In A Vase on Monday – Gardening with Armadillos

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Sunday got off to a bit of a rough start, about 3 a.m. one of my greyhounds started to run around and whine. I got up, thinking he needed to go out and opened the door – only to hear a strange sound crashing around in the garden. Decided to turn on the security lights and low and behold, I spied an Armadillo. The shelled rodent (IMO) digging beside the metal screen enclosure on our porch, bashing his shell against the metal. Driving my poor dog mad and depriving both of us our beauty sleep.

As the dog ran out the door the foolish Armadillo ran into the fenced part of our yard – who knew an Armadillo could out run a greyhound?https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Armadillo

Cartoon time 3 a.m. My backyard. Starring Alan the Greyhound. Shown below in his usual state. Alan is the brown dog, the other one has no interest in getting up at 3 a.m.

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A few hours and cups of coffee later, I went to look for vase components in the garden the Armadillo had been digging in. Sure enough, he or she had been overturning Bromeliads, a favorite pastime for some reason made better by overturning burgundy or spotted Bromeliads. By trial and error, I eventually found out cardboard and mulch will keep the armadillos away, needs another application. Sigh.

20170806_100322 Seeking the components of a vase, I noted the Spathoglottis is flowering again. I know this really sounds like a disease, but is actually a lovely little Ground Orchid called Caberet. This is the second round of flowering since I planted it in January. It is the purple flower in the vase. The blue flowers are Porterweed, the jury is still out on which one and today it is really shedding for some reason. The yellow flowers are Lantana, Silvermound would be my guess for variety. The purple spotted foliage is from a Bromeliad the Armadillo overturned ‘Hallelujah’ Billbergia. A sprig of fern finishes the vase.

The Armadillo’s work last night:

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In A Vase on Monday -Summer Bouquet

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I was missing last week due to attending a family wedding in Atlanta. As unusual as it seems, I found no vases along the way, although late spring was in full swing and all the gardens and especially the wedding arrangements were glorious. And pure white.

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I arrived home to find Memorial Day truly marking the onset of summer. As if on cue,  precipitation started and the weeds burst forth with a joyous and bountiful overtaking of the garden. I am still feeling surly about this and have bought a vast quantity of landscape fabric and cardboard to choke them out. Fifty square feet at a time. Fingers crossed for a victorious outcome. I have, thus far, never defeated the weeds in summer.

I was pleased to see my native plants and the tropicals flowering prodigiously with the onset of wet weather. For whatever deeply buried design reason I am shy about combining these plants – this week I have thrown caution to the wind and come up with the madly mixed Summer Bouquet.

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An old friend of mine, from design school and embarrassed to be ‘a posy poker’ (in reality a very talented designer of floral arrangements and gardens) would have called this a plop arrangement.

Go into the garden, cut whatever strikes your fancy to a similar length and plop into a vase. Simple. My plop this week is in a smoky grey glass vase from the discount store. The members of the cast include in white, Sweet Begonias (Begonia odorata), the daisy shapes are Gallardias (Gallardia pulchella), native to Florida; deeper red and white flowers are Red Shrimp Plants (Justicia brandegeana), The orange trumpets are from my native Firebush (Hamelia patens var patens), red and yellow flowers are tropical Parrotflowers (Heliconia psittacorum); the blue flowers are Porterweed, another native. In green, Asian Sword Ferns, true native plant enthusiasts think this fern is evil. The good side reappears with the red spikes from the native Tropical Red Salvia (Salvia coccinea)

I may eventually recover from my mixing natives with tropicals neurosis as I kind of like this plop. Here is my latest unusual creature discovery. It is a Black Swallowtail Butterfly caterpillar eating the end of my Parsley. I hope to see the Butterfly.

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In A Vase on Monday – Dilly Dally Daisy?

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The Dill is still blooming madly in the herb container so I could not resist cutting some more and dilly dallying through the garden looking for something different to accompany the Dill. I added some sprigs of Rosemary from the herb containers and the rest of the vase is composed of wildflowers from the garden, some I planted and others appeared without encouragement from me.

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Joining the Dill and Rosemary are: In yellow, Beach Sunflowers (some call them Beach Daisies Helianthus debilis); in red, Tropical Red Salvia (Salvia coccinea); I planted both of these native wildflowers. In blue, the native Ageratum (Ageratum houstonianum); the white flowers are Spanish Needles (Bidens alba). The Ageratum and Spanish Needles just pop up at an alarming rate. Seemingly from thin air.

My husband’s comment about this ” a very perky arrangement” There is something cheerful and perky about wildflowers and especially daisies. There aren’t really daisies in the vase, but the resemblance is clear. The vase is a thrift store find and I like the hot colored flowers displayed in earth tone pottery. With the Rosemary, Dill and Salvia this vase is leaving a lovely herbal scent in my foyer.

 

 

 

In A Vase on Monday. Frogs and Hallelujah

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I know, your reaction was probably the same as mine. “Good Lord, what is that?”  Purple and white spotted foliage with a red, white and blue flower – who on earth could have dreamed that up?  As it turns out a guy named Don Beadle did, a famous breeder of bromeliads he created this one – the Hallelujah Billbergia. Here is a closer view of the flower:

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I bought the Billbergia a couple of years ago at a gardening show in Vero Beach, Florida. It was selected to add a tall purple accent in a terracotta wok container of bromeliads I was putting together for my front porch. I did not realize it would flower at all.

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I walked out on my porch a couple of mornings ago and thought someone had stuck something in the back of the wok planter. Upon closer inspection, I realized it was a flower, a very funky flower. So I gave it a couple of days to see what it would do and decided to cut it for my Monday vase.

I cut it, brought it into the house and had this feeling something was looking at me. I looked down into the foliage and there was a tiny frog in the foliage surrounding the flower. The frog needed to go back outside, I took the whole thing back onto the front porch and the frog happily jumped over the wall and joined a friend in the Heliconias.

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Now there were two frogs looking at me. Hopefully, they are having some grand frog fun eating bugs in the garden. Bad bugs only, of course.

The vase in an old silver-plated something my mother bought in (her words) the junk store. I love the patina and I think it was a goblet, but at my house, it has only been used as a vase. Given the brilliant coloration of the centerpiece Hallelujah Billbergia Bromeliad adding a little green and white seemed the best option. Asian Sword Ferns and Asparagus Ferns are the greens and the white flowers at the base are Sweet Begonias (Begonia odorata “Alba”)

Hallelujah!

In A Vase on Monday. Thrift Store Finds

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Another one of those things I never knew about living in South Florida-the thrift store shopping is excellent. I suppose many estates are settled here and the population is somewhat transient as people buy and sell vacation condos don’t use them very much and then don’t want to move the furniture. A result of all this makes for some unusual and great thrift store finds. Especially if you are in the market for pseudo tropical furniture.

I was actually looking for a table lamp when I happened upon these pottery vases. I love things that are handmade and these are a bit thick and obviously hand thrown for the fun or love or it. I bought them immediately, I spent eight dollars. Well worth it. I also found a table lamp.

While winter is approaching, actual winter in South Florida is more like a really long spring. Freezes are rare and this is gardening season. Vegetable and annual seeds are started in late summer for planting now.

One of my new vases has my first ever Cactus Zinnias, started from seed in September, these do not look nearly as good as the ones I saw in other vases this summer, I am hoping they get bigger. Also new to the garden is the Copper Fennel, which I bought by accident thinking it was Dill for my herb pots. The Tropical Red Salvia (Salvia coccinea) and Bridal Bouquet Frangipani (Plumeria pudica) are old standbys.

Between the Zinnias, Salvias, Fennel and Frangipani the fragrance of this vase is a bit weird. Kind of medicinal.

 

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My other new vase has a more tropical feeling, I decided to try to avoid ferns for foliage today just for a change. This vase has Parrot Flower ( Heliconia psittacorum) and the foliage and flowers of Sweet Begonia (Begonia odorata ‘Alba’)

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In A Vase on Monday – A Cross Cultural Experience

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This is truly a cross cultural experience. The plants, while grown in South Florida, hail from both sides of our planet, Southeast Asia and Brazil. The terracotta man in the vase is an incense burner from Pier One that belonged to my brother in the late 1970’s. I am not sure exactly where he came from but the concept was Pre Columbian. I think.

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The red and yellow swirling crab claws are the flower of a Blanchetiana Bromeliad, a native of the eastern side of Brazil. The plant itself is about four feet tall by six feet wide. It has been flowering for about six weeks, of course the flower is on the side I can’t really see unless I am turning the compost heap. So, I decided to cut it and enjoy it in the house as long as it lasted.

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These Bromeliads are relatively common in South Florida and I nearly wrecked my car the first time I saw one. Talk about wild and crazy plants, the foliage can be orange, red, green or yellow and it is big. Even though I had experience with Bromeliads I didn’t realize how big they grew. Another houseplant myth busted by Tropic Florida.

The foliage is a frond of a Lady Palm (Rhaphis excelsa). This palm is native to the Rainforest in Southeast Asia, an understory plant that enjoys shade and water. Relatively hardy, it will grown north to Orlando, and is a favorite of mine for interior use as a potted plant. I bought one a couple of years ago and it sat in the pot a little too long, so it is a bit lopsided and has finally recovered its healthy deep green color and need a little trim.

Here is a shot of my Rainforest Garden, where the Lady Palm lives.

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Nom de Plume-Brazilian Plume

Brazilian Plume

Brazilian Plume – Justicia carnea

The truth is, I guess I have a Nom de Plume, not relative to how recently I learned to spell the word. I am, after all, from Tucker, Georgia, USA, and for the most part we do not speak French. Or Italian, for that matter. I foolishly took Italian in college, not realizing that my Southern accent would render it, for me, near impossible to trill R’s. Think Scarlett O’Hara in Gone With the Wind.. With an Italian accent, if you are not laughing now, you should be. Maybe not, Vivien Leigh was indeed English and I don’t really sound like that, at all. Fortunately, my mother did, kind of. Italians just laughed at me and said “we do not understand your southern dialetto” or something like that. Eventually I successfully ordered a glass of white wine.

Brazilian Plume

Brazilian Plume

My Nom de Plume is The Shrub Queen, but today I am writing about a different plume, one in my garden, The Brazilian Plume, nope, not the wax, not the butt, the plant. I had seen these on the internet and was in search of one. Living in South Florida and the time was winter (All the disposable income in North America is Here) I found one at a garden show a bit north of here and grabbed it.

As these things sometimes go, I left it in the yard, for a while, sporadically watering it..hmm, hmm, hmm, then noticed it had a really, really terrible case of scale and whitefly (i.e. nearly dead) Well, that just wouldn’t do, so I cut it back, treated it, and miraculously cured it. After spending a month in the Garden ICU, the Plume is ready to go in the garden. These supposedly grow to be 7 feet tall and wide. I think that is a little more than 2 meters for metric users. I just need to decide where to put it.

Here are the other things blooming in the garden:

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We have a bit of fragrance going now and while I am enjoying the Florida Gardenia, it is about 10 feet tall and is never so covered in flowers the smell knocks you over – I am glad the romantic sounding Arabian Jasmine is a fair distance away, it’s like that guy you know who uses so much aftershave he can’t tell it is too much anymore.

The Blue Plumbago is the Hydrangea of the tropics and so much easier to grow. That Hibiscus is an old fashioned variety planted by my neighbor’s grandmother on the edge of the property. If I knew what it was I would search for another.