Saturday, June 17, 2017

Five Years and Counting: A Big Thank You to My Readers!!

I can't believe I've been keeping this blog for 5 years! I'm so happy you've found a spot to learn more about Tillandsias and Mesembs, and share in my gardening adventures. I hope you have enjoyed the posts on all sorts of sundry and various things of passing or abiding interest to me, your humble blogger!
Our celebrity Mesemb, Babytoes
So a big shout-out to my readers and followers, and a big bloom from Babytoes, perhaps the first internet celebrity Mesemb?? Or is that going too far? ;-)

And yes, I still grow Lithops. I've come to feel, however, that it's best to support policies and laws that support their wild environment, where they grow best. Growing them at home certainly improves their fan base and helps more people become aware of how precious and amazing these little plants are. So let's grow some more! I think we can all agree on more Lithops in the world....
My sand dune at night. Painting by MRobb

Lithops!

Mesembs in bloom
Learning about all sorts of Mesembs and cacti is a wonderful hobby, and I'm going to continue, most likely, for the rest of my life. Tillandsias are native to my area, and frankly, I'm running out of space to grow them, as they are extremely happy in my home and garden. So you'll be reading more about them, too.
Tillies!
Los Tres Amigos.
And my artwork and pottery continue, so thank you for your wonderful compliments.

So have a wonderful weekend walkabout, and once again, thank you so much! See you soon!






Sunday, May 28, 2017

Weekend Walkabout: The Avian Cooling Station

We're in an extreme drought. That's the actual, scientific category name. Extreme Drought. And yeah, it's hot, too.
But we have A/C and fresh water (for now). The birds don't. Nesting season has come smack in the center of this drought, the worst since the 1800s. Birds suffer heat stress and dehydration and can easily die from it. If you see a bird with its bill open, it's suffering from heat stress. How to help our avian neighbors? With an Avian Cooling Station!
By keeping a patch of lawn green and unmowed, the small reptiles, insects and bugs that ibises and other birds need can thrive. Letting some backyard go to seed gives the seed-eating birds some desperately needed food. Here are some local ibises getting some tasty grubs for breakfast.
Here's a local mourning dove taking a bath. Bird mite populations have exploded in the hot dry weather. The heavily infested birds need water in the form of rain or baths to keep the mites from making them anemic. (FYI: Bird mites don't affect humans, generally speaking.) The setup is simple. A small lawn sprinkler set on low creates a great bath and doesn't use much water. Several clean basins with fresh water, changed several times a day to prevent the spread of disease. Don't mow the lawn. Plant some native plants. That's it!



Sunday, May 14, 2017

Happy Mothers' Day and Starting Over With Plumeria

Happy Moms' Day!
As you may remember, my outdoor garden was destroyed by Hurricane Matthew last year. A good friend gave me a piece of her plumeria tree, which was also destroyed by the hurricane. Fortunately, tropical trees like plumeria are smart and know how to regenerate after a nasty storm. This spring, my new plumeria is in bloom!!
All you really need to do is take a big stick of plumeria, dust the base with rooting powder, plant it about 10cm deep in decent, well-drained soil, and water daily until it takes root. Wonderful!


Sunday, April 30, 2017

Tillies Then and Now: Spanish Moss

Tillandsia usneoides, also known as Spanish Moss, is one of my favorite Tillies. A clump of Spanish Moss is actually a huge congregation of little individuals, growing en masse. A Masse of Moss! Here is my first little bowl of T. usneoides from 2012:
And here it is in 2017. It likes to capture other Tillies, such as this T. intermedia. After a few weeks, it's impossible to untangle the plants, but they seem to do all right together.
Spanish Moss is a natural air filter- it pulls all sorts of junk out of the air, even heavy metals. This makes it very helpful at times like these, when we are in a severe drought, with lots of wildfires spewing ash and smoke into the air. I wish I had enough Spanish Moss to cover the walls of my house! It's being used as a natural bio-filter in Asia, and of course, helps improve the oxygen levels in cities where oxygen is low. Tillies are indeed the future!



Thursday, April 13, 2017

The Hyacinths of Spring, and a Perfume

As those Alert Gardeners who have kindly followed my blog for awhile know, I always have a pot of hyacinths on my writing desk in springtime. The incomparable scent fills the whole house, and I know that spring has sprung! They change markedly over a few days time, and each stage is wondrous:
Fresh from the florist- this is as neat and tidy as they get, very little scent yet....
Here's the full bloom, with a greener, more floral scent. Starting to scent the house!
A couple days later, and the heavy blossoms have drooped over the side. The scent is even more powerful, with a touch of salt and indoles.
My favorite hyacinth perfume is Serge Lutens Bas de Soie, (Christopher Sheldrake, 2010) which really captures the early phase of the blooms. It's kind of the mean green phase. If you know of one that highlights the later phase with that swoony, salty, indolic richness, let me know in a comment!




Saturday, April 8, 2017

Tillies Then and Now: Tillandsia Caput Medusae

Wow, what a difference a few years can make for a Tillie! Here is one of my T. caput medusae- this is one of the more common, sturdy, and beautiful Tillandsias that one can find for sale. They are well worth the effort! So, then and now....
You can see a pup or two, very small. Now fast forward a few years....
Wow! The pups have pupped, and one has bloomed, and now we've got the third generation growing. In terms of size, it has tripled from the earlier version. Not so easy to water now! T. caput medusae can grow into huge clumps of dozens of individuals. They like to hang sideways or upside down, and in the wild, they harbor a lot of ants. Mine is ant-free, and happy enough. I'll keep you updated on its further growth, provided there is still space for me in my living room!


Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Bloomin' Orchids Indoors and Out, But Why?

Spring is blooming time for most, though not all, of my orchids. Two of my Phals are in mid-bloom. One grows indoors, and the other, outside. What's weird is that though they are the same species, one was languishing indoors with the same care as the other, which thrived. I moved the laggard outdoors and it did very well. Now they're in bloom at the same time, yet totally out of contact with each other. Maybe they just didn't get along??
These two really look like they're having a laugh, don't they?
And these blooms are giving Garden Gnome Jeffrey something to smile about, but he's still frowning. He's always been a grumpy gnome, could be the hurricanes....

Do you have any plants that, though the same species, prefer to live in different environments?