In a Vase on Monday – Jar of August Tropical Version

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My repurposed pasta jar makes its second appearance filled with the tropical side of August in the garden. This month has been steamily perfect for growing tropical plants; more than 6 inches of rain has fallen thus far and it is currently pouring down. The greyhounds are a little grumpy. The lightning show offshore at night has been keeping everyone awake.

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A closer view, the colors were a happy gardening accident. I do not consider myself a pink person, but there it is. Foliage in the background is two ferns that freely go wild in Florida. Asparagus Fern (Asparagus aethiopicus) and Asian Sword Fern (I think) – both are considered invasive – it would take a bulldozer to rid my garden of these. I have pulled out cubic yards of them.  The purple and silver leafy foliage is Wandering Jew (Transcandentia zebrina) – if there is a more politically correct common name, I am not aware of it, though I do wonder about all the wandering and why Jews? The yellow and pink spikey flower in the back is from one of my garage sale Bromeliads. I have no idea what it is; the foliage is very thorny and is grey with a pink cast. The purple flowers are Ground Orchids (Spathoglottis ‘Cabernet’) dreadful name but a lovely little perennial that flowers off and on year round. The last pink flower is Shell Ginger (Alpinia zerumbet). In white with yellow centers Bridal Bouquet Frangipani. The Frangipani keeps flowering and I keep cutting them, I love the fragrance and added some Tropical Gardenias (Tabernaemontana diviricata) to the jar for some additional punch. Recently I ran across a Ylang Ylang tree (a major part of Chanel No. 5 perfume’s allure) Finding they will grow in my garden I am plotting the perfect location. Not a particularly lovely tree, but the fragrance from the flowers is heavenly.

Both Jars of August for comparison:

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Last week

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This week – Tropical version.

Thinking I should do a jar of weeds next week. Some are attractive and a major component of the garden in August.

 

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In a Vase on Monday – Under the Toasting Sun

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It’s the Fourth of July holiday week in the US, usually celebrated with red, white and blue everything. I have these colors in my garden, while poised under the Gardenia with my clippers I decided to forego the patriotic theme and create a vase that reflected the current state of affairs in my garden – Under the Toasting Sun. A brief walk to check the mail will envelop you with humidity that metastasizes into a form-fitting body glove consisting of a fine layer of sweat, soon beading up from head to toe, making the mail a forgotten task as one tends to turn and stride back to air-conditioned space tout de suite.

Last week in the garden was a bit hot, temperatures in the 90’s (30s Centigrade to feels like 40s) ‘but it feels like 108’ kept popping up on my computer. Add the astonishing humidity and an air quality alert due to Saharan sand – it was time to look out the window at the garden.

This indoor respite gave rise to weeds and fungus took a few innocent lives during the week. I am happy to have weed check fabric in many of my beds doing a fine job preventing the worst offenders. It was cool and cloudy Saturday and I plucked weeds not smothered by the weed fabric. The Zinnias I thought could last the summer in partial shade withered and browned overnight. They were plucked as well, I have Flapjack Kalanchoes propagated last year to stand in for the supposedly heat loving Zinnias. I will reserve Zinnias for fall and winter.

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Look closely and you see two Papayas, saved by netting from the Papaya Fruit Fly – a vile creature that lays eggs inside ripening fruit – unleashing a herd of maggots on unsuspecting gardeners looking for a ripe Papaya. The only cure- netting or pesticide, we will soon see how this works. I realized something was wrong and got rid of all the infested Papayas before the little devils reproduced.

Back to the vase, filled with hot colors and Firebush:

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The grey foliage represents smoke from the heat, Barometer Bush (Luecophyllum frutescens) from last week, not flowering despite all the rain it is supposed to predict. In the front of the vase in yellow, Beach Sunflower (Helianthis debilis) proposing a trip to the beach. Behind are Indian Blanket, the native Gallardia pulchella – suggesting what to sit on at the beach; the red spikes, Tropical Red Saliva (Salvia coccinea) hmm, tropical drinks could be a great idea. The Firebush is the orange tubular flowers and berries, well, it is hot as fire here! A few ‘Hallmark’ Bulbine implying a postcard might be a good idea.

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The word from my garden is..take an Indian Blanket to the beach with a tropical red cocktail and don’t forget to send a Hallmark greeting card to anyone left at home.

Seems like the advice I might take this week..

Happy Fourth of July. Red, white and blue flowers can wait.

 

In A Vase on Monday – Rabbit Food

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Early on Sunday morning I grabbed my shears and went into the garden to collect materials for my vase. My intention, to gather some Black Eyed Susans and other wildflowers for a casual vase.

After I closed the gate, keeping my greyhounds in their space – I spied the fattest rabbit I have ever seen lurking near my miniature pineapple plants. The tiny pineapple approaching its juicy peak.. I changed my mind and decided a slightly more tropical vase might be more appropriate. The lovely pineapple was quickly freed from its sharp crown.

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My wildflower theme completely blown by the plus size Rabbit, I searched for more tropical plants. I added some foliage from the miniature pineapple plant, a few sprigs of Boston Fern (Nephrolepis exaltata); the orange flower is Mexican Honeysuckle (Justicia spicigera); the peach flower – the wildflower in the vase, a Tropical Red Salvia (Salvia coccinea); the white flowers are from Bridal Bouquet Frangipani (Plumeria pudica) for a light tropical fragrance. A Pandanus leaf is tied around the vase.

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I am glad I beat the rabbit to the pineapple.

Happy Monday.

In A Vase on Monday – Fruitless Efforts

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I decided to use foliage from my ornamental fruit plants in anticipation of my Papaya actually setting some fruit. I planted some seeds from a Hawaiian Papaya I had particularly enjoyed, knowing they have a reputation for being an extremely easy fruit tree to grow here. I ended up with three seedlings and planted them in my vegetable garden. They are reputed to produce fruit as early as 9 months after planting. Anticipation set it.

Hurricane Irma came along and blew 2 of the trees away, I thought ‘OK, I still have one, how many Papayas can I eat anyway’. Summer rolled around and the tree started to flower, anticipation set in again. Nothing happened. So, I did a little research – Hawaiian Papayas can be male, female or hermaphrodite. The remaining Papaya, female. I planted a hermaphrodite tree to pollinate the existing female. The female tree started flowering again a couple of weeks ago. Not one bud on the pollinator tree – then, on Friday after several days of rain, the hermaphrodite tree started flowering…

Anticipation has really set in now.

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The crystal vase is a gift from my long gone brother. I think of him every time I use it. The foliage in the backdrop is from my Ornamental Pineapple (Ananas ‘no idea’) and an Ornamental Banana leaf (Musa ensete ‘Something’). Ferns are Asian Sword Ferns.

I grow pineapples in my garden and bananas are possible, but we don’t really like bananas enough to water them.

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The flowers in the arrangement are: in white, Sweet Begonia (Begonia odorata ‘Alba’), in purple, Tampa Verbena (Glandularia tampensis), in peach, Tropical Red Salvia (Salvia coccinea), the fruit in the middle is from the White Geiger tree (Cordia boissieri)

Here is the, thus far, fruitless effort Hawaiian Papaya:

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Still waiting.

 

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.

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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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.