Monday, November 9, 2009

Scrap Hammered

Cereus Peruvianus
Yikes, I stepped out of the Blogosphere for a few days and come back only to find I’ve been thoroughly beaten with the Honest Scrap hammer by no less than three Blotanical members. Now if I have this correct there are so rules I’m supposed to abide by. Hmmm…Lets see.

1. Brag about the award.

2. Include the name of the blogger who bestowed the award on me and link back to the blogger.

3. Choose a minimum of seven (7) blogs that I find brilliant in content or design.

4. Show their names and links and leave a comment informing them that they were prized with Honest Weblog.

5. List at least ten (10) honest things about myself.

Okayyyy…First off…shucks, I sure appreciate the opportunity to come up with a post that doesn’t require as much thought as most posts do. In reality, I am honored that Wendy of Greenish Thumb, Jean P of Jean’s Garden and Sarah of Madblooms think enough of this blog to want to learn a little bit more about the author. One thing these three women have in common is a passion for horticulture, something that is very apparent in their gardening blogs. Not the horticulture that insists upon the correct latin but the hort that is the beauty and wonder of nature. Thanks ladies, very cool.

On to ten fact about me. Lets see if I can come up with stuff I haven’t already written about.

1. I grew up in next to my Grandmothers farm in Bristol WI. It is there that I first was introduced to growing plants for both food and pleasure. My parents had a large garden and canned much of the harvest. Both my parents and Grandmother had massive beds of mostly perennials. I don’t think they ever went to a nursery as plants were passed around the community from family to family.

2. The first plants I remember having were some Maple seeds I stuck in a pot at about age 6 and wonder it all they sprouted.

3. I arrived in the Fl. Keys in 1977 driving an old hippie van/telephone truck and lived in a camp ground for the first year, didn’t have to work thanks to being laid off, pulled unemployment comp., went spearfishing everyday and lived on lobster and brown rice prepared by lovely hippie chicks. Ahh, that was the life.

4. Reality hit and I went back to work, at a nursery and thus began a 20 some odd year career in the hort. trade.

5. Got tired of digging holes, employees, and using my tools. I was a softball coach for my daughters teams, became Pres. of Little League which led to my next career as the Exec. Dir. of a youth oriented nonprofit, a position I hold still today. Working with kids does keep you thinking young.

6. I took a 7 year hiatus from all things horticultural until falling for Liz. She was the owner of a wholesale nursery for a decade that she built from the ground up. My hort interest was renewed and most of our vacations revolve around visiting gardens where we play the latin name game.

7. I’m not a professor of anything. That is a nickname given me by a group of friends. This blog started a way to keep in contact with them, the blog languished, was revived as this garden blog and suddenly it was too late to change the name to something gardenish.

8. Liz doesn’t believe in blogging…at all. So it’s just little old me. She’s never read a single word and demanded that I take her picture off it. So be it, anything for harmony at home.

9. I do all the laundry…ALL OF IT.

10. I have been informed that what I deem blonde in my hair is indeed gray…but they are wrong.

As for passing this on, well I’m not much on this kind of thing. This meme has swept through Blotanical at a fever pace. It’s kinda fun but so many bloggers have been awarded this that I will just allow this branch of the Honest Scrap tree to end here and we can get back to garden blogging.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Only a Picture

Phalanopsis spp

This past weekend the debauchery and mayhem of Key West reached its usual annual peak…Fantasy Fest. For those of you who don’t know of this insanity, let’s just say it tends to be a half naked Mardi Gras in the southern most city. Go to Youtube if you really want to know more. Key Weird is inundated by about 60,000 extra folks all bent on letting their freak flag fly for one weekend a year. That said, you can understand why many of the locals are a little edgy.

Balfour Aralia (Polyscias scutellaria) & Croton

So that preamble brings us to my little story. Camera in hand, I was walking down a tiny little lane between a couple larger streets. There are a bunch of these glorified alleyways and I’ve never had a problem on them, until now.

Chenille Acalypha (Acalypha hispida)

I came upon small Conch house, in a state of disrepair surrounded with lush tropical vegetation. A sort of hedge, untrimmed and rangy AcaIypha of varying cultivars combined with Crotons and Aralias made up barrier between the postage stamp yard and the lane. I was busy trying to focus the macro mode on a Black Aralia and as usual having little success, being as I forgot my cheater reading glasses in the truck.

Acalypha spp.

In the back of my mind I heard the old man but it just didn’t register that he was talking to me.

“Hey you…Hey!...Hey YOU!! What are you doin.”

Brassia spp.?

Finally I caught on and looked over to see and elderly man holding garden hose trained on a group of orchids I had photographed a few minutes earlier.

Emerald Acalypha (Acalypha wilkesania"Hoffmanii")

Opening my mouth to ask permission to photograph his plants I was interrupted by a pack of college age scooter riders, zipping down the lane, madly beeping their horns in accompaniment to much hooting and hollering. Why must they always do that?

Black Aralia (Polyscias guilfoylei"Blackie")

It was then that the sky opened up in a hurricane-like deluge of water. Wait sec, rain doesn’t come down in a stream. With catlike reflexes I looked back to the house. The old man had a gleeful snarl on his lips as he pointed the pistol grip of his hose, unleashing a torrent of killer water. My mind in overdrive, I instantly assessed the situation, and reacted…by saying “Huh?”

Copperleaf Acalypha (Acalypha wilkesania"Copperleaf")

My middleschool Ninja training took over when I made a few goofy skips backwards out of hose range directly into the path of the last straggler scooter terrorist. It was only his drunken wobbling of the scooter that saved us both, much to the cackling delight of the octogenarian aggressor.

Acalypha wilkesania"Marginata")

Dripping and defeated I made my way back to my truck.

Sheesh, I only wanted a picture.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Halloween Snippet

“Snip, snip, snip”. Her Felco clippers imitated a metronome as she pruned the spent Heliconia leaves. This plant was at the edge of deep shade and in a seldom visited part of her garden. The little woman had been at it for what seemed hours.

Pausing beneath a towering Talipot palm she noticed the sky was turning a morbid shade of gray, adding an odd heaviness to her usually pleasant mood.

She was just so tired. Gardening never used to take it out of her like this. “ I guess it’s just old age” the woman thought. “My, wouldn’t it be nice to just take a little nap.” Looking left she noticed a dark void in the tangled roots that supported an ancient Ficus tree.

Pushing aside spider webs the gray haired gardener crept into the opening, sat down, and slowly slumped over, her head cradled against rough bark. As she closed her eyes the last things she noticed was a large bird in a near pine and a heavy odor, a thick miasma of decay entering her nostrils while she began to doze.

The odd dream slowly formed, in her mind’s eye she saw a curious looking bug and her own wizened hands pruning, clipping with the rusty shears …snip, snip, snip.

Snip , snip, snip…the drumbeat of the pruners grew louder and closer, slightly painful…snip, snip, snip.

SNIP, SNIP, SNIP…louder now…so loud and so close.… the pain increasing tenfold…it seemed to be .......................................................................
inside her head………………………………………………………............
..................................................................................for indeed........…………………………….... was!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Wordless Wednesday

Dendrobium spp

Hylocereus undatus

Achmea fasciata

Codiaeum spp

Treminalia catappa-Tropical Almond

Phalaenopsis spp

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

A Little Love

Monstera Deliciosa
Yikes, close one!! I tend to write these posts on a nifty little HP netbook when I’m out and about. I really like the small size and portability of the little machine, but it has its drawbacks, such as lack of file storage. To keep this little comp running at its best I store my pix on one of our home desk tops and keep the photos on a handy dandy flash drive to use when posting. Well wouldn’t ya know it the desk top crashed over the weekend taking all stored files with it.

Colocasia esculenta"Illustris"
Fortunately most of my images still live on that little plastic stick and none of the lost files were of any real consequence. Unfortunately my photo editing software is toast so for the moment my new pix have all their inherent flaws for you to see.

Cyrtosperma johnstonii
Let that be a lesson to you folks…back ‘em up…it can happen to you.

Alocasia spp
Thanks to the Blot. I happened upon a garden blogger that is into Aroids…a fave plant group of mine. Swing by and say Howdy to Zack and Christine at The Variegated Thumb. These guys are doin’ it the hard way, getting the tropical plant bug while livin’ in temperate climate. They have put together a killer little greenhouse to support their addiction. Well done, guys.

Monstera obliqua
So let me throw a little Aroid love out to them with some of today’s images.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Bloody Bougainvillea

Have you ever found a plant that you just love but still ya hate ‘em. Well, Bougainvillea is just that sort of plant for me. I absolutely love to gaze upon the incredibly intense colors of the blooms and I truly hate pruning them.

This comes after a couple of decades working with these guys in the landscape industry. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been stabbed by thorns, raked by thorns, stepped on thorns or fixed flat wheel barrow tires from thorns. As far as I’m concerned the only good Boug is one that is in someone else’s landscape.

That said there is one exception and that is the Dwarf Boug. That cultivar is one that just may find its way into my gardens. Dwarfs are a very low maintenance plant that requires almost no pruning if properly sited.

Yet for all the brutal issues I have with Bougs there is nothing more spectacular than this plant in full flower or should I say “full bract” for the flowers of Bougs are an insignificant white little guy and the modified leaves are the showy heart stoppers we all love.

Bougs can grow to 30’ with support which means most are improperly located in home landscapes. From a pruning perspective this can be a nightmare if the plant is near a walkway. One way to deal with the sprawling growth habit is to allow the plant to climb a tree particularly if the flowers of the tree are insignificant.

Bougainvillea bloom best during the dry season(fall and winter here) and an established plant needs little fertilization. There are an abundant number of hybrids, colors, and variegations but they tend to lose their horticultural identities down here and are commonly referred to by color.

The plant is easily propagated by cuttings and I have seen 4” thick by 4’ long branches rooted making for an instant standard container plant.

Bougainvilleas are native to South America and are named for Louis Antoine de Bougainville, a French explorer who sailed around the world in 1767. B. spectibilis and B.glabra are the species most frequently found.

So to all those gardeners out there who grow this plant I say THANK YOU and I shall be more than happy to gaze upon your boug with awe, heap horticultural praise upon you, listen with sympathetic ear, and pass you a Band-aid.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Blossom freed from...

Lantana camara-Gold

“Hey man…hang on a second and let me get a picture of that”

Plumbago auriculata

The grimy yard guy with the elcheapo knock off Felco clippers looked at me and with all the intelligence he could muster said, “Huh?”

Dracena reflexa- Song of India

He was just reaching down to clip a Gold Lantana bloom that had strayed through the white picket fence. I didn’t waste any time answering and quickly clicked the shutter. As I wandered away down Caroline St. in Key West the yard ape uttered the ultimate epithet to a local such as myself…”Tourist!”

Ixora hybrid-Nora Grant

See what inglorious indignities I suffer for you folks.

Bougainvilla spectabilis

It was in my mind to write some cute post about plants that creep through the garden fence to share their beauty with, “We, the Outsiders whom are not privy to the Inner Garden”. The only thing is I don’t do cute to well.

Philodenron hybrid 'Burle Marx'

Let’s try this tactic… “Plants that know no bounds, the Untamed”. Hmmm…nah, sounds like something from the Discovery channel.

Mandavilla splendens

Ok, maybe “Blossom freed from Bondage”…errr, nope, too much like some smarmy adult DVD.

Codiaeum spp

Aw heck, “Flowers through the Fence”, yeah, that’ll work…not to creative but, whatever.

Pentas lanceolata

Key West must have more white picket fences per capita than any other town I know and plants doing their thing tend to grow though them and I always looking for something to feed the voracious appetite of the blogosphere decided to do a photo series. So here ya go …but I still kinda like the ring of “Blossom freed from Bondage”, smarmy or not.