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A royal vine

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Petrea volubilis. Wisteria vines were in full flower last week in southern California, and while this member of the pea family can be invasive it also can be quite beautiful. Our Petrea volubilis or queen's wreath, is sometimes said to be the tropical version of wisteria, but its flowers are much more delicate. Petrea is winding down its late winter flowering, but pretty racemes of lavender/purple flowers remain around the garden house. And there are Petrea vines along the fence by the...

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Top Orchid Specialist is Festival Speaker

Friday, March 9, 2012

Orchid specialist Tom Mirenda. Tom Mirenda, the Orchid Collection Specialist at the Smithsonian Institution for the last 10 years, will talk about orchid pollination at 1 p.m. Saturday at Fairchild's 10th International Orchid Festival At the Smithsonian, Tom cares for and curates an extremely diverse collection of 10,000 orchid species and hybrids from all over the world. He develops and produces huge educational exhibits visited by hundreds of thousands of visitors. Mirenda trained ...

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A cycad from the Philippines

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Cycas wadei's female cone. On a recent Saturday visit to Leu Gardens in Orlando, I found many shrubs of Camillia japonica as well as roses in flower, but my attention was drawn to the beautiful female cone of Cycas wadei. It is known as Wade's pitogo in the Philippines, where it is native. By poking around the Internet, I learned that was named in 1936 by botanist Elmer Drew Merrill, the second president of Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden who spent 22 years working in the Philippines....

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Blooms and roots

Monday, February 27, 2012

This flower is fabulous. The Brownea coccinea ssp. capitella growing next to the Hawkes Lab walkway, has been spectacular this year. Mary Collins, senior horticulturist, said it displayed seven flowers last week. This morning, four flowers and a bud were impressing visitors. There is a helpful sign next to the plant explaining that it is hummingbird pollinated and that its new leaves emerge to resemble a limp handkerchief, giving it the nickname "handkerchief tree." Meanwhile,...

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Congratulations to Alex Fernandez

Monday, February 20, 2012

Congratulations to Alex Fernandez, an FTBG high school intern in his junior year at Christopher Columbus High School. He won the Fairchild award and an excellent evaluation for his entry in the South Florida regional science and engineering fair. His project entitled "Does salt accumulate in the fronds of the the mangrove palm Nypa fruitcans was started in my laboratory....

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President's Day at FTBG

Monday, February 20, 2012

Great American Egret and blue herons....

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At last

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Raindrops cling tothis tomato's bottom. What's happier than a tomato in the rain? A whole garden in the rain. And perhaps even happier is this gardener. So we didn't get a cold snap, we got rain instead, and boy has it been a long thirsty stretch. Yellow lawns and droopy staghorn ferns are normal for April/May, not January/February. The tomatoes and broccoli relish the rain, and the bok choi grew visibly overnight. If rain continues for a few days, which is forecast, then we'll...

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Late winter

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Late winter Begonia petals are peekingout from their buds. Rhizomatous begonias are sending up flower spikes, a late winter phenomenon that always is welcome. These are plants that have stems on the ground or just beneath the mulch that produce leaves and flowers on top and roots beneath. There are many fine cultivars on the market suitable for landscape use, and their care is fairly easy. They like bright shade, even some early morning sun, moist soil and controlled-release fertilizer. As ...

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A botanist in Chile

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Auracaria aruacana in its Chilean habitat. Dr. Scott Zona's presentation, A Botanical Tour of Chile, mesmerized the Tropical Fern and Exotic Plant Society Monday night - not only because of the botanical knowledge imparted but also the fabulous photos (four of which he graciously allowed me to use here). Scott, a former palm specialist at FTBG, is curator of the Wertheim Conservatory at Florida International University. He traveled to Chile with fellow botanists Dr. John Tobe of...

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Let the chocolate begin

Friday, January 20, 2012

Samples everywhere. A perfect winter morning got the chocolate festival off to a beautiful start Friday. Chocolatiers in the Garden House had such tempting samples on display that few could resist. Millie with her cake. But the food vendors had some scrumptous offerings, too. Millie, the M of M&L Carib Conchs, made a chocolate cake that seemed to epitomize the event. However, there also were vegan chocolates, teas and spices and kettle corn to sample. Oncidium Sharry Baby smelled as ...

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