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!!

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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.

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

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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!

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

Until next time….

:) :) :)

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Wordless Wednesday: 3/26/14 (Sunny Reflections)

I ran across this shot (taken during my first summer here) while searching my pics for yesterday’s Reflections post.  It seemed well suited for Wordless Wednesday, so here it is!

Backyard Queen Palm after a summer storm

NOTE: Look at the bottom left corner of this photo: the vacant lot next door wasn’t yet empty :arrow: that happened in 2011 and you can read about it here.

For other Wordless Wednesday posts, check out the blogger who started it all, and, of course, the Zemanta links below!

Until next time….

:) :) :)

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Nopalea cochenillifera f. variegata

Various types of spineless cacti are common in Florida gardens, but spineless AND variegated? Not so much! The second I laid eyes on this cactus at our Master Gardener Plant Auction, I knew I’d be taking it home! :)

Nopalea cochenillifera, 12/15/13

Although auctioned as a “NO ID Opuntia,” the American Journal of Botany describes my new plant as one of 8 cacti recently moved from the Opuntia to Nopalea genus.  Chalk it up to key differences in the shape of the flower tubes, and the impact this has on pollination: nopaleas are visited by hummingbirds, opuntias by insects.   Who knew :?:

N. cochenillifera is drought-tolerant, yet, oddly, thrives in our rainy summers. At maturity this cactus assumes a tree like shape with branches of jointed pads reaching 12′ high. Just this morning, I noticed the first new pad forming since i brought the plant home:

Nopalea cochenillifera with new pad forming, 12/15/13

Nopalea cochenillifera is loaded with potassium, magnesium, calcium, manganese, copper, zinc and iron, as well as thiamine, lutein, niacin, riboflavin and beta-carotene. Farmers who raise goats and livestock value it as easy-to-grow fodder but humans can also benefit from including nopaleas in their daily diet.  Click and scroll for interesting recipes.

As an aside, we’ve been having very dismal, gray, un-Florida-like weather since Thanksgiving.  The cheery garden colors of summer and falll have been replaced by interesting textures and jewel tones:

Alternanthera Dentata Purple Knight, Assorted Coleus and Calladium and Syncolostemon Transvaalensis, 12/15/2013

Each winter since moving here, I anxiously await the tiny Soldier’s Orchid, and every year they arrive earlier, in greater quantity!  Here’s the first of 2013, randomly sprouting in a container:

Zeuxine strateumatica aka Soldier's Orchid, 12/15/13

That’s about it from not-so-sunny Vero Beach!  I can’t really complain though, it’s still warmer than normal and Christmas is in the air!

Until next time…..

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Horizon

Living near the ocean as I do, my cell-cam is full of shots featuring birds and beach-goers against horizons of surf and sand.  I swiped through the lot of them for this week’s challenge and decided most were repetitive, boring and–for lack of a better word–flat.  Not so, this one: I love everything about these old friends gazing at the horizon.

Old Friends in Hats, Jaycee Beach, 10/20/13

 (Note: For better visual impact, click on the photos to enlarge them! pumpkin-joyfull try it! )

I’m partial to these next images because they draw the eye to a midpoint on the horizon. First you notice the queen palm, and then the sliver of beach where sky meets land at Disney’s Vero Beach Resort.

Queen Palm and the horizon, Disney Vero Beach Resort, 4/6/13

A beautiful sky over the road to Key West: adventure pulls us toward the horizon.pumpkin winking

Key West on the horizon, 8/9/13

X marks the spot in the horizon over Jaycee Beach.pumpkin no comment

X marks the spot on the Jaycee Beach horizon 4/27/13

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

Until next time…
Hay Ride

Architecture and Flora of Key West

The hand-crafted, wood-frame houses of Key West are a multicultural blend of Bahamian, New England, and Victorian influences. Most were built by 19th century seafaring carpenters who relied solely on their ship-building experience to construct the 3000 historic homes still standing on the island today!  Many have been re-modeled from private residences into bed and breakfast inns, like the one where we stayed last week:

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Land has always been limited on this tiny 2 x 4 mile island, so homes were sited close to the street (with very little front yard,) in order to leave space for separate kitchen buildings and outhouses in the back yard. The Garden House was no exception to this, and our room was located on the second floor in a structure behind the main house overlooking the courtyard and pool area. (the pool was just to the left of this shot)

20130806_095907See the sundeck above the pool area? It was directly opposite our front door, and we enjoyed sipping coffee there several times daily! :)

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If you direct your eye to the top right corner of the photo above, you’ll notice trees with orange flowers. These are the beautiful Delonix Regia (aka Royal Poincianas) that seem to grow EVERYWHERE around town. Here’s a close-up of a flowering branch that drooped over the walkway near our room:

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The flowers are large, with four, spreading, orange-red petals up to 3″ long, and a fifth, upright petal called the standard, which is spotted and slightly larger.  FYI, you can currently see this branch (cut into segments, devoid of its flowers) sitting in moist potting soil on my patio. Yes, that’s right, I nicked it and hope it grows roots! ;)

One of the first things we did after check-in, was stretch our legs with a walk around the neighborhood.  We quickly realized small front yards don’t preclude large, lush gardens:

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I was thrilled to see the endangered Keys Tree-Cactus (aka Pilosocereus robinii) in several front yards, but this was one of the best:

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When fully mature, the Keys Tree-Cactus can reach as high as 32′ with dozens of spreading branches, although most of the larger plants have been destroyed by development and hurricanes.

P. Robinii is native to Florida but not, perhaps for much longer: as of 2009 only eight known populations remain (on four Keys.)  Even more troubling, this columnar cactus predominantly reproduces when wind-thrown branches produce roots and give rise to new upright stems. Reproduction by seed production/dispersal is severely limited; from 2007–2010 only four plants in the Florida Keys produced fruits. :(

One species that didn’t seem threatened was wild orchids!  We saw them blooming in SO many trees:

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Another common sight were Staghorn ferns layered amid epiphytic vines on various types of palms. Look at the size of the basal frond encircling the tree on the left!

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….and speaking of palms, what a fantastically landscaped property appears in the next picture, although I wasn’t thrilled with the angle of the sun when I snapped it. :roll:

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One of my biggest pet-peeves is owners of huge houses who don’t use extenders with their hanging baskets!  I was happy to see this resident understood their importance! Looks perfectly scaled, yes? :) :)

Some people apparently preferred a more xeric look: with fretwork and wrought iron this detailed, I can understand why!

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I’m not sure how I feel about this next front yard:

20130805_152200Again it’s xeric, but not the best succulent choices?  That enormous container is to-die-for, though.  I keep imagining it full of ultra-lush tropicals!

Well that’s it for now…I’ve got one more Key West post to go re: the beach and sightseeing, but those are photos for another day!

Until next time….

:) :) :)

 

Mallory Square, Key West: Sunset Celebration

Mallory Square, located on the waterfront in Key West‘s historic Old Town, is the site of a nightly arts festival.  Two hours before sunset, masses of people flock to the water’s edge to watch the sun sink into the Gulf of Mexico….a true multicultural event for tourists and locals alike, and on Monday night we were there!  :)

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Sunset Celebration includes food carts, street performers and arts and crafts exhibitors.

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We strolled the length of the pier, looking for an open spot along the railing and near the Aquarium we finally found one.

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Picture time!

Imagine our surprise when we looked over the railing and saw this! :shock:

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Only something really spectacular tops an unexpected manatee sighting but as the sky darkened, we understood why so many people had gathered:

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So beautiful! :)

We had such fun in Key West! The flora was absolutely gorgeous! :) As I organize the photos, I’ll surely post more of what we saw and did!

Until next time…..

:) :) :)

Wordless Wednesday: August 7, 2013

We’re in Key West on vacation this week, so I’m just checking in briefly!

Look at the incredible, ENORMO, Kapok Tree we saw today!

Kapok Tree Key West,, 8/7/13

There are so many beautiful flowers and trees here…very lush!   Naturally, I’ve taken a ridiculous number of photos!

Until next time….

:) :) :)

Editted on 8/10/13 to include a photo of the Kapok tree’s signage in the “featured image” header as well as here.  (For easy reading, click on the photo to enlarge it.)

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Weekly Photo Challenge: The Golden Hour

I was very excited by this week’s photo challenge. For as long as I can remember, the golden hour–when shadows are long and light is short–has been my favorite time of day. Ultimately, I couldn’t decide among 3 older pics, so I’m sharing them all, newest first.

From March, 2012:

Sunflowers: 7:55am, March 29, 2012

Sunflowers: 7:55am, March 29, 2012

From December, 2011

Jack raking on Christmas Eve Eve, 12/23/11

Jack raking: 5:10pm, Christmas Eve Eve, 2011

From July, 2010

My street, 8:15pm, July 29, 2010

The view from my front door: 8:15pm, July 29, 2010

As an FYI, I prefer the golden hours of evening to that of morning…maybe because I’m a night person at heart!?!  :)  What about you?

Until next time….

:) :) :)

Happy 4th of July!

I’ve always loved 4th of July…when I was a kid it was the parades that appealed…as a teen and young adult it was the HUGE celebration the city rolled out.  I’m sure some of you have seen it on TV or DVD, but NOTHING compares to arriving on the Esplanade by noon, scoping out a good spot for the blanket, and laughing and talking for hours surrounded by thousands of people.  Such crowd energy!

When dusk finally comes and the show begins……WOW!

And OMG!  The collision of sight and sound against the backdrop of the lower Charles?  Seriously, you have to see Fireworks time!

What an event, yeah?   My old city sure knows how to throw a good party….but my new one does, too….it’s just a bit more natural :)

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Wherever you are, and whatever you do, I wish you all a happy and wonderful Independence Day!

Until next time….

ps. Staying sober through the 4th of July can be challenging.  For those seeking help or support today (or any day) remember there are resources, marathon meetings and central offices to support you. Check out 12stepsahead.com for more information.

:) :) :)

“Spidery” Specimens

I can’t believe it’s almost the 4th of July!  Even in this place of permanent summer, the July holiday represents a psychological downslope toward Fall and all it entails: shorter days, busier schedules, and dare I whisper it…the holidays. :eek:  However, to quote our wise old patriot, Ben Franklin, “Do not anticipate trouble…… keep in the sunlight.”   Today I’ll take his advice and show you some spidery specimens growing in my rear garden.

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This viney shrub from tropical Africa, Strophanthus Preussii, is commonly known as “spiders tresses”  and grows up to 13′ tall.  The flowers’ ovate petals narrow into tails up to 11″ long. The next photo gives you a better look at the plant’s striking foliage; notice too, the additional offshoots where more of the unusual flowers are forming:

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Multiple traditional uses of Strophanthus preussii  have been recorded in several African countries. Nigerian tribes use the plant’s stems to construct hunting bows. In Zaire, the sap is used medicinally to treat wounds and induce labor in pregnant women.  In Gabon, the young leaves are cooked and eaten as a vegetable.

Not all uses of Spider’s Tresses are for the common good, however!

Strophanthus species contain cardiac glycosides that increase blood flow around the heart. In large amounts these glycosides are poisonous and have been used historically in poison arrow concoctions. Crazy stuff!

Thankfully, my next spidery specimen has NO nefarious uses:

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Typically these Brassia Maculatas (aka Spider Orchids) open toward the end of August, and once, even as late as November!  I was VERY surprised to see blooms before July 4th!!

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The Brassia is an epiphytic orchid native to the wet forests of Central/South America, and named after 19th century British botanical illustrator, William Brass. Their spidery look gives Brassias a distinct reproductive advantage. Parasitic wasps who typically lay their eggs on spiders, get confused by the orchid’s appearance and land on the flowers instead. As the wasps flit from plant to plant, they create one of nature’s best win-win situations: the wasps reproduce,  the brassias get pollinated, and a few very lucky 8 legged insects are saved in the process!  Wait…..that’s win-win-win! ;)

To learn more about orchids check out the American Orchid Society Website.

Until next time…..

:) :) :)