In A Vase on Monday – Cheers to Spring

20180401_101806_Burst01-1.jpg

I joined my husband on a short road trip this week (about 80 miles north). Along the way, I noted green buds on trees and the first flowers on roses climbing fences as we drove through Melbourne, Florida. Signs are more evident of spring further north as we have few deciduous trees and roses are a long forgotten dream in my garden.

What is a harbinger of spring in South Florida? The Hong Kong Orchid trees and Winter Starburst Clerodendrum are two of my top picks. I have featured the Orchid tree flowers a few times this spring and killed every Clerodendrum I so much as looked at…

What’s toasting spring in my garden:20180401_102515.jpg

Front and center, the Shell Ginger (Alpinia zerumbet); in purple, Mexican Sage (Salvia luecanthum); in blue, our native Porterweed; Asian Sword Ferns for greenery and some bits of a Purple Spike Dracaena along with the foliage from a Solar Sunrise Coleus. The white spikes are from a recent addition to my garden, Sweet Almond  (Aloysia virgata) native to Argentina reportedly flowering year round with the scent of honey accompanying the flowers. I have planted this beside our screened porch for fragrance and hopefully butterflies and pollinators.

The vase:20180401_160814-1.jpg

The vase is actually one half of a pair of wine glasses I painted to go with my Portmerion Botanic Garden china at a fund raising event hosted by my longtime friend Diane. In respect of the length of our friendship, I have ceased using the term ‘old friend’. Diane raises funds to provide college scholarships for kids with Tourette’s syndrome. A great cause, the foundation was started in honor of her daughter, Kelsey. For more information, here is the link: https://www.dollars4ticscholars.org/

The glass not filled with flowers from my garden will be filled with wine to toast spring.

Cheers!

Advertisements

In A Vase on Monday – Boxed Florida Sunshine.

20180225_111331-1.jpg

The Beach Sunflowers are overtaking my front yard. The mailman, raised in the Florida Keys, stopped to inform me no one left the Beach Sunflowers in their garden when he was growing up – they were considered weeds, though clearly he was wondering if maybe it was a good idea. Floridians, the rare native ones,  tend not to appreciate things that are common (and wonderful). I think the tide of appreciation is turning to plants more suited to their native environment – who couldn’t appreciate a box of sunshine from Florida on a fine February morning?

20180225_111119.jpg

The blue watercolor box is filled with Helianthus debilis, Beach Sunflower. Beach Sunflower is a native reseeding biennial – the reasons I love these, they bloom nearly year round, thrive in pure sand, outcompete most weeds and can be pruned to low masses. What’s not to love?

The fruit tree update. Mangoes are flowering here, we will have fruit in June or July, the panicles produce numerous fruits – most fall off and maybe one to three fruits per flower is left. By late spring, the branches will be bending from the weight of the fruit.

20160315_103510

This is a big Haden Mango located on my daily dog walk route. My little Mangoes are flowering a little, but nothing like this.

I bought another fruit tree, a Red Jaboticaba:

20180221_141937.jpg

This is a South American fruit tree that bears a grape like fruit on the trunk. In a few years. Patience, gardeners.

 

In A Vase on Monday-Two Birds, One Stone

20180121_103842-1-1.jpg

The weather has been oddly cold this January for South Florida. It occurred to me I should take some cuttings of some of the more tender vegetation, just to be safe. The Angel or Dragon Wing Begonias are usually perennials here as are Coleus and Transcandentia zebrina (Wandering Jew or, apparently, Wandering Dude is you are more politically correct than I am)

20180121_104120-1.jpg

As the saying goes, I decided to kill two birds with one stone and create an arrangement that will hopefully produce rooted cuttings to add back to the garden. The two birds and stone are gifts from my father, the vase from my brother. Both are gone, so I enjoy using these props and remembering my family. My father was a geology professor, the stone is Fool’s Gold from his collection of crystals, the ducks – a gift to remind me to keep my ducks in a row. I think taking cuttings for a flower arrangement in hopes of getting more plants might be considered getting my ducks in a row as I know where I would put all these plants if they strike roots!

20180121_104120-2.jpg

The plants in this vase include: in red flowers, Dragon Wing Begonias, in white flowers, Sweet Begonias (Begonia odorata ‘Alba’), Solar Sunrise Coleus, and purple and silver striped Whatever Jew or Dude (Transcandentia zebrina). No idea on botanical names for coleus or Dragon Wing Begonias, cultivar, blah, whatever.

Now, for everyone’s ongoing amusement. The masses of MILT beside my house. Okay, Mother In Law’s Tongue, about 400 square feet. Weird, crazy, yes. Got a bulldozer?

 

20180121_165007-1.jpg

 

In A Vase on Monday – Winter Cheer

20180114_102428-1.jpg

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.

20180114_102637_HDR.jpg

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.

20180114_102711_HDR.jpg

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!

20180114_105954-1.jpg

Happy Monday, stay warm.

In A Vase on Monday -Funky Fall Flowers

20171008_120617

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.

20171008_125222

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

20171008_120604

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.

20160902_105510

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- Trimmings

20170903_114606

I have been renovating the Greyhound Beach in my back yard this holiday weekend. It is Labor Day in the US and Monday is a national holiday. My Greyhounds, Alan and Charles, have been gleefully destroying the turf behind the patio for the past few years. The mini racetrack in the backyard – visible from space.

20160307_164454(5)-1

Here is Alan, with his favorite toy, Sharky, digging for reasons only dogs know. I flattened out the holes yesterday and installed edging for sod. Alan has been melancholy all day and refused to eat this morning. Later in the afternoon he relented and woofed down his dinner.

20170903_114722

 

Back to the title, Trimmings. As a part of my reclamation of Greyhound Beach, I decided to trim and tree form a Firebush that has overgrown its space. Trimming off armfuls of flowers. I stopped trimming to contemplate if I could shear the back of the shrub for screening and tree form the front – an Arboricultural dilemma.

This shrub was sold as a Dwarf Firebush, which actually means it gets 10 or 15 feet tall. Only in the Land of the Giants would this plant be considered dwarf. This sort of horticultural nonsense annoys me. One of the first plants installed in my garden to screen the well equipment:

CAM00121 (1)

Firebush Hamelia patens

Here it is, four years later:

20170903_164649

And I have cut four feet off the top for the past couple of years, the Greyhound Beach is visible through the shrubs.

Now, this is where the Firebush trimmings ended up- in my vase. 20170903_114540

The vase itself is an English teapot in the Blue Willow style, one of my favorite flea market finds. There are two kinds of Firebush in the vase. The dark red is the native Hamelia patens var patens. The ones from the gigantic orange Firebush are Hamelia patens, I think, botanists argue about these plants. I thought some purple was in order and added Setcresea, some variegated Dwarf Pineapple foliage and some red weeds, um, native wildflowers. The name escapes me – one of those things you think is pretty until you realize the seedheads are like dandelions and there are 10 million in your yard.

Another wonderful attribute of the Firebush. Butterflies love them. Here is a Black Swallowtail that was passing by:

20170823_155849-1

And a Zebra Longwing:

20170608_152406-1

A gigantic Firebush in the garden has some advantages.

Happy Monday.

In A Vase on Monday – Floridian Fall

20170827_103206

It’s another stormy Sunday in South Florida. Hurricane Harvey hit the Gulf Coast of Texas on Friday and is still pummeling the Greater Houston area. Our blog friend, the Automatic Gardner, is there.  According to her latest post, so far, so good. Best wishes and luck to her.

The Atlantic Hurricane Season is in full swing, peaking on September 10. So far, our area has avoided any truly stormy weather. The flowers in my vase today are all native to the area and at their best during the height of Hurricane season.

20170827_103233

All of the materials in this vase just appeared in my garden with the exception of one. Beautyberry . The purple berries come from the Beautyberry (Calliocarpa americana) I bought a few of these shrubs from a local nursery going out of business. The rest of the flowers just came up and me being me, I left these unknown plants to see what interest they brought to the garden. The orange tubular flowers are Firebush (Hamelia patens var patens), the yellow flowers are Chapman’s Goldenrod (Solidago odora), the blue flowers are Porterweed (still not sure exactly which one).

20170827_103240

The white flowers and foliage in back of the arrangement are from our native Hymenocallis latifolia (or a friend) These are sometimes called Alligator Lilies and have a lovely scent at night. I found a huge clump of these in the front garden years ago, mistook them for Amaryllis, divided them and have an enormous border of Alligator Lilies in my back garden. Soon to be spectacular, October last year we had Hurricane Matthew here and then the Alligator Lilies flowered. I was surprised, humbled and happy I had divided all of them.

I think of the components of this arrangement as a gift from Mother Nature to remind us of the good things she provides.

Hurricane season notwithstanding.

Happy Gardening.