In a Vase on Monday – Love/Hate Relationships

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The oh so subtle signs of fall are appearing on the peninsula of Florida. Hurricane Dorian was one unmistakable sign, the hurricane season peaks on September 10. My husband declared hurricane season over and took down all the storm shutters. Signs in the garden include the formation of fruit on Beautyberry and Firebush and I have seen three (yes, 3!) Red Maples sporting red fall color. It is exciting.

My garden came through the brush with Hurricane Dorian mostly unscathed, the Beautyberry had their leaves blown off (the berries were untouched) and the Avocado tree’s leaves have windburn. A few branches down here and there, but that is about it. I wonder if I have sited the Avocado in a less than the optimal place as the leaves usually burn from one thing or another.

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The vase is an old florist’s vase I found by the side of the road in my neighborhood. I am guessing at least thirty years old as I vaguely remember these in the 80s. Most of the plants in the vase I love for their flowers but hate for their voracious appetite for space in the garden.

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The most incorrigible of the lot, in white, Spanish Needles (Bidens alba) possibly the best native pollinator in the garden – however, these reseed to the point of annoyance. In orange and red, Firebush (Hamelia patens – varieties botanically undefined) I love these shrubs, but once they get going watch out. I was told one was dwarf (4 feet) sounds great – it is probably closing in on 12 feet and still growing. Also soon to be a tree form as I love the butterflies nectaring on it (5 different butterflies seen while cutting branches for the vase). The red fruits are also from the Firebush, I have two types, the red one produces fruit that grows little plants in the garden – the orange one never does. Grey foliage is from Barometer Bush (Luecophyllum) I prune and prune and never have a dense hedge, purple flowers occasionally make it worthwhile. The purple berries, Beautyberry (Calliocarpa americana) which I love right now but not so much for the foliage. Ferns are Asian Sword Ferns, they could take over a gas station parking lot. Enough said.

My vase from last week is holding up well with the exception of the Orchid, that was asked to leave and unceremoniously composted. Here are the two vases together.

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Maybe there is fall color in Florida. It is just totally different.

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Funky Florida Flora – Turk’s Cap Hibiscus

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This is another volunteer in my garden, drafted into service to provide summer color in the unirrigated wilds of the garden. These tough shrubs just pop up here and there and once established are very difficult to get rid of. My neighbor’s Hibiscus keeps growing through the fence and after about 5 removal attempts, I gave up and began espaliering it to the fence instead of trying to get rid of it. Time will tell how that works out.

Most people call this Turk’s Cap Hibiscus (Malvaviscus penduliflorus), however, my favorite common name for this plant is Nodding Hibiscus. The shrub itself is a bit rangy looking, shapeless and branchy with light green foliage. The flowers make up for the green part, being prolific and attractive to pollinators and hummingbirds. Originally from Mexico, it has naturalized on the peninsula and is tolerant of South Florida’s extreme variation in precipitation. My Hibiscus thrive in partial shade with benign neglect, no fertilizer and roots in sugar sand (dare I call it soil, I think not)

I like to cut these for arrangements, they add a bit of draping over the side drama and last well in a vase, but you have to be careful not to knock the flowers off, the stems are somewhat delicate.

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In A Vase on Monday – Long Stemmed Salvia

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For reasons unknown to me, I have a bumper crop of Tropical Red Salvia. Usually a short and somewhat scruffy looking perennial (or reseeding annual, it seems perennial due to the constant supply of seedlings). The Tropical Red Salvia this winter is bearing long, lushly foliated stems with fat blossoms. The bees were not happy with me and my clippers again.

The Tropical Red Salvia also comes in peach, pink and neon orange. I rarely get a neon orange, but I do enjoy the softer colors and seedling variation. You have to wonder why it can’t be called simply Tropical Salvia as it is native to Florida, or, Florida Salvia?

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Another native added to the vase, Boston Fern (Nephrolepis exaltata) – These ferns graciously popped up in the nether regions between my driveway and my neighbors fence. I have been enjoying ferns in vases since it’s arrival. The red and orange zig zag shaped bits are flowers from a Blanchetiana Bromeliad; the sprays of blue/white flowers are from Dianella (some call it Blueberry Flax), the variegated leaves are also from Dianella. Grey fuzzy foliage is from Licorice Plant (Helichryseum petiolare) – a plant in a winter container that I just cut back. I was happy to learn the Licorice Plant will grow here. More plants to propagate. Or try.

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I am having the exact opposite experience with China Asters and will not ask them into the garden again. I love the flowers and am not sure if this is the second or third attempt. Here is a seedling- sowed in September! Had one flower about the size of a fingernail.

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Ironically, the seedlings coming up in the pot are Tropical Red Salvia.

Life in the Garden. Happy Monday.

In A Vase on Monday – Winter Gardening

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The gardening season is heating up in South Florida. The reverse of most of the Northern Hemisphere, we grow vegetables in the winter as it is too hot for tomatoes or corn to pollinate in the summer. I received the last of my vegetable seeds (Haricot verte) over the weekend and will sow my vegetable garden in the next week or so.

While I grow flowers year round, I plant some of the more common summer flowers in the winter. Deciding to grow some from seed this year, I have Zinnias, Asters, Petunias, Moon Vine and Coral Vine to add to the pollinator garden and cut. The seeds were planted around the first of October and my first Zinnia bloomed this week.20181121_094921_HDR-2This is a Zinna Super Cactus Lilac Emperor, an heirloom variety. It doesn’t quite resemble the picture on the packet – not nearly as stringy or cactusy (new word?) However, it may be the biggest Zinnia I have run across (4 inches wide).

20181125_095513The vase I inherited from my mother, who bought it from the Ute Indian tribe in the Southwestern US. Accenting the Zinnia in the arrangement are in white and fragrant spikes, Sweet Almond Bush (Aloysia virgata); Purple Verbena is next, a native (Glandularia tampaensis); the deep blue flowers are from Porterweed (Stachytarpeta jamaicaensis); purple flowers with grey foliage are Barometer Bush (Luecophyllum frutescens); the background plants are Muhly Grass (Muhlbergia capillaris), Boston Fern (Nephrolepis exaltata) and a sprig of Hawaiian Snowbush (Breynia nivosa).

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The pollinators attracted to my garden continue to amaze. We had two groups of honeybees resting in the garden and I spotted this dragonfly while weeding yesterday.

In A Vase on Monday – Two Challenges

20181111_095353-1 Last week, in honor of the fifth anniversary of the meme ‘In A Vase on Monday’, Cathy, our hostess at Rambling in the Garden on WordPress challenged us to not use a vase on Monday. Hence, the watering can. My second challenge, issued by a gardening friend, to use all native wildflowers in my non vase.

The brass watering can had been around my mother’s house for so long I am not sure if I am the second or third generation to use it. I decided to leave the patina and fill it with delicate wildflowers from my garden and a few fall fruits, all from plants native to Florida – a surprisingly long plant list.

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As I was arranging this, I was surprised by how pretty these flowers are when closely observed. And how many flowers it took to fill the small watering can.

The purple flowers are Tampa Verbena (Glandularia tampensis); pink tubular flowers are Tropical Red Salvia (Salvia coccinea) – it seeds in red, pink, salmon and orange. The deep blue flowers are Blue Porterweed (Stachytarpheta jamaicensis); I have learned to love this plant along with the butterflies, it continues to open flowers after cutting and the stems are such a wonderful accent. The purple grasses are Muhly Grass (Muhlenbergia capillaris). I am not sure this grass does as well anywhere else but in Florida. Sharp drainage is vital, mine grows in sugar sand with no irrigation.

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I have finally found out what the off white spikes are – Juba Bush (Iresine diffusa), identified by a wildflower expert who said “Juba Bush is named after a Afro-Caribbean step dance, because of the way it waves in the wind” It actually does have a lovely sway in the wind – and I like the story. The ferns are Boston Fern (Nephrolepis exaltata),  porch plants the world over, these originated in the swamps of Florida and popped up in my garden. The white flowers are  Jointweed or Wireweed or Octoberflower (Polygonella robusta), started blooming on October 31!

Fruits are from the Senna ligustrina, the long brown pods. I recently added these to the garden to attract Sulphur Butterflies. They are doing their job, though I haven’t seen any caterpillars. The plants remind me of Soft Caress Mahonia, which l love but can’t grow this far south. The round fruits are from the Gumbo Limbo tree (Bursea simarouba) I love these for their names, the other one being Tourist Tree, for the red peeling bark resembling sunburned skin…

Happy IAVOM Anniversary, to see vases from around the world follow this link.More Vases

In A Vase on Monday – Mostly Wildflowers

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This vase is a result of my plant shopping trip last week. I posted some pictures last week on my blog from the tropicals nursery I visited with a friend (made through gardening on social media, not blogging, though). The idea for the vase was started by another nursery we visited, Indian Trails Natives Nursery located in Lake Worth, Florida. Here is a link to their website Indian Trails

 

 

The nursery has an extensive stock of native plants, a demonstration garden and they will give a price list. Meaningful. I bought several plants and decided to deadhead my new Black Eyed Susans in hopes of more flowers -the genesis of this vase.

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I have been working on my native pollinators garden for a little over a year. The results are amazing, so I keep adding butterfly and bee plants concentrating on natives. My big however is … I don’t feel that it’s mandatory that every plant is native. I would go as far as to say non natives enhance the appeal of the garden to pollinators. No elitism in my garden!

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Plants in this vase include: the Black Eyed Susan (Rudbeckia hirta) – these are Florida’s native Black Eyed Susan, I grew Rudbeckia fulgida ‘Goldstrum’ further north and tried to grow these Rudbeckia from seed to no avail. Hopefully, the plants fare better and I end up with too many. Red flowers are Tropical Red Sage (Salvia coccinea); blue flowers are from Porterweed (Stachytarpeta); off white spikes are Wireweed (Don’t know whatis); white flowers are from the one non native, Sweet Almond (Aloysia virgata) hailing from Argentina, our native (endangered) Atala Butterflies love this one. Pink plumes are from Muhly Grass (Muhlebergia) just starting their fall show; the sticks are from the native grape Muscandines (Vitis rotundifolia) – I stripped the leaves, the raccoons ate all the grapes.

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Here’s our native Atala butterfly emerging from their chrysalis on native Coontie Palms. Their mom enjoyed nectar from Beautyberry and Sweet Almond before settling down to lay eggs.

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.