Monday

Unusual Veggie Comics

I was browsing for some veggie garnish ideas and woah, came across this cool art! Korean artist Komusin puts veggie tales into a completely different perspective. A few pics with english captions. Could not pass this up.

The Struggle to Survive.
"Outta my way! Save me! Aagh! Ugh! (expired)








Love
"Don't Cry.. Promise I love you more than the Onion









"I can do it..."




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Bottle Brush Tree

This beauty will be planted on the side yard and will replace the cactus garden. Less harmful to the cats jumping the fence up and down.
Callistemon rigidus or Stiff Bottlebrush is an Australian native shrub that can get 3-8' tall with a 6-10' spread at maturity. This Bottlebrush has a bushy growth habit with stiff stems and stiff linear shaped leaves and will do best on a well-drained soil.

In the summer this Callistemon will bloom sporting spectacular bright red bottlebrush-like flowers that are great for attracting butterflies and hummingbirds.
Actually the red that is seen is the showy stamens, as the petals are small and inconspicuous.
After bloom the Bottlebrush will have button-like seed capsules. One interesting thing about Bottlebrushes, for us "plant nerds" is the fact that the stems continues to grow after the flowers and seed capsules, sothey are not necessarily at the terminal. So there will be foliage, flower or seed capsules and then foliage
again.

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Thursday

Latest Plants obtained

Just a quick note .......

  • 2 Paw Paw Trees cuttings (on the way)
  • 2 Confederate Rose cuttings, white and red - wohoo! - planted
  • Tomatoe - planted
  • 1 Iochroma purple - yes! (on the way)
  • Bottle Brush tree - waiting to be planted
All needed is an actual tree dahlia and we're good to go...
Time to get working on the backyard!


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Sunday

With love, from aunt Brugmansia


It comes from north western South America and it's one of the nightshade family, so be careful, these are poisonous plants.

Iochroma cyaneum has big quite felty leaves. It grows to about 3 to 4 metres and needs a sunny, warm position. Frost would be its big enemy, they really hate that winter cold.
Grow it in a protected position where it will get some reflected heat from a wall. Prune right down to ground level in Autumn or after flowering. It starts flowering again in December and flowers all the way through until late summer. It needs some summer moisture, but not a lot. Use it at the back of a shrub border to add some height, and then plant other things in front of it. This is a plant that usually grows in south eastern Australia, but grows anywhere, as long as it's not too cold.

This plant sends out strong suckers so if you live in the warmer, wetter areas where it could get away, keep it in a pot.

Stunning, rare, accepts my climate. I am yet..... on the hunt again.



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Save the Papaya

Unfortunately, we don't live in an ideal world, and we as gardeners must adjust to unfavorable changes in the weather. In Texas, the major environmental threats to the garden are: too much sun, sandy soil, lack of water, too much rain, violent thunderstorms with accompanying high winds and hurricanes.
Papayas have a main tap root rather than the expansive network of roots that most other species of trees have anchoring them into the ground. The main tap root has a few side roots, but they are closer to the surface of the ground rather than d
eep in. As a result, the papaya is vulnerable to being toppled over by high winds or young boys who might like to uproot one just because they can.
The inner core of the trunk is hollow, much like bamboo. Even slight damage to it produces a rush of milk that streams to the wound (as white blood cells do when human skin is injured) to begin the process of creating a crusty "bandage". Keeping the tree properly hydrated maintains the "milk pressure" as our bodily fluids and the free flow of them maintain our blood pressure.
This year temperatures dropped to 31-32 degrees in the Houston area. Although the actual temperature was above freezing, there was enough wind chill to cause frost damage to most of my papayas.
All blossoms are lost and developing buds drop off. The leaves show all the signs of irrepairable damage i.e: wilting, rapid change in color from green to yellow to brown, complete crisping and eventual dropping off. If temperatures are expected to continue at the near-freezing level, it is best to let the leaves remain on the tree as long as possible as they will protect the tender and more likely to regenerate top growth. Absolutely remove all fruit. A tree fighting to survive doesn't need a pile of fruit to nurture. When all danger of frost has passed, strip off all dead leaves.
Do
n't be hasty about removing what looks like a dead tree. Be patient. Many trees will send out side growth or regenerate top growth. By being patient, you may salvage the tree and insure many more years of healthy, abundant harvests . Introduce plenty of water and gradual dressings of your usual fertilizer as soon as possible. If you must, saw the tree down to the nearest new growth at the thickest part of the trunk and paint the wound liberally with tree tar.
Sometimes, all is not lost. Patience and a good salvage job may lead you back to tasty fruits and your peaceful, leafy canopy.

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Friday

Yucca Elephantipes


The coolest yucca of all yuccas. Yucca elephantipes, more commonly called the spineless or soft-tipped yucca, is a fast growing member of the agave family. In fact, it can quickly outgrow its original position in the garden.
Yucca elephantipes is a small evergreen tree reaching around 9 metres (30') in the wild, but it is usually smaller in cultivation. It develops a thick, branching trunk which is reminiscent of an elephant's foot at the base. From summer to autumn it produces white, bell-shaped flowers in large panicles. The spineless yucca is adaptable to a wide range of climates and conditions and is drought, salt and frost tolerant. It can be grown indoors as an architectural pot plant, or outdoors as a landscaping plant. It is suitable for modern, Santa Fe or Mediterranean style houses and landscapes.


I grow it everywhere there is a "hole". These plants grow very fast, are trainable and reproduce like rabbits, well at least 3 offshoots per year, per plant.

Yucca cuttings can be taken almost anytime of the year. First, tidy up the clump by stripping the lower leaves off the stems. Stripping the leaves will also prevent the cutting from losing its moisture before the roots grow. Take your cutting from a mature stem, with brown bark underneath the stripped section. If the bark is cream-coloured, rotting may occur. The cutting can be taken from any part of the stem. The thickness and length of the stem doesn’t matter. The foliage at the tip of the cutting does not need pruning. Allow the stem to dry out for a few days to a week in a shady spot. After drying out, put the cane in an appropriate-sized pot filled with a free-draining mix. Keep the pot moist and store in a shady spot with plenty of light. (Tip: make sure you tie the cutting to something after it is potted, as it may fall over in the wind.) Roots should form in about two to four weeks. Do not re-pot until you see roots in the drainage holes of the pots.

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Queen of the Garden: The Amaryllis

Finally some color in the garden (besides of course, the weed). The first plants are blooming since tuesday and one I've already snipped to decorate our receptionist desk.

Amaryllis bulb flowers are one of those superb (and easy to grow) plants that you have to be in awe over. Those huge blossoms poking up in the middle of winter simply never fail to win gardener’s hearts. The breeders have gone nuts with these amaryllis bulb flowers and have given us all colours and all sizes. There’s a plant for every discriminating gardener and house decorator. You may have to search the Net for some of these varieties as not all garden centers will carry this extensive a selection. But that’s half the fun!


There are two distinct types coming on the market now – the “Christmas Flowering” and the “Winter Blooming”. Christmas flowering types are genetically from the Southern hemisphere and are predisposed to flower in the winter months everywhere else (when it is summer here).

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Tuesday

How to press flowers for unique gifts

This is a very cool way to make personalized cards for any occasion. Can also be used, whoever has the patience, for scrap booking, check book inserts, creative canning labels yadda yadda etc.
I remember an aunt who did this while I grew up. Definately unforgettable.


  1. Collect plants when they are dry, but preferably before the heat of the day has wilted them. Usually you only want the flower, not the stem, but you will want to gather some foliage. Some root systems are neat and useful.
  2. Flatten flowers - even remove the petals from a thick center core. Press some foliage at the same time so you can have a record (even if you don't use the foliage). Press flat with fingers if necessary.
  3. Pansies and violas are particularly easy to press and tend to hold color. If in the field (as on a road trip), use any absorbent paper directory (like the ones you can get which advertise rental/sale properties). Ask the motel/hotel for a Yellow Pages phone book. When you get home, you can transfer to a large phone book. Adding weight on top helps flatten.
  4. Spread pages and insert a folded facial tissue. Place petals/flowers inside the fold. Close the pages, skip a few and repeat. The tissue makes it easy to transfer...
  5. Transfer tissue containing the flower to another book. The idea is to remove moisture from the plant.After the third transfer, leave it alone until it is completely dry.
  6. Remove from tissue and place on acid free paper (my computer paper supplier tells me that all of their paper is now acid free). There are pens that you can buy to test acidity (probably less than $10).

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Bomarea - a weed in some countries

I've received my seeds from tradewinds!
Wo
hoo!
At first I was growling at the label "
germination can take up to 3-9 months" ugh, but what do you know, 2 of the seeds in the package were already sprouting and rooting. They are freshly potted up - so more to come on that... when more comes.
This rare gem is considered a weed in New Zealand, hard to believe. That must be the reason so many people want to move there, it's got to be breathtaking.

A brief description:

  • A vine-like herbaceous perennial with tuberous roots. Bomarea will grow along the ground and up on a trellis. Grows well in warm climates as well as cooler, foggy areas. Hardy to the mid 20's.
  • Stems - Can be both twisted and scrambling along the ground, as well as climbing. Vines grow to 10-30ft.
  • Leaves - Elongate and pointed at the ends. Pale green in colour.
  • Flowers - Huge flowered, scarlet colored Bomarea. Trumpet-shaped, produced in clusters of 15-20, hanging down. Spring is the main flowering time, but flowers can be seen at other times of the year.
  • Fruit - A capsule that splits open to reveal bright orange/red fleshy seeds.

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Saturday

Preskia - Rose Cactus

Several weeks ago, I've finally received the seeds. My 16 year old carefully planted them and did everything to guarantee success. So he soaked 12 peat moss pellets in hot water, carefully put 2 seeds in each pellet, covered it and put it up on a warm place .
A couple of days ago there was the first sprout, success! It's already about 1 cm tall! See pic.

Pereskia grandiflora is considered to be the original cactus, the ancestor as it were of all other cacti. Strangely enough, the plant looks nothing like a cactus. In fact it does not even resemble a succulent, but rather a wild rose. It is one of the few varieties of cacti to have leaves.

Pereskia grandiflora produces delightful pink flowers that bloom in clusters. A plant 30 to 35 cm high (17 cm pot) will bear two or three clusters of flowers, a plant 50 to 70 cm high (25 cm pot) three to four clusters. The plant is also characterized by large, pale green, privet-like leaves and a long, thorny stem. It is sometimes called 'Rose Cactus'.

Fast grower
The plant can be kept indoors or on the patio if the temperature is no lower than 12°C. It tolerates sun and (semi) shade. Only the very hot noonday sun should be avoided. Contrary to other cacti, it does need regular watering. However, please ensure that no water is left standing in the pot. Underwatering will cause the plant to shed its leaves. In spring and summer weekly feeding will contribute to (speedy) growth. In winter the plant loses all its leaves and the rootball must be kept dry although it must not be allowed to dry out completely. With proper care the plant can flower from spring to winter.

Update: This seedling died after developing 4 nice leaves. Not sure what happend, it was happy in my window sil till it shriveled up into nothing - RIP



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Pandorea Jasminoide

This rare plant is my pride and joy.

Native to Australia, the Pandorea jasminoides grows to about 20 feet in one growing season. The Vine is hardy into the mid-twenties and will bloom from late in the Spring through Summer and into the Fall until frost. This year however, it never stopped blooming.

I am fond of the clean leaves and dark green foliage and the fact that it attracts hummingbirds . It will reach and twine about anything within several feet so periodic trimming is required. Pandorea jasminoides prefers regular water and plenty of sun.

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Friday

More on Tree Dahlias - Notes to Myself

Dahlia campanulata
White (wheeping) Tree Dahlia


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A Religious Plant - Papyrus

Cyperus Papyrus

Some asked me if there was a religious plant.
So I dug a little deeper and found something I've remebered from my katholic upbringing.

Papyrus is a beautiful plant with a rich history and tradition. Where it can be grown it is both a striking accent in the environment and a great conversation piece. Soft green clouds of papyrus lined the Nile River during the time of the
pharaohs. In the Bible the infant Moses was found among the bulrushes, as Cyperis papyrus is also called. Ancient Egyptians kept records of their pyramid building activities on papyrus sheets, from which we get the word "paper."


The image to the right is, written on papyrus, the earliest substantial New Testament manuscript known to exist, a slightly mutilated codex of Paul's epistles from about the year 200 (2 Corinthians 11:33-12:9)
The image is borrowed...but I forgot from where. Feel free to let me know if you know, to pass on the proper credit, or to remove it if so desired.

Today papyrus is appreciated for its beauty and is often used in ornamental landscapes especially in pools, ponds and containers.
I got a plant from my favorite plant/seed supplier.

There are different types of papyrus, some dwarf, some house plants, or the one that currently grows in my yard... Cyperus Alternifolius.

Grows nice and bushy around the fountain in the backyard.

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A Mickey Mouse "Plant"?

After browsing around for some new stuff I came across this baby. This got to be the coolest plant there is!

Ochna thomasiana

The Ochna thomasiana flowers are actually yellow at first. After it flowers, it turns red and produces some seeds. The seeds start with a green color and turn black. Sometimes when the seeds fall it resembles the Disney character "Mickey Mouse."
The shrub or small tree grows 6 - 8 ft. Of couse this plant is, yet again, only suitable for USDA zone 10 and wont su
rvive the occational frost in zone 9.
So therefore... none for me :o/

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