Weekly Photo Challenge: Winter……Out with the (C)old!!!!

Wow! The final weekly photo challenge of 2011 is upon us!!   We’ve a scant 30 minutes ’til it’s “out with the (c)old, in with the new!”

If you’ve looked through my blog at all, you know I spent my entire life in the Northeast. I could share hundreds of Winter “Wonderland” pictures with you, but I”m loathe to perpetuate that myth.  Besides, on the advice of a caterpillar ;) we left that mess behind!  ;)

But the question remains…how to photograph winter, when you live in a place it doesn’t typically visit?    Simple…you take a picture of this December bloomer with a name CS Lewis would love:

Kalanchoe gastonis-bonnieri

Mexican Donkey Ears

Kalanchoe Gastonis Bonnieri isn’t the only winter bloomer, though.   Look at this other harbinger of winter, watching over my front walk.

Euphorbia Trigona

Euphorbia Trigona

When the yellow “dots” emerge in late November, count forward three weeks to the arrival of winter….and Santa!  Now he’s a myth I can get behind!!!!

Until next year…….

Weekly Photo Challenge: Between

On December 23,  the WordPress Photo Challenge called for submissions illustrating the concept “Between.”   Due to the bustle of Christmas and houseguests, I fell behind in my participation but am actually glad I did!  While reminiscing with my kids and looking through family photos, I remembered a picture worthy of a belated entry:

Between the Ivory Tower and the Office Tower

At first glance, you see a young man in the iconic garb of a single day, between the Ivory Tower of his past, and the Office Tower in his future.

Studying the photo more closely, you realize he’s crouched by a wall plaque, the source of his bittersweet facial expression, caught between happy and sad.  “Persevere with Love and a Smile,” it reads, in memory of his friend and classmate who died tragically last winter.

When i took this picture, I thought of a family who lost an enormous part of their future when their son left this world.  How radically life can change between February and June!

Something to bear in mind as we enter a new year.

Until next time….

Yaaaaayyy Me!!! Yaaaaayyy Family!!!

Last winter, while researching Florida Friendly Landscaping, I ran across information on our state’s Master Gardener Program: participants complete a 12 week course sponsored by the University of Florida, after which they are certified to participate in community garden projects.  I was immediately interested……so……I applied.

Today, I was accepted!!!  Yaaaayyyyyy me!!!!!

Class starts on Jan 10, and meets 8 hours every Tuesday for 3 months. I’m very excited to learn more about horticulture…especially soil science and organic pest control. To read more about the history and structure of Master Gardener Certification, click here!

Yesterday,  I told you about Jack and the Rubber plant.  Today, he continued his yardwork, attacking the invasive Brazilian Pepper Trees overtaking the fence.

Jack and Brazilian Pepper Tree

There he is again, behind yesterday’s “hatchet job!”:  Snip Snip!!

Jack cutting through vines

When he was done, it was time for the annual Sibling Christmas Picture:

TC, Maggie, Jack, 2011

Yaaaaayyy Family!!!

Such fine young adults are these three, I am honored to be their mother!

Until next time….




Oops, there goes another rubber tree plant!

I really, REALLY, have no affection for rubber trees…especially the one in front of my lovely Palm, below.  When we moved here two years ago, several of it’s branches extended as high as the palm fronds!

Rubber Tree in front of Palm TreeDue to a combination of hard freezes (and equally hard prunings) I succeeded in taming it….somewhat…but this past summer, rapid growth kicked in, so we’re practically back where we started!

Enter my son, Jack, clippers in hand:

Jack with clippers, 2011

He begins to make a pretty good dent in it:

Jack and the tree, 2011

Before too long, a huge pile is accumulating!!!

Rubber Tree BranchesYayyyy Jack!!!!

An hour later, I snapped this final picture:

Jack posing when done!

I don’t know if its his size, or the pose, or the fact that he was fighting  (in gloves!!!  :) ) with a rubber tree, but while he was working, I had flashbacks to a scene in Rocky Balboa when Stallone enters the ring to a song made famous by Sinatra…you know the one…but if not, here’s a refresher:



Comically appropriate, yeah?

Anyway…..thanks to Rocky….er, um…Jack, there are less aerial roots and buttressing branches inpinging on my yard space…and that’s a good thing!!

Until next time……


It’s Almost Christmas!

Two days to Christmas!!

Yesterday, my boys arrived from Boston!  My daughter took this picture of us earlier today, so I could introduce you!

Me and My SonsT.C. is the oldest (age 27,) wearing the dark shirt; Jack, will be 24 next week.  You’ve already seen my daughter, Maggie, pictured here.  Its so fun having everyone under one roof again!!!   Although we’re not sure our cat, Clarisse, agrees:


Clarisse, tuning us out!

Tomorrow, I’ll be back with a garden update!

Until next time……

Weekly Photo Challenge: Self-Portrait

21st century science tells us that electromagnetic fields can interfere with neural synapses in the human brain and theories abound regarding the results of these disruptions.  Did you really see that ghost/orb/entity or was it some strange hijacking of your brain’s communication center?   What of the odd, hazy outline in your peripheral vision, the shadow person just beyond the corner of your eye? Many people have reported seeing the Mysterious Hat Man, a fleeting image in the recesses of a dark room, who brings a feeling of unease, of being watched,  that lingers long after his apparition is gone.

Mysterious Hatman

Thankfully, I haven’t seen this ominous “person,”  but I have caught sight of a different one!  When the light is just right–golden, late afternoon sunlight– I sometimes see a spectral vision, haunting The Ranchero.

shadow woman

Mysterious Garden Lady

Last spring I was lucky enough ;) to catch the above image via cellcam and post it to Facebook with the following caption:  “Do you believe in Shadow People? I do!”

All joking aside, the message in the caption is why this pic is such an illustrative self-portrait: I absolutely DO believe in the fringe-sciences–the left-of-mainstream stuff that brands alot of people as “crazies”–yet I know I’m absolutely sane!   :)   Paranormal events, ESP, remote viewing, UFOs…the wonderful, hard-to-fathom topics of Coast to Coast AM radio; these are the ideas to which I gravitate in books, movies, and TV.

While searching through my computer today, I ran across an old Coast to Coast audio file from the late ’90s when Art Bell, the show’s originator and first host, was in his heyday. .What you are about to hear may be total theater or it may be total truth–who can say for certain??  But without a doubt, this on air conversation between Art  and a pilot flying over Area 51 restricted airspace is 100% entertaining!    Click this to listen!

Remember….The Truth is Out There!!

Until next time!!

Everything Old is New Again….maybe.

While I was uploading the October Bloom Gallery, I ran across pictures of my Cosmos flowers, started from seed in early spring.  I’ve planted Cosmos many times over the years and always had the same result: pretty orange blooms on 12-18in stalks, like this:

Normal Cosmos

Needless to say, that’s not exactly what happened this time! Although all of this year’s seeds came from the same packet, at least a third of them behaved strangely; they kept growing..and growing…like these, seen in August, reaching 2-3ft.

Cosmos, Sept, 2011

But they didn’t stop there. September arrived. The same thing was happening in the back garden, as in the front.  Take a look behind this Canna:

7ft tall CosmosThe Cosmos were out of control!    Here’s a view from a different angle:

Super Cosmos, 2011I am dead serious when i tell you…the above shot is of ONE plant, 7.5ft tall, with a stalk as sturdy as a tree trunk!    Totally stymied as to why this happened, i did a little research.

Turns out, over the past decade various cosmos strains have been introduced to grow sometimes taller (or shorter) plants.  If variants of these hybridizing processes get mixed up in the same seed packet, the result is a more diverse garden than you’d otherwise expect.  Ironically, the original wild Cosmos flowers were MUCH taller than the ones seen in our lifetime.  As they say, maybe everything old IS new again?

My inquiring mind really wants to know!

So, as this year’s specimens died back, I collected as many seed heads as i could.  I’ve started re-sowing in the past few weeks, and will let you know how the next “crop” turns out!

Since we’ve been talking “orange/yellow plants”,  I’ll close this out with a picture I took this morning–

Cannas Thru the Citrus

Cannas Thru the Citrus

until next time!

Sleeping Beauty from Potter’s Field (day)

Look at what bloomed overnight!!!

Hippeastrum Papilio

You can see what it looked like 6 days ago, sitting on my parlor plant stand. What a difference a week made for this Sleeping Beauty!

In Zone 9, Amaryllis can be planted outside and stay inground year round, with a typical bloom cycle of March-June, depending on variety.  My very first Florida Amaryllis was received in January 2010 as a housewarming gift; it bloomed in mid April as seen here.Amaryllis April 2010 One of my favorites is this pink variety, purchased at Vero Beach Garden Fest in 2010.  This picture was taken during its 2nd bloom cycle at the Ranchero, March 4, 2011.

Pink amarylllis 2011

Here’s the original “housewarming” amaryllis (planted) and blooming in March, 2011.

amaryllis red stripe 2011In a previous post, I mentoned digging up the bulbs to force dormancy so I’d have flowers at a time of my choosing.  For further information on the process, check out an excellent pdf file from a professor of horticulture at North Dakota State University Agricultural Service.  As you can see, this potter had a field day!

Dormant Bulbs 2011Until next time!!!

ps. Take a peek at my October Blooms Gallery!  I’ll be back with a post about Monster Cosmos tomorrow!

Weekly Photo Challenge (Celebration)

I remember the very first time i recognized a perfect moment in time.  My college friends and I were gathered round a table at  the  “Hundred Days” Banquet. Someone lifted a glass to toast our graduation countdown, and the scene before me froze as if within a camera lens: Julie’s new navy blue dress, Mary’s chic-at-the-time Dorothy Hamill haircut, Linda’s shiny, long,  Asian black hair, and Janet standing with her hand on her hip. Decades hence I’ve lost touch with these ladies, but not with the night i realized it would eventually happen.

Living in the moment…recognizing perfect times the very instant they occur. This is worthy of celebration!  Here’s another one, preserved in digital form on June 20, 2011 at 1:45pm.Mulherns at the Beach

Where to begin the celebration of this one? Perhaps with the perfect Florida sky, or the water that looks more Caribbean than Atlantic?  How about the lack of seaweed?  Nature was amazingly cooperative on June 20, no doubt about it. The figures in this beautiful scene are my young adult kids, twenty-somethings poised to begin lives in three different directions.

When i snapped this picture, I had a sense of frozen tableau, of three people who love being together and playing like the kids they used to be…and that is worthy of celebrating, indeed!

until next time…..


Nature’s Way on a Rainy Day

What a rainy weekend we’ve had along the Treasure Coast—downpours for the better part of two days!  On Friday morning, I planted a half package of morning glory seeds directly into my perimeter garden–undoubtedly they’ve washed away to who-knows-elsewhere in the yard.  Guess I should have checked my weather app more closely, but it might’nt have mattered…nature has its own timetable, despite our best efforts to control it.

Nevertheless, I went out during a lull in the storm to snap a few pictures–I love how the Ranchero looks when the sky is grey and there’s water droplets about…see if you don’t agree!

Pincushion Cactus in BloomAnything that flowers in winter is a favorite of mine; I like its spirit!  I bought this Pincushion Cactus from the Target on the next block, just before they closed their Garden Center forever. (Woe was me, that day!  :( )

Columnea aka Dolphin VineCavorting in the water isn’t a problem for this next plant! I received the Columnea above as part of a Spring Hill Nursery grab bag. I’d never heard of “Dolphin Vine” but was delighted to find it among the items they sent last summer. It’s grown so much, I’ve since divided and repotted it into 3 containers; I’ve rooted quite a few cuttings from it, too!

Another winter bloomer is the Kalanchoe Gastonis Bonnieri…now THAT’s a mouthful! I prefer to call it Mexican Donkey Ears, which technically is inaccurate because this succulent has nada to do with Mexico and mucho to do with Madagascar.  One of the best descriptions of this plant’s history can be found here, and one of the prettiest pictures of it, here:

Mexican Donkey Ears;) I admit to being biased, but this particular plant IS pretty, yeah?  In two weeks or so, the pink buds will open into beautiful bell shaped flower clusters. As one of the original Ranchero “baby” plants from winter of 2010, I’m very excited to witness its first bloom. The fact that it survived two years in which Vero Beach experienced several weeks of hard freezes, is remarkable!

Even though it was raining, not snowing, it began to look a lot like Christmas today:

First Christmas Cactus Bloom of 2011The first Christmas Cactus flower of the 2011 season opened alone amidst a downpour, another reminder that nature ALWAYS finds its way, even when circumstances aren’t ideal, and conditions are downright negative.    Something to ponder…..

Until next time……