In A Vase on Monday – Uber Tropical

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Frequently I receive comments about my vases being tropical or exotic. Much of this plant material is commonplace in Florida. The above vase, however, seems Uber Tropical to me.

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Here is a closer view. The arrangement is a stem of Shell Ginger (Alpinia zerumbet); a sprig of Sweet Almond Bush (Aloysia virgata) and a potential replacement for the umbrella in tropical drinks, a Miniature Pineapple. The Pineapple is a cutting from a friend and I have no idea what botanical name goes with it. I cut it because the varmints in my garden usually eat them at about this size. They are not edible, extremely fibrous I am told, but may be juiced.

Here is the pineapple in the garden:

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I am happy I beat the varmints to my little pineapple. They are currently eating the new shoots on all the Bromeliads.

Happy Monday!

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In A Vase on Monday-Borrowed Aloha

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Sunday afternoon I found myself in a wine tasting room near the top of Haleakala, a brooding dormant volcano on the Island of Maui in Hawaii. The time change is a bit significant between Hawaii and the UK, but I think it probably is already Monday in the UK so I decided to borrow these vases for my post.

These are Queen Emma Crinum Lilies cut from the grounds of Maui Wine, located in Ulupalakua in the Upcountry of Maui. Another vase on the bar held Anthuriums, also from the grounds. The bar itself is 20 feet long and made from slices of an old Mango tree. Probably my favorite bar ever and the wines are pretty good. I bought 3 bottles. Call me girly, I like the Pineapple Wine.

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The winery grows grapes and produces wine from grapes and pineapples. It is situated below a cloud forest of (among other things) Eucalyptus, Norfolk Pines and purple flowering Jacaranda trees. The tasting room is set in a lovely garden, Jade Vines cascade from a pergola, Agapanthus line the walkways, and tropical perennial beds surround  a ring of wood sculptures emulating hula dancers.  A misty rain was falling as we made our way up the mountain into the clouds. When the clouds part, the views of the coast sprawling below are spectacular.

Soon we will be packing up to head back to our slightly less tropical paradise in South Florida. I have seen some wildly tropical plants here and will be posting more pictures later this week.

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Aloha!

In A Vase on Monday – Pina Coladas

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An idea formed in my head as I was walking my dogs yesterday morning, a coconut rolled down the street from a nearby palm and one of the dogs stopped to see what it was. Not very interesting to a dog, but I thought otherwise and picked it up. Then, I walked through my garden and spied this miniature pineapple, it has been around for so long the mother plant was producing pups and I had been thinking that it might be better for the plant to cut the pineapple.

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The next thing to find was some rum. The cabinet supplied enough for one frozen cocktail. Perfect. My husband is not a fan of such girly drinks. If only I had some umbrellas.

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The vase is a monogrammed highball glass from my in laws collection. A friend gave me the pineapple, the plant is red and green striped and the pineapple is inedible. But it looks great. The foliage is from a Dwarf Jamaican Heliconia and the spray of pink flowers is from Coral Vine (Antigonon leptopus). The coconut is Cocos nucifera, the Coconut Palm, very common in my neighborhood.

In my Rainforest Garden, later in the afternoon….rum, what rum?

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The Pina Colada actually has some Mango granita in it. Maybe it is a Sunset Pina Colada or a Mango Colada.

Pineapples and their Cousins

 

A common element in South Florida gardens is the pineapple patch. Almost everybody has one, from a northern perspective, it seems kind of weird. Grow your own pineapples? Why not? Even one of our neighbors, his yard could be described as nouveau retch, is seen regularly hand watering his pineapples.

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Pineapples are in fact a Bromeliad, which are currently my favorite tropical perennial. Among the many Bromeliads I have planted that are purely ornamental I am afraid I have fallen prey to the trend and now have a pineapple patch between my citrus trees. I eat pineapple just about year round and the tops kept rooting in the compost heap. Unfortunately, the above is my patch, not too pretty.

Pineapples have an interesting history. Originally from the area where modern day Brazil is located, they moved via canoes paddled by traveling natives north to the Caribbean Islands where sea captains picked up on them and carried them home. One early accounting of the discovery of pineapple recounts a meal served by the Caribe tribe where a plate of pineapple rested next to a cauldron of boiling cannibalized humans. I think I would have asked for the fruit plate.

A status symbol on the dining tables of colonial America, pineapples were often rented for centerpieces and then sold after a few uses for eating. Thus the pineapple as a symbol of lush hospitality was born. The prevalence of pineapples as a decorative element may be explained by its being cheaper to carve decorative pineapples into bed posts or garden ornaments instead of renting them by the hour.

The Treasure Coast of Florida, the area I currently call home was once home to a large pineapple plantation. In 1895, Jensen Beach, Florida was named the Pineapple Capital of the World, shipping a million boxes of pineapples a year during the summer season. Later that year a devastating freeze decimated the crop, followed by a few tragic fires and fungal diseases that finished off the pineapple industry by 1920. Agricultural pursuits were redirected towards citrus. Wild Pineapple plants can still be seen on Hutchinson Island and are attributed to the original owner of the plantation, John Jensen.

Like many other popular plants, pineapples have also been bred for Ornamental use. Here are two prettier pineapple plants.