In A Vase on Monday -Funky Fall Flowers

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I get some interesting comments from readers about my plant selections. Exotic is the most common description, though weird, unusual and alien have been bandied about. I tend towards the unusual, possibly due to spending over 30 years designing landscapes for corporations. Corporations like a clean, green hedge around their buildings, parsley around the pig is how I refer to the clean green, preferably not interesting in any way. Think Viburnum of any kind clipped into submission. Gardeners tend to be a lot more fun to work with and also avoid workhorse Viburnums.

My garden sports no workhorse shrubs, all selections are off the wall and flowering and fruiting to their hearts content. Corporations would hate it. Not a clipped Viburnum in sight.

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Even I think this vase is funky, put together for texture and color. It speaks of South Florida in the Fall.

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The purple flower is an Orchid, Spathoglottis ‘Cabernet’. The pink vine is a Coral Vine (Antigonon leptopus), some call this Queen’s Wreath. The white spikes are from Snake Plant or Mother In Law’s Tongue (Sanseveira) – they flower here and are considered invasive – it would take a bulldozer to rid my garden of these. Purple berries are from the Beautyberry (Calliocarpa americana) I think the berry production in Florida is triple what my northern plants produced. The striped leaf is from a Screw Pine (Pandanus sp.) I love these and bought a small plant that is surprising me with variegated foliage. Screw Pines are common in the South Pacific and remind me of Hawaii.

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A Screw Pine (Pandanus) on the Pacific Ocean near Hana, Maui. Kinda funky, had to have one in my garden.

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In A Vase on Monday- Soothing Relief

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This morning our temperatures were in the low 70’s with a nice breeze from Hurricane Maria passing by (a long way off). The humidity was down a bit as well, so I worked in the garden getting my vegetable garden going. South Florida’s gardening season is opposite most of the Northern Hemisphere. Summer vegetables are planted in September and October, so I will have tomatoes in the winter. Hopefully. Corn is not even grown in the summer here as it is too hot for the plant to pollinate.20170924_132320

The anchor flower in this vase is a Soap Aloe (Aloe saponaria) which is supposed to be a soothing shampoo ingredient until you read up on it, seems more people are irritated by it than soothed. Stick to the Aloe Vera for relief. The Soap Aloe is the apricot and green candelabra shaped flower. The red flowers are our native Hibiscus, Turk’s Cap Mallow (Hibiscus malvaviscus). The mad funky flowers that look like Lobster Claws are Blanchetiana Bromeliad flowers – Hurricane Irma was not kind to these and I have trimmed the prettier parts for use in this vase. I have been channeling my Southern mother lately and am thinking of drying the rest and spray painting them gold for a holiday wreath. Although, that might be too funky.

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The vase is a big crystal affair that was a wedding gift – oh, many years ago from a dear friend who called the day before Hurricane Irma hit “just to hear my voice”, a truly lovely man. The components of the vase are of such a large scale (2 to 3 feet tall) I thought it called for the addition of some big tropical foliage. The smaller leaves in the arrangement are from Frangipani (Plumeria), the long reddish leaves from the Blanchetiana Bromeliad and the ferns are the ever present Asian Sword Ferns.

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The vegetable garden under construction. Hard to believe anything will grow in this ‘soil’.

In A Vase on Monday- Trimmings

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I have been renovating the Greyhound Beach in my back yard this holiday weekend. It is Labor Day in the US and Monday is a national holiday. My Greyhounds, Alan and Charles, have been gleefully destroying the turf behind the patio for the past few years. The mini racetrack in the backyard – visible from space.

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Here is Alan, with his favorite toy, Sharky, digging for reasons only dogs know. I flattened out the holes yesterday and installed edging for sod. Alan has been melancholy all day and refused to eat this morning. Later in the afternoon he relented and woofed down his dinner.

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Back to the title, Trimmings. As a part of my reclamation of Greyhound Beach, I decided to trim and tree form a Firebush that has overgrown its space. Trimming off armfuls of flowers. I stopped trimming to contemplate if I could shear the back of the shrub for screening and tree form the front – an Arboricultural dilemma.

This shrub was sold as a Dwarf Firebush, which actually means it gets 10 or 15 feet tall. Only in the Land of the Giants would this plant be considered dwarf. This sort of horticultural nonsense annoys me. One of the first plants installed in my garden to screen the well equipment:

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Firebush Hamelia patens

Here it is, four years later:

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And I have cut four feet off the top for the past couple of years, the Greyhound Beach is visible through the shrubs.

Now, this is where the Firebush trimmings ended up- in my vase. 20170903_114540

The vase itself is an English teapot in the Blue Willow style, one of my favorite flea market finds. There are two kinds of Firebush in the vase. The dark red is the native Hamelia patens var patens. The ones from the gigantic orange Firebush are Hamelia patens, I think, botanists argue about these plants. I thought some purple was in order and added Setcresea, some variegated Dwarf Pineapple foliage and some red weeds, um, native wildflowers. The name escapes me – one of those things you think is pretty until you realize the seedheads are like dandelions and there are 10 million in your yard.

Another wonderful attribute of the Firebush. Butterflies love them. Here is a Black Swallowtail that was passing by:

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And a Zebra Longwing:

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A gigantic Firebush in the garden has some advantages.

Happy Monday.

In A Vase on Monday – Gardening with Armadillos

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Sunday got off to a bit of a rough start, about 3 a.m. one of my greyhounds started to run around and whine. I got up, thinking he needed to go out and opened the door – only to hear a strange sound crashing around in the garden. Decided to turn on the security lights and low and behold, I spied an Armadillo. The shelled rodent (IMO) digging beside the metal screen enclosure on our porch, bashing his shell against the metal. Driving my poor dog mad and depriving both of us our beauty sleep.

As the dog ran out the door the foolish Armadillo ran into the fenced part of our yard – who knew an Armadillo could out run a greyhound?https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Armadillo

Cartoon time 3 a.m. My backyard. Starring Alan the Greyhound. Shown below in his usual state. Alan is the brown dog, the other one has no interest in getting up at 3 a.m.

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A few hours and cups of coffee later, I went to look for vase components in the garden the Armadillo had been digging in. Sure enough, he or she had been overturning Bromeliads, a favorite pastime for some reason made better by overturning burgundy or spotted Bromeliads. By trial and error, I eventually found out cardboard and mulch will keep the armadillos away, needs another application. Sigh.

20170806_100322 Seeking the components of a vase, I noted the Spathoglottis is flowering again. I know this really sounds like a disease, but is actually a lovely little Ground Orchid called Caberet. This is the second round of flowering since I planted it in January. It is the purple flower in the vase. The blue flowers are Porterweed, the jury is still out on which one and today it is really shedding for some reason. The yellow flowers are Lantana, Silvermound would be my guess for variety. The purple spotted foliage is from a Bromeliad the Armadillo overturned ‘Hallelujah’ Billbergia. A sprig of fern finishes the vase.

The Armadillo’s work last night:

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In A Vase on Monday – Back Up Pitcher

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The concept for my Monday vase was to arrange a low bowl of Frangipani with spiky accents. The Bridal Bouquet Frangipani are blooming profusely and I wanted an arrangement for the foyer.  I started with (I found out later) my lowest Blue Willow bowl with a glass frog to hold the white flowers in place. While placing the white Frangipani flowers I decided to pick some spiky red and blue ones to go with the bowl. As I was meandering through the garden one of my greyhounds lost his collar and I had to stop and find it. By the time the collar was found and I got back in the house the red and blue flowers had wilted.

Then, I realized the flowers were too short for the bowl. In search of a lower bowl, I concluded there were none and happened upon the glass pitcher. The Back Up Pitcher. My husband is the baseball fan, Atlanta Braves specifically. The baseball is from the 1995 World Series, signed by Mark Wohlers, a backup pitcher.

Here is another view:

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I left the spiky flowers soaking in the abandoned bowl, hoping for rejuvenation. Oddly enough, this worked. At this point a return trip to the garden was needed for some taller flowers.

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The players in my Back Up Pitcher: in white, Bridal Bouquet Frangipani (Plumeria pudica), in orange, Firebush (Hamelia patens var patens), in rosy red, Red Shrimp Plant (Justicia brandegeana), in blue, Porterweed, in red spikes, Tropical Red Salvia (Salvia coccinea), in red and yellow Parrotflowers (Heliconia psittacorum). Foliage accents are Asparagus Fern and Split Leaf Philodendron. Practically as many players as a baseball team.

Is the arrangement a home run?

Happy Monday.

In A Vase on Monday – Dinner Party Vase

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I am not actually having a dinner party, although a Garlic Rosemary Pork Roast is going in the oven shortly. This blue bud vase contains a few flowers I have not cut before and I have a feeling it will not last through dinner. I call these dinner party arrangements, great for a party but not much longer. This is a better shot of the blue vase:

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I picked up the vase at a church thrift store near my house this week. There were several and after arriving home, I wished I had bought three for you know, dinner parties! Imagine three flower filled blue vases with candles in between down the center of the table. I may need a return trip to the thrift store. Here is a closer view of the flowers:

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The pink flowers are a new native addition to the perennial border, Sunshine Mimosa (Mimosa  strigillosa). Yes, a groundcover Mimosa and Floridians consider this a replacement for lawn. I consider it a front of the border perennial that looks a lot like a weed. Possibly it’s first appearance IAVOM. I am waiting until after dinner to see if the petals fall off. The yellow and orange flowers are the faithful Gallardias that last in a vase and the garden. The blue flowers are from (I think) the native Porterweed, there is another potentially evil Porterweed lurking about, but I can’t tell the difference and it came with a plant I bought. The pretty blue flowers make a striking vertical accent. I have used this before and I think the pretty blue part falls off and you are left with the vertical accent.

Dessert with vertical accent only.

The Bromeliad in the middle is great vase material that sometimes dries in the vase only to be spray painted gold for the holidays, Aechmea miniata, the Miniata Bromeliad.

Speaking of Bromeliads, here is the mad tropical plant of the week:

This is a Blanchetiana Bromeliad in bud, I am 5’7″ and the buds are a bit taller than me.

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I would like to share some thoughts with you all.

First, thanks to Cathy for hosting IAVOM.

I just want to say I am amazed and humbled by the knowledge and creativity I see every week.

And I love sharing these mad tropical plants with like minded people.

Happy Monday.

In A Vase on Monday-Ironic Architecture

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The occasional Architectural floral arrangement appears in my house. I would consider this one is in that style. Generally speaking, I am ambivalent about Architectural furnishings and such. After working for an Architectural firm for a few years, I determined I really did not want to see or deal with another Architect for a really long time. Then, I married one. Twenty five years ago. Ironic.

This morning, finding the Soap Aloe in bloom, I decided to feature it’s large candelabra shaped flower stalk in a tall crystal vase. This idea sent me looking for a wedding gift, said tall crystal vase, from a dear friend, yes an Architect. Not remembering where I put it, I decided it must have been broken when we moved as I haven’t seen it in ages. Went on about my arranging using another vase, finished it, decided to look in the (gasp) crystal and china cabinet and there is was, safe and sound, stowed in the back. Ironic.

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This is a relatively simple plant palette. In orange and candelabra, the Soap Aloe (Aloe saponaria). A frond from our native Cabbage Palm (Palmetto sabal), the long green leaf is from a Sansiveria( Mother In Law tongues or Snake Plants), the long orange leaves are from Blanchetiana Bromeliads (Aechmea blanchetiana). It seems weird to me, I can think – I need a 4 foot long bit of orange foliage for this arrangement and then find it in the garden. Not particularly ironic, just an observation.

Here is the progress on the Night Blooming Cereus, bud has doubled in size.

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Happy Monday.