In a Vase on Monday -Heliconia Overload


The steamy tropics are what these Parrot Flower Heliconias thrive in and they are blooming like mad in my garden. The tropical Atlantic is doing it best to keep South Florida provided with maximum heat and humidity and plenty of hurricane track spaghetti for everyone to fret about. So far, so good. Fingers crossed.


This arrangement is a thank you gift for my neighbor. It is Parrot Flower ( Heliconia psittacorum), Bridal Bouquet Plumeria (Plumeria pudica) and the Native Firebush (Hamelia patens var patens) and the ubiquitous Asian Sword Ferns, long version.

Happy Monday from my garden and Thank You to Cathy for hosting.

In A Vase on Monday -Cherry, Cherry on A Hot August Night

20160821_094215-1People of a certain age may remember what my title is referring to – a Neil Diamond album popular in the 1970’s.

Here is the link

Hot August Night was a favorite of one of my brothers, who played the record a lot. Cherry, Cherry is one of the songs I associate with the album. Sweet Caroline would be the other.

What does this have to do with gardening? Well, the nights are really hot here in South Florida in August – the low temperature  last night was 78 (25.5 Celsius), the high this afternoon is 95 (35 Celsius) with heat index  104 (40 Celsius). I have been installing Microspray irrigation in the perennial beds during cooler hours as the irrigation system that came with the house won’t support anything but widely spaced tufts of torpedo grass. Hand watering while having irrigation is a bit tiresome and I have been planning a more detailed perennial garden.


So, on these hot August nights when I am toiling at twilight I can smell the wonderful Tropical Gardenias (in bud in the arrangement) Tabernaemontana divaricata, the Tropical Red Salvias (Salvia coccinea) are the perennials in need of more water and the big Red Hibiscus – Cherry, Cherry. The Hibiscus is from an ancient old fashioned shrub and I wish I knew the cultivar, it is one of the great indestructibles. The Asian Ferns in the arrangement are probably going to be too happy after they get more reliable rain from the Microspray irrigation. The crystal Rose Bowl was inherited from my mother and I have not had a rose in it, so far.

The more detailed perennial garden I am working on this fall is going to include some alumni from this Summer’s vases – from all the Cathys, the Italian White Sunflower, Asters from Cathy, and the Cactus Zinnias from Susie and Cathy. I have the seeds and will start potting in a few weeks for planting later in October. A grand experiment is in the works.

As far as Neil Diamond goes, I am still humming Sweet Caroline..




In a Vase on Monday – Spiked Tropical Punch


I finally have some spikes blooming in my garden. Showy panicles or racemes in the classic style are few and far between in Tropic Florida. I love Butterfly Bush and Oakleaf Hydrangeas and all sorts of plants with those flower types, even Lysimachia. None will grow this far south. I found some Tropical Red or Blood Sage (Salvia coccinea) plants, native to coastal sandy soils in the Southeastern US, bought some thinking it should be perfect for my garden.

As these things go sometimes, this widely advertised Tropical Red Salvia is supposed to love dry sandy soils and be drought tolerant. Mine was not feeling that way at all and insisted on water and the addition of some organic matter in the soil before flowering at all. It rained a couple of inches in the past week or so and they shot up these nearly fluorescent red spikes. Yay. Here are the plants:


Native people of the Florida peninsula used this Sage medicinally for all sorts of ailments, the more widely known herb Sage is Salvia officinalis. A tea made from this plant was the cure for anything from menopause to infections. Given the wide range of its curative powers I am not too sure if would help with what ails me so, I am sticking to our modern pain relievers at this time as I don’t really like the taste of culinary Sage.

Other members of this arrangement are in white, Bridal Bouquet Frangipani (Plumeria pudica), Parrot Flower (Psittacorum) in red and yellow, Beach Sunflowers (Helianthus debilis) in yellow, the burgundy foliage is from “Hallelujah” Bromeliad and a Split Leaf Philodendron (Philodendron selloum) Leaf.

Yes, the Split Leaf Philodendron grows in my Rainforest Garden. With many other house plants without spikey panicles.

In A Vase on Monday – Pina Coladas


An idea formed in my head as I was walking my dogs yesterday morning, a coconut rolled down the street from a nearby palm and one of the dogs stopped to see what it was. Not very interesting to a dog, but I thought otherwise and picked it up. Then, I walked through my garden and spied this miniature pineapple, it has been around for so long the mother plant was producing pups and I had been thinking that it might be better for the plant to cut the pineapple.


The next thing to find was some rum. The cabinet supplied enough for one frozen cocktail. Perfect. My husband is not a fan of such girly drinks. If only I had some umbrellas.


The vase is a monogrammed highball glass from my in laws collection. A friend gave me the pineapple, the plant is red and green striped and the pineapple is inedible. But it looks great. The foliage is from a Dwarf Jamaican Heliconia and the spray of pink flowers is from Coral Vine (Antigonon leptopus). The coconut is Cocos nucifera, the Coconut Palm, very common in my neighborhood.

In my Rainforest Garden, later in the afternoon….rum, what rum?


The Pina Colada actually has some Mango granita in it. Maybe it is a Sunset Pina Colada or a Mango Colada.

Cattleya Orchids, Finally Flowering in my Fig Tree.



I have been writing about my ongoing attempt to grow Orchids in the trunk of my Strangler Fig for two years! It finally flowered!

This is a Cattleya Orchid gifted to me by my neighbor. Hers looks much better having been in place for a lot longer than mine-here are my neighbors Cattleyas just starting to flower, these are in the trunk of a Hong Kong Orchid tree.

Sometimes the best thing for a garden is time.


I think my flower is a bit more purple. Curious. I also think I nearly killed the orchids by not watering them enough during dry weather. They were looking pretty puny a couple of months ago, then I started watering them daily or so.

Feeling very lucky today.

In A Vase on Monday- Less Tropical


This week I decided to try a less tropical approach to my vase, using our Native Beach Sunflowers (Helianthus debilis) as the basis for a non tropical look. I thought Blue Willow china would be a not so tropical container for my vase. I have a collection of Blue Willow started by my grandmother a hundred years ago I have been adding to for years. So, I started with the Blue Willow bowl my father referred to as the ‘Creamed Onion Bowl’ a low covered casserole. That didn’t really work out the flowers were too tall or maybe the scale of flowers to bowl was just off. Then, everything got moved into this well used English teapot I bought years ago, one of my favorite pieces. I have never made tea in it, but somebody else did, many times, the interior is stained dark from use. I like antiques with a little patina.

To the Sunflowers I added Soap Aloe (Aloe saponaria) flowers in orange, Red Shrimp Plant (Justicia brandegeana), and some Parrot Flower  (Heliconia psittacorum) buds for height, Asparagus Ferns and Asian Sword Ferns for green texture.


After all of this it occurred to me none of these plants would even grow at Disney World in Orlando, Florida! However, it can be proposed they could be grown as annuals. In containers.

Mission completed.

I renovated my big Frangipani vase from last week and the Bromeliads from two weeks ago are still looking good. I think the buds on the Frangipani will open. Here they are again:


Unabashedly tropical.

In A Vase on Monday – Prunings


My Bridal Bouquet Frangipani was getting too tall, so I planned an arrangement around the prunings. This variety of Frangipani is columnar and tends to break apart in thunderstorms, if anyone else is familiar with the dreadful Bradford Pear (I hope that tree never made it out of the US) the branching structure of this Frangipani is similar and breaks in the same way. The problem with the branching structure of both these trees is that the branches are held at such a steep angle to the trunk the weight of the foliage breaks the branches and sometimes the trunk splits.

The good news is the Frangipani usually doesn’t get more than ten feet tall and rapidly repairs itself if branches break off. This arrangement is four or five feet tall, so there is plenty of shrub left and it looks reasonably good. Better than broken in two anyway.

The red accents in the arrangement are just for fun. No pruning was needed, it just happened. The tall red element is a Raggedy Ann Copperleaf (Acalypha “Raggedy Ann”) A somewhat unfortunate pruning story. This plant is the closest thing to a Japanese Maple that will grow in Tropic Florida. Japanese Maples are one thing I pine for in my garden- so I bought this thinking I could prune it into a tree form ‘Japanese Maple’. Reality is this plant has none of the graceful habit of a Japanese Maple and is totally upright and frankly kind of scraggly looking, especially after tree forming by someone trying to make a Japanese Maple.

The big red foliage leaves are from Blanchetiana Bromeliads, I love these plants for their coarse highly colored foliage and crazy flowers. It took me a couple of years to figure out how to cut the leaves off – kitchen scissors, go figure.

Here is a close up of the flowers in my arrangement: