In A Vase on Monday – Striking

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My arrangement for this week began to form in my mind when I noticed my Apocalyptica Bromeliad was flowering. These are sometimes called Matchstick Bromeliads, so I decided to use my husbands vintage French cafe match striker as a vase. This ‘vase’ was originally used in French cafes to hold matches for smokers.

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Images that come to my mind when thinking of a vintage French match striker involve Ernest Hemingway – sitting in an uncomfortable metal chair at a tiny table contemplating the nearby Seine River while trying to work out some angst. He looks down and realizes the match container has been hijacked to hold flowers, finds a box of matches and proceeds to strike a match on the side of a the vase. Then he lights an unfiltered cigarette, takes a big drag, exhales blowing some rings with the smoke, sighs deeply and takes a big gulp of red wine. And thinks some more.

Maybe not. Okay, I drank the red wine and Ernest was not here. But there is a river nearby. My angst concerns the sun also rising, but the garden dilemma involves where to move poorly performing Agapanthus to get more sun. On to what is in the vase.

The Apocalyptica Bromeliad (Aechmea apocalyptica) is the nearly fluorescent orange spiky flower. Rounding out the vase in orange again, Mexican Bush Honeysuckle (Justicia spicgera); in purple, Ground Orchids (Bletilla something); Blue Ageratum (Ageratum houstonianum) and another volunteer Asparagus Fern for fluffy greenery. The red striped foliage is from another Bromeliad (Neoregelia ‘Fireball’).  There are a zillion varieties of Fireballs and I gave up figuring out which one is who because they are all pretty and mostly indestructible.

Happy Monday, may your week be angst free.

In A Vase on Monday – Tropical Blues

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It’s Sunday afternoon in South Florida and we are having a rare rainy day with temperatures in the 40s (F). It’s damp and dreary and my greyhounds are grumpy because they have been cooped up in the house all day. Alan (the greyhound, not my husband) went into the backyard, jumped into the air put both paws over his head and threw his collar off and onto the ground burying it in the sand in disgust.

We have the tropical blues. No sun and no blue skies today. Some Kissy Fish and a new Bromeliad in a blue vase will cheer things up.

I was pleased to find the small Pink Bromeliads (Quesnelia testudo) I planted last fall starting to flower this week. Another one of my mystery plants, bought nameless (3 for five bucks!) at a Botanical Garden sale, I thought these were something else entirely, but the Quesnelia have worked out quite well and flower in mid winter here. Someday I will have a drift of Pink Bromeliads under my Shell Gingers.

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Not wishing to venture out in the rain again, I cut the rest of this vase from containers on my front porch. Joining the Quesnelia are: in pink and chartreuse foliage, Alabama Sunset Coleus; chartreuse flowers from Culinary Dill, the darker fine textured foliage is Copper Fennel from the herb containers and a bit of grey Flapjack Kalanchoe flowers and Asian Sword Fern foliage. The blue glass footed vase is a family heirloom.

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The Kissy Fish are part of my husband’s collection of unusual ceramics. The artist is Steven Smeltzer of Maui.

Speaking of my husband – he has been in the kitchen this afternoon seeking to cure our case of the Tropical Blues. Baking a Blueberry Pie:

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I am sure to feel better after dessert.

In A Vase on Monday – Make America Garden Again

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All political commentary aside, watching events unfold this weekend sparked a patriotic arrangement for this Monday. The primary colors in the arrangement are Red, white and blue for the United States of America. Hopefully we will put aside our animosity and pick up our tools and get out in the garden again. I do think a new era of activism and civic participation has been unleashed and was amazed to see the rest of the world joining in.

The props with this arrangement are a flag crocheted by my mother in law (we just realized Joan has been gone almost 15 years) as a Fourth of July gift some years ago. After she retired, she sat in her Living Room and crocheted- we had a crocheted something for every occasion and then some.  At some point I reached crochet overload and was relieved to find that volunteer organizations (Women’s shelters, especially) often like these handmade items and have been happy to pass them along. The bells (Let Freedom Ring, anyone?) were collected by my father when he was in the US Army stationed in India during World War II.

The vase is English, a teapot in my favorite Blue Willow pattern acquired while junk shopping with my mother about 20 years ago. I was thrilled to find a new piece at the thrift shop this week, I inherited some from my grandmother and have been collecting it for about 30 years.

The flowers are in red, Tropical Red Salvia (Salvia coccinea), in blue, Tropical Plumbago (Plumbago auriculata), in white, Sweet Begonias (Begonia odorata ‘Alba’) in the center, difficult to see is a Hallelujah Billbergia Bromeliad. There are a few sprigs of Dill flowers from the herb garden and some Asian Sword Ferns for foliage. Here is a close up of the Bromeliad flower:

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Hallelujah Billbergia Bromeliad seems pretty patriotic! Getting back out in the garden to find Hallelujah sporting red, white and blue started the vase idea.

In A Vase on Monday – Goodness Gracious, Great Balls of Milkweed?

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Happy New Year! My plans for a traditional vase container were foiled when a friend (a known connoisseur of Champagne) appeared with this lovely pink bottle. The contents were rapidly dispatched and the bottle on its way to recycling when I said “Stop, that would make a great vase for the first Monday of the new year”

And here it is filled with a favorite color combination of mine, pink and chartreuse. My neighbor brought the cut chartreuse seed heads as a Christmas gift, these are from the dubiously named Hairy Balls Milkweed (Asclepias physocarpa). Finding this common name a bit crass, I looked the plant up online to find the other common name ‘Family Jewels’ Milkweed. Oh, well. She tells me her Milkweed is ten feet tall, I think I need to go and see this!

 

Other members of the ensemble include at the base, ‘Alabama Sunset’ Coleus, a sprig of Copper Fennel on the right and flowers and seedheads of Muhly Grass (Muhlbergia capillaris). The green foliage is from the Milkweed. This is one of those oddly interesting arrangements I like. I think I will keep the pink bottle for future use.

 

In A Vase on Monday – Bus Redux

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Last year during the holidays I made an arrangement in this biscuit tin. A friend of my husband had brought cookies from the UK, my husband ate the cookies and I used the tin as a vase.

This year I decided to go as tropical as possible and keep a green, red and white theme. The result is reasonably festive and has a large variety of plant material included.

The tin is deep, so I nestled three bottles from drinking water inside with the tops cut off, then filled them with water and made three matching arrangements in the bottles. I feel certain I would regret filling the tin with water (or the furniture would)

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The arrangement includes: in red and yellow Parrotflower (Heliconia psittacorum), the red flowers hanging over the edge are Turks Cap Hibiscus (Malvaviscus penduliflorus), foliage hanging over the sides is Sweet Begonia (Begonia ‘Alba’). The dark green foliage in the back of the arrangement is Snake Plant or Mother In Law’s Tongue (Sanseveria something, runs wild here), the white striped foliage is from ‘Martin’ Bromeliad. Whoever Martin is, he has come up with an amazing bromeliad, red striped in shade and white striped in sun thriving in both places. The ferns are the everpresent invasive Asian Sword Fern and finally, the conifer like bits are from Firecracker Plant (Russelia)

Here is last year’s bus, a much different look:

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Things are looking festive around my house, even if we don’t have a Christmas tree yet. Here are all the arrangements:

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They are not all living in the foyer, this was a holiday portrait. The watering can is on the screen porch and the basket in the living room.

In A Vase on Monday. Thrift Store Finds

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Another one of those things I never knew about living in South Florida-the thrift store shopping is excellent. I suppose many estates are settled here and the population is somewhat transient as people buy and sell vacation condos don’t use them very much and then don’t want to move the furniture. A result of all this makes for some unusual and great thrift store finds. Especially if you are in the market for pseudo tropical furniture.

I was actually looking for a table lamp when I happened upon these pottery vases. I love things that are handmade and these are a bit thick and obviously hand thrown for the fun or love or it. I bought them immediately, I spent eight dollars. Well worth it. I also found a table lamp.

While winter is approaching, actual winter in South Florida is more like a really long spring. Freezes are rare and this is gardening season. Vegetable and annual seeds are started in late summer for planting now.

One of my new vases has my first ever Cactus Zinnias, started from seed in September, these do not look nearly as good as the ones I saw in other vases this summer, I am hoping they get bigger. Also new to the garden is the Copper Fennel, which I bought by accident thinking it was Dill for my herb pots. The Tropical Red Salvia (Salvia coccinea) and Bridal Bouquet Frangipani (Plumeria pudica) are old standbys.

Between the Zinnias, Salvias, Fennel and Frangipani the fragrance of this vase is a bit weird. Kind of medicinal.

 

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My other new vase has a more tropical feeling, I decided to try to avoid ferns for foliage today just for a change. This vase has Parrot Flower ( Heliconia psittacorum) and the foliage and flowers of Sweet Begonia (Begonia odorata ‘Alba’)

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In A Vase on Monday – Tropical Zen

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Much to my surprise, the day after Hurricane Matthew grazed our beach I was picking up debris and found the native Spider Lilies had sent up buds. A few days later, the flowers appeared.

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These are probably three feet tall and quite sturdy, they appeared in my garden and I mistook them for Amaryllis, separated the bulbs and planted a long mass in my back garden. As these things sometimes go a third did well, another third are still alive and then another third didn’t really take or were eaten by the gigantic Lubber grasshoppers we have here. Still, these were a nice surprise and I decided to cut a few for a vase.

My husband’s comment was “that is really minimalist for you” – which is true, I think this vase belongs in a modern spa or a sleek black granite lobby.

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The flowers  present a bit of a design dilemma – while striking they are in my imagination tiaras for fairies and my dilemma was to cut the flowers off and use them as a short stemmed element with other flowers or emphasize the lean whorls of crowns in a simple vase. Simple won out for a tropical minimalist vase.

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The flowers are our native Spider LIly (Hymenocallis latifolia) they grow in pure sand on the back side of dunes and in hammocks. The foliage is the leaf of a Heliconia ‘Splash’ and a Split Leaf Philodendron (Philodendron selloum). A burgundy leaf from an unnamed Bromeliad anchors the stems together in the glass vase. I remember buying the vase to force Cherry and Forsythia branches in winter and could never get that to work. I think the vase was waiting for some Tropical Zen on Monday.