In A Vase on Monday – Semi Topiary


It is Thanksgiving week in the US and I decided to try arranging a little topiary for the table in fall colors. I think of topiaries as clipped formally shaped affairs, this one is not. It is a casual, all native plants arrangement, more tree form than topiary.


Three plants are used in this arrangement: the flowers and berries are from Firebush (Hamelia patens var patens) The off white flowers are from the Juba Bush (Iresine diffusa), and the stuffings (Like a Turkey!) for the vase are from Sabal Palms (Palmetto sabal) Here is a closer look:


I don’t really know what the bits from the Sabal Palm are called, the white curly stuff on top comes from the edges of the palm fronds and the brown peat moss like material (birds use it for nests) I used to fill the vase comes from the boots (where the fronds leave the trunk of the tree and cross over)

Here is the palm:

20181118_104239The pumpkin is probably an ornamental gourd that I bought at Aldi during the Halloween season. It is holding up much better than the orange pumpkins and may last until Thanksgiving. I am not too sure about using the semi topiary on the table, there were some really odd white spiders running away from me as I was taking pictures.

And Halloween is over!

Happy Thanksgiving.

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.


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.


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 – Things That Go Bump in the Night


It’s that time of year, and for some reason many of my neighbors are decorating their front yards with dead pirates a la the movie ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’. Weird, a bit startling and my dog is usually spooked by these odd things hanging from trees.

I prefer the odd things that appear in my garden. The growing season is year round here in South Florida, to the point sometimes I think I hear things growing at night. Bump…must be another Avocado, Mango or Grapefruit falling outside. Or the raccoons that are eating well, everything dropped something.


Three out of four ingredients in this vase just appeared in the garden. The blue flowers, Porterweed (Stachytarpheta) I bought. The rest are gratis from the Garden Fairy.  The red flowers, Turks Cap Hibiscus (Malvaviscus penduliflorus); the foliage hanging over the sides, seedlings from Sabal Palms (Palmetto sabal); ferns are native Boston Ferns (Nephrolepis exaltata).20181028_133148-1

Here is a close up of the Turks Cap Hibiscus,one of my favorite gifts from the Garden Fairy. These flower nearly year round and require nothing. Spooky.


Happy Halloween from Florida.

In A Vase on Monday – Gone Native


Rarely, I travel on business. Last week my Garden Design work took me to my hometown, Atlanta, Georgia. We abandoned Atlanta, population 5 million, for a town of 12,000 in South Florida almost seven years ago. The onslaught of the sea of humanity I encountered upon deplaning – was a bit, well, unnerving. Not to mention the detestable traffic I had to navigate to get to my garden in waiting 30 miles north of the airport.

The garden is in lovely tract of wooded land, the forest so beautiful it makes you forget the hustle and bustle of the big metropolitan area. It was wonderful to be back in the woods of my home, the land populated with large White Oak, Tulip Poplar, Hickory and American Beech trees. The woods of South Florida, in my opinion, aren’t woods at all. On the other hand, the getting there was the problem. Getting there is why I am no longer there. It made me realize I have truly gone native. Florida native.


Everything in this vase is, unlike me, native to Florida.

The vase is a pottery pineapple, bought in Maui, Hawaii years ago. The yellow sunflowers are Beach Sunflowers (Helianthus debilis); the red flowers are Gallardia (Gallardia pulchella); purple berries are Beautyberry (Calliocarpa americana); pink flowers, Tropical Red Salvia (Salvia coccinea) – sometimes pink or orange; pinky purple grass, Muhly Grass (Mulbergia capillaris); ferns, our native Boston Fern (Nephrolepis exaltata).