I have seen rain this week, every day, off and on, all day long. My husband is grumpy, the dogs are grumpy and I am getting gardening stir crazy. But, the Firebush is very happy and flowering magnificently.
If anyone remembers James Taylor’s song Fire and Rain here’s a link, before you click on the link realize there is always advertising and I had nothing to do with it: James Taylor.
I decided a vintage copper teapot filled with warm colored flowers was necessary to lift my dreary spirits. After trimming some fiery flowers, I donned my red plastic raincoat and headed into the garden to see what I could find to join the Firebush. My greyhounds declined the offer to join me and sulked in their (sort of) dry beds.
My neighbor’s Mexican Flame Vine (Senecio confusus) long ago left its bounds and was hanging down over a hedge that grows between us. Beaten down from all the rain (myself, my husband,my dogs and the Mexican Flame Vine) I cut a few stems to drape over the side of the teapot. Then I discovered some Tropical Red Sage flowers (Salvia coccinea) for the back of the arrangement; added some Beach Sunflowers (Helianthus debilis); and found a few Parrotflowers (Heliconia psittacorum). I have been missing the Parrotflowers. Hurricane Irma followed by a mid thirties temperature in January nearly did them in. The few I found are about half the size they were last year. The flowers and foliage from the flourishing Firebush (Hamelia patens var patens) filled the framework of the flower arrangement. Say that 10 times fast.
Here is a close up of the flowers:
It is raining again. The good news is the Frangipani loves it and I have my first blooms this year.
I put my vase together on Mother’s Day, so I included my mother in the photo. Everyone called my mother Miss Betty, she has been gone for almost 9 years now and I still miss her and wish she could see my new tropical gardens in Florida – and the vases. Both things she would absolutely love. A Greatest Generation Southern Belle, daughter of a peach farmer and the source of my love for gardens. Here she is with her grandfather at the peach packing house in the 1940s.
Miss Betty and Mr. Tommy
The other lady in the title is not a lady at all, Miss Alice is a Bougainvillea. The off white flower in the vase and one of my latest acquistions. I had been dreaming of a Bougainvillea to grow as a pillar next to the entry of our house. Finally the house was painted and I could add a vine – then I discovered most of the colors I wanted had thorns, not just little prickles – 1/2 and inch and up pointed spears and I would be the one pruning the vine. Then I found Miss Alice, a nearly thornless variety. Nearly being the operative word, gloves are still necessary but I am not fearing being turned into a shish ka bob. Here is Miss Alice on her way up.
The rest of the vase includes Pink Rain Lilies (Zephyranthes justcameupintheyard ?); Alabama Sunset Coleus and Asparagus Fern. In Miss Betty’s crystal Rose Bowl, of course.
There is usually a black and white spotted mammal grazing in my back garden, just not one of the bovine sort. Here is Charles the Greyhound in another of his favorite haunts, the beach.
Charles on the beach
Shortly after I took this picture there was a run in with a Daschund. Absolutely the Daschunds mother’s fault (no leash) so we stay in the garden these days. I do not enjoy having my shoulder pulled out of its socket.
Spring is getting into full swing here. Even my husband said “that is a springy vase”. The wildflowers are starting to flower. Most flowers in the vase are native wildflowers:
The red spikes are Salvia coccinea (Tropical Red Salvia), the red and yellow daisies are Gallardia pulchella (Blanketflower); white flowers, the weed Bidens alba (!@#$$%); the blue flowers Porterweed – apparently using Porterweed In A Vase on Monday keeps it from becoming a cursed plant. Gotta love that. There are also some deep red Pentas (Egyptian Star Flowers) on either end. Not native!
I had a meaningful blogging experience this week. A blog friend appeared nearby and we met to tour a garden. Becca, from floweralley.org emerged from her garden to visit the hinterlands of South Florida. We toured the Norton Sculpture Gardens in West Palm Beach and contemplated the relatively weird plant material of South Florida. The Flower is a much better photographer. Here is the link.https://floweralley.org/2018/05/06/we-are-real/ in case your were wondering. We are real.
‘In the Pink’ seems to be a fairly old phrase, used by Shakespeare in ‘Romeo and Juliet’. As far as the color goes, I usually prefer deeper shades not being much of a ‘girly girl’.
These days I am feeling much more ‘In the Pink’ as I have finally recovered from too much surgery and my garden is feeling pinker as well.
This crystal vase, a wedding gift from a dear friend is pulled out of safekeeping to hold the biggest, funkiest tropical plants from my garden. All these flowers have a bit of weight to them and need a heavy container to prevent arrangement failure. The arrangement is nearly 3 feet (one meter) tall.
The centerpiece yellow and pink woven plant is a Bromeliad of unknown origin, purchased to write an article about container planters (by request) for my usually ill fated ventures with our local media. I have vowed to cease this practice. The white, yellow and pink flowers are Shell Ginger (Alpinia zerumbet). Foliage rounds out the vase with Asian Sword Ferns, long red leaves from Blanchetiana Bromeliads and a Banana leaf in the back.
Here are some progress pictures of my garden as it slowly works it way ‘Into the Pink’.
Just for fun, here is a before picture of the garden I am working on. I characterized the before landscape as ‘beach with weeds’.
The pathway under construction
Path (concrete stepping stones and crushed shell) installed. On left burgundy, silver and green Bromeliad border and irrigation going in. The right side is a mixed tropical border of red and burgundy with touches of pink and silver. Part of the idea for this garden is to place large leaved plants around the windows to create a view (from inside) into the tropical Rainforest. I moved some big Heliconias last week into the viewshed and they promptly turned yellow. Still fine tuning the irrigation.
This Monday’s vase had two Sunshine Mimosa flowers in a tiny purple vase. Several people commented on the flower, so I decided to write a post about it.
Sunshine Mimosa (Mimosa stringillosa) is a flowering groundcover native to Florida. A member of the Mimosa genus, it is sensitive to touch and closes its leaves when touched. It produces pink powderpuff flowers during the spring and summer months. The flowers are 4-6″ tall and rise above a green, ferny foliage that creeps along the ground on thick brown stems. I would characterize this as semi evergreen, the foliage fades a bit during the cooler months.
This plant is touted as a drought tolerant, native substitute for lawns and it is usually raved about growing beautifully in full sun. I have Sunshine Mimosa in two places in my garden. It is thriving in the area with partial shade and no irrigation, producing flowers that are a much deeper color. I have it in a larger area in my native pollinator garden – the butterflies do enjoy the flowers, but if this is what people think lawn should look like I will take the faux, recyclable lawn.
This area is irrigated, mulched, and fertilized in full sun. I am hoping it fills in a bit more over the summer and am planting some other flowering annuals in the mulch islands in the planting. The Mourning Doves ate the first round of Cosmo and Zinnia seeds I planted, seems like they were gleefully gathered nearby looking for cocktail nibbles and spied me planting seeds. Another drawback to the plant is its growth habit; The foliage is borne on runners that are so strong they can get caught around your foot and trip you.
Especially if you been having cocktail nibbles in the garden.
As winter turns to spring in South Florida, I often wonder if fairies have been in my garden waving their wands to create magical flowers in my garden. Floral fireworks explode from green buds in magenta and orange, followed by apricot flowers painted with sage green tips; burgundy foliage reveals charteuse edges. Mother Nature and magic are the only things that explain this beauty.
The fairy standing sentry over the rock belonged to my mother and has resided in my garden since she left this world. The flowers are; in orange, Mexican Honeysuckle (Justicia spicigera); in the front of the arrangement, Soap Aloe (Aloe saponaria) with Solar Sunrise Coleus and Asparagus Fern foliage; the pink flowers are from our native Sunshine Mimosa backed by Alabama Coleus and a bit of Copper Fennel. The rock is another family piece and was covered in my blog yesterday, here is a link if you would like to read about it Heirloom Rocks .
This flower is the one that always brings fairies and wands to my mind. It is a Sunshine Mimosa (Mimosa stringillosa) a low groundcover perennial with ferny foliage and tiny pink mophead flowers with yellow (I think) pollen granules at their ends. Sunshine Mimosa slumbers in the garden until spring rains wake it up to send up stems of pink magic.
Wishing you Happy Spring Gardening and magical flowers this Monday.
My father was a geochemist. A Geology professor who taught for 35 years. Needless to say, he liked his rocks. When my parents were young and during summers he worked in the field and collected what he called ‘specimens’. Working primarily in North Georgia and sometimes North Carolina there were a lot of bits of granite around the house, some wonderful chunks of quartz and even some fossils.
My parents built a brick patio with their own labor and coerced my brothers into thinking pounding sand to firm the foundation was fun. They bought some Sears Roebuck ‘redwood’ chaise lounges, poured some Carlo Rossi, and proceeded to lounge. The collection of rocks was repurposed into a waterfall and fish pond for my mother. My father eventually collected so many rocks they formed an edging for my mother’s perennial garden around their patio.
This went on for years until my father retired from teaching; he still went out in the field, but rarely was able to carry the larger rocks home. I had the smaller specimens for my fish tank and potted plants, but not the bigger pieces; they stayed in my mother’s, the venerable Miss Betty, garden.
My father passed away suddenly at the age of 80 while I was on vacation. One of the first things I did upon returning home was to help my mother fix her waterfall. She poured Coca Cola into the copper line to unclog the concrete lady with the jug my father had placed to pour water into the pond. The lady was unclogged and the waterfall worked again; I spent more than one Saturday rearranging all those rocks so the waterfall didn’t leak. The waterfall’s health had declined along with my father’s. I finally got it fixed and my mother enjoyed it for several years before she passed away as well.
The task of getting the house ready to sell fell to me as Executor of the Estate. The inside was cleaned and painted, but the outside had to be faced eventually. Especially my parents garden and patio. They had spent countless hours in the backyard arguing about politics and discussing life. My siblings and I grew up and went our separate ways but always came back to the garden filled with the fruits of my parents labor. It was a bit of a dilemma for me to decide what to leave back there; I liked the rocks and waterfall as well. Eventually, I determined I should thin the rocks and leave the waterfall intact for the next owner as there was a certain spirit of the place contained in those stones and bricks my parents had so enjoyed in their backyard.
In my garden I have some of my father’s marble from his work in the Tate marble mines in North Georgia and some granite (always) and a few other specimens I can’t identify anymore. The one rock I will always keep is Miss Betty’s favorite rock. This particular rock is tan with a series of rings like a big cinnamon roll. I am sure I was told a hundred times what it was but this knowledge eludes me now. I tried to get another geologist to identify it after she passed, but all he could say was it was layers of something he couldn’t precisely identify. Maybe it is a metaphor for my parents’ life; many layers but now gone. I keep it in my Rain Garden where I pass it several times a day. I think my father would be pleased to know that particular rock is still being enjoyed.