Smoked Fish Dip is a staple in my Treasure Coast kitchen, a Floridian favorite appetizer or snack. I like it on Townhouse Pita Crackers with Sea Salt – my husband prefers Triscuits. This is a spicy dip and the amounts of seasonings are a starting point, I usually add more and let the flavors blend […]
Last week our fearless hostess, Cathy from ramblinginthegarden.wordpress.com 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:
What do you see?
The sun is a’rising
People are changing
Ain’t it beautiful, ooh, ooh
Crystal blue persuasion
Love, love is the answer, ooh, ooh
And that’s all right
So easy to find
Just look to your soul
And open your mind
It’s a new vibration
Crystal blue persuasion
Crystal, blue persuasion
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, aha
Crystal blue persuasion, aha
Crystal blue persuasion, aha
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?
Sunday in South Florida proved to be a sunny, blue sky cool day. I planted Arugula, Romaine Lettuce and Baby Spinach in the Potager. Getting in touch with my inner snooty gardener. I am about as French as my greyhounds or my Jeep. Potager is French for kitchen garden. I need to think of a word for a South Florida kitchen garden, preferably non French. Kitchen garden might be the answer.
We had some cold weather last week that is slowly taking its toll on the more tropical members of my garden. I live at the north end of South Florida, the Heliconias were not happy about temperatures of less than 40 degrees F and are turning brown and yellow to spite me.
I needed a little Winter Cheer and happily the garden provided. The vase is a thrift store find, made with love by some unknown and probably gone from this world potter. I hope they are feeling happy in the great beyond that I am using their vase.
The native plants are holding up admirably to the cold snap and are a large part of this vase.
The yellow flowers are Beach Sunflowers (Helianthus debilis); the bright red and apricot flowers are from the native Salvia (Salvia coccinea); orange tubular flowers from Firebush (Hamelia patens) – if you want to get into a botanical argument, this is your plant, probably from the Bahamas. The berries are from the evil scourge, Brazilian Pepper – trying to eradicate this and using the berries here. The off white fluffy stuff is from some sort of Wireweed, and then I added some Italian Flatleaf Parsley.
This is a close up of the two Salvias, both S. coccinea, the peach is my favorite and seems to have reseeded from the red that has been in the garden for a few years.
For fun, here is the Snake Plant, the flowers have been in my vases the past couple of weeks. Some call these Mother In Law Tongues (Sansiviera), they have been flowering this winter in the garden. This plant is considered invasive – and it is, we keep it at bay with the lawn mower. My own Mother In Law was fine, no need to mow her tongue!
Happy Monday, stay warm.
And now for something completely different! The theme from the past week or so around here. It has been oddly, well, cold. The greyhounds are perplexed, a lovely nap in the backyard sun has turned unpleasant and I have had to rethink my attire.
My personal definition of winter clothes – short sleeve shirts instead of tank tops, shoes, never and God forbid, socks. The middle of last week I found myself in my closet, searching for long pants, sweatshirts and shoes and the detestable socks. I haven’t put coats on the dogs yet, they are somewhat offended by canine jackets.
The good news, warmer weather is returning tomorrow. We had a low temperature of 38, nothing was damaged that I can tell. The garden still has Salvia, Beach Sunflower, and some other sort of regular things flowering – I decided to look for something different.
I am not sure how much more different one could go. The plants in my different arrangement are in Salmon, a Bromeliad flower, Aechmea weilbachii forma viridisepala, Yah! a new friend from my garage sale collection-bought a couple of years ago for a few dollars, having no idea what the flower might be..In off white, Sansiveria (Snake Plant, Mother In Laws Tongue, etc), The burgundy striped foliage is from a Ornamental Pineapple, Striped foliage from a Pandanus spp, fluffy fern – a volunteer Asparagus Fern.
Another different scene from South Florida, the Winter Vegetable garden, a few people have asked about the Potager, so far, so good. We have from the left potatoes, garlic, radishes, green beans, red peppers, tomatoes, snow peas, papayas. I am planting spinach, arugula and romaine lettuce next week.
Some of the more tropical plants in my garden produce flowers that strike me as unreal. New Year’s Eve found me in the garden tending vegetables under a cerulean blue sky, wearing a sweatshirt and enjoying a bit of cool weather. December in South Florida can seem a bit dreamy. Beautiful beach weather for the most part, sometimes a bit foggy. Around town people can be seen surfing on the blue water… while pelicans dive into the river seeking a mullet for dinner.
It also seems unreal to me that tomorrow ushers in 2018! Where did the time go?
I can assure you that the flowers are quite real and from my garden. The orange, yellow and red flowers resembling Lobster Claws are from a Blanchetiana Bromeliad. The Bromeliad itself is probably 5 feet tall and 6 feet across, the flowers are panicle like affairs that are about 4 tall and maybe 18 inches wide. I had cut the whole flower, then realized there were ants living in the stem. Quick work was made of cutting the ant hill off and leaving it in the garden. The balance of the flower was placed in my big crystal vase, forming a swirling base for some other flowers.
The orange firecrackers are from Firebush (Hamelia patens), big leaves are from a Shell Ginger (Alpinia zerumbet), the off white flowers from the mysterious Wireweed, the gift from Mother Nature that keeps on giving. Here is a close up:
The crystal vase, a wedding gift from a dear friend. The bells, to ring in the New Year, a favorite family heirloom of mine – my father brought them home from India, where he served during World War II. I have no clue what they really are, but my mother always used them on her wreath at Christmas.
Since it is New Year’s Eve, my husband and I are preparing a special dinner. He is baking an Apple Pie, I am working on homemade Pasta for Smoked Fish in Creamy Tomato Vodka Sauce. The fish is Snapper caught and smoked by my husband, the sauce a decadent creamy vegetable sauce. For this we needed another flower arrangement.
The centerpiece, in my mother’s Rose Bowl features Salvia: the peach Salvia is a seedling of the Tropical Red Salvia (S. coccinea) – there are named cultivars like this, however, this one is mine! The purple Salvia is Mexican Sage (Salvia leucantha). I had this plant as an annual further north and bought one late fall. It seemed annoyed, then started to flower. Orange flowers are from our Firebush (Hamelia patens). White flowers are Sweet Begonias (Begonia odorata), Dark red flowers are Shrimp Plants (Justicia brandegeana) and some Asian Sword Fern, there are also some Gallardia floating around in there.
New Year’s Eve dinner:
Happy New Year!!
I love the little surprises the garden provides. I had two surprises this holiday season from my expanding collection of Bromeliads from garage sale finds. Bromeliads were new to me as a garden perennial when we moved to South Florida six years ago. I find them really interesting and wanted to try some, soon finding they are very expensive, people who sell them have little to offer in terms of how to place and grow, on top of that I suffer from what my father called ‘cheap Scotch heritage’. Spending $80.00 for one perennial that may or may not make it, not happening in my garden.
Experience tells me the more expensive the plant the more likely Alan the greyhound will dig it up or sit on it..oops. I began noticing Bromeliads for sale at garage sales – no one knew the names, but I knew they would thrive in my garden if people were selling excess plants. And they usually cost 5 bucks! Win, win. Plant and wait a couple of years..
The flowers from these perennials take a bit to get going but they tend to last a long time. I watched the big pink bud with baited breath and finally it opened.
Really kind of an amazing flower and worth the wait. I asked around for a long time and finally someone recognized this on social media as an Aechmea ‘Little Harv’, a Bullis Bromeliad from a South Florida grower and they do sell for $70.00 a piece.
My next surprise is another Aechmea, Aechmea weilbachii forma viridisepala. I have been calling it the LeSueur Pea Bromeliad. Identified by Facebook again. I have learned these are winter flowering and also long lasting in the garden.
Can’t wait to see what comes up next…I have been to a few more garage sales, and the foliage is turning out plum.