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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.

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

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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.

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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:

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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.

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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.

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Here are the best photos of the zillion I took! :)

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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?

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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…
😄😄😄

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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.

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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…

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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…

:) :) :)

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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…

:) :) :)

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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….

:) :) :)