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.

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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.

In A Vase on Monday – Stormy Weather

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No one is singing the blues at my house today. It is a blessedly cool, overcast day in South Florida, the temperatures hovering around 80 degrees (F). Thunder can be heard from about 25 miles away in the Atlantic and the colors in the sky inspired my arrangement. In this climate these flowers and berries announce the coming of Fall. In purple. Seems a bit weird to think of Orchids as a fall flower. I do have some native Goldenrod in bud right now and that seems more normal to me as does the Beautyberry in the vase.

The weather today is not a tropical storm, just leftover moisture from one or some weather thing I failed to fully grasp. I have learned the Hurricane season is difficult to predict as are the storms. Named storm Harvey is meandering around in the Caribbean and there are two disturbances hanging around the tropical Atlantic that probably won’t do anything. Or not. Last year Hurricane Matthew brushed the coast near me (first week of October) and that was quite enough. Forever.

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The Blue Violin holding the flowers belonged to my grandmother. She kept colored bottles in her windows as long as I can remember.

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The flowers in the vase are: in purple Spathoglottis ‘Cabernet’ Orchids, the berries are Beautyberries (Calliocarpa americana) For foliage we have a bit of Asparagus Fern and the leaves from a Martin Bromeliad. The Bromeliad is such a weird cross I don’t have a clue what the latin name is. Bromeliad ‘Martin’ that works.

No gardening for me today. Happy Monday.

In A Vase on Monday – A Fine Kettle of Heliconia

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A fine kettle of fish seems to be an expression indicating you have gotten yourself in a dilemma or odd situation. The dilemma involving this old copper kettle was how to put flowers in it – it is so old there are holes in the bottom. Problem solved by cutting down a milk carton to fit inside the kettle. The result – a fine kettle of Heliconia. No fish whatsoever.

The copper kettle is a favorite of mine, bought at a flea market in the mountains of North Georgia possessing such a patina I feel as though I am the kettles steward rather than owner. Obviously handmade and repaired many times it sits in different places around my house, currently in the foyer filled with flowers.

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Our oh so dry spring has turned into a rainy summer, normal for South Florida. The tropical plants are loving it and the Parrotflowers (Heliconia psittacorum) are blooming like mad. I had to cut a bunch and then decided to use coppery and white hues in the kettle. Joining the Heliconia are natives Galllardia (G.pulchella) and Beach Sunflowers (Helianthus debilis) hanging over the side. The white flowers are tropicals, bigger flowers with yellow centers are Bridal Bouquet Frangipani (Plumeria pudica) and the buds hanging over the sides are Florida Gardenias (Tabernaemontana divericata) Not sure why they are called Florida Gardenias as they are from India! Rounding out the kettle as green foliage accents the Asian Sword Fern.

Here is my interesting/weird tidbit for the week. This is the bud of a Night Blooming Cereus Cactus – the white fuzzy thing, first ever, can’t wait to see the flower.

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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 – Contrasting Elements.

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My goal this week was to use an actual vase! Check. The vase is one of my thrift store finds that I have greatly enjoyed. As I was thinking of what to use in the vase I realized my native Firebush was starting to flower after  I cut it back in December, so that started the ball rolling. Here is a better photo of the vase:

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I had to bundle up to wander outside today. We are having winter today, when I woke up this morning the weather said it was 47 degrees (F) and felt like 37. There is also a gale warning and the wind blowing in from the north off the Atlantic Ocean is cold in January.

The plants seem perfectly content in the breezy cool, thus far and it always surprises me what I find when it seems not much is flowering. Since I started with orange Firebush flowers I remembered a professor from design school saying you always need a color jump (jump being from one side of the color wheel to the other) in your compositions. My color jump was to the blue Pom Pom Aster. Then I added a pink one and some Tropical Red Salvia. After that the color was getting pretty jumpy so I decided some grey was needed to cool things down. The Flapjack Kalanchoes are blooming and seemed just right.

Complicating my mental dilemma was another sacrosanct axiom from design school, all elements must occur in odd numbers. Ones, threes, fives and sevens are best. Fortunately, there were three Pom Pom Asters. A friend from school told me once he thought fours were best when planting a featured perennial because the fourth plant makes your eye go round in circles and focus on the plant. Perhaps my nearsightedness prevents me from perceiving the miracle of four.

Finding myself dangerously close to a self inflicted design lecture – I cut some different foliage for contrast. Dwarf Red striped Pineapple, Muhly Grass and Copper Fennel were added, coarse and fine texture and color all at once. Breathing a sigh of relief from all this thought I decided to make lunch.

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In A Vase on Monday-Chrismukkah

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This year Christmas Eve and the first day of Hanukkah fall on December 24, the media have christened the date Chrismukkah, which I suppose sounds better than Hanukmas.

In honor of the season and Chrismukkah, I have done two arrangements, one in Christmas colors, red and green and another in traditional Hanukkah colors, blue, white and silver. Being perpetually and cursedly curious, I wondered about the origin of the color schemes.

According to Cambridge University the Christmas color scheme could go back to the Celts who used a red and green tree to mark boundaries. Here is the link, Who color coded Christmas. More research tells me the Hanukkah colors are based on the Israeli flag, why blue.

Now that we know the origins of the colors, here is the Hanukkah arrangement. The silver goblet is an heirloom from my mother’s collection and the flowers are in blue and white – Pom-Pom Asters (inspired by Cathy, our hostess) I started some seed in September and now have blue, white and perhaps pink Pom-Pom Asters, who knew they would grow in Florida in the winter.? The Asters are thriving, but alas, so far my other IOVOM flowers, the Cactus Zinnias are a disappointment. Another inspiration, White Italian Sunflowers are going, but they are showing signs of mildew, time will tell. The other blue members of this arrangement are Evolvulous, Blue Daze the annual peeking out here and there. The White Begonias are Sweet Begonias, a perennial here, the silver flowers are from Flapjack Kalanchoes. Deep plum foliage along the edges is from Purple Oxalis, from my neighbor. I think this plant may be the common thread between all of us. Asian Sword Ferns provide a bit of green.

 

Here is the Christmas arrangement, the original thought that it looked sort of non tropical. Then, the white Bridal Veil Plumeria is a bit difficult to explain. The dark green Yew is Japanese Yew, Podocarpus macrophyllus. Unabashedly tropical as are the red berries of the Brazilian Pepper, outlawed years ago as invasive, but determined to stay around, it is sold as Pink Peppercorn the world over and I have not eaten one of the berries near my house, but many birds have – and on the Brazilian Peppers go, The red striped foliage is from Martin Bromeliads and the ferny foliage is Copper Fennel. I think I have cut more of this than we have eaten, though it is tasty. The vase is an old Brandy snifter from my husbands ‘flaming things in a glass phase’. Go figure. Drinking flaming liquids is not my area of interest.

So, there we go. Happy Holidays to all.