In A Vase on Monday – Joining the Revolution


Given the recent marches in protest of, at this point, seemingly nearly everything related to science, nature and politics, I was surprised to find there’s yet another Revolution brewing. Involving flower arrangements!


My favorite neighbor saved an article for me from the New York Times Style section regarding the revolution in flower arranging being brought about by the Milennials. Seems people are going back to flowers from their gardens and seasonal foraging to fill their vases. Pesticide ridden roses from South America are being eschewed for, in my opinion, more beautiful flowers. If this is a Revolution I am all for it! Here is a link to the article Floral Revolution Link.


I am certain this is not a revolutionary arrangement from my garden, it is however a new combination.  Ascending, and in red, are Turks Cap Hibiscus ( Malvaviscus pendulifloris); in white and slightly bigger are Tropical Gardenias (Tabernaemontana divaricata), the smaller white flowers with seed heads are Sweet Begonias (Begonia odorata). The bigger orange flower is Mexican Bush Honeysuckle (Justicia spicigera), the other orange flowers are from our native Firebush (Hamelia patens var patens). I  thought the star of the revolution would be the Gardenias but I think the Turks Cap Hibiscus gets my vote. I fertilized a nearby palm with some divine organic palm fertilizer and that Turks Cap has never been happier. The vase is a thrift store find. Celadon green and I am certain hand thrown – clunky in the most marvelous way things crafted by hand can be.

The new animal friends (I hope) in my garden this week are:

The lizard is a Northern Curly Tail Lizard, about 8 inches long and bearing a striking resemble to an Iguana. Having never seen one in my garden before, I read up on them and there’s a good reason – it is a relative of the Iguana, fortunately smaller. The Northern refers to the northern Bahamas!

The Zebra Longwing butterflies have come back out with the flowering of the Firebush. These are a favorite of mine and the state butterfly of Florida.

Vasers, Happy Monday and please carry on with the Revolution.

In A Vase on Monday – Totally Tropical


This vase is about as tropical as it gets. It holds the first Frangipani flowers of the year and the last two Shell Ginger blossoms (I think). I have another Shell Ginger that has always received less water and attention and it is flowering with much smaller, infrequent bursts. The fragrance of the arrangement is pure Polynesia, sweet Frangipani foiled by lightly spicy ginger. I should start making shampoo or suntan lotion from this combination. I have a small foyer and it is filled with the scent. We have finally gotten some rain here in the form of a 4 inches plus deluge over about 15 hours. The flowers are a great counter to Eau d’ Wet Greyhound.

The flowers in the vase are in pink, Shell Ginger (Alpinia zerumbet), in white, Frangipani (Plumeria ?) I was in Maui last fall and this is different from the White Plumeria there, the flowers are actually bigger and less waxy. I found there are many varieties of Frangipani but am not sure what this is – another garage sale find (as are the Shell Ginger) The orange flowers are Mexican Bush Honeysuckle (Justicia spicigera) I actually bought at a nursery and have never seen another. The foliage is cut from the Shell Ginger and some long fronds of Asian Sword Fern.

The latest visitors adding a tropical vibe to my garden.

A White Heron on my shell driveway and a Gopher Tortoise stopping by to eat the fruit of the Surinam Cherries.

Happy Monday!

Garden Bloggers Foliage Day -Bromeliads

I fell in love with Bromeliads years ago when I lived much further north. As a part of my Landscape Architecture practice, I produced Interiorscape Designs for Regional Shopping Malls. Everyone liked to use Guzmania Bromeliads in the Mall plantings because the flowers lasted for 3 months. I became intrigued by these plants at the time, but it was hopeless for me to grow them as houseplants. Little did I know 30 years later I would have a mad Rainforest Garden full of all kinds of Bromeliads.

When shopping for Bromeliads, the first thing that you find is the named varieties are outrageously expensive. Given my complete lack of knowledge about growing Bromeliads outside I wasn’t about to spend $50 on a plant that I might kill in short order. Then, I found an unusual local custom – at South Florida garage sales, people commonly sell passalong Bromeliads, the problem is, for the most part no one has a clue what the plant is. So, I am learning the hard way. Even without knowing the Bromeliads name, the foliage is always really interesting, as are the people you meet along the way.

I have a number of Blushing Bromeliads in my garden. These can be Aechmea or Neoregelia types and I don’t really know which is who. However, in the spring they blush by turning red in the center and start to produce pups. I would hazard a guess this is because the rainy season will begin shortly and the smaller plants survival rate goes up with ample water. The rest of the year the foliage is nearly all green.20170421_130341-120170421_12594220170421_125909

Below is a pup on a Blanchetiana Bromeliad. I think this is a Lemon. They are available in Lemon, Raspberry and Orange. After flowering the mother plant begins to die and produces pups. Some do this without flowering. I will cut the pup off with a bit of root and replant it. The Blanchetiana is an Aechmea type that is fairly common in South Florida, they are usually about 4 feet tall and will spread much further than 4 feet. The Bromeliads at the top of the post are Blanchetianas.


Stripes and spots:

Most of these are Neoregelia, some type of Fireball variety. The spotted ones hold their color for most of the year. The striped ones turn red in the winter. The darker purple ones are Hallelujah Billbergia with white spots and Luca with green spots. Hallelujah has probably the strangest flower of all – red, white and blue; it is a bit much with the foliage.


This last one is one of my favorites. Locally called Painted Fingernail, I think it is an Aechmea variety, literally tough as nails. It is growing in the full sun Hellstrip in my front yard, no irrigation. The foliage is olive in full sun, but the green deepens and the fingernail is darker fuchsia in the shade. And it thrives in both places, there are always good reasons for a passalong.


In A Vase on Monday – Pastels for Easter


My vases were assembled on Easter Sunday.  Easter makes me think of little girls in pastel Easter dresses, eggs, bunnies and chocolate. The Easter Bunny seemed to be bringing my garden hot tropical colored flowers so off I went searching for some pastel tones. Surprisingly,  I found some pastel flowers in the garden and put them together in a vase.


My pastel green Depression glass cream pitcher has been repurposed for rooting some Alabama Sunset Coleus, still hanging over the side in pink and chartreuse. To the Coleus I added some Blue Plumbago (Plumbago auriculata), a Pink Rainlily (Zephyanthes passalong) – not a clue why the Rainlily is in flower. There is simply no rain. Then I found a tiny Shell Ginger (Alpinia zerumbet) and finally some Asian Sword Fern.

The Easter Bunny is a cast iron rabbit that has been sitting on my hearth for many years. One of those must have items I ran across wandering through an antiques shop and snapped up.


Here are the hot tropical colors the Easter Bunny brought to my garden.


The red glass vase is from my favorite thrift store. My grandmother collected cranberry glass and this probably came from somebody else’s grandma. In the vase are the first Firebush (Hamelia patens var patens) flowers of the season, announcing hot weather is rapidly approaching. The red and yellow flowers are Parrotflowers (Heliconia psittacorum) and the foliage is from a Cabbage Palm seedling that came up way too close to my house. The evergreens are clippings from a Podocarpus “Maki” that someone sold me by accident, Maki grows about 15 feet high and I wanted a the Pringles Dwarf.

Another piece of the puzzle to fit into my garden.

Happy Monday!

In A Vase on Monday – A Rose by Any Other Name


The only roses that could possibly smell as sweet around my garden are on the Portmerion china. I am way too far south to grow real roses. The roses in my vase came from the Desert Rose. The Desert Rose (Adenium obesum) is a relatively common container plant in my neighborhood. Considered a succulent but enjoying regular water and frying sun this is a perfect plant for South Florida. I throw out my cat’s water bowl on the rose every morning and it has rewarded me with abundant flowers.


The vase is a crystal rose bowl from my mother’s vast collection. I had picked some other flowers to join the arrangement, but decided these were so pretty on their own they just needed a little fine textured foliage accent. The foliage in the vase is some maturing seed heads from my Dill Plant and Asparagus Fern.

Ironically the only thing in this arrangement that smells at all is the Dill seed.

A Message from the Universe


This is the White Geiger tree behind my house shortly after sunrise this morning. The soft light gives an impressionist effect to the photo. The tree is crooked as a result of Hurricane Matthew. I am hoping it grows out of it. As I was watching over my dogs I thought the flowers were spelling something.

IS? Is what. It is what it is, a White Geiger. Here is a close up of the flower.


In A Vase on Monday – Geiger Counting and Purple Hair


The white flowers in the green glass Swan are from my White Geiger (Cordia boissieri) tree. I have been counting the flowers as they form in clusters of 10 or more, but rarely more than 3 open at the time. This tree was acquired by happy accident. One day I saw this beautiful tree fully covered in white flowers in a grocery store parking lot. Not recognizing it at all, I did some research and decided it was a White Geiger and promptly bought one. A year later I was in the same parking lot, looking at the same tree and realized it was not a Geiger at all, but a White Tabebuia (hard to find and even harder to grow). Happily and oddly enough the tree purchased by accident is a much better choice. The accidental White Geiger was nearly blown over by Hurricane Matthew last year and is blooming its heart out this spring, much to my delight. Hopefully it will straighten up as it still has a significant lean, counterclockwise, of course.


The green Swan I fear, is a candy dish that belonged to my mother, repurposed as a vase. Joining the White Geiger in the rather Autumnal arrangement are: in orange flowers, Firebush (Hamelia patens), in fruit, Surinam Cherries (Eugenia uniflora), the bronze foliage is from a Copperleaf (Acalypha wilkesiana). If anyone is wondering the Surinam Cherries taste like resinous pumpkins and are left for the birds. I guess it is one of those foods you have to grow up eating to appreciate.


I have been enjoying two arrangements lately and put together another for the foyer. The vase is another heirloom from my mother and an actual vase.


This vase has the last of the Dwarf Jamaican Heliconia (Heliconia strictus), Asian Sword Ferns, and a seedhead from the Sweet Begonias (Begonia odorata )


I have had a bit of a mad weekend, coloring my hair purple in honor of a friend undergoing chemotherapy for the (seemingly) hundredth time. Her sister was a dear friend and lost her battle with cancer just about two years ago. Please remember the fight for the cure in your charitable contributions.


Living Lfs Inc is her favorite charity.

Happy Monday!