Weekly Photo Challenge: Fleeting Moment on the Street

On June 18, 2012, I took a photo I KNEW would work for some future weekly challenge; I just didn’t expect it would happen this soon….or  be such a perfect fit!  Here it is:

Great Egret, at Jaycee Beach in Vero Beach

Great Egret, at Jaycee Beach in Vero Beach

There was NO time to set this photo up! We were sitting in what accounts for “local traffic” (3 cars turning into beach parking! ;) ) when we heard a flutter of wings!  Maggie yelled, “OMG, get a picture!” so I did!  There was time for only 2 quick shots before the bird flew off at the same moment we entered the carpark :arrow: my favorite British word!

I can’t imagine a more “fleeting moment on a street” than one involving a feathered friend!  To learn more about the Great Egret, click on the information at the Cornell University Ornithology Website.

Until next time…..


Weekly Photo Challenge: Create

Since last weekend, we’ve been stuck under the outer bands of Tropical Storm Debby.  This excessive precip worked wonders on seeds I’ve been growing in pots, and softened the ground SO MUCH: :arrow: ideal conditions to create a new flower bed, and move some other plants around!

New Canna Bed (foreground)

Rear Flower Beds (New Canna area in foreground)

Canna Bed, Close-up

Three years ago, I received 4 canna lilies as a housewarming gift. They naturalize SO fast I can’t keep up with them: even after giving away 30 (yes 30!!!) I still have as many growing in various spots around my front and back yards!  Although only one has visible leaves now (behind the white paver in the above photo,) I dug up and divided 7 rhizomes to begin this new bed. In a few weeks I’ll post an updated pic to illustrate their growth rate!

Admittedly, these beds don’t look like much…the cement pavers don’t even match, :roll: :)  but by summer’s end they’ll be all but invisible. The ground here is sandy and pavers tend to sink as the plants behind them rise!  Why spend money on things no one sees!?  When I create, I like using whatever I have around (or can get for free!)

Something else to show you :)

Remember the day I planted bald cyprus trees? I was all excited by a wild morning glory vine I’d found, and took a cutting?   Here it is, transplanted in the other bed along the back fence:

Ipomaea Cairica

Ipomaea Cairica aka Mile a Minute Vine ;)

The tiny cutting I planted really DID grow fast! It’s just about ready to climb the trellis I created by unhinging a “screen” we got (for free!) when a local clothing shop closed last summer.  Here’s a better look:

A repurposed retail screen becomes a trellis

If the “trellis” looks familiar, it’s because you’ve seen my passiflora scrambling over it’s disassembled other half!  What once held scarves and purses, now holds flora…gives real meaning to “going green” now, doesn’t it!? ;)  If anyone is curious about the other flowers pictured… from foreground to rear, they are:  Amaryllis , Snapdragon, Kniphofia Tritoma, Mexican Petunia, Snapdragon, Amaryllis. With the exception of the Amaryllis, all were started from seed in containers and transplanted to the garden over these last rainy days.

So there you have my “creations“….to see how others interpreted the challenge, click on the Zemanta provided links below.

Until next time…..


Blackberry Lilies, aka Belamcanda Chinensis aka Iris Domestica

In February I purchased a container of blackberry lilies at Gardenfest.  Removing them from the pot, I counted 3 huge rhizomes; each had at least 2 “eyes”  (one had 4) with strappy foliage already growing from most of them. Knowing they’d soon strangle if repotted in the container, I quickly planted them in my lily garden, hoping I’d see a few flowers by mid-summer……

Iris Domestica

I may see more than a few!! ;)

I was so surprised last week when stems shot up in every direction with buds forming, one after the other.  As you can see in a photo taken a few hours ago, each main stalk has multiple shoots with A LOT of flowers forming on each!

Iris Domestica, June 23, 2012

Each flower is open for a full day, from dawn to dusk.  As the sun gets lower in the sky, they begin slowly rolling closed in a way that’s reminiscent of a wrung dishrag! Take a look!

Iris Domestica with spent blooms

By late summer, these tiny “dishrags” will be replaced by large greenish pods that split apart in the same way an amaryllis pod does, revealing seeds that look enough like blackberries to give the plant its common name.

As you may have deduced from the title, the moniker is not only inaccurate, but changed :arrow: In 2005,  DNA analysis revealed it chromosomally to be fully “iris” not belamcanda as once thought.  Although this taxonomic revision resulted in the new official title of Iris domestica, nearly all commercial nurseries still reference it as Belamcanda chinensis—good to bear in mind should you decide to buy one!

Iris Domestica aka Beautiful!!!

Iris Domestica aka Beautiful!!!

:) Until next time…..

Weekly Photo Challenge: Close

I haven’t posted since last Friday?!!?   It’s amazing how FAST the days are going!  I’ll show you the photo submissions first, then do a catch up on how I’ve been spending my time. :)


Imagine seeing THIS(!) peeking over your doorframe?!!! Eek! :shock:  Look what Ivana texted me yesterday at 7am!

Close Encounter? ;)

Ewwwwww, that hand :!: Talk about “ET phone home!!

Right around the time she texted me, I was in the garden where 15 minutes earlier, it was very close to sun up:

Close to Sunrise, 639am, June 19, 2012

Close to Sunrise, 639am, June 19, 2012

Red morning skies supposedly predict unsettled weather and that was definitely true yesterday: clouds rolled in by mid afternoon with rain that was steady and lingering. But that’s okay, because everything looks healthy and very, very green:

Summer Solstice 2012,  Vero Beach, Florida

Incredibly green for first day of summer!

Summer Solstice 2012, Vero Beach, Florida (pic 2)

Summer Solstice 2012, Vero Beach, Florida

This is the third spring/summer I’ve spent here and so far it’s been the lushest. Even the oyster plants  have lost their brown and brittle edges. Some have begun blooming:

Tradescantia spathacea

Small, white flowers will emerge from the purple boat-shaped bracts.

(I’m feeling a need to break into the narrative and explain something.)

Ordinarily, I don’t combine “updates” with weekly photo challenges–it confuses the tagging and categories and makes for wierd reading–but this time I’ve got a good reason!  Yesterday, my laptop developed serious issues: error messages, screen freezes, peripherals not working…you name it, it’s all going wrong! :evil:  Right now, it seems reasonably stable :) so I’ll.continue….

Take a look at this:

Aloysia Virgata Bush

The fragrance from this Almond Bush is incredible!

This Almond Bush started as a medium sized (18″ tall) cutting in spring, 2011!  After two heavy prunings, it STILL measures over 5 ft high with an early morning scent that’s almost overwhelming!  In this climate, it grows (and flowers) throughout the year, so it’s hard to find a “right” time to cut it back–I hate sacrificing the blooms!

Another topic I’d like to mention is blog awards. Recently, two bloggers I greatly admire have passed awards my way. The first was from Laura at Serendipity: the second from Laurie at A Taste of Morning. I’m unbelievably honored to have women with the qualities they possess reading what I write, but recommending me to their readers via award nominations? That goes waaaayyyyy beyond anything I EVER considered! :idea:  Please understand, ladies, how grateful I am, but after much thought, I’ve decided upon an award free blog.  Your “likes” and comments are the best awards I could ever receive!!

Until next time……


Weekly Photo Challenge: Friendship

For the past 7 days, I’ve considered the meaning and implications of friendship. I’ve thought about the forms it can take and their sometimes temporal nature. There are childhood friends, lifelong friends, and friends of convenience from work or the neighborhood.

What of friendships borne of familial happenstance?

Jack and Maggie, 1991

Will they be friends because they are siblings?

Being an only child, I don’t have first hand knowledge of friendship bonds among siblings, and I remember wondering about it when I took this picture of my (now adult) Irish Twins. :)

Thus far, it seems they and their older brother consider each other the closest of friends:


“two of the funniest and nicest humans alive. we actually look alike here!” Maggie, from Facebook, May 30, 2011

Because it seems fitting,  I’d like to close with this beautiful song of friendship.  Enjoy!

Time it was, and what a time it was,

it was a time of innocence

a time of confidences….

long ago it must be, I have a photograph

preserve your memories, they’re all that’s left you

Share Your World: Week 26

I haven’t written a Share Your World post in awhile! To celebrate the 6 month anniversary of Cee’s great idea, I’ll participate via the questions she posed last week:

What made you smile today?

Definitely this:

Passiflora Incense 5, June 12, 2012

Passiflora Incense, June 12, 2012

How could that NOT brighten a day!?

There are over 400 different varieties of passiflora, and though some grow wild in Florida, the one pictured here is a hybrid cultivar of P. incarnata crossed with P. Cincinnata. (Thank you, Ben Kolstad for the plant i.d. :) )

I’m thrilled to tell you I have a second species of this beautiful vine growing on a different trellis. No flowers in evidence just yet (it’s a brand new, pass-along from a gardening classmate) but I’m expecting a different look when it starts blooming. Unlike P. Incense (whose foliage features 5 lobed leaves,) my younger vine is of the 3 lobed variety. Perhaps it’s a native? Of course, pictures to follow!

Have any hidden talents?

I’m not sure if this counts, but I’m wicked good at deciphering Captchas! Since learning of its role in digitizing physical books, newspapers, and old radio broadcasts, I’ve actually become quite the Captcha fan ;) !  Evidently I’m not the only one with this proclivity! Seems a trio of hackers was just days away from infiltrating my fave Turing Test!  You can read all about it here!

Are you usually late, early, or right on time?

Let me put it to you this way: I’m ALWAYS ready early if I’m making a deposit in my bank account, or heading to the beach!! If my plans involve other destinations, it depends on distractions that happen while I’m getting ready…(what the Nancy Drew books of my youth referred to as “doing one’s toilette” :cool: )

In other words, should I poke myself in the eyeball with the mascara wand “while doing my toilette”….or the cat coughs up a hairball….or the Keurig won’t dispense….these distractions might tie me up and hinder a timely departure :arrow: Unless it’s a bank/beach day when I’d ignore the runny eye/cat vomit/lack of Java until my return….You feel me?  Thought so! :)

All kidding aside, I’m pretty dependable in matters of time. Currently I’m not driving, so I’m very conscious of detaining the kind people carting me around!

What is the difference between being alive and truly living?

That’s easy!

Truly living means being present in whatever moment you’re in–the bad ones as well as the good ones! It means accepting life on life’s terms and dropping “I wish” from your vocabulary. Looking too far ahead, dwelling in the past or wishing you were dealt a different hand: those are characteristics of just being alive—where’s the fun in that?

On that note, I’ll leave you with a few other passion flower pics, and a reminder to scroll to the very bottom for other week 26 postings from Share Your World!

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Until next time….

:) :) :)

Related articles

Germinating Amaryllis Seeds in Water

Because Vero Beach is located in zone 10 (9 if you disagree with the latest USDA Plant Hardiness Map ;)) amaryllis are planted here as outdoor perennials with a March through May bloom cycle.

Last Amaryllis of the Season, 5/14/12

Last Amaryllis of the Season, 5/14/12

Amaryllis in the Ranchero

First Amaryllis to Bloom, Ranchero, 3/21/12

Right around the time the final, pretty pink one opened, the seed pod from the original bloomer (directly above) was on the verge of breaking apart:

Amaryllis Seed Pod, 5/10/12

In the past, I’ve grown amaryllis ONLY from fall-planted bulbs, but living in a year round gardening climate has piqued my interest in starting everything from seed. :).  As you can see, this particular pod was PACKED with myriad flowers-to-be!

Amaryllis seed pod and seeds

Each Amaryllis seedpod holds dozens of papery seeds!

Zeroing in on the bottom-most seed to the right, you’ll notice a small circular bump. That bump is the seed’s embryo, but be advised :arrow: not every seed has one!  To separate viable seeds from chaff, hold each little disc between your thumb and index finger; if you can’t feel a tiny bump of embryo, the seed is chaff to be discarded.

There are three basic methods for germinating the remaining viable seeds: potting medium, paper towel/baggie method, and the one that is less messy! :roll: Guess which one I’m showing you? (The first two don’t count!!! :) )

Select a clear glass container with a wide opening and fill it 2/3 of the way to the top with warm water. Float each amaryllis seed on the water’s surface, like so:

Amaryllis seed germination via water flotation

Finding a Flamingo to guard the seeds is a huge help! ;)

For purposes of this little experiment, I chose to work with only 6 seeds which I floated (and photographed) on 5/22/12.  I placed the glass on a pass-through shelf between my kitchen and dining area because it receives bright, indirect light from sun-up to noon.

After 6 days, 3 seeds began showing white roots that continued to grow at individual rates. On the 9th day, another seed sprouted a bit of root that has grown very slowly. As of today, two are still dormant, so I removed the 4 germinating seeds to show you their progress thus far:

Amaryllis seeds germinated by flotation method

Amaryllis seeds germinated by flotation method, 6/8/12

Technically two of these seeds are “ready” for potting because the white roots are longer than a .05″, but I’ve chosen to wait awhile longer.  The hint of green you see is evidence of the first set of leaves.  When these are fully visible, (and the roots a bit stronger)  I’ll share the careful process of repotting and what to expect as they grow into bulblets!

Right now, all 6 are back in the water glass, but the flamingo has the night off so there was little sense in taking a picture! ;)  I’m hoping the last two seeds will sprout! It can take up to a month, so there’s still a way to go.

Until next time……

:) :)

Weekly Photo Challenge: Today

Today the weather was overcast and threatening rain. Not a good day for snapshots of flora, but excellent conditions for sneaking up on fauna. :cool:  Case in point:

Unidentified Tree Frog, Florida

Tree Frog, Florida


I checked the Florida Frog and Toad Image Index in hopes of identifying our amphibian friend, but the best I can tell you is what it’s not! It’s definately NOT the Cuban Tree Frog, an invasive species I see constantly, hiding in the tanks of my tillandsias and bromeliads.

I waited and watched for a bit, to see where he’d venture next:

This is why they call them tree frogs!

Is this what they mean by “tree hugger?!” ;)

In short order, he rounded the tree to the orchid pots:

Florida Tree Frog near orchid pots

Tree Frog takes a stretch!

Ahhhhhh……that feels good! :)

Muscles warmed up, he peeked over the edge:

Tree Frog, ready to jump!

Is the coast clear?

And then he was gone!!

I like to think he went off in pursuit of a friend….perhaps visiting the turtle who lives in our yard, or the moles who raise tunnels in my gardens each night.

A real life Wind in the Willows is such a pleasant thought on a grey and showery day! :)

Wind in the Willows

Wind in the Willows (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Mushroom Update and a Few “Firsts”

As promised, I’m back with the results of my little mushroom experiment. :)

Yesterday dawned incredibly muggy and overcast, with a forecast of clearing by midmorning.  Realizing I’d be at the beach and unable to take pictures at 3:30pm, I decided to change my 24hr deadline to 17hrs instead :arrow: at 8:37am, this is what I saw in the bromeliad container:

Psathyrella, June 2, 2012 8:37am

Wow, yeah?  Compared to Friday afternoon, these look enormo!! They DO grow fast!

To be honest, mushrooms make me nervous:  “Poison” flashes like a neon sign in my mind’s eye whenever I see one!  I also worry about hallucinogens absorbing through my skin if I touch them…….which is absurd and proof we humans fear the things about  which we know little!!  Clearly, I needed an education in mycology, so I emailed the photos to Bill Petty, a Florida Master Gardener from Wakulla County who runs the Florida Fungi website and Facebook Page.

I was particularly curious if Bill could help with identification because there are thousands (no exageration!!)  of mushroom varieties. I also hoped he’d direct me to additional reading material, and his speedy reply exceeded expectations on both counts. This is what he wrote:

Those mushrooms in the first pic look like Psathyrella to me. These are in a group of fungi we call “LBMs” (Little Brown Mushrooms) and they are pretty difficult to identify from a photograph.  Sometimes microscopic examination of the spores (and maybe tissue) is required.  Psathyrella have inflated cells in the cap surface that catch, refract, and reflect sunlight, so if you hold a cap in sunlight and slowly move it around, you can see tiny sparkles…like itsy-bitsy diamonds!  The species may be P. candolleana, but I can’t be sure from the pic.  Many of these small mushrooms (in the family Coprinaceae) fruit and fade in a single day…sometimes melting before noon! Here’s a link to info on the genus:http://www.mushroomexpert.com/psathyrella.html

Given what he said about this variety fading within the day, I’m glad I took my picture earlier than originally planned—I might’nt have had anything to show! Checking earlier today, it’s as if they never happened–not a single bit of mushroom is visible in the pot!

All this rain has brought more than mushrooms  to the Ranchero.  Take a look at these other “firsts.”

Sansevieria in bloom!

Sansevieria in bloom!

These Sansevieria (aka Snake Plants) were among my first plantings of December, 2009. I’ve heard tell of this species blooming, but it had never seen it happen! What a fabulous scent they have, similar to my beloved northern Honeysuckle. :)
The next shot is of Gomphrena, the seeds of which I planted several seasons back.  I guess the rain activated them somehow?
Gomphrena haagaena

Where’ve you been hiding?!?

And remember the bromeliad with the pink flower scape from Friday’s post?  It  opened up a bit more, revealing this:
Billbergia windii in bloom

I’m not sure why it chose to flower this year and not any other! It’s been sitting in the same spot since Spring, 2010 and though it has grown several “pups” none have put up a spike before this!  Such a graceful, breathtaking plume!

And since I obviously can’t top this photo, I’ll close with a last shout of thanks to Bill of Florida Fungi!  :)

Until next time……

Moisture + Mugginess = Stay Inside and Hide!!

The past three days have been overcast and horribly muggy, with record breaking temperatures in the 90s!  Instead of bringing relief, late day rains have ushered in overnight sogginess…..enough apparently, for this to happen:

Mushrooms in my bromeliads!

Mushrooms growing in my bromeliad container!?!

Billbergia windii  in Spike

Billbergia windii in Spike

Teeny tiny mushrooms at 3:15pm., 06/01/12

Teeny tiny mushrooms at 3:15pm., 06/01/12

June 1, 2012 Tornado Warning 6pm Vero Beach

“Stay inside and hide!” texted Jack, upon receipt of this photo ;)