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 – 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 – Maximum Minimalism

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Maximum minimalism seems a contradiction in terms. I was planning to call this Deconstructed Corsage, due to the Gardenia and Orchids. Shortly before I started writing the post, my husband came in and said ‘minimalism’. I countered ‘”it can’t be, too many different things in the vase”. Upon further reflection, there is something minimal about this arrangement, despite the use of six different plants. I think it is the long lines of the vase and Muhly Grass blending all the elements making it appear to be one plant. One spectacularly unusual plant.

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Fall has been slow to arrive here, there are some 50 degree low temperatures forecast this week. The temperature this afternoon was less than Autumnal, 86 degrees (feels like 95), 97% humidity. I will believe Fall is here when I see or feel it! The flowers on the Muhly Grass are a better indicator of the season than the weather.

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Plants in the arrangement from the top, Muhly Grass (Muhlbergia capillaris), ‘Cabernet’ Spathoglottis Orchids, ‘Hallelujah’ Bromeliad foliage behind the orchid, striped purple leaves are from Transcandentia zebrina, white flowers are Tropical Gardenia (Tabernaemontana divericata) and Sweet Begonias (Begonia odorata). The vase is a thrift shop find.

I still think this would make a good corsage.

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.

A Home for a Lonely Christmas Tree

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I am not quick about getting the Christmas decorations up. Anyone who knows me is aware I detest fake, silk or faux plants. So, the wreath on my front door is always real and never hangs around very long. South Florida is not kind to cut foliage hanging outdoors in the sun. This particular wreath is hanging in sling with a bottle of water holding Saw Palmetto, dried Bromeliad flowers, Brazilian Pepperberries, Frazier Fir and a dried miniature Pineapple.

I try to remember to buy a Christmas tree on Monday as fresh trees are delivered on Monday and the least amount of time spent broiling in the sun on an asphalt parking lot the better. This year it slipped my mind and I managed to wait until the Monday before Christmas. Oops, no fresh trees and what was left over was well, less than optimum. I sorted through the Frazier Firs marveling that the needles were still bending and not brown at all. Then decided to see if anything else appealed to me to use as a tree. Podocarpus and Palms are just too far afield to use as a Christmas tree.

Back I went to the Frazier Firs, finding one in reasonably good shape and looking a bit forlorn I was checking for a price tag. Not one to be found. I went inside and asked the cashier who replied ‘they’re free, we are trying to get rid of them’

Minutes later I was dragging the tree through the parking lot and a lady stopped to help me. I told her about it and she was off to the Christmas tree tent. Hopefully all the trees found homes.

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Merry Christmas!