Heliconias are very striking plants. The fiery colors of the flowers inspired me to create this vase. The container is a antique French match holder. I envision lovely, fashionable people sitting in a cafe by the Seine in Paris using the ribbed surface to strike matches and light hand rolled cigarettes.
Do people still roll their own cigarettes? I have no clue. One whiff of smoke and I am history. Gone to find clean air.
The vase is designed to hold long wood matches. I added a bit of floral foam in the base. The foam would not hold the heavy Heliconias up so I wound some Bromeliad foliage around the inside of the neck to hold the flowers in place. Perhaps the first Bromeliad foliage shim ever…?
A closer view:
The orange “flames” are Parrotflowers (Heliconia psittacorum ‘Choconiana’); red “flames”, another Parrotflower (H. psittacorum ‘Lady Di’); red hot foliage is Piecrust Croton (Codieum varigatum ‘Piecrust’); white “smoke” (also supplying fragrance) Sweet Almond (Aloysia virgata).
Hoping this is the last hot blast of summer. Happy Gardening!!
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.
Last Saturday I took a day off from my garden and joined a wildflower walk in the Kissimmee Prairie Preserve in Central Florida. The Prairie is the last dry prairie in Florida, encompassing 54,000 acres and is grassland as far as the eye can see. There are three seasons of wildflowers in the prairie and the butterflies are reported to be spectacular. Last Saturday was too windy and overcast to see the butterflies, though I did see amazing wildflowers. The flowers in the photo are Whitetop Sedge and Black Eyed Susans.
We saw several types of Milkworts, this is Yellow Milkwort (Polygala rugelli). Native Americans used this as a snakebite remedy.
This is Purple Milkwort (Polygala cruciata, I think) there are a lot of Milkworts. These are also called Drumheads.
Yet another Milkwort, these are commonly called Swamp Cheetos.
This is a Rhexia virginica, a Meadow Beauty. I think the common name is right.
A Purple Thistle (Cirsium horridulum) This this is a bit sharp, but a wonderful butterfly host and nectar plant. For some reason I have the much less attractive Yellow Thistle in my yard. It is usually asked to leave the garden.
I am joining the SOS gang this Saturday with six items of interest from my garden. Mine are always a bit different as I am borderline tropical in my South Florida garden. It seems odd but South Florida is still considered subtropical, though the area I am in is often referred to as Tropic Florida. My opinion, I am on the northern edge of tropical.
That said, it occurred to me the signs of spring in the garden are relatively universal. Mine include dirty feet, fertilizer in the foyer, plants waiting to be planted, garden beds renovation…and more.
I am changing a vegetable bed to a butterfly garden. The is the anchor plant in the bed, a Sapphire Showers Duranta. The butterflies found it about 10 minutes after I planted it.
The bed, under construction. The Sapphire Showers is to be underplanted with Bush Daisy (Euryops pectinatus). Bush Daisy is a South African native that is supposed to attract butterflies and thrive in well drained soil and summer heat. I have plenty of both. This is my first experiment with Bush Daisy.
My feet are perpetually dirty. This container has been changed from spinach and cilantro to Petunia exserta and Red Alstromeria for summer. The Red Alstroemeria originated in a college friends mother’s garden went to my mother’s garden, then to another friend’s garden – who eventually brought some to me. They have suffered in either the heat or the soil; so I decided to try them in a container in part shade where I might remember to water them.
Summer veg seedlings on the porch so I remember to water them twice a day. My summer veg is a little different – the seedlings are Roselles, a Hibiscus with edible flowers. Not visible yet, Greek Columnar Basil and Blue Pea Vine for the butterfly garden.
Pots of lavendar Pentas await planting in summer containers.
Newly planted Sunshine Mimosa (Mimosa strigillosa). This is in the butterfly garden, it is a native perennial groundcover with pink powderpuff flowers and attracts butterflies.
A sign of spring in South Florida, buds on the Frangipani. The humidity has kicked up a notch, not quite to its full summer power yet, but this is a definite sign that summer is on the way. The sweet fragrance from the flowers will be perfuming my nightly forays in the backyard with the greyhounds.
My six signs of spring this Saturday, Happy Gardening!
November brings some interesting characters into my garden. Birds become more numerous during the winter in South Florida. I was interested to learn that Hawks migrate, they have recently appeared in flocks, soaring over the Indian River in search of food.
These are White Ibis, they are here year round but more numerous in the winter. The brown ones are juvenile and become pure white as they mature. They are eating grubs in the lawn.
Another bird appeared this week, the Sandhill Crane, these are about 3 feet tall and look like Pterodactyls flying by. They summer in Nebraska.
Winter provides interesting colors in plants as well. The aptly named Christmas Palm (Adonidia merrilli) is producing fruit – looking a lot like Christmas ornaments.
Bromeliads have a tendency to do their own thing. Eventually I will figure out how to have year round flowers. These Guzmanias, left to their own devices, filled this wok planter and bloom every winter for a few months.
Another reliable winter flower is the Nodding Hibiscus (Malvaviscus pendulifloris). These appear randomly in my garden and are very difficult to get rid of – I have embraced them and trained them to my neighbor’s fence.
The Zinnias I started from seed in August have started flowering, as usual, they don’t look like the seed packet. These are Zinderella and supposed to be double..and peach colored, the other one is single and gold..
That is my six for this Saturday… hopefully it stops raining soon.
Happy Gardening and thanks to Jon the Propagator for hosting.
My front garden is composed of hot colors, oranges, reds and apricots. Of course a few other colors have crept in, but for the most part it is hot colors for a hot climate. In keeping with the spirit of heat – above is the Firebush (Hamelia patens var patens), planted by birds in a perfect foundation planting placement.
Imagine my surprise when looking at a real estate website one day I found this picture of my garden (Thanks, Google) with me in my usual position.
The nearly year round flowering Dwarf Red Ixora (Ixora ‘Dwarf Red’) is at its peak during the summer months, bees and butterflies love it.
Soap Aloe (Aloe saponaria) adds grey foliage color and texture and flowers just about quarterly.
More foliage interest is provided by Crotons in two varieties. Codiaeum varigatum ‘Pie Crust’ is below.
I appreciate restrained color palettes for the most part. This vase is unrestrained and a kaleidoscopic view of summer in my garden. The flowers are restrained in a different way. Instead of a hand tied bouquet, this is a rubber banded bouquet, waiting to see how it holds up as the stems are fat and juicy. I was rooting around in the drawer and could not fish the jute twine out with one hand as I was holding the flowers in the other and did not want to put them down. Rubber bands were within easy reach and not too tightly applied.
There is a lot going on in this vase. Fruit, fragrant flowers and medicinal plants. The neutral colored vase, a thrift store find, is a necessity when colors range from deep purple to orange, apricot, red, pink and white. A closer view:
The fruit is Muscadine Grapes (Vitis rotundifolia), a native grapevine that takes over everything and unfortunately tastes bitter and has a big seed. My neighbors, the native Floridians, love it and eat it. I wish they would eat more as they are so prolific. But pretty. White flowers are Bridal Bouquet Frangipani (Plumeria pudica) lightly scented and lovely. The red flower with blue tips is Miniata Bromeliad (Aechmea miniata); orange flower and foliage with the grapes on top belong to Mexican Bush Honeysuckle (Justicia spicigera); red and yellow flower in the center is Parrotflower (Heliconia psittacorum).
The apricot and sage green flowers are from Soap Aloe (Aloe saponaria); red flowers, Tropical Red Salvia (Salvia coccinea); pink and white flowers, a sprig of Shell Ginger (Alpinia zerumbet). Ferns are from the evil Asian Sword Fern – I don’t think I could make enough arrangements to get rid of this stuff.
I wish I could whirl the pictures around and see all the colors combined..like a real Kaleidoscope.
One of my father’s favorite summertime sayings “It is hot as blue blazes”. I have no idea where that came from. Maybe New England where he was from. I can confirm it is hot as blue blazes in South Florida in July, though there is a nice breeze coming off the ocean currently.
Above is one of my favorite summer flowers, the Parrotflower (Heliconia psittacorum)
Another Heliconia is flowering in my garden, the Lobsterclaw Heliconia (Heliconia rostrata)
I have been harvesting fruit. My first pineapple, cute and ripening on the counter along with Purple Possum Passionfruit. Say that 10 times fast..
The Bromeliads are doing their thing, some just looking great in summer colors and some flowers. This is an unknown Neoregelia.
The Blanchetiana Aechmea Bromeliads are shooting up buds, these are about five feet tall now and will get a little bigger and fully open in November. The flowers usually last until May.
Another Aechmea Bromeliad, the Miniata. These are very reliable July bloomers, many Bromeliads have a mind of their own when deciding to flower – the Blanchetiana above took about six years to decide to bloom…the Miniata start out red and then get cobalt blue tips. Interesting to watch and they last a long time as cut flowers. The foliage is a bit scorched from two weeks without rain and some wind.
I started this garden several years ago, the idea was to recreate a rainforest using mostly colors and textures in shades of plum and green with a few pops of color. My Living Room looks into this space so the plants are placed around the windows to shape views from the inside and outside. Here is what I started with:
I referred to this ‘landscape’ as the beach with weeds. The glob of plant material on the right side had to be removed with a bobcat – I poked around at it with loppers for a while then gave up and had everything scraped out. The existing irrigation was capped off and I installed above ground tubing and microspray heads to keep the water off the walkway and be very efficient. The sand holds very little water and is mostly unamended – plant material was chosen carefully to cope with the conditions.
I planted the areas around the walk, and then hired a contractor to install plastic edging. I installed the fabric, then leveled the sand, added stepping stones and shell gradually. I have a crushed shell driveway and had a pile of leftover shell. This is 2018.
Later in 2018 with the walkway completed. I am not sure how long all that took, though I remember it was many tiny wheelbarrows of shell…
Here it is today, I am standing under an Avocado tree planted about 4 years ago.
One of the plum and green Bromeliad beds:
Looking back, I am amazed at how quickly the garden has grown in and enjoy sitting in the garden with a glass of wine frequently.
The Fourth of July marks the birth of American Independence from Great Britain in 1776. Usually the general public celebrates with loud fireworks and mass picnics in public parks. Many of these events have been cancelled due to Covid concerns. My greyhounds are blissfully happy (with no idea why) about no booming fireworks.
The holiday is on Saturday this week. My vase is celebrating the holiday in patriotic colors reflecting the heat in the garden with red and orange flowers. The vase is from the UK – a teapot in Blue Willow. There is even a Firecracker Plant in the vase (Russelia equisetiformis)
I have been gardening in the mornings, the end of June signals the end of tolerable weather outdoors. July and August are listed as our worst weather months despite Hurricane season peaking September 10. After over 20 inches of rain the first couple of weeks of June, the spigot got turned off and I have plants frying in the heat. Slightly windy and 90 degrees Fahrenheit will burn many plants. Surprisingly, I need to water some very tough Bromeliads later this afternoon ( and check on the irrigation)
The weeping red flowers are Firecracker Plant (Russelia equisetiformis); red spikes Tropical Red Salvia (Salvia coccinea); red and yellow daisies – Gallardia (Gallardia pulchella); the orange flower, Mexican Bush Honeysuckle (Justicia spicigera); grey foliage is from Licorice Plant (Helichrysum petiolare) – I can’t smell the Licorice…and a leftover Guzmania Bromeliad from last week.
Happy Gardening to all and Happy Fourth to those who celebrate it.