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!

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Back to the Tillies: Tillandsia streptocarpa

Alert Naturalist Baker named this delightfully fragrant Tillie in 1887. It means "twisted fruit", and that refers to the twisty seed pods. The name should have referred to the delightful perfume this Tillandsia emits when it blooms. The pale lavender flowers smell very much like wisteria and honey. Gorgeous....
Tillandsia streptocarpa, MRobb, 2015
T. streptocarpa grows in open woodlands from Peru to Bolivia, Paraguay to Brazil. It can grow at relatively low elevation, up to 2,300m! This is according to expert Paul Isley III, and you can find more info in his book, "Tillandsia II". This Tillie needs a little more light, water, and fertilizer than average in order to grow and bloom well. The blooms last for a month. Fragrant Tillies are unusual so if you get a chance to grow this one, go for it, you won't be disappointed.

Sunday, June 28, 2015


Alert Gardeners Gail and Ellen brought up a horrible new practice at the big box stores. Spray-painted cacti and succulents. If this isn't plant torture (and eye torture) I don't know what is:
I've been reading a book called "Supernormal Stimuli" by Deirdre Barrett. She describes how in our modern techno-paradise (ha!) we keep piling on abnormal stimuli and we get hooked on this. Seems green cacti aren't enough anymore and some bright marketing VP came up with "something better". It sure does draw attention, but it is disgusting.

 No idea if it actually kills the plants but I'll bet it doesn't enhance photosynthesis or respiration. Remember Jill Masterson from the James Bond film "Goldfinger"?? 'Nuf said.

Maybe we gardeners should start a "Keep Plants Green" campaign??

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Weekend Walkabout:Sunset Storm Evolution

I promise I'll blog about plants tomorrow (really!) but I had to share the evolution of a storm off the beach today. We have no mountains here- our clouds are mountains.
10 minutes later....
And 5 minutes after that....
And finally, just before dark....