Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Weird Wednesday: The Wild Patch

I don't know about you, but I'm sure getting fed up with all the construction and land clearing going on around here. I know it's part of Crowded Planet Syndrome, and who am I to deny someone their new condo, parking spot, or strip mall, but at this point, I'm just grossed out. Does every inch of land have to be under the (opposable) thumbs of humans?

So I made a Wild Patch. In my yard. No destructor-landscaper can touch it. Kids are free to come and observe all the critters that live in it, but no marauding, land-ravaging adults unless they've convinced me they mean no harm. That's my rule and I'm sticking to it.
It only took a week or two after the lawn mowers, Round-Up sprayers, and weed-whackers were banned for the Wild Patch to emerge. It's only about 3m by 2m. Yet within those 6 square meters, there are over 20 insect species, five reptile species, and several kinds of arachnids, including a Red Rump Tarantula I've named Delilah. The flowers are pollinated by all sorts of bees and (beneficial) wasps. Dragonflies and butterflies come and go by the dozens. The troublesome fire ants are long gone, and most of the invasive plants have left, too. I grow several basils at one end, and they are growing abundantly, and very much pleasing the bees. I also grow a native mint called Horsemint, which makes a highly pungent and energizing tea.

A close-up of the Wild Patch.
I've even got Tillies growing out there, though it is a little too sunny for some species. It's become my favorite place to meditate, and just feel peaceful about Gaia's powers of rejuvenation. Does anyone else out there have a wild patch in their garden?

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Do You Like Brazil Nuts? Meet Couroupita guianensis!

While skulking about the Fairchild Tropical Gardens with my camera in Miami, Florida, I saw and smelled a most amazing tree. It's called the Cannonball Tree and it hails from Brazil, where the nuts come from. In fact, it's first cousin to the Brazil Nut.
Couroupita guianensis, FTG, MR, 2014
The scent of the Cannonball flower is intoxicating, a mix of rose, peony, and a melange of spices. I was thoroughly charmed by this unique tree, and especially by the gorgeous scent of the blooms. Cannonball trees are grown all over the world now in tropical and semitropical zones. How I'd love one in my garden!

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Weekend Walkabout: A Hole in the Sky

We have had very turbulent weather here lately with cold fronts moving back and forth, and sunrise/sunset has been amazing! But I had never seen this before:
A Hole in the Sky, MR, November 2014
This is a fallstreak hole, also known as a skypunch. Here is the closeup:
Skypunch, MR, Nov 2014
These holes in the sky are fairly rare, and are caused by supercooled water droplets that evaporate rapidly because they go through something called a Bergeron Process when they finally freeze. Hey, that's what the Science Guys and Gals tell me, I don't get it either. But the effect, especially at sunrise or sunset, is gorgeous.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

More Tillandsia Holiday Fun

This week, I had a few days to spend in one of my favorite cities, Miami! One of the reasons it's on my Top 10 Cities List is that it is the site of the Fairchild Tropical Gardens. They were celebrating Halloween/Dia de los Muertos in high style, with Tillandsias (Spanish Moss and others) and ghosties made out of palm pieces:
There were other Tillandsias on display in their natural habitat:
And some amazing bat/owl creatures made out of more palm bits:
A sociable Anhinga did not want to be outdone by a bat made out of plant bits:
Anhinga, Fairchild Tropical Gardens, Miami, FL, MR, 2014
All in all, a beautiful day spent in a beautiful garden. If you are ever in Miami, do visit the Fairchild Tropical Gardens.

Friday, October 31, 2014

Yes, You've Seen it Before, But....

I only get to post this photo once a year!
Happy Tilloween!
This is a great way to foster public appreciation of Tillandsia xerographica. Let's all wear our Tillies with pride tonight! ;-)

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Tillandsia crocata: a fragrant diva Tillie

Avid Gardener Baker catalogued and named the unusual Tillandsia crocata in 1887. It means, "the Tillie that is like saffron." Most Tillandsias have purple blooms, and a few have scarlet or lilac blossoms. Crocata has a gorgeous (wait for it) saffron-colored flower. And it smells gorgeous, like honey and mimosa.
Tillandsia crocata, MR, 2014
T. crocata is a clumper. The leaves are fine and thickly coated with trichomes, which make it not only silvery, but so fuzzy it's practically pet-able. They are higher altitude tillies (1000-2500m) from Argentina, Brazil, and Uruguay. There are three main types, of which T. crocata "Copper Penny" is the most sought after; it has copper colored blooms. All crocatas need more mistings than other Tillies; they can't handle prolonged drought at all.
Tillandsia crocata, MR, 2014
Mine like to grow close to other Tillies, as this keeps their environment more humid. I also give them extra mists or soaks during the winter months when our humidity is below 50%. On the other hand, they cannot tolerate being cold and wet for long. They have to thoroughly dry between waterings and need good air movement. So yeah, they are high maintenance divas. But when in bloom, they go to the living room, where they scent the whole area for a week or more. Gorgeous sopranos of the Tillie world, crocatas are definitely worth the extra effort!

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Weekend Walkabout: Just a Pretty Dawn

Not much to report today, except a really beautiful sunrise:
Dawn, Zone 10, MR, October 2014
This is my favorite time of day, so peaceful. I'm going to walk on the beach and play my crystal singing bowls on the patio. Oh, yeah, and do some gardening. The green zinnias and snapdragons are blooming. Have a wonderful weekend and happy gardening!