Friday

Unique Chocolate Garden Flowers

Chocolate Garden Seed CollectionThe sights and smells of chocolate plantings add elegance and drama to any display bed, and can be easily replicated in home gardens. From flowering annuals to feathery perennials and fudge-inspired vegetables, plant diversity is the key to a successful
chocolate garden: an assortment of texture, height, and color adds depth and variety.
With respect to color, most chocolate plants are not strictly brown, but instead include shades of red such as burgundy, maroon and mahogany, black, mauve, and metallic shades of bronze and copper. These dark plantings become most vibrant when contrasted with bright colors such as yellow, red, orange, and even silver and gold.

There are all sorts of chocolate colored flowers but they are very rare and difficult to find. Seeds usually are the way to go.


Collections found here as well as individual varieties

Some varieties used are:

- Korean Angelica
- Black False Hellebore Veratrum
- Chocolate Royale Salpiglossis
- Black Ball Centaurea
- Gooseneck Loosestrife
- Columbine Chocolate Soldier
- Foxglove Milk Chocolate
- Chocolate Sunflower
- Dianthus Sooty
- Rudbeckia Green Wizzard
- Midnight Beaujolais Lathyrus
 

Vegetables include Chocolate Habaneros, sweet Chocolate Bell Peppers and some Tomato varieties
such as Chocolate Cherry and Black from Tula.

Collections make an unusual visual Gift for the chocolate-loving gardener without a single calorie and will not melt in your hands.

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Tuesday

Scientists Discover First ‘Virological Penicillin’ in Japanese Honeysuckle Lonicera japonica

Chinese researchers have discovered what they say is the first ‘virological penicillin’ – MIR2911, a molecule found naturally in a Chinese herb called honeysuckle.
Honeysuckle (Lonicera japonica) is a well-known Chinese herb. In Traditional Chinese Medicine, it has been used to effectively treat influenza infection for centuries.
Several previous studies have confirmed that the herb, usually consumed in the form of a tea, can suppress the replication of influenza virus.
However, the active anti-viral components and the mechanism by which they block viral replication have remained unclear.
Now, a team of researchers headed by Dr Chen-Yu Zhang of Nanjing University in China has identified MIR2911 (honeysuckle-encoded atypical microRNA2911) as the first active component directly targeting various influenza viruses, including the swine flu H1N1, highly pathogenic avian H5N1 and H7N9 infections.
MIR2911 represses influenza viruses by targeting PB2 and NS1, two genes that are known to be required for influenza viral replication.

With its broad-spectrum, anti-viral activity against influenza viruses, MIR2911 and MIR2911-containing honeysuckle tea may represent a new effective therapeutic strategy that can be used to subdue deadly infections.
“It is important to note that since Alexander Fleming discovered penicillin nearly a century ago, antibiotics have been developed to target various bacterial infections and have saved the lives of millions of people,” the scientists wrote in a paper published in the journal Cell Research.
“Unfortunately, no natural product that is effective against viral infection has been identified thus far.”
“We suggest that as the first natural product to directly target influenza A viruses, MIR2911 is the ‘virological penicillin’ that serves as a novel therapeutic and preventive agent against not only influenza A, but potentially also other types of viruses.”

Article Sources:

USA: http://www.sci-news.com/   
USA: medicalxpress.com
UK: http://www.dailymail.co.uk
OZ: http://www.sciencealert.com.au/ 


Tea Source: Honeysuckle Tea
Seed Source: Seeds for Growing

 ...

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Thursday

Black Vegetables and Black Flowers

Well..not completely black, but at least near black. Black Flowers have always had a mystery to them but black vegetable gardens are pretty much something we haven't heard of. They are even heirloom vegetables! 

The darker the fruit or vegetable, the more antioxidants (anthocyanin) it has, plus the near black shades of dark purple to dark maroon make for a stunning display and great conversation. 


Almost Black Vegetables


Almost Black Vegetables


Almost Black Flowers

Almost Black Flowers


as well as individual Varieties
 
*

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Red and White Candy Cane Sorrel Oxalis

Oh how lovely!

This intriguing half hardy alpine produces crimson striped, funnel shaped buds like tiny striped barbers poles! The striking petals open to reveal pretty white flowers with crimson margins. A fascinating talking point for a frost free greenhouse. In exceptionally mild areas it can be grown outside at the front of borders or in sheltered rockeries.
Grows up to 12" tall. Prefers full to partial sun. Blooms from July until October, giving you months of enjoyment of this unique garden sorrel. 


 Growing candy cane sorrel is simple. Candy cane oxalis flowers are native to capes of South Africa. This attractive member of the Oxalis family is sometimes forced in greenhouses for ornamental, holiday blooms. 
When growing candy cane sorrel outside in the garden, the plant will exhibit blooms through most of the spring and sometimes into summer, depending on the location where it grows. As with most members of the ornamental Oxalis family, the candy cane oxalis plant goes dormant in summer and begins a period of regrowth in fall. Info about candy cane oxalis plant says it is hardy in USDA Zones 7-9, though it can grow as an annual in lower zones. 
Candy cane sorrel bulbs (rhizomes) can be planted at any time the ground, provided it is not frozen. Once candy cane sorrel bulbs are established, occasional watering and fertilization is all that is required when caring for candy cane oxalis. You may remove dying foliage when the plant dies back for the sake of appearance, but it will wither on its own. Don’t despair that the candy cane oxalis plant is dying; it is just regenerating and will once again reappear in the garden.

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Monday

Dark Flowers Desert Indigo Bush

Dark flowers for Bees! Lovely! 

Desert Indigo Bush, Amorpha fruticosa, is a spectacular loose shrub with fine textured, fragrant foliage, growing 8-10 Ft tall. Brilliant purple to black spikes of flowers bloom from April to June.
Amorpha fruticosa makes a great native substitute for Butterfly Bush and is great in spots that are too wet for other spring bloomers.
Grows in moist or average soils in full sun or part shade. Prefers some shade in hot climates and does not like extended periods of drought. Highly attractive to honey bees. Zone 5-9.

Although Desert  Indigo seeds have no real dormancy to break down the seeds have a very hard, water-impermeable seed coat and require pretreatment for successful germination to occur. Without pretreatment it is likely that 10% or less of the seeds will germinate. A combination of a variety of seed pretreatments may be necessary to make the seed coat permeable so that the seed embryo can take up water and begin to germinate.
The first method is place the seeds in a heat proof container and pour hot (not boiling!) water 160-180F over them and leave them to soak for between 12-24 hours allowing the water to cool to room temperature.

Seeds that have been successfully pretreated will have swollen to around 2 to 3 times their previous size. Remove all swollen seeds as these will be damaged by further pretreatments. These can be sown immediately. This hot water treatment can be repeated up to 3 times, making the water a little hotter each time. Seeds that remain small need to be dried for further treatment.

The remaining method is to physically breakthrough the seed coat by cutting or (k)nicking the edge of the seed with a knife or using a file or even rubbing them between layers of fine sandpaper. All of these methods can be used to break through the seed coat. Once you have done this soak the seeds in cold water for 12-24 hours and successfully treated seeds will have imbibed water and swollen greatly.

Any that have not could be scarified again followed by another water soak. Sow all the seeds, even those that remain small as they may germinate later

Once the seeds have become swollen with water germination is quite rapid and if the seeds are kept at room temperature and germination should take place in 7 to 10 days.

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Red Mangrove Rhizophora mangle

http://centerofthewebb.ecrater.com/p/20528713/unusual-pond-aquatic-true-red#
What a beauty! 
Rhizophora mangle perfectly can be grown in any kind of aquarium whether seawater aquarium, brackish water aquarium or freshwater aquarium or a pond.
Mangroves absorb nutrients from the water in order to grow, and help lower nitrates and phosphates. The Red Mangrove can be planted in the sand, or in between rocks in an open topped aquarium, illuminated sump or refugium. The roots will quickly grow to take hold in sand substrate or in live rock.

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Friday

Dwarf Evergreen Plumeria Frangipani pudica "Bridal Bouquet"



Absolutely beautiful and rare Flower, native of Panama, Colombia and Venezuela, blooms in bouquets of white flowers usually in Texas, Florida and the Bahamas. Easy to grow, and blooms heavily for a long time. 
 
The Plumeria Pudica usually has one or two slender trunks that branch close to the ground forming a dense slightly spreading crown. The signature leaves have a short petiole and are fiddle-shaped due to a pair of lobes above the middle. The flowers are strikingly pure white, with a yellow throat.

Advantages of this beautiful plant are its heavy foliage cover, extensive evergreen phase and long blooming period. It is easier to grow indoors than other Plumeria and doesn't have any significant pest or disease problems (resistant to spider mites)


Well suited for full sun.  Deciduous under extended drought conditions or during a particularly cold winter. Properly placed, mature trees usually need no pruning. Zone 9+ or container. This plant does not set seeds. Cuttings are easy to root, much like cactus.



Plants available here:

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Monday

Wild Wild Vegetables: Sea Asparagus Salicornia europaea

Utterly delicious and very hard to find, this generally unknown culinary plant of salty mudflats and the shoreline produces succulent tender shoots with a flavor reminiscent of asparagus, but a taste all of its own. It is nothing short of an absolute treat, especially served with seafood.

Also known as Mermaids Kiss, Glasswort, the wild marsh Samphire can be found in abundance in salt marshes and tidal mud flats on the British coast. Seeds came from salt marsh on the north Norfolk coast, England.


It can be eaten raw, or cooked - boiled or steamed for a couple of minutes, topped with melting butter and a squeeze of fresh lemon juice.
Absolutely no salt is needed as they taste of the sea so are more than sufficiently salty. They are rich in Vitamins A, C and D, this plant is highly sought after in British upscale gourmet restaurants. 

 

Annual, in warmer climate perennial. Very high moisture needs; suitable for marsh bogs.

Info on the plant - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Salicornia 
Seeds (US):  Marsh Samphire Salicornia europae
Plants (UK): Samphire Plant

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Thursday

Mini Garden Gnomes

Too cute not to post...  Gnome Earrings from Lonestarbeadery

Cute cute cute. Miniature Garden Gnomes with a shovel and Swarovski glass crystals on secure steel lever back ear hooks. 1.5" inches (40mm) long, 3D all the way around, available also in red and blue. $16 - Gift wrapped.





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Monday

Broken Bones Tree Midnight Horror

Oroxylum indicum is a rare tree commonly called Tree of Damocles found in tropical countries, such as India, Japan, China, Sri Lanka, Malaysia. It is a small or medium sized deciduous tree up to 40 Ft in it’s natural habitat. If grown in pots, it can be expected to be much smaller.

The leaves are very large, 5 ft long.
The large leaf stalks wither and fall off the tree and collect near the base of the trunk, appearing to look like a pile of broken limb bones. The flowers are reddish purple outside and pale, pinkish-yellow within, numerous, in large erect racemes. The flowers bloom at night and emit a strong, stinky odor which attracts bats.


The name Midnight Horror is due to its lengthy seed pods which range from 1.3 - 4ft. Hanging off the tree in clusters, when dry they rattle in the wind like a clattering skeleton...
It has been used traditionally for a wide diversity of ailments such as cancer, diarrhea, fever, ulcer, jaundice and arthritis.

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Thursday

Heirloom Rats Tail Radish - Incredible



Rat Tail Radish. 

It sure sounds and looks weird but it tastes like regular radish. Great in hot climates
The aerial Rat Tail Radish came from Asia in the early 1800's. It was in vogue in the U.S. around the Civil War, but has been virtually unobtainable since.
Delicious, unusual, yet surprisingly versatile, the pods are produced by the dozen in great masses.
 

Unlike the more familiar radish, which is grown for it's roots, the rat's tail radish is harvested for it's crunchy pods. They resemble chillies, but taste like a young rooted crisp radish. Rat's tail radishes are quick to mature you can expect to harvest your crop within six weeks and pick all summer long.

Pick the seedpods when they are mild, crisp and about 6 inches long. Unlike other radishes, rat-tail thrives in summer heat will bear all summer long. Eat raw, stir fried, or pickled.

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Red Devil's Claw Proboscidea (sp)

Another weird plant. Devils Claw. 

Proboscidea parviflora is a species of flowering plant in the family Martyniaceae known by the common names doubleclaw and red devil's-claw. It is native to the desert southwest of the United States and northern Mexico, where it grows in sandy, dry, and disturbed habitat and blooms during the hot summer. 

This is an annual herb growing from a taproot and producing sprawling, spreading stems.
The flower is white to pink or purple, sometimes with mottling or lines of spots in the throat, and often a purple blotch on the upper lip.
 

The fruit is a large seed pod are a few inches long. As the fruit dries the tail cracks open and splits into two hooked, claw-like halves. The young fruits and seeds were used for food and the dark-colored hardened dry fruits were used in basketry local Native Americans. Pods are much sought after by artists.

Seeds found here





More from this artist:

 Here is an awesome set of sculptures made with Devil Claw Pods by "Art from the Heart". 
http://art-fromthe-heart.deviantart.com/gallery/7318792

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Friday

Chocolate Cocoa Plant Theobroma cacao

Obtained fresh pulpy seeds to grow some Chocolate Trees. 

These are not like typical seeds. Once they dry out, they are no longer viable. 

Once known only as the drink of Kings and the rich. The Cacao Tree is a shade tolerant, moisture loving, understory rainforest tree. It naturally favors riparian zones so often in the wild is found along rivers. The trees live for up to 100 years, but cultivated trees are considered economically productive for only about 60 years. 

Unlike most fruit that grows on the branches, cacao pods grow directly on the trunk of the tree. The cacao tree yields its first crop at 3-4 years old. They give fruit three to four times a year. The hard, coarse shell changes from green to yellow, and then to a reddish brown. 

The cacao tree can flourish only in the hottest regions of the world, but the young plants in particular need lots of shade. Delicate seedlings are easily sunburned, and so they must have direct cover from larger trees in the rainforest canopy. The cocoa trees develops under the shade of other large tropical forest trees. In farms they may be under or banana or coconut trees. They need 80+ inches of rain, and high humidity. Zone 10 or Greenhouse/Indoors.

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Monday

The Killarney Strawberry Tree

Isn't this lovely!

The strawberry tree is native to Ireland, southern Europe and the western Mediterranean region (Turkey, Greece, Lebanon) where it grows in rocky, well-drained soils.
The small white or pinkish blueberry-like flowers are assembled in drooping panicles about 2" (5cm) long. The spherical bright red fruits are warty and about 3/4" (2cm) in diameter. They take a year to ripen, and both flowers and fruits can be present at the same time.

Strawberry tree is 8 to 20+ ft (2.5m to 6m+) tall and wide. Full sun or partial shade (essential in desert areas). Makes a striking display as a specimen shrub. Great for Bonsai.

The bark of strawberry tree has been used in tanning leather. The fruit is edible. The fruits are prepared as jams, jellies, syrups, candied fruit, distilled and fermented drinks, such as wines (
Medronho) and liqueurs. Produces a rare, highly-esteemed honey in Sardinia.
Strawberry tree is tolerant of acidic to alkaline soils. Zones 8-11. Seeds found here


It's a challenge. Very finicky to grow, but well worth it! 

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Friday

Goblin Garden - The Mighty Alraun

Rare Mandrake Root Atropa Mandragora officinarum.

It's one of the oldest and most famous plant in witchcraft, rituals and medicinal use. It's also mentioned in several references in the bible. According to the legend, a dog had to pull up the man-like roots as their scream reputedly killed all who heard it! Today the plant is best known from the movie "Harry Potter".
This plant belongs to the nightshades family (Solanaceae) and all parts are poison.


Mandrakes are stemless, perennial herbs with dark green leaves, resembling somewhat the leaves of chard and a have large taproots that can grow up to two feet in length, resembling somewhat a human.
The pale to vibrant bluish purple flowers emerge in a cluster from the center of the plant. The fruit, orange to red berries, resembling tomatoes, ripen by late summer. The fruit is highly fragrant, one ripe fruit placed in the middle of the room will perfume the whole room with a pineapple like scent.

This plant is hardy to at least 20F when fully grown, it can be grown anywhere in the sub-tropics as long as there are cool winters there. It requires good drainage for best growth and is not too picky about soil types.
This plant gets dormant in the summer times. Every autumn the root grows a new rosette of leaves. The leaves grow fast and in only a month they are fully developed. Zone 7. Seeds available here

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