Montevideo, Uruguay

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Marjory Stoneman Douglas said for many years that she wanted to write a biography of William Henry Hudson, a naturalist and ornithologist as well as a writer. Hudson spent a long time in Patagonia, that southernmost part of South America shared by Argentina and Chile. I am on my way to Patagonia, W. H. Hudson's "Idle Days in Patagonia" in hand. Hurricane force winds in the southern Atlantic meant we had to be tied to the dock here for two days. This morning we were released as the port of...

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Rare plants at upcoming auction

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Tropical Fern and Exotic Plant Society's annual auction on Monday, Oct. 22, at Fairchild will feature some rare plants that you may want to add to your collection. Angiopteris smithii, a rare fern. Dr. Jeff Block, a horticulturist par excellence, is donating some fine plants, including Angiopteris smithii. This large and rare fern from Borneo and Sumatra has leaves that tend to resemble cycads in the genus Ceratozamia. When I asked how he grows it, Dr. Block said the key to successfully...

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Picking a peck

Monday, September 17, 2012

Sweet Heat. For the Edible Garden festival last April, I have a little stand-up talk about what vegetables to plant during the summer. As a prop, I bought a little pepper plant at Publix for $3.95 because hot peppers can really take our heat. It was called Sweet Heat and it was a sweet-to-spicy pepper that was developed by Burpee. After the talk, I took it home and planted it. It has produced peppers all summer long, as many as 25 at a time, and it still is loaded. It got whitefly at one ...

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Aroid show: a feast for plant-lovers' eyes

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Denis Rotolante's Anthurium plowmanii Grande' greeted you at the entrance of the International Aroid Prize-winner Anth. plowmanii'Grande'. Society's 35th show and sale this weekend in the Garden House, and it was a whopper of a greeting. The enormous, crystal trophy-winning plant had leaves at least six feet long rising like a green Old Faithful, spouting plant exuberance for all to see. Nearby Don Bittel's exquisite, long-leafed Philodendron Spiritus-sancti won a...

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Fall flowers

Friday, September 14, 2012

This Dendrobium has the funnycultivar name 'Mung'. Dendrobium phalaenopsis plants have matured their leaves and now are blooming in my garden. These are the dendrobiums with flowers that resemble flowers in the genus Phalaenopsis, but they are not related. These dendrobiums have tall canes, and predominant color is purple, but they can be any color. We have purple, striped, deep maroon with yellow undersides to the flowers and white dendrobiums in bloom now. Shorter days are a signal for ...

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Friday, August 31, 2012

Beautiful big leaves of the white elephant palm. One of the attractions of Kerriodoxa elegans, the white elephant palm, is its huge round leaves. They are green above and whitish-silver below and can stretch across several feet. They are held up on dark brown/black petioles that arise straight from the ground. Originating in the understory of Thai rainforests in and near Phuket, this palm loves shade and protection from wind. My anxiety over hurricanes increases at this time every year, and ...

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Mimosa as a groundcover

Monday, August 13, 2012

Mimosa strigillosa's puffball flower. Just before the rain Friday morning, few butterflies were on the wing in the butterfly garden, but the gray skies evened out the light so the flowers looked wonderful. The small Mimosa strigillosa flowers were perfectly beautiful. This is a mat-forming legume that is a great groundcover candidate, and it may be a host for the Little Yellow butterfly, Eurema lisa. I've planted some in a sunny part of our yard, with the hope that it will creep across ...

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The baobab and the moth

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Adansonia za flower, pollinated by a hawkmoth It's hard to understand how the flowers of two baobab trees could be so different, yet the white flowers of Adansonia digitata look (and smell) nothing like the solitary flowers of Adansonia za, which are quite a beautiful yellow with red on the interior of the petals. The A. za is flowering now just across the tram path from the Madagascar spiny forest exhibit, and even those on the ground are sweet smelling. Flowers resemble those of...

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Where to take injured, orphaned wildlife

Thursday, July 26, 2012

It's baby squirrel season, and at the South Florida Wildlife Center in Fort Lauderdale, babies from one to three weeks old are being hand fed every three hours. Eyes shut, toes splayed and tiny tummies filling, the babies in the nursery are among the 13,000 animals taken to the Center every year. Each baby squirrel has a dot of toxin-free nail polish on his/her head so volunteers can keep track of who has eaten, who has burped or who has diarrhea. After being fed and stroked so...

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Butterflies and milkweed

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Scarlet milkweed, Asclepias curassavica, is a perennial sub-shrub from South America, yet because the caterpillars of Monarch and Queen butterflies are always chewing on the plants, they are sometimes even less than annual in my butterfly gardens. The leggy plants are about 2 to 3 feet tall with umbels of bright red/orange or yellow flowers. I've grown them in two different areas: on the east side of the house in a butterfly/bird garden without irrigation, and on the southwest side of the...

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