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Late November Flowers

I love winter growing season in Florida–some of the prettiest flowers emerge this time of year.

My backyard Orchid Tree (aka Bauhinia Purpurea) is covered with showy and fragrant blossoms. Even after 5 years, they STILL amaze me.

Passiflora Lady Margaret has been a vine wall workhorse, blooming for the first time last winter and continuing through July. After a few months pause, it began budding again and seems off to a very strong start!

Passiflora Lady Margaret

November in the Sunshine State is all about the orange crop!  My backyard Honeybell tree has improved so much in the past few years. The fruit isn’t quite ripe yet, but getting very close. In a few weeks we’ll be juicing! :)

Florida Orange

Another local favorite is the ubiquitous Red Canna (a Presidential series cultivar.) Although sporadic year-round bloomers, they look best after rainy season when the temperature moderates.

The flowers of Mexican Donkey Ears (Kalanchoe gastonis bonnieri) won’t fully open ’til Christmas but the spikes and buds are already quite attractive.  Eventually, the buds will darken and become calyces holding reddish-pink petals with flared tips and yellow interiors.  The “mother plant” declines at the end of the bloom cycle, but the many plantlets growing along her lower leaves develop rapidly to bloom within 2 to 3 years.  K. gastonis bonnieri hails from Madagascar.

Kalanchoe Gastonis Bonnieri

This next one is a bit of a mystery: during August I noticed it poking above and through my fence. Now it looms 10′ tall and is surrounded by a wooden “cage” that I never saw anyone build!  Cute white flowers, yeah? Chime in if you recognize it!

Unknown Plant

And to end on a personal note:  I usually shop on Black Friday but today did something decidedly un-American: I deposited money in the bank instead!  In March, I’m headed back to Europe for several months…or until the cash runs out.  Adventure in my old age…who’d have thunk it?! :) :)

Hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Until next time…

:) :) :)

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Wordless Wednesday: Sunset, Vero Beach

We’ve had unsettled, grey, rainy weather this week, but it cleared right around sunset:

Vero Beach Sunset, 11/26/14

Vero Beach Sunset, 11/26/14

Such an extraordinary sight, expecially on the eve of Thanksgiving!

I feel such gratitude toward everyone who’s visited/followed my blog these past three years, Thank you for your comments and likes; I’ve learned so much from so many of you and I’m thrilled you’re along for the journey!

Love, peace and happiness as you celebrate tomorrow!

Until next time…

:) :) :)

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Aechmea penduliflora x politii ‘Red Leaf’

The coldest November since 1975 finds Vero Beach overcast, damp and chilly (48°F??!!??) Time to hunker down in “England” clothes and share my latest aquisition!

Last week I attended a Bromeliad Auction and overspent got an Aechmea cultivar known as “Wally’s Wand.” ;)

Aechmea penduliflora x politii 'Red Leaf'

Aechmea penduliflora x politii ‘Red Leaf’

Wally’s Wand is a colorful hybrid created by the late Wally Berg of Sarasota, Florida. Crossing the Ecuadorian Ae. penduliflora (parent plant) with Venezuela’s Ae. politii ‘Red Leaf” (pollen provider), Berg created a South American hybrid with interesting, unusual foliage:

Aechmea Wally's Wand Foliage

At maturity the green to pinkish leaves measure 10″ long, and a loosely clustered flower scape emerges.

Aechmea Wally's Wand Inflorescence

Like 99% of bromeliads, the mature Aechmea slowly declines after blooming, with new “pups” appearing along the base. I was fortunate to get three for the price of one!

Aechmea Wally's Wand pups

Judging from the already chilly weather (and terrible long range winter forecast..even here!) I’m glad I didn’t plant this in ground right away!

Until next time….

:) :) :)

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Bromeliad Auction and Billbergia Amoena

A few nights ago I attended a Bromeliad auction. What an amazing array of interesting, unusual plants.

Bromeliad Auction

Small representation of what was available! Wow!

There were so many South American species I’d never seen before, but this one REALLY stood out:

Billbergia amoena SU262

Billbergia amoena SU262

B. amoena SU262 is a larger hybrid of the endemic Brazilian species B. amoena.  At maturity, SU262 measures 20″ tall x 18″ wide, producing an erect showy inflorescence with rose colored bracts.  The bracts in the photo are a few weeks away from revealing blue tipped green flowers similar to those in the photo below:

Typical Billbergia Bloom

Typical Billbergia Bloom

A unique feature of the pendulous billbergia inflorescence is the way the bracts create an umbrella to cover the flowers’ stamens/pistils.  This protective mechanism prevents pollen from being washed or blown away before insects can spread it to other flowers.

Billbergia amoena is surprisingly hardy in the landscape, able to withstand temperatures between 26-28F with minimal damage.  In Zones 9+ planting in full sun is ill-advised due to potential leaf burn. Morning or dappled sun works best.

Another interesting fact: Billbergias are equally at home mounted in trees or planted terrestrially (or in pots!), but good air circulation is key in all 3 environments.  When the inflorescence is nearly spent, pups form around the base of the “mother’ plant eventually forming large, clumping colonies.

Before I close, a few other photos from the auction:

Aechmea farinosa conglomerata

Aechmea farinosa conglomerata

Aechmea kertesziae

Aechmea kertesziae

Neoregelia "Carnival de Rio"

Neoregelia “Carnival de Rio”

Until next time…

:) :) :)

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Minimalist

This week’s challenge asks us to share a “minimalist” image, one with “a large portion of negative space, a fairly monochromatic color palette with good contrast, and an interesting subject that is able to stand on its own to capture the interest of the viewer.”

That’s a tall order!

Here are two shots from last February and (hopefully!) they hit the mark.

minimalist at the beach

After a few minutes, the ladies above joined their friend in the water:

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Photography is a funny thing: I was aiming for Maggie on her paddleboard (teeny-tiny figure back/center of first photo; nearly off frame in the second) but the three women became the focal point instead!

Sometimes the subject you shoot isn’t the subject you get, but I think it worked out perfectly for this challenge!

Until next time…

:) :) :)

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Wordless Wednesday: Boston, Early November

Maggie was in Boston last weekend, and I thought you might enjoy her photos as much as I did. :)  The foliage near Back Bay/Prudential was well past peak, but still quite pretty!

Beautiful Back Bay, Boston, November 2014

Beautiful Back Bay, Boston, November 2014

End of Foliage Season, Boston, November 2014

End of Foliage Season, Boston, November 2014

Boston , November 2014

Boston , November 2014

When the sun is shining, Boston is quite beautiful!

For other Wordless Wednesday photos click here.

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Floral Friday: A Potinara by any other name…

After skipping last year’s bloom cycle, the Potinara orchid I purchased in 2013 decided to wake up.  This is how it looked on October 27:

Potinara is a man-made genus (aka nothogenus) combining orchids from the Brassavola, Cattleya, Laelia, and Sophronitis genera. Taxonomists have begun reclassifying the 4 component orchids so Potinara Elaine Taylor is now an unpronounceable Rhyncattleanthe. You can read more about the science and name changes here but regardless, this is one striking flower!

Rhyncattleanthe Elaine Taylor, October 31, 2014

Rhyncattleanthe Elaine Taylor, October 31, 2014

Elaine Taylor typically blooms two 3.5-4″ flowers per inflorescence, set off be a bright white column. The labellum, petals, and sepals are covered in a crystalline “dust” that lends sparkle and refraction depending on sunlight.  In a few more days–when this flower is fully open–gold veins will be visible along the throat and mid-lip.

Rlc. Elaine Taylor was hybridized by the Krull-Smith Co. of Apopka, FL. Its family tree includes such famous parents as Rlc. Oconee, Ctt. Hazel Boyd and C. Beaufort, all much awarded and highly valued for the excellent crosses made from them.

For other Floral Friday photos click this link.

Until next time…

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Happy Halloween!