In A Vase on Monday – Beauty of Berries

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Many gardens sport a Beautyberry (Calliocarpa americana). Native to a large portion of the Eastern United States, the promise of lurid purple berries is hard to resist. Add to that the buzzing of native pollinators around the flowers in the form of rare Atala butterflies in my garden and the natural mosquito repellants in the leaves of the Beautyberry, these shrubs are a must have in my garden. I was surprised to see the Atala butterflies sipping the flower nectar.

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Continuing with the purple theme, I added foliage and flowers from Purpleheart (Setcresea); accenting with a few white flowers and dark green foliage from the Tropical Gardenia (Tabernaemontana divericata) and a few stems of the chartruese little black dress of the garden – Alabama Sunset Coleus.20180826_123642

Voila, the beauty of Beautyberries and a welcome sign of summer winding down in my garden.

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The First Sign of Fall

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Fall is greatly anticipated in South Florida. Humidity and temperatures um, fall. And we love it.

Here is the first sign. Berries on the Beautyberry (Callicarpa americana). The butterflies have been enjoying these flowers and now I will enjoy the fruit. Floridians (not me) make jelly from the berries (usually described as astringent). If I find some jelly, I will buy it – having recently learned about Jamtinis, you guessed it fruity cocktails –Jamtini ideas. 

73 Days until October 15. The usual date for our first cold front.

It’s time to plant vegetable seeds! And have a Jamtini.

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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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.