In A Vase on Monday – Winter Cheer

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Sunday in South Florida proved to be a sunny, blue sky cool day. I planted Arugula, Romaine Lettuce and Baby Spinach in the Potager. Getting in touch with my inner snooty gardener. I am about as French as my greyhounds or my Jeep. Potager is French for kitchen garden. I need to think of a word for a South Florida kitchen garden, preferably non French. Kitchen garden might be the answer.

We had some cold weather last week that is slowly taking its toll on the more tropical members of my garden. I live at the north end of South Florida, the Heliconias were not happy about temperatures of less than 40 degrees F and are turning brown and yellow to spite me.

I needed a little Winter Cheer and happily the garden provided. The vase is a thrift store find, made with love by some unknown and probably gone from this world potter. I hope they are feeling happy in the great beyond that I am using their vase.

The native plants are holding up admirably to the cold snap and are a large part of this vase.

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The yellow flowers are Beach Sunflowers (Helianthus debilis); the bright red and apricot flowers are from the native Salvia (Salvia coccinea); orange tubular flowers from Firebush (Hamelia patens) – if you want to get into a botanical argument, this is your plant, probably from the Bahamas. The berries are from the evil scourge, Brazilian Pepper – trying to eradicate this and using the berries here. The off white fluffy stuff is from some sort of Wireweed, and then I added some Italian Flatleaf Parsley.

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This is a close up of the two Salvias, both S. coccinea, the peach is my favorite and seems to have reseeded from the red that has been in the garden for a few years.

For fun, here is the Snake Plant, the flowers have been in my vases the past couple of weeks. Some call these Mother In Law Tongues (Sansiviera), they have been flowering this winter in the garden. This plant is considered invasive – and it is, we keep it at bay with the lawn mower. My own Mother In Law was fine, no need to mow her tongue!

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Happy Monday, stay warm.

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In A Vase on Monday – Completely Different

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And now for something completely different! The theme from the past week or so around here. It has been oddly, well, cold. The greyhounds are perplexed, a lovely nap in the backyard sun has turned unpleasant and I have had to rethink my attire.

My personal definition of winter clothes – short sleeve shirts instead of tank tops, shoes, never and God forbid, socks. The middle of last week I found myself in my closet, searching for long pants, sweatshirts and shoes and the detestable socks. I haven’t put coats on the dogs yet, they are somewhat offended by canine jackets.

The good news, warmer weather is returning tomorrow. We had a low temperature of 38, nothing was damaged that I can tell. The garden still has Salvia, Beach Sunflower, and some other sort of regular things flowering – I decided to look for something different.

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I am not sure how much more different one could go. The plants in my different arrangement are in Salmon, a Bromeliad flower, Aechmea weilbachii forma viridisepala, Yah! a new friend from my garage sale collection-bought a couple of years ago for a few dollars, having no idea what the flower might be..In off white, Sansiveria (Snake Plant, Mother In Laws Tongue, etc),  The burgundy striped foliage is from a Ornamental Pineapple, Striped foliage from a Pandanus spp, fluffy fern – a volunteer Asparagus Fern.

Another different scene from South Florida, the Winter Vegetable garden, a few people have asked about the Potager, so far, so good. We have from the left potatoes, garlic, radishes, green beans, red peppers, tomatoes, snow peas, papayas. I am planting spinach, arugula and romaine lettuce next week.

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In A Vase on New Year’s Day- Unreal

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Some of the more tropical plants in my garden produce flowers that strike me as unreal. New Year’s Eve found me in the garden tending vegetables under a cerulean blue sky, wearing a sweatshirt and enjoying a bit of cool weather. December in South Florida can seem a bit dreamy. Beautiful beach weather for the most part, sometimes a bit foggy. Around town people can be seen surfing on the blue water… while pelicans dive into the river seeking a mullet for dinner.

It also seems unreal to me that tomorrow ushers in 2018! Where did the time go?

I can assure you that the flowers are quite real and from my garden. The orange, yellow and red flowers resembling Lobster Claws are from a Blanchetiana Bromeliad. The Bromeliad itself is probably 5 feet tall and 6 feet across, the flowers are panicle like affairs that are about 4 tall and maybe 18 inches wide. I had cut the whole flower, then realized there were ants living in the stem. Quick work was made of cutting the ant hill off and leaving it in the garden. The balance of the flower was placed in my big crystal vase, forming a swirling base for some other flowers.

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The orange firecrackers are from Firebush (Hamelia patens), big leaves are from a Shell Ginger (Alpinia zerumbet), the off white flowers from the mysterious Wireweed, the gift from Mother Nature that keeps on giving. Here is a close up:

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The crystal vase, a wedding gift from a dear friend. The bells, to ring in the New Year, a favorite family heirloom of mine – my father brought them home from India, where he served during World War II. I have no clue what they really are, but my mother always used them on her wreath at Christmas.

Since it is New Year’s Eve, my husband and I are preparing a special dinner. He is baking an Apple Pie, I am working on homemade Pasta for Smoked Fish in Creamy Tomato Vodka Sauce. The fish is Snapper caught and smoked by my husband, the sauce a decadent creamy vegetable sauce. For this we needed another flower arrangement.

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The centerpiece, in my mother’s Rose Bowl features Salvia: the peach Salvia is a seedling of the Tropical Red Salvia (S. coccinea) – there are named cultivars like this, however, this one is mine! The purple Salvia is Mexican Sage (Salvia leucantha). I had this plant as an annual further north and bought one late fall. It seemed annoyed, then started to flower. Orange flowers are from our Firebush (Hamelia patens). White flowers are Sweet Begonias (Begonia odorata), Dark red flowers are Shrimp Plants (Justicia brandegeana) and some Asian Sword Fern, there are also some Gallardia floating around in there.

New Year’s Eve dinner:

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Dessert:

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Happy New Year!!

 

 

In A Vase on Monday – Christmas Presence

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The holiday season is making its presence known here in South Florida. I bought myself some early Christmas presents today at our local Big Box store. Hand clippers and a big weeder/hoe combination to use on the dreadful Torpedo Grass I have been fighting in the vegetable garden. While navigating the parking lot, I noticed a tent, featuring a plethora of desiccating Frazier Fir Christmas trees. The tent, adding insult to the injury of being cut down, shading the trees to contemplate their ultimate demise after being dumped into an asphalt topped parking lot 800 miles south of home. The fragrance was intoxicating, but taking a tree home this early leads to a crunchy fire hazard before Christmas.

Bing Crosby was crooning ‘I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas’ in the background of the store; meanwhile the ambient temperature is above 80 degrees and the locals are buying Poinsettias to be used outside as bedding plants and strings of holiday lights to festoon their Palm trees. The favored theme decoration – The Flamingo, perhaps in holiday drag. Not sure how they feel about fake fur attire. The whole shebang tends to bend the mind.

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The flamingoes, embarrassed, perhaps. This always seems a bit odd to me.

The container for my vase today is a Christmas gift from a longtime friend. I have decided to stop saying old friend for good reason. We met in college, need I say more? The container is locally handmade from all natural materials and a bit of a challenge to use because it is very light – and tends to fall over. I finally put a heavy glass frog in the base and added flowers. And it worked!

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This is my artistic photo, a rarity, but I like it.

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More arty photos. I use the term loosely, a vase that was difficult photographing.

The vase includes in red and yellow, Parrotflowers (Heliconia psittacorum); the red flowers are Turks Cap Hibiscus (Hibiscus malvaviscus); red and orange bits from the Blanchetiana Bromeiliad, varigated foliage from the Pie Crust Croton (Codieum varigatum), Asian Sword Ferns and a Split Leat Philodendron (Philodendron selloum) in the back.

Happy Holidays!

 

Garden Bloggers Foliage Day – Tropical Fruit

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Having spent most of my life much further north of South Florida, I enjoyed eating tropical fruit, but never knew what they looked like while growing. I have included tropical fruit trees and plants for shade and foliage in my new garden, the fruit is a bonus. Some of the fruit producing plants I have in my garden now I had never heard of – because, well, in my opinion, like many things you have to grow up eating them to appreciate the fruit.

Above is the foliage of the Sea Grape (Coccoloba uvifera).  This is a native tree that produces clusters of grapes in the summer that are mostly seed and taste similar to figs. Natives of Florida and birds like the fruit.

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This is Mango (Mangifera ‘Nam Doc Mai’) a Thai Dessert Mango. Delicious and easy to grow. The leaves were burned by Hurricane Irma.

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Silvery backed leaves from a Pineapple I grew from the top of a fruit bought at the grocery store. I have no idea what kind it will be. Pineapples are very easy to grow here and my new hometown, Jensen Beach was once considered the Pineapple Capital of the World. Here is a link to an article I wrote about how to grow pineapples  Link.

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This is a Rangpur Lime, grown from seed by my neighbor. Rangpur Limes have orange skin and are incredibly juicy. I believe these are not well known because they do not keep very well.

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This is a Papaya, I believe Hawaiian, although I won’t be sure until it bears fruit. I grew this from seed last year. Curiously, I sometimes see Papayas growing wild on construction sites. Papayas are native to South and Central America and a bit of an acquired taste. I like them in pork stir fry, bread and sliced.

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The new foliage on a Cuban Avocado tree. Cuban Avocados are the size of footballs and I had never seen one until landing in South Florida. The fruit is a bit sweeter and creamier than Hass Avocado and the rare avocado that is true to seed. A friend grew this for me with a seed from her tree, which she got from a Cuban guy!

The trees are integrated into my back garden along with vegetables and a native pollinator area. Everything but the Mango was grown from seed so I have a few years yet before I will taste the fruit.

Gardening in many cases is all about patience. Someday soon I will have some fantastic salsa and guacamole.

In A Vase on Monday – Pre Thanksgiving

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Thanksgiving is celebrated in the US on Thursday this week. I found a perfect centerpiece container at the thrift store recently and decided to do a pre Thanksgiving arrangement before going full autumnal.

The Thanksgiving centerpiece sans flowers:

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Company arrives tomorrow afternoon, so the pre vase will go on the dining room table with lavender candles. Wednesday I will go full autumn centerpiece in the thrift store container. I have inadvertently ended up with numerous red and orange plants in the garden. High colors of the tropics I suppose and a good selection of fall-ish colored plants for an autumn arrangement without the crisp temperatures or actual fall.

Here is what late fall in South Florida looks like, about 78 degrees Fahrenheit with a light breeze.

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There is good reason to be here.

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The details. The vase belonged to my mother, acquired out west somewhere after my parents retired and went on meandering trips driving around the western US. It is marked Ute and probably made by the Ute Tribe of Native Americans in Colorado, late 1980’s. I enjoy having vases from my mother during the holidays as she is no longer with us.

The flowers: Deeper purple spikes are from Mexican Sage (Salvia sp), lighter purple, Spathoglottis Orchids “Cabernet’, the bits of deep blue are from our native Porterweed. The white mystery plant spikes appeared in my garden and I just keep cutting them. Foliage is Copper Fennel in dark gray and Asian Sword Ferns.

Happy Thanksgiving!

In A Vase on Monday – Purple Haze

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Purple Haze, all in my brain.

Is it the Muhly Grass, or just the change in time?

I am not at all sure if Daylight Saving Time is peculiar to the US, but I have a strong sense it happens elsewhere. We turned our clocks back one hour on Saturday night. This seemingly tiny adjustment always throws me off a bit.

I have been enjoying my hazy pinky purple Muhly Grass and bought a Mexican Sage last week to add to the purpleness of my perennial border. Naturally, I thought of Jimi Hendrix.

Hence the guitar.

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Here are the correct lyrics:

Purple Haze

By Jimi Hendrix

Purple haze, all in my brain
Lately things they don’t seem the same
Actin’ funny, but I don’t know why
Excuse me while I kiss the sky
Purple haze, all around
Don’t know if I’m comin’ up or down
Am I happy or in misery?
What ever it is, that girl put a spell on me
Help me
Help me
Oh, no, no
Ooo, ahhh
Ooo, ahhh
Ooo, ahhh
Ooo, ahhh,
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The components of the vase include:
In purple spikes, Mexican Sage (a Salvia of some sort)
Grey foliage, Texas Sage (Luecophyllum)
Purple Ornamental Peppers
In Chartreuse, Alabama Coleus
The Purple Haze, Muhly Grass (Muhlebergia capillaris)
Grey Ferny Foliage, Copper Fennel
White spikes, not a clue.
Excuse me while I kiss the sky.