In a Vase on Monday – Sage Soap

This week’s title seems to suggest I found some intelligent soap. This is not the case. All of the soap in my house is as clueless as ever, just some suds. And I am not the sage one.

The soap comes from the Soap Aloe (Aloe saponaria) the orange flowers with a bit of green at the ends. Here is the plant. A South African native that flowers 4 times a year in my garden. If I break a leaf in half sudsy aloe pours out – apparently it is used to make shampoo. The dilemma, the large percentage of the population is allergic to it. I have not washed my hair with it, though I enjoy the flowers.

The sage in the arrangement is the Mystic Spires Salvia, the blue spikes. I have been enjoying the flowers for months and hopefully they will last into the winter. A closer view:

The blue spikes are Mystic Spires Salvia. The purple flowers are Mona Lavendar Plectranthus. The solid orange flowers are Mexican Bush Honeysuckle (Justicia spicigera); green tipped orange flowers are Soap Aloe (Aloe saponaria); white flowers are Bridal Bouquet Frangipani (Plumeria pudica); grey foliage is more sage, Texas Sage (Luecophyllum frutescens); burgundy spikes are from a Dwarf Pineapple, a gift from a friend. The vase grounding the arrangement, a thrift store find and favorite.

Happy Gardening and thanks to Cathy at http://www.ramblinginthegarden.wordpress.com for hosting IAVOM..to see more vases follow the link.

Six on Saturday – Fruit, Flowers and Foliage

The heat and humidity have gone into hyperdrive here. Highs over 90 (F) / 32 (C) for the next few days. The dog days of summer are here and my dogs have the right idea, reclining in air conditioned comfort. Not a good time to be in the garden, though I am thankful for the shade trees.

My first image today is a tree planted to shade my driveway about seven years ago, starting to really take over now. This is the fruit and foliage of Gumbo Limbo (Bursea simaruba)

The Gumbo Limbo has a hard cane Dendrobium orchid growing on its trunk. My neighbor brought this to me and it is just starting to root into the trunk. It should bloom in the winter with 4 or 5 foot long sprays of flowers. I am really looking forward to seeing this! The tree is sometimes called the Tourist Tree – because the bark looks like peeling, sunburned skin. I tied in onto the tree with pantyhose, you can see these on the right side of the image.

Duranta “Sapphire Showers” is a reliable summer bloomer. I planted this for butterflies, they love the nectar.

A new plant in the garden. Meet Aerva ‘Red Velvet’. I like a bit of burgundy foliage in the garden and it is a difficult plant to find that will grow in frying sugar sand. This is a ‘native’ of gravelly sand from India and a medicinal herb there. I am not going to eat any, but have taken several cuttings to propagate and spread throughout the garden.

This is Allamanda, creeping over from my neighbor. These are pretty – and very hard to get rid of. The sap from the vine is supposedly used by tribes in the rainforest for poison darts.

Interesting foliage today is the new growth on a Piecrust Croton (Codiaeum variegatum) The older foliage eventually is black with green, yellow and red varigation.

That’s it! Six plants and one dog image. From South Florida. To see more Six on Saturday posts visit Jon the Propagator at http://www.thepropagatorblog.wordpress.com

Happy Gardening and stay cool!

In a Vase on Monday – A Little Teapot

Anyone else remember this song? “I’m a Little Teapot,” released 1939. It was a favorite of my mother’s. This is her teapot, a wedding gift from 1950. I remember this making its daily appearance on the kitchen counter brewing tea for that iconic Southern beverage (appropriate for all occassions) syrupy sweet Iced Tea.

From Wikipedia:

The original lyrics are as follows:[4]

I’m a little teapot,
Short and stout,
Here is my handle
Here is my spout
When I get all steamed up,
Hear me shout,
Tip me over and pour me out!

I’m a very special teapot,
Yes, it’s true,
Here’s an example of what I can do,
I can turn my handle into a spout,
Tip me over and pour me out!

I aged out of the ability to drink Sweet Iced Tea at age 16. With the amount of sugar usually added, it is just too sweet for me. My grandmother added saccharine tablets to hers which put me off of Iced Tea for years. I would pray for Coca Cola at her house. Since then, straight up with a lemon is the only way I drink Iced Tea. I know, I am a bad Southerner.

I love this teapot because the interior has signifigant tea stain, evidence of what a mainstay this was in my mother’s kitchen.

I have a lot of plants in this little teapot. Tropical Gardenias (Tabernaemontana diviricata) started the idea – white and fragrant, they come from a ten foot tall tree form shrub that is over my head and wonderful to stand under and inhale the scent while trimming a few flowers. I have two types of Coleus foliage (Plectranthus whateveritisnow) – chartreuse and burgundy and chartreuse. White spikes are a few pieces of white Tropical Red Salvia (Salvia coccinea) – who are these people naming plants again?

Another view:

Tiny white flowers are from Tree Spinach (Chaya) – a superfood for people that I planted for butterflies. I haven’t eaten any as it is toxic unless you know how to cook it. Pink fuzzies are the Dwarf Chenille Plant (Acalphya pendula).

Another view:

As always, thank you to Cathy at http://www.ramblinginthegarden.wordpress.com for hosting this addictive garden meme. Sundays would not be the same at my house without it. Follow the link to see more vases.

Happy Gardening!

Six on Saturday – Tropical Fun

Summertime brings the rain and humidity – the more tropical plants love it and respond with fantastic flowers. Above is a Ylang Ylang (Canaga odorata) This is the primary floral scent in Chanel No. 5. I have a newly planted tree in my garden, this one is at a local nursery (Pinder’s Nursery, Palm City, Florida) I could not resist taking a picture to share.

A Strangler Fig (Ficus aurea) growing out of the top of my coconut palm tiki. There is a large Strangler Fig in the garden. These trees are a bit like something from a Harry Potter movie. They start in the top of something, grow over and down to put their roots in the ground and slowly surpass the host plant. They are commonly seen growing in the boots of palm trees.

A Coconut Palm (Cocos nucifera) seedling sprouted by a friend. I need to plant it about halfway down the coconut. Should have a tree in several years. Palms are surprisingly slow growing.

Blanchetiana Bromeliads are shooting up bloom spikes. These are about five feet tall and will get taller before opening. The flowers usually last until November or December; then I make Christmas wreaths with them. Above is the red variety. Below is the yellow, some call them Lemon – this is the first yellow one to flower, I am interested to see the difference.

The sixth:

Nam Doc Mai Mangoes getting bigger. A couple blew away in a thunderstorm, so I am hoping to eat this one someday.

Happy Gardening to all and thanks to Jon the Propagator for hosting SOS. To see more posts, visit http://www.thepropagatorblog.wordpress.com.

Six on Saturday – New Friends

I’m joining the Six on Saturday gang again with some new friends and growth in the garden. I select plants that butterflies and I enjoy. Above is a Gulf Fritillary that probably started out life as an egg on my large Passionfruit vine and has hung around the garden to sip nectar from the Tropical Red Salvia and Sapphire Showers Duranta.

A black swallowtail butterfly caterpillar. This guy started life as an egg on a parsley plant in a pot on my front porch. He ate all the parsley and I had to import some from another pot to feed him until he made the transition.

The Black Swallowtail caterpillar starting to form a chrysalis.

The transition complete, the butterfly will take 10 to 20 days to form. The chrysalis hangs from the basil plant in the same pot.

I finally caught the scent and flowers of the Moonvine. These are pollinated by night flying moths, I haven’t seen the moths.

A Red Shrimp plant (Justicia brandegeana) well known for attracting butterflies and hummingbirds. I rarely see a hummingbird here, they usually go down the west coast of Florida.

That’s it from me this Saturday. Hoping to see more butterflies shortly. To see more SOS posts visit http://www.thepropagatorblog.wordpress.com

Happy Gardening.

Six on Saturday – Favorite Summer Combos

Once again, I am joining the SOS crowd posting six interesting things from my garden. This Saturday, just past the Solstice and with the first hurricane forming in the Atlantic I am saluting my favorite Summer combos.

Mystic Spires Salvia and Dwarf Red Ixora, I love the contrast of colors. This bed also has white Pentas, yellow Callibrachoa, Blue Daze and chartruese Duranta.

Soap Aloe is flowering nearby.

In the butterfly garden, Gallardia and Tropical Red Salvia are flowering.

White Heirloom Pentas and Tropical Red Salvia in the butterfly garden.

In the rainforest garden, shades of red, burgundy and green shimmer in sunny spots.

Foliage contrasts in the rainforest garden, chartruese Quesnelia Bromeliad and Zebrina Wandering Jew groundcover, still pretty without flowers. The Quesnelias have pink flowers in winter.

Last, but not least, my favorite snack. Smoked Fish Dip – I am in the midst of making a batch as I blog..wine and fish dip later.

That makes seven..oh, well. To see proper SOS garden posts, visit Jon at http://www.thepropagatorblog.wordpress.com.

Happy Gardening.

In a Vase on Monday – Tropical Gardenias

The past few nights the fragrance from my Tropical Gardenias tickled my senses and compelled me to focus on the flowers in this week’s vase. Then I looked them up and found online sources calling them a Crepe Jasmine tree? Most locals call them Tropical or Florida Gardenias. Botanically they are Tabernaemontana divaricata, belonging to the same family as the more common Gardenia jasminoides but much more tropical, growing in the warmest areas of South Florida. They are bigger than common Gardenias, with oversized, glossy foliage and easily reach heights of ten feet. Additionally, nearly bug free and don’t need any coddling. I found mine buried under some overgrown shrubbery in the back yard and cut it free. It is probably 12 feet tall. A little effort is expended to reach and cut the flowers.

A closer view:

The cut flowers were arranged with most of their foliage intact. I pruned a bit of the foliage to emphasize the flowers and then added some cuttings of flowers from my Adonidia Palm (Veitchia merrilli) The vase, a thrift store find, is my favorite squatty vase.

I adore the flowers on palm trees, having never seen any before moving to Florida. They seem like an architectural element.

The palm flower.

Thank you to Cathy at http://www.ramblinginthegarden.wordpress.com for hosting this weekly gardening meme. I enjoy seeing vases of flowers from gardeners all over the world. Follow the link to see more vases.

Happy Gardening!

Six on Saturday – Fork Failure

I have to report the fork experiment was a failure. I placed these plastic forks a couple of weeks ago after a rabbit ate my Blue Pea Vine; they got it again last night. I may move to tomato cages or a tall pot. This is far enough out in the garden I don’t want to have to water a pot..a dilemma.

On to more positive things. My back up Papaya trees have set a bud and are almost four feet tall. I am waiting, breathlessly to see if the flowers are male, female or both.

I found a Thai Dessert Mango (Nam Doc Mai) lurking in the interior of the tree. This mango flowered a couple of months ago and dropped (I thought) all of the flowers. Except this one! And I looked up and noted it is flowering again, so hopefully I will get more Thai Mangos in a couple of months.

Thai Dessert Mango

The flower of a Barometer Bush (Luecophyllum frutescens) This shrub is noted for flowering before it rains. And it is doing its job well. It flowered profusely before we had about four inches of rain this week.

Flowers on the native Beautyberry (Calliocarpa americana). The Florida version of this shrub never fails to amaze me. It thrives in full sun during the hot summer and total shade in winter, rarely gets watered and produces a bumper crop of berries at the end of the summer – also attracts numerous types of butterflies with its nectar. I had these in my garden much further north and they were a shadow of this one.

That’s my six for this Saturday. To see more posts with six items of interest from gardens around the world, visit http://www.thepropagatorblog.wordpress.com.

Happy Gardening…

In a Vase on Monday – White Hot

It’s not white hot in South Florida. Yet. The fragrant white flowers are in bloom and some soothing fragrance for the house seems necessary (read, for me!). I decided to add some hot colors for spice and put them in a crystal rose bowl from my mother. I am not sure it has ever held roses during my tenure, certainly not while in South Florida. Roses can be grown here, but it is a lot of trouble and I would rather have the tropical flowers. Honestly, I would never do the amount of tending roses would need here. Here is an easier and much more forgiving fragrant flower, the Bridal Bouquet Frangipani. Shove a few cuttings in the ground and they reward you with six foot semi evergreen foliage and fragrant flowers for months.

Bridal Bouquet Frangipani is a favorite of mine, and oh, so easy to grow. It joins some other fragrant friends in my vase this Monday.

The Bridal Bouquet Frangipani (Plumeria pudica) is on the right side. The fragrant friends, in white, are Tropical Gardenias (Tabernaemontana diviricata) hanging over the side and Sweet Almond Bush (Aloysia virgata) spikes in the background. The hot colors, in red, front and center, the Red Guzmania Bromeliad; the red bells are Russelia equisetiformis, sometimes called the Firecracker Plant. Purple flowers are from Mona Lavender Plectranthus, and the purple foliage is Little Ruby Alternanthera. The ferns, much as I enjoy them in vases are the weed, Asian Sword Fern.

Thanks every week to Cathy, who hosts In a Vase on Monday at her blog http://www.ramblinginthegaarden.wordpress.com. Follow the link to find more vases.

In a Vase on Monday – Jarred Summer

While collecting flowers for my vase on Sunday, a thought passed through my mind. This is like a jar of summer from my garden. Most of these plants flower all summer and are hot colors. I added the cut flowers to an old pasta container – viola, jarred summer.

Summer can be a bit jarring to those not used to the tropical heat South Florida produces. I have heard it described as a hot, wet blanket that surrounds and then stuns you on the way out of the airport. This is accurate.

I am from the Deep South and thought I knew hot weather. South Florida is a different kind of hot. The first time my husband and I came down (inadvertently) it was the peak of hurricane season and the heat. All I could think was that my hair is hot. Blessed with thick hair, it is still hot – though, I am ready for it and fortunately; it is lighter in color – grey!

In this climate, lighter is better. I started life as a brunette; the grey is cooler, my real color now, though the flower is fake. I learned from this it is difficult to take a picture of your own hair. An old friend from college (a guy) and I have been sending hair pics back and forth. His is longer…

I digress, here is a closer view of the vase:

I love all the high colors, especially in the harsh light of summer in South Florida. Pink just doesn’t stand up to the tropical rays. The yellow daisies at the base are Beach Sunflowers (Helianthus debilis); yellow spikes are Thyrallis (Galphimia glauca) a new and long lasting favorite cut flower. Purple flowers are another new favorite, Mona Lavender Plectranthus, though I question the wisdom of whoever named this plant. Beautiful foliage and flowers and thriving in icky heat – I think it needs a more attractive name. Orange tube flowers are from Firebush (Hamelia patens); lighter orange and sage green flowers are from Soap Aloe (Aloe saponaria). Red spike flowers are Tropical Red Salvia (Salvia coccinea). Blurry white spikes in back are Sweet Almond (Aloysia virgata) for fragrance. A few sprigs of varigated foliage (Dianella spp) set off the flowers.

To see more In a Vase on Monday posts, visit Cathy at http://www.ramblinginthegarden.wordpress.com.

Happy Gardening.