In A Vase on Monday – Spring Mix Mystery


Spring is not quite in full force in South Florida and my garden is in tune with the season producing Spring Mix in the vegetable garden (lettuces) and a mixture of tropical and not so tropical flowers.

The lettuce is Baby Romaine, Arugula and Leaf Lettuce. The Cactus Zinnias have produced another round of tiny flowers, the foliage with the Zinnias is from the Hawaiian Snowbush (Breynia nivosa) a green, white and burgundy shrub that has white new growth like it snowed.20180311_142531-1.jpg

The Shell Ginger usually blooms in February or March and is a bit late this year. I am not sure if this is due to a chilly spell in January or the Hurricane last year. This is Shell Ginger (Alpinia zerumbet), a Split Leaf Philodendron (Philodendron selloum) leaf and some Asian Sword Fern.


The mystery is the Amaryllis in bud I cut a few days ago, hoping for a long lasting cut flower. About 15 years ago, my father in law gave me some bulbs. his were red and despite my carrying them around all this time, they have never bloomed. There were also numerous bulbs in the garden that I think are our native Spider Lilies, but this is obviously Amaryllis- waiting to see it’s pedigree, inherited from family or a real estate transaction?

Happy early Spring and welcome back to the garden.


In A Purse on Monday


After breakfast on Saturday morning I discovered I was completely out of cereal. This meant a trip to the detestable grocery store. During winter, the population of South Florida doubles and the grocery stores are filled with sunburned people in inappropriate attire blocking access to all the food while gaping at the selection. This becomes tiresome after a few months. It is hard to decide which is worse, the attire, the people,  or the gaping.

That said, feeling better now. I decided to go to the grocery next to the Thrift/Charity shop and have a look around before facing the cereal dilemma. I came across this blown glass handbag/purse/pocketbook and bought it immediately. Being quite cheered up by my new vase, I survived the grocery endeavor with style and, having purchased cereal, could once again eat breakfast.


I am please to report the Cactus Zinnias attained some height after being cut back and fertilized. Other components of the vase include: in orange and the top are Firebush (Hamelia patens); in orange and the bottom of the arrangement, Mexican Honeysuckle (Justicia spicigera); lighter purple flowers are Purple Verbena (Verbena spp.); darker blue are our Native Porterweed. The ferns are Asian Sword Ferns. There are a few native Gallardia (Gallardia pulchella) at the base.

Updating my continuing saga of the Potager, I have added two Southern Highbush Blueberries, the variety ‘Sunshine Blue’ is purported to produce fruit with 145 hours of temperatures below 45 degrees Fahrenheit. I think that will work. Strangely enough, these shrubs have set fruit since they have been in the garden. I may have four blueberries this summer! My Thai Dessert Mangoes are setting fruit as well, here they are:


Eventually the berries will drop off to two or three Mangoes and the flower will turn upside down from the weight of the fruit. Hoping for a Mango with Four Blueberry Pie this summer.


In A Vase on Monday – Boxed Florida Sunshine.


The Beach Sunflowers are overtaking my front yard. The mailman, raised in the Florida Keys, stopped to inform me no one left the Beach Sunflowers in their garden when he was growing up – they were considered weeds, though clearly he was wondering if maybe it was a good idea. Floridians, the rare native ones,  tend not to appreciate things that are common (and wonderful). I think the tide of appreciation is turning to plants more suited to their native environment – who couldn’t appreciate a box of sunshine from Florida on a fine February morning?


The blue watercolor box is filled with Helianthus debilis, Beach Sunflower. Beach Sunflower is a native reseeding biennial – the reasons I love these, they bloom nearly year round, thrive in pure sand, outcompete most weeds and can be pruned to low masses. What’s not to love?

The fruit tree update. Mangoes are flowering here, we will have fruit in June or July, the panicles produce numerous fruits – most fall off and maybe one to three fruits per flower is left. By late spring, the branches will be bending from the weight of the fruit.


This is a big Haden Mango located on my daily dog walk route. My little Mangoes are flowering a little, but nothing like this.

I bought another fruit tree, a Red Jaboticaba:


This is a South American fruit tree that bears a grape like fruit on the trunk. In a few years. Patience, gardeners.


In A Vase on Monday – Hairy Potter and the Goblet of Fire.


On this lovely sunny Sunday morning, I spent time in my garden, repotting annuals in some of my clay containers, completed the planting of my new Mango tree, and then searched for flowers for IAVOM. Some of the Zinnias were leaning a bit so I decided to cut them and add flowers from the native pollinator garden near the vegetables in the Potager garden. The silverplate goblet, a remnant from my mother’s household, was selected as the vase for this week.

The Zinnias have not grown more than 8 inches tall and I have cut them with short stems to see if the plants would grow taller.  This made the plants branch out and produce more shorter stemmed flowers – which works well with the goblet. I cut the leaning flowers, puzzled, until I realized fire ants had moved into the Zinnia flowers – weighting them down with the beginnings of an imported sand nest. I shook them off quickly and remain unscathed despite my ant encounter.20180218_100304-1.jpg

Joining the Zinnias from the native pollinator garden are in purple, a Mexican Sage (Salvia leucanthemum) not native but the bees love it. In blue with long green stems, our native Porterweed; in peach, native Tropical Red Salvia (Salvia coccinea) and in orange and red, the native Gallardias (Gallardia pulchella). The herb Dill has already started to go to seed (planted for me and the butterflies to eat)- so there is a Dill flower at the top.

The native pollinator garden was started to attract the fantastic butterflies we have in Florida, an added bonus, and unconsidered by the gardener – the native pollinators will help keep the bad bugs out of the nearby Potager. And it works, I have not sprayed the first bug in the garden and only recently threw some tomatoes away that tomato worms had gotten into. 20180218_100839_HDR-1.jpg

Here is the work in progress Potager, behind is the native pollinator garden. I think I cut most of the flowers off for the vase. I am planting the dwarf Mango and fruit trees where I am standing, hopefully considering the sun angles properly! I planted the last of the vegetable seeds for the season, Zucchini, pole beans, radishes and green onions about a week ago.  We should have Salads and green vegetables until May and then the garden will be put to sleep for the summer. Here is my garden to table lunch salad, mostly grown by me.


If you are wondering about the Hairy Potter, that would be me. I am well known for my abundant tresses – causing more than one exhausted hairdresser to ask after cutting my hair “Do I really have to dry it”.

Happy Gardening.

In A Vase on Monday – Crystal Blue Persuasion


Last week our fearless hostess, Cathy from  posted about Blue, an album by Joni Mitchell, relating the album to her vase. My In A Vase on Monday post had some crystals from my father, the geology professor. This made me remember the song, Crystal Blue Persuasion, by Tommy James and The Shondells. The song never made any sense to me, but it is pretty catchy and I had some blue crystals and some flowers I have been trying to persuade to flower.


The flowers  I have been trying to persuade are in a blue glass inherited from my in laws. This is my second attempt at Cactus Zinnias, they seem to top out about 7 inches, cute but I would like them to be taller. The Mexican Sage (Salvia leucathemum) is listless in the garden, reluctantly sending up a puny purple flower. The purple Verbena is a native beach plant, supposedly rare. I bought this at a native plant sale last year – I passed by it a couple of weeks ago, indiscriminately chopped it back and was rewarded with two flowers. I think all need more heat or longer day length

The crystals are from my father. I think they are soapstone, blue tourmaline and pyrite.

Feeling the need for more flowers, I assembled another vase. I would entitle this one: Junk That Came Up in My Garden, because, truth be told – that is exactly what it is, and, dang, -it is pretty. And in a crystal blue, uh, container.


What we have here- the flowers:in yellow, Beach Sunflowers (Helianthus debilis); in white Bidens alba, in purple, the uber weed, Florida Tasselflower-my opinion (exclusively) as botanists are contemplating something about this plant. the peach pink flowers – something that came up from the native Tropical Red Salvia (Salvia coccinea): and the mystical Wireweed, another volunteer.

Here are both vases:


And the song:

Look over yonder
What do you see?
The sun is a’rising
Most definitely
A new day is coming, ooh, ooh
People are changing
Ain’t it beautiful, ooh, ooh
Crystal blue persuasion
Better get ready to see the light
Love, love is the answer, ooh, ooh
And that’s all right
So don’t you give up now, ooh, ooh
So easy to find
Just look to your soul
And open your mind
Crystal blue persuasion, mmm, mmm
It’s a new vibration
Crystal blue persuasion
Crystal, blue persuasion
Maybe tomorrow
When he looks down
On every green field, ooh, ooh
And every town
All of his children
And every nation
They’ll be peace and good brotherhood
Crystal blue persuasion, yeah
Crystal blue persuasion, aha
Crystal blue persuasion, aha
Crystal blue persuasion, aha
Songwriters: Eddie Morley Gray / Mike Vale / Tommy James
Crystal Blue Persuasion lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC
Happy Gardening and Happy Monday.

In A Vase on Monday-Two Birds, One Stone


The weather has been oddly cold this January for South Florida. It occurred to me I should take some cuttings of some of the more tender vegetation, just to be safe. The Angel or Dragon Wing Begonias are usually perennials here as are Coleus and Transcandentia zebrina (Wandering Jew or, apparently, Wandering Dude is you are more politically correct than I am)


As the saying goes, I decided to kill two birds with one stone and create an arrangement that will hopefully produce rooted cuttings to add back to the garden. The two birds and stone are gifts from my father, the vase from my brother. Both are gone, so I enjoy using these props and remembering my family. My father was a geology professor, the stone is Fool’s Gold from his collection of crystals, the ducks – a gift to remind me to keep my ducks in a row. I think taking cuttings for a flower arrangement in hopes of getting more plants might be considered getting my ducks in a row as I know where I would put all these plants if they strike roots!


The plants in this vase include: in red flowers, Dragon Wing Begonias, in white flowers, Sweet Begonias (Begonia odorata ‘Alba’), Solar Sunrise Coleus, and purple and silver striped Whatever Jew or Dude (Transcandentia zebrina). No idea on botanical names for coleus or Dragon Wing Begonias, cultivar, blah, whatever.

Now, for everyone’s ongoing amusement. The masses of MILT beside my house. Okay, Mother In Law’s Tongue, about 400 square feet. Weird, crazy, yes. Got a bulldozer?




In A Vase On Monday – Local Color


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.


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


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.


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.