In A Vase on Monday- Soothing Relief


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.


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.


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


A Tomato Based Limerick


There once was a tomato in my garden,

An heirloom seedling gifted to me by the daughter of a game warden.

The seedling named Mortgage Lifter, it was said, never fails to inspire.

I waited gleefully for ripe fruit to transpire.

20160510_182314 (1)

The day finally dawned.

A perfectly ripe, red fruit had spawned.

The tomato was plucked

Into the kitchen it was trucked

A dinner salad was implored.

Mortgage Lifter  is patiently awaiting its fate on the cutting board.


A tomato knife was wielded.

A perfect red slice yielded.


The salad constructed, our forks and hearts were lifted.

Yet the mortgage was not shifted.

Recovering the Herb Garden


Terracotta Herb Container

Terracotta Herb Container

I have had abdominal surgery twice in two years. This has been detrimental to the quality of my herb and vegetable garden. The last surgery was in October and (knock wood) there are no more holes in my gut to repair. Yay, I have been pulling weeds (and am able to pull weeds!-very exciting) in an attempt to reclaim my two herb beds.

These two beds were constructed a couple of years ago and contain the most fertile soil on the otherwise laughably infertile sand dune I live on. The pure fecundity and variety of the weeds I removed was astounding. What is also interesting is the Rosemary, Bay and German Thyme have all managed to survive the onslaught. Thyme isn’t even supposed to grow this far south. Go figure. I like to use all of these herbs and have clipped the tips off while allowing innundation of the rest of the plant so things are a bit leggy or perhaps I will decide these are simply tree form herbs. Garden problem solving at its finest. The tree form.

Reclaimed Rosemary

Reclaimed Rosemary

I think the Rosemary will be OK. My experience with Rosemary is if cut back too hard it tends to die. Oddly enough the  Rosemary is leaning in the direction of the winter wind, it gives a sculptural effect to the plant.  I discovered the Chives had made bulbs about three times bigger than any I had seen before:

Overgrown Chives?

Overgrown Chives?

I looked at these and realized I probably have enough Chives for a restaurant. Chives, in my experience make maybe 1/2″ bulbs and retain circular foliage. These bulbs are 3 times bigger and the foliage is flat and not particularly tasty. My best guess is to divide and conquer, so I chopped them into bits and replanted them into a shadier area. Time will tell about the success of the chive chopping.

I have been using a terracotta container on my front porch for most herbs while the bigger beds languished in benign neglect. Currently the pot has Parsley, Creeping Rosemary, German and Lemon Thyme and Basil. It is close to the kitchen and a real plus is that the cats can’t get to it.

The refurbishing of the garden begins tomorrow. I have collected Lemon Thyme, Dill, Cilantro, Snow Peas and Radishes to grow with the existing Tree Formed Rosemary and Bay.

Hopefully it doesn’t rain.