In a Vase on Monday-Bass Ackwards

Many Mondays I wonder how many gardeners out there recognize the flowers I grow in my garden…because, it is some pretty weird stuff and I will try just about anything. Gardening in South Florida can make you rethink the limits of what is possible or pull some hair out cuz you can’t figure out how to make it work.

Bass ackwards describes the seasons here. This may be a Southern term. Not sure of the origin; though I suspect it is a more polite version of Ass Backwards. A few examples. Mid summer, in South Florida, fresh corn on the cob and tomatoes are not available as it is too hot for plants to pollinate. In January, tons of both, and green beans and on and on. A fiesta of fresh vegetables, citrus and avocadoes in winter. I eat from my freezer in summer and gorge on fresh in winter. Bass ackwards.

Flowers are another story. We are approaching the height of the Atlantic hurricane season, it is raining and things are blooming. The reason, my guess, producing flowers utilizing rain while they know it is available, plants being smarter than we are. Our dry season starts the end of November.

The weird stuff in my vase:

The red flower, Aechmea miniata Bromeliad; blue flowers, Mystic Spires Salvia; the touch of grey foliage, a succulent, Graptosedum; white flowers ‘Miss Alice’ Bougainvillea.

The other side:

White and blue flower; Hallelujah Billbergia Bromeliad; green tropical foliage is a small Split Leaf Philodendron (P. selloum) from the garden. The vase in an old candlestick holder from Crate and Barrel.

Thanks to Cathy at http://www.rambliningthegarden.wordpress.com for hosting and Happy Gardening. Follow the link to see less weird vases.

In a Vase on Monday – Linear

My husband jokes me about my lack of linear thinking. I am completely lateral. This week I decided to seek some linearity to complement the line of purple berries from the Beautyberry. I am convinced Florida Beautyberries are different than Beautyberries in other places. Every August I am amazed at the quantity and beauty (yes!) of the berries produced by this shrub.

The Beautyberry story:

I went to a local native plants nursery ‘going out of business’ sale shortly after moving to Florida. The Beautyberries were 3 for 10 dollars. Of course, I bought three. Thinking about putting them in a couple of different locations, not really knowing where to site them in the atrocious sand in my garden. Also not realizing the dramatic seasonal shift of the sun in my new home; I planted one on the due north side of my garage near the exit from our screen porch. Reasoning (lateral as usual) for this location: I thought it would stay shady enough for what was an understory shrub to me and this shrub is supposed to deter mosquitoes.

Much to my surprise, the sun got higher and higher in the sky as the year progressed. Full shade in January is full sun by May! Frying full sun. Not fun to dig things up in frying full sun, so it was left behind the garage. And then, the berries showed up. Impressive berries. I planted the other two in a much shadier, understory location – one passed on and the other bears about a tenth of the fruit of the one I seemingly planted in the wrong place. Another gardening riddle.

Oddly, mosquitoes were much worse in my garden in Atlanta – though we do have astonishing dragonfly (they eat mosquitoes) swarms periodically here and I do stuff Beautyberry leaves in my shoes if there are mosquitoes about (it works). I rarely see mosquitoes on the screen porch. Floridians make jam from the berries. I have not tried this as everyone who has ever mentioned it says it is pretty but tasteless.

The Shrub:

Perhaps the purple berries are a bit clashy with my peachy garage wall..still not digging it up.

A closer view:

The purple and green berries are Beautyberries (Calliocarpa americana); blue spike flowers are Mystic Spires Salvia; purple spike flowers and varigated leaf are from a Coleus ‘Homedepotensis’; the long chartreuse leaves are from Lemon Aechmea blanchetiana Bromeliad. The vase was a gift from my late older brother; it always makes me smile when I use it – and its linear.

As always, thanks to Cathy at http://www.ramblinginthegarden.wordpress.com for hosting this meme. To see more vases, follow the link.

Happy Gardening.

In a Vase on Monday – Sage Soap

This week’s title seems to suggest I found some intelligent soap. This is not the case. All of the soap in my house is as clueless as ever, just some suds. And I am not the sage one.

The soap comes from the Soap Aloe (Aloe saponaria) the orange flowers with a bit of green at the ends. Here is the plant. A South African native that flowers 4 times a year in my garden. If I break a leaf in half sudsy aloe pours out – apparently it is used to make shampoo. The dilemma, the large percentage of the population is allergic to it. I have not washed my hair with it, though I enjoy the flowers.

The sage in the arrangement is the Mystic Spires Salvia, the blue spikes. I have been enjoying the flowers for months and hopefully they will last into the winter. A closer view:

The blue spikes are Mystic Spires Salvia. The purple flowers are Mona Lavendar Plectranthus. The solid orange flowers are Mexican Bush Honeysuckle (Justicia spicigera); green tipped orange flowers are Soap Aloe (Aloe saponaria); white flowers are Bridal Bouquet Frangipani (Plumeria pudica); grey foliage is more sage, Texas Sage (Luecophyllum frutescens); burgundy spikes are from a Dwarf Pineapple, a gift from a friend. The vase grounding the arrangement, a thrift store find and favorite.

Happy Gardening and thanks to Cathy at http://www.ramblinginthegarden.wordpress.com for hosting IAVOM..to see more vases follow the link.

In a Vase on Monday – Posey Shots

I think I have finally made a posey. This particular posey is in a large shot glass; formerly used to hold tequila at my niece’s wedding. Were you thinking I was referring to the photograph as a shot. Nope! The glass. The alternate title was “Fresh as a Gallardia” – doesn’t quite have the same ring.

I was surprised to see the different meanings of posey. This one is simply flowers in a vase on Monday..

My garden is filled with Beach Daisies and Gallardia in July. Both flowers are very cheerful and seem to smile as I walk through the garden. They are also remarkably drought tolerant and reseed prolifically – the Beach Sunflowers have to be asked to leave the garden now and again. Though they are never truly gone.

Here are the fresh Gallardias:

A closer view of my tequila shooter:

The red and yellow daisies are Gallardia pulchella, the subject of one of those tiresome native plant dramas. The powers that be decided they are not native to Florida. Woe is me. The yellow daisies are still approved as native; and in latin, Helianthus debilis. If my husband gardened he would use a propane torch on these – they go wild with rain and humidity. I prune and pull. They are annoying. Our mailman, a native Floridian, once stopped to express his amazement I hadn’t gotten rid of the Beach Daisies as his mother thought they were weeds.

White spikes are Sweet Almond Bush (Aloysia virgata); sweetly fragrant and a great butterfly plant. Native to Argentina. Blue stems with flowers are Porterweed, another evil not quite native (Stachytarpheta jamaicensis). I guess it is native to Jamaica, but it thrives in my garden and is available in several colors. I wish for some coral…The other blue flower is a bit of Mona Lavendar Plectranthus, a cross from South Africa, if memory serves, and recommended by me. Background greenery is weed Asparagus Fern I keep at bay by cutting for arrangements.

Happy Gardening to everyone and thanks to Cathy at http://www.ramblinginthegarden.wordpress.com for hosting. To see more vases follow the link.

In a Vase on Monday – Fireworks

This week’s vase began with clippings from pruning my Miss Alice Bougainvillea on Saturday. The white flowers looked so alone in the vase I added some fiery accents with Firebush and Firecracker flowers. Then my husband padded by and said it needed some blue (he rarely comments on vases). It was the Fourth of July, after all – red, white and blue are the colors of the day. I think he was right. Here is the vase with just fire and Miss Alice.

The blue definitely beefs up the flower power in this vase. Of course, I couldn’t stop with one blue flower..

A closer view from the left side. Miss Alice Bougainvillea in white; Firecracker flowers (Russelia equisetiformis) in red; Tropical Red Salvia (Salvia coccinea) in red and white (think they should just call it Tropical Salvia as it comes in four colors?, I do.) Blue Salvia is Mystic Spires; lighter blue flowers are Blue Plumbago (Plumbago auriculata) a tropical shrub that is virtually indestructible here – look closely and you’ll see the leaf cutting bees have had a bite of the foliage.

Miss Alice in white again with the reds and oranges of Firebush (Hamelia patens var patens) – one of my favorite shrubs. Blue Plumbago around the edges with Mystic Blue Salvia in the background..

There’s my vase for this Monday. For anyone wondering about Elsa, we are out of the warning cone – on the east coast of Florida across from the big hole in the middle of the state (Lake Okeechobee)

Thank you to Cathy at http://www.ramblinginthegarden.wordpress.com for hosting the worldwide vasers. To see more vases from gardeners in many different locales follow the link.

Happy Gardening…

In a Vase on Monday – The Cure

The song “Ain’t No Cure for the Summertime Blues” entered my consciousness (my guess) in the late 1970s. The number of artists who recorded this song surprised me. I listened to several versions, sometimes being a country music fan, maybe Alan Jackson’s version is playing in my mind. Nope..then I listened to Eddie Cochran.The song’s author and realized his original version is the one that sticks in my mind. Sadly, I find Eddie Cochran was killed in a taxicab accident at the age of 21.

Oh, back to gardening and my vase. This vase is composed of blues and cured me, for a short period of time, of the Summertime Blues. In South Florida, Summertime Gardening Blues can include heat, humidity, bugs, fungus, being horribly sweaty and having hot flashes in the garden, running out of cold water and or, Gatorade, Oh, I forgot weeds! ACK. The vase must be blue and lovely. Here it is.

My cure for the Summertime Blues. First, an antique Blue Willow teapot from the UK as a vase. The blue flowers are; in powder blue (what is that powder, anyway?) Blue Plumbago (Plumbago auriculata) a stalwart shrub in my garden. In deeper blue on the left side, Mystic Blue Salvia, wrenched back from near death by my (shocking) overwatering. The purple flowers on the right are my new summer favorite, Mona Lavendar Plectranthus. White flowers are Miss Alice Bougainvillea and the yellow flowers are from Galphinia glauca, Thyrallis. There is a bit of chartreuse Coleus foliage behind the blue salvia and some varigated Bromeliad foliage in the back of the teapot.

A closer view:

Ah, relief from the Summertime Blues.

As always, thank you to Cathy at http://www.ramblinginthegarden.wordpress.com for hosting and Happy Gardening!

Six on Saturday – Fork Failure

I have to report the fork experiment was a failure. I placed these plastic forks a couple of weeks ago after a rabbit ate my Blue Pea Vine; they got it again last night. I may move to tomato cages or a tall pot. This is far enough out in the garden I don’t want to have to water a pot..a dilemma.

On to more positive things. My back up Papaya trees have set a bud and are almost four feet tall. I am waiting, breathlessly to see if the flowers are male, female or both.

I found a Thai Dessert Mango (Nam Doc Mai) lurking in the interior of the tree. This mango flowered a couple of months ago and dropped (I thought) all of the flowers. Except this one! And I looked up and noted it is flowering again, so hopefully I will get more Thai Mangos in a couple of months.

Thai Dessert Mango

The flower of a Barometer Bush (Luecophyllum frutescens) This shrub is noted for flowering before it rains. And it is doing its job well. It flowered profusely before we had about four inches of rain this week.

Flowers on the native Beautyberry (Calliocarpa americana). The Florida version of this shrub never fails to amaze me. It thrives in full sun during the hot summer and total shade in winter, rarely gets watered and produces a bumper crop of berries at the end of the summer – also attracts numerous types of butterflies with its nectar. I had these in my garden much further north and they were a shadow of this one.

That’s my six for this Saturday. To see more posts with six items of interest from gardens around the world, visit http://www.thepropagatorblog.wordpress.com.

Happy Gardening…

In a Vase on Monday – Tropical to a Ti

The formation of the first subtropical storm of the season, Ana, heralds the run up to summer and the inevitable heat and humidity that follow. Summer brings some of the more tropical plants in my garden into their full glory. The plants, of course, know all this and start to flower. The white Frangipani, surprised me by flowering in earnest for the first time last week, despite virtually no rain for weeks.

The pink tinged foliage in the arrangement is a Ti Plant (Cordyline fruticosa). I avoided these for years as they tend to get burned by dry winds in the late spring and look awful for a long time with crispy, brown edged foliage. Having grown a big Tropical Hydrangea (Dombeya wallachii) that will block the wind, I added a couple of these popular plants to my tropical garden. There are many varieties of Cordyline, my favorite name ‘Twisted Sister’ – this one is plum with fuchsia markings and a bit much for me. I bought a few unnamed varieties, that look like tri-colors to me; green, cream and pink. Here it is:

A closer view of the vase:

The vase is a leftover from an arrangement someone sent us for long forgotten reasons. The flowers: in white, Frangipani (Plumeria spp.) these are from a rooted cutting I picked up at a Master Gardeners sale some years ago, finally reaching about six feet. Slow growing for a tropical tree, but the fragrance is worth the wait. Pink flowers are Shell Ginger (Alpinia zerumbet) making one of their sporadic appearances in the garden. The yellow flowers are Thryallis (Galphimia glauca); a shrub I have in the butterfly garden. The jury is out on the Thryallis, it seems hyped to me. Supposed to flower year round…not quite or, not yet.

Happy Monday and Happy Gardening. Thanks to Cathy at http://www.ramblinginthegarden.wordpress.com for hosting gardeners from around the world sharing vases. Follow the link to see more.

Six on Saturday – Learning Curve

One of the good things about gardening is the ongoing lessons learned. Above is my Jurassic Begonia (Begonia nelumbiifolia) undergoing Vivipary – defined as a precocious growth of offspring while still attached to the mother plant. I had to ask a botanist friend what this plant was doing. Evidentially, I can trim the leaf around this tiny plant and place stem in soil and it will root.

My finally pruned correctly Miss Alice Bougainvillea in spring flowers.

New bed in my front garden. Plant palette is Indigo Spires Salvia, Blue Daze Evolvulus, Yellow Callibrachoa, and White Pentas. Shrubs in background are Maui Red Ixora. Lesson learned here – I have tried several plants here, Florida lacks good groundcover plants – and the soil is not soil. So, I removed and replaced a wheelbarrow full, see below.

Yes, plants will actually grow in this. I am fearful the good soil is going to sink…

Lessons learned from SOS, how to make Nasturtium capers. Letting them rest in salt.

Starting the jar of pickles. I will add more as the seeds are formed. Thank you, Fred, a French Gardener.

That is my six this Saturday, welcome spring everyone and Happy Gardening.

To see more posts, visit Jon at http://www.thepropagatorblog.wordpress.com.

A Wreath on Monday – Pups

My vase this Monday morphed into a holiday wreath for my front door. I have wanted to try making a wreath from Bromeliad pups for a while and this year there were enough in my garden to give it a try. Of course, I had no clue how to actually make a wreath from Bromeliad pups and the dilemma haunted me for a while. The Bromeliad pups are from my collection of garage sale finds. The red ones at each end are Fireball Neoregelia, the bigger ones in the middle are Super Fireball Neoregelia, darker green and red varigated Angel Face Neoregelia and I have never managed to figure out the name of the spotted ones.

I started the wreath with a piece of irrigation tubing made into a ring with irrigation connectors. A perfect blank black circle. Then, tried to add the Bromeliad pups. Pups are a bit fat and uneven to be wired to irrigation tubing. Floral wire doesn’t work and tape doesn’t either. Undeterred by my pup attachment failure, I got my trusty gardening serrate kitchen knife with the wooden handle (it goes through the dishwasher) and bored some oddly unsymmetric holes in the irrigation tubing – it worked perfectly to hold the pups in place with the added benefit of holding water at the bottom of the wreath.

After installing 10 or 12 pups, I realized the wreath would be too big for the door if I covered the entire ring with pups..oops. So, as these things go, Plan B appeared. Wrap the rest of the wreath with Bromeliad foliage and add some Spanish Moss accents. I love Spanish Moss and it appears rarely in my garden, too windy here, I think. No Spanish Moss to be found in the garden – decided to wrap and make do with dried moss on hand from God knows where.

About this time, my husband appeared, needing a hand with one of his projects… I gave a hand with his work and then hit him up for some double stick tape for the wrapped part of the wreath. As luck would have it – his double stick tape worked great til it ran out – not quite covering the irrigation tubing. Trusty serrate kitchen knife reappeared, a few more holes bored – voila, a wreath. Almost covered and needing a bit of oddly sourced Spanish Moss.

My first Bromeliad pup wreath makes its holiday debut. I am dreading finding a huge sproing in the morning.

Monday morning update – no huge sproing, but I did step on a bit of Spanish Moss when walking outside.

Happy Gardening and Happy Holidays to all. Thank you to Cathy at http://www.ramblinginthegarden.wordpress.com for hosting. Follow the link to see more (usually) vases..