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!

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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:

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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.

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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 !

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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.

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

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

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

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

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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!

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

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

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

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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!

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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.

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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….

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

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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.

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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)

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

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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. 😉

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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:

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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:

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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:

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

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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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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,

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

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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:

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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: 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!

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

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

For other bloggers’ interpretations of this week’s challenge, check out the Zemanta related links below!

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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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Weekly Photo Challenge: One Focal Point

This week’s challenge asks us to share an image with an obvious focal point.  Even when half obscured, the pink and white flowers on my Castor Bean Plant (Ricinis communis gibsonii) are one arresting sight!

Ricinis communis gibsonii, 12/23/13

Ricinins communis flowers are monoecious, meaning separately sexed blossoms appear on one stem, with the female (pinkish red) in topmost position. Both male and female flowers lack petals.  Depending on wind and weather, R. communis is either self or cross-pollinated.

Ricinis communis gibsonii, 12/17/13The male/white flowers senesce (mature and die) shortly after shedding their pollen, but the female flowers further develop into ½ -1″ long capsules covered in soft spines.  When fully mature, these capsules split open, revealing 3 smooth, attractively patterned ½” seeds. (When this happens, I’ll post a new pic!)

Without doubt, the Castor Bean plant is a focal point in my winter garden!

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Until next time!!!

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Merry Christmas!

Weekly Photo Challenge: Grand (Glacial Potholes!)

For this week’s photo challenge, I’m taking you back to the summer of 2008 in my home state of Massachuestts. Our destination is Shelburne Falls, a quintessential New England town along the Mohawk Trail and Deerfield River.  Isn’t it grand?

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At the end of the last Ice Age, glaciers covering this area began to recede, swirling silt and granite in a scouring motion that drilled holes in the bedrock below.

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Shelburne Falls pothole overview 1

As a result of the constant whirling of granite stones, the potholes (known geologically as “kettles”) took on a remarkably symmetrical and round shape.

Shelburne Falls pothole with waterfall

Shelburne Falls round pothole

Shelburne Falls round pothole closeup

Since 2002, access to the potholes is prohibited due to hazardous conditions and numerous injuries.

Shelburne Falls Dam Signage

However, because this is Massachusetts, no one pays attention to the law, and the police know it’s useless to enforce…especially on hot August days! 😉

Shelburne Falls potholes with people

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There are more than 50 potholes to explore, ranging in size from 6″ to 39′ in diameter.

Young explorers among the Shelburne Falls potholes

The shadings and striations in the ancient granite are a grand geological sight.

Shelburne Falls color striations

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I hope you enjoyed this testament to the grand power of time, ice, and rock!   All glacial pothole photos taken on 8/17/08, copyright Terrence Mulhern,

Shelburne Falls color striations in rock with flower

Be sure to check out other interpretations of this week’s challenge at the Zemanta related links below!

Until next time….

🙂 🙂 🙂