuckle (Justicia spicigera); lighter purple flowers are Purple Verbena (Verbena spp.); darker blue are our Native Porterweed. The ferns are Asian Sword Ferns. There are a few native Gallardia (Gallardia pulchella) at the base.

Updating my continuing saga of the Potager, I have added two Southern Highbush Blueberries, the variety ‘Sunshine Blue’ is purported to produce fruit with 145 hours of temperatures below 45 degrees Fahrenheit. I think that will work. Strangely enough, these shrubs have set fruit since they have been in the garden. I may have four blueberries this summer! My Thai Dessert Mangoes are setting fruit as well, here they are:

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Eventually the berries will drop off to two or three Mangoes and the flower will turn upside down from the weight of the fruit. Hoping for a Mango with Four Blueberry Pie this summer.

 

In A Vase on Monday – Boxed Florida Sunshine.

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The Beach Sunflowers are overtaking my front yard. The mailman, raised in the Florida Keys, stopped to inform me no one left the Beach Sunflowers in their garden when he was growing up – they were considered weeds, though clearly he was wondering if maybe it was a good idea. Floridians, the rare native ones,  tend not to appreciate things that are common (and wonderful). I think the tide of appreciation is turning to plants more suited to their native environment – who couldn’t appreciate a box of sunshine from Florida on a fine February morning?

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The blue watercolor box is filled with Helianthus debilis, Beach Sunflower. Beach Sunflower is a native reseeding biennial – the reasons I love these, they bloom nearly year round, thrive in pure sand, outcompete most weeds and can be pruned to low masses. What’s not to love?

The fruit tree update. Mangoes are flowering here, we will have fruit in June or July, the panicles produce numerous fruits – most fall off and maybe one to three fruits per flower is left. By late spring, the branches will be bending from the weight of the fruit.

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This is a big Haden Mango located on my daily dog walk route. My little Mangoes are flowering a little, but nothing like this.

I bought another fruit tree, a Red Jaboticaba:

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This is a South American fruit tree that bears a grape like fruit on the trunk. In a few years. Patience, gardeners.

 

GBFD – August 2017- Foliage of the Hellstrip

So, maybe I should ask who among us admits to having a Hellstrip? I do, mine is in the front garden along the edge of the road. About 10 feet deep, catching all the heat from the sun and pavement and not having the benefit of irrigation, I decided to plant this area with hardy, nearly indestructible plants, focusing on native plants.

 

The anchor plant in the Hellstrip is a Gumbo Limbo tree (Bursea simarouba) this usually gets some giggles. I like this tree and it has grown from a 2″ caliper twig to a respectable 6″ trunk in about four years. Mind you, without the benefit of regular water, I watered it, to establish it but that it. This tree is also called the Tourist Tree, if you look at the bark photo, the bark is red and peeling, like a sunburned tourist.

Below the Gumbo LImbo, Bromeliads and Native Perennials are planted. The natives were selected for their very fine texture which is fairly unusual among semi tropical plants. The Bromeliads are used for their extreme hardiness and textural contrast to the natives.

The Natives:

 

On the left, Muhly Grass, (Muhlbergia capillaris), the right is a Sunshine Mimosa (Mimosa strigillosa). The Muhly Grass seemingly grows almost everywhere, but many gardeners have difficulty growing it. I think the key may be locating it in a Hellstrip. Both of the plants will produce lovely pink flowers in addition to their fine texture. The other native in the garden is Beach Sunflower (Helianthus debilis)

20170720_185225The coarse green foliage of this plant is beautiful in its own right,  but really shines when contrasted with the finer textured natives.

The final members of my Hellstrip composition include Bromeliads, for their evergreen  color and contrasting texture to the native plants.

 

On the left, a Martin Bromeliad, medium sized and red, green and yellow striped. The center plant is a Painted Fingernail Bromeliad and the plant on the tight is a smaller red and chartreuse groundcover Bromeliad, meant to spread like groundcover. These are all passalong Bromeliads, two out of three gifted to me by friends. I am not certain of any botanical names, but I am certain they will thrive with little care making my Hellstrip seem a bit heavenly.

In A Vase on Monday – Dinner Party Vase

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I am not actually having a dinner party, although a Garlic Rosemary Pork Roast is going in the oven shortly. This blue bud vase contains a few flowers I have not cut before and I have a feeling it will not last through dinner. I call these dinner party arrangements, great for a party but not much longer. This is a better shot of the blue vase:

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I picked up the vase at a church thrift store near my house this week. There were several and after arriving home, I wished I had bought three for you know, dinner parties! Imagine three flower filled blue vases with candles in between down the center of the table. I may need a return trip to the thrift store. Here is a closer view of the flowers:

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The pink flowers are a new native addition to the perennial border, Sunshine Mimosa (Mimosa  strigillosa). Yes, a groundcover Mimosa and Floridians consider this a replacement for lawn. I consider it a front of the border perennial that looks a lot like a weed. Possibly it’s first appearance IAVOM. I am waiting until after dinner to see if the petals fall off. The yellow and orange flowers are the faithful Gallardias that last in a vase and the garden. The blue flowers are from (I think) the native Porterweed, there is another potentially evil Porterweed lurking about, but I can’t tell the difference and it came with a plant I bought. The pretty blue flowers make a striking vertical accent. I have used this before and I think the pretty blue part falls off and you are left with the vertical accent.

Dessert with vertical accent only.

The Bromeliad in the middle is great vase material that sometimes dries in the vase only to be spray painted gold for the holidays, Aechmea miniata, the Miniata Bromeliad.

Speaking of Bromeliads, here is the mad tropical plant of the week:

This is a Blanchetiana Bromeliad in bud, I am 5’7″ and the buds are a bit taller than me.

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I would like to share some thoughts with you all.

First, thanks to Cathy for hosting IAVOM.

I just want to say I am amazed and humbled by the knowledge and creativity I see every week.

And I love sharing these mad tropical plants with like minded people.

Happy Monday.

In A Vase on Monday – A Fine Kettle of Heliconia

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A fine kettle of fish seems to be an expression indicating you have gotten yourself in a dilemma or odd situation. The dilemma involving this old copper kettle was how to put flowers in it – it is so old there are holes in the bottom. Problem solved by cutting down a milk carton to fit inside the kettle. The result – a fine kettle of Heliconia. No fish whatsoever.

The copper kettle is a favorite of mine, bought at a flea market in the mountains of North Georgia possessing such a patina I feel as though I am the kettles steward rather than owner. Obviously handmade and repaired many times it sits in different places around my house, currently in the foyer filled with flowers.

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Our oh so dry spring has turned into a rainy summer, normal for South Florida. The tropical plants are loving it and the Parrotflowers (Heliconia psittacorum) are blooming like mad. I had to cut a bunch and then decided to use coppery and white hues in the kettle. Joining the Heliconia are natives Galllardia (G.pulchella) and Beach Sunflowers (Helianthus debilis) hanging over the side. The white flowers are tropicals, bigger flowers with yellow centers are Bridal Bouquet Frangipani (Plumeria pudica) and the buds hanging over the sides are Florida Gardenias (Tabernaemontana divericata) Not sure why they are called Florida Gardenias as they are from India! Rounding out the kettle as green foliage accents the Asian Sword Fern.

Here is my interesting/weird tidbit for the week. This is the bud of a Night Blooming Cereus Cactus – the white fuzzy thing, first ever, can’t wait to see the flower.

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