In A Vase on Monday – Barometer Says Summer is Here

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My father always kept a barometer on the wall in my family’s kitchen. Looking back, I am not sure he ever read it. I am sure I don’t know how to read one, or, for that matter what it means exactly.

The barometer in this vase is a plant. The small purple flowers with grey foliage come from the Barometer Bush. I know this plant as Texas Sage (Leucophyllum frutescens). I wanted to add some color to an area where my greyhounds hang out and did some research to be sure it wasn’t toxic to dogs (one of them will eat nearly anything).

Happily, they are non-toxic and I learned they are native to Texas, super drought tolerant and called Barometer Bush because they are well known to flower before a storm. This one did not live up to its name as it is flowering a few days after receiving a downpour of 2 inches of rain. And they bloom in winter in their native habit. Go figure. Here they are, growing in unamended sugar sand; the dogs run by them daily, pile sand on them and dig them up. It is safe to say this is a tough plant.

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As for the rest of the flowers, the Summer Solstice has brought nearly daily thundershowers so all the native wildflowers are lush with foliage and flowers. The Tropical Red Salvia has the seeds stripped off of every seedhead, the seeds must be really good right now. And the birds must be happy.

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The red and peach spikes are Tropical Red Salvia (Salvia coccinea), the white spikes are Sweet Almond (Aloysia virgata), red clusters are Heirloom Pentas (Penta lanceolata), white flowers at the top are Sweet Begonia (Begonia odorata), white flowers at bottom are Bridal Bouquet Frangipani (Plumeria pudica), yellow flowers are Beach Sunflowers (Helianthus debilis), the ferns are Boston in back and Asparagus on the side. Both volunteers in the garden.

I am enjoying the scents of Frangipani and Sweet Almond from the vase. The glass vase was found on the side of the road while walking the dogs.  The Greyhounds are still digging up the Barometer Bush – maybe they are wondering when it will rain.

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In A Vase on Monday – Summer G’s

 

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Summer began on Thursday here, complete with thunderstorms and wet blanket of humidity slapping me in the face when traveling from air conditioned space to the great, sweaty outdoors. Summer flowers are a consolation for the weather.

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The G’s are Gardenias and Gallardias, the Tropical Gardenias are stalwarts in my garden. They thrive under dreadful conditions and supply flowers off and on all summer long. The plant is probably ten feet tall and I struggle to reach the flowers, having jettisoned more than one across the vegetable garden by letting go of a long branch too quickly. Oddly enough, the buds last a really long time in the vase, but the flowers don’t. I love the graceful lines of the buds, when hanging over (and around) the side of a contrasting vase, the summer garden is looking fine indoors.

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The first G is Florida (or Tropical) Gardenias (Tabernaemontana divaricata), semi deciduous, in my experience and not particularly hardy to frost. The other G is Gallardia (Gallardia pulchella), a native wildflower I have been trying to establish in the Pollinator Garden. The third plant in the vase is a Penta lanceolata, a plant known to serve as a nectar plant for butterflies. I have noticed the butterflies sipping on the flowers, hoping for offspring.

Speaking of pollinators, they are back for summer – these are caterpillars of Gulf fritillary butterflies chowing down on my ‘Lady Margaret’ Passionflower vine. Lady Margaret has been perverse in her unwillingness to flower in my garden, so I don’t mind if the Gulf fritallaries eat her up.

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Here are the Gulf Frittilaries from last year. I hope to get better pictures this year,

 

 

In a Vase on Monday -Festivitea

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I was absent from IAVOM last week as I was attending some festivities out of town. I went to a reunion of my college Landscape Architecture class at the University of Georgia in Athens, Georgia. April in North Georgia is lovely and we had a luncheon in the courtyard of the Founder’s Memorial Garden on campus. Here is the fruit parterre garden, the shapes formed by the boxwood are lemon, lime, strawberry and cherry; if memory serves – and sometimes memory refuses. This garden is part of the curriculum to learn how to draw Landscape Plans, I can only wonder how many times it has been drawn.

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The house, originally built in 1857 has served many purposes; most recently the headquarters of the Garden Club of Georgia. The garden commemorates the Founders of the Garden Club movement, established in Athens in 1891 and was opened in 1939 by the first dean of the Landscape Architecture school, Hubert B. Owens. More About the Garden

Back to my Festiv-i-tea vase.

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The vase is a teapot of English Blue Willow, one of my all time favorites. For whatever reason, there are a lot of hot colors flowering right now. Soft spring colors are not really a thing in South Florida, in my garden anyway. Living in a deep peach painted house discourages the use of pinks and lavendars.

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The teapot is stuffed full of flowers. The big orange flower is Mexican Bush Honeysuckle (Justicia spicigera), I have been enjoying pruning this one back to size for vases. Nearby are white Petunias of mystical origin; white daisies are the invasive native Bidens alba; the small sunflowers are another native, Beach Sunflowers (Helianthus debilis); red star shaped flowers are Petunia exserta; a few Parrotflowers in the front (Heliconia psittacorum; grey foliage is from Helichyseum petiolaris, Licorice Plant and there is some Tropical Red Salvia (Salvia coccinea) in the back that is not in this picture.

Hope everyone had lovely Easter festivities!

Happy Monday.

The Mulchmeister

20190110_151300I 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?

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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.

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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.

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Ahhh, cozy plants, just waiting for everything to grow together.

In A Vase on Monday – Beauty of Berries

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Many gardens sport a Beautyberry (Calliocarpa americana). Native to a large portion of the Eastern United States, the promise of lurid purple berries is hard to resist. Add to that the buzzing of native pollinators around the flowers in the form of rare Atala butterflies in my garden and the natural mosquito repellants in the leaves of the Beautyberry, these shrubs are a must have in my garden. I was surprised to see the Atala butterflies sipping the flower nectar.

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Continuing with the purple theme, I added foliage and flowers from Purpleheart (Setcresea); accenting with a few white flowers and dark green foliage from the Tropical Gardenia (Tabernaemontana divericata) and a few stems of the chartruese little black dress of the garden – Alabama Sunset Coleus.20180826_123642

Voila, the beauty of Beautyberries and a welcome sign of summer winding down in my garden.

In A Vase On Monday – Local Color

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Strange as it may seem, pink is a holiday color in South Florida. Holiday pinks are most prominently manifested in a never ending parade of flamingo themed Christmas decor. My street features flamingos as Mr and Mrs Claus giving presents, flamingos with candy canes and a sleigh pulled by eight tiny flamingos in red capes. Last year I mentioned the flamingos in red capes and a fellow blogger who shall remain unnamed suggested I had overquaffed the eggnog. This year I have pictures.

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As unique as this may seem, there is another sleigh/flamingo configuration around the corner twice the size done entirely with lights – no capes.

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My pink holiday vase features, in pink, the Shell Ginger (Alpinia zerumbet). The Shell Ginger was quite shredded by Hurricane Irma, I decided to leave it and am being rewarded with flowers about half the usual size, puzzling, but it is nice to have the flowers and there are many more on the plant. The grey flowers are from the succulent Flapjack Kalanchoe, the  off white flowers from the mystery plant finally identified by a blog friend of Eliza’s as  Wireweed, a Florida wildflower.

I added local color this weekend by making a wreath using components from my garden. No pink or pink flamingos.

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The yellow and red flowers forming the ring are from Blanchetiana Bromeliad, the green leaves wrapping the wreath are from a Pandanus, species unknown. I think this will last through New Years.

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In A Vase on Monday – Holiday Shrimp

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This holiday shrimp is not for dinner or appetizers, it is for the vase and from the garden, not the sea. I love shrimp from the sea, my husband has unfortunately been somewhat shrimphobic when it comes to eating the shellfish. I cope with this by having garlic laden Shrimp Scampi when we dine out, sometimes to his chagrin.

I was looking for holiday reds and greens this week and the Red Shrimp Plants caught my eye.  A burst of flowers appeared just in time to fill the cranberry glass vase, a thrift shop find from earlier this year

The red flowers on the menu are the Red Shrimp Plant (Justicia brandegeana); off white spikes, the mystery plant that appeared last year; white flowers are from Sweet Begonia (Begonia odorata), burgundy and green foliage is Solar Sunrise Coleus. A simple but tasty holiday concoction.

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The Red Shrimp Plant is a passalong from my neighbor as is the Solar Sunrise Coleus. Below is the Shrimp Plant in the garden, thriving in full shade and sugar sand. It flowers off and on year round, I don’t think I have ever fertilized it or sprayed it for any reason. My kind of plant. Happy go lucky with benign neglect.

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We are having a cool spell here in Florida, temperatures were in the mid 40’s this morning. The clear, sunny day was made for gardening – I finished planting seeds in what is becoming my tropical potager, if there is such a thing.

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The green beans and tomatoes are already bearing fruit. Work is ongoing in this kitchen garden. I have included flowers for cutting in blocks with the vegetables, most are seedlings about an inch tall. A total experiment as I usually don’t start with seeds. So far, so good.