Weekly Photo Challenge: Threes

This week’s photo challenge asks us to use three distinct elements to “tell a story in three pictures.”:.

1. Use a broad shot to establish the subject; I’ve chosen a Yucca gigantea from my rear container garden:

Yucca gigantea, 2/23/142. Snap a photo showing 2 elements interacting within the broad subject. Lucky for me, I noticed three crosshatched webs loosely connected to the leaf margins and each other.

Yucca gigantea leaf with webbing and bugs, 2/23/14

3. Show a more detailed image of the elements in picture 2.  Look real closely, and you’ll see two small creatures among the webbing. (Note, clicking on the next photo will enlarge it for a better view.)

Cropped for close-up view of webbing/critters, 2/23/14

I’m not sure if these teeny critters are bugs or spiders….or if the cottony material is part of either’s entymology or something completely seperate! I queried several bug specialiists for assistance and have received emails saying they’re investigating further. (Thank you, George!) I will update with positive I.d. as soon as the info comes in!

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Until next time……

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Turning an everyday coleus into a tree.

Despite an atypically cold winter, my rear patio garden emerged unscathed; I’m particularly happy with the coleus seeds I planted last October: look how big and bushy they’ve gotten! (see container between the two tall tropical plants, below)

Rear patio garden, 2/18/14

…a few even sent up flower spikes during the coldest weeks!

Rainbow Mix Coleus, 2/18/14

Coleus is the common catch-all name for more than 50 trademarked seed varieties and uncountable hybrid mixes of cross pollinated  plants known as Solenostemon scutellarioides.  But don’t grow partial to this taxonomy just yet: according to University of Florida Prof.David Clark, Ph.D. “just to make things crazy for you – the taxonomist powers that be are now calling S. scutellarioides by the new nomenclature Plectranthus scutellarioides, so heads up for that name change coming soon!”

My field grown, hybrid seeds came from a Ferry Morse packet labelled ‘Rainbow Mixed Colors’: lots of genetic variety but with a max height of 12-24″ not the best choice for turning into a potential tree.  Instead, I’m selecting from the groups I sowed directly in- ground a few weeks after the original container seedlings:

To “train” a coleus into a tree, the most important factor is this: do NOT allow flowers to develop. Any signs of spiking should be pinched away, redirecting the plants energy into stem and foliage production.

You can start with any size coleus: if the “leader” stem is straight and strong, even a 4-6″ plant will do!

Unknown hybrid coleus, 2/18/14

Step 1:
Once you’ve selected your plant, prune away any small stems or little leaves you see developing.   To have good proportion, 2/3 of your tree should be “stem” and the upper 1/3 should be round, leafy “head”.  Immediately next to your plant, place a bamboo stake cut to the approximate ideal height for your finished tree :arrow: Don’t forget to mark your stick with the correct 2/3 to 1/3 ratio!

Step 2
When the tip growth reaches the mark on your stake, snip it off.. This prompts two new branches to form in it’s place. When you start getting branches at the head, let them grow 2 to 3 nodes long before pruning again.  Remember, each time you pinch, two more side branches grow in its place, and you’ll notice the head filling in. Note: If you’re new to gardening, a node is the little bulge along a stem from which new growth emerges. For an illustrated explanation, click on this previous post.

Step 3
All of this snipping and pruning may confuse your coleus! If strange secondary growth occurs along the stalk, snip it off to maintain a proper shape.

Step 4
Depending on the variety of coleus you’re working with, you may notice your plant getting potbound as the roots keep pace with your plant’s increasing “canopy.”.  Feel free to repot as needed!

One final note: If you’re starting from scratch with this, check out the Colorblaze Coleus varieties from Provenwinners.com. All are tall growing (some reach close to 3ft!) and would look beautiful as trees!  I’m especially fond of the two in this short video:

If you’re a bit confused or uncertain, leave me a question in the comments section!

Until next time…..

:) :) :)

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Wordless Wednesday: February 19, 2014

This morning I woke up and saw red……

Ricinis communis gibsonii, Ranchero, 2/19/14

….for the millionth time! ;)

Bryophyllum houghtonii in full bloom, Ranchero, 2/19/14

…not necessarily a bad thing…unless of course you’re a mole! (Click here to learn why!)

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Calathea and Cordyline

The TPIE (Tropical Plant Industry Exhibition) is an annual trade fair showcasing the latest trends in everything floral. This year’s event took place in Ft. Lauderdale on Jan.22-24 and many of the award-winning plants were on display a few weeks later at Gardenfest.

I already showed you a beautiful new introduction I DIDN’T buy, but neglected to share the one I did…try as I might, I couldn’t leave this unique foliage plant behind:

Calathea Fusion White, 2/12/14

“Two” pretty??!! :)

In fact, I liked it so much, I bought two!

Calathea ‘Fusion White’ is a product of Biostok Foliage, a Florida nursery specializing in micro-propagation. This showy plant features white/green marbled leaves with pale purple undersides.  It picked up three awards at TPIE:  Favorite New Foliage Plant, Most Unusual Single Plant Specimen, and a “Cool Product” award.

In general, Calatheas thrive in humid, moist environments with indirect lighting.  Although mine would do well outside under a shady tree, I bought them to replace indoor dracaenas that had gotten a little bit leggy. (FYI: the dracaenas have been hard pruned and planted inground, hopefully to regrow, but that’s a post for another day. :) )

Although not new for 2014, a variegated Cordyline–commonly known as Ti plant–also caught my eye and opened my wallet:

Cordyline White Baby Doll, 2/12/14

“White Baby Doll” Ti is one of the many dozens of Cordyline fruticosa varieties ideal for medium light situations. As the plant matures, its green, lance shaped leaves develop dramatic cream-colored striations.

Ti are hardy in Zones 10-12, preferring temps above 55° F and very humid air to keep the leaf tips from drying out and turning brown.  When planted inground, the canes have an upright growth habit, reaching 10 feet high with a 3- to 4-foot spread.

Cordyline White Baby Doll and Calathea Fusion White, 2/12/14

I haven’t decided if my new Ti will join the Calatheas indoors, but I know for sure I’ll be growing it in a container :arrow: even on the cusp of zone 10, winter temps can dip below freezing; White Baby Doll may need indoor “swaddling” next January!

For more info on Ti varieties check out the photo gallery at the International Cordyline Society website.

Until next time….

:) :) :)

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Selfie

This week’s photo challenge calls for the oft-maligned yet incredibly popular image-type known as the selfie.   Ordinarily I’d loathe this topic (and might have skipped it) if not for this accidental self-capture in a poster I photographed last weekend :)

Selfie among the bananas!

With so much glare on the smartphone screen, I had NO idea I’d snapped a selfie until I was home swiping through my Gardenfest shots!   File under #luckycapture ;)

To give this selfie context, I’ve including two photos of the Going Bananas vendor area where the poster was located: (Note: click on the images to enlarge them!)

Until next time……

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Wordless Wednesday: Sea of Color! 2/5/14

A rolling sea of color….

Busy Bee Lawn and Garden Center display, Gardenfest 2014

perfect for pelicans….

Pelican Garden Sculpture, Busy Bee Lawn and Garden Center display, Gardenfest 2014

and sea turtles, too!

Pelican and Sea Turtles Garden Sculptures, Busy Bee Lawn and Garden Center display, Gardenfest 2014

The Busy Bee Lawn and Garden Center had the BEST floral display of Gardenfest 2014!

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Until next time…..

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Object

Well, if this isn’t the perfect Weekly Photo Challenge for me, I don’t know what is!  Our local Gardenfest was just teeming with objets d’arte this weekend, and I was completely inspired by this one:

 Peacock Garden Object, Beech Annuals Display, Gardenfest 2014

A shot from the opposite direction gives you a better sense of the object’s head:  (Note: Click on the images to enlarge and see them in greater detail!)

 Peacock Garden Object, pic 2, Beech Annuals Display, Gardenfest 2014

Finally, a shout out to Beech Annuals, the local nursery behind this fabulous floral display! (FYI, Right after I snapped this next pic, a gentleman purchased the red chair/plant holder! :) I don’t know if the peacock ever sold!)

 Beech Annuals Display, Gardenfest 2014

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Medinilla magnifica, a Gardenfest Showstopper!

Today was the first day of Gardenfest 2014, an annual event that draws industry vendors and garden enthusiasts from miles around. The offerings are always unique and beautifully presented, but today I saw an epiphyte that stopped me in my tracks:
Gardenfest Showstopper, M. magnifica, Valkara Gardens Booth,  2/1/14

The stunning Medinillla magnifica grows in partial shade locations from the soil pockets of rainforest trees or beneath these same trees in clearings.  The leathery foliage is aroid-like and can reach 12″ long with ballerina pink fly-leaves cascading from succulent stems. At full bloom, the fly-leaves drop panicles that dangle a foot and half below the plant’s body:

Medinilla magnifica hanging basket, 2/1/14, Valkaria Gardens Vendor Booth, Gardenfest

Here’s a close-up of the panicle:

Medinilla magnifica Close-up,, 2/1/14, Valkaria Gardens Vendor Booth, Gardenfest

The next photo shows a panicle at the very end of the 4-6wk bloom period. It’s easy to see why M.magnifica is sometimes called Phillipine Rose Grape:

Medinilla magnifica, 2/1/14, Valkaria Gardens Vendor Booth, Gardenfest

M. magnifica prefers dappled shade and high humidity. It can grow outdoors in Zones 10-11 and elsewhere indoors as a conservatory or houseplant!

For more on this Gardenfest Showstopper, check out the grower’s website at http://www.medinilla.ca/.

Until next time…..

:) :) :)

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Wordless Wednesday: January 29, 2014

Monday was a glorious beach day,

Jaycee Beach Boardwalk Steps, Vero Beach, 1/27/14

and the Aloe arborescens looked especially splendid:

Aloe Arborescens, Jaycee Beach, 1/27/14

To put these images in context, I pulled back a bit for the next shot. (Note :arrow: clicking the photo gives you a bigger version.)

20140127_110700-1

To learn more about A. arborescens, read  my post from 11/24/13.

If you’d like to participate in Wordless Wednesday, click here for details!  :)

Until next time……

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Juxtaposition

This week’s Photo Challenge asks us to illustrate the concept of juxtaposition: a fancy term for incongruous elements of strong visual weight that draw your attention at the same time.

Uh….. Say what :?: :?:

Maybe I should just show you some examples! ;)

1. A seagrape branch where seapgrape shouldn’t be, on a day just shy of magical.

Seagrape, Jaycee Beach

2. The lushness in the top half of the next photo is in stark contrast to the railroad vine in the sand, below.Railroad Vine, Jaycee Beach

3. The next shot is a twofer! ;)  Same juxtaposition as above, but with added contrast of sun vs. shade competing for the viewer’s focus. :

Railroad vine closeup, Jaycee Beach

4. The last juxtaposition is a clash of opposing emotions:  Melpomene and Thalia at the Seaside Grille! :)
Jack and Maggie, Seaside Grille, 1/10/14

This was SUCH a creative challenge, yeah?  I hadn’t participated in awhile but the topic drew me back in!

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Until next time….

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