Saturday

Abrus precatorius Rosary Pea

 Known commonly as Jequirity, Crab's Eye, Rosary Pea, 'John Crow' Bead, Precatory bean, Hung Tou.

The Rosary pea is a small, high climbing vine with alternately compound leaves, 2-5 inches long, with 5 to 15 pairs of oblong leaflets. The flowers are pale violet to pink, clustered in leaf axils. The pod is oblong, flat and truncate shaped, roughly 1½ - 2 inches long. This seedpod curls back when it opens, revealing the seeds. The striking seeds are small, brilliant red with a black spot and are used for jewelry and in percussion instruments.
Propagation: This plant species is propagated through seeds and very easy to grow.
Zone: 9 (10 to 20°F, down to about -6°C)
Note: The seeds are toxic if digested and care should be used when drilling.


US Seeds Source:

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Tuesday

Geissorhiza radians South African Wine Cup

I was waiting for these seeds forever. The only other company selling fresh seeds got bid into the $30 dollar range for 5 seeds. 
This rare gem is from South Africa.
Geisshoriza Radians is a stunning South African bulbous collector plant that grows in winter, flowers in spring, having a dormant period in summer. Stunning flowers of deep blue with a red center, best suited for pot culture.


Still gathering more info i.e. growing tips etc...please stand by ;)

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The Thailand Parrot Flower

Stumbled upon during research:
Impatiens psittacina Hook.f.
The Thailand Parrot Flower
Dork Nok Khaew
Flower Bird Parrot


These delicate parrot flowers simply hang there. Whichever angle you look at them from you’d still see pink parrots. They’re a rare phenomenon.


A balsam, Impatiens psittacina is a very rare impatiens species first discovered in 1899 by British officer A.H. Hildebrand in Shan States of upper Burma and identified to the botanical world in 1901 by botanist E.D. Hooker.
This plant raises only in a small part of north Thailand (near Chiang Mai), Burma, and one territory of eastern India. The species can be found in several botanical reference books including Plants of India.
Hooker originally stumbled upon the plant in India and brought back the seed to the Royal Botanic Garden Kew in London. Those seeds did not reproduce after the first year.



The parrot flower is one of nature's most beautiful creations. A rare plant and a protected species. The Thai government has elected to ban the export of seeds or plants because they are extremely rare. Punishment is severe for those who break this law.

Note: I have been seeing some questionable sellers from China offering these seeds. I am not sure what type if seeds they are selling (probably carrots), but they are definitely not Parrot Flower seeds!! 
It angers me that fraud china sellers are duping people into buying rainbow roses, black rose and some other non existing junk. Don't get duped! Do your research!

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Friday

Bejuco De Santiago Aristolochia

We have a new "Baby". I just bought a Duchman's Pipe, a Aristolochia trilobata to be exact.
The Aristolochia trilobata has both beautiful glossy leaves and incredibly weird flowers. According to the gardener, like a Strophanthus, it has long streamers from the flowers that can get over a foot long. Its Nepenthes like blooms distinguish it from other Aristolochias such as elegans, gigantea, brasiliensis and ringens.
Temporarily situated in my office window I am exited to see this one bloom, which should be next year :)

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Wednesday

Tropical Dogwood Virgin Tree

Who would have thought, a Tropical Dogwood. Look these massive beautiful blooms.
Mussaenda is a rounded evergreen tropical shrub or sub-shrub that will grow to 10’ tall in tropical areas, but more likely will reach 2-5’ tall in containers. Clusters of small, tubular flowers with five large spreading lobes bloom in summer, however it is the large and colorful, ovate, leaf-like sepals (to 3” long) that provide the real ornamental display. Some individual flowers in each cluster will develop a single enlarged sepal. Elliptic to ovate, bright green leaves (to 6” long). Hybrids sold in commerce typically feature flowers in red and/or yellow with showy sepals of white, bright red or pink.

Winter hardy to USDA Zones 9-11. Can be grown in containers that must be overwintered indoors. Use a well-draining potting mix and keep soils consistently moist. Grow in full sun to part shade. Best color in full sun, but plants also appreciate some mid-day filtered sun in hot climates. Bring containers indoors in fall when night temperatures start dropping into the 50s. Overwinter in a greenhouse or a warm sun room. Cuttings may be taken in late summer for overwintering.
This plant is propagated by rooting soft or hardwood cuttings.
Germination of Mussaenda seeds: The soaked seeds are to be planted in plastic cups containing an equal mixture of sand and coir dust.  After spraying water, the cups should be sealed with polypropylene plastic and stored for a month at 57 degrees F for stratification or cold treatment.  At their four-leaf stage, seedlings are ready for transplanting.
If anyone you know sells it or shares it or swaps it, let me know! 

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Monday

Stictocardia beraviensis Hawaiian Sunset

What a stunning vine! Off and shopping I go. Will update shortly with info about this gorgeous super rare collector vine....


Update. Got seeds! I had to choose between 1 French, 1 German, 2 African and 2 American suppliers, that's it. Ended up buying home based.

This evergreen climber with absolutely gorgeous blooms and lush big leaves is grown all over the Tropics and some subtropical areas. It is related to the Morning Glory with fast growing thick stems and fleshy heart shaped leaves. Cup shaped flowers emerge at the leaf axils in clusters and are 2-3"across, bright crimson with yellow and orange streaking. They are scented and seem to last a day or two. Leaves are large, growing in shade up to 10-12" wide, dark green and velvet, very ornamental even when not in bloom. 

The plant likes lots of water, especially if grown in full sun. As with any blooming plants, the rule is - the more sun, the more flowers. However, this plant can be planted in shade probably with advantage: it will still continue blooming profusely, but the leaves will grow much larger, that will create a gorgeous tropical look. 

If planted in ground, this plant requires significant space due to its fast growing habit. However, it can be easily grown in container as well. You may trim any unwanted twigs which won't hurt the plants appearance and will encourage new blooms in leaf axils. .......
Edit. US Source: Seeds yay!

Photos Credit: Forest & Kim Starr

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The Giant Viper Echium "Tower of Jewels"


Echium wildpretiiEchium pininana

 I've never seen anything like this. Looks like this huge (also called) "Tower of Jewels" grows this size in within 2 years. How gratifying is that? :) I bought seeds for the blue/purple variety (Echium pininana Pride of Tenerife), the color other being red to pink.

This evergreen plant can be found as a garden ornamental but is intolerant of low temperatures. As for most Echium it is favored by bee-keepers for its high nectar and pollen content.
  Wildpretii is an interesting plant that produces a basal dense rosette of narrow hairy silvery leaves during the first year and in the third year produces an erect inflorescence between 3-9 foot tall. The plant blooms from late spring to early summer. The plant dies after fruiting, leaving lots of seeds.

This amazing plant can grow up to 10 feet tall, but 6 feet is more usual. It doesn't grow much in its first year, but concentrates on sending down a very thick tap root. The next year it grows a lot and may bloom under optimal conditions.
  
 The narrow silvery Grey leaves have a stiff texture. You can expect flowers in year two or three, and these are impressive and worth the wait. The wildpretii flowers from March to May in the lower regions or August in the mountains. From the center of the Tower of Jewels rosette, grows a stately inflorescence with thousands of blue flowers, which forms a thick column, sometimes up to 1 foot thick. 
Suitable for xeriscaping. It is an excellent plant for; seaside garden, shrub borders and containers. Be careful, handling the plant may cause skin irritation.


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Friday

Oh Pumpkin Tree, Oh Pumpkin Tree....

Wow, pumpkins on a stick!
A most unusual and rare plant in the Eggplant family. It is usually grown through out mountainous areas of Asia.
This pumpkin is edible but like many eggplants, it has a somewhat bitter taste that is common in some Asian dishes.


Incredible showy ornamental garden plant with pretty purple to white flowers, deep purple stems and branches, and very large, peculiar shaped leaves. A beautiful plant to show off to your neighbors or to try out in a hot, spicy Thai recipe. The hot Thai spices blend well with this type of eggplant.


Synonyms: Solanum integrifolium is sometimes listed as Solanun aethiopicum.
Hardiness Zone: USDA Zones 9-11
Size: 3 ft.
Stem/Bud: Stems are erect and covered with spines and hairs.
Leaves: Leaves are alternate, ovate, 10 in. long, serrated and prickly along top midribs.
Flower: Flowers are purple/white and 3/4 in. wide.
Fruit: Fruit are red or yellow, globose, 1-2 in wide, ribbed.
Uses: Use dried fruit in arrangements or for decorations. Dried fruits resemble small, flatten, globose, orange mini pumpkins.
Culture: Grow in full sun in average, well-drained soil.


Stunning flower bed specimen that dries nicely and the branches with fruits make stunning additions to any flower arrangements.

I bought the seeds here



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Tuesday

The Phenomena of Goth Gardening

Recently I have reconnected with a person from my past. The experience was associated with sweet and bitter memories and she unknowingly pointed out a rather unusual form of gardening. 

The Goth Garden. 

I see many people asking about about Goth or EMO gardening all over the web and I never knew what it meant, thought it was depressing nonsense.

Black flowers? That seems strange to me, because how would a bee or a butterfly be attracted enough wanting to pollinate. 
I am beginning to think that it's probably not any less strange than my desire to find the diamond in the rough, the best of the best, the most

unusual, the most challenging and eventually the ultimate (?).

There must be some happiness in black flower gardening. .....I am still researching this phenomena.

In the meantime, here are some very beautiful and dramatic black or near black flowers :)

Here is a good US source for black (almost black) flowering seeds
They have kits and many many individual species as well, even black vegetables!  - How cool!


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Amazing Stunning Silver Princess Eucalyptus

Silver Princess Eucalyptus
Eucalyptus caesia magna

The new seeds are planted and happy in trays. Lets see how it goes...



This beauty is considered by many to be the most striking species in the genus Eucalyptus, and certainly has some of the largest flowers. The flowers are 2"-3' in diameter and dangle in clusters, very visible in the sparsely-leaved tree. The stems and flowers buds are all covered in a white powdery 'bloom'. In the wild, this is native to only a few granite outcrops in the desert of Western Australia.

Silver Princess is a small-growing dry zone-dwelling Euacalypt shrub and small tree. It will do well in areas that are dry and that have fairly mild winter lows. One absolute requirement is a well-drained soil. The plant is known to grow in the Santa Cruz botanical gardens and in Arizona, so it can succeed on US soil, but it must have very sandy loams in the gardens.
This weeping small tree benefits from pruning and shaping. It is hardy to at least 22°F.

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Monday

The spectacular Firewheel Tree

We've started the seeds. This one will be a bonsai. When buying seeds from Australia, note that many of the seeds need a smoke pre-treatment to aid germination. It's basically a piece of paper infused with smoke primer solution which contains a combination of natural substances that overcome dormancy and stimulate seed germination. The degree of germination success varies with the species, but on average, treated seeds give at least twice the number of seedlings that untreated seeds do. Given the rarity, cost and availability of some seeds, it's a wise move to use the primer. Very hard to find for sale and very expensive. Some sellers offer a free bit of primer enough for the amount of seeds sold - but not very many!

There are approximately 30 species in the genus Stenocarpus. Most are found in New Caledonia and there are about 7 species native to Australia. S.sinuatus is the best known species as it is widely cultivated both in Australia and overseas.
The firewheel tree takes its name from the configuration and color of the inflorescence in which the small flowers have a wheel-like arrangement. It is one of Australia's most spectacular trees. S.sinuatus occurs in nature as a tree to about 80 Ft but it is usually smaller in cultivation, particularly in cooler areas. The dark, glossy green leaves may be entire or lobed and up to 18"long. The conspicuous flower clusters are seen in summer through to autumn.
Despite its sub-tropical to tropical origin, S.sinuatus is adaptable to a range of climates and will even succeed in dry climates if additional water is available. It prefers fairly rich, loamy soils but is tolerant of most well drained soils. It may be grown in a sunny or partly shaded location.

Seeds have been located here; US source

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Saturday

Another Fabulous Tropical Fruit

An Asian friend of mine introduced me to this incredible fruit, so I had to just run and get one.
It's distinctive flavor is melt-in-your-mouth. I was so excited that I planted some of the seeds and after just 2 weeks we had babies. Jackfruit is propagated by seed. Lets see if they will survive!! Wish me luck!

 
Common Name: Jackfruit
Scientific Name: Artocarpus heterophyllus
Family: Moraceae
Jackfruit tree is native to Southeast Asian Countries, but has found it way to other countries like Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago and others. Jackfruit is a large prickly fruit similar in Durian fruit, it measures 12 to 20 inches long, 8 to 10 inches in width, and weigh about 18 kg. and more. 


Jackfruit are very fragrant, when you open the fruit you will find the fleshly bright yellow part (when ripe) which can be eaten raw or can be cooked with syrup. When unripe its flesh is green, and it can be made into a delicious vegetable dish. Inside the fleshy part are the seeds (nut) which is similar to chestnuts. Jackfruit seeds can be roasted or boiled.

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Tuesday

Piel De Sapo Melons

It's getting hot here!! Hope this helps all of us :)



Melon Margarita

Ingredients:
1.5 cup melon puree (see below) Best are Piel de Sapo melon, honeydew or watermelon.
1/2 cup tequila
3 tbsp orange liqueur (I used triple sec)
1/4 cup lime juice
3 tbsp sugar syrup or just sugar to taste
Ice
Coarse salt for the glass rim


Method:
To make the melon puree, remove the skin and seeds of a fresh melon and cut into large chunks. Place in a blender and process until smooth.
Wet the rim of the margarita glass with a piece of lime and dip in coarse salt in a shallow dish to coat the edge of the glass.
Combine all the ingredients along with ice in a cocktail shaker or blender and mix well.
Strain into the prepared Margarita glass, garnish with a lime wedge.

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Piel De Sapo Melon:
The shiney, green, blotched skin fits the literal translation of its name perfectly — "toad skin." But whats in a name. Their flesh is pale green to white and it is very tender, juicy and sweet. Super gourmet melon.
The fruits are oblong, eight to twelve inches long and average about eight pounds, with a shelf life of several months. Relatively rare, the variety originated in La Mancha, Spain.

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Saturday

Tree Tomato !!

Tamarillo also known as the Tree tomato is an exotic edible fruit that is native to the tropical parts of South America. The word tamarillo is believed to come from several languages "tomato", the Spanish word "amarillo", meaning yellow, and a variation on the Maori word "tama", meaning "leadership". It is an egg shaped fruit that is pointed at both ends and may be red, purple, amber, or golden yellow in color. The flesh is tangy and tart, but flavorful.       
Tamarillos contain lots of potassium as well as 40mg of vitamin C per 100 grams, which makes them excellent source of Vitamin C.

Tamarillos can be eaten raw or used as the fresh fruit in all basic fruit recipes from cheesecakes to apple crumble, from ice cream and sherbets to fruit sauces, chutneys, jams, jellies, and pickles. Sliced on pizzas, toast and in sandwiches or added to casseroles and even lightly fried as a steak accompaniment.


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Tamarillo Chutney
30-50 tamarillos, cleaned and trimmed,
1kg brown sugar,
1 cup malt vinegar,
4 cloves garlic,
4 Granny Smiths,
3 brown onions,
cayenne pepper,
salt and freshly cracked black pepper
Soak tams in a boiling water, then peel (when the water is quite safe for your hands). Put them in the food processor and blend until smooth. Pour into a large saucepan. Chopped the brown onions and apples in large chunks and process them in the food processor until smooth. Pour into the saucepan. Mix all the rest of ingredients, stir well and cook in a medium heat until bubbly and thicken. Correct the seasoning. Pour into hot sterilized jars and seal.  
Makes 11-13 various jars.

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Tuesday

Vertical Gardens

Lately I've been getting fascinated by vertical gardens and discovered during research the artist Partick Blanc. This is a direct quote from the wikipedia:


Patrick Blanc (born June 3, 1953 in Paris) is a botanist, working at the French National Centre for Scientific Research, where he specializes in plants from subtropical forests. He invented the concept of a vertical garden:


“ On a load-bearing wall or structure is placed a metal frame that supports a PVC plate 10 millimetres (0.39 in) thick, on which are stapled two layers of polyamide felt each 3 millimetres (0.12 in) thick. These layers mimic cliff-growing mosses and are support the roots of many plants. A network of pipes controlled by valves provides a nutrient solution containing dissolved minerals needed for plant growth. The felt is soaked by capillary action with this nutrient solution, which flows down the wall by gravity. The roots of the plants take up the nutrients they need, and excess water is collected at the bottom of the wall by a gutter before being re-injected into the network of pipes: the system works in a closed circuit. Plants are chosen for their ability to grow on this type of environment and depending on available light.”


Amazing how Patrick grew this organic wallpaper inside a private home. I don't quite have the courage and confidence to start one because I know way too little about it. But this stuff is great enough to be posted and shown off on my humble blog :)

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Wednesday

Drooling over Hibiscus schizopetalus

This striking flower is an original species of Hibiscus. It is frequently used as a parent in the modern hybrids. It forms an arching shrub or small tree and produces flowers throughout the summer.

Hibiscus schizopetalus is a weeping tree hibiscus from Tropical E Africa . Grows rapidly and blooms freely. Hanging pink or red/coral colored flowers have 21/2 inch petals that curve up, with many deep lacy lobes, giving a beautiful effect. This fast growing shrub reaches 6-8 feet with a spread of 5-6 feet. Flowers sporadically year-round in greenhouse or in tropics, or during warm season elsewhere.


Can be grown as hanging basket plants and treated as an annual.



Grow in part shade and intermediate to warm temperatures. 2 parts peat moss to 2 parts loam to 1 part sand or perlite has been a successful potting medium. Do not allow to dry out, keep plant moist at all times. Give a monthly balanced fertilizer at ½ the strength recommended on the label.

Prune often to keep a desired form. Pruning often to give and keep shape, as well as encourage blooms which form on new wood.

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Tuesday

Canarina - Canary Bell Flower


Spring has arrived and we are in full gear removing the killed plants (RIP). 


The herb garden is ready and contains Basil, Dill, Stevia, Chives, hot Peppers and Tomatoes.

Off we go hunting for new and unusual things.
Amongst fresh planted Quisqualis, Garlic Vine and I just bought seeds of this rare beauty!
Canarina canariensis (Canary Bellflower)- a winter grower.

Canary Bellflower is a beautiful herbaceous climbing perennial with bluish green leaves, slightly succulent stems and a tuberous root. Makes showy, large bell shaped bright orange to orange red pendulous flowers followed by astonishingly large, edible (!), walnut sized, bright orange yellow fruits. Keep dry as soon as plants go dormant at higher temperatures in summer. Start to water again as soon as new growth appears in autumn. Requires a climbing aid and is mainly winter-growing.

Seeds found here:


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Saturday

Bhut Jolokia World's Hottest chili pepper


Bhut Jolokia, a variety of chile pepper originating in Assam, India, has earned Guiness World Records' recognition as the world's hottest chile pepper by blasting past the previous champion Red Savina.

In replicated tests of Scoville heat units (SHUs), Bhut Jolokia reached one million SHUs, almost double the SHUs of Red Savina, which measured a mere 577,000.

Very challenging to grow. Requires relatively high temperatures to germinate and has a long growing period, so, for warm climates or conservatories only

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Garlic or Amethyst Vine

What stunning specimen. After the freeze here on the gulf coast seems to ravish most of my tropical's I was unable to cover, we'll start anew with a Garlic vine. All parts of the vine, when rubbed or crushed will smell like garlic and can be used in food.

Latin: Mansoa alliacea (Pseudocalymma alliaceum)
Family: Bignoniaceae
English: Garlic Vine
 

The vines of the Garlic Vine attach itself with strong twining tendrils. The leaves are bright green and up to 15 cm long. The flowers are first beautiful deep lavender and have a white throat. Later the flowers fade to a pale lavender and finally become almost white. All three flower colors can be found on the plant simultaneously.
Abundant bloom finds place two or more times during the rainy season. In other months incidental clusters of flowers appear. The flowers are regularly visited by hummingbirds looking for nectar.

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