In A Vase on Monday – Holiday Shrimp

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This holiday shrimp is not for dinner or appetizers, it is for the vase and from the garden, not the sea. I love shrimp from the sea, my husband has unfortunately been somewhat shrimphobic when it comes to eating the shellfish. I cope with this by having garlic laden Shrimp Scampi when we dine out, sometimes to his chagrin.

I was looking for holiday reds and greens this week and the Red Shrimp Plants caught my eye.  A burst of flowers appeared just in time to fill the cranberry glass vase, a thrift shop find from earlier this year

The red flowers on the menu are the Red Shrimp Plant (Justicia brandegeana); off white spikes, the mystery plant that appeared last year; white flowers are from Sweet Begonia (Begonia odorata), burgundy and green foliage is Solar Sunrise Coleus. A simple but tasty holiday concoction.

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The Red Shrimp Plant is a passalong from my neighbor as is the Solar Sunrise Coleus. Below is the Shrimp Plant in the garden, thriving in full shade and sugar sand. It flowers off and on year round, I don’t think I have ever fertilized it or sprayed it for any reason. My kind of plant. Happy go lucky with benign neglect.

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We are having a cool spell here in Florida, temperatures were in the mid 40’s this morning. The clear, sunny day was made for gardening – I finished planting seeds in what is becoming my tropical potager, if there is such a thing.

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The green beans and tomatoes are already bearing fruit. Work is ongoing in this kitchen garden. I have included flowers for cutting in blocks with the vegetables, most are seedlings about an inch tall. A total experiment as I usually don’t start with seeds. So far, so good.

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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!

 

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!

Garden Bloggers Foliage Day – Tropical Fruit

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Having spent most of my life much further north of South Florida, I enjoyed eating tropical fruit, but never knew what they looked like while growing. I have included tropical fruit trees and plants for shade and foliage in my new garden, the fruit is a bonus. Some of the fruit producing plants I have in my garden now I had never heard of – because, well, in my opinion, like many things you have to grow up eating them to appreciate the fruit.

Above is the foliage of the Sea Grape (Coccoloba uvifera).  This is a native tree that produces clusters of grapes in the summer that are mostly seed and taste similar to figs. Natives of Florida and birds like the fruit.

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This is Mango (Mangifera ‘Nam Doc Mai’) a Thai Dessert Mango. Delicious and easy to grow. The leaves were burned by Hurricane Irma.

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Silvery backed leaves from a Pineapple I grew from the top of a fruit bought at the grocery store. I have no idea what kind it will be. Pineapples are very easy to grow here and my new hometown, Jensen Beach was once considered the Pineapple Capital of the World. Here is a link to an article I wrote about how to grow pineapples  Link.

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This is a Rangpur Lime, grown from seed by my neighbor. Rangpur Limes have orange skin and are incredibly juicy. I believe these are not well known because they do not keep very well.

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This is a Papaya, I believe Hawaiian, although I won’t be sure until it bears fruit. I grew this from seed last year. Curiously, I sometimes see Papayas growing wild on construction sites. Papayas are native to South and Central America and a bit of an acquired taste. I like them in pork stir fry, bread and sliced.

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The new foliage on a Cuban Avocado tree. Cuban Avocados are the size of footballs and I had never seen one until landing in South Florida. The fruit is a bit sweeter and creamier than Hass Avocado and the rare avocado that is true to seed. A friend grew this for me with a seed from her tree, which she got from a Cuban guy!

The trees are integrated into my back garden along with vegetables and a native pollinator area. Everything but the Mango was grown from seed so I have a few years yet before I will taste the fruit.

Gardening in many cases is all about patience. Someday soon I will have some fantastic salsa and guacamole.

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!