In A Vase on Monday – Maximum Minimalism


Maximum minimalism seems a contradiction in terms. I was planning to call this Deconstructed Corsage, due to the Gardenia and Orchids. Shortly before I started writing the post, my husband came in and said ‘minimalism’. I countered ‘”it can’t be, too many different things in the vase”. Upon further reflection, there is something minimal about this arrangement, despite the use of six different plants. I think it is the long lines of the vase and Muhly Grass blending all the elements making it appear to be one plant. One spectacularly unusual plant.


Fall has been slow to arrive here, there are some 50 degree low temperatures forecast this week. The temperature this afternoon was less than Autumnal, 86 degrees (feels like 95), 97% humidity. I will believe Fall is here when I see or feel it! The flowers on the Muhly Grass are a better indicator of the season than the weather.


Plants in the arrangement from the top, Muhly Grass (Muhlbergia capillaris), ‘Cabernet’ Spathoglottis Orchids, ‘Hallelujah’ Bromeliad foliage behind the orchid, striped purple leaves are from Transcandentia zebrina, white flowers are Tropical Gardenia (Tabernaemontana divericata) and Sweet Begonias (Begonia odorata). The vase is a thrift shop find.

I still think this would make a good corsage.


Installing Orchids in the Strangler Fig

This is a story I started last year, when I was gifted some Orchids.

One of the joys of living in South Florida is growing things outside that are houseplants almost anywhere else in North America. My neighbor showed up with a box of Cattleya Orchids yesterday. She grows these in her trees mounted on the branches; it is a beautiful sight when the clouds of purple orchids are blooming in the summer. Some are fragrant and cast sweet scents through the garden.

Orchids Ready for Banyan Tree

Orchids Ready for  Tree

These Orchids were declared unkillable. If this is true these will be the first Orchids I have ever not killed. I think of Orchids more as a floral arrangement; not something that actually is perennialSo, I followed directions:

Cleared a slightly sunny spot in the base of a big Strangler Fig tree in my side yard. There are unfortunately some very poorly trained arborists (?!) around here who left this bad pruning job on my tree. A few orchids will spice things up here and cover the bald spot..

Banyan Tree Trunk

Fig Tree Trunk

I added some dampened Sphagnum Moss; trying to place the moss so it would drain and not cause any rot on the bark of the tree.

Spaghnum Moss

Spaghnum Moss

Then I hoisted the Orchids into the trunk and tied them to the tree with sisal twine. This takes a bit of jiggling and looping to make things secure, but I think they will stay in place.

The Finished Product

The Finished Product

Here are the Orchids in place. The idea is you water them (not too much) until establishment in the tree. Then maybe water every week during the dry season. Voila! Hopefully, I will get some of these next year; if these are truly unkillable!

The update here is the Orchids are alive and well and are teasing me with new shoots – hopefully I get some flowers like the ones below. The good news is they do appear to be unkillable!



Orchids in the Orchid Tree – Cattleyas and Bauhinia

Cattleya Orchids in Hong Kong Orchid Tree

Cattleya Orchids in Hong Kong Orchid Tree

This is the current scene above my neighbor’s mailbox. A flowering Cattleya Orchid she installed in the crotch of a Hong Kong Orchid tree. A delightful welcome to the driveway or mailbox.

I would say the Cattleyas are probably 3 feet in circumference and nestled in the center of a semi multi trunked Hong Kong Orchid Tree. The flowers are pink and white, fabulous and slightly fragrant; it should be noted that there are some really fragrant Cattleyas that can be used in this way. The Hong Kong Orchid tree is looking as good as possible for a Bauhinia so the Cattleyas are the star of the show.

The iambic pentameter or whatever hadn’t occurred to me when I started this post – Orchids in the Orchid Tree. Where’s an English teacher when you need one?maybe it is alliteration? In my experience, English teachers were generally offended by my writing so somewhere, somebody is feeling unhappy about comma faults – my specialty. I was nearly kicked out of the University of Georgia for my comma faults; my solution to stay in college – semi-colons! And it worked! I have a college degree and am still here offending innocent people with my punctuation. I can only wonder how many good, interesting writers were sidelined by English teachers. Carl Sagan comes to mind:Billions and billions. Ms. Ford, if you are still out there, I am published and somebody paid me!!

I digress, my neighbor offered a start of these Cattleyas to me and I enthusiastically accepted. I have a good sized Banyan Tree asking for some Orchid company. Research (and my neighbor) tells me that you need a rough barked area, then apply some sphagnum moss, add the orchid and tie it to the tree with string. Water until established and …Voila.

Orchids in the Orchid Tree…