Sticky Fingers

Sunday, April 30, 2006

Now it blooms!

On Thursday I was really getting impatient and wondering when I would see these flowers. It would seem as though the whole process speeds up at the end, because today I have three blooms! I think it was worth the wait.

I won't say any more - I'll just show you.

From above.

And from the side.

Saturday, April 29, 2006

Two new gymnos

Today I went out with the express purpose of getting something new. Not that I need more plants, since I am growing so many from seed that I shouldn't need to buy ready-grown plants, but I was just in that sort of a mood. Figured it wouldn't do any harm. What's a couple of plants in a couple of hundred? And when those seedlings grow up I will probably be talking about thousands.

So here are my two new gymnocalyciums - much bigger plants than I normally prefer but all they had were these 7" plants and I just couldn't walk away and leave these behind.

Gymnocalycium bruchii - with lots of pups.

Gymnocalycium saglionis -with a few flower buds.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Waiting for the display

I have been wondering what to write about. I want to write about my Notocactus ubelmannianus but then I think I should wait until I have something to show. But you know what? I'm going to write about it anyway since it's what I want to do. I can always write about it again when it finally delivers.

This process is so slow that it is driving me crazy. The buds started to show in early March.

Then it was April, with slightly bigger buds.

And in three days it will be May: this is where it has reached.

Can't say there is no progress but I sure hope that these flowers open before I go off on my trip in two weeks time. It would be so disappointing to miss out on this one - the flowers are pretty stunning! Can only cross my fingers and hope for the best....

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

The front yard (or should I call it a garden?)

For many years we have battled to maintain a lawn in front of the house. I remember years ago when my sister and I took on the task to dig everything up and replant with zoysia grass, because that was the type we wanted - nice and thick like we saw at other houses. Well, we did try, but with little success because the crabgrass, the nutgrass, and the weeds just outcompeted the zoysia. Some of the zoysia really took though, but only sort of along the edges.

In any case, years later the battle was still on. Not to mention that we had taken to parking on the "lawn" regularly so the grass was having a very hard time - not even the crabgrass was managing to hold on.

This was the view early this February. Just ignore the people, the SUV that has been grinding down the grass and the dogs who so enjoyed the shade under the vehicle that they would proceed to scratch out further whatever was there to make a "soft spot??" to lie in. You may, however, look at the various pots set out - those are some of my cacti and succulents. Now, focus on the patch of dirt there in the middle. That is the challenge.

Dear HH took up the task to deal with the eyesore after I left. The girl's birthday party was coming up in March and he felt that we could get grass by then.

It was a lot of work to dig up the area and set in grass - then to keep it watered for it to catch.

After all that, the loose dirt was just too much of a temptation for the dogs to resist, and they dug a lot of it out. What fun for them!

HH would have strung them over a barrel, but instead he took appropriate preventive measures against future invasions.

So by the time of the party, the grass was well on its way, and we could present a decent face for our guests. After the rain started in April the real results could be seen. HH even had to get the lawnmower to restore it to good order. Here is the lawn (and it can now be called a lawn) - fully grassed, green, and lush. Parking is now prohibited.

I now need to figure out a way to lay out all those big concrete pots so it doesn't look so much like a graveyard. Any suggestions?

Monday, April 24, 2006

Cacti in habitat

I never thought much about the cacti growing in habitat in Jamaica, but sort of just took them for granted. You know, there are parts of the country where cacti and agaves, and other succulents, grow wild and you can see them along the road side, in the hills - some along major roads with heavy traffic and others more remote.

We used to choose to drive along unfamiliar roads in the hope of spotting some orchid or cactus that we hadn't seen before but really haven't done much of that in a while - that is, until I joined up with the British Cactus and Succulent Society Forum, and of course, they are very interested in seeing native plants in habitat.

So on my last trip home we went out for an easy drive to Hellshire in St. Catherine and Milk River in Clarendon and took some photos as we drove along. It was a really refreshing experience and I know I need to do it more often - get back out in the country and just look at stuff. There is so much to see if you just open your eyes and appreciate the beauty around you. In the Caribbean we take it so much for granted, and this year away from home has significantly raised my appreciation.

So here are a few of the habitat shots - I realise some of these plants are not really native but introduced species and I don't even know what they are yet. This is something else I need to get to know more about.

View out to sea from Hellshire Main Road

Agave and cereus on the hillside near Farquhars Beach

Columnar cacti by the roadside along the Milk River Road

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Gymnocalycium display

And here is what some of my gymnos are up to. Hope they keep it up through the season.

First up was Gymnocalycium friedrichii with three flowers - the photo is a little blurry but you can see what's going on.

Next was a small Gymnocalycium damsii with two lovely flowers. These are so hard to catch - they take all day and are only fully open for about an hour in the mid-afternoon then they close.

And I don't know the name of this Gymnocalycium species, but it is not being left out of the show. Flowering from one of the pups although there is no sign of buds on the main plant.

You have to see this fabulous red flower!

I got this cactus from Evergrow in December 2004 - I have never known what it is. I can't even put it in a genus, much less to identify the species. It didn't seem to be doing so well - it grew a bit taller but otherwise just sat for a long time. There was a stage when I wondered if it was even still alive.

In March this year, I unpotted it, washed out the roots, and gave it a fresh start. It had the same problem that I had found with several others, where the roots were stuck into a tiny block and the plant wasn't able to grow. I set it out in the sun at the side of a big clay pot with some other plants, and just look at what has happened!

Watch me grow ....

Started by working on some pups, then decided to try for a flower bud...

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Getting ready to open......
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Now open!
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And here's another view of the flower.
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I had hoped that this would be a good flowering year for me and so far, it seems to be great.

Isn't that flower just fabulous? And it looks like there are two more buds coming along - hope they make it.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Seedlings are growing!

Sowed a batch of seed in March. Well, not just a batch, actually about 160 packets of seed so I am hoping to have good success since I have learned more about what NOT to do in my various attempts to grow from seed. Like leave them in direct sun, or allow them to dry out to nothing, for example. Just so you know, a seedling with sunstroke turns white (deathly pale), then it dies. Can't be saved at that point.

It's early days yet, but I just want to give an indication of the progress so far.

This is the first tray that I sowed in this batch at about 6 days after sowing:

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And the same tray three weeks later:

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I hope they keep it up and do well. Don't know what I will do with so many plants when they grow up, but this could be just the start of something big, I guess.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Art thou truly horrida?

OK, so I have two Euphorbia horrida plants. At least I thought one was horrida, and I got the other labelled as horrida. Same basic shape and look but now I am really wondering because the flowers are different. The flower on the one that came labelled as horrida looks more like polygona to me. I guess the best thing for me to do is to ask an "expert". I think I will do just that.

In the meantime, why don't you have a look at them and let me know what you think. The same?? Or not?

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EDIT: April 22, 2006
So having asked my questions I will now be labelling the first as a "variety" and the second as "Snowflake" - both are Euphorbia horrida but apparently different hybrids. Fine with me.

EDIT: April 23, 2006
So the second one is apparently Euphorbia polygona "Snowflake" - corrected again! Hope I got it right this time.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Aloe, aloe and kalanchoe!

I have decided to try to pay more attention to my non-cactus succulents. I realise I actually have quite a few but although those used to be the mainstay of my collection, the cacti have now far outstripped them in number and prominence.

So I have my kalanchoe/bryophyllum patch in the stumpery, and I am working on a bed of aloes around the base of the Poor Man's Orchid. If it does well then I may move to the backyard and create some beds around the base of those trees, although there is a lot more shade around there.

So this is my aloe bed so far ....

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And this is my kalanchoe/bryophyllum patch, which is quite a mess now - hopefully it will grow into better order ....

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