Saturday, February 6, 2016

Weekend Walkabout: Mammatus Clouds

I learned to look with dread upon the freaky, alien mammatus cloud. Conventional wisdom was that they heralded tornadoes. Fortunately, research has disproven that theory. The bumpily weird mammatus cloud shows up mostly after the worst of a storm is over. Sometimes tornadoes have preceded the clouds, sometimes not. They do indicate the presence of a severe, but waning, storm. Very rarely, they can also show up in milder weather conditions. At any rate, they are caused by moist air sinking erratically into dry air.
I spotted these clouds offshore my sand dune at dawn this week. Amazing! I did not enhance these photos in any way whatsoever. This is really how they looked.
Mammatus clouds at dawn, MRobb, 2016
Hoping all my readers have wonderful weekend walkabouts!

Friday, February 5, 2016

A Pink Crown for a Mammillaria

Genus Mammillaria, my very favorite cactus clan in the world, are known for their beautiful "crowns" of flowers. They open during the day, then close at night. Not all Mammillarias bloom this way, but most do. Here is a recent example, first, open during the day, then closed at night:
Mammillaria elegans in full "crown" bloom, MRobb, 2016

Blooms close in the evening.
What a beautiful sight! Most Mammillaria have bright pink flowers, as this one does, but others have light pink, red, or even yellow blossoms. Gorgeous! Interestingly, they can have a primary, "proto-bloom" of just a couple of flowers, which can give them a funny "face":
Mammillaria elegans "Funny Face", MRobb
Then a month or so later, the full crown appears. I have no idea why this happens.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

The Shirley Temple Plant: Tillandsia streptophylla

'Tis true, I have never seen such a curly plant in my life! What do you think??
Tillandsia streptophylla, MRobb, 2016
Tillandsia streptophylla, aka, the Shirley Temple Plant, hails from Central America. It grows mostly at sea level to about 800m and the name means, guess, "twisted leaf". Well, that's easy to remember! The plant curls more tightly the drier the weather, then straightens out somewhat after heavy watering or a good soak.
T. streptophylla, soaking. The leaves straighten a bit.
It's a very easy care Tillie; the only thing to watch out for is rot. After a soak, it should dry upside down so the leaves can drain. I water mine once a week and give it moderate light. When it begins to bloom, it will turn bright pink! I add bromeliad fertilizer to its soak once a month to keep it green and growing. That's about it. What a beauty.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Caribbean Leaf of Life in Bloom!

During my course in Herbalism, I was given one leaf of a Leaf of Life plant from Jamaica, which is a quasi-native of this region. The plant propagates by growing tiny miniatures of itself all along its leaf edges. So all you have to do is place a leaf in a protected area of your garden, right side up, sprinkle some dirt over it, and a few weeks later, you've got dozens of little ones! It's growing all over my garden now. Leaf of Life (Bryophyllum pinnatum) is a well known medicinal herb from the Caribbean islands; it was brought to the islands from Africa centuries ago.  It's used for respiratory conditions such as colds, bronchitis, and asthma, and for hypertension. It's mainly taken in tea form. I use it in teas and tinctures and it has been quite helpful for my family. Now it's in bloom, in January. Well, it's been a really weird winter....
Leaf of Life in Bloom, MRobb, 2016

Thursday, December 31, 2015

The Last Sunset of 2015

What a roller-coaster year it's been.... To all my readers, I wish you many blessings and gorgeous gardens in 2016! Happy New Year!
Last Sunset of 2015, My Beach, MRobb

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Happy Holidays!

An encore presentation of the Holiday Lithops, aka We Three Lithops:
We Three Lithops, MRobb
Have a wonderful holiday!

Monday, December 21, 2015

A Simple Rainbow for Monday

Mondays always kinda...well, you know. So here is a simple, lovely rainbow from my sand dune to make it a little better.
Winter Rainbow in the Tropics, MRobb, 2015