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!

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

An Interesting Link

As all Alert Gardeners know, our planet's climate is a' changin'. We have all had to be much more alert than usual to these changes. Some plants that used to grow well in our yards don't anymore, and strangers are moving in! In the UK, alert gardeners are using the power of the Internet to actually map where orchids are growing, and where they are not. They are learning  a lot! Check out their website:

This seems like a real model for Citizen Gardeners to track what is happening out there. Is anyone trying anything like this in their neighborhood?

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Paphiopedilum Blooms!

Yes, this was another orchid rescue. I confess, most of my orchids are rescue orchids because I had no confidence in myself as an orchid gardener. Therefore, if they did not bloom or thrive, well, it was better than dying, and I couldn't be too harsh with myself. Ironically, they have all thrived.
Paphiopedilums, or "Lady Slipper Orchids", are actually quite easy to grow indoors. Like Phals, they need more frequent watering, because they have no structures for water storage. They also like fairly low light. The blooms are singular and spectactular, and last for several weeks. The foliage is also lovely, so even if they are not blooming, they make a great indoor houseplant. They originated in Indonesia and are semiterrestrial, meaning they grow in pockets of humus, or on cliffs, or on trees, or whatever. Mine is in a medium-grade mix that includes clay pebbles; I water twice a week, and fertilize with orchid fertilizer every other week. Way cool plant!

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Reminder: Tillie Watering TIme!

This is our storm season and we've really had some whoppers recently. Check out these clouds and double rainbows:

Double Rainbow, MRobb, USA, 2015
The two always seem to go together,  don't they?
And when it really rains outside, it's time to water my immense herd of Tillandsias. They just keep pupping!

Here are several of the ways I've done this over the years. The main point is to put them all, gently of course, in a bucket, cauldron, vat, or series of bowls, and place them lovingly out in the tempest for a few hours.

Then drain off the rainwater and keep it for later, and put your Tillies back on display. They need a good soak at least once a week, and they love rainwater most of all.
Above are a series of trays. These don't get too heavy after the rain. One tray is slotted and that makes it very easy to use- the rain drains off.
And here are a variety of buckets. Just don't try to lift the bigger buckets after the rain if you have a bad back, they get reeeallly heavy! I speak from bitter experience....
Have a wonderful weekend and hope your weather is photo-worthy!

Friday, July 10, 2015

Weekend Walkabout: Orchids in the Storm

This last week, I've been visiting with family. We've had some extremely weird cloud formations and storms here on the Family Sand Dune:
Cool, scary cloud....
Do you see a smiley face, sort of a demented Muppet in this one?? I kinda do....
This one's just pretty. My orchids are calmly blooming in all this:
The top is a Guartonia (so I am told), the bottom is a natural Phal, no dye! The Guartonia needs a lot more sun than the Phal, so they normally are not together, but for the portrait, I stuck them next to each other. Have a wonderful weekend!