In A Vase on Monday – Christmas Presence

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The holiday season is making its presence known here in South Florida. I bought myself some early Christmas presents today at our local Big Box store. Hand clippers and a big weeder/hoe combination to use on the dreadful Torpedo Grass I have been fighting in the vegetable garden. While navigating the parking lot, I noticed a tent, featuring a plethora of desiccating Frazier Fir Christmas trees. The tent, adding insult to the injury of being cut down, shading the trees to contemplate their ultimate demise after being dumped into an asphalt topped parking lot 800 miles south of home. The fragrance was intoxicating, but taking a tree home this early leads to a crunchy fire hazard before Christmas.

Bing Crosby was crooning ‘I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas’ in the background of the store; meanwhile the ambient temperature is above 80 degrees and the locals are buying Poinsettias to be used outside as bedding plants and strings of holiday lights to festoon their Palm trees. The favored theme decoration – The Flamingo, perhaps in holiday drag. Not sure how they feel about fake fur attire. The whole shebang tends to bend the mind.

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The flamingoes, embarrassed, perhaps. This always seems a bit odd to me.

The container for my vase today is a Christmas gift from a longtime friend. I have decided to stop saying old friend for good reason. We met in college, need I say more? The container is locally handmade from all natural materials and a bit of a challenge to use because it is very light – and tends to fall over. I finally put a heavy glass frog in the base and added flowers. And it worked!

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This is my artistic photo, a rarity, but I like it.

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More arty photos. I use the term loosely, a vase that was difficult photographing.

The vase includes in red and yellow, Parrotflowers (Heliconia psittacorum); the red flowers are Turks Cap Hibiscus (Hibiscus malvaviscus); red and orange bits from the Blanchetiana Bromeiliad, varigated foliage from the Pie Crust Croton (Codieum varigatum), Asian Sword Ferns and a Split Leat Philodendron (Philodendron selloum) in the back.

Happy Holidays!

 

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In A Vase on Monday – Winter Wildflowers

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Oftentimes when I start my vase I have to decide between tropical and well, non tropical seeming flowers. This week’s decision was in favor of the non tropical which are in fact somewhat tropical. For some reason, even though I live in a frost free area populated with Mangoes and Birds of Paradise the climate is considered subtropical. My favorite Florida plant material author, Frederick Stresau, calls this area Tropic Florida. No one else does. I like the title.

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Tropic Florida is home to some amazing wildflowers, so amazing in fact they will take over. Last week I think Chloris was featuring Bidens, on her blog not the B. alba from my garden-a relative.  ACK, I have Bidens running out of my ears and can only hope I have pulled enough out. The onset of cooler weather brings the reseeding annuals out of their slumber and starts a new season of flowers.

The components of this vase are either native to Florida or something that just appeared in my garden. The hat is hardly necessary this time of year, but hand pruners are a must..

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The white flowers are Spanish Needles (Bidens alba) cute but annoying. The yellow daisies Beach Sunflowers (Helianthus debilis); red and yellow daisies, Native Gallardias; deep blues, native Porterweed; red spikes, Tropical Red Salvia (Salvia coccinea); the grasses flowing in the background, Muhly Grass (Muhlbergia capillaris).

The vase? A Portmerion canister I received as a wedding gift. Thinking I would complete the set I held onto it for almost 25 years.. The canister remains alone in my mother’s china cabinet, awaiting flour and sugar containers with similarly abandoned Botanic Garden pieces.

The first harvest from the garden, 12 green beans with a cherry tomato (one,very tasty)

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Happy Monday!

In A Vase on Monday – Pre Thanksgiving

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Thanksgiving is celebrated in the US on Thursday this week. I found a perfect centerpiece container at the thrift store recently and decided to do a pre Thanksgiving arrangement before going full autumnal.

The Thanksgiving centerpiece sans flowers:

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Company arrives tomorrow afternoon, so the pre vase will go on the dining room table with lavender candles. Wednesday I will go full autumn centerpiece in the thrift store container. I have inadvertently ended up with numerous red and orange plants in the garden. High colors of the tropics I suppose and a good selection of fall-ish colored plants for an autumn arrangement without the crisp temperatures or actual fall.

Here is what late fall in South Florida looks like, about 78 degrees Fahrenheit with a light breeze.

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There is good reason to be here.

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The details. The vase belonged to my mother, acquired out west somewhere after my parents retired and went on meandering trips driving around the western US. It is marked Ute and probably made by the Ute Tribe of Native Americans in Colorado, late 1980’s. I enjoy having vases from my mother during the holidays as she is no longer with us.

The flowers: Deeper purple spikes are from Mexican Sage (Salvia sp), lighter purple, Spathoglottis Orchids “Cabernet’, the bits of deep blue are from our native Porterweed. The white mystery plant spikes appeared in my garden and I just keep cutting them. Foliage is Copper Fennel in dark gray and Asian Sword Ferns.

Happy Thanksgiving!

In A Vase on Monday – Purple Haze

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Purple Haze, all in my brain.

Is it the Muhly Grass, or just the change in time?

I am not at all sure if Daylight Saving Time is peculiar to the US, but I have a strong sense it happens elsewhere. We turned our clocks back one hour on Saturday night. This seemingly tiny adjustment always throws me off a bit.

I have been enjoying my hazy pinky purple Muhly Grass and bought a Mexican Sage last week to add to the purpleness of my perennial border. Naturally, I thought of Jimi Hendrix.

Hence the guitar.

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Here are the correct lyrics:

Purple Haze

By Jimi Hendrix

Purple haze, all in my brain
Lately things they don’t seem the same
Actin’ funny, but I don’t know why
Excuse me while I kiss the sky
Purple haze, all around
Don’t know if I’m comin’ up or down
Am I happy or in misery?
What ever it is, that girl put a spell on me
Help me
Help me
Oh, no, no
Ooo, ahhh
Ooo, ahhh
Ooo, ahhh
Ooo, ahhh,
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The components of the vase include:
In purple spikes, Mexican Sage (a Salvia of some sort)
Grey foliage, Texas Sage (Luecophyllum)
Purple Ornamental Peppers
In Chartreuse, Alabama Coleus
The Purple Haze, Muhly Grass (Muhlebergia capillaris)
Grey Ferny Foliage, Copper Fennel
White spikes, not a clue.
Excuse me while I kiss the sky.

In A Vase on Monday – Ahhhhtumn is Here

 

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Sometime during the month of October there is a collective sigh of relief from the inhabitants of South Florida. It finally happened last Friday, temperatures and humidity dropped. I spent the day in my garden, then later in the afternoon enjoyed a glass of wine amongst my burgeoning collection of Bromeliads.

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After my glass of wine, I quickly put all the cushions back in the house as Tropical Storm Phillipe was forecast to pass through on Saturday. Philippe dumped a few inches of rain on the garden and then headed to New England to wreak havoc further north.

Sunday turned into a beautiful, somewhat windy day and I spent time searching for vase components with the Dragonflies (swarming to eat post storm mosquitoes) and Longwing Butterflies searching for a sip of nectar. In the background, I heard Sand Hill Cranes, home for the winter calling out to friends and lovers.

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The contents of my vase include in red, front and center, Turks Cap Hibiscus (Hibiscus malvaviscus), the red spikes and seedy spikes are Tropical Red Salvia (Salvia coccinea). The yellow and orange spikes are from the Blanchetiana Bromeliad (Aechmea blanchetiana). The creamy white spikes are a mystery plant that appeared in the garden several years ago, I have not been able to identify it, but it is a great fall vase component and seems well mannered enough to live in the garden. The fluffy pink background grass is Muhly Grass (Muhlbergia capillaris) I am loving my Muhly Grass this fall.

Ahh, Autumn is finally here. It is seventy degrees, cool not experienced since last spring.

Happy Halloween!

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 -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.