In A Vase on Monday – Butterfly Power

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Florida by any account is filled with natives. The people are very proud of staying around where they were born and advertise their ‘native Floridian’ status with car decorations, bumper stickers, decals, etc. The plants, not so much. Exotic tropical plants from around the world are much more popular than what grows here naturally. I am, of course, as guilty as the next gardener for using exotic tropical plants.

In an effort to help native pollinators and power our Butterfly population I am planting a native wildflower border.  The border is about halfway finished and the resulting butterflies have been fantastic thus far. In the border I have seen Monarchs, Gulf Fritillaries, Zebra Longwings and several orange and yellow butterflies I have yet to identify. I am not sure what happened to the Black Swallowtail caterpillars that were in the post from last week. Hopefully they appear in the border soon.

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This vase started with an interesting branch I pruned from the native Firebush (Hamelia patens var patens). I decided to continue the native wildflower theme and used the firecracker flowers in the middle from the Firebush, to this I added Tropical Red Salvia (Salvia coccinea), the purple flowers are Beach Verbena (Glandularia maritima), the royal blue bits are from Porterweed (Stachystarpeta) – people call this Vervain, which sounds a lot better. At the bottom of the arrangement, the mixed colored flowers are Gallardia (Gallardia pulchella) – a flower I have grown to love in a short period of time. The small sunflowers are Beach Sunflowers (Helianthus debilis)

I am currently finding myself lurking through the shrubbery trying the photograph the elusive Butterflies. Here are the first successful images, a Zebra Longwing tasting the Firebush.

 

In A Vase on Monday – Totally Tropical

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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.

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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

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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.

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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.

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

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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

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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.

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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.

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.

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

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Living Lfs Inc is her favorite charity.

Happy Monday!

In A Vase on Monday – Striking

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My arrangement for this week began to form in my mind when I noticed my Apocalyptica Bromeliad was flowering. These are sometimes called Matchstick Bromeliads, so I decided to use my husbands vintage French cafe match striker as a vase. This ‘vase’ was originally used in French cafes to hold matches for smokers.

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Images that come to my mind when thinking of a vintage French match striker involve Ernest Hemingway – sitting in an uncomfortable metal chair at a tiny table contemplating the nearby Seine River while trying to work out some angst. He looks down and realizes the match container has been hijacked to hold flowers, finds a box of matches and proceeds to strike a match on the side of a the vase. Then he lights an unfiltered cigarette, takes a big drag, exhales blowing some rings with the smoke, sighs deeply and takes a big gulp of red wine. And thinks some more.

Maybe not. Okay, I drank the red wine and Ernest was not here. But there is a river nearby. My angst concerns the sun also rising, but the garden dilemma involves where to move poorly performing Agapanthus to get more sun. On to what is in the vase.

The Apocalyptica Bromeliad (Aechmea apocalyptica) is the nearly fluorescent orange spiky flower. Rounding out the vase in orange again, Mexican Bush Honeysuckle (Justicia spicgera); in purple, Ground Orchids (Bletilla something); Blue Ageratum (Ageratum houstonianum) and another volunteer Asparagus Fern for fluffy greenery. The red striped foliage is from another Bromeliad (Neoregelia ‘Fireball’).  There are a zillion varieties of Fireballs and I gave up figuring out which one is who because they are all pretty and mostly indestructible.

Happy Monday, may your week be angst free.