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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In A Vase on Monday -Summer Bouquet

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I was missing last week due to attending a family wedding in Atlanta. As unusual as it seems, I found no vases along the way, although late spring was in full swing and all the gardens and especially the wedding arrangements were glorious. And pure white.

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I arrived home to find Memorial Day truly marking the onset of summer. As if on cue,  precipitation started and the weeds burst forth with a joyous and bountiful overtaking of the garden. I am still feeling surly about this and have bought a vast quantity of landscape fabric and cardboard to choke them out. Fifty square feet at a time. Fingers crossed for a victorious outcome. I have, thus far, never defeated the weeds in summer.

I was pleased to see my native plants and the tropicals flowering prodigiously with the onset of wet weather. For whatever deeply buried design reason I am shy about combining these plants – this week I have thrown caution to the wind and come up with the madly mixed Summer Bouquet.

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An old friend of mine, from design school and embarrassed to be ‘a posy poker’ (in reality a very talented designer of floral arrangements and gardens) would have called this a plop arrangement.

Go into the garden, cut whatever strikes your fancy to a similar length and plop into a vase. Simple. My plop this week is in a smoky grey glass vase from the discount store. The members of the cast include in white, Sweet Begonias (Begonia odorata), the daisy shapes are Gallardias (Gallardia pulchella), native to Florida; deeper red and white flowers are Red Shrimp Plants (Justicia brandegeana), The orange trumpets are from my native Firebush (Hamelia patens var patens), red and yellow flowers are tropical Parrotflowers (Heliconia psittacorum); the blue flowers are Porterweed, another native. In green, Asian Sword Ferns, true native plant enthusiasts think this fern is evil. The good side reappears with the red spikes from the native Tropical Red Salvia (Salvia coccinea)

I may eventually recover from my mixing natives with tropicals neurosis as I kind of like this plop. Here is my latest unusual creature discovery. It is a Black Swallowtail Butterfly caterpillar eating the end of my Parsley. I hope to see the Butterfly.

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In A Vase on Monday – Get Your Ducks in a Row

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Growing up, my parents constantly told me to get my ducks in a row. This means figuring out what or how you are going to do something before you start. This relates to the flower arrangement as I started out with a beautiful pottery bowl, a wedding gift, placed a flower frog in the bottom and started placing flowers in the holder – only to figure out the base of the bowl was nowhere close to flat, causing the flowers to tip over and then realizing the pendulous flowers were hidden by the edges of the bowl. The blue glass container is Plan B. The ducks were a gift from my father many years ago to remind me.

20170205_130036-1 For this week’s arrangement I was planning Dwarf Jamaican Heliconias and waiting for them to start flowering, Valentine’s Day is usually their prime and they are sticking to their schedule. Maybe next week. More ducks for me to line up. Plan B again.

The Soap Aloe (Aloe saponaria) sent up a stalk earlier this week and it was in full flower so that is the center of the arrangement. The pendulous red flowers are Turk’s Cap Hibiscus (Malvaviscus pendiflorus), a native shrub that appears unbidden in the garden. The white flowers are another native, actually a nuisance, I thought these were Coreopsis run amok, then found out they are actually a wildflower called Indian Needles (Bidens pilosa) considered a medicinal plant and prolific producers of sharp, thin seeds. I am not sure if the seeds were used as needles, but they are sharp enough. Tropical Red Salvia (Salvia coccinea) in red and coral, another native, is thriving so I just keep cutting them. Last but not least, a little foliage accent from Asian Sword Fern and Culinary Dill Flowers.

Interestingly, almost all these plants are medicinal – if I needed shampoo (Soap Aloe) or a cure for hernia pain and upset stomach (Turk’s Cap, Indian Needles, Tropical Red Salvia and Dill) i would have really had my ducks in a row this week.

In A Vegetable on Monday – Faux Fall

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I like gourds in the fall. My husband told me once he knew when it was fall because I had the gourd arrangement on the dining room table. So, here is the 2016 version.

Florida is tricky about fall. September, in my opinion, should be, the transition to cooler weather. September, in Florida is a sweaty repeat of August. Fall manifests itself subtly, fruits appear on the Beautyberry, Muhly Grass bravely sends up a pink cloud and then slowly the calendar reaches October and becomes the savior of all things pleasant outdoors. We have now reached the magical day when a cold front arrives, humidity disappears and all windows and doors can be thrown open to invite the outdoors back in. In celebration of all things autumnal, here are the gourds filled with flowers from my garden.

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The gourds aren’t all gourds. The striped centerpiece is a Carnival Squash, a vegetable, my husband wouldn’t eat squash on a dare, the result of a Midwestern upbringing featuring Butternut Squash baked with a lump of sausage. I had no worries about wasting an edible squash for a flower arrangement. This green one is an inedible gourd.

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The mini pumpkins are just that and completely ornamental. Flowers from my garden include – in red, Tropical Red Sage (Salvia coccinea), in yellow, Beach Sunflowers (Helianthus debilis), purple berries, Beautyberry (Calliocarpa americana), pink plumes of grass, Muhly Grass (Muhlbergia), orange firecracker flowers and foliage are from Firebush (Hamelia patens). The off white spikes are a mystery volunteer (i.e. weed) . The ‘Autumn’ leaves strewn about being from the Raggedy Ann Copperleaf (Acalphya wilkesiana ‘Raggedy Ann’)20161023_122725

It occurred to me that almost everything here is native to Florida with the exception of the faux leaves from Raggedy Ann, and the gourds, maybe there is fall in Florida – you just have to open your eyes and see it.

In A Vase on Monday – Tropical Zen

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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 – Florida’s Fall Berries

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Crisp fall mornings and brightly colored Autumnal leaves are not something I associate with South Florida. There are 3 Red Maples that change color in a nearby swamp and that is about the extent of our fall color. As far as crisp mornings go, it is usually 80 degrees going on sweltering by late morning.

However, there are berries in the fall on some of our native shrubs. The purple berries are Beautyberry (Calliocarpa americana), actually recycled from last week’s arrangement. The tubular orange flowers/ berries are from a huge Firebush (Hamelia patens) in my backyard. I cut it back to about 4 feet during the winter and it is now over 7 feet tall – and this one is called Dwarf. Currently covered in orange tubular flowers turning to berries (they look a bit like Pieris berries) this shrub is also a magnet for butterflies and I can’t bring myself to cut it back, yet. I have considered tree forming it!

The berries of the Firebush, a bit further along than the ones in the arrangement:

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Filling out the arrangement are Tropical Red Salvia (Salvia coccinea), a mystery weed and a few Asian Sword Ferns. The mystery weed popped up a few years ago and has nice cream colored spikes in the Fall, I may find out what it is someday.

The cobalt blue vase was a Christmas gift from my brother and sister in law many years ago.

I have planted my IAVOM inspired seeds and am pleased to report the White Italian Sunflowers, Cactus Zinnias and Asters are coming along. Hopefully soon to appear in a vase.