In A Purse on Monday


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.


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:


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.


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?


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.


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:


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


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:


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:


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.


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


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.


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.


In A Vase on Monday -Summer Bouquet


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.


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.


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.


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


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.