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?
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.
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.
Ironically, the seedlings coming up in the pot are Tropical Red Salvia.
Life in the Garden. Happy Monday.
I could be the Mulchmeister, given the love/ hate relationship with mulch that I have nurtured for years. I love the appearance mulch gives the garden – a soothing blanket of hopefully brownish material, tucking all the plants in for good growth, saving water and helping keep weeds at bay.
Unfortunately, I hate to mulch. Below is the usual result of me buying 5 bags of bark mulch. After 3, I can’t deal with schlepping the bags around anymore and it stays in the garden so long the plastic bags are rendered rust colored from the iron in the well water. And the weeds! Arggh. Florida Jurassic weeds. Oddly, the bark is still fresh as a daisy inside the bag – making me wonder what is on the stuff and in the vegetables I grow?
I am learning to love again with an old friend, pinestraw. Some call it pine needles, naturally shed by Pine trees! A good thing and more sustainable than chopping down and chopping up trees to use for mulch. It occurred to me to seek out pinestraw as I was working on a project in Atlanta, using pinestraw as mulch. For some reason, pinestraw is very uncommon in South Florida-even though it is harvested in North Florida.
I began the search and after a bit of asking around was gifted with 10 bags of QuickStraw, just in time for Christmas. Compressed and bagged for storage, I can move these around easily and am not ending up covered in mulch.
I scraped the Jurassic weeds off, put down some brown woven (the key to long lasting fabric) weed control fabric and mulched with the QuickStraw.
Ahhh, cozy plants, just waiting for everything to grow together.
After typing in my title, I began to wonder what is the meaning of the word, Yuletide. Seems it goes back to Norse Gods and Germanic folklore, referring to the time around the Winter Solstice, predating the celebration of Christmas by a long shot. I will have to ponder that as I sit by a roaring fire (on the television) listening to Christmas carols, cat by my side and a greyhound at my feet. The task at hand, waiting for my holiday baking to cool, so I can pack it into tins.
Gardening in South Florida changes your perspective on holiday flower arrangements. Red and white flowers can be cut from the garden, greenery and berries as well. Our wreath this year was made with Blanchetiana Bromeliad flowers and foliage from Pandanus (Screw Pine). Here is the Florida version of Yuletide Greetings.
The flowers in my holiday arrangement are: in off white spikes, Juba Bush (Iresine diffusa), the red spikes are from Tropical Red Salvia (Salvia coccinea), darker red flowers are from Red Shrimp Plants (Justicia brandegeana), red berries are from Brazilian Pepper (Schinus terenbinthifolia), white flowers on the lower side are Sweet Begonia (Begonia odorata ‘alba’), gold sticks are twigs from native grapes, Vitis roundifolia. The finishing touch a leaf from my Papaya tree.
Happy Holidays to all, Yuletide or not.
I used to dread the words ‘Wintry Mix’ on the weather reports. It meant freezing rain mixed with other frozen precipitation. A cold and damp experience usually followed by slippery, frozen walkways. I am liking the Florida version of Wintry Mix from my garden much better than the weather kind.
The colors seem like a mad mix, purple, coral, charteuse, pink, white and blue with a bit of vegetably burgundy and gold metallic berries for good measure. The vase is a Dansk candle holder from the 1970’s that long ago lost its partner.
The centerpiece in the arrangement is a Lilac Emperor Zinnia, the other purple flowers are Tampa Verbena (Glandularia tampensis); peach flowers are from Tropical Red Salvia (Salvia coccinea); small white flowers are from White Plumbago (Plumbago scandens); white daisy flowers are Spanish Needles (Bidens alba) a cheerful, rampant, annoying wildflower.
Flowers in the background are Blueberry Flax (Dianella), the foliage is from Alabama Sunset Coleus (pink and chartruese) and some sort of Red Mustard (the burgundy leaf). Gold berries are painted fruit from the Gumbo Limbo (Bursera simaruba) tree. There was a bigger surprise than gold fruit under the tree earlier in the week.
Glancing out my window I spied – to my surprise, a White Heron stalking something under the Gumbo Limbo tree. I watched as he or she marched over and plucked a small snake off a branch and flew away!
Overcast could describe the usually clear sunny skies in South Florida on Sunday, I waited for some sunlight and finally took my vase outside to snap some pictures. I barely finished the photos and planting my winter containers before the proverbial bottom dropped out and was inundated with rain.
The berries in the vase are beautiful, but, unfortunately, very bad. They are from the Brazilian Pepper (Schinus terebinthifolia) an invasive plant brought into Florida in the mid 1800s – marketed as Florida Holly. Spread by birds eating the lovely berries, Brazilian Pepper now is illegal to plant and infests more that half a million acres of land in South Florida, choking everything in its wake. Someone planted five across my backyard, undoubtedly to screen the neighbors-by the time we arrived the plants were 35 feet wide and it took us at least five years to begin winning the pepper battle. A few still survive and I saved the state of Florida hundreds of trees by cutting the berries to create this vase!
The white flowers are from Bridal Bouquet Frangipani (Plumeria pudica); grey stem is a flower from the Flapjack Kalanchoe (Kalanchoe thyrsiflora); ferns are Asian Sword Ferns. It occurred to me as I was arranging this vase, a good vase is like a good pasta sauce, it takes a few more ingredients than you would think to make it tasty!