In A Vase on Monday – Frond Farewell

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I am bidding farewell to a flower from my Blanchetiana Bromeliad that has served me well. It opened at the end of November, I enjoyed if for a couple of weeks, then used part of it to create a wreath for Christmas. On Saturday, I cut the rest to use as part of a talk I gave about Bromeliads in the Garden.

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The wreath is still on my door and has dried to a nice brown, I am still mulling whether to get rid of it

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The frond in the arrangement is from a Chinese Fan Palm (Livingstonia chinensis) seedling that popped up between me and my neighbor. It gives a really tropical vibe to the area, so I left it. I figure I will long gone before it reaches full size (60 feet!)  Odd for winter in South Florida, it has been raining since yesterday afternoon. The vase holds about half of the frond, I went out in the pouring rain with Loppers in search of a bold bit of foliage to contrast with the Blanchetiana flower (at least 3 feet tall). Upon lopping the frond, I spied a wasp nest in the other half. For whatever reason, the wasps were not bothered by me and I left the other half of the frond where I found it, ensuring no homeless wasps and hoping for beneficial wasps. I cut the frond in half again – one quarter is hanging over the edge and the rest is in the vase upright.

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Farewell, fine Flower.

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In A Vase on Monday – Tea Time

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Wintry weather has arrived in South Florida. Having had a warm and too dry winter thus far a bit of rain was welcome, my suspicion is the wind following the rain will blow the moisture out of everything. Myself included.

Seems like a really good time for a cup of tea. I brewed a cup of English Breakfast and got the antique teapot from Rington Limited Tea Merchants down to serve as my vase. It seemed there was not much blooming, after the rain stopped and the sky cleared I went out and looked. To my surprise, I shortly had assembled a vase with an unusual combination of plants.

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The pink balls are from the Dombeya (Dombeya wallachi);  white flowers spilling over the edge are Sweet Begonia (Begonia odorata); a few purple Ground Orchids (Spathoglottis ‘Cabernet) are peeking out about above the Begonias; the yellow daisies are Beach Sunflowers (Helianthus debilis); the purples are Lilac Emperor Zinnias and Tampa Verbena (Glandularia tampensis); the backdrop of burgundy leaves is Red Giant Mustard ( I don’t eat it, I use it in winter containers) other greenery is another form of Asparagus Fern that pops up in the garden.

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We have added a new family member, meet Fiona the greyhound. She is going to be a garden hound, I think. She waits patiently by the gate while I putter around in the garden.

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In A Vase on Monday – Long Stemmed Salvia

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For reasons unknown to me, I have a bumper crop of Tropical Red Salvia. Usually a short and somewhat scruffy looking perennial (or reseeding annual, it seems perennial due to the constant supply of seedlings). The Tropical Red Salvia this winter is bearing long, lushly foliated stems with fat blossoms. The bees were not happy with me and my clippers again.

The Tropical Red Salvia also comes in peach, pink and neon orange. I rarely get a neon orange, but I do enjoy the softer colors and seedling variation. You have to wonder why it can’t be called simply Tropical Salvia as it is native to Florida, or, Florida Salvia?

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Another native added to the vase, Boston Fern (Nephrolepis exaltata) – These ferns graciously popped up in the nether regions between my driveway and my neighbors fence. I have been enjoying ferns in vases since it’s arrival. The red and orange zig zag shaped bits are flowers from a Blanchetiana Bromeliad; the sprays of blue/white flowers are from Dianella (some call it Blueberry Flax), the variegated leaves are also from Dianella. Grey fuzzy foliage is from Licorice Plant (Helichryseum petiolare) – a plant in a winter container that I just cut back. I was happy to learn the Licorice Plant will grow here. More plants to propagate. Or try.

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I am having the exact opposite experience with China Asters and will not ask them into the garden again. I love the flowers and am not sure if this is the second or third attempt. Here is a seedling- sowed in September! Had one flower about the size of a fingernail.

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Ironically, the seedlings coming up in the pot are Tropical Red Salvia.

Life in the Garden. Happy Monday.

The Mulchmeister

20190110_151300I could be the Mulchmeister, given the love/ hate relationship with mulch that I have nurtured for years. I love the appearance mulch gives the garden – a soothing blanket of hopefully brownish material, tucking all the plants in for good growth, saving water and helping keep weeds at bay.

Unfortunately, I hate to mulch. Below is the usual result of me buying 5 bags of bark mulch. After 3, I can’t deal with schlepping the bags around anymore and it stays in the garden so long the plastic bags are rendered rust colored from the iron in the well water. And the weeds! Arggh. Florida Jurassic weeds. Oddly, the bark is still fresh as a daisy inside the bag – making me wonder what is on the stuff and in the vegetables I grow?

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I am learning to love again with an old friend, pinestraw. Some call it pine needles, naturally shed by Pine trees! A good thing and more sustainable than chopping down and chopping up trees to use for mulch. It occurred to me to seek out pinestraw as I was working on a project in Atlanta, using pinestraw as mulch. For some reason, pinestraw is very uncommon in South Florida-even though it is harvested in North Florida.

I began the search and after a bit of asking around was gifted with 10 bags of QuickStraw, just in time for Christmas. Compressed and bagged for storage, I can move these around easily and am not ending up covered in mulch.

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I scraped the Jurassic weeds off, put down some brown woven (the key to long lasting fabric) weed control fabric and mulched with the QuickStraw.

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Ahhh, cozy plants, just waiting for everything to grow together.

In A Vase on Monday – Two Challenges

20181111_095353-1 Last week, in honor of the fifth anniversary of the meme ‘In A Vase on Monday’, Cathy, our hostess at Rambling in the Garden on WordPress challenged us to not use a vase on Monday. Hence, the watering can. My second challenge, issued by a gardening friend, to use all native wildflowers in my non vase.

The brass watering can had been around my mother’s house for so long I am not sure if I am the second or third generation to use it. I decided to leave the patina and fill it with delicate wildflowers from my garden and a few fall fruits, all from plants native to Florida – a surprisingly long plant list.

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As I was arranging this, I was surprised by how pretty these flowers are when closely observed. And how many flowers it took to fill the small watering can.

The purple flowers are Tampa Verbena (Glandularia tampensis); pink tubular flowers are Tropical Red Salvia (Salvia coccinea) – it seeds in red, pink, salmon and orange. The deep blue flowers are Blue Porterweed (Stachytarpheta jamaicensis); I have learned to love this plant along with the butterflies, it continues to open flowers after cutting and the stems are such a wonderful accent. The purple grasses are Muhly Grass (Muhlenbergia capillaris). I am not sure this grass does as well anywhere else but in Florida. Sharp drainage is vital, mine grows in sugar sand with no irrigation.

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I have finally found out what the off white spikes are – Juba Bush (Iresine diffusa), identified by a wildflower expert who said “Juba Bush is named after a Afro-Caribbean step dance, because of the way it waves in the wind” It actually does have a lovely sway in the wind – and I like the story. The ferns are Boston Fern (Nephrolepis exaltata),  porch plants the world over, these originated in the swamps of Florida and popped up in my garden. The white flowers are  Jointweed or Wireweed or Octoberflower (Polygonella robusta), started blooming on October 31!

Fruits are from the Senna ligustrina, the long brown pods. I recently added these to the garden to attract Sulphur Butterflies. They are doing their job, though I haven’t seen any caterpillars. The plants remind me of Soft Caress Mahonia, which l love but can’t grow this far south. The round fruits are from the Gumbo Limbo tree (Bursea simarouba) I love these for their names, the other one being Tourist Tree, for the red peeling bark resembling sunburned skin…

Happy IAVOM Anniversary, to see vases from around the world follow this link.More Vases