amaryllis (ranchero) 3/28/12

Weekly Photo Challenge: Surprise

Each Fall, I increase my Amaryllis collection with a new, specially researched bulb. Last year I purchased a Papilio hybrid and this year went even more exotic with Hippeastrum Cybister Evergreen.  Today I got the surprise of my life when i noticed a third flowerscape  in front of the strappy leaves at the container’s rim:  Yowzah ❗


Hippeastrum Cybisters are a species of tropical bulb from South America whose flowers are thin and spidery-looking. Unlike their more common Amaryllis cousins, cybisters keep their leaves year-round. This particular cultivar is evergreen in another way, too—when the buds open they’ll (hopefully!) look like this picture, (pasted from the catalogue at🙂 )

Hippeastrum Cybister Evergreen

If you’re even the slightest bit interested in growing Amaryllis or Cybisters , I highly recommend reading Trends in Modern Hippeastrum Hybridizing.

Until next time…..

🙂 🙂 🙂

Green transport, green leaves

Weekly Photo Challenge: Green

Happy Thanksgiving to everyone! I hope the day surrounded you with family, friends and festivities! 🙂   Instead of cooking, we celebrated at Mulligan’s Beach House, where I kept an eye out for all things green, the topic of this week’s photo challenge. :mrgreen:

In the gallery that follows, you’ll see:

  • kitschy blue-green bench
  • green roof
  • green ocean
  • green tropical plants seen through my shadow
  • people who feel green from eating too much
  • green transportation to work off the “too much” :mrgreen:

Until next time…..

🙂 🙂 :mrgreen: :mrgreen: 🙂 🙂

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Renewal

I initially read this week’s challenge incorrectly: I thought the topic was URBAN renewal 🙄 which would have been a problem.  Regular (garden variety? ha!) renewal….not so much!  THAT I’ve got on “lockdown”–to coin a phase from today’s young ‘uns!!

Take a look. 🙂

In the case of this Crimson Rambler morning glory

….renewal happened overnight:

Next, a Madagascar Palm transplanted last winter

Madagascar Palm, 11/16/12

…has color changes showing renewal of at least 1/3 of its body.

And then there’s the Dracaena Deremensis Warneckii I accidentally damaged….

Dracaena Deremensis Warneckei, 11/11/12

I needn’t have worried; it practices self renewal, the same way an Aloe Ciliaris does:

Aloe Ciliaris 11/11/12

This last photo illustrates my all-time-favorite renewal process, common to all kalanchoes.

Kalanchoe Daigremontiana 11/15/12The Mother of Thousands plant ( aka Kalanchoe Daigremontiana) renews along the leaf margins, dropping hundreds of tiny clones to sow and grow beneath her!

So there you have it, renewal in spades!  Please forgive the garden puns, I just can’t resist! They make me 🙂 and break into dance…Happy Dance!

And THAT renews my soul!

Until next time….

🙂 🙂

Also all mine!

Weekly Photo Challenge: Mine

For this week’s challenge, I”ll start with a picture of our screened backporch. This area is all mine! It’s the place I begin (and end) each day, and where I work on my blog when the weather is nice:

This porch is mine!

When sitting at the little table, this is what I currently see:

Also all mine!

Since we’re on the subject of holiday displays………

This Costume is MINE!!

This costume, known as  “Meat & Potatoes!” is mine, and mine alone! It was quite the hit at last year’s party!


Until next time!

Weekly Photo Challenge: Create

Since last weekend, we’ve been stuck under the outer bands of Tropical Storm Debby.  This excessive precip worked wonders on seeds I’ve been growing in pots, and softened the ground SO MUCH: ➡ ideal conditions to create a new flower bed, and move some other plants around!

New Canna Bed (foreground)

Rear Flower Beds (New Canna area in foreground)

Canna Bed, Close-up

Three years ago, I received 4 canna lilies as a housewarming gift. They naturalize SO fast I can’t keep up with them: even after giving away 30 (yes 30!!!) I still have as many growing in various spots around my front and back yards!  Although only one has visible leaves now (behind the white paver in the above photo,) I dug up and divided 7 rhizomes to begin this new bed. In a few weeks I’ll post an updated pic to illustrate their growth rate!

Admittedly, these beds don’t look like much…the cement pavers don’t even match, 🙄 🙂  but by summer’s end they’ll be all but invisible. The ground here is sandy and pavers tend to sink as the plants behind them rise!  Why spend money on things no one sees!?  When I create, I like using whatever I have around (or can get for free!)

Something else to show you 🙂

Remember the day I planted bald cyprus trees? I was all excited by a wild morning glory vine I’d found, and took a cutting?   Here it is, transplanted in the other bed along the back fence:

Ipomaea Cairica

Ipomaea Cairica aka Mile a Minute Vine 😉

The tiny cutting I planted really DID grow fast! It’s just about ready to climb the trellis I created by unhinging a “screen” we got (for free!) when a local clothing shop closed last summer.  Here’s a better look:

A repurposed retail screen becomes a trellis

If the “trellis” looks familiar, it’s because you’ve seen my passiflora scrambling over it’s disassembled other half!  What once held scarves and purses, now holds flora…gives real meaning to “going green” now, doesn’t it!? 😉  If anyone is curious about the other flowers pictured… from foreground to rear, they are:  Amaryllis , Snapdragon, Kniphofia Tritoma, Mexican Petunia, Snapdragon, Amaryllis. With the exception of the Amaryllis, all were started from seed in containers and transplanted to the garden over these last rainy days.

So there you have my “creations“….to see how others interpreted the challenge, click on the Zemanta provided links below.

Until next time…..


Weekly Photo Challenge: Sun

Through all of human history, people have worshipped the sun.  The ancient Greeks revered it; Aztecs and Mayans built entire civilizations around it; even early Christians involved symbolism from sun worship in their burgeoning faith–think halos and stained glass windows.

If ever a photo challenge was tailor made, this one was meant for me:

I, too, am a sun worshipper! 😎

Weekly Photo Challenge: Indulge

From first grade through high school I attended Catholic Parochial schools run by the Sisters of St. Joseph. Then it was off to college where I was taught by Jesuits. .Although I’m no longer religious in an organized, institutional way, sixteen years of faith based knowledge permeates my thinking.  While some may freely associate the word “indulge” with cake and chocolate, my mind goes immediately to “indulgence” instead…which leads to the Reformation and Purgatory, and how posting a picture of Martin Luther to personify the movement is totally bush league!

So i decided to indulge in a different free association to come up with a better idea; this is how it went:

  • bush league
  • bushes
  • re-read yesterday’s post
  • Look at unpublished field trip photos
  • Cull 20 pics down to 3 favorites
  • Can’t decide
  • Decide I’m being self-indulgent
  • Eeny meeny miney mo!
  • Here we go:
Pond at IRREC Teaching Garden

This is NOT purgatory! 😉

Indulge in the beauty of nature and you might see Heaven on earth (instead of Martin Luther!)   😉

Until next time….. 🙂  🙂

Weekly Photo Challenge: Regret

The Florida “rainy season” begins June 1 and continues to the end of November. Nearly every day between 3-4pm, dark clouds roll in to a soundtrack of thunder and a lightshow of electricity.  Even on days when the sun’s been alone in the sky since dawn, Florida is the lightning capital of the U.S.—a deluge can start any minute….or not!

Here is a picture I took while standing in my side yard on June 14, 2011.  It has not been altered in any way beyond straightening and cropping:

Regrettably, it didn't rain on 6/14/11

"I bring regrets. I will not rain today," said Cloud

I could NOT believe it didn’t rain that afternoon….I was expecting a tornado from the looks of things!!  I ran around bringing my container plants inside, along with anything else from the yard with “missile-like” tendencies. Even though the temperatures that day (and entire week) were in the mid to upper 90s, nothing happened. I had to find out why!

Turns out, last June was one of the driest in years because a mean high pressure ridge was stuck in place over Florida and the Atlantic Ocean  When that happens,no fronts pass in: no convection means no relief, aka rain!

Of course, rain finally arrived on the last few days of June, but not enough to change things. We were still in the midst of the worst drought since 1942, and that didn’t change until the incredibly intense “No-Name” storm of  October 9  dumped 8″ of precipitation in 24 hrs, flooding the ranchero and toppling palm trees….but thats a story with pictures for another day!

Until next time!

Ready for Liftoff

Weekly Photo Challenge: Ready

As gardeners, we spend considerable time planning the best use of our available land.. Where should I place the vegetables? What spot is best for sun exposure?  Is that the best sight line for a small tree?  As you tick off the answers, patterns of land use emerge. Soon you have your garden’s perimeter and ask, “should I edge it with pavers or river rock? Does it matter either way?”

Yes, it does, and this little creature is why:

Ready for Liftoff

Ready for Liftoff!!

Who knew dragonflies are attracted to light colored river rocks?   I had no idea!

In its previous incarnation, the Ranchero was a Koi pond surrounded by river rocks.   When I moved to small house, I threw out the plastic pond insert and enlarged the area by half, meaning I was short on river rocks to edge my new garden space.  Rather than buy additional ones (waaayyyyy expensive) I intended to use cement curbing I’d gotten for free but, you guessed it….not enough of that either…

….so I finished the project with a few feet of river rocks and set about “hiding” the evidence with Kalanchoe diagremontiana like you see in the picture.

Who knew dragonflies are attracted to “mother of thousands” kalanchoe?  Again, I had no idea!

Unexpectedly the stars had aligned, bringing  life to my yard and adding quite nicely to my land use plan!  🙂

Until next time….

Weekly Photo Challenge: Hope

The 2009 National Survey on Drug Use and Health found that nearly two million Americans were dependent on, or abusing, opiate painkillers. The Center for Disease Control characterizes it as an “epidemic”, saying Oxycontin, Vicodin and Percocet are more commonly abused than ANY other types of drug, legal or illicit.  Chances are you know a friend/relative/coworker caught in an opiate grip…at the very least you know me.  Let me show you what hope can look like when an addict chooses recovery:

Methadone Clinic

Hope can be found at a methadone clinic

I struggled with opiates long before it became the addiction of the decade, and was never successful stopping on my own.  Like most, I rebelled at the idea of methadone clinics: liquid handcuffs…deadbeats…all the stereotypical judgments!!  I thought they were places frequented by people who weren’t like me….and the day I finally got to one, I realized how right I was, but for all the wrong reasons:  They WEREN’T like me…they were already on the way to getting better and I was little more than a jerk with ridiculous biases!

The point of this post (beyond sharing an ugly stock photo when I typically share a nice one!) is education.   If you, or someone you know, needs help with sobriety, start with the site and read their voices of recovery pages. Pay special attention to Walter Ginter’s story, and then check out the  advocacy organization he founded.  Look into the myriad of resources offered via Narcotics Anonymous or Alcoholics Anonymous if NA doesn’t meet in your area.

Treatment is effective. People do Recover. There IS hope!

Until next time, enjoy February’s first blooms from the Ranchero:


Yellow flowers signify hope for a sunny future!