DSC00164

Richardia grandiflora (aka Florida Snow)

Richardia grandiflora, also known as largeflower pusley, is native to South America and a common lawn/meadow invader during South Florida’s dry winter season.

Richardia grandiflora with Chamaecrista fasciculata (Yellow Partridge pea)

Richardia grandiflora with Chamaecrista fasciculata (Yellow Partridge pea)

Largeflower pusley is a creeping herbacious (non‐woody) perennial that roots at the nodes and reproduces by seeds and stem fragments. It flowers profusely over the holidays, and from a distance it’s easy to see how “Florida Snow” became the preferred colloquialism for these white-to-violet flowers.

Richardia grandiflora at the Indian River County Fairgrounds, 12/6/14

Florida Snow

The appearance of R. grandiflora is a relatively new phenomena, gaining a foothold in areas disturbed by the hurricanes of 2004-6.  Ten years later, many lawns and fields have thousands of flowers capable of dispersing tens of thousands of seeds. Containing or eradicating such prodigious reproduction is difficult, so most of us–especially those from the North!–regard it as a nice reminder of White Christmas!

Richardia grandiflora

Although a ground cover and not a shrub, Richardia is a member of the Rubiaceae family and related to the native Psychotria nervosa (wild coffee) whose flowers are similar.  Curious about the yellow plant in the photos?  You can read about it in a previous post.

Until next time…

:) :) :)

At a friend's house!

Weekly Photo Challenge: Converge

This week’s challenge asks us to share images where lines and shapes converge in literal or abstract ways.  Because my pictures are part of a larger story with the same theme, I’ve written a photo essay tying the two together.

The Backstory:

Shortly before leaving Massachusetts I had cataracts removed so during the winter of 2010 I was primed to read a really meaty novel.  I came across an online review of a 2008 English translation of “Dead Souls”, written by Nikolai Gogol in 1842, widely considered the first of the great Russian novels and one of the indisputable masterpieces of world literature.

After reading a few chapters online, I decided the book was a keeper, ordered a copy and read nonstop for 3 weeks.  Such a fantastic novel I HAD to discuss it with someone! I found an online book discussion forum where I left the following post: “Anyone want to talk about Gogol’s Dead Souls? Email me!”

The Story

Three weeks passed before someone reached into my backyard from a street in Moscow:

After a spirited discussion of the book, we communicated randomly for a year about James Baxter’s science fiction. Somewhere in year 2 we began sharing occasional news stories about Obama and Putin and having intellectual debates about socialism vs capitalism and the “New Russia.”  Year 3:  “Have you studied Latin?”( “of course!”) which opened up new conversations about Ovid, The Metamorphoses, and Latin as the building block of our native tongues.  Great intellectual stuff and I began thinking “man, this guy has one helluva mind,” and on it went to year 4.

When I returned from England in September,  I saw he had messaged me (something new!!) so I turned on my smartphone notifications should it occur again.  A week later it pinged as I was heading to bed. I said I was just back from a trip and we had our first personal conversation about impressions of Europe, what we liked and didn’t like about it, etc.  5 hours later I finally said goodnight and went to bed as the sun was coming up!

The following weekend we began flipping photos back and forth…not of ourselves but of what we were doing at particular times to see how life differed. (Note: Hovering your mouse over all photos reveals captions)

The practice of showing each other where we were at given moments in time seemed a surprisingly close approximation of running into someone for a few seconds at the store or on a subway platform.  “What’s up?”  “Where you headed?” “How ’bout that weather?” “Talk later!”   A few days into this, the first actual phone call came from Moscow…and a few days later a Skype call.  For kids brought up on opposite sides of the Cold War, seeing inside each other’s homes via webcam has been a strange and exhilarating convergence!

One day he “brought me along on his commute” via a series of photos that work particularly well for this challenge. Before I close, one final gallery:

Until next time….

:) :) :)

Aloearborescens2

Wordless Wednesday: 12/03/2014, Aloe arborescens

Today was a spectacular beach day and we arrived to a spectacular sight:

Aloe arborescens blooming at Jaycee Beach!

Aloe arborescens blooming at Jaycee Beach

A. aborescens (aka Torch Aloe) is one of the most widely cultivated aloes in the world.  As a prized fall-to-winter bloomer, it is found growing from mountains on high to sea level below.  The coral-red flowers hang tightly on unbranched inflorescences that rise 2 feet above the foliage in early winter

Torch Aloe is hardy to approximately 22F and requires no irrigation. Salt and drought tolerance make it a perfect succulent shrub for seaside locations

For more on Wordless Wednesday, click the WW blog/linkup at the Jenny Evolution and the Zemanta related links below.

Until next time…

:) :) :)

Bauhinia purpurea 1

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…

:) :) :)

sunsetthanksgivingeve

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…

:) :) :)

wallyswandentireplant

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….

:) :) :)

DSC00036

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…

:) :) :)