Weekly Photo Challenge: Extra, Extra!

This week’s photo challenge asks us to share an image with a unique, unexpected element, and I just snapped a few that fit the criteria perfectly.

Take a look at this “little extra something” on an Aloe saponaria that recently bloomed in the Ranchero.  Note how the healthy, original flower spike (middle right in the frame) looks nothing like the new, extra-wierd one!


A. saponaria (aka Soap Aloe) is native to South Africa, Botswana and Zimbabwe and well suited to Florida’s salt air and gravelly, sandy soil.   A single plant will expand considerably by producing offsets (pups) so over the years I’ve watched many enter the flowering stage. Newly emerging spikes typically look like this:


So what is causing the strange growth in pic 1?  Eriophyes aloinis (aka Aloe Gall Mite) an extra-tiny “extra” I’d rather live without!

E. aloinis can attack any part of an aloe plant, but seems particularly drawn to flower spikes and the tops of rosettes. As they feed, the mites secrete a growth hormone regulator that induces a solid mass (gall) to form around them. Safe within the gall they eat and reproduce, wreaking havoc with their host’s normal tissue development and disfiguring the affected leaves and flowers.


Can you spot another “extra” in this picture? Hint: it’s alive!

Although the mites seldom kill, their aesthetic damage is irreversible. To prevent spreading, surgically remove any tumorous plant parts and dispose far, far away from your garden!

#extraannoying !

For other interpretations of this week’s challenge, click on the Zemanta related links below.

Until next time….

🙂 🙂 🙂


Hiking at Oslo Riverfront, Weekly Photo Challenge: Twist

Happy Memorial Day!

If you visit the Oslo Riverfront Conservation Area bring plenty of bug spray, and be prepared for an interesting twist! This 365 acre preserve is loaded with jungle-like trails through 3 distinct habitats–coastal hammocks, pine flatwoods, and coastal wetlands.  This morning I hiked halfway around, starting at the “P” (click to enlarge map below), and ending at the wetlands Observation Tower before heading back.


Along the way I snapped many  photos for this week’s challenge, starting with a twist at the trailhead:


Further along, a series of slightly elevated (barely stable!!) planks twisted over an area where water pools during rainy season:


To the left of the planking, I saw a flowering saw palmetto in all its foamy, twisted glory!


Woohoo! “Walking the plank” without twisting an ankle! 😉  Life is good! 🙂


Entering the wetlands habitat, I was caught short by these mangroves in the early morning mist. The sun’s reflection and their twisty branches was a beautiful sight!


Climbing the observation tower, I could see the best was yet to come:


To the left of the ramp, an amazing glimpse of twisted roots…


and from the very end, the lagoon’s shoreline:


Because I was enjoying myself so much, I took a moment to twist and shout…

Happy Dance!

This sh*t right here!!!! (the origins of this family expletive TBA in a future post!)

before heading down the ramp as if nothing happened!


For other twisted posts, click here and on the Zemanta related links below!

Until next time….


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Air Plants Around Town: Work of Art

As I traveled around town this week, I noticed many healthy, huge and gorgeous air plants. Here in Zone 10a, May = Summer, and the combo of high temps/humidity and longer days turns epiphytic (and terrestrial) bromeliads into works of art.  Various tillandsias along the mangrove trail in Lagoon Greenway are an excellent example.


Throughout my backyard, Fingernail broms (aka Neoregelia spectabilis) are flowering with artistic symmetry.  Short, inconspicuous, flower heads within this rosette were barely visible on 5/4….


….But after a few heavy rains and a stretch of high 80°s, they’ve opened quite nicely!


There are literally thousands of different bromeliads, and identifying them is especially difficult when plants are young or haven’t yet bloomed.  This next group falls in the “great unknown” category, but I loved their paint splashed, “Nature’s art work” look.


Yesterday at the Beachside Farmer’s Market, a floral vendor combined bromeliads with seashells and driftwood for some interesting objets d’art (unfortunately the plants weren’t labeled, and the kid manning the booth was clueless, but the leaves indicate tillandsia to me)


Also unlabeled, this resplendent bromeliad selling for 35.00. Funny how they never forget the price tag though! 😉


Please identify me?

If anyone has a positive i.d. please let me know!  I’d love to lear more about this beautiful work of art!

Being epiphytic and smallish, Tillandsia ionantha lends itself to hanging on rows of fishing line. I think of it as art for the modern day hippie or an updated version of a ’70s beaded curtain. 😉


Although not titled as such, I’m tagging this post for the Weekly Photo Challenge. If you’ve never participated, why not start this week?  Art is so subjective, any picture you take will qualify!

Until next time….

🙂 🙂 🙂

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Weekly Photo Challenge: On the Move!

Saturday dawned bright, sunny and all around perfect for the Vero Beach Air Show.  After a failed attempt to arrive via the Go Line (traffic was so snarled, the bus NEVER came) we drove the back way to a field within walking distance of the entrance. 20 mins later we were on the move in the air show shuttle, which bizarrely had the words “Medical Bus” written all over it!!!!???!!!! Say what????

20140510_142900Being on the move in a weirdly labelled ambo-cum-shuttle (after the city bus didn’t come) had us laughing hysterically: we documented the fun with the worst lit selfie ever:


That’s Vero!!!!

Soon enough we piled into the crowd, and began scoping out a spot for our lawnchairs:

We’d timed our arrival to coincide with the Blue Angels and while we were at the food trucks, Fat Albert (the Navy’s jet enhanced cargo carrier) took to the skies:

photo 2

photo 1

The minute Fat Albert landed, things REALLY ratchetted up. Maggie took a few short Iphone vids as the Boys in Blue blasted by at 500-900mph:

On the move to the nth degree!!!

A final maneuver resulted in cheers and applause quite deafening:



And all too quickly, they were neatly parked….near a port-a-potty. 🙂 🙂 🙂   Insert “on the move” bathroom humour here!  hahahaha!!

photo 2 (1)

On the move….in more ways than one! 😉

For other interpretations of this week’s photo challenge click here, and on the Zemanta links listed below.

Until next time……

🙂 🙂 🙂


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More Spring!

When skies are blue and the earth is bursting with life, the world seems a happier place. 🙂  Spring is definitely where it’s at! 20140507_084652-1

A few days ago, the Brazilian Verbena above (aka V. bonnariensis) was merely sticks and foliage but the recent heatwave changed all that: little purple flower clusters surprised me today as did this waxy pink and yellow umbel on a Hoya hybrid purchased from Gardenfest 2014.


Hoya Rebecca is a cross between Hoya lacunosa ‘Langkawi Island‘ and Hoya obscura, both native to Thailand and highly compatible with Florida’s spring humidity.  When grown outdoors, the leaves blush red and turn a deeper green than when set in a sunny window. Note: If you want your Hoya to bloom again, NEVER remove spent flowers! New blooms emerge from the same spot on the peduncle (base) as the old ones.

In case you didn’t notice my header image, let me show you the beautiful Portulaca grandiflora,Samba series, bicolor–phew what a mouthful of a name for a bedding plant! 😉


The Samba series has wiry, succulent leaves and a trailing habit, so works well in containers and hanging baskets. I like a WOW factor, so paired them with purple petunias along my front walk:


Although not terribly unique, the Teddy Bear sunflower variety is new to my garden. I’ve always planted Giants, and on a whim chose something different this time.  Never again! Either these are naturally waaaaayyyyy too short or something abortive and wierd happened as they sprouted. 6″ tall? That’s just stupid! 😉  (pretty color though!)


The newest addition to the vine wall, Tecoma capensis, just entered a second bloom cycle. (The first was in November.)  It isn’t completely open yet, but the vine wall is always worthy of a photo op, especially in Spring!


For more Spring beauty, check out this week’s challenge, and the related Zemanta links below!

Until next time…

🙂 🙂 🙂

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Gulf Fritillary Caterpillar, 5/3/14

Weekly Photo Challenge: Spring!

Spring in the sub-tropics feels and looks like summer. Most local gardens have moved beyond budding into the first (of many!) flower cycles.  This gaillardia, re-seeded from last year, seems to like it hot and sunny,


Ditto my Florida cardinal Caladium, locally bred to produce thicker leaves for better sun tolerance.


These are the days when temps and humidity soar to the 90s, and late day downpours are an everyday given.  This next photo illustrates our humid, hot, hazy Spring so perfectly, I almost tagged it #iconic. 🙂  Right now it’s 4pm, and you can see the haze is settling in:


Don’t you just love those sherbet colors? 🙂  I sure do!

To see what Spring is like in other parts of the world, check out the Weekly Photo Challenge and  Zemanta related links below!

Until next time….

🙂 🙂 🙂

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Monument

This week’s photo challenge asks us to share a local monument. While this might mean stone-based statuary in older parts of the world, in newly developed spots like Vero Beach, it means fiberglass!!


In 2005,the Mental Health Association of Indian River County used 52 eye-popping turtle sculptures to raise awareness and money for mental health services. Known locally as Turtle Trax, this public art project symbolized people coming out of their shells to seek help.  Each sculpture stands 6′ tall x 5′ wide, depicting a sea turtle with fins outstretched, as if peacefully gliding through water.


Another fiberglass monument, Patriot, the Horse, guards the entrance to Pocahontas Park located just beyond the Citrus Museum in the above photo:


The 9′ tall Patriot has been corralled at the park since 1960. 😉  In 2009, Perfection Paint and Auto Body donated their time and materials to restore and repaint this midcentury monument.  You can read more about their extensive project, by clicking here.

Before I close, I’m excited to tell you my oldest son is visiting through Easter Sunday!


I may not post much this week, but will definitely check in on all of you. 🙂

Until next time….

🙂 🙂 🙂

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