In A Vase on Monday – Zinnias & Veg


It is a happy Sunday in my garden. The winter vegetables are ripening and the Zinnias are flowering. This is the first week of February and, as a lifelong resident of the Northern Hemisphere, seems a bit odd to me- having Zinnias and vegetables from the garden. We have been eating lettuce, cabbage, herbs, green beans and radishes from my garden; peppers, potatoes and snow peas are coming soon.


A major consideration when moving to Florida is the total avoidance of winter and we moved to South Florida for its lack thereof. So far, so good. The Zinnias started to flower a week or two ago, not very impressive so I let them go. Now, I wish I had planted more seed and will go to search for more Cactus Zinnia seed. I admit, to being a (former) Zinnia snob. I grew Mexican Zinnias (Z.linearis or now,angustifolia) in containers for years -always considering the other types, pedestrian.

I announce my love for the pedestrian Zinnia! Who wouldn’t fall in love with these cheerful pink and orange flowers? I have, years too late.


The pink and orange flowers are Cactus Zinnias. Funky orange and red flowers,  our native Gallardias that have just started back up. Foliage is from the vegetable garden, green leaves from Chinese Cabbage, darker ferny foliage from Copper Fennel. Glass container, an heirloom from my mother- I am certain she would join me in being thrilled with the Zinnias and Winter Veg.

Happy Monday.


Gifts from the Garden


I love the little surprises the garden provides. I had two surprises this holiday season from my expanding collection of Bromeliads from garage sale finds. Bromeliads were new to me as a garden perennial when we moved to South Florida six years ago. I find them really interesting and wanted to try some, soon finding they are very expensive, people who sell them have little to offer in terms of how to place and grow, on top of that I suffer from what my father called ‘cheap Scotch heritage’. Spending $80.00 for one perennial that may or may not make it, not happening in my garden.

Experience tells me the more expensive the plant the more likely Alan the greyhound will dig it up or sit on it..oops. I began noticing Bromeliads for sale at garage sales – no one knew the names,  but I knew they would thrive in my garden if people were selling excess plants. And they usually cost 5 bucks! Win, win. Plant and wait a couple of years..


The flowers from these perennials take a bit to get going but they tend to last a long time. I watched the big pink bud with baited breath and finally it opened.


Really kind of an amazing flower and worth the wait. I asked around for a long time and finally someone recognized this on social media as an Aechmea ‘Little Harv’, a Bullis Bromeliad from a South Florida grower and they do sell for $70.00 a piece.

My next surprise is another Aechmea, Aechmea weilbachii forma viridisepala. I have been calling it the LeSueur Pea Bromeliad. Identified by Facebook again. I have learned these are winter flowering and also long lasting in the garden.


Can’t wait to see what comes up next…I have been to a few more garage sales, and the foliage is turning out plum.

In A Vase on Christmas


It’s Christmas Eve in South Florida, the temperature is hovering around 80 degrees (F) and sunny blue skies are smiling down on me, a few puffy clouds drifting by. Lurking in the back of my mind- the thought that Christmas Eve should be a drizzly, overcast 38 degree day, a day that makes you dream of hot chocolate or hot buttered rum. Rum drinks over ice with umbrellas are called for in my garden this Christmas Eve.

To add a little more holiday feel to the house, I challenged myself to find all the red flowers in the garden to make the Christmasiest vase possible. Here is a closer view:


Red and green striped leaves from the Martin Bromeliad set the holiday tone, a few ornamental peppers add a festive touch of red. Turk’s Cap Hibiscus are hanging over the edge and the spike flowers are from the native Tropical Red Salvia (Salvia coccinea). A deeper red Shrimp Plant (Justicia brandegeana) completes the red flowers. The grey flowers are from my Flapjack Kalanchoe, the green spike is a flower of the Snake Plant (Sansiveria). A bit of Asian Sword Fern adds foliage color and background.

Feeling more like Christmas already. Alan the Greyhound basking in the shade of the Christmas tree.20151213_162756

Merry Christmas to all!!

In A Vase On Monday – Local Color


Strange as it may seem, pink is a holiday color in South Florida. Holiday pinks are most prominently manifested in a never ending parade of flamingo themed Christmas decor. My street features flamingos as Mr and Mrs Claus giving presents, flamingos with candy canes and a sleigh pulled by eight tiny flamingos in red capes. Last year I mentioned the flamingos in red capes and a fellow blogger who shall remain unnamed suggested I had overquaffed the eggnog. This year I have pictures.


As unique as this may seem, there is another sleigh/flamingo configuration around the corner twice the size done entirely with lights – no capes.


My pink holiday vase features, in pink, the Shell Ginger (Alpinia zerumbet). The Shell Ginger was quite shredded by Hurricane Irma, I decided to leave it and am being rewarded with flowers about half the usual size, puzzling, but it is nice to have the flowers and there are many more on the plant. The grey flowers are from the succulent Flapjack Kalanchoe, the  off white flowers from the mystery plant finally identified by a blog friend of Eliza’s as  Wireweed, a Florida wildflower.

I added local color this weekend by making a wreath using components from my garden. No pink or pink flamingos.


The yellow and red flowers forming the ring are from Blanchetiana Bromeliad, the green leaves wrapping the wreath are from a Pandanus, species unknown. I think this will last through New Years.


In A Vase on Monday – Holiday Shrimp


This holiday shrimp is not for dinner or appetizers, it is for the vase and from the garden, not the sea. I love shrimp from the sea, my husband has unfortunately been somewhat shrimphobic when it comes to eating the shellfish. I cope with this by having garlic laden Shrimp Scampi when we dine out, sometimes to his chagrin.

I was looking for holiday reds and greens this week and the Red Shrimp Plants caught my eye.  A burst of flowers appeared just in time to fill the cranberry glass vase, a thrift shop find from earlier this year

The red flowers on the menu are the Red Shrimp Plant (Justicia brandegeana); off white spikes, the mystery plant that appeared last year; white flowers are from Sweet Begonia (Begonia odorata), burgundy and green foliage is Solar Sunrise Coleus. A simple but tasty holiday concoction.


The Red Shrimp Plant is a passalong from my neighbor as is the Solar Sunrise Coleus. Below is the Shrimp Plant in the garden, thriving in full shade and sugar sand. It flowers off and on year round, I don’t think I have ever fertilized it or sprayed it for any reason. My kind of plant. Happy go lucky with benign neglect.


We are having a cool spell here in Florida, temperatures were in the mid 40’s this morning. The clear, sunny day was made for gardening – I finished planting seeds in what is becoming my tropical potager, if there is such a thing.


The green beans and tomatoes are already bearing fruit. Work is ongoing in this kitchen garden. I have included flowers for cutting in blocks with the vegetables, most are seedlings about an inch tall. A total experiment as I usually don’t start with seeds. So far, so good.

In A Vase on Monday – Winter Wildflowers


Oftentimes when I start my vase I have to decide between tropical and well, non tropical seeming flowers. This week’s decision was in favor of the non tropical which are in fact somewhat tropical. For some reason, even though I live in a frost free area populated with Mangoes and Birds of Paradise the climate is considered subtropical. My favorite Florida plant material author, Frederick Stresau, calls this area Tropic Florida. No one else does. I like the title.


Tropic Florida is home to some amazing wildflowers, so amazing in fact they will take over. Last week I think Chloris was featuring Bidens, on her blog not the B. alba from my garden-a relative.  ACK, I have Bidens running out of my ears and can only hope I have pulled enough out. The onset of cooler weather brings the reseeding annuals out of their slumber and starts a new season of flowers.

The components of this vase are either native to Florida or something that just appeared in my garden. The hat is hardly necessary this time of year, but hand pruners are a must..


The white flowers are Spanish Needles (Bidens alba) cute but annoying. The yellow daisies Beach Sunflowers (Helianthus debilis); red and yellow daisies, Native Gallardias; deep blues, native Porterweed; red spikes, Tropical Red Salvia (Salvia coccinea); the grasses flowing in the background, Muhly Grass (Muhlbergia capillaris).

The vase? A Portmerion canister I received as a wedding gift. Thinking I would complete the set I held onto it for almost 25 years.. The canister remains alone in my mother’s china cabinet, awaiting flour and sugar containers with similarly abandoned Botanic Garden pieces.

The first harvest from the garden, 12 green beans with a cherry tomato (one,very tasty)


Happy Monday!

In A Vase on Monday – Ducking the Challenge


In A Vase on Monday is a meme on WordPress that originated in the UK four years ago this Monday. Cathy from the blog Rambling in the Garden is the host (or hostess) of the meme. This year, in honor of the fourth anniversary of In A Vase on Monday- Cathy issued a challenge to not use a vase on Monday but a different container.


My container is a vintage watering can I inherited from my mother. So vintage, in fact, it no longer has a handle or holds water. I keep it around because I like the patina and it reminds me of my mother, a great gardener and lover of vases. The extreme vintageness of the container required some floral engineering:


I half filled the can with Styrofoam packing peanuts and bubble wrap, then cut down some drinking water bottles to hold the flowers and water.

The ducks arrived on the scene as it was a pouring down rain, windy day in South Florida. A great day for ducks, humans,  not so much. It really started pouring after I had collected about a third of the arrangement. I stopped, waited the downpour out and went back out to the garden, collected more flowers as this is a good sized container. Finished. Decided it needed some more ferns and something taller, more rain. Stopped, then completed the arrangement again, only to find it too dark in the house to take a picture. Put everything outside and of course, it started raining again.

So, I added the ducks – then my phone ran out out battery so I had to charge it to take the picture! Stopped for a moment to visit our mermaid under construction. Everyone in South Florida needs a concrete mermaid. Mine is going to be painted and used as porch art. Yet another project.


Finally, the contents:


The white flowers are Bridal Bouquet Frangipani (Plumeria pudica); the red and yellow flowers are Parrotflowers (Heliconia psittacorum), the red and white flowers are Red Shrimp Plants (Justicia brandegeana); the large foliage and white flowers hanging over the edge are Sweet Begonias (Begonia odorata); the off white spikes are a mystery plant. Foliage in red, Copperleaf (Acalypha ‘ Raggedy Ann’); yellow varigated foliage is from the Pie Crust Croton (Codieum ‘Pie Crust’); ferns are Asian Sword Ferns. There are some bits of Blanchetiana Bromeliad flowers in the back of the arrangement for height.

Visit Cathy’s blog to see Anniversary vases from the world over.

Happy Gardening and thanks to our hostess, Cathy.