Hampstead Heath, London

“Two roads diverged in the woods and I, I took the one less travelled by…”

Earlier in the week I spent the day at Hampstead Heath, one of London’s largest greenspaces. I smiled over this actual fork in the road as the memory of Robert Frost’s poem flooded back.


Such a perfect metaphor for the chain of events that’s brought me to London at this particular point in time. 


We all remember reciting and analyzing “The Road Not Taken” and hearing our English teachers’ cautionary tales of consequences from good vs. bad choices. I always thought the poem meant “mistakes will ruin your life”..maybe even land you behind bars.


Walking through the Heath, I saw the poem from a different perspective. Actually, it hit me like a ton of bricks when I passed this fantastic property on its outskirts:


Had my life gone smoothly–good marriage instead of bad, years not lost to drugs, and a house not lost to foreclosure–I might never have discovered the strength and resilence I see in myself today.  I doubt I’d be on this wonderful solo adventure.


Until next time..
🙂 🙂 🙂

Weekly Photo Challenge: Blur (European Orchid Conference)

In response to The Daily Post’s weekly photo challenge: blur.

Yesterday I attended the European Orchid Conference. What an incredible blur of form and color!

image The conference is hosted from April 9-12 at the RHS Horticultural Halls. The main exhibit area featured displays from around the world. Vendor booths and a second set of exhibits were set up across the street.


Here are the best photos of the zillion I took! 🙂



wpid-wp-1428663543804.jpeg image image Until next time…

🙂 🙂 🙂

Weekly Photo Challenge: Ephemeral

I’ve been in London since March 21st…brrrr! Compared to Vero Beach this great city is COLD!! 😄

Last Thursday I met Claire of Promenade Plantings for a tour of the Chelsea Physic Garden, an apothecary that features herbal and medicinal plants from around the world.  Of course everything was labelled…except the one I’ve chosen for this week’s challenge! Claire thought it might be an Angelica and we both thought it was quite ephemeral.  If anyone can identify it let me know?




A word about today’s post: this is my first attempt at creating content via the WordPress android app.  Quite difficult to ascertain what the published result will be! Keeping fingers crossed!

Until next time…

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.


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…

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…

🙂 🙂 🙂

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…

🙂 🙂 🙂

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….

🙂 🙂 🙂

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…

🙂 🙂 🙂

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…

🙂 🙂 🙂

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…

🙂 🙂 🙂