Wintry weather has arrived in South Florida. Having had a warm and too dry winter thus far a bit of rain was welcome, my suspicion is the wind following the rain will blow the moisture out of everything. Myself included.
Seems like a really good time for a cup of tea. I brewed a cup of English Breakfast and got the antique teapot from Rington Limited Tea Merchants down to serve as my vase. It seemed there was not much blooming, after the rain stopped and the sky cleared I went out and looked. To my surprise, I shortly had assembled a vase with an unusual combination of plants.
The pink balls are from the Dombeya (Dombeya wallachi); white flowers spilling over the edge are Sweet Begonia (Begonia odorata); a few purple Ground Orchids (Spathoglottis ‘Cabernet) are peeking out about above the Begonias; the yellow daisies are Beach Sunflowers (Helianthus debilis); the purples are Lilac Emperor Zinnias and Tampa Verbena (Glandularia tampensis); the backdrop of burgundy leaves is Red Giant Mustard ( I don’t eat it, I use it in winter containers) other greenery is another form of Asparagus Fern that pops up in the garden.
We have added a new family member, meet Fiona the greyhound. She is going to be a garden hound, I think. She waits patiently by the gate while I putter around in the garden.
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.
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!
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.
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.
The garage sale Bromeliads continue to amaze me. The red flowers are from Aechmea miniata, a Bromeliad I stumbled upon at a garage sale a few years ago. Five bucks is my limit for a plant unknown to me, as this one was when I found it. Bromeliads tend to run anywhere from 12 dollars for a small unnamed mystery plant at the Big Box stores to $100 and up for a named, big, lush specimen. The problem with these named, expensive plants is generally no one can tell you where they will grow “move them around til you find a place it likes” or “I think it flowers”. I am too frugal for this sort of nonsense and think if a plant is sold for prices like that you should get some reasonable directions. Or at least knowledge of whether it flowers. More Florida gardening nonsense. The market here demands nothing.
I have been trying to decide if the flowers look more like trees or broccoli. Neither, really. The flowers are crunchy and last about two weeks in a vase. The green swirling fern is a cutting of Asparagus Fern I twirled around the base of the Miniatas.
The Miniatas are flowering madly and have been for a month or so. The tree that shades them got a fairly major pruning after Hurricane Irma last year. The normal olive colored foliage has burned from the sun (or lack of rain) but has been bravely sending up flower after flower. Time will tell what happens next should be interesting, the other Garage Sale Bromeliads are producing pups – I should have hundreds of dollars worth of Bromeliads shortly. Unfortunately, I hate having garage sales.
Sad news from my garden this week. I lost my sweetest, spotted Greyhound to bone cancer on Friday. Farewell, faithful Charles.
Fall is greatly anticipated in South Florida. Humidity and temperatures um, fall. And we love it.
Here is the first sign. Berries on the Beautyberry (Callicarpa americana). The butterflies have been enjoying these flowers and now I will enjoy the fruit. Floridians (not me) make jelly from the berries (usually described as astringent). If I find some jelly, I will buy it – having recently learned about Jamtinis, you guessed it fruity cocktails –Jamtini ideas.
73 Days until October 15. The usual date for our first cold front.
It’s time to plant vegetable seeds! And have a Jamtini.
It is difficult to pinpoint what makes me think of these flowers as elegant. The long lines of the buds and stamens; the clear orange red color of the flowers in contrast to the simple heart shapes of the dark green foliage? I am not sure, so I arranged them simply in a brown pottery vase with Muscadine twigs.
Pretty simple. The vase I bought at our local charity shop.Something I am sure someone’s mother or aunt made and the ability to appreciate such things was lost in time or translation. My next comment was edited; as so, so many people don’t appreciate things made with our hands and hearts.
The plants in this vase are very simple, Clerodendrum speciosum, Java Glorybower, in red orange flowers and Vitis rotundifolia, in twigs.
It is what it is. Flowers and twigs. Simple and, hopefully, elegant.
On the butterfly front, here is another newborn:
This is a Swallowtail, who grew up in my Parsley and hopefully flew away.
I have seen rain this week, every day, off and on, all day long. My husband is grumpy, the dogs are grumpy and I am getting gardening stir crazy. But, the Firebush is very happy and flowering magnificently.
If anyone remembers James Taylor’s song Fire and Rain here’s a link, before you click on the link realize there is always advertising and I had nothing to do with it: James Taylor.
I decided a vintage copper teapot filled with warm colored flowers was necessary to lift my dreary spirits. After trimming some fiery flowers, I donned my red plastic raincoat and headed into the garden to see what I could find to join the Firebush. My greyhounds declined the offer to join me and sulked in their (sort of) dry beds.
My neighbor’s Mexican Flame Vine (Senecio confusus) long ago left its bounds and was hanging down over a hedge that grows between us. Beaten down from all the rain (myself, my husband,my dogs and the Mexican Flame Vine) I cut a few stems to drape over the side of the teapot. Then I discovered some Tropical Red Sage flowers (Salvia coccinea) for the back of the arrangement; added some Beach Sunflowers (Helianthus debilis); and found a few Parrotflowers (Heliconia psittacorum). I have been missing the Parrotflowers. Hurricane Irma followed by a mid thirties temperature in January nearly did them in. The few I found are about half the size they were last year. The flowers and foliage from the flourishing Firebush (Hamelia patens var patens) filled the framework of the flower arrangement. Say that 10 times fast.
Here is a close up of the flowers:
It is raining again. The good news is the Frangipani loves it and I have my first blooms this year.
I joined my husband on a short road trip this week (about 80 miles north). Along the way, I noted green buds on trees and the first flowers on roses climbing fences as we drove through Melbourne, Florida. Signs are more evident of spring further north as we have few deciduous trees and roses are a long forgotten dream in my garden.
What is a harbinger of spring in South Florida? The Hong Kong Orchid trees and Winter Starburst Clerodendrum are two of my top picks. I have featured the Orchid tree flowers a few times this spring and killed every Clerodendrum I so much as looked at…
Hong Kong Orchid Flower
What’s toasting spring in my garden:
Front and center, the Shell Ginger (Alpinia zerumbet); in purple, Mexican Sage (Salvia luecanthum); in blue, our native Porterweed; Asian Sword Ferns for greenery and some bits of a Purple Spike Dracaena along with the foliage from a Solar Sunrise Coleus. The white spikes are from a recent addition to my garden, Sweet Almond (Aloysia virgata) native to Argentina reportedly flowering year round with the scent of honey accompanying the flowers. I have planted this beside our screened porch for fragrance and hopefully butterflies and pollinators.
The vase is actually one half of a pair of wine glasses I painted to go with my Portmerion Botanic Garden china at a fund raising event hosted by my longtime friend Diane. In respect of the length of our friendship, I have ceased using the term ‘old friend’. Diane raises funds to provide college scholarships for kids with Tourette’s syndrome. A great cause, the foundation was started in honor of her daughter, Kelsey. For more information, here is the link: https://www.dollars4ticscholars.org/
The glass not filled with flowers from my garden will be filled with wine to toast spring.