In a Vase on Monday – Mothers Day

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I put this vase together on Sunday, Mother’s Day in the US. The vases often make me think of my mother, Miss Betty, an intrepid gardener, registered nurse and mother of  four, who would have loved to see all the vases on Monday. I took care of her the last years of her life and always did her grocery shopping on Tuesday. Tuesday always brought a vase to her kitchen – either flowers from my garden, her garden or the grocery store. We both had Red Alstromeria in our gardens and the grocery store usually did as  well – there was a lot of Alstromeria in those Tuesday vases. Recently a friend brought me a start of the original Alstromeria my mother gave her. It is currently suffering in my garden, and I hope it can cope with South Florida sand.

A closer view of the vase:

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It’s an unusually cool, gloomy day for May in South Florida. I decided to create a copper teapot full of color for my foyer. The teapot is a favorite find of mine, antiquing with my husband I spied this and had to have it. Then went running home to make sure the check I wrote wouldn’t bounce. It didn’t, but barely.

There are a lot of flowers stuffed into a pickle jar in the teapot (it doesn’t hold water, holes in the bottom) The big red flower is The President Hibiscus, an old variety that lives a long time. Blue flowers are Plumbago (Plumbago auriculata); bigger white flowers are from White Geiger tree (Cordia boissieri); smaller white flowers are Sweet Begonia (Begonia odorata); the orange tubular flowers are from Firebush (Hamelia patens); grey fuzzy foliage is Licorice Plant (Helichryseum petiolaris); yellow and red foliage is from Mammey Croton (Codieum varigatem); the Guzmania Bromeliad from last week’s vase is at the bottom left in the arrangement. Here is another view:

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And here is my mother, Miss Betty with her mother, Miss Ethel in 1988 – in front of her prized Philadelphus. I wonder how she would feel about being in a blog post..

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In a Vase on Monday – Lions and Corals

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I went in search of some cheerful colors for my vase to offset the dark cloud cast over me by my trip to the grocery store. People were wearing masks mostly and everyone was behaving well except one guy fondling the fresh corn that really annoyed me (I wanted some, bought some, brought it home and stripped the outer leaves off and washed it) Fresh corn is fantastic this time of year in Florida. Yecch, I could tell it was good by just looking. No need to fondle the corn.

Back to the garden. I was surprised to find Leonitis (the lion) in flower. I think this is my new favorite and I will have a lot more next year. Another unusual plant, Coral Jatropha is flowering in response to our rain this week. I think the vase ended up looking a bit architectural. Here is a closer view:

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The orange flowers are the Leonitis (Leonitis nepetifolia); grey, fuzzy foliage is from Licorice Plant (Helichrysum petiolare); red flowers in front are from the Coral Plant (Jatropha multifida); the brown ‘branches’ in back are dried flowers from Adonidia Palm (Adonidia veitchii). The vase is a thrift store find. The green pods on the Coral Plant are seed pods.

Thanks to everyone for the Happy Anniversary wishes. Dinner had a few revisions – Lamb Chops with Onion and Red Pepper Gravy and Mashed Potatoes followed by Rum Cake.

To see more vases from around the world visit our hostess, Cathy, at  http://www.ramblinginthegarden.wordpress.com.

In A Vase on Monday-Gone Native

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This morning I found myself, on hands and knees, installing stepping stones for a crushed shell walkway through my newly planted Bromeliad garden. It occurred to me – I had never done anything like this before, much less while wearing black socks and obnoxious red sneakers. Black socks are better if you tend to run around with the greyhounds without shoes, fashion notwithstanding. I have, really and truly, gone native. My polite mother, in the great beyond, is laughing. She knew it would come to this. My walk, under construction.

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The orange flags mark the stepping stones and the black fabric, hopefully cuts the prolific weeds down – there is black plastic edging on both sides to hold the crushed shells in place. The Bromeliad garden is a green, pink, silver and purple garden with Shell Ginger and Pink Dombeya as a background.

A close up of my entirely native vase:

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The blue stems are Blue Porterweed, ( Stachytarpheta-jamaicensis), orangey flowers, Firebush (Hamelia Patens and friends); yellow daisies are Beach Sunflowers (helianthus debilis) . The vase, a thrift store find, undoubtedly made by a foreign potter and left behind in Florida.

All plants in the vase are native.

Me, not so much. Our county enthusiastically endorsed our current president. My husband and I attended our local “March for our Lives” organized by the kids from our local school system in support of the kids from Parkland (about 80 miles south-where 17 were murdered at school in February) to protest gun violence in the US.

Standing, watching the crowd gather – I noted the crowd was oddly reminiscent of gardeners – an amazing cross section of humanity, old, young, all sizes and colors with a common interest. Not saving flowers of the garden, but flowers of another kind, human.

Our local flowers are nothing short of amazing. One teenaged girl, tasked to sing the Star Spangled Banner, cried through most of her performance and we did as well. The balance of the speakers, mostly high school students, put the politicians on the podium to shame.

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In A Vase on Monday – Winter Cheer

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Sunday in South Florida proved to be a sunny, blue sky cool day. I planted Arugula, Romaine Lettuce and Baby Spinach in the Potager. Getting in touch with my inner snooty gardener. I am about as French as my greyhounds or my Jeep. Potager is French for kitchen garden. I need to think of a word for a South Florida kitchen garden, preferably non French. Kitchen garden might be the answer.

We had some cold weather last week that is slowly taking its toll on the more tropical members of my garden. I live at the north end of South Florida, the Heliconias were not happy about temperatures of less than 40 degrees F and are turning brown and yellow to spite me.

I needed a little Winter Cheer and happily the garden provided. The vase is a thrift store find, made with love by some unknown and probably gone from this world potter. I hope they are feeling happy in the great beyond that I am using their vase.

The native plants are holding up admirably to the cold snap and are a large part of this vase.

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The yellow flowers are Beach Sunflowers (Helianthus debilis); the bright red and apricot flowers are from the native Salvia (Salvia coccinea); orange tubular flowers from Firebush (Hamelia patens) – if you want to get into a botanical argument, this is your plant, probably from the Bahamas. The berries are from the evil scourge, Brazilian Pepper – trying to eradicate this and using the berries here. The off white fluffy stuff is from some sort of Wireweed, and then I added some Italian Flatleaf Parsley.

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This is a close up of the two Salvias, both S. coccinea, the peach is my favorite and seems to have reseeded from the red that has been in the garden for a few years.

For fun, here is the Snake Plant, the flowers have been in my vases the past couple of weeks. Some call these Mother In Law Tongues (Sansiviera), they have been flowering this winter in the garden. This plant is considered invasive – and it is, we keep it at bay with the lawn mower. My own Mother In Law was fine, no need to mow her tongue!

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Happy Monday, stay warm.

In A Vase on Christmas

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It’s Christmas Eve in South Florida, the temperature is hovering around 80 degrees (F) and sunny blue skies are smiling down on me, a few puffy clouds drifting by. Lurking in the back of my mind- the thought that Christmas Eve should be a drizzly, overcast 38 degree day, a day that makes you dream of hot chocolate or hot buttered rum. Rum drinks over ice with umbrellas are called for in my garden this Christmas Eve.

To add a little more holiday feel to the house, I challenged myself to find all the red flowers in the garden to make the Christmasiest vase possible. Here is a closer view:

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Red and green striped leaves from the Martin Bromeliad set the holiday tone, a few ornamental peppers add a festive touch of red. Turk’s Cap Hibiscus are hanging over the edge and the spike flowers are from the native Tropical Red Salvia (Salvia coccinea). A deeper red Shrimp Plant (Justicia brandegeana) completes the red flowers. The grey flowers are from my Flapjack Kalanchoe, the green spike is a flower of the Snake Plant (Sansiveria). A bit of Asian Sword Fern adds foliage color and background.

Feeling more like Christmas already. Alan the Greyhound basking in the shade of the Christmas tree.20151213_162756

Merry Christmas to all!!

In A Vase on Monday – Ducking the Challenge

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In A Vase on Monday is a meme on WordPress that originated in the UK four years ago this Monday. Cathy from the blog Rambling in the Garden is the host (or hostess) of the meme. This year, in honor of the fourth anniversary of In A Vase on Monday- Cathy issued a challenge to not use a vase on Monday but a different container.

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My container is a vintage watering can I inherited from my mother. So vintage, in fact, it no longer has a handle or holds water. I keep it around because I like the patina and it reminds me of my mother, a great gardener and lover of vases. The extreme vintageness of the container required some floral engineering:

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I half filled the can with Styrofoam packing peanuts and bubble wrap, then cut down some drinking water bottles to hold the flowers and water.

The ducks arrived on the scene as it was a pouring down rain, windy day in South Florida. A great day for ducks, humans,  not so much. It really started pouring after I had collected about a third of the arrangement. I stopped, waited the downpour out and went back out to the garden, collected more flowers as this is a good sized container. Finished. Decided it needed some more ferns and something taller, more rain. Stopped, then completed the arrangement again, only to find it too dark in the house to take a picture. Put everything outside and of course, it started raining again.

So, I added the ducks – then my phone ran out out battery so I had to charge it to take the picture! Stopped for a moment to visit our mermaid under construction. Everyone in South Florida needs a concrete mermaid. Mine is going to be painted and used as porch art. Yet another project.

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Finally, the contents:

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The white flowers are Bridal Bouquet Frangipani (Plumeria pudica); the red and yellow flowers are Parrotflowers (Heliconia psittacorum), the red and white flowers are Red Shrimp Plants (Justicia brandegeana); the large foliage and white flowers hanging over the edge are Sweet Begonias (Begonia odorata); the off white spikes are a mystery plant. Foliage in red, Copperleaf (Acalypha ‘ Raggedy Ann’); yellow varigated foliage is from the Pie Crust Croton (Codieum ‘Pie Crust’); ferns are Asian Sword Ferns. There are some bits of Blanchetiana Bromeliad flowers in the back of the arrangement for height.

Visit Cathy’s blog to see Anniversary vases from the world over.

Happy Gardening and thanks to our hostess, Cathy.

In A Vase on Monday -Funky Fall Flowers

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I get some interesting comments from readers about my plant selections. Exotic is the most common description, though weird, unusual and alien have been bandied about. I tend towards the unusual, possibly due to spending over 30 years designing landscapes for corporations. Corporations like a clean, green hedge around their buildings, parsley around the pig is how I refer to the clean green, preferably not interesting in any way. Think Viburnum of any kind clipped into submission. Gardeners tend to be a lot more fun to work with and also avoid workhorse Viburnums.

My garden sports no workhorse shrubs, all selections are off the wall and flowering and fruiting to their hearts content. Corporations would hate it. Not a clipped Viburnum in sight.

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Even I think this vase is funky, put together for texture and color. It speaks of South Florida in the Fall.

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The purple flower is an Orchid, Spathoglottis ‘Cabernet’. The pink vine is a Coral Vine (Antigonon leptopus), some call this Queen’s Wreath. The white spikes are from Snake Plant or Mother In Law’s Tongue (Sanseveira) – they flower here and are considered invasive – it would take a bulldozer to rid my garden of these. Purple berries are from the Beautyberry (Calliocarpa americana) I think the berry production in Florida is triple what my northern plants produced. The striped leaf is from a Screw Pine (Pandanus sp.) I love these and bought a small plant that is surprising me with variegated foliage. Screw Pines are common in the South Pacific and remind me of Hawaii.

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A Screw Pine (Pandanus) on the Pacific Ocean near Hana, Maui. Kinda funky, had to have one in my garden.