Saturday, September 30, 2017

Hurricane Irma: That Which Survives

I'm referencing a classic Star Trek episode because I did think that my garden, post Irma, was like Losira, just a scary zombie. I'm glad to say I've been proven wrong. Some plants survive. But what exactly did they survive?
Irma approaches Florida courtesy of Slate
Category 3 winds for many hours. 15 inches of rain. Salt spray for 36 hours. Most of my garden was pretzelized, brown and twisted beyond recognition. I didn't have the heart to photograph it. It was just plant carnage. (Not gonna talk about my house! It's semi-habitable.)

But almost 3 weeks later, these plants are trying hard to survive. Here's the list of which plants are doing their best to keep going:

1. Schefflera- considered pests in many areas, these trees just can't be kept down! I am very fond of them at this point. No one touches my Scheffleras!
2. Tillies. Yup, I was right to say Tillies are the future. They were blown all over the place, but they are still growing and thriving, even after tornadoes and a Cat 3. Here's one I found upside down in a flower pot:
If Harvey, Irma, and Maria are harbingers of the superstorms of our future, Tillies are ready to meet the challenge.

3. Sansevieria, superstrong, supertough, nothing can knock these guys out!
4. Texas Buttonwood. This tree was a gorgeous creature, lush and 12 feet tall, and harbored many reptiles and cottontail rabbits. It was pretzelized by Irma, but it's trying to come back. I've been giving it Reiki and water with dilute fertilizer daily. It's trying!
Two hurricanes in less than a year. And we are much more fortunate than so many of our neighbors to the north, south, east, and west. This is climate change, as hurricanes have a mission to move excess heat from the tropics poleward. And we have a lot more heat to move these days. That means there will be more of these superstorms until we get this mess cleaned up ourselves, if we can, and I think we can. I'm scared about the future, but I think we have an opportunity here to make it better. No politics here, just real experience. Blessings and peace, everyone!

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Hit Hard By Hurricane Irma. Will Post Again Soon!

Two hurricanes in less than one year, I'm really tired. My outdoor garden is now a blasted heath, worse than after Hurricane Matthew. My house is having extensive repairs done. I'll post when I can!

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Late Weekend Walkabout: Tropical Storm Emily

Such a pretty name for a storm, and thankfully, very pretty and helpful for us. (For western Florida, not so much, lots of people trapped by floods.)

 But there was a beautiful sunset and some much needed rain from surprise Tropical Storm Emily on my sand dune yesterday:
Tropical Storm Emily: MRobb, 2017

It's nice when a tropical cyclone is a good thing, isn't it? Hope you all had beautiful weekend walkabouts.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Perfume Post: What is an Oriental Perfume? And Why Do I Have So Many???

So here I was thinking I was much more into green, herbal thingies. Right. I'm not big on florals, but I do own quite a few, not big on roses but I own at least 3, etc., etc.. One thing I was quite clear on is that, living in the Tropics, I do not love Oriental Perfumes. Nope, not me, not a bit.
She likes oriental perfumes...a bit.
Well, maybe a little....
I did live in very cold climates for years. That's my excuse and I'm sticking with it.
Dolomiti, MRobb, 2015

So what makes an oriental perfume an oriental? There's a great discussion for those who really want to get into it on Basenotes:

Generally speaking, three vital ingredients are vanilla or vanillin, labdanum (rock rose resin), and benzoin. Patchouli or sandalwood are usually considered the fourth vital ingredient. They are meant to be warm and rich, perhaps also spicy. They are generally considered good perfumes for winter, or cozy evenings spent with significant others. They conjure the boudoir and the hamam. Guerlain's Shalimar is usually spoken of first, but weirdly, I can't stand Shalimar (it's lovely, just can't bear it). I do, however, own several versions of Guerlain's Samsara, and wear it often, particularly its lightest version, Samsara Shine. The heaviest oriental I've ever worn is Serge Lutens' Ambre Sultan. It is actually quite amazing, practically psychedelic, worn in very hot weather. Might injure bystanders, though.

Orientals typically overlap with gourmands, incense 'fumes, and florientals. Gourmands just smell more gustatory, though where the line is drawn depends on the sniffer. Florientals emphasize, well, flowers. Incense fumes are based on frankincense, but often have hefty doses of vanilla, benzoin, and labdanum, so they're in the club.

Some of the orientals that I wear frequently, even in the heat, are Lalique's Le Parfum, L'Artisan Parfumeur's Safran Troublant, Guerlain's Samsara Shine, and Sonia Rykiel's Woman (original). I wear incense frags constantly, and make my own, as I am basically addicted to frankincense at this point, and labdanum follows close on Frank's heels.

Orientals have not been fashionable for some time, but I guess I really do love them. If you've never tried an oriental perfume, do try one before going to sleep, at the very least. And try it again before a cuddly interlude. I think you'll agree, there's nothing else like them!

Sunday, July 16, 2017

A New Cactus Joins the Group: Astrophytum ornatum

I haven't acquired any new cacti for a couple of years. I tried, several years ago, to grow the spectacular Astrophytum from seed- they didn't even germinate. They are notoriously hard to grow from seed I know, but still, I've grown Lithops from seed, so I did have some hope. Ah well.
Growing Lithops From Seed
Astrophytum are also known as Star Cacti, and they are simply gorgeous creatures. So I was thrilled to find one at, of all places, Lowes, a big box store.
Look what I found!
I like how the nursery makes a little basket pot so it's easy to transport your new cactus, injury-free. Great idea! And now, a closeup:
Astrophytum ornatum
Astrophytum ornatum is the largest of the Astrophytums (or is that Astrophyti??). It's a native of Mexico and can grow about 12 cm wide and 1 meter tall! Of course, that takes a long, long time. Yellow flowers arrive in summer. The white flecks on the stem are unique to this genus. They can tolerate high temperatures and high levels of sunlight, and are somewhat frost-tolerant. Water sparingly, as this genus is very prone to root rot. I'll be keeping mine indoors, as we get flooding rains on a frequent basis here.

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Weekend Walkabout: It's So Hot!!

It's too hot for a Weekend Walkabout anywhere but in the house. Summers keep getting hotter and hotter. We have less of our old, daily, polite rains. Now we get nothing for weeks at a time, then a monsoon that causes floods. It doesn't cool off at night anymore, and we are literally dependent on our air conditioners. Scary. Our Avian Cooling Station is running full tilt-- here are our Fish Crow Fledglings, cooling their toes....

Hoppin and Pippin are amazing. They've learned to take frequent showers at the cooling station. They bring little shells from the beach to float and play with in the Avian Cooling Pool. Corvids are remarkable and charming creatures.
Since I'm kind of stuck inside with the A/C, I've been painting. My Nebula 3 is getting there....
Here is Nebula 2, the Gold One....
And for all my American Readers, Happy 4th of July! Here is Dahlia, celebrating....
Wishing you all happy Weekend Walkabouts!

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Perfume Post: Our Human Sense of Smell Is Not That Bad!

I was taught that Homo sapiens has a lousy sense of smell compared to other mammals. Well. Not so.
Perfumistas take heart! (Thank you, Alert Gardener Jim!)

Humans have a good sense of smell    Peter Stern   5/12/17 

In comparison to that of other animals, the human sense of smell is widely considered to be weak and underdeveloped. This is, however, an unproven hypothesis. In a Review, McGann traces the origins of this false belief back to comparative 19th-century neuroanatomical studies by Broca. A modern look at the human olfactory bulb shows that it is rather large compared with those of rats and mice, which are presumed to possess a superior sense of smell. In fact, the number of olfactory bulb neurons across 24 mammalian species is comparatively similar, with humans in the middle of the pack, and our sense of smell is similar to that of other mammals.

Science, this issue p. 597
Head out to your local perfume shop, or botanical garden, and have a terrific sniffa without feeling like a lowly class of mammal! Here's to the olfactory arts....