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Weekly Photo Challenge: Scale (Iceland)

For this week’s challenge I pulled the best shots from our trip to Reykjavik and the Ring Road. Nothing says scale better than Iceland’s sweeping vistas and urban contrasts.

Reykjavik from Perlan Viewing Deck

Reykjavik from Perlan Viewing Deck

Tjörnin Pond, Reykjavik City Centre

Tjörnin Pond, Reykjavik City Centre

Perlan Observation Deck, Reykjavik

Perlan Observation Deck, Reykjavik

A sign that could use a little English! ;)

A sign that could use a little English! ;)

Hydroponic Greenhouse, Hveragerði

Hydroponic Greenhouse, Hveragerði

Farmhouse, Skogar

Farmhouse, Skogar

Steps at Skogafoss  Waterfall

Steps at Skogafoss Waterfall

Skogafoss Runoff

Skogafoss Runoff

Rowan Tree with Berries, Reyjkavik Airbnb

Rowan Tree with Berries, Reyjkavik Airbnb

No real sun while we were there…and it was very cold and miserably wet! I can’t say we actually liked Iceland, but it was a memorable stop enroute to London!

Until next time…
:) :) :)

QueensWreath2

Petrea volubilis (Gardenfest part 2)

Petrea volubilis (aka Queen’s Wreath) is a Caribbean/Central American winter blooming vine with long drooping racemes and sandpapery oval leaves. It caught my eye at Gardenfest where i mistook it for the beloved northern Wisteria!

Petrea Volubilis, Gardenfest 2015

Queen’s Wreath begins flowering while still quite young although it takes 2-3 years to bloom profusely. The 5-lobed corolla is dark blue/violet subtended by a larger, widely-spaced and lighter blue, purplish or white calyx approx 1.75″ wide. The calyx persists after the corolla falls, gradually turning brown and dropping several weeks later. If the flowers have been pollinated, a fruit capsule develops in the center of the calyx. The calyx takes on the role of flight wings, spinning on the wind to assist seed dispersal.

QueensWreathMarch2012

P. volubilis is a zone 10-11 plant with hardiness just above freezing.  Here in Vero Beach it flowers most heavily during February and sporadically through the year with the exception of our steamy summer months.

For best results, plant in a sunny location near an arbor, gazebo, fence, or tree where it can climb and cascade into sunlight. If steady supports are supplied, it can be used as a rambling or controlled vine.

In its native habitat, Queen’s Wreath can reach up to 40′ tall with equal spread, but an occasional pruning will keep it smaller. I’ve seen it trimmed into hanging baskets, sprawling over itself as a subshrub, and even planted as a ornamental standard. Such a versatile and beautiful tropical plant!

After getting established, P. volubilis requires little care and infrequent irrigation. Fertilize as needed. Keep lawn grass back from the root zone and protect smaller, immature plantiings when frost is forecast.

Until next time…

depthmedinilla

Weekly Photo Challenge: Depth (Gardenfest part 1)

I kept this week’s photo challenge in mind while taking pictures at Gardenfest.

First up: looking down a row of incredible Medinilla magnifca

Medinilla magnifica, Gardenfest 2015

Medinilla magnifica, Gardenfest 2015

…and a row of bananas:

Going Bananas, Gardenfest 2015

Going Bananas, Gardenfest 2015

Next, a view through the Spanish Moss:

Looking through the Spanish Moss, Gardenfest 2015

Looking through the Spanish Moss, Gardenfest 2015

…and a wander under impressive Live Oaks:

Under the oaks, Gardenfest 2015

Under the oaks, Gardenfest 2015

Each year Gardenfest grows bigger and better, with increasingly unusual vendors and displays.  Definitely one of Vero Beach‘s premier in-season events!  Part 2 later in the week!

Until next time…

:) :) :)

cranberryhibiscusfull

Cranberry Hibiscus (Hibiscus acetosella)

While working at the Master Gardener office, I noticed a lone shrub scrabbling along the building’s foundation. To my Northern eye it looked like Japanese Maple, but then i saw the telltale flower of Cranberry Hibiscus, aka Hibiscus acetosella.

Hibiscus acetosella flower and leaf, January 2015

H. acetosella is a fast growing, hardy perennial in zones 8-11, reaching 3-5′ tall and 30″ wide the first year. The foliage is usually green to deep burgundy with 3-5 lobes and a jagged edge. It suckers and thickens quickly, and is best pruned around 3′ to encourage branching and a fuller appearance.  A wonderful winter bloomer, it contrasts nicely with light green or chartreuse tropical plants.

Hibisicus acetosella branch and buds, January 2015

This one needs pruning!

Cranberry hibiscus is thought to be a natural hybrid of H.asper and H.surattensis, two varieties originally cultivated for food in the southern DR Congo-Angola-Zambia region of Africa.  All three have edible, tart shoots and leaves that chop easily for salads, but only H. acetosella retains its leaf color when stir fried or boiled as a spinach type side dish.

Hibiscus acetosella woody stem going to seed

The flowers mature to shiny and showy burgundy pod-fruit-flower like complexities (actually, it’s the calyx that’s providing most of the show) used world-wide in warm-climate cuisine for tea and jam.

Hibiscus acetosella flowering twig

If allowed to grow too tall, the woody stems will bend and break, so pinch, pinch, pinch for a more compact, prettier shrub.

As a side note, Gardenfest Weekend is here!  Can’t wait to show you all the beautiful booths and plants!

Until next time…

:) :) :)

russianpostal

Weekly Photo Challenge: Express Yourself (Converge Part 2)

This week’s photo challenge is part 2 of my Moscow penpal saga.  If you’re new or missed part 1, read this first. The short version: I’ve been communicating with a Russian man for quite awhile now, and this week I received a package!

postcard

Ayyyyyyyyyyyyy!!! :)  Such crazy fun and what an interesting glimpse of a major cultural difference!  First the trinkets:

trinkets

…next, a perfectly themed Yuri Gagarin t-shirt!  Evgeny is an astrophysicist: one of our earliest conversations was about the Cold War Space Race.


Maggie arrived home while I was opening the final item and we nearly killed ourselves laughing. Gender roles are alive and kicking in Moscow…bigtime!

apron3

I’ve been around a long time, and no man in his right mind has ever given me an apron!  Apparently this is high praise from a Russian male so I won’t smack him with a frying pan; couldn’t reach that high anyway!! :)

I’ve been enjoying this entire experience so much I began studying Russian two months ago.  Slow going, but I’m getting better at cadence and recognizing which cyrillc syllables are stressed when I see words in print.  However, to express yourself well, you REALLY need to understand complicated grammar rules…so I bought these:

russianlanguage

До следующего раза! (until next time!)

:) :) :)

obamaputin

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Serenity

This week’s challenge asks for photos of serenity, and nothing fits better than images of the Louvre from mid Septermber!

Louvre, September 2014

The sky was beautiful and blue, the temperature a balmy 73F, and the setting absolutely enchanting!

Louvre 2, September 2014

(Click to enlarge gallery photos)

We finished the day with a stroll aross the Seine.  Serenity to the max!

Seine, Paris, September 2014

Everything about our two days in Paris was tranquil and serene. :) In contrast, the trip from Gard du Nord back to Brighton? Not so much! ;)

Gare du Nord, Paris, Eurostar

Opposite of serenity? Travelling back to Brighton!

I loved Paris…getting real excited to explore it again this spring!

Until next time…

:) :) :)

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Wordless Wednesday: Mother of Millions

One of my favorite winter bloomers is putting on a show this week:

Bryophyllum houghtonii, January 2015

Bryophyllum houghtonii, January 2015

As the common name “mother of millions” suggests, B. houghtonii propagates vegetatively (profusely!) via tiny plantlets that form along the leaf edges. Click this  previous post  to see a plantlet, and this one for information about the flower heads.

Until next time….

:) :) :)