The First Sign of Fall

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Fall is greatly anticipated in South Florida. Humidity and temperatures um, fall. And we love it.

Here is the first sign. Berries on the Beautyberry (Callicarpa americana). The butterflies have been enjoying these flowers and now I will enjoy the fruit. Floridians (not me) make jelly from the berries (usually described as astringent). If I find some jelly, I will buy it – having recently learned about Jamtinis, you guessed it fruity cocktails –Jamtini ideas. 

73 Days until October 15. The usual date for our first cold front.

It’s time to plant vegetable seeds! And have a Jamtini.

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In A Vase on Monday – Gift Bag from Zeus

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Zeus, I am told, is the Greek God of Rain. He gifted my garden with several gentle showers this week. I, in turn, was rewarded with flowers from my thirsty garden. The glass handbag was a thrift store find I happily filled with flowers.

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The white flowers are Bridal Bouquet Frangipani, made especially happy by the rain and flowering in earnest. I cut these to use in arrangements as they are very prolific, but a bit different in form from other Frangipanis that tend to be small, deciduous trees. These are a little more than a foot wide and planted to screen my neighbor’s fence. The fragrance is subtle, first thing in the morning when the dew is burning off the flowers – the scent (in front of my garage) divine. The foliage is also semi evergreen.

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The rest of the flowers are:

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From the left side: in red and yellow Parrottflowers (Heliconia psittacorum); in orange, Mexican Bush Honeysuckle (Justicia spicigera); pink are Rain Lilies (Zephyranthes, no clue on species, but another Greek God); red flower, Miniata Bromeliad (Aechmea miniata, from last week). A few of my favorite indestructible ferns for accent.

Happy Gardening and I hope Zeus is kind to all gardens this week.

In A Vase on Monday – Tropical Blues

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July in South Florida can give any gardener the blues. The temperatures have been in the mid 90s with a similar amount of humidity and it has basically refused to rain here despite the calendar’s insistence this is our rainy season. The tropical plants with big leaves are scorching, actually the weeds anywhere not served by our irrigation system are scorching, withering weeds incite a gleeful response from me and offset the gardening blues to a certain extent.

The summer blooming tropicals I have sited properly (always a good trick) are coping well and flowering, the others are, well, scorching. My blue vases are from the happy tropicals! The tropicals not getting quite enough water are really blue. And scorched.

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The big red, green and yellow bud is from Heliconia rostrata, Lobsterclaw Heliconia. I decided to cut this just to see how long it will last. Waiting for the flower to open seems to shorten it’s vase life. It will be interesting to see if it opens as it usually takes a week or so to get this:

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The small footed vase holds some Firebush flowers and Parrottflowers (Heliconia psittacorum) The Parrottflowers are having a tough year and seem a bit shrunken. Drought does not defeat Firebush here and they are feeding my butterfly brigade. Here is Zebra Longwing enjoying the nectar.20170608_152406-1

The blue violin holds a Miniata Bromeliad, the huge tree that shades this ground got a haircut from Hurricane Irma and yes, they are a bit scorched, but have graced me with a flower accompanied by a bit of Asian Sword Fern.

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The blue vases are all heirlooms, the violin belonged to my grandmother, the bottle is from my mother and the footed vase belonged to my in laws. No one was scorched.

That I am aware of.

In A Vase on Monday – Summer Surprises

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Every gardener gets a few surprises. Some are better than others. I have been doing a lot of design work lately, hence the funky picture.

My summer surprises have been the good kind and primarily pink this week.

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The Shell Ginger (Alpinia zerumbet) is in the pink champagne bottle a friend left after a holiday celebration, these are reported to flower three times a year – this is the first year for a second flowering, surprising me.

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In the grey round vase, it seems the Garden Gods have rewarded me with a Pink Cactus Dahlia, not.  My Dahlia quest continues.

This is one of my ubiquitous $5 garage sale finds. No one knows what the Bromeliad is or where to plant it, but one can be had for $5. For five bucks I got a wonderful surprise and there are pups. I think it is a Aechmea ‘fasciata’  variety- please let me know if you recognize it.

The leaves are from a nearby Sweet Begonia ( Begonia odorata)

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The third vase has the survivalist pink and chartruese Alabama Sunset Coleus I had lost hope for and pink and white (yes) Tropical Red Salvia (Salvia coccinea). Another surprise.

My biggest surprise this week was the hatching of the rare Atala Butterfly in my Coontie (small shrubby palms)

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In A Vase on Monday- Fruitless Effort

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The big leaf in this vase is from my Papaya tree. Papayas are easily grown here, the time from planting seed to picking fruit can be as little as 9 months. But, it’s always something in the garden. I like Hawaiian Papayas, smaller like pears, pink flesh and sweeter than their bigger cousins from the Tropical Americas. I planted some seed last year from a Hawaiian Papaya I had eaten, numerous seedlings came up and I selected three to plant in the garden. Hurricane Irma took out two and I was left with one reasonably good looking tree. I was elated when it flowered recently and then nothing happened, raisin like bits fell out when the flowers were finished. Turns out seedling Papayas can be male, female or both. This one is female, so fortunately I was able to buy a self pollinating Papaya that should pollinate both trees. Next year sometime. Maybe.20180708_104558-1

Joining the Papaya leaf in the arrangement are: in white, lower, Bridal Bouquet Frangipani (Plumeria pudica); in white, upper, Sweet Almond (Aloysia virgata); orange tubular plants are our native Firebush (Hamelia patens var patens); in red and yellow, Parrottflowers (Heliconia pssitacorum); at the top a few stems of Tropical Red Salvia (Salvia coccinea).

A closer view:

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Here is the Papaya tree:

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To view Papaya free vases from the world over, visit our hostess, Cathy at https://ramblinginthegarden.wordpress.com/.

In A Vase on Monday – Rock Lobster

20180701_152900-1Rock Lobster is a song by the B-52’s, circa 1980. I was in college at the time in their hometown, Athens, Georgia. To say the song was popular around town is an understatement. It will always remind me of college. In case you are not familiar with the song here is a link Rock Lobster video. 

I guess I have some splainin’ (explaining) to do. The red and yellow flower in the vase is – a Lobsterclaw Heliconia (Heliconia rostrata) – the rock is a crystal from my father’s collection, I think it is Halite, rock salt. My father was a geology professor and liked to say pass the NaCl (chemical name of salt) at the dinner table. Rock Lobster!

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The orange flowers in the vase are from the Mexican Honeysuckle (Justicia spicigera). The vase is a Rose` bottle I liked and saved from recycling. The Rose` wine, an international award winning $8 bottle from Aldi,  not so memorable. Then again, I am a fan of Chardonnay. The bottle/vase seemed kind of boring, so I added a Pandanus leaf around and tied it with a jute string. True confessions – Scotch tape was involved.

Heliconias fascinate me. So tropical. This one started to flower about two weeks ago, here it is on June 17. They slowly expand and then don’t last very long in a vase.

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News from the butterfly front. Here is my latest addition, another Swallowtail from the Parsley. I found him or her on my crushed shell driveway, trying to get wings unfurled. Scooped the butterfly up and placed it on a nearby Firebush (a nectar source) – see the white bits in the picture, crushed shell. The butterfly was gone when I came back, hopefully on to new adventures in the garden.

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The Swallowtail caterpillars completely consumed a large Parsley in a pot on my front porch. Usually, Parsley is a cool season annual here and gone by the first of June. This one has put on a new set of foliage and the Swallowtails have laid their eggs again. They are in the recently regenerated Fennel in the vegetable garden as well.

In A Vase on Monday – Tropical Elegance

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It is difficult to pinpoint what makes me think of these flowers as elegant. The long lines of the buds and stamens; the clear orange red color of the flowers in contrast to the simple heart shapes of the dark green foliage? I am not sure, so I arranged them simply in a brown pottery vase with Muscadine twigs.

Pretty simple. The vase I bought at our local charity shop.Something I am sure someone’s mother or aunt made and the ability to appreciate such things was lost in time or translation. My next comment was edited; as so, so many people don’t appreciate things made with our hands and hearts.

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The plants in this vase are very simple, Clerodendrum speciosum, Java Glorybower, in red orange flowers and Vitis rotundifolia, in twigs.

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It is what it is. Flowers and twigs. Simple and, hopefully, elegant.

On the butterfly front, here is another newborn:

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This is a Swallowtail, who grew up in my Parsley and hopefully flew away.