After the events of the past couple of weeks of (fill in the blank, ugh) I decided some whimsy was in order. My cow vase came off the shelf and was filled with flowers from the imaginary meadow where porcelain cows munch on flowers all day long. My imaginary cows produce strawberry and chocolate milk.
The view from the front and a closer view of the contents.
The ‘grass’ in the back of the vase is from Varigated Flax Lily (Dianella); orange and peach spike flowers are from Tropical Red Salvia (Salvia coccinea); peach flowers are Profusion Zinnias; two tone flowers at the edge are Gallardia (Gallardia pulchella); purple foliage is Setcreasea; lavendar foliage and flowers are from Arabian Lilac (Vitex trifolia); the gracefully bendy white flowers are Juba Bush (Iresine diffusa); textured stems are from Blue Porterweed (Stachytarpeta jamaicensis). These porcelain cows have a sophisticated palette.
I would like to thank everyone for their kind words about Alan the Greyhound. Alan is still here; his squirrel chases severely curtailed. My vet decided he had strained his back ( bouncing off the sliding glass door while chasing squirrels) and medication would help. After a few days on dog Ibuprofen, he is feeling much better. He still has bone cancer, in the early stages, but is resting comfortably on the lawn and many soft places in the house. I have not quite managed to convince him to leave the squirrels alone.
My husband and I spent most of last night in the pet emergency center. Actually, in the parking lot as they won’t let anyone inside. My older greyhound, Alan, who has been in my blog on many occasions, was limping and in pain so we took him to be evaluated. The vet initially thought he had torn his ACL, then X rays revealed a much worse diagnosis. Bone cancer, extremely painful and always fatal. They sent us home with pain medication and little hope. He is still here today, but I am sure he will be gone by my next vase.
This vase is for Alan.
He has spent many hours in the garden with me. His primary tasks, digging holes, terrorizing squirrels and holding down sand and lawn.
The vase is a pottery wine cooler, rarely used for wine, but I love it on my kitchen counter. The white flowers are Bridal Bouquet Plumeria (Plumeria pudica), a miniature pineapple pup (I will plant next week); some Tropical Red Salvia (Salvia coccinea) and a strand of Asparagus Fern.
Below is a story published several years ago in GreenPrints Magazine about my greyhounds in the garden. Truth be told, I don’t have a favorite garden hound. The one in the story was a real character.
Fall is not really a thing in South Florida. I like to search for seasonal signs in the garden. The weather doesn’t give clues, the heat index today was over 100 degrees Fahrenheit. My favorite local writer (sports and fishing), Ed Killer, wrote about seasons in the morning newspaper claiming the mullet run is a season in Florida. The mullet are currently running in South Florida. A link to the article https://treasurecoast-fl.newsmemory.com?publink=261ae094c_13437fc
For Florida novices, mullet is a small baitfish that heads south for the winter swimming down the Atlantic coast of Florida. It is a seasonal marker. Traveling en masse in 1 acre sized schools of fish – an acre is 220 feet by 220 feet – that’s a lot of little fish. The mullet can be seen jumping from the water in late September and fishing gets good when all the bigger fish give chase looking for a mullet meal. A season in the land without seasons.
I look for fruit on the Beautyberry, the occasional turning red leaves on Red Maple trees, fruit on the Firebush and the flowering of the Juba Bush. These are my fall favorites and they are in my vase this Monday. All South Florida natives, unlike me, and seasonal signs of fall in the garden. Maybe if we throw the whole mullet run thing in there is actual fall here.
A closer view. The orange flowers are Firebush (Hamelia patens); purple berries, Beautyberry (Calliocarpa americana); white flowers, Juba Bush (Iresine diffusa). The Blue Willow teapot is a favorite of mine, an English teapot and long ago find in a flea market…
The other side, berries and flowers on the Firebush.
Saturday again in South Florida. Tropical Depression Number 19 is passing a little more than 100 miles south of my garden, so it is a rainy and windy day. The peak of Atlantic hurricane season is September 10, all downhill from here. Hopefully, I think there are 4 storms in various stages of formation between here and Africa. I am anticipating the end of hurricane season and the beginning of the gardening season. Joining The Propagator today for his SOS meme. Follow the link to see more SOS! http://www.thepropagatorblog.wordpress.com
I have been pruning in anticipation of cooler weather. Alan the greyhound is enjoying the fruits of my labor in the shade of the newly lifted canopy of the White Geiger tree (Cordia boissieri)
Buds on the White Cattleya Orchids. These always seem to flower on September 15. It’s a large, fragrant white orchid my neighbor gave me. And it is rare for me not to kill orchids, so I am looking forward to this one.
I pruned the Passionfruit vine out of the Cuban Avocado tree. This seems absurdly tropical even to me. I have had some passionfruit this year. The Avocado has been in the garden for four years and should produce fruit in its fifth year. Anticipating Guacamole!!
Yellow Pear Tomato seedlings, I have been hardening these off in the sun in anticipation of planting them outside in a couple of weeks.
Leonitis nepetifolia seedlings, I grew more of these this year as I enjoyed them so much last winter. Fortunately, easy to grow from seed. I am not have so much luck with Gallardia, which seems odd…conditions may be too cushy in the moist seed mix?
These may look pretty, but they are insidious. Called Florida Snow, they grow in lawns and are so prolific it looks like snow. I have been pulling mountains of these beauties out before they seed.
Miss Alice lives beside my front porch. An seemingly obscure variety of Bougainvillea I am training to a column on the porch, she is known for being nearly thornless. Other Bougainvilleas have 2 inch long thorns, I was pruning Miss Alice barefooted and stepped on a cast off branch – ouch! not thornless but I wasn’t punctured. The white flowers are from Miss Alice, a result of a fairly hard pruning as the Bougs transition from vegetative to flowering states. Day length drives the flowering cycle – native to areas near the equator Bougainvilleas flower most when daylight and night hours are equal. I did not realize I could use them as cut flowers, they seem to be lasting. So far, so good.
Here is a closer view:
The white ‘leaves’ are bracts and the actual flowers are the white and green tubes in the center of the flower. Lurid purple berries are from Beautyberry (Calliocarpa americana) which has been producing masses of berries this summer. They are so heavy with fruit the branches fell to the ground. Ferns are from my weedy Asian Sword Ferns and a seedling Sabal Palm (Palmetto sabal) frond completes the backdrop. The vase is a roadside find.
Tropical weather is on the menu this week in Florida. Two forecasted hurricanes are lurking in the Gulf of Mexico, an unheard of meteorological event. Both are taking aim at the Gulf Coast of the US. Batten down over there. This weather brings downpours that can dump 3 inches of rain per hour in my garden – even hundreds of miles away from the storms. I am joining the Six on Saturday crew at http://www.thepropagatorblog.wordpress.com. Follow the link to see more posts of six items of interest from gardens around the world.
I am featuring my more tropical plants today. This is a Blanchetiana Bromeliad ramping up to full flower. The flower in back is about seven feet tall.
The flowers on a Java White Copperleaf (Acalphya wilkesiana). These shrubs should reach at least six feet.
A Travelers Palm (Ravenala madagascariensis) I planted these last fall to screen a telephone pole behind my house. They will grow to 30 feet. They have just reached eight feet. These are planted as a sign of hospitality in the South Pacific. The stems hold a great deal of water and a thirsty traveler can cut one for a drink of fresh water.
Fruit forming on the Papaya tree. I am hoping the moths are done with my tree for the year and I get some fruit this winter. The tree is at least fifteen feet tall, so I will have to wait for the fruit to fall off.
The new Papaya planted last year from seeds of the tree above. Papayas are very short lived, so I started this new one. The tomato cage is for protection from my lawn guys
Leaves of the Pink Ball Tree (Dombeya wallachii) This is sometimes called Tropical Hydrangea and flowers during the winter. The shrub grew 9 feet in less than two years.
The Bromeliad leaf from last week’s vase was perfectly curled for another go; so I wrapped this Monday’s offering. My original idea was to find enough ‘daisies’ to fill the vase. Of course, I got distracted along the way and came up with this. I love peachy colors with chartreuse and purple. There is something sort of Fred Flintstone rustic about this vase.
Here is the Bromeliad the leaf came from – a Lemon Blanchetiana Aechmea. I moved it during the winter as it was taking over a corner of my front garden. It is now part of my ‘under construction’ garbage can garden. I am relocating extra plants to soften the necessities area. Ha, way too much design talk..
Here is a closer view of the vase.
The purple cuttings are from Setcreasea (Setcresea pallida) or Purple Queen. These just pop up in my garden for some reason, so I move them around. A good and tough bit of color. The Asparagus fern is another volunteer I cut for flower arrangements.
The ‘ daisies’ are a couple of different things. The solid yellow flowers are daisies – Beach Daisies (Helianthus debilis); in red and yellow, Gallardias (Gallardia pulchella); white flowers are Spanish Needles (Bidens alba); and last but not least, the mixed colors are Zinnias, some variety of Profusion, my favorite summer annual.
Early this morning I was greeted with brilliant blue skies and informed by my phone of very little chance of rain. So, I hand watered some of the garden as our irrigation system had a valve get stuck open and couldn’t be turned off (we had to turn off the water supply to get one zone of sprinklers to stop) Strange going ons in the garden.
Then, an enormous thunderstorm blew in and it rained off and on until late afternoon. Relief for my parched garden; I was in and out between rain showers cutting flowers for this vase.
The vase is a Rose` bottle, I like the bottle better than the wine. I have wrapped the bottle with Bromeliad foliage to add some color. The burgundy leaf at the top is Luca Neoregelia, the yellow leaf is Lemon Blanchetiana Aechmea.
Below is a closer view, I was searching for contrasts in color and texture of the plant material. The lurid purple berries are from Beautyberry (Calliocarpa americana); orange flowers are Mexican Bush Honeysuckle (Justicia spicigera) and the ferns winding their way through are Wild Asparagus Fern that pops up in the garden.
To see more vases from gardeners around the world visit Cathy at www. ramblinginthegarden.wordpress.com.
Happy Gardening, hopefully I will get the valve unstuck on my irrigation this week. Hand watering is not fun in the South Florida summer.
I am joining the Six on Saturday crew today featuring seeds. I started planting tomato seeds this week for my fall garden and noticed many plants producing seed in the garden. As usual, the tropical plants behave differently and the seeds start early, perhaps to catch the end of the rainy season and get a better chance at life?
This is Beautyberry (Calliocarpa americana) – a shrub native to the Southeastern US. The berries are more spectacular in Florida, I think and locals make (I am told) tasteless jam from the fruit.
Flowers on a Pygmy Date Palm (Phoenix roebellini). These palms will produce dates. but are dioecious. I am not sure if this is the male or female flower.
Gumbo Limbo (Bursera simarouba) berries, I suppose. These remind me of Crabapples, the birds love them. The Gumbo Limbo is sometimes called the Tourist Tree because of its flaky, red “sunburned” bark.
Firebush (Hamelia patens), this one flowers and fruits simultaneously; birds enjoy the fruit, bees and butterflies the flowers. I can hear the shrub buzzing first thing in the morning.
Seeds forming on Sabal Palm (Palmetto sabal). These seeds eventually turn black and fall to the ground. Native Americans ground the husks into flour.
My neighbor grew these Roselles from seed. This is a tropical vegetable, a relative of Hibiscus and Okra. The foliage is edible; new leaves are reminscent of Arugula and the older leaves can be cooked as greens. The calyx of the flower is what these are usually grown for – they are burgundy colored and are used as a substitute for cranberries in the tropics. These were planted as seedlings in May and are now 4′ tall. Waiting for flowers and ‘cranberries’ – hoping for Roselle relish for Thanksgiving.
The impending path of Hurricane Isaias has been big news this week in Florida. A friend is calling this storm Hurricane Unpronounceable. Research tells me Isaias replaces the name Ike, retired after a particularly disastrous storm in 2008. They downgraded Isaias to a Tropical Storm before it reached my neck of the woods.
Ordinarily I would not cut flowers during a tropical weather event. This one was mild enough that I walked my greyhounds this morning. Alan, the weather phobic hound, did not take notice of the weather. During the walk I avoided the house with Coconut Palms – the coconuts are still hanging on the tree. We had winds up to 30 mph, off and on, and very little rain. The pots on my porch had to be watered. It is interesting to note the change in direction in the winds, especially when not scared witless. The circular wind direction can be felt and noted by watching which way the palms are swaying. Just stay away from Coconut Palms.
The vase! Oddly, my husband received flowers recently for helping someone and this is the vase from his flowers. I used it to collect a hot color palette of what is flowering in my garden.
The foliage in the back of the arrangement is Varigated Flax Lily (Dianella tasmanica ‘varigata’); yellow and orange spikes are Blanchetiana Bromeliad (Aechmea ‘Blanchetiana’) flowers; peach and red spikes are from Tropical Red Salvia (Salvia coccinea); red and blue tipped panicle flower is Miniata Bromeliad (Aechmea miniata); orange flowers in the middle of the vase are Mexican Honeysuckle (Justicia spicigera); orange flowers hanging over the side are Firebush (Hamelia patens); and a few unnamed Zinnias. The Zinnias are grown in Miami and are my favorite (because they survive) summer container flower. I would love to know the name if anyone can share that information.
It is late Sunday afternoon and while the wind is still blowing it has died down considerably. Fingers crossed for the rest of those in the path of this storm.