Gloomy is not usually a term I associate with the “dry season” in South Florida. It has been raining and overcast since the middle of last week. We Floridians are addicted to sunshine. The garden is clearly enjoying the rain and hopefully the good plants will absorb more than the weeds. Though I can see the cool season weeds germinating wantonly as I dodge the raindrops walking my greyhounds.
Our moods, needing improvement with some floral friends made me search high and low from the safety of my covered porches to spy some colorful and hopefully a little bit tropical flowers to grace my vase this Monday. All of the components of this vase were cut within a mad dash from our doors.
Some closer views:
Purple berries are Beautyberry (Calliocarpa americana) – planted by the porch to deter mosquitoes. I think it works. Though I have no comparison. Pink cloverish flowers, some free Globe Amaranth I grew from seed I got from Etsy. Fun, but, yeah looks like clover and is a wimpy color. Not a big fan of pale pink. Darker pink wooly worms, Dwarf Chenille Plant (Acalphya pendula), just tropical fun and a great cut flower. Orange flowers, Firebush (Hamelia patens) grows near front and back doors and a perennial (ha) favorite.
White flowers are from Bridal Bouquet Frangipani (Plumeria pudica). These are slowing down though some consider them evergreen, I do not. Enjoying the slightly fragrant flowers til the bitter end (winter 2022?). Purple foliage is Alternanthera “not sure which one”
The weather seems to be clearing and I hope to be back in the garden soon.
Last Monday, a challenge was issued to celebrate the eighth anniversary of In a Vase on Monday. Cathy, founder and host of IAVOM, threw down the gauntlet. The challenge, for this week – create a vase without using fresh flowers.
May I present a completely inedible (to most people) berry parfait from my garden. I should invite eight birds, squirrels or lizards for a feast. The lizards are big in South Florida. People can eat these berries, most would chose not too. Tasty they are not.
The parfait is tall – 16 inches (40 cm). Our former house in Atlanta had a two story space in the living room. I kept huge vases in that room and have two tall vases I still enjoy from time to time. This is my first garden fruit parfait.
The top of the vase. The grey paddles are Flapjack Kalanchoe (Kalanchoe thyrsiflora) flowers. I have had Flapjacks around for so many years I am not sure of their origin. They grow in containers around my garden. I move them around – so easy to grow here. Green and red berries are from the Adonidia or Christmas Palm (Adonidia veitchii); another favorite of mine. This palm was grown from seed by a friend from Landscape Architecture school, Eddie, he gave me a palm seedling in 2013. The seedling is now 14 feet tall.
Purple berries are from Beautyberry (Calliocarpa americana). I bought the shrubs from a native plants nursery going out of business sale several years ago. The amount of fruit borne in the summer and fall continues to amaze me.
Dried foliage from past vases, Blanchetiana Bromeliads used to wrap jars, has been utilized in its curly state to hold stems in place as I was stacking the fruit and foliage. A few bits of Statice dried from flowers sent by a friend are visible in purple.
My garden is in seasonal transition, there are a few flowers, some fruit and buds for the winter flowers – all in all, not a lot of flowers. I enjoy these respites and have cut a lot of the summer performers back as they tend to get buggy as they age. The dragonflies showed up in droves this week and hopefully ate all the mealybugs on the Salvias, portending a new batch of salvia flowers for the winter. Most of the flowers I cut seemed to be bell shaped – and I added some Muhly because, well, everyone loves the Muhly Grass.
Some closer views:
The red belles are Firecracker Plant (Russelia equiseteum); yellow belles are from Esperanza (Tecoma stans); and the orange, admittedly less bell like are from Firebush (Hamelia patens); my perennial favorite for its flowers, ease of culture and butterfly nectar.
The yellow belles are from Tecoma stans, this is also another common name for them. They have several. The background ephemeral wispies are from Muhly Grass (Muhlebergia capallaris). This seems to be everyone’s favorite this time of year. I am guilty of this, currently loving them in the garden and waiting for their full pink floaty goodness. I may need to stop cutting the wispies.
That is the vase for this Monday from South Florida. Happy Gardening and Happy Fall Y’all. I will be in the garden admiring the Muhly Grass. For more vases from worldwide gardens, visit our intrepid hostess, Cathy at http://www.ramblinginthegarden.wordpress.com.
While searching for seasonality in my garden on Sunday, I came up with several autumnal examples. It brought to mind my mother’s favorite fall annual planting schemes. She called them ‘tapestry colors’ usually done with pansies and kales in shades of purple, gold and pink. “Antique Shades” was the favored color mix of pansies.
Serving as a vase this Monday is a Bromeliad leaf wrapped pickle jar from a couple of weeks ago that was left to dry and repurposed for a different look. This looks a bit like wood to me.
Floaty seed heads of Muhly Grass (Muhlbergia capillaris) provide background and are a true indicator of fall in South Florida. The deep purple berries are from Spicewood (Calyptranthes pallens), a native shrub I am not impressed with thus far. Reportedly has a wonderful spicy scent – I haven’t caught a whiff of this yet and it was a real pain to get established, growing to maybe 3 feet in seven years. I won’t ask it to leave the garden, but wouldn’t buy another. Salmon panicles in the back are dried Miniata Bromeliad flowers (Aechmea miniata) these are bright red and cobalt blue when fresh. Yellow flowers are from Thyrallis (Galphimia glauca) I use this as a shrub in my butterfly garden. Pink fuzzies are from Dwarf Chenille Plant (Acalphya pendula), I have this spilling out of a container – though it can be used as a groundcover here.
Red and white flowers are from Red Shrimp Plant (Justicia brandegeana). Tiny bits of purple peeking out are Mona Lavendar Plectranthus. The green berries are from a Tree Spinach (Cnidoscolus aconitifolius). A few Bidens alba are lurking in the mass of flowers – I may have gotten carried away with the Chenille Plant, so fuzzy and fun to arrange.
I like plants that are a bit off the beaten path. Something that make you wonder “what on earth is that?” It occurred to me as I was arranging this vase I had most likely never seen any of these plants prior to moving to Florida almost 10 years ago. I would have said “Whatizzit?” about this one.
The vase is a thrift store find I have enjoyed for years, simple enough to set off a group of mad tropical flowers and foliage. Here are some closer views of the flowers:
The white flowers are ‘Miss Alice’ Bougainvillea; red flowers are Nodding or Sleeping or Turks Cap Hibiscus (Malvaviscus arboreus) – so many names, I am not sure which one is right. Red and black foliage is from Piecrust Croton (Codiuem varigatum)
Here is the other side. The Lobsterclaws and the big gold leat are from, yes, the Lobsterclaw Bromeliad (Aechmea blanchetiana). These are a very common landscape Bromeliad around here. I cut some stems of the lower part of the flower. The flowers are a bit difficult to imagine and about four feet tall.
Esperanza means hope in Spanish. The yellow flowers in this vase are Tecoma stans, one of its common names is Esperanza. It is springing forth with great vigor in my garden and I am very pleased about that. Finding that common name also made me stop and think about what I am hopeful about as 2021 winds down.
I am hopeful the pandemic will abate and the politicizing of public health issues will cease. I am hopeful for my husband’s increasingly good health. I am also hopeful for a bounteous winter garden. So many things to be hopeful for based on the common name of a smiling yellow flowering shrub in my garden.
The vase is a gift from a dear old friend and my college roommate. It is actually a candleholder, so there is a beer glass with water holding the flowers as I was not sure how long a crackled glass candleholder would remain watertight.
Smiling for its close up.
Yellow flowers are Esperanza, also called Yellow Elder, Yellow Bells and a couple of other things. Tecoma stans is the latin and the jury is out on if the plant is native to Florida. It was noted growing in Key West in the 1800s and that is good enough for me. The Florida Native Plant Society does not recognize the plant and I think they are missing out on a good one. Purple flowers are Mona Lavendar Plectranthus. I am guessing the latin is that backwards. Purple and silver foliage is Wandering Jew or Inch Plant (Transcandentia zebrina) I call it Zebrina as I like that name better. White flowers and deep green foliage are from Tropical Gardenias (Tabernaemontana diviracata). The Esperanza has a light, fresh floral fragrance that mixes well with the heavier, sweeter Gardenia scent.
The other side, the last plant on the list, in grey, Barometer Bush (Luecophyllum frutescens). My husband said this looked like a bridal bouquet. I am not so sure..though, I would love the scent carrying this down the aisle and suppose I could wrap the beer glass in white lace.
Witnessing the first day of October always makes me happy. Trepidation about hurricane strikes lessens as does the humidity. The temperature is currently 86 Fahrenheit with 48% humidity, there is a breeze coming off the Atlantic Ocean and it feels like fall. Morning walks with the greyhounds have been very pleasant.
Fall foliage color is difficult to find in South Florida, though there are about 5 Red Maples nearby that turn red. I have to make an effort to seek them out. There are also lovely brilliant red lantern shaped fruit on the Tropical Goldenraintrees that I enjoy as fall color. Other autumnal tones must be found in flowers and I searched my garden for flowers that aspire to fall colors.
A closer view:
The red flowers at the bottom of the image are Nodding Hibiscus (Hibiscus malvaviscus); tubular yellow flowers above are Yellow Elder (Tecoma stans); red and yellow daisy shaped flowers are Gallardia (Gallardia pulchella); yellow daisies are Beach Sunflowers (Helianthus debilis); orange tubular flowers are Firebush (Hamelia patens).
The red and yellow tropical flower at the top is Parrotflower (Heliconia psittacorum “Lady Di”); this one is not quite perennial and crops up now and again. Green foliage is Asian Sword Fern, a verdant weed. The white flowers are from White Geiger tree (Cordia boissieri) – this tree flowers when it is in the mood, I am not sure what it’s season is or if it even has one.
The vase came with a flower arrangement last year, a nice, simple faux glass. I put it in the dishwasher once and feared it might melt so I took it out.
My greyhound, Zepp had an accident last week. While engaged in horse (er, greyhound) play with Fiona in the backyard he tore his dew claw. This resulted in a broken nail that had to be trimmed (while sedated) and a chartreuse green wrap. I finally let him out to sit in the dirt (it was dry enough). He did not enjoy having his paw wrapped in Press n Seal plastic wrap while the ground was wet.
Zepp had his nail wrapped for three days and bounced back miraculously without a misstep. He lost his wrap and I found a salsa jar on the counter and decided to wrap a vase in chartreuse.
This is a glass salsa jar (extra large from Aldi) wrapped with a new Lemon Blanchetiana Bromeliad leaf and a dried leaf of the same plant from an earlier vase. The dried leaf looks a bit like bamboo flooring.
The purple berries are Beautyberries (Calliocarpa americana). If I can find a recipe for a small amount of Beautyberry Jam I may try it, there are a lot of berries. The orange tubular flowers are from the Firebush (Hamelia patens); bigger orange flowers are Parrotflowers (Heliconia psittacorum); white flowers are Miss Alice Bougainvillea.
Zepp is back to full racing speed and hopefully stays out of trouble for a while. Inspiration comes from the oddest places.
When September starts winding down and the Fall Equinox approaches there is an ever so subtle change in the weather and South Floridians feel less torched. Or maybe less scorched. The daily high temperatures are less than 90 degrees F/32 C. Eighty eight degrees with less humidity is refreshingly cooler. Sort of.
While searching for vase contents, I was happy to see a new bough of flowers on the Tropical Gardenias, then decided to cut the Flaming Torch Bromeliads as the centerpiece of the arrangement. The flowers are most likely courtesy of many late afternoon thundershowers in the past weeks.
A closer view:
The pink flowers are Flaming Torch Bromeliads (Billbergia pyramidalis), AKA Hurricane Bromeliads as they typically flower during peak Atlantic hurricane season. These are sort of a passalong plant in South Florida. I cannot recall ever seeing one for sale, these were shared with me.The white flowers are Tropical Gardenias (Tabernaemontana diviricata) – I am wondering how long these will flower, it seems I have had them most of the summer off and on. Green dreadlocks and varigated foliage belong to the ‘Java White’ Copperleaf (Acalypha wilkesiana). I am not sure it the dreadlocks are buds or seeds or flowers, so I took a close up.
Any thoughts? I have three groups of Java White in the garden and this is the only one with dreadlocks. The mystery continues.
I think it is safe to say this is an unconventional use of a rose bowl. Of course, I have no roses and think it would be way too much trouble to try and grow them. Though it is possible. I would need to replace the dirt in my garden. So, I will keep using the rose bowl for non roses.
Fall will officially arrive in about 10 days. These are typical fall flowers in South Florida with a little bit of fruit. The grapes are dreadful tasting Muscandines that are very difficult to conquer. It makes me happy when they lose their leaves and I can’t see them anymore.
A closer view, the white flowers are Tropical Gardenias (Tabernaemontana diviricata) – these will continue to flower until the weather cools off. I enjoy using them in arrangements; this one’s fragrance is a bit weird with the Gardenia and Mystic Blue Salvia. The green leaves are from a big Coleus that is so easy to propagate I have more and more everytime I use them in a vase they root and I can’t bear to throw them away. And..they go with everything. Like a little black dress. Who knew Coleus is a gift that keeps on giving. The orange flowers are Parrot Flowers (Heliconia psittacorum ‘Choconiana’) These are new to the garden and another plant that needs to be in a certain spot. Or else it dies. I think I got this one right.
The blue flowers are Mystic Blue Salvia, this has been blooming for so long I am wondering if it will ever stop. Now that I have put that in writing it probably will. The ‘fall leaves’ are the older growth on Piecrust Croton (Codieum varigatum).