Friday, October 9, 2015

Weekend Walkabout: Chihuly at Fairchild Tropical Gardens

I have two favorite gardens in the whole world: the Heller Botanical Garden at Lago di Garda, Italy, and the Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden in Miami, Florida. I am working on a series of the Heller Gardens now, and you'll see them soon. For this weekend, I thought I'd post a few photos of works by glass sculptor Dale Chihuly and his studio that are featured at Fairchild, a wonderful combination of beauty by humans and beauty by nature!

Fairchild and Chihuly, Infrared, MRobb, 2014
They also have the most fun and whimsical Halloween displays at Fairchild:
A Coconut Spider, yikes!
I am happy to say that Tillies, particularly Spanish Moss, are included:
Mossy Ghosties, Fairchild Tropical Gardens

Coconut Husk Beastie, Fairchild Gardens
Have a wonderful weekend in the garden!

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Cacti and Succulents Endangered

I was sad to read that quite a few species of cacti and succulents, many of which I've featured on this blog, are endangered because of habitat loss, climate change, and poaching.
Ah, Babytoes!
Los Tres Amigos

Lithops Younglings
You can read about it here:

Always buy plants and seeds from reputable dealers who care about the plants and the environments they evolved in. Make sure they have the correct CITES certificates for what they sell. That way, our grandchildren can enjoy these beautiful plants, too. Happy gardening, and join me in feeling grateful for our wonderful cacti and succulents!
More Lithops

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Chef Riccardo's Taste of the Garden: Fried Squash Blossoms

During my recent trip to Italy, I saw something colorful and interesting in the veggie section of the town's supermarket: vivid orange and green squash blossoms! I asked, "How does anyone except a rabbit or horse eat those??" Chef Riccardo answered my question with a marvelous recipe for Fried Squash Blossom appetizers.
You'll need:
About 20 zucchini blossoms
Olive Oil
a small jar of anchovies

and a thin batter made from:

about a cup of finely milled white flour (00)
about 2/3 cup of carbonated mineral water, very cold
One whole egg
One tablespoon olive oil
a pinch of salt
Beat all ingredients together and keep chilled.

The secret to light and fluffy fried blossoms is the carbonated, chilled water. Once you've blended the batter ingredients, keep that batter cold.

Remove the stems and all tough, green parts from the blossoms.
Open each flower on one side so it can lie flat. Then put one anchovy in the center of each flower and roll them up. Yes, anchovies, I know, I don't usually care for them either, but trust me, they are delicious prepared this way!

Now that you have a series of "squash blossom burritos", you can dip them gently in the chilled batter and fry them on medium heat in olive oil in a frying pan, just a minute or two on each side:

Transfer the fried blossoms onto paper towels to drain, then serve and eat! Absolutely delicious. Thank you, Chef Riccardo!
Squash Blossom Appetizers by Chef Riccardo, 2015

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Back From Italy With New Posts Soon!

I've just returned from Italy and I was so inspired by the native flora and the extraordinary gardens that I'll be posting quite a bit in the next month or so. And Chef Riccardo is returning with an unusual and tasty recipe
MRobb, Bouganvillea, Italy, Sept 2015
featuring squash blossoms and anchovies. Yup, you read that right, and it's delicious. See you back here soon!

Monday, August 24, 2015

Prescribed Fire and New Life

Here in the tropics, and in many other places, prescribed fire means life. I'm not talking about the horrible conflagrations that come from anthropogenic climate change, just the usual fires that clear the way for the new:

The colors pop, and life bursts afresh. Beautiful!

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Weekend Walkabout: Plumeria in the (Scorching) Sun

High temp records have been tumbling all over the globe this summer and last night I think there were a record number of tropical cyclones and invests on the planet at the same time (8!). Is that a record?? Yowza. Walking outside in full sun may not be the best idea for those of us in the Northern Hemisphere right now, but I had to take a few pictures of a neighbor's gorgeous Plumeria, which grow quite well on our sand dune:
Vertical Plumeria, MRobb, August 2015
Pink Plumeria, MRobb, August 15

Plumeria, also known as Frangipani, are native to this part of the world, and grow wild and in cultivation all over the Caribbean, Central, and South America. They are actually a genus of the Dogbane family, woof!, and are cousins to the poisonous Oleander. Just like with Oleanders, the sap can be irritating to eyes and skin, though some people have no trouble with it at all. The flowers have no nectar, but are most lusciously fragrant at night. They mostly attract moths. Growing them from cuttings is very easy, but you have to let the cut stump dry before planting it, or it could rot. They are somewhat slow growing but very tough and hardy.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Some New Ceramics and....

I have been gearing up for the start of the new school year, which is coming very early in 2015. Not much going on in the gardening world, though the orchids continue to bloom- the top one is a Guartonia, so I am told (and, OK, I did show this on July 10, but it's still blooming, really!):
I've finished some new stoneware designs that have worked out very well. Here is a bowl and a couple of plates:
MRobb, Plate and Bowl, 2015

MRobb, Plate, 2015
And I'm trying to do a simple painting each day; I've been managing a couple a week....
"Hills with Green Sky", MRobb, 2015
And I'm finally finishing up some photos from 2009! These are of Lago di Garda in Italy:
"Lago di Garda, Italy, Autumn 2009"- MRobb

A little creativity can really help one get through the more stressful times of year!