In A Vase on Monday – Tropical Bean Blast


Last week several icy blog posts crossed my Reader, so I thought a blast of tropical flowers might warm things up. The tropical flowers are starting to flower again in my garden after a coolish winter. The coral Amaryllis I cut last week has been remarkably slow to open, in fact, it is still not open – despite my efforts to move it further and further into the sun. When I finally put it outside, in the sun, it dropped a bud in protest.

Research has finally identified this Amaryllis as a Barbados Lily (Amaryllis striatum) – definitely from my neighborhood and not a family bulb from my father in law. I see this Amaryllis everywhere in gardens around here, the ones nearby produce a huge amount of seed. I suspect this is another gift from my fine feathered friends. Thank you, birds. The bulb in my garden had two stalks, I cut one – the other is still in bud. Some Amaryllis like this in gardens closer to the water have already flowered and gone to seed.


The other flowers in the arrangement include, in purple, Hong Kong Orchids (Bauhinia purpurea, I think, not realizing how many types of these exist!) The pink flowers are Shell Ginger (Alpinia zerumbet). The pods are beans from the Hong Kong Orchid, my attempt to use something other that ferns for a green foliage accent.


The beans are in all the vases, this one displays them in a heart shape with Shell Ginger.

I love In A Vase on Monday, don’t you?

Thanks to Cathy at for hosting this every Monday!


In A Vase on Monday – Spring Mix Mystery


Spring is not quite in full force in South Florida and my garden is in tune with the season producing Spring Mix in the vegetable garden (lettuces) and a mixture of tropical and not so tropical flowers.

The lettuce is Baby Romaine, Arugula and Leaf Lettuce. The Cactus Zinnias have produced another round of tiny flowers, the foliage with the Zinnias is from the Hawaiian Snowbush (Breynia nivosa) a green, white and burgundy shrub that has white new growth like it snowed.20180311_142531-1.jpg

The Shell Ginger usually blooms in February or March and is a bit late this year. I am not sure if this is due to a chilly spell in January or the Hurricane last year. This is Shell Ginger (Alpinia zerumbet), a Split Leaf Philodendron (Philodendron selloum) leaf and some Asian Sword Fern.


The mystery is the Amaryllis in bud I cut a few days ago, hoping for a long lasting cut flower. About 15 years ago, my father in law gave me some bulbs. his were red and despite my carrying them around all this time, they have never bloomed. There were also numerous bulbs in the garden that I think are our native Spider Lilies, but this is obviously Amaryllis- waiting to see it’s pedigree, inherited from family or a real estate transaction?

Happy early Spring and welcome back to the garden.

In A Vase on Monday – Totally Tropical


This vase is about as tropical as it gets. It holds the first Frangipani flowers of the year and the last two Shell Ginger blossoms (I think). I have another Shell Ginger that has always received less water and attention and it is flowering with much smaller, infrequent bursts. The fragrance of the arrangement is pure Polynesia, sweet Frangipani foiled by lightly spicy ginger. I should start making shampoo or suntan lotion from this combination. I have a small foyer and it is filled with the scent. We have finally gotten some rain here in the form of a 4 inches plus deluge over about 15 hours. The flowers are a great counter to Eau d’ Wet Greyhound.

The flowers in the vase are in pink, Shell Ginger (Alpinia zerumbet), in white, Frangipani (Plumeria ?) I was in Maui last fall and this is different from the White Plumeria there, the flowers are actually bigger and less waxy. I found there are many varieties of Frangipani but am not sure what this is – another garage sale find (as are the Shell Ginger) The orange flowers are Mexican Bush Honeysuckle (Justicia spicigera) I actually bought at a nursery and have never seen another. The foliage is cut from the Shell Ginger and some long fronds of Asian Sword Fern.

The latest visitors adding a tropical vibe to my garden.

A White Heron on my shell driveway and a Gopher Tortoise stopping by to eat the fruit of the Surinam Cherries.

Happy Monday!

In A Vase on Monday – Gingerly Simple


I have been thoroughly enjoying the flowers from my Shell Ginger (Alpinia zerumbet) over the past couple of weeks. So much that most of them have ended up in vases in the house. These are interesting tropical accent plants that are fairly common in South Florida, but oddly enough a bit hard to find to buy. A couple of years ago I found one for my favorite price -five bucks at a garage sale. Sold!

Planted beside our garage to screen an ancient (and exceedingly ugly) pressure treated pine fence and doing an admirable job, reaching 6 feet high and wide in about two years. The flowers are icing on the cake. Starting as a chain of shiny pink flowers resembling sea shells (hence the name) a 6 inch long bud spills the pink shell like flowers out – then a yellow orchid like flower follows at the end.


The foliage is lush and tropical and is evergreen where I live, further north it dies back in the winter – even further north an annual. There is a variegated Shell Ginger with beautiful foliage, unfortunately it rarely flowers, but is still a great accent.


20170312_105240-1So, why “Gingerly Simple”? Usually I like to stuff a variety of flowers into a vase, these I think stand alone and look better displayed in a simple vase with a few real seashells.

The Perennial Rites of Spring in South Florida

The Rites of Spring may be a ballet, a music festival or a rock band depending on where you look on the Internet. Seasonal changes can be subtle in South Florida so my Rites of Spring are landscape events marking the passage of the seasons to spring.

In the perennial garden, spring is marked when the Dwarf Jamaican Heliconia (Heliconia stricta ‘Dwarf Jamaican’) and Ground Orchid (Bletilla) flower.


Dwarf Jamaican Helicona


Ground Orchid

The Sweet Begonias (Begonia odorata ) , usually flower off and on, stop for a rest in mid winter have started back up. This year a surprise has been the Poinsettias I used in Christmas containers flowered again after being set out in the garden. The Bromeliads (Aechmeas – Blushing Bromeliads) are sporting their red markings (these tend to go back to green as the weather warms) The Shell Gingers (Alpinia zerumbet) are in full bloom, covering an extremely unattractive 6 foot fence, and have been outstanding thus far.



Sweet Begonias




Blushing Bromeliad


Shell Ginger

Vegetables and Herbs are at their zenith and starting to wane. A post for another day. Happy Friday.

In A Vase on Monday -Time In A Bottle


As I was thinking about a subject for a vase, it occurred to me putting a vase together every week is a bit like saving time in a bottle. The dates are right on the blog post for reference and I  find (not being a keeper of garden journals) myself referring back to my blog to see when plants have been in bloom. The watch ( a la Salvador Dali) a gift from my father many years ago. The persistence of memory can be troubling.


The largest plant in a preowned pink champagne bottle is Shell Ginger (Alpinia zerumbet). Shell Gingers were a bit of a mystery to me upon my arrival in Florida. The variegated type is commonly used as an annual further north for its foliage, but the green ones I had not encountered until I ran across one at a garage sale for (my favorite price) five bucks. Warnings are commonly issued about the size of these plants, a few years after planting it is six feet by six feet – but it also also planted in front of an ugly six foot fence. Gotta love it when a plan works out. It also appears to be on the verge of bursting into full bloom all over, however, this is difficult to discern as buds. leaves, etc look remarkably similar. If the whole thing does flower I will definitely post some pictures.


The heirloom blue bottle (another gift from my mother) holds a new arrival to my garden, in purple, Ground Orchids, I think this is a Bletilla of some sort, but as usual no one selling these plants really knows. Ground Orchids are fairly common in South Florida and used as 18″ height perennials – mine have been placed under a Pink Frangipani, next to a plum foliaged and flowered Bromeliad of unknown origin and beside a group of the Pink Bromeliads-the flower currently displayed in the gold bottle. Alongside the mysterious Orchid we have culinary Dill flowers, pink Tropical Salvia (Salvia coccinea) and Dwarf Pineapple foliage.


This vase contains a Billbergia Bromelaid of uncertain origins ( found thrown out with trash whilst walking my greyhounds) What I can say is I find it unreasonably sharp and beautiful. I may someday learn its botanical name, though I doubt it. In the vase there is some foliage from another, unrelated Bromeliad, a Neoregelia of the Fireball continuum I think.. And a bit of Asparagus Fern that appeared one day and I suspect my floral ambitions are keeping it at bay. The gold bottle has a cork and has served as an olive oil container.

Time in these bottles preserves mid February flowers in my garden or maybe the photos really provide the preservation. Next year will bring the answer all gardeners want to know – will it flower again?

Will our memory persist? One can hope or ask Dali.